Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week Seven ~ Three Times in White

Sometimes Sister Knowlton and I have such a good time that we ask each other, "Is it okay for missionaries to have this much fun?" The answer, of course, is yes. Anyways, this week (like most) was a blast.

On Monday, Sister Knowlton and I went to one of the thrift stores in town called Mile High, and it's pretty classy for a consignment shop. Anyways, there were A LOT of cute skirts and dresses, so we were pretty pumped to try them on. Well. They didn't have a fitting room, so Sister Knowlton and I had to try the clothes on over our skirts. That was interesting, so were the looks that we received from the other Mile High shoppers.

We also started the Ward's 40 Day Fast last week. Every night a family from the ward starts a fast for missionary opportunities--no one is fasting for forty days, only Jesus did that and He was perfect. We've met with several families and helped them begin their fasts and this one family fasted from things other than water and food. The son, Gabriel, was trying to think of something to fast from and he about had a conniption when we mentioned that he could give up his video games for 24 hours. Oh, boys and their toys. Except, I'm pretty sure if I were home right now, I'd be playing either Zelda with Sarah Nichols or trying to beat Kingdom Hearts before Maxwell had the chance to save over my game.

Sister Knowlton and I also restarted Personal Progress (a program for young women between ages 12 and 18). Woot! We are competing against a young woman in the ward and let's just say that Sister Knowlton and I are completing the experiences like nobody's business. Personal Progress helped me SOOO much growing up and has helped me so much now as a missionary. Confession: I never actually finished Personal Progress and I regret it everyday! I have the chance now, but it's not the same.

WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE THIS WEEK! Although we had to wake up at 4:30AM to be there by 6, it was worth it. The Denver temple is a bit bigger than the Palmyra temple, but the Palmyra temple holds a special place in my heart.

Not only did we go to the temple, but WE FINALLY SAW GAVINO!!! Yessssssssss. Sister Knowlton and I have been praying so hard for him and we just want the best for him. We were happy to know that he didn't move back to Mexico. I got so excited that I went in to hug him and backed away and still got a hug. (Seriously, I have been hugged so much in the last few weeks. Every time a man hugs me, I get freaked out. It'll be interesting to see what I'm like when I get home from my mission). Sister Knowlton and I are soooooo happy that we finally got in contact with him and not only that BUT while he was in Mexico, he kept the Word of Wisdom!! (The Word of Wisdom is revelation given to Joseph Smith from God telling us to abstain from alcohol, tea, coffee, tobacco, and other harmful drugs). YEAH!

We also saw this less active family (the two youngest children aren't members), who are very much against the church because they have been offended--The first time we met with them I told them that the Book of Mormon has helped me so much and how it's made me happier, the mother responded to that by saying, "The Book of Mormon hasn't made me happy." So we have been very careful about what we say around them. BUT. The last time we met with them, we invited them to pray every morning and every night AND the mother had her youngest children make prayer rocks! Sweet, right?! I about died! I was so shocked! The girls ran to their rooms and showed us their cute prayer rocks! It was AWESOME. I feel so much love for them. I want them to feel the happiness that this gospel brings. The mother is really such a wonderful mother, too, and I love her so much.

We taught Rica, short for Ricardo, (I can't remember if I've told mentioned him before) twice this week and he is so funny. He basically told us that we can come over and teach him, but he's not going to join the church. His girlfriend is less active and has two children (Deven and Shaeleigh) from her previous marriage. She has a strong testimony and the kids want so badly to come to church, but I don't think she is ready--or at least she doesn't think she is ready. Anyways, we were talking about baptism and how we are baptized by immersion (going completely under the water). His response was comical, "Immersion? Sounds like some sort of ethnic group. Baptism by immersion? Baptism by an Asian?" It was hilarious! He also commented on our pale skin and told us that we need to get some sun. Oh, Rica. He kills me! He also calls us chicks--like all the time. When he said the prayer the last time we met with him, he started by saying, "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm thankful for these chicks"--us--"and that they could come here and do their little....mission."

Sister Knowlton and I also had the chance to watch the ground breaking for the Fort Collins temple! Woot! One of the speakers talked about how when her youngest sister was sealed in the temple, her mother gathered the children (all of whom were married in the temple) together in the Celestial Room with their spouses. She said to them that that was the moment she had lived for--to see all of her children married in the temple. That is what I hope and pray for.

We sang again at the nursing homes in the area and there were these two women who told me that when we come and sing we bring them happiness and that the atmosphere is so different from every other day of the week! They said that we bring a different spirit into their day. They also expressed their desires to have Sunday services where they live. I think we have some missionaries who can help them with that.

Yesterday, we had SEVEN PEOPLE WE TEACH AT CHURCH! Oh yeah! Four are investigating the church and three are less actives! That was amazing! I was so thankful that they were there! I am so thankful for that.

SO. I've decided that my weekly entries will be titled. This week it is titled "Three times in white." I hope to see those I teach three times in white--the first at the waters of baptism, the second at the temple, and the third time in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

I love you all so much and I pray for you often! The Lord loves you and wants you to be happy! All you need to do is come unto Him!

Sister Hardy

This is a picture of the land where Sister Knowlton and I run/walk in the morning. Gorgeous, right?! There is a really pretty path that goes for a ways. Love it!


Week six~ late entry

Today starts a new transfer! You know what that means?! In six weeks, I will no longer be a greenie (a new missionary). Crazy. Sister Hand (our Sister Training Leader) is getting transferred, as well as our two Elders in our area, and quite a few other missionaries in our Zone. We also have new areas opening up! The work is hastening!

This week was amazing. Sister Knowlton and I have been doing all that we can to get lessons and find people, but the past couple weeks our numbers have been down. The Mission standard is twenty lessons (not including our dinners with members) and WE FINAL GOT OUR NUMBERS BACK UP. Hallelujah! I think the Lord just needs to constantly remind me that I am never in control. I think He will continue to remind me until I figure it out.

On Monday, our Zone was allowed to have a combined activity with both the elders and the sisters. We played capture the flag and because we can't play contact sports we used flour balls (pantyhose balls filled with flour). Yes. Pantyhose. It was funny to hear how the elders obtained said pantyhose. Most of the missionaries live with members and so the elders asked the women that they live with for their extra nylons. I can just picture my Cabbage Patch Kid of a District leader (Elder Brennan looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid) asking Sister Brink (an eighty year old woman in our ward) for her spare nylons. I wish I was there when he asked her.
Anyways, the game was a blast and one of the other District leaders took on eight of us (when his entire team was in jail) in his nice pants and tie! It was great. The worst part was changing back into a skirt after being covered in water and flour--Yes, I was ambushed.
We also got a new elder in our Zone last week. He is waiting on his visa to go to Brazil.

This week I received TWO PACKAGES. Thank you! I know have wonderful memory foam slippers and seven motivational Disney quotes. One quote is "All it takes is faith and trust." Keeping that in mind has really helped me.

So let me tell you about Donna. Donna is an older Christian woman who loves Jesus. Awesome, right? We met with her for the first time on Wednesday. Her friend Amanda (who is in another ward, but Donna lives in our ward boundaries) referred her to us and was there during the lesson. It was amazing. We met with Donna again yesterday and she told us that she believes that the Book of Mormon is true, but she doesn't understand the priesthood authority. But we have a time to meet with her again this week. Then, before we left Amanda told Donna that she has some friends that she'd like her to meet. Well, come to find out later that Amanda was talking about this couple in our ward. Amanda is already on board with helping her make friends in the ward. Seriously. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!? Sister Knowlton and I think she is one of the Three Nephites. What a boss.

This week we met with that less active woman and her son, let's call him John, again. Anyways, we had our Zone leaders come because they are serving in the Singles Ward (John is 23). We wanted to see if John would thrive in the Singles Ward. Well, John really hit it off with the elders! It was awesome! Earlier he had told us that he didn't like meeting new missionaries because then he had to get used to them. But he really liked the elders! Woot! Anyways, John is a hoot. But he told us that he isn't ready to quit smoking. The thing is that he won't ever be ready until he wants to start being healthy and quit so that he can have a better life. John nor his mother have faith in themselves to quit. But they both have told us that they feel great when they read the Book of Mormon. And we continue to tell them that the reason they feel good is because it's true!

I think one of the most exciting things that we did this week was serve at a produce fair. There is a church who has a food bank and what they did was donate a lot of food so that those who can't afford a month supply of food could have food this month. So our Zone of missionaries helped people carry their bags and I went through the lines with the people to help them. That was awesome. That church also showed the people how to prepare their food! Pretty sweet, right?! Man. I just love people who love to serve!!
Matthew 25:40. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

On Saturday, we had a transfer meeting, and our Zone leaders gave out awards. And for the first time in my life I got "Best hair." I think they were kidding. I can't say that I got it from my mama (Mom, it's a song). One of the elders got "Most likely to be seen on Duck Dynasty." Now, I wish that was my award.

Know that I love you and pray for you! God loves you all and wants you to get back to him!

Sister Hardy

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week Five: "I love you, handsome buffalo!"

This week was wonderful. We had Zone Conference (our Zone--half the missionaries in our stake--get with a few other zones and meet with our mission president). We had exchanges (missionary companionships switch for 24 hours). But, the most miraculous thing was that MICHELLE GOT BAPTIZED. Oh yes. It was incredible.

Zone Conference was also amazing. The missionaries were uplifted by President Toombs, his wife, and his assistants. (The only bad thing was that we had a car inspection and Sister Knowlton and I probably failed. The inside was clean...but the outside was horrendous). Sister Toombs taught us, "We are never lost until we begin to fear." How true is that! We aren't ever lost until we lose faith. We can't be faithful and fearful. We can only be one or the other. She also told us to be cautious about the things that we get stuck in--First, we forget who we are. We are children of God. Second, we forget why we are here. Why are we serving a mission? To help others to come unto Christ. Last, we get caught up in unresolved sins. We forget about the gift of the Atonement (we can be forgiven through Christ's suffering).
President Toombs added to her remarks and told us that soon the mission will be HALF SISTERS AND HALF ELDERS. (There are currently 66 sisters and wayyy more elders. Like more than one hundred). By the end of the year, we are looking at 125 sisters and 125 elders. Shoot dang. The field is white and already to harvest! The Lord's work is progressing.
Some counsel we were given was to continually think of a Peter Pan thought, or a happy thought. For me, my happy thought is why I chose to serve a mission. For you, not on missions, think of why you are here on this Earth--what is your purpose? Your happy thought can help you get through the hard times, like it has helped me.

After Zone Conference, we had exchanges. First, I was with Sister Mailau. She has been on her mission for eleven months and she is a boss. She really knows how to touch people. Seriously. I hope I can be like she is. She is originally from Tonga and she is hilarious. During the few lessons that we taught, she was so bold. The Savior was is with her.
Then, I was with Sister Grenfell (she and I were in the same British Literary History class last Fall. Pretty neat, huh?). Anyways, we have both been out for 5 weeks....So that was interesting. Neither of us knew what we were doing, but the Lord blessed us and we had a lot of fun. We knocked on this one man's door (his neighbor is a less active who never keeps his appointments).
Our conversation went a little something like this....
Knock. Knock.
Opens the door.
Man: What can I do for you ladies?
Me: Hi! We are representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and....
Man: Nope. Not interested!
Me: Well, we were just in the----
Man: You people stop by way too much! And I don't appreciate it.
Sister Grenfell and I got a laugh out of that. It was hilarious!! Missionaries must try to see his neighbor and when the neighbor isn't there, they knock on his door.

When exchanges were over, Sister Knowlton and I visited a less active and her son (who is not a member). We talked to them about the Word of Wisdom--they are both heavy smokers. AND, we asked them if they'd commit to live the Word of Wisdom and they said yes. The son even gave us his cigarettes. Wooot. When he handed his cigarettes to Sister Knowlton, she kind of was shocked (she has never held a box of cigarettes before) and she gave them to me. It was comical. We also wet down the cigarettes in the ashtray--to make sure they had nothing to smoke. That was awesome. We also told them to pray and read from the scriptures anytime they had the urge to smoke. Woooot. Can't wait to see how they are doing.

After that, weird things started happening. First, we locked our phone in the church library....yeah, we went a while without that. Oops. (It isn't too weird, but it gets weirder). While contacting (meeting random people on the street) before dinner, Sister Knowlton and I got hit on.
Man: You're the prettiest missionaries I've ever seen.
Man: Are you married?
Sister Knowlton: Nope. I'm 19, and she's 20.
Man: That's okay with me.
Hahahha!! That was really awkward. We're planning on letting the elders teach them.

Then later that night, we visited a family from our ward. They both had callings in a Laotian ward. We asked if they knew Lao and the sister says something in Lao which means, "I love you, handsome buffalo." I don't know if that is some expression, but it was interesting.

We also met with a woman who is Eastern Orthodox and that was interesting. She told us about her religion and it was enlightening. She prayed with us and they pray to the East (cool, huh?). She is truly an amazing woman and very intelligent.

Did I tell you that Michelle got baptized? MICHELLE GOT BAPTIZED. During the entire service, she was in tears. Sister Knowlton and I walked with her to the font and hugged her before and she wept. They even while in the water waiting to be baptized, she cried. The spirit was incredible. Her family came to support her and it was wonderful. Her entire immediate family came (except her one of her sisters) and all their children---most are not members of the church. How amazing! (Mom and Dad, I really want you to meet her and her family).

I love you all and I know that Jesus lives. I know that He loves us. He is counting on us to do the right things so that we can get back to Heavenly Father's presence. Know that I am praying for you!

Sister Hardy


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Week Four

Sometimes the Lord needs to remind us that He is always in control. This seems to be a common lesson for me in the past four weeks--I'm still trying to learn.

Highlight of the week: MICHELLE BORE HER TESTIMONY IN CHURCH! And she hasn't even been baptized yet. This woman is INCREDIBLE. AND. She is getting baptized Saturday night! I am so stoked! We have seen this woman's life change dramatically in the last few weeks. She is amazing.
"How is she amazing?" you may ask. Well, yesterday was Fast Sunday and we hadn't even taught her about fasting and SHE WAS FASTING. She texted us and asked if she could drink water. Sister Knowlton and I were super confused. This woman has been so prepared.

Anyways. This week we met some people who have been through really hard and bizarre things. We met this one young woman (age 18), who has a child (named Lawrence--and he is the cutest! He's one of those babies that you just can't help but squeal at). So she didn't know she was pregnant until she went into labor!!! Crazy, right?! Sister Knowlton said that she should write a book called "What to Expect When You're Not Expecting." She should have a TV show about that.

We also met a woman with two little girls. What are their names you may ask? Ismeandray and Rayandi. Is-me-and-ray and ray-and-i. (Her boyfriend's name is Ray). I think they, too, should have a TV show. Anyways, she lives with her grandfather who is a member of our ward and they are the nicest people! We have an appointment to meet with her next week. We're teaching her about how faith is really important, but so are works.

Now, here is a great story. Tuesday, we had an appointment with a woman and she wasn't home, so we went to visit some of her neighbors and we met two women--Doris and Chelsey. They are fairly religious and believe in God wholeheartedly. We sat with them and talked to them about the Restoration of the Gospel (how Jesus Christ's church has been restored). Anyways, we were talking about the Bible and then Doris mentioned how so many other religions have other books--she mentioned a few religions, "the Mormon church" being one of them--and how we have the Bible and we don't need anything else. We hadn't told her that we were Mormons, but had said that we were from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--so that was a bit awkward (we should probably do that next time). We then explained to her about the Book of Mormon and she seemed to understand the scriptures that we read to her. They also mentioned something about hearing the three of the four horns before the Second Coming...and Sister Knowlton and I were just like "uh...wooooow. Cool." Maybe I'm ill-educated, but I have never learned anything about the four horns. It was a pretty awkward lesson. But they are awesome people nonetheless!

And then there was Wednesday. We had a meeting and taught some lessons. But then Michelle cancelled our lesson--which was a shock to say the least. It was having a rough time, so we understood, but were disappointed anyway. Anyways, we looked in the directory to find some less active/part member families to teach. We found a family and decided to go visit them. Well, when we got there we saw a young man by his car and we went and talked with him. Turns out he's a member! He's from Idaho and stopped coming to church. That was pretty neat seems how we don't have his records (we have met three people who are less active in the past two weeks that we don't have records for. The Lord needs them to come back!)
Anyways, we wet and tried to visit that family and only the kids were home, so we decided to visit another family. Well, when we got there we heard screaming from inside the house and knocked on the door, rang the door-bell, waited for something else. Well, no answer. On our way back to the car, we heard more screams. Well, we had no idea what to do. So what did we do?We called Sister Knowlton's trainer (who happens to be in our District) and there was no answer. So we prayed and waited. AND THEN AN OLD MAN COMES OUT OF THE HOUSE, SO THEN WE DRIVE OFF AS FAST AS WE COULD. So then we were really scared and worried, so what did we do? We called the district leader (we would have called the Zone leaders, but we were afraid they'd make fun of us). Elder Brennan (district leader) and Elder Urianza went to the house and checked everything out. Everything was okay, but Sister Knowlton and I are positive that something was going down.

We had an awesome start to the week, right?! But then...Thursday happened.
Thursday, ALL of our appointments fell through except one--and that wasn't even a lesson. It was a meeting with the Bishop. Anyways, everyone cancelled and I was quite frustrated. The Lord was trying our patience. We've been praying and fasting to know what we need to do and where we need to go. However, the next day we were able to teach six lessons--not including dinner messages. It was a miracle. But I think the Lord was reminding us that any success that we have isn't ours, but His.

We also were reminded of this when we stopped by Gavino's house three times this week and he wasn't there or awake. On the third day, our conversation with his roommate (who speaks only Spanish) went a little something like this:
Us: "Is Gavino home?"
Roommate: "Ahh....no."
Us (Sister Knowlton and I look at each other): "Donde?" (which means "Where")
Roommate: "Mexico."
Us: "Mexico!"
Sister Knowlton:...Porque? (which means 'Why")
Roommate: I don't know.
Me: Uh....Quand? Quand? Quando?
Roommate: Oh..Uh..Til Wedneday, Tuesday, Saturday.

Yep. That was our conversation. Look at me and Sister Knowlton. Talk about the gift of tongues. Anyways, to make a long story even longer, we don't know when Gavino will be home and I am so bummed. Hopefully, he will come back.

I love you all and know that I am praying for you. Remember that the Lord loves you and wants you to be happy. I, too, want you to be happy.

Sister Hardy

p.s. My first name is starting to sound really weird...is that normal?

Shout out to my darling, crazy Grandmother! Happy birthday! I love you!

The first picture is of me and a kitten. The home that we were at has three kittens and a mother cat who is expecting some babies soon! So of course I went all crazy cat lady on them!

The second  picture is of the sky last night at sunset. How gorgeous is that?! It looked like it was on fire! 

The third picture is of our weekly planning. Weekly planning takes about three hours (or more). It is way too long, but it is needed.

The last picture is kind of obvious. I don't know what this sign really means--"Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church"--but Sister Knowlton and I thought it was great.