Monday, November 28, 2016

final email say what...? is this real life? i think it is... :*(

So a quick run down of this past crazy week. Monday we were up at 5:30 and played ball hockey with the elders. Tuesday the whole district woke up sore from playing ball hockey on Monday! Wednesday was district meeting in Fredericton, let’s just say 10 min hockey break anyone? Yup that's right! Then we played afterwards during our lunch break! Then a member took us out to eat… what an adventure… Thursday was pretty legit! We went and served food at the Catholic church! Every year they put on a thanksgiving meal for the community! So we were there and the news reporter was interviewing the deacon when he comes over and is like hey Elders and Sisters do you want to answer a few questions for the reporter?! So needless to say we were on the news. It was legit.. Well our interview wasn’t but our faces were! Ill upload the link and it starts at the 4 min mark!
It was pretty legit eh?! Anyways… onto my final words of life… na just the past 18 months of my life...
The day I got my mission call was one of the happiest days of my life. As I sat there waiting for the mailman to come day after day, it finally came… I waited and waited to open it. They day finally came, I held in my hands the next 18ish months of my life. As I opened my call in front of that intimate group and attempted to conceal the whole of the letter so as to read one line at a time, I couldn’t prevent my eyes from sneaking a glance down to the words, “Canada Halifax Mission.” In that unforgettable moment I could have never have foreseen or comprehended the eternity-altering experience that lay ahead.
No missionary who hugs her family goodbye has any real clue of what she is getting herself into. No amount of Preach My Gospel preparation can prepare the heart and mind for the soul-stretching months that lay ahead as you walk away from your loved ones into a bright, yet foggy destiny. I will never forget going to the airport to come to Canada. The Spirit whispered, “You will blink and you will be coming back to greet your family again.” I have blinked and in a few short days I will be greeting my family again.
An airport- what an insignificant, commonplace thing to constitute that bookends of this glorious mission. It may be easy to imagine I’ve simply spent 18 months in Canada, but i can assure you that the girl that left that day is not the same one that is coming back.
Where once I went relatively blindly into my mission experience, I now return having actually experienced it. It’s no longer a vague destination on a call letter but it’s a place and a people and an era that is embroidered into every fabric of my soul. I could have never supposed when i started off from my homeland to a far away unknown, that God would have granted me such great blessings (Alma 26:1).
My mission as challenged me to the very core-body, mind and spirit. I’ve been rejected so much that it doesn’t even make me flinch. I’ve spent so many days without things that it’s no longer a disappointment, just a norm. I’ve seen people in deep despair and have hit my knees in sorrow, too. But amidst it all I have become deeply acquainted with my dear Savior and felt incomprehensible joy.
My greatest joy has come from seeing the miracle of changed-hearts touched, sins repented of, branches reignited, and eyes illuminated with the light of the knowledge of Christ. Satisfaction has come as I have seen investigators open the Book of Mormon for the first time or kneel in fervent prayer, less actives remember the Spirit they once felt and enter the meeting house once again, and members step closer to their eternal potentials and give selfless service. I have been inspired by the faith of consecrated leaders who sacrifice everything for the cause of Christ. I have been moved by investigators who step forward to be baptized despite persecutions from family and friends. And I have seen the Atonement work miracles inside of me, too.
The lesson that encompasses all other lessons I have learned on my mission is love. My imperfect and often prideful heart has been softened by the infinite love of Jesus Christ. Amidst pleading for, studying for, weeping for, sweating for, and sacrificing for these amazing people I have tasted just a sliver of what the Savior felt on His mission culminating with the most infinite act of love- the Atonement.
If charity really is the pure love of Christ then charity is, at the core, the Atonement. Therefore, none of us will quite be able to accomplish having true charity, but the closest thing we can get to that true charity-the Atonement- is sacrificing for God’s children. It is the only through sacrifice that we can attempt to become like Him.
The Canadian people have taught me to truly love and give freely, for instead of strangers they are my brothers and sisters. They, in their greatest need and poverty, have given so wholeheartedly to me, who never deserved such sacrifice. But no eternal or abiding love ever came without sacrifice. Because I have given these months to them they have become my family. Even in meeting for the first thim, you call old women your grandmother and middle-aged women your mother. I haven’t just been loving strangers here-they have become ever so dear to me.
The tenderest feelings of  my heart are wrapped up in these people in what my mission has done to me. As I come home I can’t help but cry to the Lord, “My mission has meant everything to me, yet after all of this refinement I am still so imperfect.” I am sure a similar cry will be said at the end of our lives, “My live has meant everything to me, yet after all of this I am still so imperfect.” I am grateful for a Saviour that makes up for my greatest imperfections. I may have come to end of my full-time mission but this is only the beginning of my lifelong discipleship and dedication to Christ.
For the past 18 months I have walked, talked, ate, slept, and breathed missionary work and I can honestly say I have lost myself in the work. I don’t quite know who I was before mission or who I will be post-mission but I do know that in losing all the “extras” I have gone exploring in the deeper, eternal parts of my divine identity and have discovered something beautiful. I may have a small identity crisis awaiting me at home but this will only lead to even more self-discover. Eternity is on the up and up and “death” is but my next great adventure.
I truly am so grateful for everything that I have learned for all of the love and support that I have gotten from my friends and family everywhere! This is going to be a hard adjustment but totally worth it in the long run!
Well the next time I talk to y’all in person! My homecoming talk will be on the 11th at 2:30 at the monad building! So… yea…. Adios!



Monday, November 21, 2016

#hurricanehardycominhome #thanksgivingalready? #LIGHTtheWORLD

This week has been an interesting one to say the least... Tuesday we had district meeting.. President and Sister Pratt were there cause we had interviews afterwards... lets just say we basically were at the church all day long... it was brutality. Interviews were weird... talked about coming home and ugh I don't even know. Then he bought us lunch and a member bought us supper that day... Pizza is my least favorite thing on the earth right now... SO NO PIZZA PLEASE... Then later that week we were in Fredericton for a mini zone training that was fun! We learned about the new Christmas initiative the church is putting out!  The hashtag is #LIGHTtheWORLD  its pretty legit! It's focused around doing service for the whole Christmas season! The website is up and running as of November 25th Here is the website! So be sure to check it out!! There was a taco challenge to see who could eat the most tacos going on Saturday night at a members home so we stopped by and #hurricanehardy strikes... the oven was on... it was hot... there was a cold metal chair by it... i moved the chair.. it tapped the oven door... the tempered glass shattered... like in a million pieces.. I FELT SO FRICKIN BAD... needless to say that is my new nickname around the Houlton Branch.. We drove to Fredericton last night and stayed the night at the sisters apartment and then got up at 5:30 and played ball hockey with the elders for a solid 2ish hours! Don't you worry I did NOT get injured! I'm on a roll no injuries this transfer!! I can't believe how fast time is flying by! I can't believe that it is Thanksgiving week! Like where did November go?! I am so grateful for all of you in my life! I am grateful for the love and support that you have all given me throughout my life and especially these last 18 months. I wouldn't have made it without the support of all of you wonderful people! I am extremely grateful for my loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Most of all I am grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve my mission and to be part of the CHM and to have all of the wonderful people of the Maritimes become part of me and my family.                                                                                                              Serving a mission has given me a new set of glasses to look at life through. I feel more aware of those around me and their feelings. I have been able to notice God's hand in my life more clearly. My patience with others, myself and with the circumstances life provides, has grown exponentially. I see others differently. I judge less, because I have felt God's love for strangers and I know that everyone has a story. I am far from perfect, but I know now what I need to do and what kind of efforts I need to put forth to truly change and become better everyday. The simplest of things that I learned and developed as a missionary have made the biggest difference in my life now. Habits that I formed as a missionary have helped me to make the day to day lifestyle choices that shape an attitude of faith, hope and charity. Serving a mission allowed me to learn more about the Savior and His love for each one of us. As I got to know the individuals I interacted with, my heart grew with love for them, that I didn't know could exist in me. I love the people of the Canada Halifax Mission. They taught me so many valuable things that will always be close to my heart.                                                                    I know that the message I shared for 18 months and continue to share with others is the greatest blessing of hope and peace in this life. I know that God lives, that He created all things, and that He loves us more than we can comprehend. I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Prince of Peace and my Redeemer. His grace is sufficient for all of us to be strengthened and enabled to overcome anything we experience in this life. He is the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could give us. Through Christ we are able to live after we die and be cleansed from sin, making us eligible to live with our families, God and Him again after this life in peace and joy. If we have faith, keep God's commandments, serve others and live cheerfully we will be given the strength to endure and experience the purest of joy now and forever. I know that this is true.                My life is forever changed because of the experience I had of serving a mission. Every missionary is different, every mission is different, and the experiences you have as a missionary are different from anyone else's experiences. But they are unique and personalized to be exactly what you need individually because God cares just as much about the messenger as He does the people receiving the message. It was has been a hard 18 months. There have been tears of happiness as well as sadness and frustration. Many nights I went to sleep, exhausted and worried about companions, the people we were trying to help and of being inadequate to carry the calling of a missionary. I tried my best and trusted in the Lord, and miracles happened. The greatest miracle of my mission was my own conversion to Jesus Christ and His gospel. I've truly been saved, in every sense of the word. I think God's commandments are perfect and intentional in all aspects. I know it's not a coincidence that as we are helping others come closer to Christ, we end up at the feet of the Savior as well.    

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fire... Moose... 3 weeks... 20somethin day... 'nough said

Alright... so my whole frickin mission i have wanted to see a moose, cause you just cant come to canada and maine and not see a moose... so last monday we were in walmart and i found a moose footie pj... so the sisters talked me into buying it... so that happened... then later that week guess what we found?! A FREAKIN MOOSE eh!!! 3 to be exact. it was legit, You would have thought that i had never seen a moose before.. . ( i have) it was wicked awesome! Then Saturday night... not sure how but we got ourselves roped into a taco challenge... lets just say im not proud to say it but between 6 of us we ate over 60 tacos... it was NASTY! then we were burning things... and we had an empty bottle of rubbing alcohol, so my smart self decided to toss it in the fire... poor jimmys eye... a piece of plastic latched onto his eyelid...  i may or may not be evil...
well on to bigger and better things....
In 2o somethin days... I will be boarding a plane back to the motherland. To try to describe the emotions and feelings that I have been through these few week would probably be a waste of time and only understood by those who have also served a mission. It’s beautiful and tragic and exciting yet miserable all at the same time.
As my mission is ending I have done so much reflecting on where I was eighteen months ago. Some days I’m super excited to take on the future as the new me and other days I’m terrified feeling like I haven’t changed at all. So this morning I decided to make a list of everything I’ve learned in eighteen months to remind myself that who I am is not who I was and for that I consider my mission a success.
1. I love people so much more now. As a missionary you are constantly talking to people you have seemingly nothing in common with, find common ground, try to love them as the savior would if he were there, and withhold your judgments and just serve and love and do it all over again. I have found myself in homes I would never have been in, loving people whose paths I never would have crossed and who I may have even worse never noticed. And they have changed me and loved me freely in return.
2. I love the Book of Mormon. I never would have said that before. And I love the prophet Joseph Smith because he loved the savior Jesus Christ no matter how ridiculed he would be, or how many times he was called a fraud. He was called to a mission and he completed it and is still mocked and hated to this day for restoring truth. I’ve been a recipient of that truth and words can explain my gratitude.
3. I know my Savior personally and now have a closeness with him I never thought possible. I’ve spend countless nights out here mad at him, mad at myself for being mad at him, holding nothing back, telling him every fear, doubt, and concern that I’ve had. And he’s listened to my bratty self. He never gave up on me. He showed me I was capable of doing this work no matter how behind or inadequate I felt I was.
4. This life is literally the blink of an eye and yet we waste so much time holding grudges, talking about shallow things that don’t matter, putting God on the back burner and living for ourselves and little else. I never want to be too busy again to pursue he who grants me daily breath. I never want to go anywhere or do anything that I can’t see God in.
5. This is the hardest to admit but it’s completely honest. I’m not ashamed anymore, I’m not ashamed to be a Mormon. I’m not ashamed to be seen anywhere with my name tag on and be ridiculed for something so personal to me. I love it. I love being seen as a representative of Jesus Christ. With or without the name tag I decided long ago that I am on a course committed to following the Savior and he is so merciful.
6.  There is absolutely nothing I could have sacrificed that would outweigh or could have been worth me not coming on this mission. I can’t put it into words. It hasn’t been easy or glamorous. It’s been hard work that has literally required all of my willpower, all of my heart, and all of my selfish desires. It strips you of your pride and makes you re prioritize everything you currently value and it aligns
I would have been fine without this mission but I would be lacking everything I know and love now and I will never look at the world the same or the atonement of Jesus Christ the same. I love my mission so much. I love this work. I am forever changed.
I love you all so much. Thanks for believing in me, loving me, laughing and cringing with me, supporting me, encouraging me, and letting me be 100 percent myself. I am determined to be excited about the future no matter what and I’m grateful to be surrounded by people that make it so beautiful.

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Time is comin near...

Hey y'all, 

    Before you start, I should warn you.. my emails are gonna start to get pretty long.. so just a warning.. :) 

    Wow, what a hard week... So Tuesday was my last zone conference...Lets just say I am pretty sure I have cried more this week than my whole life combined...  I was asked to bear my testimony along with the other 3 sisters in my zone that are going home. And of course who went first? ME... so I started out fine.. then I looked over to the table where the other 3 were sitting and they were ALL in tears... so I look at my companion and she is in tears... so I turn and I see President and Sister Pratt... they are both in tears... I just couldn't hold it together. so I ended up totally turning away from everyone and basically stared at the elders on the other side of the room cause I had no idea who they were. Its kinda really crazy right now to think that life as i know it is going to be dramatically changed in a few short weeks. As I have been pondering on all of the many things a mission teaches you i have come to recognize the most important thing i have gained. I can tell you that I know without a doubt in my mind that The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important thing that we can have in our life. I have a firm testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most correct church on the earth today. 

     I've been so blessed and feel so grateful for everything I've experienced, for the people I've met and for the time I've had to serve my Savior, Jesus Christ. As His representative, I've felt His love for those I meet, and I feel honored and privileged to have spent the last 18 months in His service. I know that God loves us and that He knows all. I know that His timing is perfect and that as we obey His commandments and pray and search for Him in our lives, He will give us answers and assurance through the trials we go through. I am so grateful for a Savior and Redeemer who has suffered all things that we go through in life, so we can be relieved and redeemed from the pains and burdens we all carry. I know that He has always chosen prophets to speak to us and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God called to restore His church and complete gospel to the earth. I am grateful for a living prophet on the earth today and I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's chosen prophet. He speaks the words that God would have us hear. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I love it and know it has brought me closer to my Savior as I've read it. I know families can be together forever and that we can return to live with God after this life, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, repent continually and receive the ordinances of salvation. I love, love, LOVE what I've learned and experienced on my mission.

      If I hadn't served a mission, I would in reality not be emailing you all right now. That is pretty obvious.. but the impact of that sentence weighs more than it appears. I would not have had the experiences that have made me into the person I am today. Every day, I have been put into uncomfortable and inconvenient situations. I've met hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in the last 18 months. I've prayed and fasted over my own challenges but also of those whom I have come to love and adore. I have lost myself in the labor of helping others find the truth and turn to the Lord for help. By doing that, it has opened my heart to loving and caring for people I would have never even thought I would have even talked to before my mission. I can only remember glimpses of the person I used to be before the mission. I don't want to slide back to what I once was. I used to let my weaknesses define me instead of trying to overcome them and refine my character and nature to one who follows Jesus Christ. There is oh so much more work to be done in overcoming my fears and insecurities, but from serving a mission I've learned who to turn to in overcoming fear and discomfort. The Savior has become my greatest friend and relief. He overcame all, and through relying on His grace and mercy, we can come unto Him and be saved.

    Each area I've served in and each companion I've served with, have all taught me so many things. I've learned many lessons from their examples, friendship, and the experiences we have been through together! Many of my companions have taught me to be myself, and to become the best person I can, through relying on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I've found some of my dearest friends out here; recent converts and ward members that have become family and companions that have become my sisters. I'm so grateful for each one of them and the eternal impact they've had on my life. I can't even imagine not meeting and loving each one of them! I've been changed for the better and I know that I was sent to the Canada Halifax Mission by a loving Heavenly Father who knew exactly what I needed and who I needed in these last 18 months. The timing of when I've been transferred has been exactly what was intended by the Lord because of the spiritual experiences I've had following the changes that have occurred on my mission! I've learned to have faith and expect miracles to happen when I am diligent and obedient and trust in the Lord. The power of prayer has become my go-to in every situation. I've learned to have hope, to love and have charity; the pure love of Christ, and to be diligent and exactly obedient in the work of the Lord. I've learned the impact of having a humble and teachable heart and the importance of heeding the counsel of my leaders and ultimately, the Leader. I have learned that gaining knowledge and having virtuous thoughts, words and actions can give us so much peace and happiness. Through many, many experiences I've recognized I've become more and more patient as the Lord has been ever so patient with me. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father live and they love us more than we can comprehend. I have an undying passion for the Book of Mormon and I know that it is the word of God and that I've gotten closest to my Savior as I've read it and applied its teachings in my life. I know that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I'm so, so, SO sad to be ending this mission of mine. My life has been saved because of it and I'm eternally grateful to all who have played a part in it! I'm forever changed, and I am so indescribably grateful to a loving Father who knows all.

    I love you all sooo fricken much! I am grateful for all of the support and encouragement that you have ALL given me! These next few weeks are going to be so hard but soo worth it! 

Love Sister Hardy