Monday, September 30, 2013

Sooo much to say!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Let's take care of business -

Happy Birthday to Karlee Vail tomorrow! I remember attending her birthday party last year. :) I hope it's great again this year!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BRYNNY ON THURSDAY! You're the sassiest, cutest littliest sister ever.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FAVORITE MISSIONARY SISTER BELYEA ON FRIDAY! I hope that birthdays in the mission field rock. I miss you!

Alright, so here I am in a new area with a new companion. I'll start with my companion -

Her name is Sister Puruganan and she is from the Phillipines. She has been out for just over three months and she is 27 years old. She is a hard worker and the most humble person in the world. She was a school teacher back home, teaching English. So her English is pretty amazing, but it's fun doing language study with her. :) I love when she asks me what a word means, and I don't know the answer... OOPS. It's pretty funny.

So here I am in Hamilton Mountain West. There are two Elders on the East side of the "mountain." (It isn't a mountain, it's more like a tiny little hill). Hahaha, these Canadians are crazy. It is MUCH more populated than Woodstock, so it's a lot like Ajax. The apartment is pretty nice, but there isn't a washer and dryer.  :(  We did our laundry this morning and it was pretty pricey - so that's going to take some getting used to. I'm the designated driver, and oh boy it is so fun. We drive a nice 2012 Chevy Malibu and I love it. However, this last week we have had basically 0 k's for the month, so we've been doing a lot of walking. The weather is cooling down though, so walking isn't bad at all. Oh, one of the Elders here, Elder Lasley is from Idaho Falls and he played football at Skyline High School, just like you Dad!

We are working with a solid amazing investigator, Samantha. She is the girlfriend of a less active member, Cody, who is trying to come back to church. His whole family is active, and he started coming back when Samantha started asking him questions. She had only been taught once before we taught her last week. We went and planning to teach her the restoration, but we focused a lot on how much God loves her. She has had no religious background and had so many questions - which I love! We also talked a lot about baptism, and the Spirit was so strong. Cody was able to bear his testimony of the Holy Ghost, and there wasn't a dry eye in the whole room. We committed Samantha to be baptized on October 13th, and she accepted. After she said yes, she mentioned how a warm tingly feeling went through her whole body, then she started crying. You guys, it was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever been in. It is truly amazing to witness FIRST HAND the Spirit work in people. Ahhh I love it so much. We are going to see her and Cody again this evening, and I can't wait!

There are a few other investigators here, but we are really going to focus on gaining a solid promising teaching pool. Unfortunately, this ward hasn't seen a convert baptism in almost 2 years. Well, my friends, that is going to change. We were able to visit several members and gain their trust. I love the members here. Oh, and the ward is so huge. Yesterday I felt like I was sitting in the Sterling Heights Ward back in Utah, there were so many members. This ward has SO much potential, so things are going to change. :)

There are a few miracles that happened this week - I'll start with the biggest one -

I WAS ABLE TO GO TO THE TORONTO CANADA TEMPLE! We were barely in the Temple range, and it was such a tender mercy. It was so great to see President and Sister Scott, and all of my other missionary friends. It was the most calming beautiful thing to see almost 50 missionaries in the celestial room together. The Toronto Canada Temple is breathtaking, and I can't wait to go back soon. God answered my prayers, and He knew that I needed to go to the Temple. I was even able to see a couple from Ajax. I felt so refreshed and so full of peace. It was a beautiful day indeed, because that night was the Relief Society Broadcast. I always get chills when President Monson talks about his time as a Mission President in the exact mission that I am in!

The other miracle is a referral from a member that lives in a different city. We got the referral on my first full day here, Wednesday. But we didn't have time to contact it until Friday evening. The only thing we knew was that their names were Patrick and Serena, and that we should teach them the Plan of Salvation. Well we showed up on Friday night, and Patrick immediately let us in. We told him that Charity has told us to stop by, and apparently Serena and Charity are really close. Patrick and Serena just had a baby girl, Lyla back in May. They are the cutest/best couple ever (besides everyone in my family). Haha. Patrick has a strong belief in God, but doesn't like organized religion. Serena has a HUGE faith in God and so badly wants more in her life. We talked to them for about an hour and a half and taught the whole plan of salvation. The Spirit was so strong, and I can't wait to go back there. Patrick's heart was softened throughout the lesson and I could see him listening intently and feeling the Spirit. Serena bore her testimony on how much Jesus Christ has helped her in her life, and you could not deny the presence of the Holy Ghost. Serena texted Charity the next morning, and Charity forwarded it to us. Basically it said how amazing it was to visit with the missionaries and how she felt the most calm feeling that whole time. She also said that she can't wait for us to come back! Booya! We will be seeing them this week. :) Miracles miracles miracles.

Well friends, it's time to start another week of the great work of all time. The longer that I'm out here on a mission, the more I fall completely in love with it. I'm learning more about my Savior, Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. I'm learning more about who I am, as a daughter of God, and who all of God's children are. They are precious in His sight, and it's humbling to feel that love. I love you all so very much. I think and pray for you often. Have a great week.

I would just like to share this scripture that I found this morning -  

D&C 112:14 - "Now, I say unto you, and what I say unto you, I say unto all the Twelve: Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross, and feed my sheep."

Sister Hardcastle

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Live Like His Son, Help Others On Their Way"

Andrea and her fam :) hardest goodbye!

Woodstock - the dairy capitol of Canada

Tranfers! All of Sister Stats' "Trainees"

Sister Puruganan and I

Saying goodbye to Suzanne and Jade 

Beautiful Day!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Goodbye Woodstock...

Dear Family and Friends, 

CONGRATS TO LANDON AND HANNAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy Hannah this is exciting! I think that this is the most exciting news in the whole world. I'm excited to have you as a sister Hannah. :)  I would love a detailed email of the whole story asap....

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GRANDMA SHIRLEY ON SATURDAY!  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!  You're the truest example of a Christlike person, and I hope you have the best day.

Well, the title of this email is true. Woodstock is being whitewashed. With Elders. Both Sister Anderson and I will be leaving tomorrow morning. Crazy eh? I had a slight feeling that I would be leaving, and it is so bittersweet. I feel SOgood about it. But I am going to miss Woodstock. I am going to miss the amazing investigators and members here. I was only here for a short time, but I fell in love. When does it get easier to say goodbye???

My new companion is Sister Puruganan from the Phillipines! That's right - isn't that sweet?! She has been out one transfer less than me, so she just finished training. :) We will be serving in the Hamilton Mountain West area. If I'm not mistaken, that is right on the water, just like Ajax! Also - I will be driving a car! Say what?! I don't think I remember how to drive. I'm excited/nervous/anxious.

I got the suitcase! Woohoo!!! It's going to be hilarious trying to fit four suitcases plus Sister Anderson's things in our car. Man, this will be awesome. I called the DL last night and asked him if it would be a problem to have four suitcases for transfers, and he said that Sisters can get away with anything. :) Thank you for the suitcase!!! I love everything, that I was allowed to open! Sister Anderson and I had the delicious Mac and Cheese - that was so yummy! Best mac and cheese I've ever made. Also, that chocolate milk was an answer to my prayers! 

We are super rushed today, and so I won't have much time to email everyone back individually. I just want to say thank you for all the prayers and support. I am so blessed!

Tonight we are going to drop by lots of people, and the tears will be there. Especially with Andrea. We haven't told her that we are both leaving yet, and it's going to be really hard. The one thing that she said she didn't want was for Elders to come in, hahah and look what happened! But, I know that this is for the best. I trust Heavenly Father, and the Elders will take care of her. 

We had a great week. We saw miracle after miracle. We even had a random lady show up at church, and is now a new investigator. We work lots with less-actives here in Woodstock, and it's become my favorite thing. I don't have much else to say. Haha 

Andrea came to church yesterday yet again, and has stopped smoking. We were going through some of the baptism interview questions with her, and when I asked her why she wanted to be baptized she said - "Because I know it's a positive thing that will draw me closer to God." Best answer ever! She rocks.  :)

We had an exchange this past week where on of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Tuia, came to Woodstock and we had a tripanionship. It was so much fun. :) She is from Samoa and is such a hard worker. She was with us the day that Grandma and Grandpa dropped the suitcase off. It was really hard when I called and they were at Sister Dyment's house. It was SO hard not to talk to them on the phone, and obviously very emotional. Sister Tuia later told me how I was her hero for being so obedient, and that I would be blessed. I guess I was blessed with a huge suitcase from home.  ;)

My thoughts are all over the place right now. We have to go clean our apartment, pack and start saying our goodbyes. I hope that everyone has an amazing week. I love you all so much. 

Sister Hardcastle

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Live Like His Son, Help Others On Their Way"


Monday, September 16, 2013

"And it came to pass..."

Dear Family and Friends, 

Another week has come and gone and I can hardly believe it. Before I begin - 

Happy Birthday to my young and hip Grandma Ida! I sure do love you!!! Have the best day - and enjoy your travels to Canada this week! When you drive through Woodstock, be careful. It's a creepy and crazy little town. :) 

Today is my companions birthday as well, so this email may be a little shorter so that we can go do something fun! Except, there is absolutely nothing fun to do in Woodstock. We really wanted to go to an Art Museum, but of course it's closed on Mondays. So, instead we are going to go Thrift Store shopping! Woot woot! Sister Anderson is also an avid runner. So, she wants to go running for a couple hours. So, while she runs around at the park, I sleep on the grass. Some things never change.....

The best part about this week - Andrea. I have so much to say about her. Where to begin? We went over there on Monday night, to find her gone, so we taught her husband Levingston. When we teach him it is always on his porch. When I think back to Woodstock, all I'm going to remember is teaching Levingston and Andrea on their porch while getting eaten alive by bugs. Haha. We shared with him Ether 12:4 about hope and being on the right hand of God. When we asked him what he thought of it, he said "The right hand of God must be a really BIG hand". Hahah he is so funny. He always says, "You know what I mean?!" while laughing hysterically. You all would love him. So next to that verse in my scriptures I wrote that quote. I will never forget it. 

The next time we saw Andrea we taught her the Restoration. Another funny story with this lesson. We watched the Restoration video and she loved it. She loves reading the Book of Mormon and she always wants to say the opening AND closing prayers. Golden! We made this rainbow calendar for her, so that she can be ready for her baptism coming up. She loves everything rainbow, so we even brought her rainbow cookies, but her son ate them all. When we were talking to her about her baptism she got so nervous about going all the way under water. Haha, she is too funny. 

The next time we saw Andrea was at the Relief Society activity. So here is the story. She was really nervous about coming, so she wanted us to be waiting outside the church for her, so that we could go in together. Well, this was on a Thursday, and on Thursdays we don't have our car, so naturally we were late walking there. We walked into the church and she is already sitting with all the other women. She fit in perfectly! The activity was on getting to know, and all of the other church websites. When she got home, she immediately downloaded the APP and watched mormon messages about the temples all night. Not joking. Also that night we were talking to her about the Word of Wisdom. It was getting too late to teach her everything so we just gave her the pamphlet. She mentioned how she really wants to quite smoking but she would never give up wine.... haha little did she know...

The next time we saw her she had a completely different mind set. She didn't want tea, smoking or alcohol. She accepted the Word of Wisdom, and right now she is working on the 7 day stop smoking workshop. Such a miracle. She came to church yesterday and loved it. She shared experiences in both Gospel Principles and Relief Society. She completely fits in. She was very emotional during some parts of church because she was feeling the Spirit. It was an amazing Sunday with her. At the end of church I made the mistake of telling her that Sister Anderson or I may be leaving next week, and she broke down crying. So then I started crying. I honestly feel like I'm in Woodstock right now for Andrea. I better not leave! Did I mention how she worked all through the night so that she could come to church? She is incredible. Her husband and her son were supposed to come, but they slept in :( we'll get them soon enough. 

So that's the run down on Andrea. Mom and Dad - she really wants us to come back and visit her. I told her that we would no doubt:) also, I told her that we would all be there when she goes to the temple... soo hope that's okay!

We had one day this week when everything just went wrong. It was Tuesday after district meeting and it went something like this - 
1. 40 degrees Celsius plus humidity
2. Bombed appointment
3. REALLY mean Jehovah's Witness
4. Met a creepy man who made us take a picture of him on his motorcycle for a girl. 
5. We got 'disinvited' to Branch Council
6. Tried to stop by Lisa - she wasn't home
7. Another bombed appointment

It's days like that that make me grateful for days that go well. :)

I don't think I've talked too much about Suzanne and Jade. Jade is 10, and Suzanne is her mom, and they just got baptized back in June. We see them lots, and they are incredible. Suzanne has already read the Book of Mormon 3 times, and the Doctrine and Covenants. They also get so excited when they come teaching with us. They're my favorite!

We had quite the experience with Brother Turkington this week. You can listen to that on my little attachment. It's too hard/funny to write about. 

We stopped by Lisa and Lissy yesterday to find them home. They just had a really crazy couple of weeks, but they are still on board. It was such a relief. We should be seeing them soon.

All of the other investigators are going well. We really refined our teaching pool and are concentrating on getting our investigators to progress and come to church. It's pretty overwhelming to think that Sister Anderson and I have salvation on our shoulders! 

You're probably wondering why the subject of this email is "And it came to pass..." Well, yesterday in Gospel Principles we were talking about enduring to the end. A question was posed about what enduring to the end means to me. It makes me think about how in the Book of Mormon, is says "And it came to pass.." so many times. That phrase has so much meaning. Everything will come to pass. Hard times will pass. Trials will pass. Our lives here on earth will pass. To me, enduring to the end means striving to be able to stand blameless before God and Jesus Christ. It's something that I've really been thinking about recently. So, what does enduring to the end mean to you?

This email wasn't exactly as short as I thought it was going to be. I hope that everyone has an amazing week. I love you all very much. Transfer calls are coming up this Sunday, so maybe hold on the mail until next week just in case. It's weeks like this when I just have to keep telling myself - "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord."

Sister Hardcastle

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Like Like His Son, Help Others On Their Way"

Andrea :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

4 months say whaaaa?

Family and Friends, 

Another P-Day has rolled around. It's been a crazy/hard/fun last few days. I don't have too much to say, but I'll do my best to make this email interesting...

There is this line in Preach My Gospel that gets me every time I read it. It says "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the Gospel increases". That can be flipped around to say,"As you desire to share the Gospel increases, your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows". That isSO true. Honestly, I can't understand the Atonement, no one fully can. However, when you feel the Atonement working in your life, you desire that for others. It's that simple. Before my mission, I looked at the Atonement as a way to be free from our sins. That is absolutely true. However, in Alma 7 it talks about how the Atonement was for SO much more than sins. Sorrows, pain, afflictions of EVERY kind, etc. It wasn't until I came to a strange country on my own that I started to exercise that. The Atonement is so real and I have seen it work miracles. :)

Anyways, let's talk about Rudy. I don't know if I've said much about him. He was found by Sister Anderson and Sister Tuia when I was on the exchange about 3 weeks ago. He is in his 70's or so, and just recently lost his wife back in April. He is a very bitter and angry man, and it's heartbreaking. Every time we go over there though, he always is smiling by the time we leave. He unfortunately works every single weekend, so church is going to be tough. He is so funny though. We asked him what he has been enjoying from the Book of Mormon and he always says something like "Well, I don't really understand anything that I'm reading but it sure makes me feel better". Haha exactly! The last lesson that we had with him went so well, and he is preparing for baptism. 

Ahh Selena, Amber, Ann-Marie and Cheyenne didn't come to church yesterday. :( They went to the church right next door called "The Rock". Wait, it gets better. They went with a less-active member of our church! Grr. We dropped by last night and they were all there, including the less-active, Darrel. We shared a short lesson with them, then Darrel told us how he would love another copy of the Book of Mormon. We're excited to work with him! We have seen his name on the Branch List, but didn't know who he was. He is really good friends with Selena, so we'll see what happens. 

Go look up Drumbo, Ontario on Google Earth. We went there again this past weekend. SO beautiful! We went to see the Dobson's, who are Recent Converts from another ward. The first time we went there we were talking about the milk here in Canada, and how it is in bags. They asked me if I've ever had organic milk, I said no. Well, the last time we went they bought me my own jug of organic milk. Haha! They are so cute. It was the creamest milk ever - so so good. 

Remember awhile back when I talked about Levingston and Andrea Moulton? Levingston is a less-active, and Andrea is not a member. Well it has been almost impossible to get in touch with them lately, but we were able to see both this weekend! We saw Levingston on Saturday night, and he committed to come to church - didn't come :( but we felt prompted to go over there on Sunday afternoon - and Andrea was home! Finally! It's been about 3 weeks since we've seen her last. She's been reading the Book of Mormon, and is 100% committed to church next week, and the Relief Society activity this Thursday.  :)  We had a great lesson with her. She is so funny. Seriously she is a mix of Katie and Grandma Ida. You can't get much better than that. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she loved it. When we got the the kingdoms of glory she said something like "The Celestial Kingdom sounds great and all, but I like stars better than the sun". Hahaha. She completely committed to baptism and everything. She so badly wants to go to the temple with her family. I was able to share the experience with our family being sealed to Ashlyn and Brynn. As I was telling her she kept saying "Shut up! No way? Are you serious? That is so sweet!" I love her! She has some Word of Wisdom issues, but we're working on them. Sister Anderson and I were so giddy the rest of the day after seeing her! Heavenly Father sure knows how to make the end of the week swell. :)

We have a really exciting week coming up. Lots of good things should be happening. Lisa and Lissy have been out of town, they're still golden. We should be seeing them soon:) We also have Branch Council tomorrow which I am so stoked for. I missed the last one because of exchanges. We're struggling with the Branch right now, so I'm excited to get things rolling. 

Did I mention how we have zero dinner appointments yet again? Oh our investigators Jac and Bill are feeding us tonight again. Why don't the members like to feed us.  :(  It's fine though, because I prefer my cereal and peanut butter & honey sandwiches. Oh what a life. 

Well, it's time for another week of hard work. You know the statement - "Forget yourself and go to work?" Yup it has been my motto lately. Most days I don't even know what day it is. They all tend to blend together as one.  :)  It's crazy to think that transfers are in two weeks, and then I'm 1/4 the way done with my mission. I can't handle it! 

I love you all so much. Have a great week. For those of you who never email me (you know who you are) - I would love to hear from you:)

Sister Hardcastle

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Like Like His Son, Help Others On Their Way"

Happy Four Months  :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

September, eh?

Dear Family and Friends, 

Happy Birthday tomorrow to the one and only Elder Cottam! Love you :) I'm sure birthdays in the mission field are the bomb.

Why oh why is time going by so quickly? I'm coming up on four months and it's scary to think about. I miss you all, but I love Canada. 

Last night I got a letter from my Momma Barb and in was this poem - 

"A mission is a strange experience
It is a trial and a test. 
A mission throws at you the worst
Yes, teaches you the best. 
I've never been so happy,
I've never been so depressed. 
I've never felt so forsaken, 
I've never felt so blessed. 
I've never been so confused, 
Thanks have never been so clear. 
I've never felt my Heavenly Father so distant, 
He's never been so near. 
I've never been so discouraged, 
I've never been so full of hope. 
I feel I could go on for forever, 
I think I've come to the end of my rope. 
I've never had it quite so easy, 
I've never had it quite so tough.
Things have never been so smooth, 
Thanks have never been so rough. 
I've never traveled through more valleys, 
I've never ascended more peaks.
I've never met so many nice people, 
I've never met so many freaks!
I've never had so many ups, 
I've never had so many downs. 
I've never worn so many smiles, 
I've never had so many frowns. 
I've never been so lonely, 
I've never had so many friends. 
BOY, I hope this is over soon,
Gosh, I hope this never ends."

That poem sums up all of the emotions I've felt these past few months. I love it!

We had Zone Conference yesterday and it was incredible. President Scott talked to us about stretching past our comfort zone. I loved it because almost everything about a mission is uncomfortable. I've come to learn that if you're not uncomfortable you're doing something wrong. If every single missionary were to stay in their comfort zone, there would never be any growth. What would be the point of that eh? Something that he said hit me so hard. You all know how much I love Disneyland. Well President Scott bluntly said - "You don't ever grow at Disneyland. Disneyland is easy. No one ever has a bad day at Disneyland." I laughed, but it is so true. True growth and true conversion to the Gospel comes after much trial, testing and stretching the comfort zone. I always leave those meetings on a spiritual high!  

Lisa and her daughter Lissy are really progressing. They both came to church on Sunday and loved it. Lissy even went to Young Woman's. The lesson in Gospel Principle was on tithing, so Lisa had LOTS of questions afterwards, but she is doing really well. Her husband said he would come to church with them, and last minute changed his mind. We just keep praying for his heart to be softened. Timing is everything. 

We had a hard experience this week. Jason was found when Sister Anderson was with her last companion. He is hard to get a hold of, but he is so great. He didn't come to church two weeks ago when he said he was going to, so last week we just dropped by to see how he was doing. He said something came up, and he for sure was going to come this week. He seemed so sincere. We ended up sharing with him the Plan of Salvation right then, and he seemed so prepared. He talked about how his wife wasn't into him doing this, but that he knew he needed to learn more. We left thinking that he was all set for church the next day. He wanted us to give him a call on Sunday at 9 just to make sure he was up. Well we did that, and he proceeded to tell us to never call or stop by again, then he hung up. It's heart wrenching when something like that happens, but when he is ready, he'll start to show more of a desire. 

Selena and her girls didn't come to church either. WHY DON'T PEOPLE JUST COME TO CHURCH!? It's so hard not to get frustrated. So I just laugh and trust God.  :)

Jacquelline and Bill are two of our investigators. They feed us more than the members do. It's so sad. Anyways, Jac looks just like Jac. That sounds confusing, but you all know what I mean. I'll have to take a picture with her. They are both baptists, and Bill is really involved in his church. So, we've been taking things really slow with them. We decided to watch the Restoration video. I love that video so much, it always brings in the Spirit. When we were talking afterwards about it I asked Bill what this would mean to him if it were to be true. He sat there for a minute, in complete silence, then he said "I guess that would mean that I'm changing religions." Music to my ears! I sure do love them. 

Anthony and Jalei are recent converts that were baptized when Sister Stats was here in Woodstock. They are brothers, Anthony is 10 and Jalei is 9. They finally came to church on Sunday! It's been a while since they've come. When they got to the church, they got out of the car and ran up and hugged Sister Anderson and I. Then after church when we were saying bye to them they kept asking us when we are coming over again. I love being a missionary!

I had a very special experience last night. Percy is a man that we found on the street. He actually lives about 5 hours away from Woodstock, but works here during the week. I think I may have mentioned him in the last email, I'm not sure. Well we met with him again last night at the library. We had planned to teach him the plan of salvation, but he hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon, so we read 2 Nephi 2 with him. After we had finished the lesson, I bore testimony to him of all of the things we had read. I told him that the first step for him to make it to the celestial kingdom is for him to be baptized. We invited him to be baptized in the first lesson, but he wasn't into it, so I knew that this invitation had to be different. The Spirit was so strong, and after I said -"Percy will you follow the example of Jesus Christ, your Savior, by being baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God?" the room was silent. He stared at my intently and after about 30 seconds of silence he said - "You really believe this don't you?" With tears rolling down my face and I told him "Yes. I know all of this to by true." He agreed to be baptized. This is his last week in Woodstock though, so we're going to pass him off to different missionaries. That is an experience that I will never forget. His countenance changed, and the Spirit touched his heart. I love this Gospel!

That about sums up our week. We've been focusing lots on our investigators and less actives. We have been so blessed with 22 investigators in our teaching pool. Also, we're leading our District:) Hard work pays off eh?! We don't even have time to knock on doors!  :) 

I hope everyone has a great week, and I'll email again on Monday. I love you all!

Sister Hardcastle

Heaven :)

Our view! Breathtaking!!