Monday, August 25, 2014

All good things come to an end....

Dear Family and Friends, 

Wow. Life is about to change dramatically! After 6 months in this beautiful land of Napanee, I will be leaving.... moving on to the blessed land of Kitchener Waterloo. I'll talk more about it later on....

First of all! Happy Birthday to Grandpa Larry, Katie, and Jackson this week! I hope you all received your birthday letters! Love you all and have an amazing day.  :)

So next Monday is Labor Day, so I am just assuming the Prep Day will be next Tuesday!

This week was a roller coaster. Let's see if I can portray the miracles we witnessed in a timely manner because we have so much to do today, haha. So Brother Leavens was actually interviewed for baptism on Thursday night and he passed!! We weren't expecting it to all happen so fast, but things really progressed this week. So now that he has passed, he can get baptized whenever, but he still hasn't set a date. His wife is very sick and weak right now, and he wants her to be well enough to attend. Soooo it will happen soon, and it is such a miracle! Even though I won't be here when he is baptized, I am so thankful that I was one of the missionaries that was able to teach him! 

I had a lovely exchange in Oshawa with Sister Hansen this week. She actually goes home in two days, but we connected so well. We saw so many miracles in just one day together. We were at the library teaching some recent converts and a man named Daryl actually approached us and asked us what we were doing! The sisters there are teaching him now. It is so incredible to be in the right place at the right time.

So there was a primary activity on Friday and Shayden and Sheldon came! It was so good to see them running around with the other kids and having fun. I will miss that family so much, and they are a treasure of my time in Napanee. 

We met the most amazing JW ever!!! As we were walking up to him he said "I'm going to hell!" and he kept repeating it. Well, let's just suffice it to say that his heart was softened, and we talked to him for quite awhile. He was willing to listen to what we had to say, and we let him say a few things as well. Such a nice man, and he even gave me a bible! It is beautiful, silver and shiny. I'll probably be sending it home, because I won't be using it while I am here! Still a pretty cool souvenir though.

Last night the Branch had a Fireside for the youth on the topic of missionary work. Sister Puruganan and I were asked to share the things that we did to prepare to come on our missions and how those preparations have benefited us. It was such a neat experience to counsel other youth about going on a mission. I still feel like I'm 14 and 15 years old way am I 20 and on a mission.... 

Soo I will actually be training a new missionary, which is pretty exciting. We will both be new to the Kitchener Waterloo Area, so there will be lots to do. Lots of people to find, friendships to make, lessons to learn, etc. I am grateful for this change, as I know that I really need it. However, I cherish the memories here in Napanee. I am so grateful for the wonderful people I've been blessed to find and teach. And doing it all with Sister Puruganan has been remarkable. I will never forget her and the things we went through together. God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again....

Love you all!!


Sister Hardcastle

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

Sister Hansen!
Trying to fix a doll....legs and arms fell off....
Sister Burnfield!! Feeds us the yummiest lunches! 
Bye Bobby!!!
Lovely District....check out Elder Watters (in the back)...he's 6'10" 
Cutest little boy!!
Sheldon! Such a stud.
Napanee Primary!
It's true.
Love the hat!
We Love Canada!!!!
Saying goodbye to Kristi....gonna miss her.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Let Us ALL Press On!

Dear Family and Friends, 

I am proud to say that today I am cutting my hair. I haven't cut it my entire mission, and I think the time has come! Stay tuned next week for how it went. 

Also, transfers are next week AGAIN. Can you believe it?! I can't. So probably don't send any mail!

Thank you so much Amy for sending that envelope of letters from the Cabin!! It was awesome. You all rock. :)

Last Monday we went with Cortwright to "Lake on the Mountain." Yeah....self's a lake that is on a mountain. Haha, not much of a mountain, but you know. It was beautiful! I'll send pictures!

Sister Puruganan and I had a fun and fulfilling week. Where to start....

Well we went to see Kristi, John, and George. It's probably been awhile since I talked about them, so I shall refresh your memories. John and George are recent converts. Kristi is not a member and is married to John. The only reason Kristi is not a member is because of some Word of Wisdom issues, but we began teaching her once again. She set a baptismal goal for October 20th, so it's pretty far in the future, but it may take that long. :) However, she is awesome and came to church yesterday (she comes all the time). So stay tuned on Kristi!

Jim Leavens!! I love that man and that entire family. Unfortunately, the doctors think that Sister Leavens' cancer has spread and chemo will be starting very soon. They have been so busy rushing from appointment to appointment that we haven't been able to see them lately. Well, I felt so prompted for us to just show up and offer to weed their tomato garden. On Saturday afternoon, that is what we did. :) You should have seen their faces when we showed up in our service clothes. Jim says, "Oh! It must be your day off, so you're wearing normal clothes." But then I said it wasn't and we just came to help, and I swear tears filled their eyes. So off we went to weed the garden. All went well until I got stung by some crazy creature that I've never seen before. It hurt SO BAD. Do you all remember how swollen my arms would get after my allergy shots? Well, it was more swollen than that and still is. It's been itching ever since. Oh well. After we helped them, we were able to teach Jim, and we saw him again last night. He is so close to so close. The love in the family is so evident that when I go to their home, I never want to leave. I am so humbled and grateful for the experience it has been to teach Jim and draw close to that family. They are one of the miracles of my entire mission. I know that there is timing for each and every person, and I know Jim's time will come. So stay tuned on him, too. :)

The Powley family. We weren't able to see them this week. Everything was kinda chaotic with Sister Leavens. However, we've been in contact through text, so we'll be seeing them this week! They are awesome!

Sister Burnfield, a single sister in the branch, had us over for lunch on Friday. After lunch, we asked if there was anything we could do for her, and she asked if we would help her set some mouse traps around her house. We gladly did, and I told her to call us if she caught any, and we would get rid of them for her. Well, she called on Saturday morning and was SO excited to tell us that one was caught! Bless her heart. She was too scared to throw it out so we popped by, and I disposed of it. I have an interesting interest in animals because of Napanee. 

It rained so much and was rather cold this week. With that said, fall is quickly approaching. The leaves are changing, and the nature is beautiful. Honestly....I wish you all could drive through the outskirts of Napanee....the most beautiful scenery!! Tons of farm land, trees, bunnies hopping around, etc. Breathtaking. 

Well, my friends, the church is true. God lives and loves us. Each person we see and interact with is a child of God, and deserves to know the truth. These last few months of my mission will be sacred for me, and I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store. It hasn't been a walk in the park, but it's been the greatest mountain climb ever. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love you all!


Sister Hardcastle

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

Sister P!
Here it is - Lake on the Mountain!
On the ferry that takes you to the lake!
The whole group!
Sister Burnfield's mouse....
The Leavens' mouse. I think her name is Kiss.
33 MOSQUITO BITES LATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lord's Timing

Dear Family and Friends, 

Happy Birthday to Clara this week! 

I don't really have much to say this week, other than it was full of missionary work, full of tender mercies and challenging times. However, I still continue to love every minute and find that I can't wipe this smile off of my face.

We had Zone Training in Kingston, which is always a spiritual experience. We are very blessed with some amazing Zone Leaders here right now. I left with the assurance that good things are going to happen. Not to mention, the Kingston chapel is BEAUTIFUL!

Have I ever mentioned much about the Napanee chapel? Well, it's tiny. Actually, there is no chapel, haha. There is a room with chairs which is the Sacrament room, then it divides into Gospel Doctrine, Gospel Principles and Youth Sunday School. Then it is used for RS and Priesthood and YM/YW. There is a Primary room, a small library, a kitchen, the Branch President's office, washrooms, and a baptismal font and that's it. I would say that the entire building could fit in the upstairs of our house back home. But I love it. I love the members. They are all SO close and so loving. You can feel the unity that they have.

We met an incredible part member family this week that we are now teaching! Miracles miracles miracles! Mike Powley is a member, and he is actually Sister Leavens' son. His wife and kids are all not members of the church. His wife knows a lot though and got close to joining a few years back. The kids are adorable. Nathan is 12 and Becky is 11. Also, there is an older son that we haven't met yet. Needless to say, they are golden. Mike was explaining to us that he has been thinking about taking his family back to church! Such a testimony builder that God is preparing His children and that there is the right timing for everyone. So Sister Puruganan and I are excited to work with them!

Sister Puruganan went to the doctor for her head on Friday. We went to Dr. Savic in the next city over, who is a member. He was sooo good to us and helped Sister P a lot. He is from Bosnia and has the sweetest accent ever.....And he didn't even charge any money for the visit! Bless his heart! So now she is feeling much better. She is also going to physical therapy for her shoulders and back which seems to be helping. 

The Melhuish's had us over for chicken wings on Friday. Let's just say....I made a Hardcastle of myself. Dad, you'd be so proud. 

So we had an interesting experience with our investigator Hope. She freaked out on us. We met her at the park where there are lots of people. At first, she was calm, but suddenly yelling at us and throwing down a lot of anti-issues. It took so much prayer in our hearts to be calm and composed amid her negative discourse. We simply bore our testimonies with her and politely bid farewell. As we got out of the lesson, we evaluated our responses, and we are thankful that we were able to hold ourselves together. One of the things that we learned from that experience is that we can strengthen our testimonies of the gospel by firmly, but politely standing on it. We still love her, but maybe right now is not yet her time. I have always loved the saying that in bearing our testimonies we find them, but I also think that in defending our testimonies we find them as well. 

This morning during personal study, I was reading an Ensign from July 2011, and one of the articles in there hit me so hard. I thought I would share the story with all of you. It's title is Start Moving by Elder Von G. Keetch. He shares a story of some smoke jumpers who were to go to the top of a ridge and work on the fire from the top down. Their instruction was to get to the ridge and then radio the dispatcher for further instructions on which way to go. Once they got there, they found that there was no signal, so they couldn't get in touch and get instructions. They kept trying and trying, but still no signal. Eventually, they took off their backpacks, sat down and even napped. They tried for hours and hours and still could get nothing. From the ridge, however, they could see many routes that they could take, but they didn't want to take the wrong one and throw everyone else off. It says "Seven hours after the smoke jumpers arrived at the top of the ridge, a weary crew chief from the group fighting the fire farther down the mountain came up the trail and found the smoke jumpers. He was flabbergasted. Approaching their leader, he asked, 'What are you doing lounging around on the ridge? We really needed your help. The fire almost got away from us because we didn't have help to contain it. And all this time you've just been relaxing up here on the ridge?' The lead smoke jumper explained their predicament to the crew chief. They had been promised instructions from the dispatcher. They had been vigilant in trying to obtain those instructions. But the dispatcher had ignored them, never responding to their calls. True, they could see several paths down to the fire. But they were afraid they would take the wrong one. So they decided to wait until they had the promised instructions from the dispatcher." It goes on to explain that the crew chief took the man's radio, walked down the ridge a little ways and got a clear signal to the dispatcher. The crew chief explained that they were standing in a "dead spot" and because of that, they were worthless in fighting the fire. So, this is my favorite part - "Often in our need for spiritual guidance and direction, we can be tempted to do exactly what the smoke jumpers did. We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. We see several paths available to us, and we're not sure which one to take. We have been promised inspiration and help from our Heavenly Father, but it doesn't always come immediately. We grow frustrated and decide we are simply going to sit down and wait until the promised guidance comes. We wait and we wait and we wait, wondering why the divine Dispatcher doesn't help us with our course. In so doing, we ignore an important principle of revelation. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use our own intelligence, ability, and experiences to chart our initial course. As we press forward along the path we have chosen, we are in a much better position to receive the course corrections He may have for us. But if we simply plop down on the ridge and recline on our backpacks until He gives us instruction, we risk finding ourselves in a spiritual dead spot." There is a very wise lesson to be learned from this, and I know it to be true. 

We haven't been able to see Tom or Jim this week. But it will happen, in it's own due time. 

Sister Puruganan taught me the funniest dance from the Philippines. I can't wait to show you all when I get home! It's so awesome. Keeps us laughing for hours. 

Well my friends, the church is true. 100%. I love you all!!!


Sister Hardcastle

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

15 Months!
Beautiful Flower!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August already? NOOO

Dear Family and Friends, 

Happy Anniversary today to the greatest parents ever!!!! 31 years and still going strong. :) Enjoy your vacation. Love you both so much. 

I am sorry if this is a shorter email, and if I don't reply to everyone individually, there is a lot to get done today. But I would just like to mention, thank you for the friendly reminder of how little time I have left. HAHA, I am pretty sure everyone mentioned it, but what can ya do. Thank you for the package. Sister Puruganan and I LOVED it so much. We had so much fun looking up all of the scriptures. The candy didn't last very long....yummy. You are all so thoughtful, and I am so blessed with the most amazing and supportive family. 

The work continues to move on, with a few set backs. I'll start with an update on the Leavens. It's been hard to see them lately because Sister Leavens has been in and out of the hospital. She finally received surgery on Saturday night though and is recovering in the Kingston Hospital. One of our sweet members read to us Brother Leavens' Facebook status last night that mentioned how they are saying Sister Leavens may only have months to live, not years like they had previously said. The tumor they discovered was more widespread than they thought, and things are going downhill fast. Please pray for this family. They have three grandchildren in their teens that they are taking care of, and this family needs Sister Leavens. However, I have never met a lady with more faith amidst her trials. She always has a smile and a word of encouragement to give to someone else, and it's inspiring. I know that God has a plan for that family.

We saw the Lindsay boys last week. We went by to drop off an invitation to the Branch Picnic. Of course it is always hard going over there, but it's getting easier. The boys are much more open to talking with us now. We were able to finally see Sheldon and Shayden. Shane is really stepping up to the plate and helping out his sister. When we stopped by he was doing the dishes, then feeding the bird, etc. Very proud of him, considering he's only 13. 

Tom is still out of town. Darn!! Hopefully he gets back today and we can start the regular teaching schedule again with him. He's so great!

We met some awesome people in our finding efforts. We talked to this one lady, Tammy, who was working in her garage. She just had twins in March, so it was awesome to be able to talk to her about Katie having twins. She is soooo open, and we were able to give her a Book of Mormon. They are going out of town for a few weeks, but we will be meeting with her soon! It is amazing to be led by the Spirit to the places you need to go and the people God has planned for you to meet. 

The Melhuish' family away from my family. They feed us every Friday night, and this time it was very special. They have a daughter, who has gone a little wayward, and it's been really hard on them. The Spirit was so thick as we testified to them of the Atonement. We mentioned that God gives His toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Sister Puruganan said the closing prayer, and I just couldn't hold it in anymore, and we both started to cry. I'm not sure why I was so emotional, but I left feeling so much gratitude for the way I was raised. It was a tender experience. 

The Branch Picnic was this week! It was so fun. It was by a beautiful lake! We played games - and Sister Puruganan and I rocked it at the Balloon Toss and Egg Toss....probably because of the intense companionship unity....haha. The members in this Branch are so great. 

We met a lady named Marg a few weeks back through Sister Leavens. Marg called us last week and asked if we would be willing to offer service for one of her friends, Katia, who was just recently diagnosed with cancer. Of course we said yes, and it was such a miracle! Marg picked us up, so we could travel together, about a 20 minute drive. Before we left, I felt inspired to grab the August Ensign that we had just gotten from our Zone Leaders. Well, after helping Katia and hearing her story, Sister Puruganan grabbed the Ensign and read something from an article she had read that morning. It was PERFECT. Katia opened up to us so much. She mentioned that when she was laying in the Hospital not sure if she was going to make it, she prayed for someone to be sent to her that could help her. After she said that, it went silent. Then she said - "I know you two are an answer to that prayer." Once again tears filled our eyes, and we testified of the Plan of Salvation. God's plan is perfect, He makes no mistakes. I am so thankful that Heavenly Father used Sister Puruganan and I as His instrument that night. It is something I will not soon forget. 

Yesterday was some sort of Civic Holiday (just an excuse to have a long weekend). It was a good day though. We mowed Sister Burnfield's lawn and taught some great people. We had dinner with the Wales and Allen last night, and that was a blast. We watched the Restoration Video for Allen to have a greater understanding. Every time I watch that video I feel the Spirit.

Well, maybe this email wasn't as short as I thought it was going to be. The transfer continues to roll forward, and I love every day. I love my companion, she has become an eternal friend for me. I love Napanee, I feel as though I may die (finish my mission) here. I know that God has a plan for my final few months in Canada, and I am excited to witness more and more miracles. I love you all and pray for you daily. Never lose sight of the Gospel. It is the most important thing that we have. 


Sister Hardcastle

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

Loved all of the stamps!
Sister P!
Thank you so much! 
At the Branch Picnic!
Cutest little boy ever....He made me a mud pie!
Party with some of the members!
I had wayyy too much fun with the lawn mower.... 
Mary's baptism picture from Hamilton! So happy!!!