BOUNTIFUL — Tom and Ann Hardy described their mission to the Washington D.C. Visitors Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “very varied,” an experience that changed them both spiritually.
Former Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy, and his wife, Ann, a former Utah state legislator and Bountiful City councilmember recently returned from a yearlong mission to the nation’s capitol.
“I will never be the same,” Ann Hardy said on Tuesday. “The experiences I had, the inspirations I received, the people I met, changed me in every way.”
For Tom Hardy, the mission reinforced what is really important in life, he said.
“We were living in a small apartment and we weren’t doing things we would do in the world,” Tom Hardy said. “We were able to focus on things that matter.”
While on their mission, Tom Hardy said he gave close to 100 priesthood blessings to a wide variety of people. Some were members of the church who were on vacation. But requests for blessings sometimes came from unlikely people, such as a non-member who had lost a parent and was grieving.
And then there was the man from Russia who at first asked to speak with a priest. Tom Hardy asked if he could help, and the man confessed his sins.
“Others recognized there’s a spirit there that’s not found on the street,” he said.
Such encounters were among a myriad of experiences.
“I don’t know that we had a typical day,” Tom Hardy said. “We distributed Books of Mormon in 30 languages and met people from Russia, mainland China, and India, Tom Hardy said, “and from places you wouldn’t expect like Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh in their native clothing,” Ann Hardy added.
The couple met everyone from ambassadors to the homeless on nearly a daily basis.
Many who toured the visitors center were in Washington D.C. visiting a relative or friend who would bring them, Tom said. There were three couples who served at the center, along with 28-30 sister missionaries from all over the world.
Tom Hardy served his first mission as a young man in El Salvador, where he spoke Spanish. As Bountiful’s city manager he had occasion to speak Spanish, but it was infrequent and he said when they arrived in Washington D.C., he was rusty. However, it wasn’t long until he brushed up on his Spanish. “I don’t think a day went by that I didn’t use it.”
As part of their mission, the couple would greet visitors daily, and would often have opportunities to share their faith.
“We were even instrumental in a couple of baptisms, which was very rewarding,” Tom Hardy said.
They served at the visitor’s center six days a week for six to 10 hours at a time. During December, the center hosted a Festival of Lights, much like the lights on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The center also had 100 creches on display in an exhibit hall. The event drew 83,000, up to 7,000 in one evening, Ann Hardy said.
The couple also served a Spanish-speaking branch in Washington D.C.’s inner city. About two-thirds of those attending the branch are from El Salvador and Guatemala, Tom Hardy said.
During their time there, a new chapel was built and dedicated on 16th Street, a street known for churches.
“Sixteenth Street begins at the White House and there are more than 100 churches along the street from there,” Tom Hardy said.
Now that they are home, the Hardys are deciding what activities to become involved in.
Tom Hardy said there have a couple of goals; helping to get several grandchildren ready for missions and to spend more time with their combined eight children and 21 grandchildren.
They also plan on traveling.
Tom Hardy said he’s not interested in being employed full-time again, but he may be interested in working on specific projects, studies or task forces С something that has a beginning and an end.
Ann, meanwhile, wants to become more involved in church and in supporting her grandchildren.
“I’d like my life to take a different direction,” she said.