Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Final Letter Home

Hello!

Welp, I guess this is it. I won't write much because I will fill you in in person! For this week, I'll just attach my final letter to President Wilkey. It does a pretty good job summing things up. Enjoy! See you in three days!! LOVE YA!!

President Wilkey!

 Man....here it is. The letter I hoped would never come. My last LTP. It's really weird, the reality of me going home still hasn't set it yet. It's so hard for me to comprehend any life outside of this work. It has become my life. It's my every thought, action, desire....everything I am is now in this work, and this work is now deeply in me. I can truly say as I'm finishing my mission that I feel I've served Him with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. I have nothing more to give that I feel I could have. It's been quite a journey to finally get to that point, and I've made ample mistakes along the way, but I can say with all sincerity, that as I've strived daily to focus on my purpose and to give my heart to the Lord, and by choosing to put my heart into His hands, He's been able to shape and mold it into something I'd never fathomed possible. I have a different heart now than I did when I first entered the mission field. I have a love for the gospel. I didn't have that before my mission. I enjoyed it and the activities and social aspect of things and I studied it as a feel-good philosophy, but now I've realized just how great it all is. I've seen it change so many people's lives, and the biggest one it's changed is myself. I've learned so much about family and it's importance. My mission has allowed me to interact with hundreds of families and I've been able to learn and observe what works and what doesn't. I've taken notes of both, and I plan on implementing what I've learned into how I will be a husband and father. I've learned how to be a good companion, about how to be charitable, patient, and honest, and how to look at others before myself. I know these will all help me as I look for my future eternal companion. I've learned how to work hard and to find motivation within myself to do so. I've learned that the best way to work is to find joy in it. I heard the quote, "If you enjoy what you do, you won't work a day of your life." Well, I've learned that if you enjoy EVERYTHING you do, no matter what it is, then you won't ever work! It all becomes joy. I could go on and on about what this mission has let me do and what it's led me to become. It has led me to change in ways I never knew possible, and I'll be ETERNALLY grateful that I made the decision to serve a mission. And I know as I look back on it for the rest of my life, it will be a joyful memory, for I know I left it all on the altar.

 Thank you so much for all you've done for me over the last two years President, not only as a missionary in the NHMM, but in the personal lessons you've given. You and Sister Wilkey set the perfect example of what I'd hope to have in my future marriage. Commitment to each other and to the Lord, seeking to have fun, patience and love between each other, and so on. You've taught me principles of the gospel that will affect who I am forever, such a repentance and consecration. I indeed hope also that we will continue to be friends on into the eternities. I sure love ya! On a finishing note, the baptism this last week went so well. The Spirit was strong, and most of the ward came to participate. Seeing a man with real-growth potential has increased the relationship with the ward SO much. Elder J. Esplin is inheriting a very fertile field to continue to labor in. But seeing this family change and seeing the ward i love gain more enthusiasm for sharing the gospel has been the sweetest way to finish my mission. I think I got a glimpse of how the pure white fruit on the tree of life really tastes. I sat during the baptism feeling full from head to toe with just pure JOY. It was one of the most joyful moments of my entire life.

 This work has filled me with joy. It's SO hard for me to even think about leaving it behind....but I know faith is always directed to the future, and I know the Lord always has good things to come. Again, know of my love and appreciation for all you do and have done for me. The NHMM will always be sacred soil for me- for it is here that I have given my heart.

 -Faithfully,

 Elder KC Esplin

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coming Home Feb. 20th Homecoming is the 24th, at 11:00 in Ivins Hope to see you all there!!!!

1 more week-WOW!

Hello Hello!! Man, can't believe this will basically be my last time emailing home. I might keep it a bit on the shorter side, since we're really short on time. Hope you don't mind! Well, we had a pretty great week. Yep, we got a ton of snow. We had our cars grounded for two days, and we were confined into the apartment all day Saturday. We got about 2 feet of snow. Yeah, shoveling out cars after that was a new experience. And it's been snowing all day today. Yeah, some STG weather is sounding pretty nice right about now haha. But I've gotten pretty used to the cold. I went out for a bit in just a white shirt in 20 degrees and it didn't really phase me much. Mom, you're probably right about me being in shorts a lot when I get back! I'm not sure what the weather should be like the rest of the week. but, the more snow the better I think! Go out with a bang! So, we had a really crazy miracle happen this week. So you remember Chris who I talked about last week? Well, he had a really powerful experience at church like I explained. We went back over this last Tuesday for a lesson. After, his wife looked at us and said, "At what point do you typically extend a date for baptism? I mean, for me, it was at the end of the lesson, but I was just curious about what you typically do." We explained that it depends on the person. We hadn't planned on extending a date yet because it had only been a few weeks and we didn't want to push him because he asked us not to. I looked at him and asked him, "What are you feeling about all of this Chris?" He replied, "I love it and believe it. I think I'm ready for baptism." I was shocked. Big time. I've NEVER seen someone be converted that quickly- we'd only been teaching him for like 2 weeks!! I asked him, "Well then, would you like to pray about a day you'd like to be baptized, or would you like to set a goal?" He said he'd be alright with setting a goal. I replied, "OK that sounds great! When are you thinking? March? April maybe?" (most people need a few months to be ready and complete their conversion). He said, "Well, I was thinking I'd like to get baptized sooner than that. I think I'm ready to be baptized as soon as possible. In fact, when do you leave?" I was stunned. I said in my head there was no way this was happening. I told him I'd be leaving Waterville on the 19th. He said, "Well, I think we should do it that weekend before you leave. I was speechless. He had spoken exactly what I was dreaming would happen. We then finalized the date for the 17th.Then the concern came that he might be rushing it for me and not focusing on doing it for the right reasons. I raised this concern and told him I didn't want him to jump into it for me. His reply was this- "No offense or anything, but I"m not doing this for you. I'm doing this for myself and for God. When I do something, I do it all the way. I believe in this and love who it's helping me become." That's when I knew he was real. He had received a change of heart as Alma taught. He was ready to be baptized. So....I get to have one more baptism before I come home!!! It'll be happening on Sunday. It's honestly a dream come true. Seeing this one last REAL conversion has meant so much to me, and built my confidence that I've become exactly what the Lord wants me to have become. And that is an amazing feeling. So, I'll pretty much come home on fire. I can't wait!! I better jet. Love you all!!! I'll be excited to hear from you next week!!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Hello hello!

v Hope you're all having a GREAT Monday. I know I sure am! I had a wicked awesome week. But I'll get more into that in a bit. So is there anything I should buy before I come home? Anything I'll need? Any advice on certain things you think would be fun to have as a memoir? I've been going through my stuff, throwing a TON of it away. I think I'll be very minimalistic with what I bring home. I'll have an abundance of suits and ties though. I think I'll be using them in the future haha. I think I've decided to change my major to business and minor in biology. I'll still be going into dentistry, but I think a business major would be easier to fall back on if things don't work out. So I thought I'd mix things up a bit by sharing my letter to President Wilkey this week. it does a pretty good job explaining the highlights of the week and how I've been feeling. Plus, it'll save on some time haha. So, here it is! President Wilkey!! Man, being back in Waterville has been SO awesome. I sure do love it here. The reality of me ending my mission soon is slowly setting in. But interestingly enough, it still hasn't. The fact I only have two weeks left is all in my head, but not in my heart. People keep bringing it up, but it doesn't seem to hit at all. I still seem to feel like I'm only at my year mark and that there isn't any life other than my mission. But to be honest, I don't mind that being my current perspective. It's keeping me centered on my purpose, and I'm being able to keep my trunkiness at bay. Elder J. Esplin seems to be doing really well. He's getting better and better at planning by the day. He sure is a trooper working through his migraines, and I'm learning so much about diligence and hard work from him. I also have been really enjoying his calm and charitable nature. He's pretty much one of the best companions I could have had to end my mission with! The work continues to move forward! It was a little bit of a slow week for proselyting it seemed, or at least only in comparison to the last few weeks. There's a lot of great progress though, especially with a part-member family we're working with. It's a less-active mom and a non-member husband and daughter. We stopped by during our first week because I remember meeting Kim stopping by less-actives last year. She revealed to us that she was low on food and they didn't have any money since they were both unemployed. So, we got some help from the ward, and brought them food once a week from the soup kitchen we worked at. At first, her husband hid in the other room. But as we kept coming over with food and blankets, he started to stick his head out to say hi. Eventually, she invited us into their house, and he came and sat down too. We shared our new years message, and just asked him about what he believed. We then invited the wife to retake the lessons, which she eagerly accepted, and invited the husband- Chris- to listen in, which he accepted as well. When we showed up to the first lesson, there was suddenly a 16 yr-old girl there, who was their daughter. She said she'd listen in as well. At first, Chris was very closed off and was more curious than anything. We taught on the Plan of Salvation. Later that week was the baptism, and he attended. He said he felt something there. We went back to teach the other half of the Plan, and he said he'd been thinking a lot about what we had said the week before. As we taught about the Celestial Kingdom, we explained to them both that the way to enter into the Celestial Kingdom was to have a valid baptismal covenant. We invited Kim to come to church so she could renew hers, and invited Chris and their daughter- Destiny- to come as well so they could see if they felt the Spirit there. They came this last Sunday! Testimony meeting really rocked his world, and he said he felt all "mushy and warm inside." That's a pretty big deal because this guy used to be in the army and is wicked tough and mean looking. They had only been planning on staying for Sacrament, but felt the Spirit so strongly, they decided to stay for all 3 hours. They invited us over to the house after for another lesson too. He said he's starting to find his faith again and is developing a relationship to God, which he's never experienced. He's being converted!! It's been SO refreshing to get to work with Chris and see the changes coming into his and their family's life. It's given me such a feeling of fulfillment knowing that I'm doing my job as a missionary. I honestly think this family is one of the reasons why I've been sent back to Waterville, and I know this is the sweetest way I could have ended my mission. So, thank you for being receptive to the Spirit to let me come back here. Although I dearly miss being at your side and working with you and Sister Wilkey and the office staff, I know this is where the Lord needed me to be, and I don't think there was any other way I'd like to finish my mission. The Lord is being very good to me. Love ya President! Have a great week, and I'll be excited to see you again on Thursday! -Faithfully, Elder K. Esplin

Another great week in Waterville

Welp, I sure am loving being back. The only down side so far is the cold. It's wicked cold right now! On Wednesday, it was negative 3 as we were driving around, and that wasn't factoring in the wind chill. Yeah, I've never been so cold in my life haha. Needless to say, since then I've been wearing the thermals a bit more often. It's warmed up a bit and the high has been in the teens, so that's been a nice break. It's supposed to drop back down soon I think I heard, so I'm just buckling up for that. A nice dose of STG weather doesn't sound so bad... But the work was been going AWESOME. We hit our 20 lesson mark! We were pretty stoked about that. Plus, we found 7 more new investigators. So the area is growing quickly. Also, we had a baptism this week!! It was for an investigator named Brandon. I was super excited to see him get baptized because I've actually known him almost my entire mission. When I was in my first area (Belfast), a member couple came up to us in church and said their less-active daughter had just married a guy who was Baptist, and about to go into the marines. He had some problems with the church, and they wanted us to see if we could smooth things over a bit. So, we went over, and that's when we met Brandon. We had a great lesson with him about the Book of Mormon. Shortly after, I got transferred from Belfast and he entered into the marines. Shortly after I arrived to Waterville last year, his wife- Denise- moved to Waterville. We interacted with her every now and then, but she was usually really busy with work and school, so not much happened. Then I got transferred. Upon returning to Waterville three weeks ago, I found out that Brandon had returned from the Marines, had started meeting with the missionaries, and was about to get baptized!! So I made it back just in time to participate. The service was great. We had a great turn out- including many less-actives and part-member families, along with a lot of ward support. They asked me to play piano and give a talk on baptism, and Elder J. Esplin baptized him. There was something pretty crazy that happened during my talk though. So what I did, was I acted as "God's lawyer" and wrote up a "contract" that God wanted him to enter into (the baptismal contract), and went though each part of the two sides of the deal. At the end of that, I drew a line at the bottom, looked at him, and asked, "Brandon, are you willing to enter into this contract with God?" He nodded and said, "Yes." Right then, the door to the baptismal font (which was right in the middle of the room) slowly swung open, and a minute later, the automatic light flipped on. It was really crazy. It could have just been a coincidence, but after we were trying to figure it all out and couldn't. Nobody walked in right then, the air didn't kick on, no other doors were opened, the door to the baptismal font just decided to swing open, and the lights came on shortly after. Everybody after was talking about it, about how they believed the Spirit was telling him something. He himself was really impressed from it and felt a confirmation that this is what he needed to do. Anyways, it was a super cool experience, and was a great baptism to end my mission on. Those were the big highlights of the week. We've been having some really awesome experiences teaching people. I"m teaching the Berard family again, which I'm really excited about. They're my favorite family I've taught on my mission, and it's so cool to see them back on the ball. We're visiting with Tammy more often, and her non-member fiance is getting involved. We're also working with a part-member family a lot, and the husband is an agnostic and is very logical so we've connect really well. Overall, I've just been super excited to be back, and we're having some great success. There couldn't have been a better way to end my mission than this! Alright, I better be off and enjoy the rest of P-day. Love you all! Have a great week!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

I Can't believe I'm 21

It's pretty weird to think I'm 21 now! I definitely don't feel it. We didn't really do anything because I intentionally didn't tell anyone. I just wanted to do missionary work. So, we just taught lessons all night, went to a soup kitchen in the afternoon, and did planning in the morning. Unfortunately, i didn't stay completely under the radar. One of the office couples- the Davis's- was up in Waterville doing car registration and took me out to Big G's for breakfast, and got me a little cake. So I did have a little celebration, but most of the day was just focused on my purpose, and I wouldn't have had it any other way! I did have a real epiphany in a lesson on my birthday. We were discussing with a less-active how the gospel blesses families. He talked about how people raised Mormon have less desire to smoke and drink and all that. Then it hit me. If I weren't a member of the church, and knowing my personality, I'd probably would have been in a bar with a bunch of my buddies that night. But instead, I was teaching a man how to come closer to Christ. I couldn't help but to smile as I realized just how much the gospel has blessed my life. So. now for the work. Things have been going CRAZY awesome. I've been working hard to stay just as busy as I was as an assistant, and we've been pretty close to pulling it off. We found 7 new investigators and taught 18 lessons, which was pretty cool since we only taught 12 last week. And this next week, we already have 20 lessons lined up and have 2 full days unplanned. My goal is to hit 30 lessons in a week. I've never been able to pull that one off, but it's my goal. So the area is really growing fast. We have a system we came up with, and it's working really well. We came up with a new years message using Genesis 19;17 when the Lord tells Lot and his family to "look not behind thee," to flee from Sodom and Gamorah and to head to the mountains. We then talk about how God has issued the same commandment to us- to identify the worldly sins in our lives, to leave them behind without looking back, and to 'ascent the mountain' which, biblically, represents the place where one would go to be close to God. So, in other words, identifying things we can do to grow closer to him. After we taught that, we issued an invitation to learn the lessons as a way of ascending that mountain. We've been sharing it primarily with less-actives and a few non-members, and not a single person has said no. So, we're not re-teaching the lessons to a pool of about 15 less-actives who need a better gospel base. The ward is fully behind it too, and they're getting pretty excited. We've had some good results too. Yesterday at church, we had 6 less-actives there. I'm really excited to see what we can get on week 6 of the transfer! Another bunch of cool things happened too. I have an update on all the recent converts who have gone less-active. We finally got in with Tammy and her new fiance, and had a lesson yesterday. Her husband said he's more than willing to have us come over and teach them, which was what kept Tammy from meeting with us. So we're going to be able to hopefully build her faith back up. A member of the ward we're pretty tight with- Sis. Proctor- got a call from Sherry and Roger Googe down in Mississippi. We hooked them up with the missionaries down there when they moved, and I guess they have been meeting with them and are contemplating going back to the church! So that was pretty good news. Sister Gresgott was one of the less-actives who came to church, so she's back on board, and committed to take a big step in getting to the temple in a few months. So, with all that, all of the converts I worked with when I was here last year are accounted for, and will hopefully stick around this time!! That's most of the word this week. We're just working super hard and as fast as we can. I know time is short, but you better believe I'm leaving everything on the alter. I want an ambulance to need to pick me up from the airport. There'll be little chunks for Elder Esplin on this town from both of us. Hmm. That was supposed to sound motivational. I don't know if it was. Anyways, we're both excited, and we expect great things out of the next month! Love you all! Have a great week, and I"ll look forward to hearing from you soon!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Round 2 in Waterville

But man, it sounds like you've had a really exciting week this last one. Lots of crazy things going on. I sure hope everybody hangs in there. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!! Round 2 in Waterville. It's been nuts! When I pulled into the city on Tuesday, I started getting the butterflies like crazy. I felt like I was having a little mini home-coming. The entire first few days, I just kept saying over and over, "I can't believe I'm back! I can't believe this is real." It almost feels like I never left, I've just been gone on a long exchange. But I'll tell you what, we've been working our little tails off like it's nobody's business!! On one of our first nights together, Elder Esplin and I sat down to talk about what we could do to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible. We decided that the most efficient way to do that is to work with less-actives. So that's exactly what we've been doing! Unfortunately, a few of the people who were baptized when I was here have since done less-actives-- Tammy, Sherry and Roger, Phil, and Jeff. Man, Satan sure does pound on those recent converts. Luckily, Diane and Dan are still going strong. So, the 5 above were some of our first stops, and I got pretty bold with them with some pretty surprising results. Tammy is now engaged to a guy who is preventing her from meeting with us, so she's pretty well dropped off the deep end...we haven't been able to get over there once because she keeps canceling on us. That one is a really hard one for me because she's one of the converts I got the closest to, and was basically the first one I really had. Sherry and Roger got offended by a ward member and stopped going, and Roger had resorted back to his Pentecostal background. We sat them down and had a pretty good talk about the Book of Mormon and their feelings about it. After a little talk, Sherry said she still considered herself a Mormon, but didn't go so she could be unified with her husband. Unfortunately, they're moving to Mississippi today so we won't be able to work with them, but we've already got them lined up with elders down there, and I'll be writing them a letter here shortly. Then we've got Jeff and Phil. We stopped by Jeff and Kathrine my first night to have a little chat. They said they had gone back to the Episcopal church. I asked them, "So, you don't feel Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are true anymore?" They replied, "Well, we do, but we just aren't sure anymore." They knew that they knew, and there wasn't any getting around it. I bore testimony of how I came to know it was true and invited them to retake the missionary lessons. Kathy reluctantly accepted, but Jeff seemed very distant and said he'd make no promises. Then, yesterday, we went back over to talk again. and Kathy gave us the news. "Since you left the other night, I've been thinking a lot, and I was thinking more this morning." Immediately, my stomach dropped. I knew she was going to tell us she wasn't interested in our visits anymore. Then, she said," I went to church yesterday, and I just didn't feel anything. But then I compared it to how I felt when you were here, and when I go to the Mormon church, and whenever I do that, I feel all warm inside. So, I think I'm going to stay Mormon." I was speechless for a few moments haha. It came out of nowhere!! We eagerly confirmed that she had received revelation and talked about the Spirit for a while. She's not on track to come back to church and working to the temple! Jeff is still quite distant though, and excused himself when we were teaching. He knows it's true. He just needs some more time. I'm sure he'll follow Kathy if she gets active again. Finally, we have Phil. Phil got offended by some dumb thing ( I don't even really remember the full story) and stopped going. Can I just say that stopping going to church because you're offended is the stupidest thing ever??? Seriously, it's like being in a life boat in a storm at sea and jumping overboard because somebody else in the boat is annoying you or said something dumb. Anyways, I went to go see him about 5 months ago as we were passing through the area, and he said he had no interests in coming back and was going to his old church. He seemed very cold towards the church now, which was a big change. I responded by telling him about how much his conversion had meant to me and my faith, and how I knew he knew that this all was true, and the miracles he has seen is evidence of that. I could see in his eyes it hit somewhere deep, but nonetheless, he invited us to leave. So then my second day in town, we stopped by again. I was expecting the same sort of dialogue, but to my surprise, he let us right in. We sat and got caught up, and then he said, "You know, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I think we've decided to come back to the Mormon church." Again, I was stunned. He said that over Christmas vacation, two elders came by his family's home while he was visiting and shared a powerful Christmas message that really touched them all. He said every since then, his girlfriend's heart was softened and she was consenting to let him interact with the church again. He said he wanted to come to church soon, and wanted to go teaching with us again! Again, another great miracle!! That's not the end of all the miracles we've been seeing either. We've found 7 less-active families, all who have accepted the invitation to retake the missionary discussions. We've gotten back into the home of the Berard family (one of my favorite families I've taught on my mission) who are very eager to start learning again and to get to church. We met with the Bishop my second night, and he felt he needed to call a spontaneous PEC meeting specifically about missionary work and what the ward could do to better help the missionaries. They invited me up during sacrament meeting to bear my testimony. Just overall, things have hastened SO much. It's been amazing. Time is going to go WAY too quickly. We have so much to do, and such little time to do it all in. I love being back, and I'm so excited to see what will happen over the next few weeks!! Ok I better go. Love you all! Have a great week, and I"ll look forward to talking with you all soon!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin