Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy December!!

This week was awesome. The trip down to Manchester was way fun. I got to see a ton of missionary friends who were on the other side of the mission, including my trainer and past companions. We learned a ton too. We had training on combating people who have been anti-ed, using the scriptures more effectively, how to have better district meetings, how to be better trainers, how to deal with it being dark at 5 PM, etc. I also was one of 5 elders who received a specialized training on family history. That was really cool. I got really familiar with new.familysearch.org. I can picture myself getting hooked on that stuff- that Spirit of Elijah is serious stuff! Also, funny story. I got a little rebuked by President Wilkey haha. We had an extended dinner break, so me and a few elders went to the Primary room to hang out. I hoped onto the piano and started playing around. I slowly drifted into less-than-hymn types of music. Suddenly, President Wilkey walked in to grab his briefcase. Unfortunately, he walked in right when I was playing and singing along to "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago hahahaha. He gave me a gentle little rebuke and went on his way. So. Needless to say, I'm going to tighten up a bit on my piano playing haha. But he joked about it with me after so I know it wasn't anything serious. Just another step for me developing a set apart heart.


Christmas is definitely in the air here. Christmas lights are going up like crazy. There was a huge parade down main street the day after Thanksgiving that was fun. We went to it and did some street contacting. A ward member is getting us to go caroling with them every Sunday for the rest of the month. That'll be fun too. I'm excited to see what Christmas on the mission will be like. Of couse, It wont be able to compare to Christmas back home, but I can already tell I will be feeling more of the true meaning of Christmas out here. Also, to answer a question I've gotten a lot, the weather is actually insanely good. They say it's one of the most mild pre-winters ever. I'm loving it. But, everybody tells us "Just wait. It'll come." That's exciting...kinda. They say it'll come in the next three weeks. Let's hope not! The longer the snow will stay away, the better! My companion feels the same way, being from Vegas. We're getting along great though. He's a total goof-ball, but we still have lots of fun. One thing I've been learning lately is that I can be more easy-going and laid-back than I ever gave myself credit for. Or maybe it's just something I'm learning out here. I dunno. But it's nice not ever being stressed. Good change from the rest of my life haha.


So, we had a total miracle this week. On Thursday, we were sitting in the church for District Meeting, when our family history consultant came to the door and called me out. I went, and she had a guy with him. She said "This young man wants to investigate." His name was Eric. He told us he'd been doing research online the last few months and thought we were the church for him and wanted to learn more. We were ecstatic! We met with him that night to teach him the Restoration. He loved it. We gave him a tour of the church, and said it just felt right and said he'd want to be baptized. We found out he had a girlfriend with a kid on the way, which isn't the best thing for a missionary to hear because they have to be living the Law of Chastity to be baptized, but he asked us if the church could marry them because he wants his to be born into a family. Boo ya! The next day, he texted us saying how good he feels and asked how much it costed to be baptized!! hahaha how sweet is that? Eric came to church on Sunday with his girlfriend Ashley, and they said they loved it. Eric even got up and bore his testimony, during which, he said he was grateful for Joseph Smith for allowing him to be there that day. During Sunday School, he talked to the bishop about getting married and being baptized. After church, we were teaching Ashley the Restoration. After we taught about Eternal Families, Eric looks over at Ashley and proposed on the spot! It was crazy! She accepted, and they want to be married by the end of the month. Last night, he texted us talking about how much he loves family scripture study and prayer, and how he's already talking to his friends about coming to church with him. Sooooo.......yeah. Basically....ITS THE COOLEST THING EVER!! Total testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father is preparing people to receive the Gospel. They're looking for the truth, but they just don't know where to find it!


Ok, I better get going. Lots to do today! Love you all! Can't wait to talk to you in a few weeks! Enjoy the Christmas season!


-Faithfully,


Elder KC Esplin

This week started off with snow

Alright. Let's get down to the Nitty Gritty. This week started off with an unpleasant suprise- snow. Lots of snow. It pounded in out of nowhere. We drove to district meeting Wednesday morning in it, and it was super intense. Cars were everywhere haha. It wasn't even a slight problem for me though, seeing as how I've grown up driving in the snow...oh wait...haha no, I did really good. Yes Dad, I'm going really slow and being extra cautious. There's not a chance in Hades I'd do something stupid and lose this car. Snow is still on the ground too, but it's melting fast. Hopefully we'll hold off the snow a little longer! They say it's the warmest it's almost ever been this time of year. Global Warming for the win! Haha not really. But I'm enjoying it all so far. Staying warm, being safe, all that good stuff.

Thanksgiving was awesome. We basically ate non-stop for 7 hours. No joke. I don't know if I've ever eaten that much food in a day before. We had 3 dinner appointments, each 2 hours apart, then on to the Bishop's home for pie. It was an incredible day. I was at the brink of exploding though haha. I woke up the next morning still feeling full. But that's half the fun, right? Everyone also thought of us to give us left-overs, so I won't be needing to buy groceries this week. The ward here is awesome- I'm getting quite attached. We already have people fighting over having us on Christmas day. We've already got the day mostly scheduled out. Anyways. With every home we visited, we shared the story of the 10 lepers and talked about gratitude. I reflected about gratitude a lot this last week, and I feel more appreciation for the goodness of God towards me than any other time in my life. It really hit me in church yesterday. I was sitting in Priesthood listening to a lesson on enduring trials, and I was just overcome with gratitude for everything I have and am. I ended up saying one of the most sincere prayers of my life. "Heavenly Father, Thank You. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." All in all, I've been really grateful for this lst week's Thanksgiving experience.

This next week should be a good one. I've been invited to a leadership training back in Manchester tomorrow through Wednesday night, so I'll be making the same 3 hour pilgramage back to New Hampshire tomorrow. I'm super excited for it though- I hear these MLT's are amazing, and I'll be seeing a lot of my former companions and MTC group there as well. My greenie is going to be running the area while I'm gone. It'll be interesting to hear how that goes!

So I'll share a quick experience before getting going. Yesterday, we made a visit to a referral given to us by a member. We asked him "Who's the most religious and open-minded person you know in all of China?" (the town they live in). He gave us the name of a trinitarian minister. He said he didn't see it going anywhere, but we could always pay him a visit. So, we did. We ended up sitting down and discussing faith for about an hour. We taught him about prophets, baptism, the Atonement, all the good stuff. Bible references kept coming to mind, and I know that was the Spirit bringing things to rememberance for me. But after a while, we hit a road block. He didn't know if he could buy into the Spirit World concept. He started going for references in the Bible, and I could feel a bible bash coming on. But, I then remembered what our mission has been emphasizing like crazy the last few months- the Book of Mormon. I pulled out a copy and told him about it, what it was, and I told him this. "We could go back and forth in the Bible all night long if we wanted to. But ultimately, what it comes down to is that we belive the Book of Mormon is true, and that it was translated by a prophet of God. The only way to find that out is through revelation from God through the Holy Spirit. I know it's true. It's through that book I discovered the love of Jesus Christ. And we'd encourage you to read it, ponder it, and pray and ask God to reveal to you through the Spirit if it's true. That's how you can know if what we say is true. Don't believe us- believe God." Oh man, the message of the Book of Mormon is so beautiful! I love it! He said he agreed that only God could reveal truth to us, and asked for a month to read it before we could come back. It was a testimony builder to me that our message really is so simple- God's called a prophet, and you can find out through the Book of Mormon. That's it. That's the only conflict someone needs to figure out with the church. Is the Book of Mormon scripture translated by the power of God, or ficticious religious philosophy written by a cunning genious. Those are the only possibilities. Anyways. That was a really cool experience for me yesterday. Thought I'd share!

Ok, I best get going. We have a lot to do before I can pack for the trip to Manchester. Love you all! Hope you have a great week. The church is true and God loves you!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Another great week

Welp, transfer calls were this Saturday. We were surprised to get our call from President Wilkey several minutes before calls were even supposed to be made. He said that both of us were receiving a call from the Lord. The verdict- My companion is being transferred as a District Leader, and I'm remaining in Waterville as a trainer! Woot! I'm super excited for it. I've been praying and fasting a lot lately for a vision of what things can be done in the next transfer, and I feel I have a lot of plans that are ready to go, and having a greenie with fresh insights will make it all go better. I'm stoked! I'll be driving to Manchester tomorrow to pick him up. (and Dad, you'll be proud- they're having me play piano at transfer meeting haha). Also, they've started a new thing that trainers are with their greenie for 12 weeks guaranteed, so I'll be in Waterville until the beginning of February. I'm stoked for that- it'll be two 6 month areas in a row! This next transfer will be exciting since it has Thanksgiving and Christmas in it. The ward here is awesome, so we'll be taken care of. So yeah. Looks Waterville and I are about to get a whole lot closer!

Everything else is going great on this end. The weather has been crazy nice- apparently it's a lot more mild than usual. Still in the 60's with all the snow gone. I heard Utah has snow already. Looks like I"m lucking out! But I'm sure that's bound to change. Somebody told us this week that according to the farmer's almanac, we're expected to get the biggest snow storm since the 20's or something like that. We'll see. I'd be excited for that though- I hear missionaries turn into full-time snow shoveler s in those instances. That's be new! But I'm eating up having nice weather and a car. It's a pretty nice set-up. The only bad thing is that it gets dark so stinking early! The sun starts setting around 3:45 and it's pitch dark around 5:00. It's nuts, and makes finding people really hard. But we'll adjust!

Not much else happened this week. Just surviving the anxiety of week 6. The work is going well, and I'm loving it! Sorry to cut this one a little short- we gotta get back so my companion can pack. But I"ll let you know next week how the greenie is and what changes are in store for the next 12 weeks!

Love you all! Hope all stays well. Don't forget to pray! Talk to you next week!

-Faithfully,

Photo and Map of Mission



This is the view of the Atlantic and Surrounding Islands from the deck of a members house...
How Cool is that???? 



                                              

Monday, November 7, 2011

How's Everyone in Sunny STG?

I had a great week this last week. Firstly, because now all the snow is gone. Hopefully it stays away for a little longer! It's getting cold fast. But, having a car now is super nice! We're going to be able to get out to areas that are just too far to get to by bike and hopefully talk to people who haven't seen missionaries for a while. I'm stoked to get it going! The work is going well too. We had another super awesome lesson with Dan. Last week, we taught him the Plan of Salvation, and I committed him to review the pamphlet for it and pray after it to find if it's true. This week, he came and reported that he had read and prayed, and he felt a peace and happiness come over him that told him it was true. It's so cool to see revelation come through prayer and the Holy Ghost! It works every time! This week, we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and committed him to pray about it like last week. He told us he wants to be baptized and will pray about a date for it to happen. I'm totally pumped! He's an awesome guy, and I love seeing him grow closer to the Savior. Other than that, the week has revolved around working with less-actives and recent converts. They're getting us referrals, and that's how we're doing a lot of our work. Tracting really isn't effective here because it gets hounded by Jehovah's Witnesses, so we rely on referrals and Mormon.org to find our solid people to teach. It's going well!

So I had a funny experience this week. I went to a salvage store to look for some good glove liners, and I got talking to a Mainer lady who felt pity on me for not having endured a Maine winter before. She gave me some of the most interesting advice of my life. "When you're in a pinch, cross-dress." No kidding. Apparently, lady nylons make for great insulation, and she has her husband do it all the time? Yeah. Pretty sure I'll freeze before I go that far haha. So yeah. I thought that was pretty funny.

I had some really spiritual experiences this week. On Thursday, we had Zone Conference down in Augusta, Maine. The main focus was on the Book of Mormon. We talked about how the book can address concerns, not only for investigators but for us as well, how a spiritual witness of it is the keystone of every converts personal testimony, and about how we can use it more effectively in lessons. I also found it interesting that we had a little training on how to respond when people encounter anti material. They gave us the advice to refer people to Matthew 16: 13-18. Jesus asked his disciples, essentially, what anti was going around to explain who he was. Once they answered, he told them to disregard that and ask themselves what they thought the matter personally. Peter responded that He was the Christ. Jesus acknowledge that this knowledge had come from the Father, not from man, and that that pattern is the basis of how his church would be established. So, moral of the story: It doesn't matter what other people say about the church- either for or against it. What really matters is what answer you've received from the Father about it. That's how you can know the truth.
Towards the end of the zone conference, we devoted two hour to having a missionary testimony meeting centered on "how the Book of Mormon has affected your life or the life of someone you've taught." Holy cow. That was one of the most spiritual testimony meetings of my life. I had an opportunity to bear my testimony, and I think I'll share the essence of what I said. It applies to what I said above.


"It's really cool to think that in this room are dozens of young men and women who have traveled thousands of miles from home, having left everything back home, from families to education to jobs to friends, for 18 months to two years, to come to a strange new place to do a difficult work, all for a book. That's pretty special if you ask me.  My entire life, I've always thought in my head that the church was true. But I never really knew it solidly in my heart. Because it was a logical belief, I was subject to doubts as new things came and left about the church. But a month or so before my mission, I decided I needed to really find out if this was something I was willing to devote my life to doing. So, I submerged myself into the pages of the Book of Mormon. I dived deeper into that book than ever in my entire life, and something amazing happened. I felt a peace I had never really felt before. I felt a hole that I never knew existed, filled. And it was because of that peace I felt in my heart that confirmed to me that this was the right thing for me to do. Since I've left on my mission, I've since taken my logical testimony and delved into it all as I did with the Book of Mormon. I pondered it, prayed about it, and felt that same peace in my heart. I can now say that, for the first time in my life, I know completely in my heart that this church is true, and I've never experienced such a peace and joy before. And it all started with a book. I know that the Book of Mormon is true." It was one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever born, and as I sat back down with my companion, I found tears of joy coming to my eyes and I realized I was smiling. The Spirit was witnessing that what I had just said was true. The church is true. I know it is.
 

I had another spiritual experience yesterday as well. We had stake conference up in Bangor, Maine. Among the speakers were the stake presidency, the president of the Boston temple, and my mission president, President Wilkey. The talks were all amazing. When it came time for President Wilkey to talk, he realized that the meeting was going over, so he'd have to cut down his talk. The main message he shared in those few minutes was to "open your ears, and open your mouth, and let the Lord's work be done." He then had all the full-time missionaries stand (there were about 24 of us in the audience) and had us come up to the stand. He then had us sing a special third verse of Called to Serve that is our mission song. It goes like this:

"Called to Serve the people of New England,
with the Gospel of a loving God.
Teaching, preaching, unto true repentance,
holding to the Iron Rod."


As we sung, I felt that same unexplainable smile come across my face. I looked into the audience and realized that a great number of them were crying. I was taken by surprise. I looked to my sides and saw that all of us missionaries had that same smile on our faces. As we moved onto the chorus, I felt an incredible fire of gratitude and desire to be a missionary. That night, I went over the words of the song line by line, and realized what an incredible duty and honor it is to be able to proclaim God's love far and wide. We all know it, now we just need to share it! It was a great experience for me.

So yeah! I had a great week. Great spiritual upliftings, opportunities to help others come unto Christ, and good memories made. I'm loving being a missionary. I know I'm called to serve the people of New England, and I love who I'm becoming because of it. Thanks for all your love and support. I love you all!

Happy Halloween!

This week was pretty good. I just found it ironic that on the week of Halloween, I found myself actually scared. It snowed about 6 inches here on Saturday night. Yep. I couldn't delay the inevitable any longer. Luckily, most of it is gone now, but it was a cruel awakening to what is in store this winter haha. This whole week has been really cold, and riding around on our bikes doesn't really help out that much. I've had to make several trips to various stores around town to buy some Maine-approved apparel. But I should be all set now. Besides. We found out something extremely exciting that will help out this winter a ton. It was basically the best news I've heard my entire life. Can you guess what it is? Yep. You got it. WE'RE GETTING A CAR!!! WAHOO!!! I guess Salt Lake approved the mission to get a few new cars, and we were at the top of the list! We were so pumped. I'm not going to freeze this winter!! Haha of course, that doesn't mean I won't get to be out thoroughly enjoying the thrill of a Maine winter, but it does mean we won't have to walk 10 miles a day trying to contact people and keep appointments in the snow. Plus, this is going to let us contact the outlying towns around Waterville with a lot more ease. Oh man, I can't wait. We'll be getting it at Zone Conference this week. I'm pumped!

Also this next week, we're going to be having Stake Conference up in Bangor. Our ward was selected to give a special musical number, and we were drafted to be in the choir. So that'll be fun. But it will be really cool because everybody from Belfast should be there too. Also, I've been asked to play the piano in Zone Conference again. I'm excited to be performing (kinda) music again! So yeah. This next week will be an awesome week. I can't wait.

This last week wasn't terribly exciting. We spent a lot of time this week giving service to the ward. We helped a family move, painted doors for a family to remodel their apartment, helped lug around several couches for different families, and gave several hours preparing and distributing sandwiches at the E.S.P. The service really helped us unify with the ward, which will be great for when we get the car- they can feed us more often! Win! Haha and we also have lots of them working on friends and families as referrals. So no worries. I'm still being missionary minded. Also this week, on Saturday, we had a ward trunk-or-treat. It was really fun, but a little odd. They decorated the church a little overly Halloween-ish. I mean, they turned the front lobby into a graveyard, complete with dead trees, gravestones, skeletons, and a massive pile of dead leaves. Cleaning up was a TON of fun, but it looked really cool. But what looked even cooler was Elder Carroll and I. We've both found killer suits at the various thrift stores in the area, so we decided to wear them to the ward activity. I mean, colored suits are about as close to dressing up a missionary can get. I had a sweet tan 3-piece suit and E. Carroll had a legit baby blue one. The ward loved it, and kept telling us they couldn't recognize us not in black haha. We took some killer pics- I'll send them home soon. We also got more candy that I think either of us can eat- and we didn't even trunk-or-treat! I don't even know how it happened! We came with candy to give out (I taped suckers onto pass along cards and gave those to the kids. They weren't amused, but I thought it was hilarious), and we were continuously given more and more food as the night went along. I seriously think the ward is trying to fatten us up for winter or something. Oh well. Anyways, that's basically this week. Just giving service to the ward, eating lots of food, and enjoying the last of the non-winter weather!

I best be off. Love you all! Hope you all had a great Halloween! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Starting to get Cold!

Welp, winter is definitely looming close on the horizon. The awesome fall leaves are starting to fall at a faster rate, and there's a bite in the air that's getting worse and worse. We've gone into sweater mode. I'm starting to get a little nervous- it's already hit the "dead of winter in STG" temperatures, and apparently it's still 'warm.' Yikes. I'm gonna need to get some more clothes haha. It's been really rainy this week too, which is never any fun. We try to ride our bikes as little as possible for safety reasons when it rains (and yes Mom, I do wear my helmet). We were off working in a town outside of Waterville on Friday, but we got rained out. Going up a mile long hill on a bike in a cold rain isn't very fun. But, they say anytime you do something in the rain or that isn't fun, you get "wife points." I think I've got me quite a high score so far haha.

The work went really well this week. We had some great finds for new investigators. Here's one cool story. Lately, I've been praying a lot that we'd be placed in the path of somebody who was prepared and ready to receive the gospel, and that we'd be in tune with the Spirit to know when it happened. One morning, it was raining, so we were on foot. As we were coming back to the apartment for lunch, a guy in a hood smoking a cigarette was on the same sidewalk was coming towards us. At first, I just had the thought to let him pass without saying anything, but then, I felt very strongly that we needed to stop him and talk to him. So as he passed, I stopped him and started telling him about who we were and what we did. He then told us that he had just moved into town, had just gotten out of jail, and was looking for a church in town to start attending. He agreed to invite us back this next week. How cool is that?? God really does hear and answer prayers. Another really cool experience this last week with finding. One morning, we were getting ready to bike up to the church to spend time on Mormon.org, and we got a phone call from a recent convert. She said she had a friend over who wanted to talk with us a little more about the church so he could know what to expect when he came to church the next day. We were really excited. We went over, and I was trying to figure out who this small timid girl would have invited over. We walked in and found a total gangster sitting there. He was wearing a patriots jersey, a bandanna, chains, the whole nine yards. He had just moved up from Boston to get away from the city. He said down there, he was a drug dealer, an alcoholic, all that fun stuff, but was now trying to give himself to God. We gave him a Bo M and invited him to learn more. It was surprising to me though. Back home, he would be the kind of guy I'd want to avoid. He was pretty scary haha. But sitting down, I looked him in the eyes and could confidently bear testimony to him that we have the same Heavenly Father and that we were brothers. Trying to have the pure love of Christ is a power that no prejudice or discrimination can ever break. That's definitely something I've learned out here. But yeah! Finding efforts are going great, and we have one investigator who we're going to be committing to baptism this week. He's super awesome. He's come to church the last three weeks, and is loving it. His name is Dan. I'll keep you updated on him. Also, just so you all know, we have three more weeks in the transfer. Transfers will be the week before Thanksgiving, and we're all pretty sure my companion will be getting the boot to his last area- he only has two transfers left. But we'll see what happens!

One more little tidbit of fun. I was forced to confront my mortal enemy this week. That's right. I had a face-to-face confrontation with cheese. I've been working on getting over that dislike the entire time I've been out here, because when a member feeds you, you have to eat it. But this week, things were taken to the next level when we went over to a less-active's house and were presented two grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I got one of the sandwiches down and ate most of the soup, but had to call it quits after that. It was a terrible experience, not gonna lie haha. I'm not a picky eater, but that was horrible. But I discovered something. I was sick for two days after eating it. So. I'm pretty sure it's more than just a dislike. I think I'm allergic or something. Anyways. Just a fun little adventure from this week haha.

Alright y, I better get going. Life is still going great out here! I'm working hard, seeing miracles, and having the time of my life. I know this is the work that my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing, and he's filling me to the brim with peace and happiness. Know that I love you all very much, and look forward to hearing from you soon! Take care!

-Elder KC Esplin

Monday, October 17, 2011

Columbus Day greetings and Jeff's Baptism pics

Hey everybody!

Sorry I'm a little late. It's Columbus Day, so the library was closed, and then today turned into one heck of a P-day. But I fought my way here now! Better late than never, right?

So first of all, BAPTISM!!!! YES!!!! Jeff was baptized yesterday. It was AWESOME!! The baptismal service went super well. Elder Carroll baptized him, and Jeff asked me to give the talk on the purpose of baptism. He was so excited to get baptized, and he set a really good example to me of the fire I should have to be sealed to my wife in the temple one day. That's definitely one thing I've learned on my mission- I can't and won't settle for anything less than a temple marriage! But yeah. The baptism was great, and I'm super pumped about it! Also, you asked about Malachi. Last I heard, he was supposed to be baptized on this last Saturday, but I haven't heard anything since. Hopefully, I'll find out soon! It's killing me!

With the exception of Jeff's baptism, the week was really slow. On Monday night, Elder Carroll's thousand-year-old bike passed away suddenly when the rim of his tire snapped in two places. We spent the next 3 days on foot unable to find a replacement rim or bike. So, he decided to get a new one. Those 3 days on foot proved to be very unproductive, as we couldn't cover ground at all and were limited to the immediate Waterville area. That was lame. Then, just as he got his new bike, he got a cold and a double ear infection, so we spent all day Saturday at the church taking it easy so he could get feeling better. I think I set a new personal record. I played the piano for 4 hours straight. My love and appreciation of the piano is growing very quickly haha. Then last night, my bike, lovingly named Brunhilda for the night by Elder Carroll, had some internal damage to the rear tire. I spent most of the night performing a Frankenstein surgery with the old bike and mine to get her back going. It took most of the night unfortunately. But we did have enough time to go to a less-actives house, where we had a logical discussion on why the BoM was true. It was a little delayed though because he was watching the last quarter of the NE Patriots vs. NY Jets game and wouldn't turn off the TV...we were really... bummmed.... he wouldn't...ahem... That rivalry is a really big deal out here. New England hates anything New York. Especially when it comes down to the Red Sox vs. The Yankees. Oh man. That's intense. But...yeah! That's basically my entire week. Wrestling with bikes, dealing with illness, and baptisms!

Hope all stays well out west. I'm still loving it out here! I miss you all and I miss the red rocks and warm weather of STG, but this is where I need to be. I know it is. Not only for the work I'm doing, but for myself too. The Lord is getting me ready for who he needs me to be, and I can't believe the peace and joy I've found as I've learned to just surrender myself and my vain ambitions and just give myself to God. That's really all it takes. Letting go of the shallow things that you think you want and realizing what you really want, which is what you actually need. And that thing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you next week!

This past week was pretty intense.


 My bike is still proving to be quite a troublemaker. After writing you last week, we started biking home from the church. On the way, my tire decided it didn't like to roll properly, so it started grinding on the frame. Then my pedal got jealous that the tire got to rebel, so it decided it didn't want to pedal anymore. Then the brakes decided they would join the party and didn't want to work either. So, needless to say, I couldn't bike home haha. Instead, I stood on one pedal and kicked it home like a skateboard for about two miles. That was exciting haha. The next day, I performed a little surgery on it and got it working. On Wednesday, we went on exchanges. I went up to Skowhegan with the District Leader. It was great. We worked really hard, did a lot of good, and I took some KILLER pictures of the New England fall colors. Seriously, Maine in the Fall is proving to be one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. The leaves are now officially reaching peak, and it's incredible. I'll email pictures soon- I don't have my camera on me today. But be expecting some great things! I got back to work in Waterville on Friday. Turns out my bike had given the greenie elder from Skowhegan some problems too while on exchange, and said they had fixed it for me. Yeah. They didn't fix it for me. 5 minutes into the day on the bike, my rear tire decided to explode. Not pop. Explode. I seriously thought I was being shot at haha. But don't worry. It was pouring rain at the time, so it wasn't that bad of a situation hahaha. Luckily, we were fairly close to our destination, which was the Evening Sandwich Program, so I walked the bike there. Turned out the kitchen was packed with tons of volunteers from Colby College, so one of the main overseers had pity on my story and drove me and my bike to a bike shop to get the tire fixed, and he even paid for me to have a tune up! My bike has been running like it was new ever since. I'm so grateful for people who have charity in their hearts and help those in need! But yeah. The bike situation was actually quite hilarious to me. I laughed about it a lot. In fact, I'm laughing about it right now thinking about the whole thing. Good memories from the mission!

Yesterday proved to be one of the best Sundays on the mission, and that's saying something because Sundays are always the best! First off, Jeff was confirmed which was awesome. He said he felt something happen during the prayer, and I felt it too. So cool. We also had 5 less-actives whom we've been working with come to church! That was really cool to see. And get this. We've been working with a member to get his friend Dan to church the last few weeks, and I guess that friend is now dating one of the sisters in the ward. She had him at church and had him committed to taking lessons from us before we could even talk to him! She wants a man in the church, and that's what she's going to get. Flirt to convert for the win! But he's interested in it more than just pleasing her though. He said he has been reading the BoM and has questions for us. He's super solid, and I can't wait to see where he goes! Also during Gospel Principles, a former investigator just showed up out of the blue and wanted to resume meeting with us. It's so weird how missionary work is in this area! All the elders who have served here say it was the same for them too. We bust our tails off biking around tracting and finding and whatnot, but not much comes of it, and the investigators who are solid and end up getting baptized just show up at church on their own! How that works, I don't know. Elder Carroll thinks it's Heavenly Father having mercy on us for biking up all the hills we do every day haha. I think I agree. Brownie points from heaven. Anyways, after church, a member called us into the kitchen. The week before, they had us write down all our favorite deserts and snacks so they could have a "reference" for future treats. We gave them a pretty good sized list. But instead of giving us treat over the next few weeks, they just went out and bought us EVERYTHING on the list. We brought home two huge sacks full of food. Members of the church are so stinking awesome! After church, we hit the pavement stopping by less-actives and formers. As we were working, we found the coolest couple ever. We had never met them before, but they both came to the door and we started talking and laughing and having a good time. We talked to them for like an hour and a half. They then invited us over to dinner the next week. We didn't even know these people, but they wanted us over for dinner and to talk about what we do!! I'm super stoked to teach them about family. They brought up their families a lot in the conversation, so I know they'll really like the message we share! After that, we had dinner with Jeff and his wife, and we watched the Joseph Smith Movie (my 11th time on my mission haha). So yeah. It was a fantastic ending to a slow week. It was a testimony to me that God really does know us personally and know what we need. I really needed a day like yesterday to feel that my diligence and consecration of heart was being noticed by Him, and yesterday, the Spirit manifested to me that He has. I love being a missionary!

Alright y, I better get going. Time for laundry! Know that I love you all, I pray for you often, and I look forward to hearing from you every week. Take care! Don't forget to choose the right!

-E-KC-E
- Show quoted text -

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let me take you back two weeks ago...

So first of all, Sherry's baptism. It happened on Sunday the 18th. We had the baptism after church because that's typically what works best so people can be in attendance. The Spirit there was so special. Sherry asked people who she had gotten close to to give the talks and prayers, and they were all people who probably weren't asked to do those kinds of things very often. We had to go over to one of their houses and help her write her talk. She had been less active and just started coming back to church and was asked to give a talk on the HG. She was scared out of her mind, but did a great job. She was baptized by the Bishop and Elder Carroll and I served as the witnesses. Seeing her look up and smile after coming out of the water was such a cool moment. She had the right mindset that after baptism, she'd be a new person, and I could see that in her eyes as she looked up at us. During the interlude, I played arrangements of children's songs on the piano until they came out. Elder Carroll then confimed her and gave her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Standing in the circle for that ordinance was another incredible experience. Again, I could feel a change come over her as she received that companionship. Overall, it was a great experience for all who were attending, and it was fulfulling to have seen somebody take that step of  making a covenant with God and growing closer to him.

Then came the Monday right after. We had zone conference in Augusta, and we were told Elder C. Scott Grow would be in attendance. As we filed in, we each shook hands with President and Sister Wilkey, then Elder and Sister Grow. As I greeted President Wilkey, he looked me in the eye and said "Life has been going great for you lately, hasn't it?" I agreed. He then said "Well, it's going to get even better. I'm going to have you interview with Elder Grow." I was shocked and crazy excited. The entire conference, I looked forward to that chance to get to talk to a general authority one on one. The zone conference was awesome. We learned a lot from Elder Grow and President Wilkey about having faith to set goals, working with less actives and the ward council, using time wisely, etc. We all took a lot from it. After the conference, we split up into our zones for zone meetings, and Elder Grow went into a side room to do interviews. After a few minutes, the Assistants came and got me and took me wait outside the door. It turned out that 8 missionaries from that half the mission- including a few sisters and a missionary couple- were getting to meet with him. I was honored that President felt I should be one of them.

The interview was awesome. As I walked in, he looked at the paper that had each missionary he was interviewing with a description why each was being interviewed. He said "Elder Esplin, it says on here that you make your companions feel and do better, your areas always improve, and you have a talent for music." He looked up, smiled and said, "You like music?" We ended up spending several minutes discussing music. Turns out he's the pianist/organist at all the general authority training meetings. He also plays jazz piano. Win. We agreed that if we had more time, we'd have a little jam session haha. Anyways, after asking about my family and home and whatnot, he told me I could ask him any question that I'd like. A chance to ask a general authority anything. What do you ask in a situation like that?? haha but I ended up asking him something that had been on my mind for a while. I asked him how I could better follow the Spirit when praying or giving blessings so I can have confidence that I'm investing my faith in righteous causes. We discussed that for a while, and I took a lot from his answer. We discussed the conference, what I'm doing in my area to unify with the ward, etc. Then he said we needed to wrap up. Mom, this is for you. Before we ended, he told me I needed to write home to my mother and tell you that "A General Authority looked into my eyes and soul, and saw a clean, worthy young man who is anxious to serve the Lord." The Spirit was almost tangible at that point. We stood, he gave me a hug, and the interview was over. I left with a crazy fire in my chest to do better, to develop in my eyes the light of Christ that he had. I now have a greater testimony that this church isn't run by men. It's run by Christ. I wasn't having an interview with a man talking about philosophy. I was talking to a man sent on an errand by Christ. I sincerely believe that, and I want to have that same light and purpose in my eyes.

So there you have it. Sherry's baptism and my one-on-one experience with Elder C. Scott Grow. I'm having incredible life-changing experiences out here. I love who I'm becoming, and I can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for me. I know he's guiding this work and has a plan for me, and I can't wait to see it unfold. I love you all! Take care! Can't wait to hear from you next week!!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hurricane Irene

DATE:    August 27, 2011TO:         NHMM Missionary ParentsFROM: President Wilkey, New Hampshire Manchester MissionRE:          Hurricane IreneAs you may or may not be aware, we will shortly experience a New England rarity: A hurricane named Irene.  We have been tracking this storm for several days now and it appears the storm has lost some of the predicted intensity.   However, we will not under-judge this storm and will err on the side of safety for your missionary.  Our middle daughter and her family just moved to North Carolina where they experienced Irene first hand yesterday and today.  She tells us the storm was downgraded there to a Class I from a potential Class III.  Our mission lies squarely in the middle of the storm track so we know the mission will be affected.  We have consulted with local members and officials, the National Weather Service and media outlets.  Irene looks to produce some high winds up to 70 miles per hour and potentially 6”to 10” of rain this evening through Sunday.  With the size of New England, the impact will vary, of course, by location.         Embedded within our emergency plan is a calling tree wherein each companionship communicates with district leaders who in turn communicate with zone leaders to my assistants and then to me.  I will receive those “All-in-safe” reports for the next two days.  We continuously monitor any new developments and will update you in the event of any significant change in conditions.  Yesterday I instructed the entire mission to obtain non-perishable food, water, flashlights & extra batteries etc. according to emergency guidelines in our published plan at each apartment.Shortly I will decide what our response will be for tomorrow when the brunt of the storm hits.  Some wards and branches will likely cancel church services and we will have our missionaries follow the lead of local officials regarding church attendance.  In all likelihood, I will ground the car fleet and have the missionaries stay indoors for the day.  I have already moved missionaries in low-lying areas along the coast and in known flooding areas to “Higher ground” with members or other missionaries as an early precaution.    At this point I am confident our missionaries are prepared well .  The only thing that will prepare them further is your faith, your prayers and your confidence in these great Latter-day warriors!  Thank you for preparing them in all ways for just such moments as this.  I feel much as did Helaman with his stripling warriors, “...they were firm and undaunted.  Yea, and they obey ...with exactness; yea and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them (Alma 57:20-21).”  With that backdrop to our present situation I am confident in their obedience and in what they were taught at home.   Therefore, they will “...be preserved by his marvelous power.”  (Alma 57:26).  

Hey Everybody!

Man, I love P-days. I especially love getting to email home and getting to hear from you. It's one of the highlights of my week! Know that I love and miss you all!


So first of all, I gotta say how awesome things have been going over here lately. Not just in the work, but personally too. Work wise, things have been crazy awesome. Last week, we were one of six areas in the entire mission to hit the church's missionary goal of 20 lessons in a week. Waterville hasn't hit that standard ever that I or other missionaries could remember. We've been working really hard at contacting as many less-actives as possible and talking to everybody we encounter. We've been working super hard. Riding the bikes has been exciting. I tried figuring out how many miles we rode on our bikes this week going from town to town. The results came out aroung 50 total miles. That doesn't sound like a ton, but when you consider the fact we're riding in suits and our bikes are older than we are, it gets pretty intense haha. I had to perform surgery on my tire this week because I blew it out by accidentially going off the road (long story). So I now know a ton about the workings of road bikes. Random skill: obtained. But we have SUCH a solid week planned this next week. I honestly can't wait. First of all, we have a baptism planned for this next Sunday!! A lady named Sherry is going to get dunked. I'm super excited for it. It'll be my first convert baptism I'll get to see. We also have several lessons planned with a new baptismal candidate named Jeff.

Jeff is a non-member husband of a returning less-active lady. The missionaries have been visiting her for the last two months or so teaching, and he sat in on a few of the lessons. Last week, we decided to extend a formal invitation to him to take the lessons from us. He basically had a "sure, why not" attitude about doing it. The next time we went over, he said he had some questions for us. We were eager to answer them. His first question was about Joseph Smith, which we resolved, and then his next question was "You have to be baptized to be sealed in the temple, right?" We nodded. He then asked "Ok then. How soon can I be baptized?" HUH?? HOW COOL IS THAT?? He was serious too. We set a date for the weekend after conference. He committed to quiting smoking, to reading and praying with his wife, and to coming to church, which he did yesterday. Oh man, that was such a blessing from the Lord. He totally did all the work on that one. Such a cool experience. So yeah. We have a baptism this weekend plus one more in a month. I can't wait!!

Other than that, the work is going really well. We work all day to find less-actives, and that's been going really well. Most are super friendly and love to talk. We're getting lots of referrals from them, and we're making it a point to talk to lots of people who cross our paths, so we have several new investigators we're starting to get going. The members have been treating us really well too. We have constant invitations to come over and eat dinner and whatnot. It's all just going great!!

So to answer a few questions. This Wednesday is Zone Interviews, which I'm really excited for. The Belfast elders will be there, so I can find out how everyone is doing back there. No word from Malachi yet, but I'm planning on writing him today to see how he's doing. I'm sure he's doing great. I have been playing piano a ton. I'm still playing in Priesthood and District Meeting. They also asked me to play in the baptism of an 8-year-old in the ward two weeks ago, so I played an arrangement of "Be Still My Soul" I bought before I left. Sherry asked me to play again in her baptism, so I'll be playing another one of those arrangements again. Also, something cool. I've been working at learning how to play the organ a lot. I've put several hours on it the last few weeks, and I'm starting to get it down. I'm still a few years away from getting on the MOTAB organ, but we'll see what happens haha. I'm really enjoying that. I also found two massive books of clasical paino music in Belfast, so I'm learning some new songs out of there on P-day and before church (we get dropped off 2 hours before church starts, so I have plenty of time to play piano/organ). Also our new landlords, who are awesome, had me play on their keyboard in their house and told me they'd find me somewhere to play. I guess they advertised me to a rest home in the area and they said they'd love to have me come play for thier residents, so I think I'll go shopping for a book of oldies like the ones Pal and I played for them. That'll be a good service/finding activity. But yeah. That's most of the stuff that has been going on. Oh yeah. Something else cool. Next Monday, we're going to Augusta for a General Authority visit. Elder C. Scott Grow of the 70 is speaking. He gave a talk this last conference on the Atonement if you want to look him up. That should be really cool. So, I won't be emailing on Monday, but I hear we'll be getting P-day on Tuesday instead. So just a heads up on that. But yeah! That's most of what's been going on over here!

On a side note. Lately, I've been absolutely and completely engulfed in joy, peace, enthusiasm, and optimism. It's been incredible. And I think I know why- I've finally given my heart to God. I've been wrestling with myself over that one the last few months, either because I was too attached to things back home or I couldn't get into the work or had doubts about things or whatever else. I've finally gotten over all that, I'm beginning to give the work 110%, and I'm truely trusting God in every way. And by doing so, God is blessing me with such an abundance of happiness that I don't know what to do with it all! It's been so incredible. It's like how Elder Maxwell said. Consecration is the only surrender that is a victory. It's so true. If I've learned anything on my mission so far, it's that true happiness can only come by giving our hearts to God. I can give solemn testimony of that because now that I truely have and my works are backing it up, I feel more content with life and myself than ever before. I've put myself into God's hands, and now he can shape me, and I can't wait to see what he makes of me!!

Ok, I best be going. Know that I love and miss you all, I love hearing from you, and I hope all is well back home. Know that this church is true and that I'm loving it so much over here. Take care!! Hope to hear from ya next week!!

Last pictures of Belfast

The chalk drawing we entered into a contest.  We thought it turned out pretty well.  It's the tree of life if you couldn't tell!
I got to spend a day in St. George, Maine.

New England fog makes for  really cool pictures.

Lobsters #2 and 3!  Yummm


Typical Maine view, It's gorgeous.

They don't call it vacationland for nothing!

Belfast in the summer....Quite a bit different than in the winter.



I'll let you come up with your own comment.....;)  maybe consider the lilies of the field.

beautiful coastal scenery.  The boats and ocean are nice too...

Sporting the New England look.

A guy does this for a living.  Some call it art, I call it creepy.  hahaha

My last district.  The two in the white were the elders that formed the trio.  E. Brown my comp.  is on the left            

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hello Again

Man, I love P-days. I especially love getting to email home and getting to hear from you. It's one of the highlights of my week! Know that I love and miss you all!

Sounds like things are pretty crazy back home. That's a huge bummer about Gma and Gpa. I actually have been thinking and praying about them all week. I wasn't sure why, but I guess I know now.

I've been doing better than ever. All the bike riding and sleep is really paying off. I haven't had stomach problems in a long time, and I haven't even caught anything close to even a cold. The Lord is definitely helping me out there!

So first of all, I gotta say how awesome things have been going over here lately. Not just in the work, but personally too. Work wise, things have been crazy awesome. Last week, we were one of six areas in the entire mission to hit the church's missionary goal of 20 lessons in a week. Waterville hasn't hit that standard ever that I or other missionaries could remember. We've been working really hard at contacting as many less-actives as possible and talking to everybody we encounter. We've been working super hard. Riding the bikes has been exciting. I tried figuring out how many miles we rode on our bikes this week going from town to town. The results came out aroung 50 total miles. That doesn't sound like a ton, but when you consider the fact we're riding in suits and our bikes are older than we are, it gets pretty intense haha. I had to perform surgery on my tire this week because I blew it out by accidentially going off the road (long story). So I now know a ton about the workings of road bikes. Random skill: obtained. But we have SUCH a solid week planned this next week. I honestly can't wait. First of all, we have a baptism planned for this next Sunday!! A lady named Sherry is going to get dunked. I'm super excited for it. It'll be my first convert baptism I'll get to see. We also have several lessons planned with a new baptismal candidate named Jeff.

Jeff is a non-member husband of a returning less-active lady. The missionaries have been visiting her for the last two months or so teaching, and he sat in on a few of the lessons. Last week, we decided to extend a formal invitation to him to take the lessons from us. He basically had a "sure, why not" attitude about doing it. The next time we went over, he said he had some questions for us. We were eager to answer them. His first question was about Joseph Smith, which we resolved, and then his next question was "You have to be baptized to be sealed in the temple, right?" We nodded. He then asked "Ok then. How soon can I be baptized?" HUH?? HOW COOL IS THAT?? He was serious too. We set a date for the weekend after conference. He committed to quiting smoking, to reading and praying with his wife, and to coming to church, which he did yesterday. Oh man, that was such a blessing from the Lord. He totally did all the work on that one. Such a cool experience. So yeah. We have a baptism this weekend plus one more in a month. I can't wait!!

Other than that, the work is going really well. We work all day to find less-actives, and that's been going really well. Most are super friendly and love to talk. We're getting lots of referrals from them, and we're making it a point to talk to lots of people who cross our paths, so we have several new investigators we're starting to get going. The members have been treating us really well too. We have constant invitations to come over and eat dinner and whatnot. It's all just going great!!

So to answer a few questions. This Wednesday is Zone Interviews, which I'm really excited for. The Belfast elders will be there, so I can find out how everyone is doing back there. No word from Malachi yet, but I'm planning on writing him today to see how he's doing. I'm sure he's doing great. I have been playing piano a ton. I'm still playing in Priesthood and District Meeting. They also asked me to play in the baptism of an 8-year-old in the ward two weeks ago, so I played an arrangement of "Be Still My Soul" I bought before I left. Sherry asked me to play again in her baptism, so I'll be playing another one of those arrangements again. Also, something cool. I've been working at learning how to play the organ a lot. I've put several hours on it the last few weeks, and I'm starting to get it down. I'm still a few years away from getting on the MOTAB organ, but we'll see what happens haha. I'm really enjoying that. I also found two massive books of clasical paino music in Belfast, so I'm learning some new songs out of there on P-day and before church (we get dropped off 2 hours before church starts, so I have plenty of time to play piano/organ). Also our new landlords, who are awesome, had me play on their keyboard in their house and told me they'd find me somewhere to play. I guess they advertised me to a rest home in the area and they said they'd love to have me come play for thier residents, so I think I'll go shopping for a book of oldies like the ones Pal and I played for them. That'll be a good service/finding activity. But yeah. That's most of the stuff that has been going on. Oh yeah. Something else cool. Next Monday, we're going to Augusta for a General Authority visit. Elder C. Scott Grow of the 70 is speaking. He gave a talk this last conference on the Atonement if you want to look him up. That should be really cool. So, I won't be emailing on Monday, but I hear we'll be getting P-day on Tuesday instead. So just a heads up on that. But yeah! That's most of what's been going on over here!

On a side note. Lately, I've been absolutely and completely engulfed in joy, peace, enthusiasm, and optimism. It's been incredible. And I think I know why- I've finally given my heart to God. I've been wrestling with myself over that one the last few months, either because I was too attached to things back home or I couldn't get into the work or had doubts about things or whatever else. I've finally gotten over all that, I'm beginning to give the work 110%, and I'm truely trusting God in every way. And by doing so, God is blessing me with such an abundance of happiness that I don't know what to do with it all! It's been so incredible. It's like how Elder Maxwell said. Consecration is the only surrender that is a victory. It's so true. If I've learned anything on my mission so far, it's that true happiness can only come by giving our hearts to God. I can give solemn testimony of that because now that I truely have and my works are backing it up, I feel more content with life and myself than ever before. I've put myself into God's hands, and now he can shape me, and I can't wait to see what he makes of me!!

Ok, I best be going. Know that I love and miss you all, I love hearing from you, and I hope all is well back home. Know that this church is true and that I'm loving it so much over here. Take care!! Hope to hear from ya next week!!

-Faithfully,

Elder Esplin

Hey Everybody!

I'm glad you got the email week. Unfortunately, I can't stay on long
today. The library was shut down, so we walked to staples so we could
read emails for a bit.

This week was insane over here in Waterville. Being on bikes is quite
a workout! Add to all the hills and miles 90 degree weather and 90
percent humidity and a shirt and tie and you get a very tired elder
haha. But it's been great.

I worked harder this week than any other
week so far on my mission to get the area going. There isn't much
going on. But we busted our butts and we got good results. We taught
20 lessons (first time in this area in several months) and found 3 new
investigators. We also found 4 less active families who all want to
get back to church. It was incredible. We've been having miracles
right and left. I wish I had more time to write, but I better get
going. I'm loving Waterville and my companion. We get along super well
and have a lot of fun. The ward is awesome, and the work is building
up quick. I'm loving it!! Here's my new address:


Also, if you could put a note on there
saying that after today, I will have responded to every letter I've
received,
so if anybody hasn't heard back from me, there must have
been a glitch in the mailing system.  Thanks!!

Sorry again for keeping it so short, but I don't think Staples wants
me on here too long haha. Love you all, hope you're all hanging in
there. I'm praying for you. I'm loving the work and things are going
AWESOME!

-Elder KC Esplin

No Worries...

First of all, no worries. I'm A-OK. Hurricane Irene turned out to just be a bad rainstorm here. We've had way worse in Ivins, so it wasn't even close to a problem. We just sat inside all day and took it easy. I put half of a 1000 piece puzzle of Bryce Canyon together. That was exciting haha. But yeah. No problems over here. I'm doing great!  And Dad, I'm glad you picked up on my clue I sent you. I purposely bought something with my debit card so you guys could find out where I was. I even told my companion I knew that would happen. Loopholes for the win!

That's so cool that Sister Turnbull called you guys!! Her and her husband are SUCH an awesome couple. Her and her daughter were heading to Cedar City for a wedding. I was hoping they'd contact you. That's great! is keeping up on the bone. Kinda. How's he liking the 7th grade? A

So yeah. Hurricane Irene was pretty exciting. But like I said, I didn't get hit by it hardly at all. It was just a rainstorm here with a little wind. I've tracted in worse in my last area. But the whole mission went on lockdown. The cars were all grounded and nobody was allowed to leave the apartment. I hear I'm lucky though. Some of the other areas in the mission got pouded.

But yes. I'm doing great! I'm now stationed in Waterville, Maine. It's the area right next door to Belfast, only about an hour away. That's exciting. But no, I can't go to Belfast to see Malachi be baptized. I asked President in my last email. Oh well. I just keep reminding myself that this is between him and the Lord. I'm just the middleman. I'm excited for him thought!

So get this. My new area doesn't have a car. But don't worry. We have bikes. Yep. I'm a biking missionary now. Our area is the only purely biking area in the mission. The other areas with bikes have public transport they can rely on. Not us. Nothing but bikes. It's kind of tough because our area is almost just as big as Belfast (it's probably about 200 square miles with about 50,000 people).  But Waterville itself is a pretty big city, so it's not to bad. I'm really enjoying the biking so far. We bike about 4-10 miles a day. The ride to the church is the worst part. It's about 4 miles uphill. Both ways. But yeah. It's just another exciting element to the transition!

My companion is Elder Carroll from West Jordan. We get along super well. He only has a few months left on his mission and was a senior companion for a while before I got here, so I was super confused why I am the senior. He told me President Wilkey called him on transfer call night to tell him this period of being the junior would be for a "short time." President Wilkey is up to something. We'll find out soon enough I guess. There isn't too much going on work wise here right now. We have a lady getting baptized in three weeks, so I'll get to see a baptism soon. But that's about it. We only have like 3 other investigators and a ton of less actives. I plan on working my tail off to change that. But I'm loving the area so far. I'm liking the whole city aspect of it. It's a lot different than being in the boonies. I'm really excited to be serving here. I can't wait to see what happens!

Well, I better get going. A member always takes us out to lunch then drops us off at the laundromat and Walmart, so I better get going. But know that I'm safe and well, I'm loving Waterville and my new companion, and I've never been better! Love and miss you all.
-Faithfully,

Elder Esplin

First Transfer

Welp, I finally bit the bullet. I'm getting transferred. I'm really
bummed by it, mainly because I won't be here for Malachi's baptism.
Pete, Rose, and Roger will probably all be getting baptized next
transfer too. It's a killer I won't be here for it. But, I'll go where
the Lord wants me to go. Plus, I feel that I've done a lot of work
here too. All four of the investigators getting close I found and have
taught almost every week since I've been here. It's been SO cool
seeing them grow. Especially Malachi. He called yesterday after church
and I talked to him for a bit. He called me in tears telling me that
he has no doubt that this is the path that God wants him to be on. He
told me that besides having his son be born, this has been the most
important and happiest experience he's had in his life. He told me he
was really sad that I couldn't be here to baptize him, but that I've
changed his life and that we'd be friends on to the eternities. That
phone call was the greatest moment of my mission thus far. I told him
that I didn't do anything, it was all God, but that being able to
witness his conversion is one of the greatest experiences I've had in
my life. It's so amazing how much power the gospel has to change
people, and now that I've seen that power in action, I'm so excited to
get out to my new area and see it happen again. I can't wait. But
yeah, I'm super sad to not be here for Malachi, but it isn't about me.
It's about him choosing to make this change, and I'm so blessed to
have been part of the process.

I have no idea where I'm getting transfered to. All I know is that I'm
supposed to be at the stake center in Bangor at 5:45 tomorrow morning,
and that I'll find out then where I'm going. They didn't tell me I'm
going to transfer meeting, so that probably means I'll be staying in
Maine. But get this. I'm going to be the senior companion. I was
really surprised by that. That means I'll be driving and taking the
lead in the training program the mission is starting next transfer.
That'll be an interesting experience. We'll see how that goes. But
next week, I'll let you all know where I end up. Hopefully it's
somewhere with lots of trees- fall should be coming soon!!

Other than transfers, not too much has been going on. We had the
president of the Boston Temple come to speak in sacrament yesterday.
That was sweet. Although, it wasn't very nice having him stand up
there talking about the blessings of going to the temple for two
hours. Good think I can't go for another 18 months! Man, I miss the
temple so much...anyways. Yesterday and today basically are just
saying goodbyes and packing. We're going to go up an observatory tower
at Fort Knox today though. That'll be cool. Other than that, this week
was pretty non-eventful.

Oh yeah. Two other random things happened this week. We got a gun
pulled on us haha. That was so funny. We went to a less-active's
house, and as we walked to the door, this fat shirtless guy with a
scraggly beard came out with a shotgun. He set it on the ground with
his hands on the barrel and asked "Can I help you?" We kept cool and
asked if the lady we were looking for was home. He realized who we
were and apologized and put the gun away. He said people had been
harassing them lately, so he was just being defensive. It was still
hilarious to talk about after! Also this week, I set foot in my first
bar haha. No worries though. It was That was another new experience.

Ok, that's all I got this week. I better get going and pack and make
my last few stops to say goodbye. Love you all! I'll write next week
and let you know where I end up. Take care!

-Elder Esplin

Happy 6 Month Anniversary !!

 How crazy is that? I definitely don't feel like I've been out here half a year. Far from it. But I'm stoked to be hitting my first missionary milestone. I'll be burning a tie tomorrow for the ceremony, as is missionary tradition. That'll be sweet. Transfers are this weekend, and I'm dreading it like crazy. Granted, I have been in Belfast my entire mission, and the rest of New England needs to at least get a chance to be graced with my presence....But I really don't want to leave! I saw so many miracles this week, it'll be killer to leave now.

We had some major steps taken from 4 of our best investigators. First, a guy named Roger. We went over on Saturday to help him dig a pathway in his yard. We shoveled out a ditch and filled it with gravel. Mom, it looks like no matter how hard I try, I can't escape the work I'd probably be doing back home haha. While we were working, he asked if we wanted some tea to cool down. We said no, and he remembered that we said previously we don't like to drink tea. He stopped working, looked at us and said, "Why don't you drink tea?" We froze. The Word of Wisdom is a tough lesson to teach on the fly, and we weren't planning on doing it for a few more weeks. But obviously, God wanted us to teach it right then and there. So, we did. After we finished working, we discussed it further. After the lesson, he looked at us and said, "Do I have to do this to be baptized?" I nodded. He got up, walked over to his pack of cigarettes, sat down, counted them out, and said, "9 cigarettes. After that, I'm done. I'll find a replacement for coffee and we'll get this going." We were ecstatic. We weren't even planning on teaching him that and we were really worried about what would happen when we did. But he's now on the path. He came to church again, is loving it all, and wants to get going. So awesome!! Malachi is still on fire. He told us last night he wants to be baptized next month. That's a killer for me- if i get transferred, I will miss it by like 2 weeks!! But he wants it all so bad, and he basically bore his testimony to us last night about how he knows that this is the right path, that it's all true, and that he's never been more at peace and happier in his life. Oh man, it was so so cool. I'm finally seeing the joy that comes with conversion. It makes me so excited to be a missionary! Finally, we had a killer lesson with Peter and Rose. We explained the priesthood authority and the dispensation/apostasy cycle. They've been taught it several times over several years, but they said it finally clicked. They're still coming to church, and the branch is eating them up. They're hooked, and great things are happening for them as well. It's SO cool as a missionary to see the change that comes with the gospel. All four of them are happier and more at peace then when we found them. It's so amazing. The coolest thing is that we're aren't even the ones doing the work! It's all about them using their agency and God blessing them for it. It's been so awesome getting to see and understand that process. It fills me with insane amounts of joy.

So, in other news. Zone conference was awesome. We talked a lot about commitments and planning. I loved playing the piano, but I had to do it a ton. I played like 30 minutes of prelude/interlude, 4 hymns, and a special musical number. But the conductor and I really got into it, and everybody said they had lots of fun singing and whatnot, so it was really cool. Hopefully I get to do it again. Sister Wilkey said she wants to get me on the organ, which would be cool. I've been practicing on the organ in the branch chapel. After we got back to Belfast, we went to get a seafood dinner courtesy of Elder Hess's parents. We each had a lobster and split a huge plate of fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, and haddock. That was good. And get this. On our way to the restaurant. I heard something really familiar- the sound of a screaming jazz trumpet. I went running in that direction. Sure enough, there was a full jazz band playing in a blocked off corner of town. I sat and listened for like 10 minutes drooling at the mouth. I realized how much I miss jazz haha. But we weren't wasting time I promise! A less active we've never met came out of the crowd to us and invited us over to her house. But yeah, the jazz was totally random, but awesome. Not much else happened this week besides amazing lessons and really good food. Life is just still awesome! Hopefully I dodge the bullet one more transfer so I can see these investigators get baptized. They're getting super close!

Dad, I have a thought you can consider sharing in your talk. This last fast Sunday, we had a mission-wide fast for missionary work. But it wasn't just the missionaries- it was all the stakes in the mission. 5 stakes all united together in faith to fast not only for the missionaries, but so everyone could have missionary experiences in their own lives. It was such a cool experience, and I really think a lot of the miracles we've been experiencing lately have been a result of that. Also, on the topic of being missionaries, here's a quote I heard in the MTC that I really liked- "The next two years isn't your mission; it's the Lord's. Your mission starts when you get home." So, all members are now on their missions. Going on a two year mission is going on the Lord's mission. Anyways. Just a cool thought you might be able to use.

Love you all! Hope all is well back home. Know that I'm loving life, the work is going great, and I miss you all. Take care!

Elder Esplin

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy August!!



Man, I can't believe it's August already. Time is flying! The weeks feel like days now. But man oh man, I'm LOVING it right now!! So much good stuff is going on! I'll get into that in a bit.

 Hope it isn't too hot over there! The weather has been perfect over here so far. A little rainy, but with temps in the 80's mostly. We spend most of our time inside teaching though. We're hardly ever outdoors. Big change from my first transfer. So, I guess all I need to do to stay alive this winter is have a lot of investigators. That'll keep me warm! haha.

OH man. This week was SO awesome!! Honestly, I'm filled with so much joy and excitement right now. One of our investigators, Malachi, is absolutely on fire. He's been a solid investigator so far, I mean, he comes to church, prays, calls us whenever he's available to be taught, etc. But this week, I finally got a taste of what conversion really is. On Saturday, we gave him a call to see how he was doing and see if he needed a ride to church. He ended up staying on the phone for about a half hour. He told us about how he feels closer to God now than he has his entire life. He told us about how the joy and peace he feels is amazing, and it comes from the knowledge he's gaining from our lessons. He told us he wants to move his baptism date closer and wants to get going. Oh man, it was SO cool! I was jumping around the room when he said he wanted to move his baptismal date sooner. Later that night, he sent us this text: "Today has been a great day. I feel surrounded by divine grace and blessing...thank you SO much for finding me!!" That really hit a soft spot for me. I was the one who found him 5 months ago. It was at like 9:50 on a back alley of Belfast. He was walking to Family Dollar. I stopped him and asked him if he wanted to talk religion. He invited us to walk to the store with him. Now, he's going to be getting baptized. To see the changes that have come over him the past 5 months has been SO awesome. The gospel really has the power to change people. Yesterday, he came to church, and the lesson in gospel principles was on sacrifice. Later that night, we went over and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He sat there, smoking a cigarette, reading D&C 89. We saw his complexion drop a little bit when he realized how much he was going to have to give up. He basically has to make a change in all 5 areas of the word of wisdom. But he looked at us and said "This is a small sacrifice I can give to the Lord. I'll do it." He's so awesome! After the lesson, I told him how bummed I was that I might not be here for his baptism. Odds are, he'll be baptized in the beginning of September, and transfers are two weeks before that, and we all think I'll be biting the bullet. He looked at me and said "I really want you to be here for it. I want you to do it. You've been here every step of the way. You spearheaded this operation. I owe all this to you. Thank you for finding me." I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, because I know I did none of this. The Spirit lead me to find him that night, it was his answers to his prayers that converted him, it was his diligence that did this. But I'm finally seeing fruit come from my service. I'm finally seeing works coming from being a tool in the hand of the Lord. And I can't believe the happiness that is coming into me because of seeing someone growing closer to God. I can't stop smiling. I'm tempted to say I've never been this happy and peaceful in my life, and that joy and peace is coming from the Spirit, and that Spirit is coming because of my yielding my heart to God. Life is good.

Anyways, I'll get off all that haha. The week itself was great. We worked a lot. We weeded Rose's garden for two hours on Wednesday, we threw, moved, and stacked wood for a less-active member for 4 hours, and we taught 20 lessons over the course of the week. It was a busy week. We also made it to Catholic Mass on Saturday. That was a new experience. I love seeing how other faiths worship. I find it really interesting. It's also somewhat of a testimony builder that I'm a missionary for the right church haha. Let's see, what else...Oh. I made some awesome zucchini bread this week. My cooking skills are growing! I also found a little time during meal breaks to create a version of RISK for the mission. New Hampshire Manchester Mission Risk. It's pretty sweet. We'll be giving it a test run today with an investigator and the Rockland elders. That should be fun. Also, we got to check out the Maine Lobster Festival on Wednesday. It was down in Rockland, so we checked it out after district meeting. It was super packed. We were planning on getting lunch there, but the line was at least 2 hours long. But that was cool to get to check out. This week should be sweet. We have zone conference in Augusta on Thursday. You'll be proud- they've called me to be the pianist. I'm really excited for it! Rose has also told me she'll teach me how to make homemade noodles on Wednesday. It should be a good week. But yeah! The work is going great. I really feel like I'm finally becoming a truely effective missionary. I'm putting all my effort into being a tool in God's hands and letting him use me as he sees fit. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me. All I know is that the joy and peace I feel right now is real, and that joy is coming from seeing others grow closer to God, and I hope more of that joy is on the way.

I love and miss you all. Thanks for writing, and I look forward to hearing from you all soon!

-Love,

Elder Esplin

Greetings

Good to hear from you all again. I can't believe how fast every week
goes. They're feeling like days. Time has never flown by faster than
on the mission. It's nuts. But I had a stellar week. Lots of good
things are happening!

So like I said before, we had an awesome week. The 8 hour training we
had last week really paid off. We started really using the lists we
created in our planning, and our numbers doubled. We taught 23
lessons, 8 with a member, 8 others, and 7 to less actives. We had 3
new investigators on top of that. So awesome. We've been keeping busy,
which is good. It helps me stay out of trouble, and I need all the
help I can get haha. We only had two investigators to church, but
that's mainly because two of the regulars were out of town and one
couldn't get work off. All three apologized over and over that they
wouldn't be able to make it. One of the ones that did come made a deal
with us. He'd come to sacrament meeting if we went with him to
Catholic Mass. We agreed, so we'll be going to mass this Saturday
haha. I'm totally stoked! I love checking out other churches. So far,
I've been to Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, and Episcopalian. I'm dying
to get to a Pentacostal church. There's tons up here and I hear
they're...intense. Anyways, I'm looking forward to mass. It should be
good.

A few random happenings this week. I picked myself a pint of
raspberries from a members bush. That was a new experience. I told the
members that the closest thing we have to picking berries in STG is
picking beans of mesquite trees haha.

A funny story. We visit a  man, David, who lives next door to Malachi who is a little slow.
We go and read him a scripture and pray with him, but we mainly just talk to
him. He's really lonely. One night this week, we went over to see
Malachi in jeans and t-shirts because we were on our way home from
helping Peter and Rose on their farm. After visiting Malachi, we swung
by David to see him. As we sat down, he looked at me and said "Holy
smokes! Look at your arms! They're huge! You're just a little guy, but
your biceps are huge! Flex those things for me!" I was a little taken
aback, but did, and he said, "Man, you're just a little guy, but you
got some big arms!" He looked at my companion (who is a lot bigger
than me) and said "You better look out for this little guy. He could
beat you up." We laughed pretty hard about it after. But Dad, you
better look out. If David is the judge, I might put your arms to shame
by the time I get home haha.

Oh, remember how a few weeks ago I told
you about how I petitioned the city council to be able to do chalk
drawings of the plan of salvation? Yeah, I guess they discussed it in
city council without inviting us like they said they would. It got
denied. But I guess it became a big deal. It was on the local station
and on the news hahaha. You know me. I like to make a public stirring.

Cooking has been going well. We made some BBQ pork last night for
dinner and it went really well. Now that I have funds for this month,
we're going to look through those cook books and try something good.
We'll see how that goes. But that's basically all that happened this
week. This week should be good too. Nothing special, just lots of
lessons. Today, we're going to be playing RISK with the Rockland
elders and an investigator. I'm stoked for that. I totally dominated
last week. We'll see what happens this round.

One last thing. Yesterday, Elder Hess and I spoke in church. It went
really well. Elder Hess spoke on becoming a disciple of Christ and I
spoke on the purpose of life and how trials fit into the picture. I've
been thinking lots about the purpose of mortality this week because
we've taught the plan of salvation 5 times in the past two weeks. My
understanding of it has increased so much, and my perception on life
has totally changed. I opened my talk by saying "For those of you who
don't know me, I'm Elder Esplin. For those of you who do know me, I'm
sorry that your prayers that I'll get transferred haven't been
answered yet." They liked that. Probably because it's true haha. I
then proceeded to talk about the premortal existence and judgment and
about how the purpose of this life stems from both of those events:
it's all about changing and becoming more like our Father. That's what
it's all about. I found a quote about judgment that I really liked.
It's from Neal A. Maxwell: "What a contrast to our maneuverings over
relative recognition and comparative status. How different, too, from
the ways in which some among us mistakenly see the size and response
of their audience as the sole verification of their worth. Yet those
fickle galleries we sometimes play to have a way of being constantly
emptied. They will surely be empty at the Judgement Day, when everyone
will be somewhere else- on their knees." I also shared a saying an
investigator shared with us "We aren't mortal beings having a
spiritual experience- we're spiritual beings having a mortal
experience." I really liked both of those. I then shared about how
there's three types of trials we'll endure while on Earth: 1) trials
from our poor use of agency, 2) trials from anther's poor use of
agency, and 3) from God's divine chastening. I then went into each one
and shared how specific Christ-like attributes can help us overcome
each one. It went really well and I learned a lot about life myself. I
really can't believe how much my perspectives are changing, and how
much I feel I'm growing. I'm loving it. I know God is shaping me into
who I need to be, and I can't wait to see what he does with me over
the next year and a half. It's going to be epic.

One final note: Hey friends out there. I've gotten 2 letters in the
last three weeks! What's up with that?? I'm not supposed to stop
getting mail until the 6 month mark! Pick up the slack! haha

Know I love and miss you all very much. The work is real and true, and
I'm loving every second of it. I hope all stays well back home, and
that you're all growing closer to the Lord and becoming who He wants
you to be. Stay cool!

Faithfully,

Monday, July 25, 2011

It was great hearing from everyone

This week was a little off the norm. On Tuesday, we had a huge missionary meeting in Bangor with all the missionaries in the zone. It was about 8 hours long. It was a training on how to effectively use forms, having effective daily planning, and making charts to improve key indicators. It was about as exciting as it
sounds. But one exciting thing we found out- we'll be getting texting on our phones in a few weeks. That'll be exciting to see how that goes! Also, I finally got the chance to meet some of the few sister
missionaries in the zone. One actually just got here from Santa Clara. She graduated from SCHS in 2007. She knew Kirk and Kayla. Her name is Sister Jenkins. Her companion just graduated from USU. It was cool talking to them. Anyways, the rest of the week was a little slow. First, because we were taking time to get our training started. We made two huge posters, one with a list of every referral received, who
to get referrals from, part member families, every former taught in the last 10 years, potential investigators, streets to contact, and finding ideas we want to use, etc. The other was a list of every less
active member we want to work with. To get that one going, we called every member on the directory. Yes, all 175 of them. That was exciting. But now that it's going, it's making our work a lot more
effective. It was just really slow to get started.

 The second reason why the work was slow was because of the heat wave that hit up here. On friday, it hit 100 with high humidity. We were outside moving a piano at the hottest part of the day. That was exciting. Nobody was home during the heat wave. Nobody. We spent all day knocking on empty
houses. But I'm officially stating that I think STG heat is worse than humid heat. It really isn't that bad.

Anyways, despite the slow week, we still had a lot of good things happen. We taught the Plan of
Salvation on 4 different occasions, all to solid investigators, which was awesome. Rose, Roger, and Malachi all came to church, and all three of those are progressing very quickly. Hopefully, they'll all be
getting baptized either this transfer or the next. Good things are happening in that area. This week should be awesome too. We've arranged for a member lesson with every investigator, have 4 member
meals lined up, and we're going on exchanges today until Wednesday. I'm getting a greenie here in Belfast. That'll be fun. So yeah. That's a little brief on the work.

In other news, we had some cool random things happen. I had my first encounter with fireflies (or lightening bugs as they call them in New England). They were so cool!! There was a huge field with them
everywhere. So awesome. Also, I ate Maine lobsters numbers 2 and 3. A Baptism preacher from Vermont came through to see Elder Hess (he came from Vermont) and he took us out to lobster. He bought us two 1 1/2 pound lobsters each. It was a lot of lobster. I think it's an acquired taste, and I haven't quite acquired it yet haha. But I will!

Also, we had an adventure when our fridge stopped running Monday night. The landlord acted quickly and got us a new fridge by Wednesday morning, but not before most of our food went bad. Cleaning out the rotting food was really exciting. We loaded it up in the car and took it to the church. The car may never be the same again. That was an experience. I also made cinnamin rolls from scratch this week too.
They turned out not good haha. I know what I did wrong though, so I'll get it right next week.

 I have still been having lots of  opportunities for music. I have another weekly opportunity now. Last
transfer, Elder Brown and I would sing a hymn every week to an old Quaker lady in the Soup Kitchen. She'd sit and wait for a while while we did dishes until we could sing. But now that Elder Brown is gone
and Elder Hess refuses to sing, I've begun singing solo to her. Let's just say I'm glad she's old haha. I sung "Come Thou Fount" to her, and we all felt the Spirit. It was a really cool experience. But yeah.
That's about all I got for stuff I did this week. Lot's of cool, lots of not so cool. But it's all been awesome.

Quick little thought. This morning, I was studying The Gospel of Jesus Christ during personal study since we'll be teaching that to the 4 investigators we taught the Plan of Salvation to. As I studied that
and pondered on judgment, I realized a principle that is true in this life as much as it is an eternal principle- truely wanting something is manifested by desire and works. If you don't have those two things,
then you don't really want it. If you want money, you'll have a desire to get a job and actually go out to get one. If you want to keep in touch with a missionary, you'll have the desire to write them and
actually write a letter (hint hint). If you want eternal life in God's presence, you'll have the desire to become like Jesus Christ and you'll act accordingly. It's hard to describe in words, but the
principle is there. It was pretty cool. I've been thinking about it all morning.

Love you all. Stay cool in that heat! I look forward to hearing from you next week! Take care!
-Your New Englander
Elder Esplin