Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Month Anniversary

Well, it wasn't today, but it was this week. Can you believe it's
already been a month?? I've never experienced time go by so quickly.
It's seriously going to feel like I'm going to be home tomorrow at
this rate. I dunno how it is back home, but I'm really worried that
the end is going to come too quickly!

Hope spring break went well!
I wish it was the mid 60's more often here! It actually was around there
on friday. But it was short lived. The next day was in the 20's. Oh
well. You win some, you lose some.

Mom, I did tell that lady all about Jared being 3 months early,
when we went over to help her. It turned into a lesson on faith. She
wasn't a member. It was super good. We gave service to her and her
family quite a bit this last week. We helped her rip out dry wall and
painted floor boards for her. Sound familiar? I definitely felt right
back at home. Apparently the mail is really messed
up up here. But thank you very much! Mom, great choice with that bed
spread. I love it. Other than that, I'm doing quite well!

The people here are slightly insane. So, being as such, I fit right in. (insert laughter here). But
I actually mean that literally. There's a psychologist in my ward that
I talked to. They said that the area I'm in has a very high rate of
autism (sorry, that's probably mispelled.) We get a lot of really
interesting door approaches because of that. But I love the people.
They're sincere. If they're not interested, they aren't interested and
they close the door. If they are interested, they'll welcome you in
and give you anything you need and hear you out. The first option
happens about 90% of the time though. Lots will open the door, hear
that we're missionaries, and just say "We're all set." And close the
door. I'm really learning to dislike that phrase. But we do find the
elect on occasion. We ran into a really awesome family last night
tracting. The dad was in his mid 30's and had had two brain surgeries
and two back surgeries in the last few years. I mentioned the plan of
salvation to him and his wife and they got really excited. So, I'm
really looking forward to teaching them about that and teaching him
the concept that he'll have a perfected body one day. That's going to
be a really cool lesson because I'll be able to really relate to him.
It's funny. I feel like all my life so far has been just getting me
ready for my mission. I look at almost every trial I've had thus far
and how it seems I've met someone who needs to hear about it and how
the gospel helped me get through it. I'm beginning to realize that
sometimes the Lord puts us through trials so we can help others get
through them once we get out of them ourselves. There's some food for
thought.

We had some really cool lessons this week. We taught a little 9-year
old girl the restoration yesterday. That was way cool. Also, we had a
super solid lesson with an elderly couple about the atonement. The
spirit was basically tangible. We committed them to giving up an old
habit keeping them from coming closer to the Savior. It was so
awesome. We have a lot of opposition from other faiths up here though.
Lots of Jehovas Witnesses and Baptists in the area. But, I'm learning
my bible and strengthening my testimony of the BOM and learning how to
teach them about the necessity of the restoration. We had one
particularly fun experience tracting the other day. We knocked on a
Baptist's door, and we had a discussion about our beliefs. He then
told us "Well, I'm done talking with ya. Maybe we'll see you in
heaven, maybe we won't." I smiled at him and said "Sir, I look forward
to seeing you there." He looked up at heaven and said "Oh, Praise the
Lord. Goodbye." And shut the door. It was pretty much epic. I honestly
love missionary work so much. I get to devote all day, every day to
helping people becoming happier by coming to Christ. Can it honestly
get any better than that? I've already seen the gospel perform
miracles in people's life, and I can't wait to see what the next 23
months brings.

So yesterday, I had to give a talk in Church. Luckily, I got a week's
notice with this one. In the MTC, I got called from the pulpit to give
a talk to a congregation. Every week, all the missionaries are
assigned a topic to research. I didn't get to do my studying because I
had a lot to work with in the district at the time. I also got called
to play the piano in a meeting held for all the workers in the MTC on
sundays. I showed up expecting to play piano and be done. Instead, the
member of my branch presidency got up and said "Let's hear a talk from
Elder Esplin." I had about 30 seconds to come up with a talk about
enduring to the end. Luckily, I remembered one scripture mastery that
talk about it (D&C 14:7) And got up and gave a 10 minutes talk on it.
That was intense. Anyways. I was asked to give my talk yesterday on
Charity. I loved it. One thing I really realized is that Charity isn't
something we do. Charity is seeing someone through the eyes of the
Savior and having the desire to help them. Look up the BD definition
of it. But we've been commanded to see the world through the eyes of
the Savior. Think about how the world would be if everybody did that.
I haven't been much in touch with the news lately, but I've heard that
they're finding more and more dead in Japan and that the US got
involved in Africa or something like that. All I know is that now is
the time to start repenting and to start clinging to the gospel. I
think the time we may be tested to see how well we know the Savior may
be closer than we want to think it is.

The mail is finally starting to show up. Dad, I haven't gotten your
letter yet. I got my first letter on friday with one more on saturday,
and both of the were unexpected. I'm hoping the ones that are expected
will start showing up soon because I'm starting to go crazy without
hearing from the some people. I mean, I am getting better at keeping
my thoughts on the work during the day, but at night, I always dream
of home. Every single night. Last night I had a particularly vivid
dream about some friends back home. Hopefully more mail will come
today. But yes. Know that I love you all, and that I love missionary
work. I'll leave with this though. We all have something that we can
give up for the Savior, something that's keeping us from being as
close to him as we can be. I challenge you all to choose one thing
holding you from Him and get rid of it. By doing so, we can begin to
"know Christ" fully, and we will be able to see through His eyes. When
we can do that, other will see Christ in us, and we will be able to
continually be able to have a happiness that can never be quenched and
we'll share it with everybody we come in contact with. That's the
challenge I've left with many of my investigators this week, and I
want to leave it to all of you. Make a goal to eliminate one thing
holding you from being like Christ. It will bring you happiness and
peace. I promise it.

I better go. The mud is calling my name. There's lots of it here by
the way. Apparently there is no Spring here. Only "mud season." Dirt
roads + several feet of slow melting + 20 degree weather = cold mud.
Welcome to every day in Maine. Anyways, I better get log off. Hope all
is well back home. Remember- when in darkness, look to the Light! Love
you all, the church is true, talk to ya next week!

Faithfully,

Elder Esplin

First week in the field

......everytime I do get a little nastalgic, I remember
the words of President Bensen about how work is the best cure for
homesickness, and I replace my thoughts of home with thoughts about an
investigator. I'm trying to get lost in the work. I have lots to do,
and i know the Lord needs me here, and I'm excited to give him all
I've got.

Week one on the mission field has been something else, I'll tell you
what. I honestly feel like I'm living in a dream. It doesn't feel like
reality anymore. Probably because I'm not living in the reality I used
to know. But it's way cool to be living this new lifestyle. I'm loving
it. My first area is incredible. Belfast, Maine. It's a little harbor
town right on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It's gorgeous. I can
see the ocean from my apartment. It's a super small town though. But
the houses are all colonial style and the shops are really old and
whatnot. I took some pictures, but I left my camera in my apartment.
Whoops. I'll send them next week hopefully. But it is way different
from Utah here. There are so many stinkin trees!! I can't get over it.
I get claustraphobic a bit because I'm always surrounded by trees. No
mountains either. Just trees, rivers, and ocean. That's it. It's going
to be SO amazing in the fall. I can't wait. It's fairly cold too. It's
actually explosively warmer than it has been for months right now. It
hit 40 degrees yesterday and everybody was freaking out. But there's
lots of snow on the ground and the it rains and snows a lot. But I
love it. My area is actually really big. It would take more than an
hour to drive from one corner of the area to the other. The way
mission areas are split up is that there's a companionship to every
county, and each county has 1 branch or ward. Can you imagine what
it'd be like if all of washington county were one ward? Yeah. It's
intense. My companion has been here for 4 months and has only seen
half the area. There aren't a ton of members- only about 120 in the
county with about 70 solid and active. But the ones that are around
are super awesome. They give us tons of food and support and love us
to pieces. The missionaries are like a complete unit in the ward. We
have a sunday school class that we bring investigators to, we have
announcements to give in priesthood, we can attend branch council, the
whole shibang. We're like celebrities. It's really fun. But the
members really are super awesome. They made me feel really welcomed.
The fact I play piano has helped me get in with them. Apparently they
having had a piano player in priesthood for over a year. They almost
cheered when I raised my hand to play. It's been really cool though.
I'm finding it's easier to play since I left on my mission. I always
struggled to sight read on the piano before I left, but I can play
almost any hymn now. I know the Lord is helping me there. The work is
really awesome. I LOVE working with all the people. We tract on a
daily basis knocking on doors or doing street contacts on the roads of
Belfast. Not tons are interested in our message though. Most are
either Born Again Christians and have no interest to hear us out, or
they feel God has no role in their lives. A lot of people are actually
living in really humble conditions. Maine is a really impoverished
state. We tract a lot of shacks and trailers on muddy roads in random
hills. I love reading Jeremian 16:16 about how we hunt them out of the
holes in the rocks. That's totally how I feel. But I'm working with my
companion on how we can improve our door approaches to get our message
to them faster. I love talking to everyone though, even though most
don't want to talk to me haha. My companion takes it a bit more
personal to me when we can cursed off a door step, but I just sing a
hymn as I walk away with a smile. I love it. We have a lot of
progressing investigators. We have 3 with a baptismal date with an
older couple really close to committing. We have lots of others too.
The last few days have been a whirlwind of trying to get to know
everybody and their names and stories and whatnot, but I feel I'm
starting to get it all down and I think I'm ready to rip it up this
next week!

I'm running out of time, but I want to share something that's really
affected me so far on my mission. We teach a lot of messages out here.
Not tons of lessons, but we share lots of messages to inactive members
or recent converts or to investigators who don't have much time. Every
time I get the chance to share a message, I always share the same
scripture, and I think it's become my new favorite scripture and my
mission motto. Provorbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
and lean not unto thine own understanding. I think that's close, I
don't have my scriptures on me. But I've shared that scripture a ton
the last week. I've shared it with a mom trying to quit smoking. I've
shared with a woman who just lost her house. I shared it with a mom
who just had a premature baby who is struggling. I've shared it with a
family who just lost a close relative. I shared it with a woman with
systic fybrosis. I shared it with a man who's business is going under.
I shared it with a family who's life is just about perfect. I've found
that it doesn't matter what's going on in your life, no matter your
trial, no matter how big or small, it can all be answered with that
one simple scripture: Trust in the Lord. I know it's easier said than
done, especially for me. I like being able to explain things. but
sometimes, you just have to accept the fact you don't understand or
comprehend how it's all going to work out and just trust in the Lord.
I've relied heavily on this concept the last week. I've had a lot of
really cool experiences, and I've had some harder ones. But through it
all, I just trust that the Lord will take care of me and take care of
my investigators. I also have been having a tough time missing
everyone back home. It's killing me to not be in touch with everyone
like I was before. But I just pray every night to Heavenly Father that
he'll take care of everyone and I trust Him to take care of all of
you. But, being a missionary, I feel the need to leave you with a
commitment. Take a minute to day to let something go that you're
totally stressing about that is out of your control or comprehension
and pray to Heavenly Father that you trust Him to take care of it. And
mean it. I promise that if you do, you'll feel the Spirit comfort you
and you'll reap the fruit of the Spirit, with is love, peace, love,
gentleness, and so on. Trust in the Lord. It's good stuff.

I'm afraid I'm out of time, and I only got to say a portion of what I
wanted to. But know I love you. I think about you every day (a healthy
amount that is. I can't get distracted =P ) But I'd love to get mail
and hear from anybody who desires it. Mom, Dad, Jared, Kirk, Family,
know I love you all a ton. Thanks for the love, prayers, and support.
I feel it clear out here in Maine. But it really is so awesome out
here! I love it so much, and I'm loving the fact I'm getting to devout
two years to helping people and to serving the Lord. It's gonna be
epic.

Love you all. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is back in a big way. I know
it is. Talk to you all next week!

Faithfully,

Elder Esplin

Oh yeah. One more story I wanted to share. On friday, we tracted
really run-down trailers for 5 hours in the mud in 12 degree weather
in the pouring rain. If any of you want a little more gratitude for
Utah, let me know =P

Mission Home

Dear Brother and Sister Esplin,


It is a pleasure to report that your missionary son, Elder Kaleb Clark Esplin, has arrived safely in the New Hampshire Manchester Mission. Although he was tired due to a full day of travel, he is in fine spirits. I have interviewed him and found him ready and willing to serve the Lord.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hi Everyone

Holy smokes. What a week. I seriously can't get enough of the MTC. I'm learning so much every day and having the time of my life. My thought always turn to home if I don't keep myself busy though, but President Benson said the secret to homesickness is to work, so that's the plan!! Thanks for sending that package for me. I'll look for them when I get there. And yes, I did go buy myself a new set of scriptures. It's a quad, super nice. I figured out a marking system for them that has a color for every lesson in PMG. It works quite nicely. All the other elders are pretty jealous, I gotta say. No more elders have gone home thankfully, just the two, and it looks like they'll all be here for the shipping next week! Oh man. I can't even describe how excited I am to get over there. It's gonna be a super hard but life-changing experience. I can't wait to hit the ground running. And I still see elders from the ward all the time. I've seen all of them actually. I see Elder Fisher every day at dinner and I see Elder Heaps frequently too. We're all loving it. The spirit in the MTC is like fire and all the elders are awesome. I'm glad to hear the kitchen is slowly coming together! I'm sure you're getting excited about that. Get Alma to commit! Have dad pull some missionary committment action on him. You can't get out of it if you take it that way. I'm glad to hear Jared is doing all his scouting too, and that 4-H is going well. Tell that punk that he needs to start writing me though. I know he's on the computer for 4 hours every night, so have him take 10 minutes to show his older brother some love =P I'll find out about the shot later this afternoon. I really hope I don't have to get another one after the AWESOME experience I had with my last one...and thanks for the dear elders. Missionaries love them. They won't work in a few days when I leave, so do them if you want!

But wow. I honestly can't believe how fast time is flying by. I'm leaving for New Hampshire in FOUR DAYS! We ship out 7 AM on Monday morning. I'm so excited, but I can't believe it's already here. They say we get right off the plane and go tracting until dinner time. I can't wait to get going with real mission work. As much as I love doing role plays here in the MTC, it's going to be so cool to actually get to teach people and help them come unto Christ. At the same time though, I feel like I could use another week or so here in the MTC. I've been studying my little heart out every day and have been learning the doctrine of the gospel in a deeper way that I didn't even know existed. It's crazy how much we crave personal study time. It's honestly the highlight of our days. I never thought I'd see the day when I get so excited to the point of jumping up and down at the prospect of having 2 hours of scripture study. But it's not just me being insane (even though I know that's probably the sad reality). We all get excited for it. I find myself getting lost in it all. I spent 3 hours yesterday reading Alma 42. One chapter of scripture. 3 hours. But I now understand the atonement in a totally different light. I understand why my purpose as a missionary is to bring people unto Christ. My testimony is being transformed. It's pretty much awesome. Ok. Now to move away from the way serious stuff. I know that isn't the most exciting stuff to read. This last week was really cool. One of the elders who got sent home left his companion behind, so he was put with me and Elder Rodriguez as a trio. Elder Packer is his name. Yeah. Ironic right? Figure you might get a kick out of that one mom. We figured out we basically have the same relation to Boyd K. Packer. We thought that was pretty awesome. The three of us get along really well. They're both really chill and just live through the day so they can get to gym. I'm definitely the slave driver of the three of us. Speaking of gym, I'm finding that pretty awesome. I tried keeping up with working out, but the machines are terrible. I've taken up playing volleyball with my zone. I'm actually getting pretty good. Yes, I know it's pathetic that I'm getting good at volleyball. But it feels pretty good to spike the ball into the sisters. Ok not really. But still. It's fun. I'm dying without my instruments up here. I've been playing the piano a lot. I'm actually the pianist for my ward, so I play in priesthood and sacrament meeting and whatnot. I'm practicing other hymns and my arrangements when my brain can't handle pondering the welfare of my soul and the nature of God anymore. It's really hard to resist the urge to burst out into "Faithfully" or "Don't stop believing" when I play though, but I'm just glad to get my music fix somehow. I would kill to have a few minutes on my sax. But I make up for it by making up songs. My two most popular hits are "The Melon Song" and "I'm Taking a Shower." They're pretty big hits. I catch the other elders singing them time to time. Oh. Something else that was cool. One of our elders got a letter from a friend who served in the same mission as us. He said that Boyd K. Packer returned to the mission as an apostle after serving as the mission president to tell the elders that every missionary who serves in New Hampshire was hand chosen by Joseph Smith in the pre-existance. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but the thought is pretty cool.

Alright, I'll wrap up with one more story. I've been singing with the MTC choir twice a week. This week we sung "Come Thou Fount." I've sung that song many times before (my favorite being with Mary Tuscano), but I never understood the words. The man conducting us, who teaches institute, gave us a break down to what the lyrics mean. One of the lines read "Here I raise my Ebeanezar.." I never knew what the heck that meant, but he explained it. When the Children of Israel came out of Egypt, they ventured for 3 months to get to the promised land. Once there, they saw the people who dwelt there and were scared and didn't believe in the Lord and that they could capture it. So Moses took them and wondered around in the wilderness for 40 years until the wicked generation died off. Then the new generation returned to the Promised Land, went forward, and captured it for himself. The prophet of that time, Samuel, raised a giant stone and told everyone that every time they looked at it, they should remember that they returned from wickedness to righteousness and that they'd never turn back to the way they once were. They named the rock Ebeanezar. The conductor made the point that our missions could be our personal Ebeanezars, that we could use this opporutnity to raise up a new standard for our life and to never look back to the way we used to be. Learning this along with all my personal study with the Atonement has definitely changed the way I'm viewing my mission. I'm going to use these two years to change the person I am deliberately. I want to come back a new person, someone with new resolve to do good, to help others, and to reach exaltation and live with my family for forever. I'm so excited to see what changes are going to happen to me in just a week, and I know it's going to be hard, but I know it'll all be worth it because I have the Lord on my side.

I think my P-days are going to change to Mondays and since I'm flying in on a Monday, I probably won't get to write back until the 14th. Hopefully President Wilkey will have mercy on our souls and give us a day to do laundry and write home before then. But if not, I'll write back then. Everybody, please keep me updated with what's going on! I pray for you all by name every night and would love to hear from you! I'll send my new address by email first chance I get. Mom, Dad, I love you both and thanks for all the support since I've gotten here. I've loved getting the Dear Elders. They help a ton. Kirk, Jared, I love you both and thank you for your examples. I love you all, the church is true, and I'll talk to you soon!!

Faithfully,

Elder Esplin