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

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