Monday, April 11, 2011

Hola!

It's good to hear from ya! Writing the e-mails home is becoming one of my favorite times of P-day.

I can feel your pain about the snow. There's still quite a bit of it on the ground now. But it's warming up finally. It hit 60 on Saturday. We were walking around without jackets. It was super nice. It's raining out right now. Hopefully that'll melt the snow and get Spring over here. I can't wait!

I've had a really intense week in a lot of ways. I've been humbled through some not-so-good experiences, and I've miracles too. On Monday, I went on exchanges with Rockland. That town is so beautiful. The entire town is on the coast. I loved every second there. It was a good exchange. I learned a lot from the elder I worked with. On the last morning I was there, he took me out to this way cool lighthouse. It was on a little man-made rock island about a half mile out in the middle of the ocean. It had this rock path leading out to it. They call it a breakwater I believe. I took some pictures of it. I'll be sure to make sure they get home. But that was really cool, and I got to see my Maine lighthouse. Woot. I came back to hear some not-so-good news. Last week, during one of our lessons, we asked one of our investigators to say the closing prayer. She declined, as always. We had discussed earlier that week about the importance of having the head of the household offer a kneeling prayer, and me and my companion decided to explain to her why we wanted her to pray. I went ahead and told her why she should pray. My comp came in and cleaned up after. She still declined. I then suggested that I'd offer the closing prayer and then we'd all say an individual prayer to have her feel a bit more comfortable praying with others around. That was last week. Well, while I was on exchanges, Elder Hodson went back to visit her. Apparently I had offended her and I was "too pushy." She said she was having mixed feelings about meeting with missionaries now. She was OK with her family visiting, but wasn't sure about herself anymore. She got mad at my companion too, but most of it was directed to me, and I wasn't even there to apologize. It crushed me when I heard the news. I wasn't even aware I had done anything wrong. I was just doing what they taught me in the MTC. I didn't know what to do. But I think I needed that experience. Even though I had the right intentions, I didn't have the Spirit like I should have. Beyond that, I had to remember that I can't persuade anybody to do anything. Only the Spirit can. It just reminded me that I have a lot more to learn about missionary work, and it's made me focus more on having the Spirit in my teaching and being more conscious of every word that comes out of my mouth. Anyways, we went back on Friday and I apologized to her and she said she'd still let us come over, and I'm hoping I can show her that I'm worthy of her trust.

That was the bad. Now for the good. We had an AWESOME week of finding. In 3 days, we found 8 new investigators tracting. I'm pretty sure that will be the high for the mission since most weeks the high is around 5. We spanked it. Next week will be super fun going back to them all and giving them Books of Mormon. We met some really interesting people in the process though. We met a practicing Rustafarian man. He was a white nomad. Very interesting guy to talk to. Another man was an athiest genius. He was mid 60's, had a pony-tail to his mid back. He was a contra dancer, hunted super-novas in his home made observatory tower, and studied religion as a hobby. He got excited as we came up. Me and him got into a really intense discussion about science. He said he refused to believe anything that can't be proved without logical proofs. I told him I could explain to him through logic how the Gospel of Jesus Christ made perfect sense. That set him off. He went off about how the Book of Mormon and Bible can't be proven with science, how the concepts of development and creation can all be explained with biology, etc. My little background of biology and psychology paid off. I talked with him about genetics, psychology, animal behavior, all that fun stuff. I eventually stumped him though. He started talking about slavery and about how he's always known since he was little that slavery was wrong. I asked him how. He said he wasn't sure. I asked him if he believed everybody had a conscious. He agreed. I asked him how that was possible. He said he hasn't really looked into that one enough, but he was convinced he was taught it. I called him out on how he contradicted himself in saying it was innate, yet he learned it. He paused and he said "you're right. That doesn't make sense." I explained to him the concept of how we all have a Spirit and how we all have the Light of Christ. I told him he may not be able to see his Spirit, but I told him he could find out if he had one or not. He told us he'd love to have us back to discuss the logic of God's Plan. I'm super excited for that one. But I think that just goes to show, once again, that God cannot be denied, and science is just man's attempt to explain how God works. It was a really fun discussion. Also, we tracted into a man from Puerto Rico. He didn't talk way good English, so I talked some spanglish with him. Dad, I told him you served there and he got really excited. Turns out he used to be an investigator to the church. He was attending in Massachusets, but moved and lost contact with the missionaries. He said he was attending the Pentacostal church now, but said we needed to come by and say hi every week. I mentioned to him how much I loved hispanic food and he promised us he'd have us over for dinner one night. We have a Book of Mormon in Spanish in our apartment, so I think I might try to put a little message together in Espanol. I thought you might be kinda excited about that one Dad. Anyways, overall, it was a great week for finding. Lots of new investigators to work with. I can't wait!

Only one problem might lie ahead though. Transfers this next week. I'll get a call Saturday, so get ready. I might have news next monday. On another note, sorry to anybody who's written to me and haven't gotten a letter back yet. I'm really behind. P-day just isn't long enough. But I will write you all back. "Write, and ye shall recieve."

Ok. Last little bit. I had a HUGE spiritual paradigm shift this week. While I was on exchange, I received a talk from the elder I worked with. It's called "The Fourth Missionary." It talks about 4 different types of missionaries that serve and about what they each accomplish and get out of their missions. It talks about how all missionaries should become the "fourth missionary" who is the one who gives the Lord is whole heart and comes back a different person. It went right along with the talk on consecration I heard from Elder Maxwell a few weeks ago. It all finally clicked to me. I never really understood the concept about giving the Lord your heart until now, and now that I do, I wish I could go back in time to teach it to myself. Giving the Lord our heart is really the biggest test we have on earth. The talk made this point. Everything we have, God could take back if He wanted. It's all his. We mistakenly believe that we own the things that we do- our possessions, our talents, our families, all of it. But as we've seen recently with Japan, God can take and give however he'd like. Of course, He has a reason for it all, but still. We own nothing, and justifiably, everything we give him could, in a sense, be stamped "Return to Sender." The ONLY thing we have that we can give God that he can't take is our heart and our mind. That would defeat the purpose of agency. Everything that we do in life is the process of either taking steps towards or away from giving our mind and our heart to God. Of course, it's the hardest thing he can ask us to do. After all, it's all we really have. But he promises us that if we will give Him this one gift, He promises to give us all He has in return. What an exchange rate! I know I'm doing a horribly job describing this concept, but I learned something big from this, along with the talk last week in general conference. What we do is a reflection of what we are, and what we are is where our heart lies. If we give our heart to the Lord, we won't have bad feelings about keeping the commandments. People wouldn't even have the desire to break the Law of Chasity, the Word of Wisdom. They'd pay their tithing and fulfill their callings. Keeping our hearts to ourselves or to the things of the world puts us on an unsure foundation that can, and will be, shaken whenever God or the world sees fit. But if we surrender our hearts to God in the ultimate act of humility, then we'll be built upon a foundation that won't go anywhere, and we'll be endlessly happy in this life and the next as the promises of blessings through obedience follow. Anyways. Sorry I did such a poor job describing that. But that's been my course of change this last week, and I found that missionary work came 10 times easier, I have a smile that I can't get off my face, and I've been seeing miracles right and left. So yeah. I found that talk by Elder Maxwell. It's in the April 2002 conference. I'd recommend everybody to read it. It's a little intense, but it's amazing. It's totally changed my perspectives on missionary work, and it will most likely carry over into the real world once I'm finished here. Good stuff.

Anyways, I better get going. Love you all. Hope all stays home back well. I'm in love with the work right now. I feel like I'm really getting the hang of it and I'm seeing great things happen. The Lord is taking care of me, and I hope He's doing the same for all of you as well. Take care! Talk to ya next week!

-Elder Esplin

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