Can I just first say that conference was AMAZING?? Dad, you nailed it on the head. I watched every second of all 10 hours (minus a few during one talk. I dozed off for a split second but was saved by my companion) and I got more out of it than I think all the past 19 years combined. So amazing! But I'll go into that a little later. This week was super solid. Loved it.
I'm getting quite a bit of mail! I'm hearing from lots of friends, so that's good. Sounds like lots is going on back home. I'm getting kinda fond of the letter writing thing. Checking the mailbox is the most carnally pleasing thing I get to do every day.
As far as food goes, I'm still alive! I guess that means I'm doing good right? haha just kidding, I'm eating very well. I'm trying to keep it under $20 a week. There's lots of cool food things I'm discovering over here. Fluffer-nutters (peanut butter and marshmellow fluff sandwhiches), whoopie pies (basically a giant oreo made with round cakes with marshmellow fluff in-between), lots of moose and venisen and whatnot (we have moose in our freezer from a member. I'm stoked for that), and the biggest discovery, the Samoan. It's a sandwhich with a ramen package barely boiled so its soft but still square, then fried with an egg and topped with peppers, BBQ sauce, and mayo. I typically throw chips in there and dip it into salsa. I know, it sounds like death, but its SO delicious, and it costs about 50 cents to make. It'll definitely be something I keep when I go to college. The soup kitched keeps us fed too. We give service in the soup kitchen twice a week doing dishes for a few hours. I love it, and they let us take home leftovers occasionally. It isn't the best, but it's better than frozen foods. And mom, I'm doing my best to eat healthy. I buy fruit every week, and help myself to vegetables when members serve them (I don't think I'll bring myself to cook them myself just yet). And Dad, 30 mintues of exercise is paying off well. I'm doing lots of push-ups and sit-ups daily. At this rate, I'll make your arms look like pea-shooters by the time I get home.
So a few random things. First, I think the missionary brainwash is officially complete. I don't really register KC as my name anymore. It just looks kinda weird now. I call myself Elder in my head when I talk to myself. Yeah, I'm crazy. But still. It's really weird. Esplin is really foreign over here too. Nobody can pronounce my name. They call me "Espleon" or "Espin" all the time. It's definitely a lot different than Utah in that way. Over there Esplin is a celebrity name. Here, it's "unique, yet not weird" in the words of a gentlemen on a door aproach. So yeah. There's that.
This week, we had a huge snow storm on April Fools. Ironic right? It was bad enough that we had to cancel all our apartments and we just went out all day shoveling snow for anybody that seemed to need help. I think karma sent me here because I made it 19 years without ever having to shovel snow. But those massive boots got a good work out mom. They're awesome. I'm sure I'll be living in them next winter.
But yeah. My week was just solid. Lots of teaching, lots of good member interaction, and we got to end it with a super solid session of conference! We watched it in our regular chapel. I honestly never knew conference would be so good. We were hanging on every word. We got a ton of investigators to watch it too. Hopefully that will lead to a few more accepted baptismal invitations this week. But yeah. Such good talks. I took 17 pages of notes. Granted they were smallish pages, but still. Awesome stuff. Lynn G. Robbins probably gave my favorite talk. Such a good concept of how what we do and what we are should be directly related and connected. I also loved Elder Anderson's talk during priesthood. I honestly felt he was talking directly to me the entire time. He helped me have insights that I've been needing to help me with mission work, so that was solid. But I loved the Sunday PM session so much. Elder Scott gave SUCH a good talk on family. He totally described the kind of relationship I want to have with my wife when I get older. I found it ironic that so many talks were on getting married quickly when you're young. I might pull a Kirk when I get home =P Elder Christofferson's talk right after was super good too! I loved the concept that judgement isn't going to look at the lits of what we did good or bad, but what we made of what happened to us, of what we became, of the intents of our heart. I'm going to be sharing that one with investigators every time I teach the Plan of Salvation and the purpose of life for the rest of my mission. That's a message of hope right there. I could keep going, but I'll stop, because I know you watched them too. But I feel totally uplifted and my testimony is strengthened. I hope you all felt that too.
It seems I'm composing another novel for a letter, but I gotta tell one more story to close. On tuesday, we went back to teach a guy we found tracting last week. His name is Leroy. This guy is my hero. He was a band teacher who at one time played every instrument, he's a liscensed pilot with his own plane, he has a degree in environmental science, and he built his own house out of the trees that were on the plot of land he bought. I know, it all sounds crazy. But we found him repairing the house he built. He showed us the marks he made as he cut it in a lumber mill that he made himself and his signatures in the cabinets and whatnot. This man was a genious. Anyways, we went back to talk to him and he showed us the changes he had made in his house. After a while, we started getting into the restoration, but he stopped us. He said "Listen boys. I think you're just wasting your time on me. I'm so set in my views, that I think it's too late for me to change." I asked him to explain his views a bit more. He said he didn't know if there was a God after all. He grew up in various religions and saw some terrible things and didn't think God was necessary. He said that it all could be explained with science. He used this analogy. "Say we're playing a game of pool with 8 balls. I place those 8 balls at random places on the table and mark those spots. I then rack up the balls and break the rack. I belive that if you broke those balls, it would be inevitable that that exact configuration would happen. I believe the creation is the same way. Even though it isn't very likely, it was inevitiable that it would happen." My companion had a good come back. "Yes, but it would also be a possiblity that it would never happen. It wouldn't be inevitable." He thought about it for a second and replied "I guess that's true. Never thought if it that way. Then I came in for the kill. I said "Can I try my own analogy? You built this house yourself, right? Let's say you took all the supplies you used to build this house and put them into a giant cannon and fired it into the air. What you're saying is that if you did so, it's inevitable that one of the possible combinations of it all coming down would be this exact house?" He agreed, saying that if he could fire it an infinite amount of times, one of the combinations would be the exact house. I said "But we'd both agree that the chances of that happen, according to the laws of the universe, are extremely small, right?" He agreed. I said "But what if we introduce someone like you into the equation, someone who knows the materials, knows how to organize them, knows what the end product could be. What are the odds that something livable would appear?" He smiled and said "it'd be a lot more likely." I smiled and said "and that is the role of God. The chances of it happening by chance are almost impossible. But as soon as you introduce someone with a plan and knowledge, then it's inevitable. I can tell you that this is the role of God in the creation, and when you approach it logically, it really can be the only possible explaination."
Sorry to make it so long, but the story gets better. He laughed and said "You're very good at this. But I have another one for you. Let's say there's a deep ditch, and on one side of the ditch is a car, and on the other side of the car is a man. If you're standing at one spot in the ditch, you can't see the man behind it because of your perspective. That's how I feel now. I can't see a man on the other side of that car, nor do I feel the desire to move." I responded "Sir, that's why I love being a missionary so much. Our job is to tell people "look. If you stand over here, you can see what's on the other side of the car." We can't make anybody move. I'm not going to drag you over. But I can tell you that if you are willing to, we can show you where to stand so you can stand in the light and get out of the dark cold ditch you're standing in right now. I can promise you that standing where you can see God will make you feel happier and warmer than you ever have in your life. Will you allow us to teach you?" He smiled and invited us back the next week.
I learned two things from this experience. First, is that you can fight the concepts of God with logic all you want, but it really is only logical that there has to be a God. I can especially see that from studying Biology. Anybody who believes this all happened by chance is closing their eyes really tight and refusing to look around. And anybody who has an argument for that fact, please remember it in two years and I'd love to destroy you then =)
Second, I learned that the ditch analogy can apply to my other investigators and to us. Sometimes, we do find ourselves in the ditch and aren't able to see the man standing on the other side of the car. Sometimes we keep our face down in the mud and refuse to move, like Leroy, and sometimes, other people might try to throw dirt on us to keep us down there. But staying there is to keep yourself from standing in the light, and keeping yourself miserable. But I also learned that no person can make you move but you, and the only thing that will make you want to move is the Savior. He is the only one who can brush off the dirt and make you sit up, but you have to decide to get up and move or not. But I can testify that if we're all willing to get up and move, we can see God every second of every day, and we'll be able to stay in the light and we'll experience greater warmth and happiness than we can ever experience when we're lying face down the ditch.
So yeah. It's been a great week. Sorry again to write such a long response. I went way over my time limit, but I loved that experience and thought I'd share it. Love you all, and I hope all is well. Can't wait to hear from you all next week!