Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello Again!!

I've had such an awesome week. Seriously, so much good stuff has been happening!
Some highlights include:
  • We had 6 investigators at church! 2 of them were totally unexpected. They just walked in. They're a couple from Jamaica living in Portland. They drive by the church every week on their way to northern Maine and said they felt the spirit every time they did, so they want to start coming to see what we teach. How awesome is that??
  • Malachi and Molly both came and loved it, as well as Matt. We also had an investigator we're teaching show up out of nowhere. He really enjoyed it too.
  • We also brought a less-active family back to church, and they want us to come back and see if we can baptize their dad, who isn't a member. So awesome!
  • We got to visit every investigator this week. We even got to see some twice. That normally doesn't happen because of scheduling conficts or work or whatever else. But we had some really solid lessons. They're all keeping their commitments, they're all interested in learning, and they're all getting close to baptism. The work is going great!
Some random little things that happened this week:

  • Accidentally ending up going off-roading in a Toyoda Corolla
  • Mowing the Branch President's lawn in the pouring rain
  • Making a techno version of "Armies of Helaman on the branch keyboard
  • Eating raspberries fresh from the bush
  • Getting to participate in the annual Belfast Celtic festival (which was crazy awesome)
  • Practicing the principles of "Flirt to Convert" with a girl in the Belfast Park, which ended up being quite effective
  • Getting a call from the City Council to potentially speak in a Council Meeting this week to petition for rights to draw the Plan of Salvation in sidewalk chalk around Belfast
  • Singing in a missionary quartet in downtown Lewiston as a finding technique
  • Hearing someone speak in tongues for the first time
  • Having a lesson with a Samalian (Muslim from Africa)
  • Defending the Book of Mormon from an attack from Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Throwing and stacking 200 bales of hay
  • Learning how to use a crock pot and making a roast for Sunday dinner
And so on. I know those probably don't sound like really crazy things, but as a missionary, man, I'm living the high life right now haha. I've really figured out a few things that have been holding me back from having fun out here. I mean, I've been happy, but sometimes, missionary work isn't always the funnest thing in the world. I figured out two things that have helped me out a lot in that area. First, I'm joking around a lot more with the people I meet. I've discovered that most New Englanders don't take themselves seriously and love to tease each other to no end. So, I'm fitting right in. It's really loosening people up to us, because they see that we have a sense of humor, and these people love to laugh. But It's always fun to land a good comeback. In the soup kitchen earlier this week, a man was really harassing us. I finally sat down to talk with him. He said to us "You guys always travel in pairs. You must be gay. Are you straight or are you gay?" I responded," We're straight. I'm sorry if I got your hopes up." That shut him up for a bit haha. Anyways, I've had lots of fun joking around with people last week. It's helped lighten up my mood a lot.
 
 The second thing I've really figured out is that I need to bloom where I'm planted (in the words of an article in last month's ensign "The Prison and the Dandelion (which is an amazing talk by the way)) and to live in the present. I figured out an analogy about life. It's like driving a car. You can either be looking in the review mirror looking at where you've been and what you miss, you can be looking down at a map figuring out where you're going, or you can be looking in front of you driving the car. All three are needed to get somewhere, but you should spend most of your time looking straight ahead and enjoying the view in front of you. So far on my mission, I've been struggling with constantly looking back and thinking about the good times back in high school or college or about friends back home. But now I'm realizing that that doesn't do me any good- I need to be looking forward. I can have fun and make even better memories now and in the future. Anyways. It's hard to put into words, but that perspective has really helped me get into the work even more, and great things are coming from it.

So a little bit about my companion. His name is Elder Hess from Boise, Idaho. He went to BYU before the mission, he is all about sports, doesn't like music, and is 6 foot 4. Needless to say, we don't have tons in common haha. But we're getting along great. We teach together really well, and he has lots of great ideas. I told him I'd love to play basketball with him if he'll teach me a few things, so we'll be probably doing that today. We're going to do some awesome things in the Belfast area. I can't wait to see what happens in the next 6 weeks.
Dad, to answer your question, I have been playing the piano a lot. I'll be playing piano at zone conference tomorrow. I've also played guitar for a group of high schoolers in the park, and I'm going to play the saxophone on a street corner during the art festival on a friday night coming up. I'm excited for that.

 We work a lot with less actives if we aren't working with an investigator or giving service. There are tons of less actives here. The branch has 250 members and only 60 come to church. This Saturday, we're planning on calling every member of the branch and inviting them to church. We'll see how that goes. But we spend most of the time teaching. It's a lot more enjoyable and productive than knocking on doors, although we are still doing that as well.

Well, that's all I got for this week. The work is going great right now, Peter and Rose, Malachi and Molly, Roger, and Dick are all making great progress and getting close to baptism and we have about 10 others getting there. This transfer will be the best one yet- half because of the work and half because of my change in attitude. Great things are going to happen! I know that the church is true, that God is working in our lives daily, and that every challenge we face provides an opportunity for us to become more like Christ. I know that's true. I love you all! Can't wait to hear from you next week!
-Faithfully,
Elder Esplin

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