Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy August!!



Man, I can't believe it's August already. Time is flying! The weeks feel like days now. But man oh man, I'm LOVING it right now!! So much good stuff is going on! I'll get into that in a bit.

 Hope it isn't too hot over there! The weather has been perfect over here so far. A little rainy, but with temps in the 80's mostly. We spend most of our time inside teaching though. We're hardly ever outdoors. Big change from my first transfer. So, I guess all I need to do to stay alive this winter is have a lot of investigators. That'll keep me warm! haha.

OH man. This week was SO awesome!! Honestly, I'm filled with so much joy and excitement right now. One of our investigators, Malachi, is absolutely on fire. He's been a solid investigator so far, I mean, he comes to church, prays, calls us whenever he's available to be taught, etc. But this week, I finally got a taste of what conversion really is. On Saturday, we gave him a call to see how he was doing and see if he needed a ride to church. He ended up staying on the phone for about a half hour. He told us about how he feels closer to God now than he has his entire life. He told us about how the joy and peace he feels is amazing, and it comes from the knowledge he's gaining from our lessons. He told us he wants to move his baptism date closer and wants to get going. Oh man, it was SO cool! I was jumping around the room when he said he wanted to move his baptismal date sooner. Later that night, he sent us this text: "Today has been a great day. I feel surrounded by divine grace and blessing...thank you SO much for finding me!!" That really hit a soft spot for me. I was the one who found him 5 months ago. It was at like 9:50 on a back alley of Belfast. He was walking to Family Dollar. I stopped him and asked him if he wanted to talk religion. He invited us to walk to the store with him. Now, he's going to be getting baptized. To see the changes that have come over him the past 5 months has been SO awesome. The gospel really has the power to change people. Yesterday, he came to church, and the lesson in gospel principles was on sacrifice. Later that night, we went over and taught him the Word of Wisdom. He sat there, smoking a cigarette, reading D&C 89. We saw his complexion drop a little bit when he realized how much he was going to have to give up. He basically has to make a change in all 5 areas of the word of wisdom. But he looked at us and said "This is a small sacrifice I can give to the Lord. I'll do it." He's so awesome! After the lesson, I told him how bummed I was that I might not be here for his baptism. Odds are, he'll be baptized in the beginning of September, and transfers are two weeks before that, and we all think I'll be biting the bullet. He looked at me and said "I really want you to be here for it. I want you to do it. You've been here every step of the way. You spearheaded this operation. I owe all this to you. Thank you for finding me." I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, because I know I did none of this. The Spirit lead me to find him that night, it was his answers to his prayers that converted him, it was his diligence that did this. But I'm finally seeing fruit come from my service. I'm finally seeing works coming from being a tool in the hand of the Lord. And I can't believe the happiness that is coming into me because of seeing someone growing closer to God. I can't stop smiling. I'm tempted to say I've never been this happy and peaceful in my life, and that joy and peace is coming from the Spirit, and that Spirit is coming because of my yielding my heart to God. Life is good.

Anyways, I'll get off all that haha. The week itself was great. We worked a lot. We weeded Rose's garden for two hours on Wednesday, we threw, moved, and stacked wood for a less-active member for 4 hours, and we taught 20 lessons over the course of the week. It was a busy week. We also made it to Catholic Mass on Saturday. That was a new experience. I love seeing how other faiths worship. I find it really interesting. It's also somewhat of a testimony builder that I'm a missionary for the right church haha. Let's see, what else...Oh. I made some awesome zucchini bread this week. My cooking skills are growing! I also found a little time during meal breaks to create a version of RISK for the mission. New Hampshire Manchester Mission Risk. It's pretty sweet. We'll be giving it a test run today with an investigator and the Rockland elders. That should be fun. Also, we got to check out the Maine Lobster Festival on Wednesday. It was down in Rockland, so we checked it out after district meeting. It was super packed. We were planning on getting lunch there, but the line was at least 2 hours long. But that was cool to get to check out. This week should be sweet. We have zone conference in Augusta on Thursday. You'll be proud- they've called me to be the pianist. I'm really excited for it! Rose has also told me she'll teach me how to make homemade noodles on Wednesday. It should be a good week. But yeah! The work is going great. I really feel like I'm finally becoming a truely effective missionary. I'm putting all my effort into being a tool in God's hands and letting him use me as he sees fit. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me. All I know is that the joy and peace I feel right now is real, and that joy is coming from seeing others grow closer to God, and I hope more of that joy is on the way.

I love and miss you all. Thanks for writing, and I look forward to hearing from you all soon!

-Love,

Elder Esplin

Greetings

Good to hear from you all again. I can't believe how fast every week
goes. They're feeling like days. Time has never flown by faster than
on the mission. It's nuts. But I had a stellar week. Lots of good
things are happening!

So like I said before, we had an awesome week. The 8 hour training we
had last week really paid off. We started really using the lists we
created in our planning, and our numbers doubled. We taught 23
lessons, 8 with a member, 8 others, and 7 to less actives. We had 3
new investigators on top of that. So awesome. We've been keeping busy,
which is good. It helps me stay out of trouble, and I need all the
help I can get haha. We only had two investigators to church, but
that's mainly because two of the regulars were out of town and one
couldn't get work off. All three apologized over and over that they
wouldn't be able to make it. One of the ones that did come made a deal
with us. He'd come to sacrament meeting if we went with him to
Catholic Mass. We agreed, so we'll be going to mass this Saturday
haha. I'm totally stoked! I love checking out other churches. So far,
I've been to Baptist, 7th Day Adventist, and Episcopalian. I'm dying
to get to a Pentacostal church. There's tons up here and I hear
they're...intense. Anyways, I'm looking forward to mass. It should be
good.

A few random happenings this week. I picked myself a pint of
raspberries from a members bush. That was a new experience. I told the
members that the closest thing we have to picking berries in STG is
picking beans of mesquite trees haha.

A funny story. We visit a  man, David, who lives next door to Malachi who is a little slow.
We go and read him a scripture and pray with him, but we mainly just talk to
him. He's really lonely. One night this week, we went over to see
Malachi in jeans and t-shirts because we were on our way home from
helping Peter and Rose on their farm. After visiting Malachi, we swung
by David to see him. As we sat down, he looked at me and said "Holy
smokes! Look at your arms! They're huge! You're just a little guy, but
your biceps are huge! Flex those things for me!" I was a little taken
aback, but did, and he said, "Man, you're just a little guy, but you
got some big arms!" He looked at my companion (who is a lot bigger
than me) and said "You better look out for this little guy. He could
beat you up." We laughed pretty hard about it after. But Dad, you
better look out. If David is the judge, I might put your arms to shame
by the time I get home haha.

Oh, remember how a few weeks ago I told
you about how I petitioned the city council to be able to do chalk
drawings of the plan of salvation? Yeah, I guess they discussed it in
city council without inviting us like they said they would. It got
denied. But I guess it became a big deal. It was on the local station
and on the news hahaha. You know me. I like to make a public stirring.

Cooking has been going well. We made some BBQ pork last night for
dinner and it went really well. Now that I have funds for this month,
we're going to look through those cook books and try something good.
We'll see how that goes. But that's basically all that happened this
week. This week should be good too. Nothing special, just lots of
lessons. Today, we're going to be playing RISK with the Rockland
elders and an investigator. I'm stoked for that. I totally dominated
last week. We'll see what happens this round.

One last thing. Yesterday, Elder Hess and I spoke in church. It went
really well. Elder Hess spoke on becoming a disciple of Christ and I
spoke on the purpose of life and how trials fit into the picture. I've
been thinking lots about the purpose of mortality this week because
we've taught the plan of salvation 5 times in the past two weeks. My
understanding of it has increased so much, and my perception on life
has totally changed. I opened my talk by saying "For those of you who
don't know me, I'm Elder Esplin. For those of you who do know me, I'm
sorry that your prayers that I'll get transferred haven't been
answered yet." They liked that. Probably because it's true haha. I
then proceeded to talk about the premortal existence and judgment and
about how the purpose of this life stems from both of those events:
it's all about changing and becoming more like our Father. That's what
it's all about. I found a quote about judgment that I really liked.
It's from Neal A. Maxwell: "What a contrast to our maneuverings over
relative recognition and comparative status. How different, too, from
the ways in which some among us mistakenly see the size and response
of their audience as the sole verification of their worth. Yet those
fickle galleries we sometimes play to have a way of being constantly
emptied. They will surely be empty at the Judgement Day, when everyone
will be somewhere else- on their knees." I also shared a saying an
investigator shared with us "We aren't mortal beings having a
spiritual experience- we're spiritual beings having a mortal
experience." I really liked both of those. I then shared about how
there's three types of trials we'll endure while on Earth: 1) trials
from our poor use of agency, 2) trials from anther's poor use of
agency, and 3) from God's divine chastening. I then went into each one
and shared how specific Christ-like attributes can help us overcome
each one. It went really well and I learned a lot about life myself. I
really can't believe how much my perspectives are changing, and how
much I feel I'm growing. I'm loving it. I know God is shaping me into
who I need to be, and I can't wait to see what he does with me over
the next year and a half. It's going to be epic.

One final note: Hey friends out there. I've gotten 2 letters in the
last three weeks! What's up with that?? I'm not supposed to stop
getting mail until the 6 month mark! Pick up the slack! haha

Know I love and miss you all very much. The work is real and true, and
I'm loving every second of it. I hope all stays well back home, and
that you're all growing closer to the Lord and becoming who He wants
you to be. Stay cool!

Faithfully,