Monday, September 12, 2011

Happy 6 Month Anniversary !!

 How crazy is that? I definitely don't feel like I've been out here half a year. Far from it. But I'm stoked to be hitting my first missionary milestone. I'll be burning a tie tomorrow for the ceremony, as is missionary tradition. That'll be sweet. Transfers are this weekend, and I'm dreading it like crazy. Granted, I have been in Belfast my entire mission, and the rest of New England needs to at least get a chance to be graced with my presence....But I really don't want to leave! I saw so many miracles this week, it'll be killer to leave now.

We had some major steps taken from 4 of our best investigators. First, a guy named Roger. We went over on Saturday to help him dig a pathway in his yard. We shoveled out a ditch and filled it with gravel. Mom, it looks like no matter how hard I try, I can't escape the work I'd probably be doing back home haha. While we were working, he asked if we wanted some tea to cool down. We said no, and he remembered that we said previously we don't like to drink tea. He stopped working, looked at us and said, "Why don't you drink tea?" We froze. The Word of Wisdom is a tough lesson to teach on the fly, and we weren't planning on doing it for a few more weeks. But obviously, God wanted us to teach it right then and there. So, we did. After we finished working, we discussed it further. After the lesson, he looked at us and said, "Do I have to do this to be baptized?" I nodded. He got up, walked over to his pack of cigarettes, sat down, counted them out, and said, "9 cigarettes. After that, I'm done. I'll find a replacement for coffee and we'll get this going." We were ecstatic. We weren't even planning on teaching him that and we were really worried about what would happen when we did. But he's now on the path. He came to church again, is loving it all, and wants to get going. So awesome!! Malachi is still on fire. He told us last night he wants to be baptized next month. That's a killer for me- if i get transferred, I will miss it by like 2 weeks!! But he wants it all so bad, and he basically bore his testimony to us last night about how he knows that this is the right path, that it's all true, and that he's never been more at peace and happier in his life. Oh man, it was so so cool. I'm finally seeing the joy that comes with conversion. It makes me so excited to be a missionary! Finally, we had a killer lesson with Peter and Rose. We explained the priesthood authority and the dispensation/apostasy cycle. They've been taught it several times over several years, but they said it finally clicked. They're still coming to church, and the branch is eating them up. They're hooked, and great things are happening for them as well. It's SO cool as a missionary to see the change that comes with the gospel. All four of them are happier and more at peace then when we found them. It's so amazing. The coolest thing is that we're aren't even the ones doing the work! It's all about them using their agency and God blessing them for it. It's been so awesome getting to see and understand that process. It fills me with insane amounts of joy.

So, in other news. Zone conference was awesome. We talked a lot about commitments and planning. I loved playing the piano, but I had to do it a ton. I played like 30 minutes of prelude/interlude, 4 hymns, and a special musical number. But the conductor and I really got into it, and everybody said they had lots of fun singing and whatnot, so it was really cool. Hopefully I get to do it again. Sister Wilkey said she wants to get me on the organ, which would be cool. I've been practicing on the organ in the branch chapel. After we got back to Belfast, we went to get a seafood dinner courtesy of Elder Hess's parents. We each had a lobster and split a huge plate of fried shrimp, oysters, scallops, and haddock. That was good. And get this. On our way to the restaurant. I heard something really familiar- the sound of a screaming jazz trumpet. I went running in that direction. Sure enough, there was a full jazz band playing in a blocked off corner of town. I sat and listened for like 10 minutes drooling at the mouth. I realized how much I miss jazz haha. But we weren't wasting time I promise! A less active we've never met came out of the crowd to us and invited us over to her house. But yeah, the jazz was totally random, but awesome. Not much else happened this week besides amazing lessons and really good food. Life is just still awesome! Hopefully I dodge the bullet one more transfer so I can see these investigators get baptized. They're getting super close!

Dad, I have a thought you can consider sharing in your talk. This last fast Sunday, we had a mission-wide fast for missionary work. But it wasn't just the missionaries- it was all the stakes in the mission. 5 stakes all united together in faith to fast not only for the missionaries, but so everyone could have missionary experiences in their own lives. It was such a cool experience, and I really think a lot of the miracles we've been experiencing lately have been a result of that. Also, on the topic of being missionaries, here's a quote I heard in the MTC that I really liked- "The next two years isn't your mission; it's the Lord's. Your mission starts when you get home." So, all members are now on their missions. Going on a two year mission is going on the Lord's mission. Anyways. Just a cool thought you might be able to use.

Love you all! Hope all is well back home. Know that I'm loving life, the work is going great, and I miss you all. Take care!

Elder Esplin

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