Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Starting to get Cold!

Welp, winter is definitely looming close on the horizon. The awesome fall leaves are starting to fall at a faster rate, and there's a bite in the air that's getting worse and worse. We've gone into sweater mode. I'm starting to get a little nervous- it's already hit the "dead of winter in STG" temperatures, and apparently it's still 'warm.' Yikes. I'm gonna need to get some more clothes haha. It's been really rainy this week too, which is never any fun. We try to ride our bikes as little as possible for safety reasons when it rains (and yes Mom, I do wear my helmet). We were off working in a town outside of Waterville on Friday, but we got rained out. Going up a mile long hill on a bike in a cold rain isn't very fun. But, they say anytime you do something in the rain or that isn't fun, you get "wife points." I think I've got me quite a high score so far haha.

The work went really well this week. We had some great finds for new investigators. Here's one cool story. Lately, I've been praying a lot that we'd be placed in the path of somebody who was prepared and ready to receive the gospel, and that we'd be in tune with the Spirit to know when it happened. One morning, it was raining, so we were on foot. As we were coming back to the apartment for lunch, a guy in a hood smoking a cigarette was on the same sidewalk was coming towards us. At first, I just had the thought to let him pass without saying anything, but then, I felt very strongly that we needed to stop him and talk to him. So as he passed, I stopped him and started telling him about who we were and what we did. He then told us that he had just moved into town, had just gotten out of jail, and was looking for a church in town to start attending. He agreed to invite us back this next week. How cool is that?? God really does hear and answer prayers. Another really cool experience this last week with finding. One morning, we were getting ready to bike up to the church to spend time on, and we got a phone call from a recent convert. She said she had a friend over who wanted to talk with us a little more about the church so he could know what to expect when he came to church the next day. We were really excited. We went over, and I was trying to figure out who this small timid girl would have invited over. We walked in and found a total gangster sitting there. He was wearing a patriots jersey, a bandanna, chains, the whole nine yards. He had just moved up from Boston to get away from the city. He said down there, he was a drug dealer, an alcoholic, all that fun stuff, but was now trying to give himself to God. We gave him a Bo M and invited him to learn more. It was surprising to me though. Back home, he would be the kind of guy I'd want to avoid. He was pretty scary haha. But sitting down, I looked him in the eyes and could confidently bear testimony to him that we have the same Heavenly Father and that we were brothers. Trying to have the pure love of Christ is a power that no prejudice or discrimination can ever break. That's definitely something I've learned out here. But yeah! Finding efforts are going great, and we have one investigator who we're going to be committing to baptism this week. He's super awesome. He's come to church the last three weeks, and is loving it. His name is Dan. I'll keep you updated on him. Also, just so you all know, we have three more weeks in the transfer. Transfers will be the week before Thanksgiving, and we're all pretty sure my companion will be getting the boot to his last area- he only has two transfers left. But we'll see what happens!

One more little tidbit of fun. I was forced to confront my mortal enemy this week. That's right. I had a face-to-face confrontation with cheese. I've been working on getting over that dislike the entire time I've been out here, because when a member feeds you, you have to eat it. But this week, things were taken to the next level when we went over to a less-active's house and were presented two grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. I got one of the sandwiches down and ate most of the soup, but had to call it quits after that. It was a terrible experience, not gonna lie haha. I'm not a picky eater, but that was horrible. But I discovered something. I was sick for two days after eating it. So. I'm pretty sure it's more than just a dislike. I think I'm allergic or something. Anyways. Just a fun little adventure from this week haha.

Alright y, I better get going. Life is still going great out here! I'm working hard, seeing miracles, and having the time of my life. I know this is the work that my Heavenly Father wants me to be doing, and he's filling me to the brim with peace and happiness. Know that I love you all very much, and look forward to hearing from you soon! Take care!

-Elder KC Esplin

Monday, October 17, 2011

Columbus Day greetings and Jeff's Baptism pics

Hey everybody!

Sorry I'm a little late. It's Columbus Day, so the library was closed, and then today turned into one heck of a P-day. But I fought my way here now! Better late than never, right?

So first of all, BAPTISM!!!! YES!!!! Jeff was baptized yesterday. It was AWESOME!! The baptismal service went super well. Elder Carroll baptized him, and Jeff asked me to give the talk on the purpose of baptism. He was so excited to get baptized, and he set a really good example to me of the fire I should have to be sealed to my wife in the temple one day. That's definitely one thing I've learned on my mission- I can't and won't settle for anything less than a temple marriage! But yeah. The baptism was great, and I'm super pumped about it! Also, you asked about Malachi. Last I heard, he was supposed to be baptized on this last Saturday, but I haven't heard anything since. Hopefully, I'll find out soon! It's killing me!

With the exception of Jeff's baptism, the week was really slow. On Monday night, Elder Carroll's thousand-year-old bike passed away suddenly when the rim of his tire snapped in two places. We spent the next 3 days on foot unable to find a replacement rim or bike. So, he decided to get a new one. Those 3 days on foot proved to be very unproductive, as we couldn't cover ground at all and were limited to the immediate Waterville area. That was lame. Then, just as he got his new bike, he got a cold and a double ear infection, so we spent all day Saturday at the church taking it easy so he could get feeling better. I think I set a new personal record. I played the piano for 4 hours straight. My love and appreciation of the piano is growing very quickly haha. Then last night, my bike, lovingly named Brunhilda for the night by Elder Carroll, had some internal damage to the rear tire. I spent most of the night performing a Frankenstein surgery with the old bike and mine to get her back going. It took most of the night unfortunately. But we did have enough time to go to a less-actives house, where we had a logical discussion on why the BoM was true. It was a little delayed though because he was watching the last quarter of the NE Patriots vs. NY Jets game and wouldn't turn off the TV...we were really... bummmed.... he wouldn't...ahem... That rivalry is a really big deal out here. New England hates anything New York. Especially when it comes down to the Red Sox vs. The Yankees. Oh man. That's intense. But...yeah! That's basically my entire week. Wrestling with bikes, dealing with illness, and baptisms!

Hope all stays well out west. I'm still loving it out here! I miss you all and I miss the red rocks and warm weather of STG, but this is where I need to be. I know it is. Not only for the work I'm doing, but for myself too. The Lord is getting me ready for who he needs me to be, and I can't believe the peace and joy I've found as I've learned to just surrender myself and my vain ambitions and just give myself to God. That's really all it takes. Letting go of the shallow things that you think you want and realizing what you really want, which is what you actually need. And that thing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you next week!

This past week was pretty intense.

 My bike is still proving to be quite a troublemaker. After writing you last week, we started biking home from the church. On the way, my tire decided it didn't like to roll properly, so it started grinding on the frame. Then my pedal got jealous that the tire got to rebel, so it decided it didn't want to pedal anymore. Then the brakes decided they would join the party and didn't want to work either. So, needless to say, I couldn't bike home haha. Instead, I stood on one pedal and kicked it home like a skateboard for about two miles. That was exciting haha. The next day, I performed a little surgery on it and got it working. On Wednesday, we went on exchanges. I went up to Skowhegan with the District Leader. It was great. We worked really hard, did a lot of good, and I took some KILLER pictures of the New England fall colors. Seriously, Maine in the Fall is proving to be one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. The leaves are now officially reaching peak, and it's incredible. I'll email pictures soon- I don't have my camera on me today. But be expecting some great things! I got back to work in Waterville on Friday. Turns out my bike had given the greenie elder from Skowhegan some problems too while on exchange, and said they had fixed it for me. Yeah. They didn't fix it for me. 5 minutes into the day on the bike, my rear tire decided to explode. Not pop. Explode. I seriously thought I was being shot at haha. But don't worry. It was pouring rain at the time, so it wasn't that bad of a situation hahaha. Luckily, we were fairly close to our destination, which was the Evening Sandwich Program, so I walked the bike there. Turned out the kitchen was packed with tons of volunteers from Colby College, so one of the main overseers had pity on my story and drove me and my bike to a bike shop to get the tire fixed, and he even paid for me to have a tune up! My bike has been running like it was new ever since. I'm so grateful for people who have charity in their hearts and help those in need! But yeah. The bike situation was actually quite hilarious to me. I laughed about it a lot. In fact, I'm laughing about it right now thinking about the whole thing. Good memories from the mission!

Yesterday proved to be one of the best Sundays on the mission, and that's saying something because Sundays are always the best! First off, Jeff was confirmed which was awesome. He said he felt something happen during the prayer, and I felt it too. So cool. We also had 5 less-actives whom we've been working with come to church! That was really cool to see. And get this. We've been working with a member to get his friend Dan to church the last few weeks, and I guess that friend is now dating one of the sisters in the ward. She had him at church and had him committed to taking lessons from us before we could even talk to him! She wants a man in the church, and that's what she's going to get. Flirt to convert for the win! But he's interested in it more than just pleasing her though. He said he has been reading the BoM and has questions for us. He's super solid, and I can't wait to see where he goes! Also during Gospel Principles, a former investigator just showed up out of the blue and wanted to resume meeting with us. It's so weird how missionary work is in this area! All the elders who have served here say it was the same for them too. We bust our tails off biking around tracting and finding and whatnot, but not much comes of it, and the investigators who are solid and end up getting baptized just show up at church on their own! How that works, I don't know. Elder Carroll thinks it's Heavenly Father having mercy on us for biking up all the hills we do every day haha. I think I agree. Brownie points from heaven. Anyways, after church, a member called us into the kitchen. The week before, they had us write down all our favorite deserts and snacks so they could have a "reference" for future treats. We gave them a pretty good sized list. But instead of giving us treat over the next few weeks, they just went out and bought us EVERYTHING on the list. We brought home two huge sacks full of food. Members of the church are so stinking awesome! After church, we hit the pavement stopping by less-actives and formers. As we were working, we found the coolest couple ever. We had never met them before, but they both came to the door and we started talking and laughing and having a good time. We talked to them for like an hour and a half. They then invited us over to dinner the next week. We didn't even know these people, but they wanted us over for dinner and to talk about what we do!! I'm super stoked to teach them about family. They brought up their families a lot in the conversation, so I know they'll really like the message we share! After that, we had dinner with Jeff and his wife, and we watched the Joseph Smith Movie (my 11th time on my mission haha). So yeah. It was a fantastic ending to a slow week. It was a testimony to me that God really does know us personally and know what we need. I really needed a day like yesterday to feel that my diligence and consecration of heart was being noticed by Him, and yesterday, the Spirit manifested to me that He has. I love being a missionary!

Alright y, I better get going. Time for laundry! Know that I love you all, I pray for you often, and I look forward to hearing from you every week. Take care! Don't forget to choose the right!

- Show quoted text -

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let me take you back two weeks ago...

So first of all, Sherry's baptism. It happened on Sunday the 18th. We had the baptism after church because that's typically what works best so people can be in attendance. The Spirit there was so special. Sherry asked people who she had gotten close to to give the talks and prayers, and they were all people who probably weren't asked to do those kinds of things very often. We had to go over to one of their houses and help her write her talk. She had been less active and just started coming back to church and was asked to give a talk on the HG. She was scared out of her mind, but did a great job. She was baptized by the Bishop and Elder Carroll and I served as the witnesses. Seeing her look up and smile after coming out of the water was such a cool moment. She had the right mindset that after baptism, she'd be a new person, and I could see that in her eyes as she looked up at us. During the interlude, I played arrangements of children's songs on the piano until they came out. Elder Carroll then confimed her and gave her the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Standing in the circle for that ordinance was another incredible experience. Again, I could feel a change come over her as she received that companionship. Overall, it was a great experience for all who were attending, and it was fulfulling to have seen somebody take that step of  making a covenant with God and growing closer to him.

Then came the Monday right after. We had zone conference in Augusta, and we were told Elder C. Scott Grow would be in attendance. As we filed in, we each shook hands with President and Sister Wilkey, then Elder and Sister Grow. As I greeted President Wilkey, he looked me in the eye and said "Life has been going great for you lately, hasn't it?" I agreed. He then said "Well, it's going to get even better. I'm going to have you interview with Elder Grow." I was shocked and crazy excited. The entire conference, I looked forward to that chance to get to talk to a general authority one on one. The zone conference was awesome. We learned a lot from Elder Grow and President Wilkey about having faith to set goals, working with less actives and the ward council, using time wisely, etc. We all took a lot from it. After the conference, we split up into our zones for zone meetings, and Elder Grow went into a side room to do interviews. After a few minutes, the Assistants came and got me and took me wait outside the door. It turned out that 8 missionaries from that half the mission- including a few sisters and a missionary couple- were getting to meet with him. I was honored that President felt I should be one of them.

The interview was awesome. As I walked in, he looked at the paper that had each missionary he was interviewing with a description why each was being interviewed. He said "Elder Esplin, it says on here that you make your companions feel and do better, your areas always improve, and you have a talent for music." He looked up, smiled and said, "You like music?" We ended up spending several minutes discussing music. Turns out he's the pianist/organist at all the general authority training meetings. He also plays jazz piano. Win. We agreed that if we had more time, we'd have a little jam session haha. Anyways, after asking about my family and home and whatnot, he told me I could ask him any question that I'd like. A chance to ask a general authority anything. What do you ask in a situation like that?? haha but I ended up asking him something that had been on my mind for a while. I asked him how I could better follow the Spirit when praying or giving blessings so I can have confidence that I'm investing my faith in righteous causes. We discussed that for a while, and I took a lot from his answer. We discussed the conference, what I'm doing in my area to unify with the ward, etc. Then he said we needed to wrap up. Mom, this is for you. Before we ended, he told me I needed to write home to my mother and tell you that "A General Authority looked into my eyes and soul, and saw a clean, worthy young man who is anxious to serve the Lord." The Spirit was almost tangible at that point. We stood, he gave me a hug, and the interview was over. I left with a crazy fire in my chest to do better, to develop in my eyes the light of Christ that he had. I now have a greater testimony that this church isn't run by men. It's run by Christ. I wasn't having an interview with a man talking about philosophy. I was talking to a man sent on an errand by Christ. I sincerely believe that, and I want to have that same light and purpose in my eyes.

So there you have it. Sherry's baptism and my one-on-one experience with Elder C. Scott Grow. I'm having incredible life-changing experiences out here. I love who I'm becoming, and I can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for me. I know he's guiding this work and has a plan for me, and I can't wait to see it unfold. I love you all! Take care! Can't wait to hear from you next week!!


Elder KC Esplin