Monday, November 14, 2011

Another great week

Welp, transfer calls were this Saturday. We were surprised to get our call from President Wilkey several minutes before calls were even supposed to be made. He said that both of us were receiving a call from the Lord. The verdict- My companion is being transferred as a District Leader, and I'm remaining in Waterville as a trainer! Woot! I'm super excited for it. I've been praying and fasting a lot lately for a vision of what things can be done in the next transfer, and I feel I have a lot of plans that are ready to go, and having a greenie with fresh insights will make it all go better. I'm stoked! I'll be driving to Manchester tomorrow to pick him up. (and Dad, you'll be proud- they're having me play piano at transfer meeting haha). Also, they've started a new thing that trainers are with their greenie for 12 weeks guaranteed, so I'll be in Waterville until the beginning of February. I'm stoked for that- it'll be two 6 month areas in a row! This next transfer will be exciting since it has Thanksgiving and Christmas in it. The ward here is awesome, so we'll be taken care of. So yeah. Looks Waterville and I are about to get a whole lot closer!

Everything else is going great on this end. The weather has been crazy nice- apparently it's a lot more mild than usual. Still in the 60's with all the snow gone. I heard Utah has snow already. Looks like I"m lucking out! But I'm sure that's bound to change. Somebody told us this week that according to the farmer's almanac, we're expected to get the biggest snow storm since the 20's or something like that. We'll see. I'd be excited for that though- I hear missionaries turn into full-time snow shoveler s in those instances. That's be new! But I'm eating up having nice weather and a car. It's a pretty nice set-up. The only bad thing is that it gets dark so stinking early! The sun starts setting around 3:45 and it's pitch dark around 5:00. It's nuts, and makes finding people really hard. But we'll adjust!

Not much else happened this week. Just surviving the anxiety of week 6. The work is going well, and I'm loving it! Sorry to cut this one a little short- we gotta get back so my companion can pack. But I"ll let you know next week how the greenie is and what changes are in store for the next 12 weeks!

Love you all! Hope all stays well. Don't forget to pray! Talk to you next week!

-Faithfully,

Photo and Map of Mission



This is the view of the Atlantic and Surrounding Islands from the deck of a members house...
How Cool is that???? 



                                              

Monday, November 7, 2011

How's Everyone in Sunny STG?

I had a great week this last week. Firstly, because now all the snow is gone. Hopefully it stays away for a little longer! It's getting cold fast. But, having a car now is super nice! We're going to be able to get out to areas that are just too far to get to by bike and hopefully talk to people who haven't seen missionaries for a while. I'm stoked to get it going! The work is going well too. We had another super awesome lesson with Dan. Last week, we taught him the Plan of Salvation, and I committed him to review the pamphlet for it and pray after it to find if it's true. This week, he came and reported that he had read and prayed, and he felt a peace and happiness come over him that told him it was true. It's so cool to see revelation come through prayer and the Holy Ghost! It works every time! This week, we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and committed him to pray about it like last week. He told us he wants to be baptized and will pray about a date for it to happen. I'm totally pumped! He's an awesome guy, and I love seeing him grow closer to the Savior. Other than that, the week has revolved around working with less-actives and recent converts. They're getting us referrals, and that's how we're doing a lot of our work. Tracting really isn't effective here because it gets hounded by Jehovah's Witnesses, so we rely on referrals and Mormon.org to find our solid people to teach. It's going well!

So I had a funny experience this week. I went to a salvage store to look for some good glove liners, and I got talking to a Mainer lady who felt pity on me for not having endured a Maine winter before. She gave me some of the most interesting advice of my life. "When you're in a pinch, cross-dress." No kidding. Apparently, lady nylons make for great insulation, and she has her husband do it all the time? Yeah. Pretty sure I'll freeze before I go that far haha. So yeah. I thought that was pretty funny.

I had some really spiritual experiences this week. On Thursday, we had Zone Conference down in Augusta, Maine. The main focus was on the Book of Mormon. We talked about how the book can address concerns, not only for investigators but for us as well, how a spiritual witness of it is the keystone of every converts personal testimony, and about how we can use it more effectively in lessons. I also found it interesting that we had a little training on how to respond when people encounter anti material. They gave us the advice to refer people to Matthew 16: 13-18. Jesus asked his disciples, essentially, what anti was going around to explain who he was. Once they answered, he told them to disregard that and ask themselves what they thought the matter personally. Peter responded that He was the Christ. Jesus acknowledge that this knowledge had come from the Father, not from man, and that that pattern is the basis of how his church would be established. So, moral of the story: It doesn't matter what other people say about the church- either for or against it. What really matters is what answer you've received from the Father about it. That's how you can know the truth.
Towards the end of the zone conference, we devoted two hour to having a missionary testimony meeting centered on "how the Book of Mormon has affected your life or the life of someone you've taught." Holy cow. That was one of the most spiritual testimony meetings of my life. I had an opportunity to bear my testimony, and I think I'll share the essence of what I said. It applies to what I said above.


"It's really cool to think that in this room are dozens of young men and women who have traveled thousands of miles from home, having left everything back home, from families to education to jobs to friends, for 18 months to two years, to come to a strange new place to do a difficult work, all for a book. That's pretty special if you ask me.  My entire life, I've always thought in my head that the church was true. But I never really knew it solidly in my heart. Because it was a logical belief, I was subject to doubts as new things came and left about the church. But a month or so before my mission, I decided I needed to really find out if this was something I was willing to devote my life to doing. So, I submerged myself into the pages of the Book of Mormon. I dived deeper into that book than ever in my entire life, and something amazing happened. I felt a peace I had never really felt before. I felt a hole that I never knew existed, filled. And it was because of that peace I felt in my heart that confirmed to me that this was the right thing for me to do. Since I've left on my mission, I've since taken my logical testimony and delved into it all as I did with the Book of Mormon. I pondered it, prayed about it, and felt that same peace in my heart. I can now say that, for the first time in my life, I know completely in my heart that this church is true, and I've never experienced such a peace and joy before. And it all started with a book. I know that the Book of Mormon is true." It was one of the most powerful testimonies I've ever born, and as I sat back down with my companion, I found tears of joy coming to my eyes and I realized I was smiling. The Spirit was witnessing that what I had just said was true. The church is true. I know it is.
 

I had another spiritual experience yesterday as well. We had stake conference up in Bangor, Maine. Among the speakers were the stake presidency, the president of the Boston temple, and my mission president, President Wilkey. The talks were all amazing. When it came time for President Wilkey to talk, he realized that the meeting was going over, so he'd have to cut down his talk. The main message he shared in those few minutes was to "open your ears, and open your mouth, and let the Lord's work be done." He then had all the full-time missionaries stand (there were about 24 of us in the audience) and had us come up to the stand. He then had us sing a special third verse of Called to Serve that is our mission song. It goes like this:

"Called to Serve the people of New England,
with the Gospel of a loving God.
Teaching, preaching, unto true repentance,
holding to the Iron Rod."


As we sung, I felt that same unexplainable smile come across my face. I looked into the audience and realized that a great number of them were crying. I was taken by surprise. I looked to my sides and saw that all of us missionaries had that same smile on our faces. As we moved onto the chorus, I felt an incredible fire of gratitude and desire to be a missionary. That night, I went over the words of the song line by line, and realized what an incredible duty and honor it is to be able to proclaim God's love far and wide. We all know it, now we just need to share it! It was a great experience for me.

So yeah! I had a great week. Great spiritual upliftings, opportunities to help others come unto Christ, and good memories made. I'm loving being a missionary. I know I'm called to serve the people of New England, and I love who I'm becoming because of it. Thanks for all your love and support. I love you all!

Happy Halloween!

This week was pretty good. I just found it ironic that on the week of Halloween, I found myself actually scared. It snowed about 6 inches here on Saturday night. Yep. I couldn't delay the inevitable any longer. Luckily, most of it is gone now, but it was a cruel awakening to what is in store this winter haha. This whole week has been really cold, and riding around on our bikes doesn't really help out that much. I've had to make several trips to various stores around town to buy some Maine-approved apparel. But I should be all set now. Besides. We found out something extremely exciting that will help out this winter a ton. It was basically the best news I've heard my entire life. Can you guess what it is? Yep. You got it. WE'RE GETTING A CAR!!! WAHOO!!! I guess Salt Lake approved the mission to get a few new cars, and we were at the top of the list! We were so pumped. I'm not going to freeze this winter!! Haha of course, that doesn't mean I won't get to be out thoroughly enjoying the thrill of a Maine winter, but it does mean we won't have to walk 10 miles a day trying to contact people and keep appointments in the snow. Plus, this is going to let us contact the outlying towns around Waterville with a lot more ease. Oh man, I can't wait. We'll be getting it at Zone Conference this week. I'm pumped!

Also this next week, we're going to be having Stake Conference up in Bangor. Our ward was selected to give a special musical number, and we were drafted to be in the choir. So that'll be fun. But it will be really cool because everybody from Belfast should be there too. Also, I've been asked to play the piano in Zone Conference again. I'm excited to be performing (kinda) music again! So yeah. This next week will be an awesome week. I can't wait.

This last week wasn't terribly exciting. We spent a lot of time this week giving service to the ward. We helped a family move, painted doors for a family to remodel their apartment, helped lug around several couches for different families, and gave several hours preparing and distributing sandwiches at the E.S.P. The service really helped us unify with the ward, which will be great for when we get the car- they can feed us more often! Win! Haha and we also have lots of them working on friends and families as referrals. So no worries. I'm still being missionary minded. Also this week, on Saturday, we had a ward trunk-or-treat. It was really fun, but a little odd. They decorated the church a little overly Halloween-ish. I mean, they turned the front lobby into a graveyard, complete with dead trees, gravestones, skeletons, and a massive pile of dead leaves. Cleaning up was a TON of fun, but it looked really cool. But what looked even cooler was Elder Carroll and I. We've both found killer suits at the various thrift stores in the area, so we decided to wear them to the ward activity. I mean, colored suits are about as close to dressing up a missionary can get. I had a sweet tan 3-piece suit and E. Carroll had a legit baby blue one. The ward loved it, and kept telling us they couldn't recognize us not in black haha. We took some killer pics- I'll send them home soon. We also got more candy that I think either of us can eat- and we didn't even trunk-or-treat! I don't even know how it happened! We came with candy to give out (I taped suckers onto pass along cards and gave those to the kids. They weren't amused, but I thought it was hilarious), and we were continuously given more and more food as the night went along. I seriously think the ward is trying to fatten us up for winter or something. Oh well. Anyways, that's basically this week. Just giving service to the ward, eating lots of food, and enjoying the last of the non-winter weather!

I best be off. Love you all! Hope you all had a great Halloween! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin