Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Easter

Happy Easter yesterday! Man, this has been one of the best Easters
ever. Just like last Christmas, it was the completely centered on
Christ with nothing lost to commercialism. We went around with the
little Easter activity you gave me mom, and shared the message about
the true meaning of Easter with everybody who would let us in. It led
to some very powerful discussion about Christ's atonement, and that
lead to a very spiritual Easter. We had a great turn out for sacrament
meeting too- Joe and Susie came, along with three potential
investigators. One of them is a really cool story. His name is Joseph.
He's from Haiti and is basically homeless. We stopped him on the
street one night and talked to him. He said he'd talked to
missionaries before, and would be interested in coming to church
sometime, and walked off. That was about a month ago. Two weeks later,
we saw him on the streets again. So we talked to him again, and he
said the same thing- "maybe I'll come to church with you sometime."
Then, the next week, we saw him at a non-devotional church we attended
with a member! We talked to him again, and he told us the same thing-
"Maybe I'll come to church with you sometime." So this last Saturday,
we got a phone call from him saying "I told you I'd come to church
with you sometime, so I think I'll go ahead and do just that." We
found him a ride, he came, and he really liked it. He's now moving to
New Jersey, but we told him how to get in touch with missionaries down
there, so we're expecting the best for him!

We had a really cool miracle this week. On Tuesday, we helped a recent
convert rip wall paper out of a room for like two hours. We dressed
down into jeans and T-shirts to do help in. On our way to drop off the
Bangor elders at their apartment, we drove by the house of a referral
we had received, but we'd never been able to contact. He was outside
raking leaves. We were really excited- this was our chance! So we
hurried and dropped off the other elders and drove back. We jumped out
of the van and started to help him. After raking for a while, he
invited us into his house. His name was Austin. He was in his mid 20's
or so, and had just gotten out of prison. He told us he was trying to
get over a serious drug addiction, and had put himself into lock-down
so he could detox. He talked about how he was trying to turn his life
around and start over fresh. We told him about how he had started over
fresh physically by getting off drugs, and started fresh legally by
paying his debts to society, but we told him about how he could have a
fresh start spiritually, and proceeded to have a lesson on baptism. It
was really powerful, and he invited us right back. We'll be going
over later this week, and we're really excited for it! It was
definitely a cool miracle.

This next week should be exciting. I'll be going on exchange tonight
with the Machias elders, then on exchange again on Friday with the
Bangor elders. We'll also get to throw in there 4 dinner appointments,
setting up a zone training on the 19th, and several appointments. Life
is really crazy! But I feel I'm getting on top of everything, and I
feel I'm becoming more and more capable for the things that lie in the
future. All is going well thus far!

So one cool thought before I take off. I listened to a talk this week
on missionary work, and I feel I got several eternal principles from
it. One of them really stands out to me.

"The moment you begin to think of yourself is the moment you will
begin to have a bad day."

I started thinking about that one a lot, and I realized how true that
is! I mean, almost every time something happens that makes us sad or
angry, it's because it sets us back somehow from something we want.
But if we just think of others, it doesn't really matter what happens
to us, because it doesn't relate to anybody else! It's like a secret
to happiness! I know I did a horrible job explaining how I feel about
it, but think about it a bit. Maybe it'll make more sense to each of
you individually.

well, I better run. Hopefully I'll get to hear from you next week!
Love you all so much! Have a great week!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin

A week of Insanity

Only one word can describe this week- Intense. Just intense. I'll fast
forward to the climax of the week- Yesterday and Saturday. So on
Saturday, I went on exchange with Elder Chronister over in the other
half of Bangor. I finally got to go to someone Else's area, so that
was a welcomed relief. They had a super busy day- 8 planned
appointments! Unfortunately, all but 2 fell through...but one of them
was the most intense situation ever. They had planned to meet with two
teenagers who are members of the same pentecostal church. We sat in
Subway waiting, and soon, one of them showed up, telling us that the
others would be late. Soon, a stream of people in shirts and ties
started coming through the door. They decide to bring their entire
youth group- and the minister decided to come as well. We went into a
back room and gathered around a table. There were 8 of them in all.
Elder Chronister, who has been out for a little less than 6 months,
and I just looked at eachother with a look of "this isn't going to end
well." And sure enough, it didn't really haha. We started off teaching
the restoration, and the first half went really well. We did our best
to teach out of the bible as much as possible to validate what we were
saying. But when we got to the Great Apostasy, the minister spoke up,
and that's when the fun began. He began to argue with us about the
points we had made over the past half-hour and began to run through
bible verses furiously. It soon became apparent why they were all
there- the minister was trying to make us look bad in front of the
young people of his church. So, I had to stand my ground. I tried so
hard to not bash and to take it back to the Book of Mormon, but he
just wouldn't allow it. He even openly said "I'm taking cheap shots
fellas, but I want to see what you say in response." So, essentially,
it ended up being a bash. I'm not proud of it, but no matter how hard
we tried, he just kept bringing it back. But I'm proud to say, we took
him on full force, and gave him a run for his money. But he wasn't
playing fair. He would interrupt me in the middle of my points,
including in the middle of telling the First Vision (that one really
got me worked up a bit), and even tried to argue with me as I tried
bearing testimony, questioning me if I really knew what the Holy
Spirit was. At that point, I knew there was no point being there, so
we bore testimony and left. But the moral of the story is this: 1) we
are definitely the true church. I mean, two 20 year-old kids were
able to take on an older man who had devoted his entire life to
studying the Bible (It helps when you have the truth of course.) 2)
Arguing gets you nowhere. Unless there is calmness, reason, and a
desire in both parties to understand the other, all that will result
is bad feelings. As our mission president says "when you fight fire
with fire, all you get is ashes." and 3) When someone questions the
church, instead of dancing around and playing ping-pong in the bible,
just point them to the Book of Mormon. EVERYTHING revolves around
whether that book is true or not. End of discussion. So yeah. There's
that fun little story.

I've actually had a few different times this week when people tried to
argue with me. In every instance, I've learned that reason and
patience is really the only way to go. And love. Knowing that that
person is your brother or sister and treating them accordingly. And
honestly, when you walk away from a situation which could have easily
become heated knowing that you have no regrets with the way you
responded, it's the best ever. So, there's another skill I'm learning
out here- how to handle intense situations like that.

So the other part of my intense weekend was yesterday morning. Holy
cow, it was one of the craziest mornings of my life. So Saturday night
at like 9 PM, I got a call from the second councilor of the ward
wanting me to give a 10 minute talk the next morning. I had no time to
prepare, so I decided I'd wake up 30 minutes early to read over my
topic (the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 (my favorite parable
in the bible by the way)). Before getting started, I decided I'd take
a minute to start our progress record on people we taught that week
before diving in. I figured Elder Carr could do the other half. But as
he woke up, he was sick, and feel back asleep, so I ended up spending
a lot of time doing most of it. I then had like 20 minutes to read the
parable I was speaking on and try and prepare a talk based on the
needs of the ward. It was then that we realized we needed to find
rides for two people to get to church. So in about a half hour, we
drove to the church, finished the progress record, and were making
phone calls like mad to get an investigator and a recent convert to
church ( who was going to be confirmed that day). Then we rushed into
ward council and gave our report, which blew them all away. We spent a
day contacting every less-active in the town of Holden, and also spent
a lot of time contacting people that the ward council had talked about
in the past. As we left, they told us they really appreciated what was
going on, which we took to be a good sign we were better unifying with
them. Then we got right back to phone calls since we had been
unsuccessful finding rides. We suddenly remembered we had a baptismal
interview to do in like 5 minutes, so we rushed down the hall to find
the Bangor elders to do it. They said it canceled, so we finished off
calls and found the rides. Unfortunately, we couldn't contact the
investigator who was getting a ride, so we jumped into the van and
drove like demons (under the speed limit of course...) to get to his
house. We arrived just as the member was there to pick him up. We got
the investigator up and going, then we rushed back to the church to
greet people as they came in. Then I realized I probably had to get up
onto the stand for the talk thing I had to do. I then got up and
talked about three applications we can get from the parable of the
talents- 1) as the Savior intended, that God doesn't care so much
about what we came into the world with or what we leave with, but
rather, that we did all we could with what we were given, 2) taking
the word "talent" literally, meaning we are obligated to develop our
God-given talents, and 3) applying it to missionary work, in which I
kind of threw down pretty hard on the first chapter of Preach my
Gospel and the quote from past prophets regarding the importance and
necessity of missionary work. It was really intense. I also told a
really funny joke to get it started, and it ended up being really
good. A graduate student who teaches at the University of Maine came
up after and told me I needed to go into teaching professionally after
my mission, so I may consider that one a bit more when I get
home...but then again, I had dinner that night with a dentist in the
ward and he is basically living my dream life...but that's another
discussion for another day!

Anyways. Like I said. This week has been intense haha.

This next week won't be any less exciting. Tonight and tomorrow, I'll
be going on exchange to my first area- Belfast!!! I'm seriously SO
excited. It'll be a party. And then on Thursday, we'll be having a
Specialized Zone Training in Waterville. Yep. So, I"ll be visiting
every area I've served in so far on my mission. I'm super excited.
Plus, we'll be taking President and Sister Wilkey teaching with us
this week on Thursday. So....yeah. Stay tuned next week. it's going to
be crazy!

Now that I've written a dang novel, I better get going haha. I love
you all, and hope you have a great week! Know that I know that this
church is true, and the Book of Mormon is true- not even a swarm of
angry pentecostals can change that one for me! Take care!!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

Sounds like things are still going well back home. I'm glad you friend ed Sis. Wilcox on facebook! They're such an awesome family. And really good cooks too haha. Yeah, she's too good to us, and does our laundry for us, which is SUCH a blessing. We're extremely appreciative of that. And you don't have to worry about shoe polish- I got that covered. I just don't polish them until a zone meeting haha. And those are my nice shoes. You should see my tr acting shoes! and I can't believe that Jared's shoe size is 10...that's my size! Good heck. I'm sure he's going to tower over me when I get home. But even with all his working out, I'll still be able to wrestle him down. This last week, I was in Watervilles area again, and I used their weights and found out I can curl 40 lbs on one arm fairly easily. Not bad, eh? Haha and I'm glad Trixie is doing well too. I'm still praying for her! It sounds like you have a lot of fun stuff coming up this week. Have fun up north! Say hi to USU for me too. I miss it up there sometimes. It's also fun to think that the livestock show is coming up. How do you think they'll do this year? Oh and by the way, I write for a long as I have time for haha. Don't forget-I'm with 3 other elders every P-day. Besides. My letters always dominate the size of the others. They tease me about it occasionally. But I'll do my best to throw in more details!



So as I said, this week was just straight up crazy. No other word can describe it. On Monday, we drove down to Auburn to spend the night with the Augusta zone leaders. Then it was down to Manchester, New Hampshire for zone leader council. It was a lot more intense this time than the last one. We discussed a specialized zone training coming up in two weeks, plus a heated discussion about call-in formats and a sharing of zone goals. So yeah. Just boring stuff. Although, I did play the piano, and Elder Brown, Elder Nicholes, and I did a little singing trio for everyone, which as fun. We then drove up to Waterville that night. I'll tell you what, it was SO weird spending the night in my old apartment. I stayed up late talking to the Elder who took my spot about everybody there. I even got to call Tammy and see how she was doing. The next morning, we drove up to Skowhegan for district meeting, where we exchanged with the Skowhegan elders. I went with the elder who I was in the MTC with! It was so cool to get to talk with him a little more and share mission experiences with him. That was really fun.The next morning, we drove to Palmyra, Maine to exchange back, then it was off to the Bangor district meeting and on and on and on. I think you get the drift haha. Tons of driving, tons of meetings, tons of interacting with other missionaries. It's just been crazy. But, we got to end the week with General Conference!! How awesome is conference?? Seriously. It's the best. I loved it SO much. Tons of stuff on the family too. It made me want to be better, that's for sure. We actually witnessed a huge miracle during conference. Here. I'll share.



After the morning session of conference on Saturday, we went to Joe and Susie's house to see how they were doing. While there, they suddenly got into a big argument. We could sense there was some tension in their relationship. We sat wondering what we could do, because none of my advice seemed to do anything. Then I spoke up, and promised them that if they would watch the next session of conference together, they would hear something that would help them find greater love and happiness. They said they would not watch it. Elder Carr then spoke up and said that he was feeling the same prompting and promised the same blessing. As we headed over to the church for the next session of conference, we knelt in prayer with the Bangor elders and asked Heavenly Father for a miracle that they would watch it together, and that they'd hear something that would bless them. The very next talk was Elder Holland, and on many occasions throughout the talk, Elder Carr and I looked at each other in confirmation that this is what they needed to hear. After the talk, we sent them a text asking if they had watched it, not sure of what response to expect. The reply came from Joe- "Yes that was good, and it hit home." Turns out they decided to watch it together. Later that night, Joe even came to Priesthood session, something he wasn't planning on doing before. It was a clear answer to prayer. I know the Lord hears our prayers when they are offered in faith, and that miracles are wrought when we follow the promptings of the Spirit. I KNOW that that's a very real thing.



So yeah. Life has been really crazy with the onslaught of zone responsibilities, stresses of keeping the area going, helping Elder Carr learn how to be a zone leader, keeping our investigators afloat, and so on. But, I keep telling myself one of my favorite sayings that got me through stressful times in high school- "We're a lot like rubber bands- we only can grow when we're stretched." Plus, I've found this last week that during the times I feel the weakest, I always end up on my knees pleading for help, and it always comes. It's amazing how good God is being to me. He showers miracles on us every day, he grants me peace when I feel overwhelmed, and he helps those who I love find happiness. I can't even begin to describe how much my testimony of the Savior and of the divinity of this gospel is growing. It's so amazing to be part of this work, and I'm loving every minute of it. I can't wait for this next week to partake in the Easter spirit and feel even closer to the Savior.



This next week should be pretty exciting. On Wednesday, we'll be driving up to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine for district meeting, then back to Bangor for exchanges with an old pal- Elder Slater. The rest of the week shoud be fairly slow paced as far as intense zone stuff going on, so maybe I'll get to hammer out the area like I've been dying to do. I'm especially excited for this next week to get to center all our lessons around Christ to help get everybody ready for Easter. I'm super excited for that. I don't know if anybody has seen the new Bible videos on LDS.org, but if you haven't, you need to. They're incredible. Check them out! It's the best way you could invite the true spirit of Easter in. (plus, they can be a great way to share the gospel *hint hint*)



Ok, well I better run. But I love and miss you all! Can you believe how fast the time is flying? It's crazy...it'll be next Monday before we know it. Take care! Talk to you next week!



-Faithfully,



Elder KC Esplin

Another great week

So....this week has been insane. There's not really another word for
it. "Awesome" would take second place probably. So on Monday night, we
were driving around with letting Elder Jones say his final goodbyes.
As we were heading home, I was pondering who my new companion would
be. I suddenly had a strong feeling that it'd be "Elder Carr." He was
down in Massachusetts, and I had no way of knowing if he was becoming
a zone leader, but that was the feeling I had. The next morning I
drove a car ALL BY MYSELF to transfer meeting. There, the verdict was
released that my new companion would be, indeed, Elder Carr. It was
crazy. We greeted each other enthusiastically, since we are both pretty
energetic, and enjoyed the rest of the meeting. We also learned that
one of the missionaries that went home when I was in the MTC made it
back out!! I was SOO excited to see him, especially since I had just
written him about three weeks before, and I had no idea he was coming
back out. That was really exciting. The next two days, Elder Carr and
I just planned out the transfer (meetings, exchanges, district
meetings, all that jazz), then we cleaned and organized the apartment,
which hadn't been done in at least 2 years. That was pretty exciting.
Then it was right to work.

On Friday, we went on exchange with the Farmington elders. We
exchanged in Waterville, and it just so happened that our time to
exchange was only an hour after the baptism of Diane in Waterville, so
I decided we'd stop in and get to catch it. The entire ward was there
basically, so it was really cool to get to see everybody. Tammy was
especially excited. I even ended up playing the piano because the
pianist had to leave for an emergency. It was really special to get to
be there as I watched a woman who had so many doubts before now enter
the waters of baptism. Another really cool thing is that Phil was
there. Remember Phil? He's the guy I found about 4 months ago when we
prayed we'd find somebody on the short walk from our apartment one
morning? Anyways, he was there, and he was in a suit and tie (much
different than the attire I ever saw him in), and he told me he was
preparing to be baptized in two weeks. That blew me away- his story is
probably one of the most direct experiences I've ever had with prayer.
I told him the story about how I found him, and about how much it
meant to me that he was being baptized, and we were both in tears by
the end. It's so cool to see the Lord's hand in this work, because I
know this really is his work.

So that night, I was with Elder Murray back up in Bangor. We had a
very open morning, so I prayed before planning that we'd have
inspiration of what we should do to be productive. As soon as I said
that, a name popped into my head- Sister Hunter. As soon as I got up,
I wrote that down for 10 o'clock. As I kept planning, so many other
plans seemed to make more sense to do at that hour, but I couldn't
deny the fact I really felt we were supposed to go see Sis. Hunter at
10. So, we kept to it, and made an appointment with Joe and Susie to
go see them at 11. So the next morning, we took off to go see Sis.
Hunter, who lives in a rest home. Upon arrival to her room, we found
out she was asleep (which has NEVER happened at that hour, which is
when we usually go see her) and decided not to wake her. I left
feeling really confused. I felt really strongly that we were supposed
to go see her...So I started thinking of other things we could do in
the area, but couldn't think of anything for the life of me. So we
decided we'd just go to Joe and Susie early. When we got to their
housing complex, I looked at the time and saw we had 15 minutes. I
tried to think of what we could do. Then, I saw another house. I
remembered that Susie and recommended we try by there to see her
friend-Sherry-, but we could never get hold of her. So, I decided we
should go stop by, not really knowing what to expect. After knocking,
we found out she was home, and she welcomed us right in. Apparently,
her uncle had been baptized only a few years before, and she was very
grateful for the church and all it had done for him and for her
family. She eagerly told us she wanted to meet with us, and that she
felt she needed this in her life. I left, once again, feeling so
assured that the Lord really does hear our prayers. Even though he
sent us around a little bit, I feel he sent us on this chain of events
so we'd find this woman, and I can't wait to see where she goes.

So yeah. I've been seeing so many miracles lately. It's incredible to
see how the Lord really does hear our real prayers, and how he sends
us real answers. I know that the gospel is real, because the happiness
and peace I feel from it is real. It's amazing to see how much I'm
changing and growing out here, and it's even cooler to see how the
gospel helps others learn and grow as well, and I'll be eternally
grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving in Northern New
England, and I really do know that this is where I'm supposed to be.

This next week should be a good one. We have zone leader's council
tomorrow, so we'll be driving down and back the next two days.
Wednesday, I'll be on exchange, bringing up an elder from Skowhegan,
then the rest of week should just be lots of hard work! I can't wait!

Well, we better run. We have a crazy day today getting packed and
whatnot. Then tonight, Joe wanted to try and take Elder Carr and I on
in wrestling, so that'll be interesting. He's 300 pounds and was
training to be a UFC fighter. i'll let you know how that one goes haha.
Love  and miss you all, hope you have a great week, and I'll look
forward to hearing from you soon!

-Faithfully,

Elder KC Esplin