Monday, April 16, 2012

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

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