Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Doing well, enjoy the pics!

tThI fou

Good hearing from everybody. Sounds like life keeps on chugging along. Dad, it sounds like you had a great training from Elder Wilkensen. General Authorities sure are awesome. I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but we're going to have a general authority here in November. Elder Nash of the 70. Hopefully I'll still be an assistant then! That last little bit you mentioned he talked on- about how the church isn't under seige but families are. that really caught my attention. What all was discussed there? I'd be interested to know. Mom, sounds like your projects are keeping you busy. And if they aren't Molly and Jared are! How big is she? Also, have you heard how Bennett is doing lately? Also, i hope the dogs are doing well! We had a meal with a member this last week, and they had a Jack Russell. I played with him a lot, he had a lot of similar characteristics to Trixie. I'll be excited to play with her when I get back!

Kristina's Baptism
We had an awesome week! First off, KRISTINA GOT BAPTIZED!! It was such an awesome experience. She really went through the refiners fire the week before. Satan sure does push hard to bring people down right before they get baptized. She was presented with a lot of doubts, anti from her family, and even had an uncle die. But the night before, we went over and retaught her the plan of salvation and gave her a blessing. She said that night, she did a lot of praying to know if this was what she should do. The next morning (the day of her baptism), she didn't have any doubts at all. She was smiling and laughing all day. Because of that, she asked if she could bear her testmiony at the baptism, and talked about the transformation she's gone through because of the gospel, and about why she chose to be baptized. It was a really powerful experience. She's going to make a great member. Now we just have to finish off her husband, and there'll be a great new family in the Bedford ward! I'll do my best to attach a picture of the baptism too.

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The rest of the week was pretty busy. On Monday, we had a zone leaders council down in Exeter, NH. (The morning before, for exercise, we played a doubles tennis match with the Vermont zone leaders, and we totally won. It was pretty sweet). After the meeting, we came back home and got right to work. On Tuesday, we had the first real P-day I've had since becoming an assitant! We didn't do much though haha. Reports we didn't get to do on Monday, cleaning the apartment, shopping, lunch, and about an hour of piano. Then in the evening, we drove back to Exeter to pick up the zone leaders down there for exchange. I stayed in Bedford with an Elder Packer from Idaho. Yep, the same one I was companions with in the MTC. Pretty cool, huh? We traveled up to Hanover, NH for a district meeting, then worked the rest of the day. That night we exchanged back, and things kept going. The rest of the week was just working hard with other investigators, getting everything ready for Kristina's baptism, and prepping for zone conference this next week. So....yeah! That was pretty much my week!

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This week will be another REALLY insane one. We got two zone conferences. Here we go! We leave tonight to set up in South Royalton, Vermont (we actually have zone conference at the Joseph Smith Memorial. Pretty cool, right?), then we'll be gone doing zone conference all day Tuesday. We'll work the area for half a day Wednesday, then leave for Augusta on Wednesday to set up, then be gone all day Thursday. We'll then get to work the area all weekend. So...not the best week for proselyting, which I'm pretty bumemd about, but I'm excited to do lots of traveling and see all my missionary buddies. Plus, on Tuesday, i get to play the piano for two special musical numbers, one being a quartet singing "Lead Kindly Light." The other one is really cool. We're doing a harp-piano duet. There's a girl in my ward that plays harp, and President Wilkey though it would be cool to do a harp musical number. She a pretty cool girl- she'll be going to Utah State next year. We went over last night to practice, and it sounds pretty good. I'm really excited- i've never played with a harpist before! but I'll let you know how it goes.

Ok that's about it on my end! I'll do my best to attach some pictures. Oh, another note on the side. I hit my 18 month mark this week. can you believe how fast the time is flying?? It really freaks me out- i don't want it to be over! But I'm excited to push myself to the limit and leave everything on the alter. It's going to be a wild 6 months!
Thugging in Downtown Manchester--these are the streets I walk Daily.

Love and miss you all. Know you're in my thoughts and prayers. I'll be excited to hear from you next week!

Me and Manchester:)

View from the top of Manchester.
To celebrate my 18 month mark,
 our district made the missionary's traditional "Samoan Sandwich"
 they are surprisingly delicious!!

The "Holy KFCTThethe The

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Me and my  "Samoan"

Sorry I'm a little late again

This week isn't an exception to the crazy schedule I've been experiencing lately. In fact, this week may be the climax in craziness. On Tuesday, we had a zone meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire. It went really well. The Stake President of that stake spoke, and I was eating up his instruction. He used a lot of vocabulary and strategies that I remebered in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. During lunch, I approached him and asked if he had read that book before. He put his arm around me and said, "Elder, I work for that company!" Sure enough, he works for Franklin-Covey as a business consultant. I got to talk to him for a while about the book and about his profession, and it was overall a really cool experience. So that was pretty exciting! Wednesday and Thursday were the only days we really had to proselyte, so we did our best to make the time count. On Wednesday, we met with Kristina to discuss her baptism. She said she felt she'd rather be baptized without her husband, Matt, so he could have more time to learn and get a more solit testimony. But she was totally gung-ho about being baptized! We finished off teaching her all the lessons, and she passed her interview on Sunday! She'll be baptized this week!! But I'll get to that a little later. We had another lesson with Jessica too, but we received some bad news. Her husband had failed a drug test, so she's anticipating to soon be homeless with their 8-month-old daughter and their second child she's expecting in 3 months...those kinds of thigns make me so grateful to have the gospel in my life. I know what morals I need to have, and I know what morals to look for in my future spouse. It's going to save me so much heartache. We tried to comfort Jessica by reading uplifting scriptures and singing "I am a Child of God." It was a sweet lesson. At the end, she told me her husband had been getting after her about having us over, and told us we had better lay low for a while. So we're not going back to see her for a while, but I sure hope it all works out for her!

Thursday night, we packed up and hit the road to head up to Maine. We arrived in Topsham, Maine around 8:00 to set up for the Zone Meeting on Friday for the Augusta Zone, which went really well. That night, I got to go up to Waterville for the night! We had about 3 hours, so we ate dinner at Big G's, and stopped by a bunch of recent converts. I was dismayed to find out 4 of them hadn't been going to church regularly...but no worries, I straightened them out haha. It was interesting to find that many left for social reasons, namely being offended by the actions (or lack of them) from other members. I taught the same principle to most of them. There's three things that happen when a person joins the church- a logical conversion, a social conversion, and a spiritual conversion. A person usally experiences all three when they join the church. The thing worth emphasizing is that the spiritual conversion is the one that matters most. The other two are good to have and help us stay true, but if there isn't a powerful spiritual conversion, when those other two have faults (namely, if something they learn doesn't "make sense," or if they're offended), they'll fall away. I talked with all these recent converts about their spiritual conversion and asked them to not let logical or social concerns get in the way of their spiritual conversion. I didn't do a very good job explaining it here in this email, but it sounded a lot more profound when we taught it haha. Anyways, I heard that one of them came to church last Sunday! that was pretty exciting. It was just good seeing them all again and encouraging them to stay faithful.

Then Saturday, we drove up to Bangor for the next zone training! It was the best one in my opinion. The Stake President, who I knew pretty well from being a zone leader, spoke on the importance of being obedient, and about how we all pray "We love thee Father" without realizing the implications of saying that- that we're willing to obey Him. It was really really good. Then that night, we had dinner at my favorite local pizza joint and drove back to Bedford! So all in all, we had a REALLY crazy week. In between all the zone trainings I just mentioned, we also finished up cleaning the old apartment and got it turned back over to the land lord. We also had a lot of small to-do's for assistant-ship. But we did our best to stay on top of it all and got a lot done!

So now, that takes us to this week. As I said, yesterday we had a zone leader council in Exeter, NH, which focused on preparation for zone conferences next week. Today, we're taking a much-needed P-day, then tonight we'll go on exchange with the Exeter Zone Leaders. The rest of the week will just be proselyting!! We're really excited to just focus on missionary work for a week. the area has a lot of work to be done in it! The highlight of the week will be on Friday, because Kristina will be getting baptized!! We're really excited for that. I'll write more about it next week.

Welp, I better go. Know that I sure love ya, and I always look forward to hearing from you all every week. Have a good one, and never forget to keep your eyes out for someone needing the gospel. Remember- non-members aren't the only ones who need rescuing. If you keep your eyes out, you'll find people needed a pointer to Jesus Christ. I can promise you'll find them if you pray and seek them. And nothing makes a person feel more joyful than knowing you were an instrument helping someone return to Christ.


Elder KC Esplin

A Spiritual Thought

   Think of a time when you got lost. How did it feel? It’s one of the worst feelings ever! Think of the relief you felt when you finally found your way to where you needed to go. Now apply those feelings to our missions. Although many of our brothers and sisters here in New England may not be physically lost, many are lost emotionally and spiritually, hopelessly searching for meaning in their lives. We have a message that leads the lost to be found- are we taking every opportunity we have to share it??

Talking with everyone is a crucial way we do this, yet it’s one of the weaknesses in our mission. It’s understandable that it’s uncomfortable to do. To quote Preach My Gospel, “It is natural to be somewhat apprehensive about talking to people” (pg. 156). In the end, it boils down to either fear or laziness that keeps us from doing it. But, if we want to be able to, as stated in D&C 4:2, “stand blameless before God at the last day,” we must, as stated in Jacob 1:19, “…magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence.” We must jump the hurdles that prevent us from talking with everyone!

We’ve come up with three questions we can ask ourselves to help us find courage to talk to everyone.

1) Do we trust in the Lord and “…pray for the faith and strength to be more bold in opening [our] mouth?”

(PMG pg. 156-157). The Lord knows our hearts and how difficult and uncomfortable it can be, but by stepping out of our comfort zone, we allow the Comforter to step in.

2) Do we realize we have nothing to lose? This is our only chance we have to do this kind of thing! One of my favorite fortune cookies says it best- “Fear the man (or woman) who has nothing to lose.” Indeed, we have nothing to lose, only miracles to miss!

3) Are our contacts “Natural and Normal?” Do we practice making the transition from small talk to the gospel? We should ask ourselves- “If someone approached me the same way I just approached that last person, would I have said yes? Or would I have just weirded myself out?” If it’s the latter of the two, we should probably change our approach. We also must follow the counsel of Elder Holland and be “courteous, but persistent.” If we look, we’ll find opportunities every day. Whether it is giving a mormon.org card to your waiter/waitress thanking them for excellent service, or telling your bagger at the grocery store about your favorite moment in a lesson that past week, if we’ll just seek for them, we’ll find many opportunities to share the gospel daily in natural and normal ways. (See David F. Evan’s talk this last conference)

We know it’s easier to just pass people by. But as Ezra Taft Benson put it, “It’s the pursuit of easy things that make men weak.”

We’ve received a commission to find and rescue. There are people lost looking to find their way home. We know the way.

 Let’s help them find it!

-Elder Esplin & Elder Baker <3

2 new Investigators this week

I've been running like crazy this last week, and this next one won't be much easier! But I'm loving the adventure, and I can feel myself being stretched (which is the only way to grow after all)! We're currently in the middle of putting on the zone trainings in all 5 zones in the mission. This last week, we did the trainings in Montpelier, Vermont on Tuesday, and Laconia, New Hampshire on Thursday. We drove up Monday night to set up, and had the training on Tuesday, and it went super good. We're giving two trainings- one on using visuals to do planning steps nightly to find new investigators, and one on the importance of talking to everyone- not letting anybody go by. They've gone well so far. On a side note, on the way back from the training on Tuesday, we stopped in Lebanon, NH to eat at the KFC that is built over the home where Joseph Smith had his leg surgery. Pretty cool eh? They call it the "Holy KFC." Anyways, one of the cool things is that in each of these trainings, the stake president of the stake the zone covers has come to speak to the missionaries about "Real Growth." In the one in Laconia, the Stake President couldn't make it, so we drove up to Concord a few weeks ago to interview him on the subject, then presented the training for him. It was pretty cool. I'm learning SO much from these inspired men. I think just hearing these stake presidents speak will be the highlight of all these trainings. Anyways, intermingled with all the trainings this last week, we also helped a less-active (the same one we helped organize her house last week- the one with cancer) move out of her house, moved the rest of our stuff out of our old apartment, and had a 7 hour planning session/technology update for the Wilkeys. So all things taken into consideration, we only got about 20 hours to proselyte, which was a bummer. Our teaching pool grew quite a bit last transfer, so we're struggling to keep up with it. But we're hanging in there!

Despite the lack of proselyting time, we still had 2 investigators at church, and also the less-active with cancer! It was nice seeing her there. We had 6 others lined up to come as well, but they didn't come for various different reasons...I swear, Sundays are the most emotional day of the week for missionaries. Between the stresses of lining up members to give rides, greet, and sit with investigators, the dissapointments of having people not show up, and the tension in lessons worrying that the teacher will say something our investigators don't understand, it's pretty far from the "day of rest" for us haha. But the feeling of seeing your investigators there and having a spiritual experience makes it all worth it in the end.

This next week will be another insanely busy one. We have another training tomorrow in Exeter, New Hampshire that we'll be doing. Then on Thursday night, we'll be driving up to Maine for the remaining two trainings. The first will be in Topsham, Maine, and the second will be in my old area- Bangor! I'm really excited to be up there. I think i'll probably swing by Waterville on the way up to say hi to some people too. But between doing that and putting the final touches on our old apartment for inspection this Friday, we won't have too much time to proselyte, which i'm pretty bummed about...but we'll make the best use of time as we can!

Alright, I best be going. Know that I love and miss you all, but I'm loving life out here. I've never worked harder in my life, and boy does it feel good. I know this gospel is true, and that we truely are members of Christ's church. Let's all go out and share it!!


Elder KC Esplin

Sorry I'm writing so late

We got called in to staff meeting earlier than expected, then I had to drive up to Concord, NH to meet with the Stake President up there. Needless to say, it's been a crazy day. But! You'll be proud of me. I'm going to go suit shopping today. Assistants end up wearing a suit almost every day, and 3 out of my 4 suit pants have holes in them haha. So, I figured it's time for a new suit. We'll see how it goes!

I've had a pretty stellar week! Monday, we picked up the new missionaries from the airport, and I took two of them teaching with me to a lady we found last Sunday named Jodi. It was an incredible lesson on the restoration. In the middle of the lesson, I was feeling the Spirit, and I could tell she was too, so I asked her,"Do you feel that?" That warm, calming feeling you have right now." She smiled and said,"Yeah. I do." It was a super cool moment. (On a side note, we went back and taught her last night, and she's been praying a lot and is growing over her agnostic beliefs she's been fighting!). We spent the rest of the night with the new missionaries. The next day was transfers. Elder Sommerfeldt took off with his new missionary to Waterville, and I received Elder Baker as my new companion. He's from the Texas/Oklahoma area. He was baptized just 2 years ago, and has a catholic background. So far, we're really enjoying working together. He goes home in 2 transfers though, so that means I'll probably end his mission. I'm looking forward to it. After transfer meeting, we hit the ground running for the next two days teaching like crazy. On top of that, we made a trip to Exeter, NH for a district meeting. Friday was a day of basically nothing but planning. We taught a lesson in the morning, went to planning with President Wilkey from 11-4, then finished doing things at the office until 8. We have specialized zone trainings in every zone the next two weeks, so we were putting the polish on those. Then on Saturday...oh jeez...I don't think I can ever remember what we did on Saturday haha umm....Oh yeah. We just taught like crazy again. I think that between Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, we probably taught like 10 lessons. Also on Saturday, we helped a less-active clean up her house. We've been working with her for quite some time now trying to get her to come to church, but nothing has worked...but we dropped by one night and she was really sick. She finally told us she had cancer and was going through chemo. We asked if we could serve her in any way, and she asked if we could come over to help her clean her house. We agreed and did that Saturday. After cleaning for a few hours, we shared a Mormon.org profile of Tessa, who is fighting cancer. It really touched her, and we told her she needed to make God a part of her life if she is to get through all this. The next day, she came to church!! It was a miracle. It's crazy how service can soften even the hardest of hearts. (also, as a side benefit of the service, we got a bunch of bags of clothes and toys to give out to kids. I even scored a legit transformer toy for myself! Yes!)

Sunday was great too in the fact we got 2 other less-actives there! We were pretty excited about that. It was ward conference, so the stake president was down to speak, and it was a power-punch of a sacrament meeting. I even got to play a special musical number on the piano during it. I played "Be Still My Soul" again. I sure do love that hymn. After church, we went to dinner at a ward members (he's a chiropractor and is doing a pretty good job at selling me to become one one day), and had an AWESOME lesson with Matt and Kristina. They've been doing so good. Kristina has been getting hard core on her conversion. She's begun playing the Mormon channel radio station in the house, she's put a strict "no cursing" rule on the house, she teaches the kids about God every day...and it's so cool too because she doesn't have religious background at all. At first she didn't want to pray or read and was quiet, but now she volunteers to pray almost every time, she's completely changing the way she acts around the kids, and it's all just awesome. She's truly being converted to the gospel! Matt is coming along too. I've been hammering out the logical arguments about anything and everything, and he's starting to realize that there really isn't a part of the gospel that can't make sense. He's really starting to warm up to it all. They're all set to be baptized on August 17th! We're super excited for them. Oh yeah, we had a really special moment with them this week too. We told them about family home evening, and they really wanted to give it a try, but didn't' know how, so asked us to help them do it. We coached them through it all, and Matt gave a lesson about being a family forever to his wife and their 2-yr old and 4-yr-old son, and afterwords, we all drew pictures of us being with our families in heaven. It was such a special experience. Then last night, we had a really powerful lesson on how we can be healed of our sins through Christ. Man, being a missionary is just so awesome!! I love it.

Anyways, that's pretty much where we're at now. Life is still awesome. This next week should be pretty crazy. Tonight, we're driving up to Montpelier, Vermont to set up for a zone training tomorrow for basically the entire state of Vermont. The cool part- we're probably going to eat dinner at the KFC built on the place Joseph Smith had his leg surgery. They call it the "Holy KFC." It should be exciting! Then Thursday, we'll have another zone training up in Laconia, NH. The rest of the week will most likely be nothing but planning, keeping up on our teaching pool, and cleaning our old apartment for inspection here in the next two weeks. I'll be kept busy, you can rest assured of that!!

OK I better go. We still have a lot to do before we head up to Vermont. But I sure hope you all have a great week! Know that I love and miss you all, but I know I'm in the right place. I know that we are members of Christ's church and have the fullness of the gospel, and I'm so grateful to have been born in a situation where I can have it in my life. We're all so lucky to have what we do. Take care!!


Elder KC Esplin