Monday, November 26, 2012

I sure love this fast pace!

Alright, on to my last week. As expected, it ended up being insane. No big surprise there! We got word on last Saturday night that a missionary was going home early, so we ended up driving to Yarmouth, ME to pick up the elder. We also did an exchange with the zone leaders up there. I stayed in Yarmouth with an Elder Lewis from Logan, UT. We had fun talking about USU (he goes there as well). I really enjoyed the time I spent up there. We spent most of Tuesday morning working at a food pantry. We picked up food from a local market and took 3 car loads over and dropped it off and sorted it into the freezer and shelves and whatnot. They also told us we could grab anything we wanted for ourselves. As we were wondering around in the freezer, something caught our eye- a Maine lobster pizza. We couldn't let that one pass us by! Haha anyways, after the sorting, we helped families get boxes of food for Thanksgiving. After that, we got right to work and had some really awesome lessons. We had one with a lady named Sally. It was her first lesson. She had read the restoration pamphlet and came with concerns (she had grown up protestant). Most of them were pretty common concerns- the Trinity vs. the Godhead, Joseph Smith and the plates, the Resurrection, the Spirit World, etc. We did a pretty good job answering all of her questions out the Bible, but eventually brought it back to the clincher- "We understand why you have all these questions- they're all new to you. But we think all your questions can be boiled down to one simple one- 'Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?' If he was, then he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, so we know they're two people, we know the Book of Mormon is scripture, we know the Spirit World is the next destination..." and so on. We then pointed her back to the way she can know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet is to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. She then looked me in the eyes and said, "So, do you really believe the Book of Mormon is true?" Moments like that are kind of intense at times. It really puts you and your testimony on the spot. Fortunately, this was one area I could bear with all sincerity of heart. I told her about how I came to know it was true, about the peace it brought and brings me, and about how I discovered the love of Christ through its pages. At the end of the testimony, I asked her, " Will you also read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true?" She paused for a good 30 seconds. Finally, she looked up and said, " I will, but it sure is scary. If I get an answer to my prayers, that'[ll mean everything I've been taught isn't right." That was a wake up for me. I never even comprehended that someone might be scared to get an answer if the Book of Mormon is true. That would mean they'd have to change their lives and belief systems completely, and that's pretty overwhelming when you think about it! But, we bore testimony to her that we know that uniting with the truth would bring her closer to the Savior, and that is what's really important. Anyways, long story short, I walked away from the lesson probably having learned as much as Sally! On Wednesday, we drove up to Winthrop, ME for a district meeting, then E. Gaykowski picked me up in Yarmouth and we made the trek home. While on exchange, we got a phone call from President asking us to complete the interview schedules by Friday, which is a project that takes several hours and we were going to do week one of next transfer. So, we went right to the office and got to work! That takes us to Thanksgiving. It was very nice, but nothing fancy. We went to District Meeting in the morning, left right after to get to the office to work on the interview agendas, then went to a member family- the Spencers for Thanksgiving dinner. After, we shared a spiritual thought on gratitude from the Bible- the 10 lepers. After that, we went back to the office to help President with transfers. And that was my Thanksgiving! The next few days was just preparation for transfers. We did travel plans, helped with the board, prepared agendas and trainings, all that good stuff! And...yeah, that's my week! I'll tell you what, its getting a little tiring flying at this speed, but boy am I enjoying it! Alright, I better wrap this up. Today marks the beginning of the transfer. Elder Gaykowski will be going home. I'm pretty bummed- he's proven to be one of my favorite companions. I've learned a ton from him, and we taught really well together. I'll miss having him around. My new companion will come in tomorrow. I"m excited to serve with this elder too. This will mark my 5th transfer as an assistant. It'll be exciting!! Love you all!! Have a great week, and I'll be excited to hear from you next week!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy thanksgiving!!

Man, I CANNOT believe it's already Thanksgiving. It honestly still feels like it should be summer. The weather is definitely contrary to that haha. Although, we still don't have snow, so I can't complain!! But the time just keeps flying by faster and faster. It's ridiculous!! So. This last week was one of, if not the most, stressful week of my life!! Honestly, at the end of the week, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel to keep going, but I'm doing much better now! Let's back up to last Sunday. So, as soon as church was over, we had a member meal and rushed over to the office. Elder Nash of the 70 was to arrive Sunday night, and requested a meeting with us to report on the geography of the mission, trends in the key indicators, and the progress of the mission in finding, activation, retention, involvement with members, and application of the fundamentals of PMG. We prepared the report and met up with him and President Wilkey around 8 PM. We were introduced to Elder Nash and were quickly engulfed by his warmth and light. I know I said this a year ago, but there really is something different about those general authorities! They really have a light in their countenances that is out of this world. Anyways, we then sat down for an hour and a half or so and gave our report, which he said he really enjoyed. He then talked with us a while to get to know us, our concerns for the mission, and to give us instruction for what we were to do the next week. We left so impressed for his warm nature and for how complimentary and kind he was to us. The next morning was zone conference at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial. We had to get there in the morning to set up, so we were running pretty low on sleep. I was asked to conduct, which was a little bit of pressure, but I think I did pretty well. I was also asked to accompany two musical numbers, which both turned out pretty well. One of them was President Wilkey singing, and was accompanied by me and a harp player. Elder Nash then gave a training on faith (which is what his conference talk was on), and on working with members. At the end of the conference, we had a leadership training with all the zone leaders, district leaders, and trainers. Elder Nash gave the training, and talked about D&C 84:106, talking about going on exchange. He also addressed how after a meeting, it's up to us to make what we learn a reality, or just a nice memory. We have to apply what we learn, or it's a waste of time. It was a pretty cool training. The next day, we took a much needed P-day. We drove up to Kittery, ME and did some shopping, and chilled for a little while in a massage recliner haha. Then we finished the drive up to Topsham, where we set up for zone conference the next day. We then spent the night in Yarmouth, got up early, and went back up to Topsham for the next round of zone conference! This one was a bit bigger because 3 zones were in attendance. It went very well too. After, we had the same leadership training, but this time, he asked us to give the training as he sat in the back. That was a lot of pressure too!! But we pulled it off fairly well. After the conference, we were in a wicked rush putting out fires, answering questions, and ushering missionaries out to get to work. We then moved into clean up mode. As we did do, Elder Nash surprised us by asking if he could interview us each individually. I was really excited for that. In the interview, he asked about my family, and asked if I had any question for him. That's a pretty crazy opportunity- get to ask a general authority one-on-one any question. I asked him a question about faith, and he gave me some really good instruction. Again, it's amazing what it's like to have a general authority look you in the eyes. There's really something special about them. After the interview, we were invited to attend a private dinner with the stake presidents of the mission, which was a real privilege. We were only in attendance because Elder Nash insisted on it because he wanted us to have that experience. We had some AMAZING lobster bisque and enjoyed talking with two of the stake presidents and President Wilkey. Then Elder Nash stood and gave us a training that will really change my paradigm on leadership probably for the rest of my life. He read to us D&C 84:106, which basically says that those who are strong should go TO those who are weak and take him WITH him. Not teach or invite, but to literally go to his side, and take him with him. He said in leadership, if those who you are a steward over are struggling with their callings, instead of talking to them and offering instruction, invite him to go with you as you do the things they are struggling with. Then, they will be close to your side, and see your example. Another example is with less-actives. Instead of just telling them to go to church, instead, invite them to come with you to church. Take them with you. It was a remarkable training, and gained a lot of power as he read a verse following D&C 84:106 which stated that this is how the Savior and apostles built up the church back when he was on the earth. It's a power concept. I'll definitely keep that in mind in the future.
Anyways, after that meeting, we had to say our goodbyes to Elder Nash. I learned a lot from him, and he inspired me to change and grow in many ways. He expressed his gratitude to us, and asked us to keep in touch and to feel free to visit him in the future. I hope I will get to keep in touch with him!! So there's the basic overview of the crazy week I had. Oh yeah, Sunday was stake conference too,and I was asked to play the piano for the choir and to accompany President Wilkey again. Between getting everything worked out for the conferences, and playing catch up with everything going on, we haven't had much time for anything else! So yeah. There's my life for you!! OK I better get going. Have a great Thanksgiving!! I know I'm grateful to be part of the family I am. I sure do love you all! I'm also grateful to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints. I'm grateful to be serving in Bedford, and to have all that the Lord has blessed me with. Life is good!! -Faithfully, and thankfully, Elder KC Esplin

November 5-11

Sorry for the delay. As I said last week, we've had quite the insane week. I'll catch you up on all that soon. I only ended up finding a few minutes to day to write quicker email, but I should have a full P-day on Monday so i can write a bit lengthier one. So I'll catch you up on last week (Nov. 5-11) first, and then I'll tackle this last week on Monday. Sound good? Last week, we did a TON of traveling. Like, more than I ever have before in such a short amount of time. It started on Monday. We got a text from the Wilkeys on Saturday letting us know they'd like us to attend the Montpelier Zone Meeting up in Montpelier, VT. We wouldn't really be giving any trainings or anything like that, but they wanted us to be there to support and take notes of how it went so we could structure future zone meetings. So, we made the 2. 5 hour drive up to Essex, VT Sunday night, had the training on Monday, and drove back down that night. The next day was Zone Leaders Council. That went from 9 until 5:30 PM, when we packed up the car and drove right back up to Essex, VT again to drop the zone leaders off. We were then going to go on exchange. I took Elder Wright (one of the members of my flight group) over to Colebrook, NH, (which is getting almost as far north in New Hampshire as you can get- not far from the border of Canada) for a district meeting. We then made the trek down back down to Bedford for a few hours of proselyting and getting some forms taken care of. The next morning (Thursday), we packed up early and drove back to Essex AGAIN to exchange back, and drove right back down to Manchester for a 5 hour staff meeting in preparation for zone conference. the next day (Friday) we had a 7 hour mission planning with the Wilkeys in preparation for zone conference, and then spent several hours on Saturday preparing reports for Elder Nash. So. There's the brief overview!! So for those of you keeping score at home, we spent about 15 hours in the car and drove over 1,000 miles. Pretty exciting, right?? Haha it was actually pretty enjoyable. it's a good thing driving in New England is so beautiful, or else I would have been going crazy. Between all the driving, we did have some pretty cool experiences. We had a couple from Korea move into the ward a few months ago, and they had us over for dinner to try authentic Korean food. It was surprisingly good! I never thought I'd enjoy eating seaweed haha. We also had a really great lesson with an investigator named George. He was having a really bad day, and he walked right through the door to his apartment building just as we were leaving. We sat down and talked about what was going on in his life. He talked about the relationship problems he was having with his girlfriend, about how he can't see his son because his ex is being very brutish about the situation, about the stresses of probably being unemployed now that winter was coming along, etc. We read with him the chapter in the BoM of Alma the elder and his people in the city of Helam, and of how because they poured out their hearts to God, their burdens were lightened. It was a very powerful lesson, and his countenance completely changed. It's so cool to see how the gospel can help any person no matter what their circumstances! OK well I better call it quits for now. I'll write all about zone conference and my interactions with Elder Nash on Monday. But I need to hop off the computer for now. Love you all!! Have a great week, and I'll look forward to hearing from you on Monday!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

No P-Day again...sorry I'm late

So, as you may be able to guess, I didn't get to have a P-day today haha. We got asked last minute to make a trek up to northern Vermont for a zone meeting, so we've been doing that all day. We'll probably get some time on Thursday or Friday to email....sorry it's so late. We have zone leaders council tomorrow and will be driving back to Vermont after, then have an exchange on Wednesday, then driving back up to Vermont and back on Thursday morning. Yep. That'll be 3 treks up and down basically the entire state of Vermont in 4 days. Approximately 800 miles and 13 hours in the car. Wahoo.....but anyways, I'll get back to you ASAP!! Love you all!! -EKCE (p.s.- the election has been crazy up here. Mitt Romney is actually in Manchester tonight throwing his final brawl. We drove by just a few minutes ago to see if we could sneak in to the stadium, but there was a line several blocks long...but, I guess I can say that Mitt Romney was in the city I was serving in the night before the election!! It sure will be exciting to see what happens on Tuesday. It sure has been a big deal, especially among the members!) Hello! So, I finally finagled my way into having time to hop onto a computer. Sorry for the delay! But, once you hear about the week I've had, you'll understand haha. So, since I'm a week behind (again), I'll update you on last week instead of this week. Sound good? OK. Cool. The adventures of last week started up with the thrill of Hurricane Sandy. Shortly after sending the e-mail to you about how it was only a drizzle, it picked up a bit more. It ended up being really windy and rain was coming down pretty hard. It wasn't anything really crazy though, like what it sounds like New York or New Jersey got. But it was enough of a concern to the President to ground all the missionaries to their apartments for the day. He had us stay in the office to be the sort of "control base" or something like that. So, we sat in the office for a grand total of about 13 hours. It was pretty intense. We got a lot of work done though. I've been working a lot on excel making programs and work sheets for mission-wide key indicators and things like that, so I made best use of proselyting time to work on mission-related things. The next morning, we were up early making calls around the mission to make sure everybody was in and safe and to see if it was safe to have the missionaries go out and work, which it was. So life went back to normal! We taught several lessons that afternoon. One of which was pretty spontaneous. We had a less-active member who used to serve as a cop call us up saying she had a friend who really needed a bible study. So, we ran over there and had a lesson. You could tell this lady was going through a really hard time. She was homeless, friendless, and directionless. We read the chapter in the bible about the adulterous woman and about how the Savior is willing to forgive us so long as we keep his commission to strive and sin no more. It was a really good lesson. One thing I love most about my current companion is that we teach REALLY well together. We have a similar teaching style, and tend to feed off each other. Elder Gaykowski is becoming one of my more favorite companions. Anyways, the next day was Halloween! Guess what we did?? We went to meetings! Wahoo!! Haha but it was actually really cool. We drove up to Laconia, NH for a zone meeting all about working more effectively with members. It was really well done, and we got a lot of insights to how we could better work with the members of the Bedford ward. That night, all the missionaries were grounded again from 5 till the end of the night to keep us off the streets on Halloween. Probably a wise move- I'd hate to have another 5th grader beat me up and steal my candy...instead, we deep cleaned the apartment and cooked a really good dinner- a member taught us how to make a potato dish that's really easy and resembles dutch oven potatoes, so we made that and mixed it with egg and made breakfast burritos. They weren't too bad if you ask me! The next day, we had ANOTHER zone meeting, this time in Exeter, NH. We had to go because they needed a pianist, and I wanted to hold a practice for a special musical number we were doing in Zone Conference. Not too much else happened that night. That brought us to Friday. That morning, we had probably one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission. It was with a less-active, Donald. We have been working with Donald for a while now teaching him all the lessons, and he's been coming to church regularly. This particular lesson was on baptism. Since he had already been baptized when he was 11, we mainly focused on the covenants aspect of it all and taught about the importance of covenants in God's plan. At the end of the lesson, he asked if he could be re-baptized because he couldn't remember what his baptism was like. We explained that he didn't need to because the covenant he entered into was still valid, even if he didn't remember it. But then, I had a sudden inspiration that I had to share with him. I said, "You know Donald, you're basically doing through the same process an investigator would go through. You're being taught the lessons, being extended the same commitments, all of that good stuff. Most have the end goal of baptism to work towards, but you can't really do that. Instead, what if we set a new goal for you- getting to the temple. There, you can do baptisms for the dead. It can be your goal to make the necessary changes to get there, and not only will you be able to be baptized for someone else, but you'd also be able to show God that you've accepted his Gospel once more and have gotten to the point he'd have you be." The Spirit rushed into the room like a tidal wave. I asked him what he was feeling right then, and he started to cry. I told him how I was feeling the Spirit and asked him to describe what was happening. He explained the feelings of peace and love he was feeling, and said it was probably the most spiritual moment of his life. I know this probably doesn't sound very dramatic or crazy from the sounds of it, but if only you could have felt what was in that room. It was SO powerful. The power of the Spirit never ceases to amaze me. OK I better pick up the pace a bit. Saturday, we spent almost all day moving Matt and Kristina. Yep, they're moving out of the ward. They moved into the ward on the other side of the river. That means I can't work with them was pretty depressing to see them go for me. I've given that family everything I have. But, they're not happily embedded in the gospel, and we did all we could to give them a jump start. Now we just hope and pray they'll apply what they've been taught and stay active and faithful the rest of their life. I'll be excited to hang with them in the Celestial Kingdom if we can all make it! Alright, that's pretty much the weeks' highlights. Pretty crazy eh? Well, just wait until you get to hear about the week I"m having right now....phew!! it's been nuts. And next week will be even worse- General Authority Zone Conference yikes. Speaking of that, the first Zone Conference is going to be held on Monday, so I won't be able to email again...but I should be able to on Tuesday. But in case we get called on by Elder Nash or President Wilkey, we may not make it....but we'll do our very best, and if we can't make it, I'll get on first chance I can!! Ok, it's time for me to do my mid-week reports. The first zone leader will be calling any second. Love you all!! Have a great week, and I"ll look forward to hearing from you in a few days!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Hurricane Sandy Alert to Parents!

DATE:   October 29, 2012

TO:  NHMM Missionary Parents

FROM:   President Wilkey, New Hampshire Manchester Mission

RE:  Hurricane Sandy

As you are likely aware, we are on the cusp of Hurricane Sandy. The hurricane is on a collision
course with a winter storm and a cold front, and high tides from a full moon make it a rare hybrid storm.
We have been tracking this storm for several days now and it appears our mission will not be as
affected as others. However, we will not under-judge this storm and will err on the side of safety for
your missionary. We have consulted with local members and officials, the National Weather Service
and media outlets. Irene looks to produce some high winds up to 70 miles per hour and potentially
some rain, but nothing like last year’s Hurricane Irene. With the vast size of Northern New England the
impact will vary, of course, by location. There is a likelihood of power outages, a routine phenomenon
in these parts.

Embedded within our emergency plan is a calling tree wherein each companionship
communicates with district leaders who in turn communicate with zone leaders to my assistants and
then to me. I will receive those “All-in-safe” reports for the next two days. We continuously monitor
any new developments and will update you in the event of any significant change in conditions.
Yesterday I instructed the entire mission to stock up on non-perishable food, water, flashlights & extra
batteries etc. according to emergency guidelines in our published plan at each apartment.

At this moment, your missionary is preparing for 2:00 pm today. That is when I have grounded
the car fleet and ordered all missionaries in their apartments for the duration of the day and through
tomorrow (Tuesday). In some parts of the mission this will be “overkill” but we do this to err on the side
of safety.

At this point I am confident our missionaries are prepared well . The only thing that will prepare
them further is your faith, your prayers and your confidence in these great Latter-day warriors! Thank
you for preparing them in all ways for just such moments as this. I feel much as did Helaman with his
stripling warriors, “...they were firm and undaunted. Yea, and they obey ...with exactness; yea and even
according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto
me that their mothers had taught them (Alma 57:20-21).” With that backdrop to our present situation
I am confident in their obedience and in what they were taught at home. Therefore, they will “
preserved by his marvelous power.” (Alma 57:26).