Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Final Letter Home

Hello!

Welp, I guess this is it. I won't write much because I will fill you in in person! For this week, I'll just attach my final letter to President Wilkey. It does a pretty good job summing things up. Enjoy! See you in three days!! LOVE YA!!

President Wilkey!

 Man....here it is. The letter I hoped would never come. My last LTP. It's really weird, the reality of me going home still hasn't set it yet. It's so hard for me to comprehend any life outside of this work. It has become my life. It's my every thought, action, desire....everything I am is now in this work, and this work is now deeply in me. I can truly say as I'm finishing my mission that I feel I've served Him with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. I have nothing more to give that I feel I could have. It's been quite a journey to finally get to that point, and I've made ample mistakes along the way, but I can say with all sincerity, that as I've strived daily to focus on my purpose and to give my heart to the Lord, and by choosing to put my heart into His hands, He's been able to shape and mold it into something I'd never fathomed possible. I have a different heart now than I did when I first entered the mission field. I have a love for the gospel. I didn't have that before my mission. I enjoyed it and the activities and social aspect of things and I studied it as a feel-good philosophy, but now I've realized just how great it all is. I've seen it change so many people's lives, and the biggest one it's changed is myself. I've learned so much about family and it's importance. My mission has allowed me to interact with hundreds of families and I've been able to learn and observe what works and what doesn't. I've taken notes of both, and I plan on implementing what I've learned into how I will be a husband and father. I've learned how to be a good companion, about how to be charitable, patient, and honest, and how to look at others before myself. I know these will all help me as I look for my future eternal companion. I've learned how to work hard and to find motivation within myself to do so. I've learned that the best way to work is to find joy in it. I heard the quote, "If you enjoy what you do, you won't work a day of your life." Well, I've learned that if you enjoy EVERYTHING you do, no matter what it is, then you won't ever work! It all becomes joy. I could go on and on about what this mission has let me do and what it's led me to become. It has led me to change in ways I never knew possible, and I'll be ETERNALLY grateful that I made the decision to serve a mission. And I know as I look back on it for the rest of my life, it will be a joyful memory, for I know I left it all on the altar.

 Thank you so much for all you've done for me over the last two years President, not only as a missionary in the NHMM, but in the personal lessons you've given. You and Sister Wilkey set the perfect example of what I'd hope to have in my future marriage. Commitment to each other and to the Lord, seeking to have fun, patience and love between each other, and so on. You've taught me principles of the gospel that will affect who I am forever, such a repentance and consecration. I indeed hope also that we will continue to be friends on into the eternities. I sure love ya! On a finishing note, the baptism this last week went so well. The Spirit was strong, and most of the ward came to participate. Seeing a man with real-growth potential has increased the relationship with the ward SO much. Elder J. Esplin is inheriting a very fertile field to continue to labor in. But seeing this family change and seeing the ward i love gain more enthusiasm for sharing the gospel has been the sweetest way to finish my mission. I think I got a glimpse of how the pure white fruit on the tree of life really tastes. I sat during the baptism feeling full from head to toe with just pure JOY. It was one of the most joyful moments of my entire life.

 This work has filled me with joy. It's SO hard for me to even think about leaving it behind....but I know faith is always directed to the future, and I know the Lord always has good things to come. Again, know of my love and appreciation for all you do and have done for me. The NHMM will always be sacred soil for me- for it is here that I have given my heart.

 -Faithfully,

 Elder KC Esplin

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coming Home Feb. 20th Homecoming is the 24th, at 11:00 in Ivins Hope to see you all there!!!!

1 more week-WOW!

Hello Hello!! Man, can't believe this will basically be my last time emailing home. I might keep it a bit on the shorter side, since we're really short on time. Hope you don't mind! Well, we had a pretty great week. Yep, we got a ton of snow. We had our cars grounded for two days, and we were confined into the apartment all day Saturday. We got about 2 feet of snow. Yeah, shoveling out cars after that was a new experience. And it's been snowing all day today. Yeah, some STG weather is sounding pretty nice right about now haha. But I've gotten pretty used to the cold. I went out for a bit in just a white shirt in 20 degrees and it didn't really phase me much. Mom, you're probably right about me being in shorts a lot when I get back! I'm not sure what the weather should be like the rest of the week. but, the more snow the better I think! Go out with a bang! So, we had a really crazy miracle happen this week. So you remember Chris who I talked about last week? Well, he had a really powerful experience at church like I explained. We went back over this last Tuesday for a lesson. After, his wife looked at us and said, "At what point do you typically extend a date for baptism? I mean, for me, it was at the end of the lesson, but I was just curious about what you typically do." We explained that it depends on the person. We hadn't planned on extending a date yet because it had only been a few weeks and we didn't want to push him because he asked us not to. I looked at him and asked him, "What are you feeling about all of this Chris?" He replied, "I love it and believe it. I think I'm ready for baptism." I was shocked. Big time. I've NEVER seen someone be converted that quickly- we'd only been teaching him for like 2 weeks!! I asked him, "Well then, would you like to pray about a day you'd like to be baptized, or would you like to set a goal?" He said he'd be alright with setting a goal. I replied, "OK that sounds great! When are you thinking? March? April maybe?" (most people need a few months to be ready and complete their conversion). He said, "Well, I was thinking I'd like to get baptized sooner than that. I think I'm ready to be baptized as soon as possible. In fact, when do you leave?" I was stunned. I said in my head there was no way this was happening. I told him I'd be leaving Waterville on the 19th. He said, "Well, I think we should do it that weekend before you leave. I was speechless. He had spoken exactly what I was dreaming would happen. We then finalized the date for the 17th.Then the concern came that he might be rushing it for me and not focusing on doing it for the right reasons. I raised this concern and told him I didn't want him to jump into it for me. His reply was this- "No offense or anything, but I"m not doing this for you. I'm doing this for myself and for God. When I do something, I do it all the way. I believe in this and love who it's helping me become." That's when I knew he was real. He had received a change of heart as Alma taught. He was ready to be baptized. So....I get to have one more baptism before I come home!!! It'll be happening on Sunday. It's honestly a dream come true. Seeing this one last REAL conversion has meant so much to me, and built my confidence that I've become exactly what the Lord wants me to have become. And that is an amazing feeling. So, I'll pretty much come home on fire. I can't wait!! I better jet. Love you all!!! I'll be excited to hear from you next week!!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Hello hello!

v Hope you're all having a GREAT Monday. I know I sure am! I had a wicked awesome week. But I'll get more into that in a bit. So is there anything I should buy before I come home? Anything I'll need? Any advice on certain things you think would be fun to have as a memoir? I've been going through my stuff, throwing a TON of it away. I think I'll be very minimalistic with what I bring home. I'll have an abundance of suits and ties though. I think I'll be using them in the future haha. I think I've decided to change my major to business and minor in biology. I'll still be going into dentistry, but I think a business major would be easier to fall back on if things don't work out. So I thought I'd mix things up a bit by sharing my letter to President Wilkey this week. it does a pretty good job explaining the highlights of the week and how I've been feeling. Plus, it'll save on some time haha. So, here it is! President Wilkey!! Man, being back in Waterville has been SO awesome. I sure do love it here. The reality of me ending my mission soon is slowly setting in. But interestingly enough, it still hasn't. The fact I only have two weeks left is all in my head, but not in my heart. People keep bringing it up, but it doesn't seem to hit at all. I still seem to feel like I'm only at my year mark and that there isn't any life other than my mission. But to be honest, I don't mind that being my current perspective. It's keeping me centered on my purpose, and I'm being able to keep my trunkiness at bay. Elder J. Esplin seems to be doing really well. He's getting better and better at planning by the day. He sure is a trooper working through his migraines, and I'm learning so much about diligence and hard work from him. I also have been really enjoying his calm and charitable nature. He's pretty much one of the best companions I could have had to end my mission with! The work continues to move forward! It was a little bit of a slow week for proselyting it seemed, or at least only in comparison to the last few weeks. There's a lot of great progress though, especially with a part-member family we're working with. It's a less-active mom and a non-member husband and daughter. We stopped by during our first week because I remember meeting Kim stopping by less-actives last year. She revealed to us that she was low on food and they didn't have any money since they were both unemployed. So, we got some help from the ward, and brought them food once a week from the soup kitchen we worked at. At first, her husband hid in the other room. But as we kept coming over with food and blankets, he started to stick his head out to say hi. Eventually, she invited us into their house, and he came and sat down too. We shared our new years message, and just asked him about what he believed. We then invited the wife to retake the lessons, which she eagerly accepted, and invited the husband- Chris- to listen in, which he accepted as well. When we showed up to the first lesson, there was suddenly a 16 yr-old girl there, who was their daughter. She said she'd listen in as well. At first, Chris was very closed off and was more curious than anything. We taught on the Plan of Salvation. Later that week was the baptism, and he attended. He said he felt something there. We went back to teach the other half of the Plan, and he said he'd been thinking a lot about what we had said the week before. As we taught about the Celestial Kingdom, we explained to them both that the way to enter into the Celestial Kingdom was to have a valid baptismal covenant. We invited Kim to come to church so she could renew hers, and invited Chris and their daughter- Destiny- to come as well so they could see if they felt the Spirit there. They came this last Sunday! Testimony meeting really rocked his world, and he said he felt all "mushy and warm inside." That's a pretty big deal because this guy used to be in the army and is wicked tough and mean looking. They had only been planning on staying for Sacrament, but felt the Spirit so strongly, they decided to stay for all 3 hours. They invited us over to the house after for another lesson too. He said he's starting to find his faith again and is developing a relationship to God, which he's never experienced. He's being converted!! It's been SO refreshing to get to work with Chris and see the changes coming into his and their family's life. It's given me such a feeling of fulfillment knowing that I'm doing my job as a missionary. I honestly think this family is one of the reasons why I've been sent back to Waterville, and I know this is the sweetest way I could have ended my mission. So, thank you for being receptive to the Spirit to let me come back here. Although I dearly miss being at your side and working with you and Sister Wilkey and the office staff, I know this is where the Lord needed me to be, and I don't think there was any other way I'd like to finish my mission. The Lord is being very good to me. Love ya President! Have a great week, and I'll be excited to see you again on Thursday! -Faithfully, Elder K. Esplin

Another great week in Waterville

Welp, I sure am loving being back. The only down side so far is the cold. It's wicked cold right now! On Wednesday, it was negative 3 as we were driving around, and that wasn't factoring in the wind chill. Yeah, I've never been so cold in my life haha. Needless to say, since then I've been wearing the thermals a bit more often. It's warmed up a bit and the high has been in the teens, so that's been a nice break. It's supposed to drop back down soon I think I heard, so I'm just buckling up for that. A nice dose of STG weather doesn't sound so bad... But the work was been going AWESOME. We hit our 20 lesson mark! We were pretty stoked about that. Plus, we found 7 more new investigators. So the area is growing quickly. Also, we had a baptism this week!! It was for an investigator named Brandon. I was super excited to see him get baptized because I've actually known him almost my entire mission. When I was in my first area (Belfast), a member couple came up to us in church and said their less-active daughter had just married a guy who was Baptist, and about to go into the marines. He had some problems with the church, and they wanted us to see if we could smooth things over a bit. So, we went over, and that's when we met Brandon. We had a great lesson with him about the Book of Mormon. Shortly after, I got transferred from Belfast and he entered into the marines. Shortly after I arrived to Waterville last year, his wife- Denise- moved to Waterville. We interacted with her every now and then, but she was usually really busy with work and school, so not much happened. Then I got transferred. Upon returning to Waterville three weeks ago, I found out that Brandon had returned from the Marines, had started meeting with the missionaries, and was about to get baptized!! So I made it back just in time to participate. The service was great. We had a great turn out- including many less-actives and part-member families, along with a lot of ward support. They asked me to play piano and give a talk on baptism, and Elder J. Esplin baptized him. There was something pretty crazy that happened during my talk though. So what I did, was I acted as "God's lawyer" and wrote up a "contract" that God wanted him to enter into (the baptismal contract), and went though each part of the two sides of the deal. At the end of that, I drew a line at the bottom, looked at him, and asked, "Brandon, are you willing to enter into this contract with God?" He nodded and said, "Yes." Right then, the door to the baptismal font (which was right in the middle of the room) slowly swung open, and a minute later, the automatic light flipped on. It was really crazy. It could have just been a coincidence, but after we were trying to figure it all out and couldn't. Nobody walked in right then, the air didn't kick on, no other doors were opened, the door to the baptismal font just decided to swing open, and the lights came on shortly after. Everybody after was talking about it, about how they believed the Spirit was telling him something. He himself was really impressed from it and felt a confirmation that this is what he needed to do. Anyways, it was a super cool experience, and was a great baptism to end my mission on. Those were the big highlights of the week. We've been having some really awesome experiences teaching people. I"m teaching the Berard family again, which I'm really excited about. They're my favorite family I've taught on my mission, and it's so cool to see them back on the ball. We're visiting with Tammy more often, and her non-member fiance is getting involved. We're also working with a part-member family a lot, and the husband is an agnostic and is very logical so we've connect really well. Overall, I've just been super excited to be back, and we're having some great success. There couldn't have been a better way to end my mission than this! Alright, I better be off and enjoy the rest of P-day. Love you all! Have a great week!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

I Can't believe I'm 21

It's pretty weird to think I'm 21 now! I definitely don't feel it. We didn't really do anything because I intentionally didn't tell anyone. I just wanted to do missionary work. So, we just taught lessons all night, went to a soup kitchen in the afternoon, and did planning in the morning. Unfortunately, i didn't stay completely under the radar. One of the office couples- the Davis's- was up in Waterville doing car registration and took me out to Big G's for breakfast, and got me a little cake. So I did have a little celebration, but most of the day was just focused on my purpose, and I wouldn't have had it any other way! I did have a real epiphany in a lesson on my birthday. We were discussing with a less-active how the gospel blesses families. He talked about how people raised Mormon have less desire to smoke and drink and all that. Then it hit me. If I weren't a member of the church, and knowing my personality, I'd probably would have been in a bar with a bunch of my buddies that night. But instead, I was teaching a man how to come closer to Christ. I couldn't help but to smile as I realized just how much the gospel has blessed my life. So. now for the work. Things have been going CRAZY awesome. I've been working hard to stay just as busy as I was as an assistant, and we've been pretty close to pulling it off. We found 7 new investigators and taught 18 lessons, which was pretty cool since we only taught 12 last week. And this next week, we already have 20 lessons lined up and have 2 full days unplanned. My goal is to hit 30 lessons in a week. I've never been able to pull that one off, but it's my goal. So the area is really growing fast. We have a system we came up with, and it's working really well. We came up with a new years message using Genesis 19;17 when the Lord tells Lot and his family to "look not behind thee," to flee from Sodom and Gamorah and to head to the mountains. We then talk about how God has issued the same commandment to us- to identify the worldly sins in our lives, to leave them behind without looking back, and to 'ascent the mountain' which, biblically, represents the place where one would go to be close to God. So, in other words, identifying things we can do to grow closer to him. After we taught that, we issued an invitation to learn the lessons as a way of ascending that mountain. We've been sharing it primarily with less-actives and a few non-members, and not a single person has said no. So, we're not re-teaching the lessons to a pool of about 15 less-actives who need a better gospel base. The ward is fully behind it too, and they're getting pretty excited. We've had some good results too. Yesterday at church, we had 6 less-actives there. I'm really excited to see what we can get on week 6 of the transfer! Another bunch of cool things happened too. I have an update on all the recent converts who have gone less-active. We finally got in with Tammy and her new fiance, and had a lesson yesterday. Her husband said he's more than willing to have us come over and teach them, which was what kept Tammy from meeting with us. So we're going to be able to hopefully build her faith back up. A member of the ward we're pretty tight with- Sis. Proctor- got a call from Sherry and Roger Googe down in Mississippi. We hooked them up with the missionaries down there when they moved, and I guess they have been meeting with them and are contemplating going back to the church! So that was pretty good news. Sister Gresgott was one of the less-actives who came to church, so she's back on board, and committed to take a big step in getting to the temple in a few months. So, with all that, all of the converts I worked with when I was here last year are accounted for, and will hopefully stick around this time!! That's most of the word this week. We're just working super hard and as fast as we can. I know time is short, but you better believe I'm leaving everything on the alter. I want an ambulance to need to pick me up from the airport. There'll be little chunks for Elder Esplin on this town from both of us. Hmm. That was supposed to sound motivational. I don't know if it was. Anyways, we're both excited, and we expect great things out of the next month! Love you all! Have a great week, and I"ll look forward to hearing from you soon!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Round 2 in Waterville

But man, it sounds like you've had a really exciting week this last one. Lots of crazy things going on. I sure hope everybody hangs in there. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!! Round 2 in Waterville. It's been nuts! When I pulled into the city on Tuesday, I started getting the butterflies like crazy. I felt like I was having a little mini home-coming. The entire first few days, I just kept saying over and over, "I can't believe I'm back! I can't believe this is real." It almost feels like I never left, I've just been gone on a long exchange. But I'll tell you what, we've been working our little tails off like it's nobody's business!! On one of our first nights together, Elder Esplin and I sat down to talk about what we could do to get the most done in the shortest amount of time possible. We decided that the most efficient way to do that is to work with less-actives. So that's exactly what we've been doing! Unfortunately, a few of the people who were baptized when I was here have since done less-actives-- Tammy, Sherry and Roger, Phil, and Jeff. Man, Satan sure does pound on those recent converts. Luckily, Diane and Dan are still going strong. So, the 5 above were some of our first stops, and I got pretty bold with them with some pretty surprising results. Tammy is now engaged to a guy who is preventing her from meeting with us, so she's pretty well dropped off the deep end...we haven't been able to get over there once because she keeps canceling on us. That one is a really hard one for me because she's one of the converts I got the closest to, and was basically the first one I really had. Sherry and Roger got offended by a ward member and stopped going, and Roger had resorted back to his Pentecostal background. We sat them down and had a pretty good talk about the Book of Mormon and their feelings about it. After a little talk, Sherry said she still considered herself a Mormon, but didn't go so she could be unified with her husband. Unfortunately, they're moving to Mississippi today so we won't be able to work with them, but we've already got them lined up with elders down there, and I'll be writing them a letter here shortly. Then we've got Jeff and Phil. We stopped by Jeff and Kathrine my first night to have a little chat. They said they had gone back to the Episcopal church. I asked them, "So, you don't feel Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are true anymore?" They replied, "Well, we do, but we just aren't sure anymore." They knew that they knew, and there wasn't any getting around it. I bore testimony of how I came to know it was true and invited them to retake the missionary lessons. Kathy reluctantly accepted, but Jeff seemed very distant and said he'd make no promises. Then, yesterday, we went back over to talk again. and Kathy gave us the news. "Since you left the other night, I've been thinking a lot, and I was thinking more this morning." Immediately, my stomach dropped. I knew she was going to tell us she wasn't interested in our visits anymore. Then, she said," I went to church yesterday, and I just didn't feel anything. But then I compared it to how I felt when you were here, and when I go to the Mormon church, and whenever I do that, I feel all warm inside. So, I think I'm going to stay Mormon." I was speechless for a few moments haha. It came out of nowhere!! We eagerly confirmed that she had received revelation and talked about the Spirit for a while. She's not on track to come back to church and working to the temple! Jeff is still quite distant though, and excused himself when we were teaching. He knows it's true. He just needs some more time. I'm sure he'll follow Kathy if she gets active again. Finally, we have Phil. Phil got offended by some dumb thing ( I don't even really remember the full story) and stopped going. Can I just say that stopping going to church because you're offended is the stupidest thing ever??? Seriously, it's like being in a life boat in a storm at sea and jumping overboard because somebody else in the boat is annoying you or said something dumb. Anyways, I went to go see him about 5 months ago as we were passing through the area, and he said he had no interests in coming back and was going to his old church. He seemed very cold towards the church now, which was a big change. I responded by telling him about how much his conversion had meant to me and my faith, and how I knew he knew that this all was true, and the miracles he has seen is evidence of that. I could see in his eyes it hit somewhere deep, but nonetheless, he invited us to leave. So then my second day in town, we stopped by again. I was expecting the same sort of dialogue, but to my surprise, he let us right in. We sat and got caught up, and then he said, "You know, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I think we've decided to come back to the Mormon church." Again, I was stunned. He said that over Christmas vacation, two elders came by his family's home while he was visiting and shared a powerful Christmas message that really touched them all. He said every since then, his girlfriend's heart was softened and she was consenting to let him interact with the church again. He said he wanted to come to church soon, and wanted to go teaching with us again! Again, another great miracle!! That's not the end of all the miracles we've been seeing either. We've found 7 less-active families, all who have accepted the invitation to retake the missionary discussions. We've gotten back into the home of the Berard family (one of my favorite families I've taught on my mission) who are very eager to start learning again and to get to church. We met with the Bishop my second night, and he felt he needed to call a spontaneous PEC meeting specifically about missionary work and what the ward could do to better help the missionaries. They invited me up during sacrament meeting to bear my testimony. Just overall, things have hastened SO much. It's been amazing. Time is going to go WAY too quickly. We have so much to do, and such little time to do it all in. I love being back, and I'm so excited to see what will happen over the next few weeks!! Ok I better go. Love you all! Have a great week, and I"ll look forward to talking with you all soon!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back to Waterville

Hello hello!! How's my favorite family doing? Sorry about the shorter e-mail this last week. I didn't really get a chance to write anything longer. And unfortunately, today I won't have a ton of time either. I got an update literally about two minutes ago that the new missionaries are flying in in 40 minutes ahead of schedule, which is in 30 minutes, and we still have to set the trailer on the 12 passenger van and get things ready for them....so this may be kinda quick. Sorry!! So. You may be wondering what my verdict is as far as whether I'm finishing my mission in Bedford, or if I'll be going back out into the field. Well, that's been a roller coaster. I'll tell you the full story really quick. So at the beginning of this transfer, President Wilkey told me every time he saw me, "Teach Elder Smith well- I'll be sending you back out into the field at the end of this transfer." He talked about it ALL THE TIME. So I started getting settled into the though of going back out. Then, about 3 weeks ago, in mission planning, he told me, "You know Elder Esplin, with this surge of new missionaries coming in in February (25 coming in- by far the biggest group ever), we might just have to keep you around for your last few weeks. We'll need your experience for this." So, I shifted my views to staying, which I was really excited for. I really love the Bedford area, and I'd love to stay here until the end of my mission. That takes me to this last Monday. I had my temple recommend interview with President, and before the interview started, he asked me, "So. How would you feel about staying here for your last 6 weeks?" I told him I'd love to, and I thought it was a good idea. He responded that he felt that might just be what would happen, and that I could plan on that unless he had a strong spiritual prompting that that wasn't supposed to happen. So, I left confident that I would be staying. And in fact, we spent parts of Wednesday and Thursday helping President with transfers and, sure enough, my card stayed fast in Bedford. That takes us to this last Friday. We got a call from President asking us to come in to the office as soon as we could. He had just gotten back from the Boston temple with the outgoing missionaries, and said while he was on the road, he got a call from the MTC that a missionary wasn't coming out anymore so we had to re-do the transfer board (which we had spent a ton of time on earlier). Well, we got in, and the board was closed, which was unusual for when we were coming in to work on it. He started talking about the missionary not coming out anymore, but then said, "But I think i have that all figured out, but there were a few other things that I was unsettled about, and I received some insights about what needs to happen now. So, there's a few other changes on the board you might be shocked to see." Immediately, I had the feeling that this would involve me. He looked at me and said, "Elder, I know I've basically already told you you were going to be staying in Bedford, but while I was in the temple, I felt very impressed that even though we need you here, there's somewhere else you're needed more. So, I'm sending you back out into the field." It was a huge blow. I was sitting confident that I was going to be staying and had made plans in my mind about all I would do as an assistant, but now,my mind started spinning wondering what I would be doing the next 6 weeks. He saw my facial expressions and immediately apologized for the roller coaster of emotions I had been sent on, but told me, "I wouldn't be doing this to you if I hadn't been prompted so clearly by the Lord that what I was doing wasn't the best option." He then asked me what I was feeling. I responded, "Well, I think I'll be able to better answer that one once I find out where I'm going!" He smiled and, without saying a word, walked over to the board and opened it up. My eyes flew to the spot where I hoped my card would be, and, sure enough, there it was. Waterville, Maine. Yep! I'm going back for my last 6 weeks!!! I was in euphoria when I saw that. If I couldn't finish my mission in Bedford, that'd be my #1 spot I'd want to be, and somehow, I was being sent there. President then told me, "The Lord was very clear to me that that's where you need to be for your last transfer. There's some things there that only you can do. So, go back there and get it done!" Once that initial shock hit, I realized I should check to see who my new companion was. And here's the grand irony of it all: Elder Jacob Esplin. You got it. Elder Esplin and Elder Esplin. Waterville, Maine. 6 weeks to get it done. I leave tomorrow at 12:30. Stay tuned. It's going to be a wild 6 weeks!! Love you all! Have a great week!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin

Hello and Happy New Year

It was great talking to you all on Christmas! Sounds like everybody is doing well. Mom, glad to hear you're feeling better. It's good to hear Grandma and Grandpa are doing well too. And Kirk Kayla and Ashton. It's going to be fun being home and with all of you again! I had a great Christmas and a great week overall. But we'll get to that in a bit. J is heading in to the doctors soon huh? Well, he's at the age when I got my colitis pretty bit. I think the anxiety meds help me out a lot. They aren't powerful, but they're enough to keep me mellowed out. And my mission has proved to be the healthiest time of my life. Maybe J would benefit from going on the robinul that I'm on. I don't know what'll work best, but what I'm doing now is going really well. Keep me updated on what ends up happening. Speaking of meds, I'll probably need one more batch of Lialda before I leave. Probably in the next few weeks would be good. I'd sure appreciate it! it sounds like you have some fun plans for new years eve. I can't believe the year is already over...2013 should be a good one though! I sure did have a great week. To answer your question, yes we did get snow. And a lot of it. We didn't have any at the beginning of the week, and we only got a light dusting on Christmas day (so I got a white Christmas!). But the last few days, our mission got pounded. We probably got a little over a foot in about 2 days. Definitely the most snow I've ever dealt with. In fact, on Thursday, President Wilkey grounded all the cars. So, we spent 6 hours walking to the office shoveling out houses the entire way. That was quite the adventure! By the time we got to the office, we were beat. But on the positive side, we stopped at a sea food restaurant on the way and had dinner, complete with some deep fried Oreo's. Oh yeah! I sure did have a great Christmas. This was probably one of my favorite Christmases of my life. We've spent the last 3 weeks or so doing nothing but sharing the message of the true meaning of Christmas. part of that was watching a Mormon message called "lifting burdens" (here's the link: http://www.mormonchannel.org/mormonmessages?v=910937379001#.... After watching it with a family, we'd ask them which one of those gifts we've been given by the Savior has touched them the most this last year. That resulted in a little mini testimony meeting, which ended up being very powerful in a few of the lessons. I always bore testimony either of how I've found peace through the Christ, or how I've learned how to look to the future this last year. Anyways, after the sharing, we talked about what gifts we could give back to the Savior. The answer we always pointed out was our hearts. We then made the point how when we give a gift to someone, we always do so with the intent of helping them feel joy. but, that joy is usually fleeting. But the joy that the Savior gives us- that's the gift the Savior can give us every day. We ought to try and give him something in return each day! (3 hour delay) Well, unfortunately, I have to get going. I had my temple recommend interview with President, then had staff meeting, and now we're leaving to go pick up the Vermont zone leaders up in South Royalton for zone leaders council...but, if I have time, I'll hop back on and finish writing a little more. If not, I'll be sure to write on Monday! Love you all! Have a great week!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin P.S.- this next week is transfers. It'll be interesting to see if I stay or go for my last one! Stay tuned!

Merry Christmas

Man...I CANNOT believe that Christmas is already here. I know that's horribly cliche to say, but I honestly can't haha. it's been a great Christmas season to enjoy though. We've been going around for the last few weeks just sharing a message about the true meaning of Christmas. The big thing I've been pushing is this- For many people who focus on the gifts and commercialism of Christmas, the joy and excitement of Christmas will end on December 25. But for those who focus on the the Spirit of Christ rather than the Spirit of Christmas, they can experience that joy all year round. So, we all should work on dropping the last syllable of Christmas and worship in the Spirit of Christ! Alright, now for the final word about the phone call tomorrow. Some things have come up, and we're going to actually call at 4 PM our time now, so that'll be 2 PM your time. I sure hope that works for you! We had to move it to 4 our time because we received an invitation to sing with the sister missionaries at a rest home in our area. It should be fun. But yeah you should expect my call around 2! I've been looking forward to it for a while, and I'm sure excited for it!! Mom, I sure hope you get feeling better soon! you need to stop getting sick on the holidays! goodness haha. Dad, don't party too hard haha. I liked that tidbit about not taking counsel from our fears. Now, we just need to learn how to not take counsel from laziness- a lot of our investigators and less-actives really need some help with that one! Hey, you should put a flame under Jared to read the 7 habits book during break. I am too. That book would change his life, and he committed to read it during break. So, let's get him to do it! I hope the fondue goes well! We had a Christmas party at the Earnshaws (ward mission leaders home) a few weeks ago, and it had a ton of finger foods similar to what we have at our fondue. it made me think about what we usually did tonight. I know I'll be excited to participate in it next year!! Welp, I don't want to write too much because a lot we could talk about tomorrow! In fact, I'd prefer to just save it all for tomorrow. But maybe I"ll just write about a few highlights for the blog, and so we can talk more tomorrow about other things. Yeah, I guess we'll go for that! I had a really cool week this week. On Monday, we got to go candle-pin bowling. What, you've never heard of candle-pin bowling before? Well, that's no big surprise, because it's an exclusively New England sport haha. It's basically regular bowling, but the pins are very narrow, and are just straight sticks. Plus, the ball is about the size of a soft ball. You also get 3 throws to knock down the pins, and they don't clean the ally of the pins you knocked down between throws, so you can use the ones you already knocked down to knock down other ones. It's a lot of fun. Anyways, we played that as a district on Monday, then went to the ward mission leader's house to play some ping pong. After that, we went to the Bishop's home to share a Christmas family home evening with them. Nothing too exciting happened on Tuesday, which takes us to Wednesday. I had a once in a lifetime opportunity on Wednesday. We had plans to travel up to Hanover, NH to go their district meeting, but miscalculated how long it'd take to get up there and we ended up having an extra 30 minutes. We had heard rumors that Dartmouth college had an original copy of the Book of Mormon, so we decided to take a little road trip over there. It took a few minutes to find the library, but once we did, they indeed did have an original copy and agreed to let us hold it. It was a really sacred experience for me. The Book of Mormon has become such an important thing to me on my mission, and to hold one of the original copies, one that very well could have been handled by Joseph Smith himself, was a very spiritual moment. I got a bunch of pictures with it, as well as some copies of the original pages, so I have some cool keepsakes from the experience Anyways, I thought I'd share that. It was a very memorable thing for me. After the district meeting, we drove to Laconia to exchange with the zone leaders. While we were doing so, my companion (who was driving) got us into my first fender bender! Wahoo! haha it wasn't anything serious. We were moving at like 3 MPH trying to merge onto a highway, and the car in front of us could have gone, but didn't move for whatever reason, and my companion was busy checking the highway for coming traffic and ended up gently bumping into him. It didn't do him any hard since we only hit his truck's hitch, but it put a pretty good dent in our bumper. So we get to deal with that now. Pretty anti-climatic for my first car accident, I know, but it was another adventure of the week! Wednesday and Thursday, I was on exchange in Laconia, NH with Elder Jardine, whom I was in the same district as last year at this time. We taught a few really good lessons, and went caroling with a member family in the ward. They are a 4-H family, so we hit it off right off the bat. Thursday night, we traveled back to Manchester, and went caroling with our elder's quorum to some shut-ins in the ward. Friday was supposed to be the end of the world. Was everybody else as disappointing as I was?? The rest of the week, we did a lot of Christmas work. We have been teaching our Christmas message to a lot of members and seeking referrals after asking who else would like a Christmas message. It's been really successful, and we've been super busy trying to contact them all. One of those contacts this week was golden. We knocked on the door, and as soon as we saw movement, we started caroling. A man opened the door, and soon the family gathered. They thanked us for the carol and were about to send us away, but I said we were there to share a message on the true meaning of Christmas, and the wife let us in. We ended up going in, sitting down, and talking for an hour and a half about the plan of salvation. They had a TON of questions for us. The father ended up being a neurosurgeon, and he had a very logical and scientific mind, so we clicked really well and discussed a lot of gospel topics from a logical standpoint. We talked about how our purpose is to let people perform their own experiments learn the variables, come up with a hypothesis, and see what the results are. They really liked that, and said they'd love to have us back to teach the lessons and even feed us dinner! So, we've now found a very solid family to start teaching!! We were pretty stoked about that. Their names are Tony and Lois. Stay tuned about them- i have a really good feeling! Alrighty, that's most of this week's highlights. I'm sure I'll have more by the end of the week! Love you all, have a great week and a Merry Christmas!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin p.s.- I'm sure excited to talk to you tomorrow!!

My own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

So, I had my companion open my package and get out the tree and oh man, you should have seen my reaction. i LOVE THAT TREE!!! Thank you so much!! All last month, I kept telling my companion, "We need to just get a little Christmas tree for our apartment. Not a big one, just a little Charlie Brown tree." And what do ya know, you sent one out. I greatly enjoy it. I also had him pull out all my wrapped presents and they're under the tree now. I'm planning on saving that tree too, so it was definitely a good buy! So thanks again! So, Christmas is right around the corner. I can't believe how fast it came up on us...it's nuts. Welp, in comparison to some of the past weeks, this last week was really chill. Only one cross-mission trip. Only one trip to the office. No mission planning in the mission home. It was basically a pure week of proselyting, and boy was it nice! Actually I just remembered, we did have one training on Tuesday. It was the new missionary/trainers meeting here in Manchester. That one was pretty nuts. Because of preparations for the surge, our mission has been getting much larger transfer groups lately, so we had 23 companionship down. Making travel plans and sleeping arrangements ended up being pretty crazy. We had 8 missionaries sleeping in our apartment plus us. That morning got pretty crazy as we all rushed to get ready. The training went really well. I gave the same trainings I did last time- area book and planning. Afterwords, we had to drive a group of 8 missionaries up to Portland, ME to get to where their cars were so they could return to their areas. Of course, we had to stop and get dinner at Red Robbins. And of course, the Portland elders heard and took their dinner hour with us, so we had a group of 12 missionaries there. I think we terrified the entire restaurant haha. Somebody gave me the idea of ordering the endless root beer float, and I downed 3 very large glasses, which probably summed to about 2 liters of root beer. Needless to say, I felt very sick by the end of the night haha. But that's all not missionary related, so let's move ahead! Like I said before, we spent almost the entire week proselyting, which was really nice. Our area has taken a big hit from passing a ton of our investigators and potentials over to the sisters who just came in, so our pool has gotten pretty shallow. But we had some really cool experiences! One was with the less-active we're working with- Donald. He had set the goal about 2 months ago to quit smoking this last Wednesday, so we went over in the morning to have a lesson and help him crush the rest of his cigarettes. That was a really cool experience. Unfortunately, since he's been smoking for like 30 years, his body started having severe withdraws to the point he'd wake up in the middle of the night shaking, so he gave in...but it was a good start to the path to the priesthood! We had another intense lesson with a man named Josh inside of a Starbucks. He's a born again Christian who we learned loved to argue. We had planned to just read Alma 32 and have a nice discussion about faith, but he turned it around when we hit the verse referring to enduring to the end and we ended up talking about salvation which turned to a discussion about faith vs. works. He tried to bash with us, but we did what he have been instructed to do- answer the question, then point it back to the restoration. After about an hour, we finally got through Alma 32, and I said to him, "You know Josh, I know we have a few different views on some of those verses in the Bible we read today. But ultimately, our invitation to you is the read and pray about the Book of Mormon, to exercise your faith in Christ and desire to learn of him to read it and see if it brings you closer to God." I then bore testimony of how I found it to be true, and closed with the invitation, "the only way you'll find out if it's true is if you read it." It's simple, but it's true for everyone. The ONLY way for a person to resolve conflicts they feel about the church, whether it be Joseph Smith, or faith vs. works, or what day the Sabbath is, or the Trinity, whatever it is, the only way to know if what we share is true is to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Once a person receives an answer it is true, then everything else will fall in to place. It's that simple. We had another awesome lesson with a lady from Sudan named Kapooki. She was baptized several months ago, but hasn't come to church for a while because of her work. We stopped by spontaneously when a lesson fell through, and she welcomed us in. She immediately told us, "Elders, I had a dream last week, and I don't understand what it means. Many people have tried to interpret it, but I want to see what you think." In the dream, she was walking on a road with another woman, and they heard beautiful singing, so they walked towards the voices. On the path, she saw a big, ugly red brick building with two scary men outside of it. They turned away from this building and saw a big pure white tent with a giant tree next to it. They walked into the white tent to see it full of people all wearing white. She couldn't see to the front, but knew that Christ was at the front of the tent. Then she woke up. I got really excited when she finished, and asked if we could run to the van to grab a movie. I have a little D&C disk set, and on it is a movie of pictures of the temples put to music, so I grabbed that and rushed back upstairs. We watched that and told her we felt she had seen herself going to the temple. We then read Lehi's dream and pointed out all the parallels to his dream- walking on a narrow path, a large building off to the side, pressing forward towards the beautiful tree and a pure whiteness, etc. It was a very powerful lesson. At the end, she asked for a blessing to do what God wanted her to do. It was a super powerful lesson. Alright, one more quick one. Yesterday, we had a cool lesson with a girl from Nepal. Her family is Hindu, so she didn't know very much about Christ. We taught her a lot about the Holy Ghost and about how we can learn who God really is. She also shared with us about the Hindu faith and how it compared to what we shared with her. It was really interesting to learn more about her faith, as well as teach someone who didn't have a Christian background, which we don't really encounter often. Alrighty, I guess I better fly. Love you all!! Have a great week, and I'll look forward to getting your emails next week, and talking with you the day after!! I'm quite excited!! -Faithfully, Elder KC Esplin