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

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