♬Hello, Hello! Don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.
Time flies when you are having fun! It feels like there wasn’t enough time this last week. I feel like sometimes on a mission it feels like you are watching an hourglass. At the beginning the sand falls and it feels like it is taking forever and it will never be done, and then there starts to be less and less sand on the top and the sand seems to be dropping faster and faster until it is gone! Oh my goodness, I have experienced so many moments during this final months when I have thought, “STOP! Just freeze for a moment!” But as we all know, time just doesn’t work like that.
Here are some highlights from this week:
- I made a goal to give out at least one Book of Mormon every day last week and guess what!? I did it! I prayed and felt that God would help me to achieve that and help others to come unto Christ in that way. There were times that I felt so confused about what to do but I knew that I had a goal and that there was someone who needed that book! There were so many open and willing people!
- It has been FREEEEEEEEZING cold. Oh my goodness, every day I am worried that my fingers are just going to snap off! On top of that, everyone is severely sick! Even my poor companion-Sister Winn- got SUPER sick and we had to stay in on Saturday.
- We went finding in the freezing cold AND we found this awesome lady named Patricia! Oh my goodness, we went to this little area that I have never seen before in town and we prayed and asked what we should do and we felt like we should knock on these little doll house looking houses. She invited us right in and told us that she would love to learn more and she accepted a Book of Mormon! Tender mercies!
- I was asked to bear my testimony in church which was a special experience for me. I sure love Arkadelphia, and it felt like every branch member told me yesterday: “Once a member in the Arkadelphia Branch, ALWAYS a member of the Arkadelphia Branch”. Oh I love those guys. They are such sweethearts and just a very fun bunch of people. Plus, we are being fed for lunch and dinner until I leave. No room for weight loss! Lol.
Wow. My time is just about up. I feel speechless...but y’all also know me well enough to know that very rarely am I without words. I will say though, my heart is extremely full. Eighteen months. I remember being in the MTC, and feeling so excited but also a bit overwhelmed. Eighteen months seemed like an awfully long time and I had my moments when I wondered if I would even last 18 days! Well, I have learned now that the Lord is able to do many things through us, even if we feel weak and inadequate. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve in the Arkansas Little Rock mission. It has been such an amazing spiritual whirlwind. I look back at my time in Arkansas/Tennessee/Mississippi with such joy and gratitude that I got to serve among the wonderful people in those places.
I am not done with being a missionary. This is my jumping off point. This is just the beginning of another mission in my life. When I was baptized, I promised to take upon me the name of Jesus Christ. For 18 months now I have literally taken His name on me by putting my name tag on, but that means absolutely nothing if His name is not etched onto my heart. I know it is. I know my life has been forever changed by this work, by the gospel, by Jesus Christ. I read this week in Moroni chapters 4&5 (the sacrament prayers), and I read this from Elder Dallin H. Oaks: “…A follower of Christ is obligated to serve Him. … By witnessing our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we signify our willingness to do the work of his kingdom....we see that we take upon us the name of Christ when we are baptized in His name, when we belong to His Church and profess our belief in His, and when we do the work of His kingdom” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 101–2; or Ensign, May 1985, 80 ).”
I know that this work will still progress. I love that we memorized “The Standard of Truth” in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission (ALRM). When I first arrived out in the mission field, my trainer told me that her favorite part of that was “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing”. I think I probably looked at her with a sweat drenched, blank face (hey, I came out in mid-July. It was hot, okay?) because she had to explain it. She told me that the work will progress and MY hand cannot stop it, but it can help it! I love that now, and I 100% agree. I also know that there are so many other “unhallowed hands” that will try to stop the work from progressing. I have seen them. I have not had the most easy mission and I have had what one would call a normal mission. In the moments when I just felt useless and things looked hopeless, I had to exercise the faith that no unhallowed hand could stop the work from progressing, that God would provide a way and help. And do you know what? He ALWAYS did. God WILL provide for His servants as they are worthy, obedient, and faithful. “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you”.
“Missionary work is not hard. It’s HARDER”-Elder Wakolo. Y’all. It’s so hard. But it is so so so worth it. Nothing good ever comes easily.
I want you all to know that I KNOW that my Redeemer lives. I know that Jesus Christ died for me and that He died for you. I know that He loves me! Isn’t that crazy? He loves me- imperfect, clumsy, forgetful me. He loves me enough to die for me. I have the means to return home to my Father in Heaven because of Him. He has supplied the way-the only way- for me to live with God again someday. I love the hymn, “ I Stand All Amazed”. My heart is full every time we sing the second verse: “I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. That he should extend His great love unto such as I, sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify. Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me, Enough to die for me!Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”
I love this work, I love my Savior, I love the Book of Mormon, I love the Gospel. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that it is the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith truly Restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth again and that Christ’s Church is TRULY ON THE EARTH ONCE MORE! I know that God loves me. I love my mission and I love my Savior with all that I am. I am so sad to leave Arkansas but I am also excited to see what new adventures God has in store for me.
I echo the words of Nephi found in 1st Nephi 3:7 - “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which He commanders them”.
I love y’all so much! Thanks for all of your love and support! I can’t wait to hug y’all!
Sister Mary-Ashley Esplin
Missionary in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission
I have fought the good fight
Sad to Leave, Excited to come Home
Don’t cry because it is over, Smile because it happened
Disciple of Jesus Christ
Sister Bock. She is one of the sisters that we visit teach. She is the sweetest.
Brother and Sister Olson. He is the stake patriarch and they are just the sweetest people.
Brother and Sister Prince. Brother Prince is our branch mission leader.
Hanging with Sister McKim. I love that she stared at me in all of the pictures we took together!
Posing with Sister McKim and my companion, Sister Winn.
The Skaffs. They straight up tricked me and I put soot on my face. Jokers. I love them!
New Year’s Eve!!