Monday, July 25, 2016

Singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain...


I cannot believe that I am in Arkansas! Our departure from the MTC was an early one. We woke up at 2 AM on Tuesday morning to get ready to catch our early morning flight. I couldn't believe it when I landed in Little Rock. It was like coming home. Everyone is so nice and I love it already.

IT.IS. SO. HUMID! And so so so hot!   If you don't know what a heat index is, look it up. Basically, it is a measure of how hot the weather really feels when humidity is factored in with the actual temperature. So, even if the air temperature reads 98 degrees outside, when the humidity is factored in, it feels like it is 115 degrees. There are times when I sweat so badly that I feel like a human swimming pool. There have been times when people will get mad at us, but then look at our dripping red faces and offer cold bottles of water to us. Pity water. Not quite the dunks in water that I was envisioning on my mission. Everyone says it gets even hotter. Oh goody! But as my mission president says, "Sweet is the Work"

I really experienced the significance of this mantra on Saturday afternoon when after knocking on a bunch of doors, we had to walk across town to get to an appointment with James. We found James while knocking on a member's neighbor's door. The neighbors didn't answer but we saw James at his mailbox and we gave him a card and asked if we could talk about Jesus with him sometime. He said yes, and gave us his phone number and a time to come by. We were really excited to meet with James but as we started our walk across town, all of a sudden, BOOM! Rain. And when I say rain, I mean sheets of rain. A total DOWNPOUR! Sadly, we decided to not use a car that day. We had planned to walk or get rides with members instead. SWEET IS THE WORK! Well, when the rain hit we had five minutes to get there and it was a 25 minute walk. We walked and walked and sang songs and smiled the whole time. I felt like the Penguins on Madagascar where they say, "Smile and wave, boys... smile and wave...".  Every time a car passed, we just smiled and waved. By the time we reached James' house, we were sopping wet and I was so scared that he wouldn't even be there. We prayed and when we got there he still wanted to talk to us! It was simply amazing!! In the MTC they tell you that you always are standing on holy ground because the MTC has been dedicated, but that once you get out to the mission field everywhere you walk is holy ground. I hadn't really felt that until that moment. It was like God had prepared James. We were talking about scriptures and we gave James a Book of Mormon and we asked him to read it to know if it was true and he mumbled that it probably was. We also asked him how he felt when he talked to us and he said that he felt terrific. He said that he wanted to be happy, so I invited him to be baptized and he said YES!! I had to hold myself back from squealing. I hope that he continues to work towards baptism and even further, the temple. I just want him to be happy. 

I am currently serving in the areas of Sherwood, Maumelle, and parts of North Little Rock. My companions are so sweet. They are both super tiny ( five two and five three) and wonderful missionaries. Sister Evans is from Bountiful and she is going home in five weeks and Sister Beckstrand is from American Fork and she has been out for six months. They both are great and I love them both.We have been through a lot in the past few days, so we are getting to know each other fast.

I have bedbugs in my apartment, so we haven't even gone there yet except to show the exterminator in. GROSS! We have been in a hotel for the last several days. I don't want bedbugs but apparently they want me. SWEET IS THE WORK. The church is true, the book is blue. God's got a plan for me and you!

I have felt my Father in Heaven's love for His children while being out on a mission. WOW. If you haven't recently felt His love, ask to feel His love for others. I love this gospel and I love my Savior so much. The absolute joy that this gospel brings to me is indescribable, but I want it for the people in Arkansas. There is so much sadness and there are many going through hard times here and I just want to give others a bandaid to fix everything. At first, it made me sad that I didn't have one, then I realized that I DO! The ATONEMENT! Watch the videos "Because of Him" and "Because He Lives" .  They bring the spirit and really make you think about our Savior. I love that I can do anything through my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I am nothing without Him. I enjoy reading The Book of Mormon and growing my testimony of it. I love this church! I love that my Father in Heaven listens to my prayers and answers them. I love Alma 26:11-12. That is my mission scripture. I can do ALL things through Christ. Remember who you are and what you stand for! 

Lots of love from a HOT, HUMID PLACE,

Sister Esplin
Hotel resident
Missionary to the southerners
Human swimming pool
Sister who has started talking with an accent...I can't help myself!!

 We were featured on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I barely missed being in the picture.

Picture of President and Sister Wakolo with all of the incoming missionaries with their trainers.

Sister Beckstrand, Sister Esplin, Sister Evans

Funny story- We woke up at 6:30--our typical wake up time--so that we could get ready for the day, and all of a sudden a sister comes in and tells us that we are leaving in fifteen minutes! AHHHH! I threw my hair in a pony tail, swiped some mascara on, and called it a day. One of the APs and another elder came and picked us up and as we got in the car he said that we were taking pictures that morning. MAN!  So much for making a great first impression.  One sister left so fast that she forgot her name tag!

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