Monday, August 15, 2016

Fun in the Sun?!!!

Hello everyone!

I am so grateful for the love of our Heavenly Father. This week has been full of trials, but also so very full of miracles. In church yesterday there was a speaker that encouraged us to read the 2003 conference talk by Elder Holland, “The Grandeur of God”. I would invite you all to read that talk, as well. It really is amazing, as all of Elder Holland's talks are. He said, "Of the many magnificent purposes served in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, one great aspect of that mission often goes uncelebrated. His followers did not understand it fully at the time, and many in modern Christianity do not grasp it now, but the Savior Himself spoke of it repeatedly and emphatically. It is the grand truth that in all that Jesus came to say and do, including and especially in His atoning suffering and sacrifice, He was showing us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children in every age and nation. In word and in deed Jesus was trying to reveal and make personal to us the true nature of His Father, our Father in Heaven.....Jesus did not come to improve God’s view of man nearly so much as He came to improve man’s view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully know--until Christ came." I absolutely love that when we come to know Christ we are coming to know God. I so often forget the amount of love that He has for me. During personal study every morning I search the scriptures and highlight Christ's attributes. During that time I also strive to better develop those attributes so that I can be more like Christ. But when we strive to be more like Christ we are striving to be more like God. That is our ultimate goal, isn't it? To become more like Him so that we can live with Him again. I love that to better understand our Father in Heaven what we really need to do is study the scriptures and find Christ. For when we find Christ, we are seeing God, as well. During discussions and when we meet people we often relate our Heavenly Father to fathers here on earth. Our father loves us so much and just like our earthly parents have given us personality traits, we have inherited traits from our Father in Heaven. I have truly grown to understand better the love that Heavenly Father has for me by seeing and feeling that love for others. When we serve and love those around us we are being more Christlike and therefore more like our Father. There was an investigator this week that we met that was telling us that he believes in God and that he knows that God loves him, but he didn't really believe that Christ was anything more than a good guy that fulfilled a purpose to teach about God. I really do believe that God and Christ testify of each other. Everything that Christ did, He humbly gave credit to His father. And Heavenly Father declared multiple times that Christ is His son.

Anyway, I just love the chance that I get every single day to grow closer to my Father in Heaven and Savior, Jesus Christ. Not only that, but to help others grow closer to them. This week was awesome! It was “WALK WEEK”  so there are not many pictures. It was so hot but it was awesome to really feel like a missionary. We walked up a ton of hills, but we were so happy to be doing the work! It was great to also get to know members better,  because we asked for rides and we also asked for people to come to lessons with us. Sister Pierson, who was in my parents’ ward back when they were first married and lived in Little Rock,  came with us on Tuesday to teach Donna and it was so cool because we talked about my parents! Sister Pierson shared stories about my parents…that they were a gorgeous couple…what?!! ;)…and that my parents both worked so hard in that ward. That they were tremendous assets to the ward and that everyone was so sad when my family left. I felt so much gratitude knowing that I have such great parents who made a difference in this beautiful place that I serve. Sister Pierson also said that she held me as a baby, which seemed so surreal!! 

We are continuing to work with Donna towards baptism on the 27th. We are really trying to get the members involved so that she can establish relationships and ultimately be more than a baptism. We want her to become a CONVERT! We had 4 members out to see her with us! I am so excited for her! This week we also had exchanges with other sister missionaries! I stayed in Sherwood with my Sister Training Leader, Sister Hirschi, and Sister Evans and Sister Beckstrand went to Conway with the other Sister Training Leader. It was cool for me, because in a trio it sometimes is hard to have a chance to teach. I think that because I was kind of hesitant at the beginning my companions think that I don't want to say anything so they don't always give me a chance to speak as often, but I really do want to talk. When I was alone with Sister Hirschi, it really gave me a chance to teach and it was awesome! 

I love that everything in the gospel can really go back to Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. It is exciting  to talk to people about what we believe. The funny thing is, we plan every night for what we are going to do the next day and then pray about it to see if that is what Heavenly Father wants us to do. So the night before it went great! Unfortunately, the next day does not always go as planned. On one  of those days, the first person we were going to see switched the time so instead of seeing him at 11, we had to come back at 7. Then our 12 o'clock appointment also cancelled on us. As a result, we were trying to find people in the area (since we were walking). Well, we were passing this street where one of our investigators lives and I just stopped. I felt like we needed to go see him, but the funny thing is, he is never home and when he is he's too busy to talk to us, but I felt like we should walk to his house anyway. A couple of houses into the street there was a guy taking out the garbage and Sister Hirschi nudged me and told me to go talk to him. Well, I nervously told him that we are the sister missionaries in the area and that we come with a message about Christ that can bring a lot of joy to his life. He then asked if we had one of our little blue bibles. A Book of Mormon! Yes! I told him it actually does not replace the bible but it works with it as another Testament of Jesus Christ. Sister Hirschi invited him to read it and pray to know if it is true. He said sure! Yay!

Another awesome miracle that happened that day was that I was wearing my black ugly sister missionary shoes because they are really comfortable. Well, apparently they aren't comfortable when you are walking all day in the sun because I got blisters all over my heels and they popped! So I stopped in the church and got some bandaids before we went to the 7 o'clock appointment. We went and they answered the door saying that they would get the person we were looking for and then they never came back. So we started walking back up the hill. Well, the bandaids kept coming off so I sat down on this little ledge in front of a Catholic Church and I started putting on new bandaids. All of a sudden, a car pulled up. They said, "Sisters! Do you want a ride?". I was a little confused because I had no idea who this person was (I know who the members in the ward are pretty well now), and I wasn't sure if we could get rides from nonmembers. She must have seen our confusion because she said, "I'm a member in the Little Rock Spanish Ward!”, so we hopped in our car and she drove us up the hill to our next appointment. I remember in a blessing that I got in the MTC that they blessed me that I would have the strength to take one step after another and when my strength was gone and I couldn’t take another step, that He would take the next step. I just love that my Heavenly Father is looking out for me and that He was there to take my next step.

Interesting story of the week: Because I was outside all day on Thursday in the hot hot hot sun, I think that I got dehydrated or something. I just forget to drink water. Oops!!  Well, that night I was EXHAUSTED, but the next morning I was NAUSEOUS. The whole day I had a horrible headache and sharp pains in my abdomen. Well, I kept on going, as is the missionary way. I got a blessing from my district leader and he talked about working with the mission nurse, if things persisted. The next morning I still felt horrible and since my companion, Sister Beckstrand, had had similar problems about a month before and had landed in the hospital I decided I had better call the mission nurse,  Sister Thompson. She told me to stay inside…Boo!!!  Well, I hated that. About two months ago, if you had told me I could stay home and take a nap I would have been thrilled. Not now. Sister Evans and Beckstrand took turns staying in with me, while the other one went out on splits with members. They had awesome lessons and I was so bummed toot be a part of it, but I really felt so much love from my companions.  

I love this work and I love this gospel, but most of all I love my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Love y'all!

Sister Esplin

P.S. The bedbugs are "gone". We haven't been bitten for about two weeks. YAY!!!

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