Monday, August 29, 2016

The week of Donna

Hello everyone!

I just love hearing from everyone, and it sounds like everyone is doing wonderfully! I am so happy! We have PDay a few days early  this week (it's Saturday)  because Sister Evans is completing her mission in just a few days and this is the day that the departing missionaries have to have their Pdays before they go home. Let me tell you, today has been so so so amazing!!!! This morning we had a BAPTISM!!! It was Donna's baptism and, oh my goodness, I was so excited for her. If you had told me after the first time that we met Donna that she would be baptized I probably would have told you that you were crazy! But Donna is just so awesome and has worked so hard to get to this point!! I can't believe that it really happened. There have been several struggles along the way and, at times, we wondered if she would ever be ready for baptism.   For example, just this week she flipped someone off while we had our lesson....awkward. The great thing about Donna, however, is that we can be bold with her and she won't get offended. We told her that she can't do that and that when she gets baptized she is taking upon herself the name of Christ. She just wasn't grasping it, but I told her "Donna, I want to challenge you to not flip anyone off for one week, and then forever". She said she would, although she was laughing. Well, I guess that night she went to Sonic and there was a guy that was swearing a lot and it was really offending her. When we we came the next day with a member, Sister Pierson, Donna told us that she wasn't going to do it any more. She told us that she knew that God was showing her how flipping people off can be offensive to others just like the guy’s swearing was offensive to her.  

Donna also had her baptismal interview this week and she was lucky enough to have it with President Wakolo, which was really cool! She was really nervous. We asked her to say a prayer to really ask Heavenly Father to give her comfort and to help her and so she did. It was a beautiful prayer...well, except for when she started speaking in tongues. I guess that is a big thing here in the south, but man, I felt like I was in a scene of Harry Potter! I seriously opened my eyes and thought she was speaking parseltongue. Sorry, now everyone knows that I am a dork. Actually you probably already knew that, so I'm not sorry. :) To be honest, we were pretty nervous that she was going to speak in tongues at the baptism today (in fact, some of the elders in our district made a bet that she would start speaking in tongues when she came out of the water. They lost. HALLELUJAH!), but we got that resolved. She also met her home teachers, the Nays (some couples in the ward are visiting and home teaching companions, which is pretty cool). They are perfect for her! We have so many fellowships to support her! There were actually quite a few people who attended her baptism today, which made us very, very happy. Anyway, back to the interview with President Wakolo. She came out of the interview so happy and relieved, then she turned to us and said, "he looks nothing like his picture! He's from Fiji!". We had shown her a video of President Monson earlier and I guess she thought that she was going to be interviewed by the prophet!!  No wonder she was so nervous! I would have been, as well. Earlier that day we had talked to her about enduring to the end and so when she went to her car after the interview she turned to us and said “I have endured to the end!!”, which cracked us up pretty hard!

Her baptism today was so wonderful. So many people came to support Donna. We had the ward mission leader baptize her and there was also an elder in the font to help her because she has a really hard time walking and the stairs really scared us and her. But we were all just waiting next to the font at the top of the stairs and Sister Evans,  Sister Beckstrand and I were all hugging and smiling so hard. We were so excited for her! When she came up out of the water, she looked at us and said, "you are more happy than I am!" embarrassing. Everyone heard. But when we went to the dressing room, she shared that she was so happy and that she felt great peace. She said that she doesn't usually feel peace but today she did. She felt good. 

This week we also moved out of our apartment. We got a call on Monday from the office elders saying that they were moving us, so we have been living in a temporary apartment since Tuesday. The apartment is in....... LITTLE ROCK!! What's up, hometown?! In fact, I have totally seen the Simmons Tower, which is not only the tallest skyscraper in Arkansas (40 stories high), but it is also the building where my mom used to work when my parents lived in Little Rock. I have actually taken some videos with it in the background. I am so grateful that if I had to move once again because of bedbugs, I was able to temporarily move here and be able to see places that are significant to my family. What a tender mercy!  We should be moving into our more permanent apartment (what even is permanent for missionaries?) next week. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. PLEASE pray that the bedbugs won't follow us!!! We are trying so hard. SO SO HARD. Like two-three hours of cleaning almost every day kind of hard. We have had to use most of the money that we get for food and for necessities to pay for garbage bags, laundry detergent, and ziplock bags because we use them several times a day and we have the laundry machine going constantly. I also have thrown away my pillow and don’t dare use a pillow because I am too scared to sleep on one. 

This week we had the opportunity to be in a lesson with President Wakolo. There is a less active couple that we have been trying to get reactivated and Sister Evans really wanted to do this before she went home, so President Wakolo helped us out. The cool thing was we didn't tell him really anything about this couple or what their concerns were but he hit Every.Single.Thing. He is so amazing! I really just sat there in awe. None of us taught, but he just asked questions and gave them commitments. The coolest thing that he said was to hold hands every night and morning and pray together. It would set an example for their children and help them to grow as a couple. I just love that! 

This week sure has been such a crazy, busy week. It has been difficult not following a traditional schedule because of the bedbugs and the moving, but the amazing thing is that we still faced some really cool experiences that came from our trials. We were at a laundromat for several hours the other day and we met a guy that had lots of questions for us and he talked to us. I really think that Heavenly Father knows that we are trying our best, and He has helped us even when we have felt like we were worthless missionaries. The crazy thing is, you really have to LOOK for those positive things though. Heavenly Father gives us so many blessings, but how often do we see them in our daily lives?

I love you all so so so much! I hope y'all are doing well! I love hearing from you!

Love, your favorite missionary in the south!

Sister Esplin
Master packer

Bed bug food

 Donna’s Baptism!!! We were so so so excited!!!! 

 District photo before transfers and Sister Evans goes home.  :(

 Waiting with my seesters for Donna to finish her baptism interview.

 Cleaning the font!

Look how cool!! The Simmons Tower was almost completely covered in clouds this morning.  

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