Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Still in Sherwood...Hooray!!

Hello everybody! 

This week has been a crazy one, but then again, all of them are crazy. We had transfers this past week, but I fortunately am still in Sherwood,  which is oh so exciting! I am also still with Sister Beckstrand! Hooray! I honestly love my mission and I love this area so much! I can't believe that I get to stay here! Sister Evans went home last Tuesday and it has been so weird to not have her here! We miss her!!

This week has been a bit of a struggle. It has been so hard to find people to teach and it has honestly been a little hard to stay optimistic. It seems as though everyone we talk to is happy with the life that they have and they don't want to even accept a card from us. Almost all of our appointments cancelled this week. Plus, we were stranded at the church without a car for a day so we couldn't go to appointments that we had set. It was just so frustrating! It felt like Heavenly Father was punishing us for something but we just couldn't figure out what! But I just have to say, the power of fasting is so amazing. I absolutely HATE fasting. Those of you that know me well know that I end my fast as soon as possible and I am not happy when I have to fast longer than I have to. Growing up, I always saw fasting as a punishment or a hoop that we had to jump through to be happy and receive blessings. Well, this last Sunday (9/4/16) I truly witnessed the power that fasting can truly have in our lives. Because we were feeling so discouraged and lost, we decided to fast and pray for help to find those people that are looking for the gospel. During testimony meeting, I kept feeling like I should go up and bear my testimony but since there were so many people lining up to bear their testimonies, I got nervous about taking up the ward’s time and didn’t end up sharing my testimony, which ultimately made me so mad at myself. After the meeting closed, a mom and her two daughters came up to us and introduced themselves. They were visiting from Tulsa and they invited us over for lunch so that we could meet their grandma who was a very very very less active member and her husband wasn't a member at all. They wanted us to meet them and have a foot in the door so we could see them again! What a beautiful miracle! It was so nice to have lunch with them and to meet their grandma! We can't wait to visit her again soon. 

Here is  another miracle—We have seriously been trying to visit our investigator Lindsey all week long. She has a baptism date set and she claims that she really wants to see us every day, but she has been missing all of our appointments and not answering any of our calls. Well, on Saturday we happened to be driving by her house and there she was on the front porch! We pulled over and we talked to her for about 30 minutes and then we asked why she hadn't been keeping appointments. She said she wants to come to church really bad so we told her that we would call her before church and remind her. We called about 4 times Sunday morning and she didn't answer. Well, then she called us back and said she would be at church! And she came!!! It was so exciting to have her at church and Lindsey seems so much happier.

Miracle number three. A while back (maybe 5 or 6 weeks ago), Sister Beckstrand and I had been tracting while Sister Evans did splits with a member. That day, we found a less active family that hadn't been to church in five years. We were invited inside, but immediately the wife went to her room and we chatted with her husband (Fortunately, Sister Evans quickly came back with the member  to join us in the discussion). He talked about his conversion story and how much he loves the gospel. He told us that he couldn't go to church because he can't drive because of a medical problem and he wouldn't go to church without his wife and she won't go to church and she never talks to missionaries. Well, yesterday we decided to go to their house to talk to them. Sister Beckstrand prayed really hard that we could talk to his wife and get to know her. When she finished I looked at her skeptically and told her that we would probably only get to talk to her husband. I had been so beaten down that week that it was hard for me to think positively. Crazy things happen to those who pray!! We were invited inside their home and the wife said that she was busy working on printing things for school-she's a kindergarten teacher. Well, I just piped in that I was going into elementary education and she started talking and talking and talking about how much she loves teaching and especially how much she loves teaching in the inner city schools. She serves those children so much! We talked for probably 30 minutes! We then were able to get her to sit down with us and her husband and to share a spiritual message with her. It was so great! We then told her that we love to do service and that we would love to help her any time she needs a lot of things cut out or laminated or anything! She told us enthusiastically that she would! YAY!!!

Here is my spiritual thought for the week— Honestly, there are going to be days or weeks or even months when we are going to feel discouraged. There are going to be times when we wonder, "why are you doing this to me? I am trying my best! I am doing all that I can do! Why is nothing going right?!". I have learned through the bed bugs, the slammed doors, the missed appointments, the nights with no sleep, and the heartache that Heavenly Father truly does love us. He love us so much, in fact, that he trusts us with those trials! He knows that we can endure them well!  It is when we are humble that we are able to come closer to Him. It is when we truly rely on Him and ask for His strength, because we know that we are weak, that we can grow stronger. Sometimes we think that life is going to be a staircase right to heaven, but that is not the case. I think that there are many downhill slopes. The great thing tis, even when you are going down, going through the lowest points of your life, you are progressing. You are moving forward. There will be  a point that you can climb up. I just love the atonement. I love that Jesus Christ is there walking with us. I just love that he is the one that we can rely on.

Funny story. I totally hurt my ankle last Monday walking back from a (missed) appointment. How? I tripped over my other foot and hurt it. So I walked around with an ace bandage around my ankle with people asking what happened and I had to tell them that it was because I literally tripped over my own two feet.

I love you all so so so so much!!! The bed bugs didn't follow us to the transfer apartment so we haven't been bit by them for a while, just really bad mosquitos (yay for trailer parks). We are hopefully moving into our new apartment in Sherwood this week!!

Love y'all. Have a great week!

Sister Esplin
Believer in fasting
Tripper of feet

 There is nothing like a great smoothie to brighten up a tough week!  

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