Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat! Y'all don't want to smell my feet.

Alright, alright! So this past week was a good week. It may have not been a great week based on our numbers, but we did talk to new people and we really strove to plan effectively to meet our goals. The only problem is that you can plan and pray as much as you would like, but people still have their agency. Agency, thou double edged sword. Still, it was so beautiful to see Heavenly Father's hand in my life each day-even the hard days...actually, especially the hard days. 

I don't know if y'all know the story of the footprints 👣 in the sand, but I love it SO MUCH! Basically, the poem is about a vision in which a man sees his life in review, matched with two pairs of footprints on a beach—one belonging to himself, and the other to the Lord. During the hardest times of his life, the man sees only a single set of footprints. Troubled by this observation, the man asks Christ why the second set of footprints is missing during his greatest trials and when he needed the the Lord the most, the Savior explains that the single set of footprints were His… “It was then that I carried you.”  Some days that is how I have felt when I hurt, when no one wants to hear the WONDERFUL message of love and gladness that we have to share, when people drop us, or when I just wonder if I am even making a difference. There are moments where I just see that one set of footprints and for a split second think that I am alone, but then I realize that those moments are the ones that the Savior has carried me through. I absolutely love this gospel and the fact that we know how much our Savior has done for us! 

Alright, here comes our awesome week in 3....2.....1!!!!!!!!!!  There were definitely some sweet experiences this week....along with some crazy ones. 

I'd like to start with a quote from a sweet little 4 foot 2 German sister in her 80s named Sister Jackson. She told us when we went over to visit her this week, "Rest if you must, but never ever give up".  We just love Sister Jackson. She is truly amazing!! She survived WWII Germany. She is just so cute and tiny and has the spirit with her all the time. Whenever we visit her,  she truly uplifts us. For example, one day last week we went and saw a less active member who drove the spirit away and just made us feel downright horrible (it seriously was one of the craziest things that has happened on my mission, it was so weird and rough).  Afterwards, had a visit scheduled to help Sister Jackson, but she ended up being the one to bless our lives and help us so much!

This week, my ankle finally felt strong enough to walk and go 'finding' in some neighborhoods close to our apartment and, let me tell you, the homes are so CUTE! I have had some houses in mind that I have wanted to knock on for so long. Well, none of those people in those neighborhoods wanted to hear about the message, but I saw these super high tech cool doorbells where people can see us while they are away at work! Scary. Also there is a BEAUTIFUL white house that I have always wanted to knock on (or at least since I have seen it), so we went and knocked on it. An old Vietnamese lady opened the door, told us she was Catholic and Vietnamese, and then she just stared at us. I handed her a picture of Christ and she took it, looked at it, nodded her head and then gave the picture back to me. I tried to give it back to her, but she just kept saying "Catholic, Catholic, Catholic". 

You just have to love my end-of-the-night less active visit stories. This past Thursday evening, we went and visited Sister Bersett. Sister Wright, the Relief Society president had suggested that we visit Sister Bersett but we hadn't for a while so we thought we would go by and see how she was doing. Oh. My. Good. Night. She is awesome. The spirit was so strong! She was helping sister Jensen and I work together, to better share scriptures, and she even told us our fortunes....hmmm! Apparently, I am going to be a national roaming reporter and Sister Jensen is going to be a stressed out housewife. Pretty funny. I love that she counseled us to work harder at working together. She talked about the people at church with so much love. We need to get her to church. That is our new focus...working with the less active. 

On Saturday, we went to a lesson with Latonia, which I was super excited about! Then we got there. We started talking about the Book of Mormon and she just started shaking her head. She refused to believe us. It was a pretty discouraging lesson to teach. She was flip-flopping all over the place! One minute, she would say that she would read the Book of Mormon and then the next minute she would say that she would not read the Book of Mormon. She kept saying, "I don't believe it" and shaking her head. I asked her if she wants to believe it and she just laughed and said no. At that point, all that I could do was testify of it’s  truthfulness, so I testified that I knew that the Book of Mormon is true and that God loves us so much that He gave us the Book of Mormon!  It hurt so much to KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it testifies of Christ, only to have Latonia tell us that it doesn't feel right. That was really hard. Interestingly enough, the more she treated the Book of Mormon like it was an evil book, the more the spirit testified of it's truth and my love for it and faith in it grew. 

Compare that to our next lesson of that day. JUNE! She is so cute. She is a little old lady who loves Mormons. She used to live by a family that were really good friends with her that were Mormons. In fact, the dad was a newscaster here in Arkansas.  We went over and chatted with her and asked her if she felt anything about the Book of Mormon as she had been reading it. She replied  that she has no doubt that it is true, and that she has no doubt that our church is true. She then told us that she had a connection with Joseph Smith and believed that he did see God, the Father, and His son, Jesus Christ. It was so awesome and the spirit was testifying to us all.

On Saturday, WE HAD OUR WARD TRUNK-R-TREAT!!!!!  It was so much fun. The four elders were supposed to judge the chili contest, but only two elders showed up so all of us judged. It was so fun! Plus, we judged the Halloween costumes. Everyone was so cute in their Halloween costumes! I just love Halloween! As a bonus, Donna came! I didn't think that she would, but she did! Sure, she came 2 hours late and was the last person to leave, but she came, and it made me so happy to see her there!!! There was just so much happiness all around!!!

Alrighty, spiritual thought. I have been reading a lot in the war chapters of Alma lately. Actually, I finished Alma recently and now I am in Helaman!! YES! May I just say that I absolutely love when Captain Moroni is getting angry at Pahoran for not helping out more and he just is pretty much chewing him out in his epistle. He basically tells him to stop sitting around on his lazy behind, and to help them out or he will kill him! Eaaaash. Harsh words, but I love that Moroni says “I seek not for power, but to pull it down. I seek not for honor of the world, but for the glory of my God , and the freedom and welfare of my country”. (Alma 60:36) Now, in my opinion, Pahoran totally has every right to get ticked off at Moroni. Moroni seriously threatened to kill him. Come on! But instead, this is why I think that Pahoran is the most underrated character in the Book of Mormon. Pahoran  responds in Alma 61:9  "And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it matters that not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgement seat that I may preserve the rights and liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free.”  Pahoran also moves forward and works together with Moroni. How cool!! I want to be able to respond in love to those that fight and get angry with me. That is my goal.

Well, bye for now! I hope y'all have a great Halloween! I know I have!!! 


Sister Esplin
A Sherwood sister
A sister in tights
Someone who loves Halloween

Happy Halloween from the Sherwood Sisters!  
For the ward trunk-or-treat, we wore coordinating green dresses so we could be the “Sherwood (Forest) Sisters”.  

Sharing a moment with this amazing spiritual giant, Sister Jackson!

Dinner with Bishop Gustafson's family

 Dinner with the Quigleys

Look how pretty!

Having fun with the mustaches that Sister Jensen’s mom sent.  Sister Jensen and I love Halloween!

 More Halloween Silliness
Hope y’all had a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2016

A week of exhaustion and wisdom…

Well, I just have to say sorry about last week's letter. I was a little rushed and, to be honest, I was out of my mind in pain from a crazy migraine (which I still am dealing with…any suggestions??), so I didn't get to share much with y'all. Hopefully, this letter will make up for it and convey the joy that I feel about the work we are all doin' down here in the south. It is true that some locals may argue that Arkansas is not the south, but to them I just have to say, "bless your heart" ❤️. I have heard enough southern accents and fun southern stories to accurately say that "Yessiree, Arkansas is definitely one of the southern states!!" 

This week sure was interesting! Let's just start out with our district meeting on Tuesday mornin'. Set scene. Four sets of missionaries -yes, I said FOUR- sit in the relief society room awaiting the news of how they will be continuing their missionary work in the North Little Rock ward now that there are two sets of sisters and two sets of elders serving the North Little Rock ward, as well as one set of sisters now serving in Maumelle, but still residing within the North Little Rock ward boundaries. All four sets of missionaries are unsure how the ward will ultimately be split up. Open scene.

Scene1. We had started our district meeting and basically we were kind of on the edge of our seats. For the past two transfers, this ward has only had the North Little Rock elders, the Sherwood sisters (yours truly), and the office elders (the elders that basically make this mission run, and have saved our lives several time, such as finding us a bed bug free apartment). Up to this point, we have all been visiting everyone in the ward, not really caring about what city we were in. We would go to Maumelle and visit members, less active members, and investigators. Or we would go to North Little Rock and visit some members, less actives, or investigators. But Elder Wilson (our district leader) got up and rocked our NLR world,  as we knew it. He said that President Wakolo had basically given him the power to decide how it would work and Elder Wilson came to the conclusion that NLR would stay in NLR with the NLR ward members and less actives, Maumelle would stay in Maumelle with the members and less actives in the ward that lived in Maumelle, and Sherwood? Yeah, Sherwood sticks to Sherwood. It was a sad day! We sent off over 70% of our investigators, potential investigators, and new investigators to Maumelle and NLR. It was ROUGH. We have so very little to work with now so it is like we are whitewashing again!! Dagnabbit. I really do love Sherwood though. Elder Wilson told us to strengthen our areas to the best that they can be. He also told us to focus on the one. We are in those cities for a reason! The only hard part is that half the time I'm confused about whether or not I am in North Little Rock or in Sherwood, the boundaries switch so fast! But sweet is the work. Sister Jensen and I are super pumped to be here at this time for these people! We were also super excited because we WERE going to be doing our walk week this week and finding lots of people. I will get to why the WERE is emphasized in a little bit. End scene. 

Scene 2. Act Tuesday. Who is my favorite person in all of Sherwood!?!? If you guessed Chelsea, then you are CORRECT! Vanna, show them what they have won. 😉 We went to Chelsea's and we read some scriptures with her. It was so cool to see that she was really applying the scriptures to herself and to others around her and how it could help their lives. Then, we invited her to invite people around her to the ward Halloween trunk-r-treat and she was so excited to do that. Later when we came to knock on someone else's door we saw a bunch of invitations that Chelsea had taped on doors. We talked to her on Sunday (10/23/2016)  and she told us that she tried to talk to as many people as possible about the party. I am so proud of her!! Just seeing that made my heart burst just a little bit. 

Scene 3. Lavetta, who I mentioned last week, is pretty much the most amazing person ever. We called Lavetta after our district meeting to see if it was still okay to come over. She told us that she would need to cancel, because she was talking to some lawyers about her will before she went in for heart surgery that Thursday! What?! We had no idea!  She told us that she had been reading the Book of Mormon and really enjoyed it and she couldn't fast like she wanted to because her doctor said she wasn't allowed to, but she was still going to read the scriptures very closely to see if it was true. What a gem! 💎 

Scene 4. We attempted to visit someone that Sister Wright, the Relief Society president wanted us to visit. Unfortunately, we got there at eight o'clock at night. As we pulled up to the house, I started to feel nervous about introducing ourselves at that evening hour. As it turned out, I should have heeded that impression.  We got to the door and they yelled at us because it was so late and they told us to go away. I got back in the car feeling horrible because I hadn't listened to the prompting that I had received, so I was a little bit down. Sister Jensen, being the sweetheart that she is, suggested that we go and get some ice cream. Our day had been pretty much a bummer so I rolled our mini van over to the nearest Sonic (for every LDS church you see in Utah, there is a Sonic in Arkansas. They are that plentiful). We ordered our ice cream treats and here is where I know that Heavenly Father recognizes when we are trying our hardest and feeling sad. The server/worker guy came back to our window and told us that the card reader wasn't working and so our sonic blasts were free. Free! It seriously felt like Heavenly Father bought us ice cream to help us survive that night. Don't ya just love them tender mercies?

Scene 5: Wednesday-Thursday.  We had EXCHANGES!!!!! Exchanges are seriously inspired! I just love being with the sister training leaders.  Sister Decker came with me to Sherwood and Sister Wood went with Sister Jensen to Conway.  We have been kind of “scruggling” (people often say str words with a c instead of a t). Because of the newly enforced boundaries, we sent off most of our investigators to the Maumelle sisters and the North Little Rock elders. As a result, we have very very very few people that we are actively teaching. There is a lot of finding to be done! I sure love Sherwood, but dang people! Would you just let us talk to you? We are not going to attack you, we are two white girls in skirts. Anyhooooo, that day we experienced some amazing miracles. We met a girl named Deja who has to go outside of her norm and learn and attend a church that she doesn't go to (it’s a school assignment). She goes to the University of Arkansas Little Rock and she is the cutest! We gave her a church tour and she told us that she had been reading the pamphlets and really liked them. For the assignment, she has to come to church 2-3 times. But, she met with the bishop on Wednesday night and she said that she would like to come to church more than that. AAAAAAHH!!!! Our bishop was so cute and said, "heck, you could come after your project, if you want!".  Another miracle happened after Sister Decker and I got home on Wednesday night and she noticed that she didn't have her ipad. Oh no! We quickly hopped back in the van and started for the church. It wasn't there! Sister Decker was saying some silent prayers and I asked if she wanted to say a prayer out loud-because I know that, for some people, it helps more. She said she didn't think that she needed to, but then a few minutes later she asked me if I would say the prayer. Well, I was driving so I I offered a prayer out loud, with open eyes and unfolded arms,  which was super weird for me. We pulled up to Brother Medlock's house (the member that we had been talking to right before we went home) and she hopped out and found it in the grass face down, completely fine! Wow! The power of vocal prayer! 🙏  Another cool thing happened. On Wednesday, we met with Sister Barker,  who is the daughter of a ward member.  She has actually joined another church, but she invited us over to visit, so we went over on Thursday and she was so sweet. She asked a lot of questions about missionary work and then she told us that we could stop by any time and visit and that she would also love to feed us. She was just so nice!!!

Scene 6: FRIDAY. I really remember very little from Friday. I know that we had dinner with the Edgar family. Mom and dad, do you remember the Jim and Natalie Edgar? They are cute, older couple that used to attend the Pinnacle Mountain Ward with you.

So, Saturday mornin’ I woke up and how did I feel? Completely sick. I was aching all over, I was freezing cold, I felt like I was going to throw up, and I couldn't think or see straight because my head was hurting so much. If I were going to give this finale a title, it would read “Ballad of the sick” or “Ode to soup and naps”.  When we went to dinner with the Edgars on Friday night, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I had the biggest migraine. Then, on Saturday morning, I had no idea what I was reading in the Book of Mormon because I was hurting so badly, but I read on, because I LOVE THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!!!!! I LOVE IT SO MUCH! After getting ready for the day,  we went out with a member to go see some people but because nobody was home, we went and visited one of her visiting teaching sisters with her, which was cool. After the visit, I called the mission nurse to see what she recommended and she told me to stay home, because I had a bug or something. During our conversation, I also told her that I had finished physical therapy but my ankle was still hurting like crazy. She suggested that I call President Wakolo and talk to him about not doing a walk week, so I started dealing with all of my medical junk. I told Sister Jensen that we were going to be in for the next day or two and then I called President Wakolo and told him the situation with my ankle. He recommended that I rest my ankle and not do a walk week. He often tells us "Fast is slow and slow is fast”, and that is what he told me over the phone. He told me to rest my ankle and go easy on it, because if I keep trying to heal it fast it is going to go slower but if I take it slower it will heal faster. I reluctantly agreed. As a result, we stayed in on Saturday, which was good for Sister Jensen and me because we actually got to know each other a lot better. We talked and learned more about each other. On Sunday, I went to church (probably shouldn't have, but I did) and I received a blessing from Bishop Gustafson. He told me to be wise, to counsel my Father in Heaven, to take care of my ankle and my body, and to take it easy for a little while. I had just been pushing my body to the edge and ignoring the obvious need that my body had to rest. I finally am realizing that I need to rest a bit more. I told Bishop Gustafson that I was a little concerned that my ankle wouldn't get better and I would have to go home, but he looked at me and said with surety that “I know it will heal". It was so comforting to hear that. Later that day, we met and visited with two potential investigators, had awesome lessons with them, and even set up return appointments so now they are new investigators!!!!! I JUST LOVE THE GOSPEL! I love that Heavenly Father knows what we are going through and that He will help us when we ask Him.

One of my favorite things that I read in my studies this week was in Alma 37:36-37 which literally everyone, including my sister training leaders, the mission nurse, my mission president, my ward mission leader, and the bishop have all told me. I have recognized that when more than one person says something to me, it is probably a message from my Heavenly Father. In verses 36-37, it teaches: “Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”  I have really been trying to counsel with my Heavenly Father more lately rather than just talking at Him. I have also been learning that there is wisdom in all things and sometimes it is not wise to push more than you have strength. Ugh. Darn it. But really, the more I think about it, we don't need to be pushing more than we can or should be. Our Savior already has worked beyond anything anyone could do for us. We need to rely more on the Lord and recognize that He loves us and doesn't want this journey to be miserable. If you are working to a point or pushing yourself to a point that you just are miserable, perhaps you are not doing quite what God had planned for you. Even if you think that's what He wants. Truly counsel with the Lord. I love y'all. I love my Savior. I love my Heavenly Father and I love this area. I pray for y'all and hope everything is going well!!!!

Love ❤️ 

Sister Esplin 
The sick
The one who needs wisdom

Sister training leaders in Conway

 Reeeeaaally sick Sister Esplin

 Feeling excited about the Halloween package that Sister Jensen’s mom sent

It’s Fall y’all!!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!

Honestly, I don’t know the rest of the lyrics to the above mentioned song, but I sure like what it says. I have just been having a good ol’ time over here in Arkansas. Well, a good ol' time might be a bit strong, but I have been having a WEEK! 

Monday...The switch. There I am. Sitting at the church since 6:30 in the morning, waiting for my new companion, Sister Jensen! She came to the church around 4:30 and we said hello again and off we went to  a dinner appointment. Then we went and tried to talk to as many people in our area book that we could because man, it gets DARK here. FAST. But sister Jensen is awesome! This area is going to be wonderful when we get through with it. Watch out satan. Sister Esplin and Sister Jensen are armed-with Book of Mormons and Bibles—and ready!!  

Tuesday. My encounter with a 104 year old woman. Sister Jensen and I were out meeting less active families and as we were driving down the street in Sherwood, when we saw the sweetest little old lady named Mozelle who was outside with her walker raking her front lawn. So we pulled over! She was so glad that we asked to rake her leaves. We talked to her and we asked how long she had been living in her house and she said 50 years. So then we asked how old she was. SHE WAS 104 years old!!! WHAT?! I am so glad that we raked her leaves. She tried to pay us $5 but we told her that we couldn't accept, that we just try to show love and service for others like Jesus would do, if He were here.

Wednesday. I don't even remember what happened. I really need to be a better journal writer.

Thursday. The. Best. Lesson. Ever.  We basically had the best lesson ever with Lavetta! She was so amazing. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and just read the first chapter of Nephi and she told us that she would read the WHOLE FIRST BOOK OF NEPHI and that she would fast about it!!!!   In fact, she is planning to take a three week fast from the Bible to focus on the Book of Mormon and then she will compare the two books and see how they compare. What a blessing it is to have the Book of Mormon AND the Bible in our lives!!  When we talked to Lavetta, she had such a glow about her and I truly felt how much the Lord loved her. It was so amazing. I could not believe that I was sitting there having such a wonderful experience with her. She wants to learn. She wants to know the truth. She is so prepared and I am so excited for her. In fact, she talked to deacons at her church about the Book of Mormon and she told them that they couldn't impact what she thought and if she found that the Book of Mormon was true, she would follow that. She is amazing!!

On Friday we had two dinners! Partly because one dinner was at 8 o'clock and the other dinner a new couple called and asked if we wanted to come over for dinner and so we said yes because we wanted to meet them! They are great! 

Saturday! We helped Sister Sandline get ready for her daughter’s birthday party.  After that, we helped a less active family clean their attic.  It felt great serving these families and we were definitely blessed and protected while we served.  When we were cleaning out the attic, poor Sister Jensen crashed through the attic floor,  and really could have gotten hurt.  Fortunately, as she was falling through the attic floor (which was the garage ceiling), she grabbed onto an attic post and held on for dear life until one of the family members helped her get to the ground safely. It was kind of scary, but I am so glad that Sister Jensen was protected in that moment.

My spiritual thought is basically to stay positive. Satan is going to want us to be negative but stay positive! I have been trying to do that. But sometimes it is tough! But try, be like Alma ! Be like the people of Ammon! BE AMAZING!! Sorry for the short letter. I have a raging headache and a muddled brain. 

Love y'all
Sister Esplin

 The new Sherwood duo--Sister Jensen and Sister Esplin

 Adventures in attic cleaning

The attic hole (garage ceiling) Sister Jensen crashed through…so scary!!

 Dinner with the Murpheys

 Notice the Sherwood Forest guy in the left corner of the sign? That little guy is on all the street signs in Sherwood.

 Helping the Sandline family get ready for the birthday party

Dinner with the Turner family

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sherwood! Take 3…

It has been a crazy couple of days filled with miracles, disappointments, joys, and a clearer understanding of God's love for me....and, well, everyone. I have said this a lot the past few weeks: it has been so hard to find people to teach! No one has been wanting to listen to us, and to top it off, the people that have listened to us have not been keeping appointments or commitments. It has been a struggle.  Be careful what you pray for…I I prayed for humility, and well, HE ANSWERS YOUR PRAYERS!!!😉 Nevertheless, I am so grateful for the fact that He has helped me to have humility, because it has made the new success and joy that we have been finding the last few days THAT MUCH SWEETER!!!! 

Well, transfer orders came. ATTEN HUT!!! I am staying in Sherwood!  Crazy. I was totally convinced that I would be leaving, and I was fine with that. In fact, I had accepted it. But, Sister Beckstrand got a text from the Southaven ASL sisters saying,  “Congratulations on going to Millington!”  She is leaving me and I will miss her so much :(   On a positive note, Sister Forsyth is RE-OPENING MAUMELLE!!!!  I am so excited for her! Quick tidbit, Sister Beckstrand and I had Sister Forsyth as a companion for about 5 days. She was a sister training leader in the Pinnacle Mountain Ward,  but she was released because she was called to train, so she stayed with us for a short time.  I am so pumped that I get to keep her with me in some way. She has been so amazing to me and I consider this such a wonderful blessing from Heavenly Father. She will be in the same ward and in the same district! What what! Over the last several days/weeks, I have had experiences, that at the time, seemed like interesting situations, but now I can see that the Lord had a hand in the details of my life. Last week,  Sister Jensen had some appointments in Conway, so she left her Lakeland, Tennessee Ward and was our companion for a couple of hours for two days.  At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but now thinking back, I can see that that this was a blessing to prepare me for a new transition in my mission.  Today, I found out that my new companion is Sister Jensen!! She knows some people already and has already served around here! What a blessing it is to get to know before she gets slammed with me😊 Also, I am so grateful that Sister Forsyth has already been here, has met the ward mission leader and the relief society president, has a feel for the area, plus she knows a bunch of people that she wants to teach that live in Maumelle. What a tender mercy that she gets to have a foot in the door now that she is reopening Maumelle. It is so exciting to see that  Sherwood is finally picking up with some legit investigators. Seriously, sister Hirschi and I went and found some amazing people while Sister Beckstrand and Sister Decker went to appointments. That day, Sister Hirschi and I were definitely led to people that legitimately want to know. Plus, we finally met Lavetta, a bible referral. She wants to know about the church! She said we were the best thing to happen to her. She shared a story about someone who was acting like he had authority to bless her, but she knew he didn't, the spirit told her to go away. It was so cool. She seems like someone who really has a prepared heart. We also found someone else through a less active member. She seems nice, but I was so frazzled that I asked her TWICE if she had heard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The first time she looked at me and said “No, Ma’am”.  Then, a short time later,  I asked her again and she just paused, looked at me funny, and said “……No, Ma’am....I haven't....". Awkward. Oh well, we are going to teach her today. Hopefully, I don't remain awkward.

Sister Forsyth and  Sister Beckstrand have decided that I am a hole magnet. Every time we go somewhere I somehow manage to find a hole and trip and/or twist my ankle again. What a dork! Have I mentioned my gratitude for the fact that I was not named “Grace”? Mom and Dad, thank you for not giving irony a good ol’ laugh. I have really been reflecting the last several weeks about how Heavenly Father answers our prayers. I feel as though we are a people who seek instant gratification. We often want our prayers answered and we want them answered fast and the way we want them to be answered. I know I have wanted that in my life. The trick is aligning our attitude, desire and timeline with our Heavenly Father's. I have seen a lot of people that get angry when God doesn't give them exactly what they want when they want it, and I have seen people that are still patiently waiting for answers and are just walking forward in faith. I hope that I can have an attitude of gratitude or an attitude of patience. These past few weeks,  it has been really interesting to see how Heavenly Father has answered our prayers. I love that He answered them at ther perfect time that He knew would help us the best. It was amazing because it felt like Heavenly Father really truly waited to shower blessings and show us the way to prepared hearts. He was waiting for us to truly rely on him and humble ourselves to the point of knowing that He would provide the way for us. I just love this gospel!!! I love my Heavenly Father and all the knowledge He has of what we need at certain times. I love that He trusts me enough to share the gospel here and that He loves me enough to help and support me, when really, I am here to support Him.  I enjoy the scriptures!!! I love them, my heart delighteth in the scriptures. I love my Heavenly Father, I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I love y'all. Stay strong, stay focused, stay true. I love Mosiah 24:15 and I really think that it truly has applied these last few weeks. God loves and blesses us all.  If you are going through something hard, just try and think why Heavenly Father is giving that trial to you. He wants you to have joy in this life, but He also wants you to become like Him. So what does He want you to learn? It may take more than a day, a week, or a year to figure it out.

I love y'all.

Stay safe!!

Sister Esplin
Hole magnet
Awkward door approach missionary

Lover of the gospel

Sister Beckstrand, Dana, and Sister Forsyth

Seeing Sister Anderson again… spiritual sister from the MTC :)

Donna! She just has the most beautiful smile ;) I love that she is always so happy to see us.

Sharing a moment with Sister Forsyth, Sister Beckstrand, and the ward mission leader, Brother Whelan.  

Sister Forsyth, Sister Beckstrand, and me!

Sister training leaders came again and we went to Hobo Joe’s Snow Cones!

Look ma…One foot! (Of course, I promptly fell on the floor after this).

Four generation photo. Sister Beckstrand is my mom (Mom's are trainers), Sister Hirschi is my grandma (Sister Training Leader), and Sister Wood is my great grandma.  Do you see the resemblance? Tee hee. 

Awkward “Family Photo”

Chelsea and Sister Beckstrand. Chelsea sure cracks me up! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

General Conference: An amazing missionary holiday!

Hello hello hello! 

This week was super crazy. We got a call from one of the assistants one day this week asking us if we would be able to have a temporary trio for a few hours for two days. Of course we said yes, so sister Jensen came and was our companion from 10:30-3:30 on Wednesday and Thursday this last week. She's so great and I loved having two redhead companions:) Well, a really cool thing that we did this week was that last week we did a challenge called pray in faith "praith". Sister Beckstrand and I went to separate rooms with our maps out and we prayed about where we should go. I had had the name of Victoria come to mind, so last Sunday we went to Maumelle where there was a Victoria Circle and we knocked doors there and found some (by some I mean one person interested, a lot of people who had already been "saved", and someone who tried to convert us to Catholicism) people. Well, by the time we finished with Victoria Circle it was dark and late, so this Wednesday we finally got to go where Sister Beckstrand had been directed in her prayers. It was a trailer park in Sherwood. She had put a pin in the map and so we started knocking close to where the pin was. Crazy thing was, the first door we knocked on went a little something like this: "Hi we are sister missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! We share a really unique message about Jesus Christ that really shows God's love for us." "Oh the Mormons..." "You've heard of us before?" "Yeah, I joined the church in 1979 and I love everything about it!" We seriously stood there in awe. This lady was not on the ward roster so we had no idea she existed! We asked her about her experience there and she said she loves the church and she had been in several leadership callings in the church in Jonesboro and around the country. She then said that she would not be going to church because she was very very sick and she was dying in a year. She was so excited to go to the spirit world. It was really interesting. It felt so good to find a lost sister! We are going to try and get the relief society involved and get some service for her. Also in that neighborhood was another lady that told us that she would love to hear about what we believe! It was so great because, honestly, it often feels like no-one really anyone wants to hear our message, but when people do, it is so wonderful.

This week I was really trying to do God's will. I asked Him in every prayer to help me understand His will, but sometimes it is hard to truly be willing to do it (even though you want to, it can be kind of scary and awkward to do). I have really been trying to do that, but you know, it is a little rough to do God's will when others won't try. Agency….Thou art a tricky thing, you double edged sword!! Something that has been a bit tricky is continuing to follow what God has told me to do. Not in a bad way! No, it is when we have felt a spiritual confirmation that we should drop an investigator and once we drop them we want to see them. But then we remember that that is not what God wanted us to do. He has a plan for them, and we may not be the missionaries that are going to be the ones fulfilling the plan to baptism. That is a little hard. Especially because you love them so much and you know that they have the  potential to do so much!...but they just won't fulfill their purpose. I have to imagine that is how a parent feels when they see a child doing things that they aren't supposed to do. The challenge is to let them go, knowing that they may have to deal with unfortunate consequences. They can't be around to save them every time. Perhaps that is not exactly what being a parent is like, but it sure is so hard to let people make bad decisions! We just want to help them and they won't let us! Ugh. Sorry about the rant. It is a struggle sometimes. 

As you might know, we basically started our area book all over because the elders that served in Sherwood before we came in did not leave a nice and tidy book and most of the people in the area book were duds. So we prayed and felt that it was time to start over in faith....ouch. That is ROUGH! But we kept Dana. She just loves the gospel so so much, but she will not come to church!!!!! She wants to come so bad,  but she doesn't have a car and she doesn't have great health. Sometimes she will wake up and not be able to get out of the bed, but she just wants to be baptized so bad! It is so hard so see that she is actually getting in the way of her own progression! But we have faith that things will work out. It was really cool, the other day we were talking to her and we told her, "Dana, we promise that Heavenly Father will provide a way for you to come to church and for you to be baptized and for you to find a place to live! But you have to obey the commandments. You just have to. We know that He will do that for you though.". Hopefully she listens.

Alrighty, I just loved conference! I loved everything about it. Nobody came to the stake center to watch conference, which was a very big bummer, but our recent converts and less actives that we have been teaching all came! Donna even came! During conference,  our ward mission leader texted us  and asked where Donna went. Donna walks so so so so so slow so I knew she hadn't run off. She was asleep on the pew!! Oh so funny. The talks were all so powerful, and it was great to have all of my questions answered. I just love that we have a prophet and apostles on the earth today to help and guide us!!! My goal this week is to be like Alma in chapter 8 of Alma. He left the city of Ammonihah feeling dejected and sad and I bet a little discouraged, but an angel came to him, in fact the angel that appeared to him the first time, and told him to lift up his head and rejoice. He then told him to return to Ammonihah. I want to be able to lift up my head and rejoice because I am doing everything that I can to do be the best that I can be and to share the gospel with everyone. I want to be able to be willing to return to places that reject me because God has told me to go there. I know that God is our Father in Heaven who loves us more than we can comprehend. I know that there are times when hard things come into our lives and  sometimes we want to ask "why me?”, but I know that God has a plan for us more glorious than we can imagine. If we are suffering on earth and remain true and faithful to the gospel, just imagine the treasures in heaven that we will have. I love y'all and I love this gospel. Each day that I am out here brings me more joy than the one before. Each moment that I share God's love with others helps me to feel it more and to understand Him more.

Sister Esplin

A missionary who will raise up her head and rejoice

 Serving in Sherwood with Sister Beckstrand and Sister Jensen

I just love the mission office couples!!

With Elder and Sister Cahoon before they went home