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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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! ๐Ÿ’Ž 

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! ๐Ÿ™  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!!


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