Well, well, well. Another week in Sherwood has come and gone! BOOM! That went fast! It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is over and now it is Christmas time. I want you to know how much I love hearing from you all every week. I just hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving holiday! As always, there are good days and not so good days. Moments of exceedingly great joy (like my scriptural reference there? ;)) and times of great sadness and disappointment. Fortunately, the times that are sad, hard, difficult, or frustrating are all outweighed by the joys that each day brings. Heavenly Father truly does love each and every one of us completely and perfectly. It is truly remarkable to feel of His love and acceptance each day. Some days are so frustrating and I just look at my ankle and think, "why does such a temporal thing stand in my way?", but then I remember that I can learn from every trial I have and grow and be more like my Father in Heaven. To be honest, the boot has become a pretty good talking point. For example, i have heard a few people shout out..."girl! Why you be walkin' outside with a boot and no coat on!" Or when someone shares, "I don't know how you do it", I can share how much I love being a disciple of Christ. I am committed. I may not be able to do everything that I want to, but I am still here and that is a blessing in and of itself. I am so glad I get to be here still! As far as I can tell, my ankle is doing pretty well. I should be going to the doctor soon to have it looked at. Honestly, I'm kind of scared for the boot to come off. I'm SO clumsy. I worry I'll break something without it! For example, on Sunday night we went and visited someone in the ward and when we went to leave I ran into their plexiglass door. Oops!! It totally freaked me out!
Anyhoooooo, here is a rundown of my life this past week!
TEMPLE!!!! I talked a bit about that last week. It was such a spectacular experience and the Memphis, Tennessee temple was so so so beautiful!! Sometimes you just need to be recharged and, goodness, the temple is the best spiritual charger in the whole world! Just feeling of God's love and feeling such a wonderful abundance of peace was just great!
Tuesday I got sick! Seriously, I sure love this place but my body seems to be physically rejecting Arkansas. I would like to tell some awesome story about how I was waiting at the urgent care forever and no one helped me so we found some golden investigator in the waiting room to teach. I would like to say that, but that didn't happen. We actually were the only ones there that time of day, so we were able to get in and out of the instacare in less than 30 minutes altogether. What! Crazy sauce!!! Seriously, I was freaking out about what a short amount of time it took. That was the best urgent care visit EVER!! Apparently, I not only have tendinitis. I also have sinusitis. So cool. I am "itis" woman. Everything in me is inflamed. Woot woot! Go Sister Esplin! Even though we didn't get to make a contact at the Instacare, we were fortunate enough to meet someone at the pharmacy. We went to Walgreens to get my prescriptions filled and the pharmacy tech at the register asked me what a missionary was doing breaking her foot. (I don't have a broken foot, by he way--don't want y'all to worry). During the course of our conversation we noticed that she used the words "missionary" and "investigate", so we asked her if she had met the missionaries before. She said that she was a member and her name was Kaitlin. Oh my goodness! We had been trying to get in contact with her since my first transfer here! It was so cool to finally meet her. She said she wasn't interested in meeting, but she was sweet as pie...pumpkin pie!! It truly was awesome to finally visit with her and invite her to the ward Christmas party!
Finding galore! We made the rounds to find/see people in our area book and wooooooweeeeee was that an adventure. Not super exciting, but oh so interesting. I am not going to lie. I have met a lot of hoarders while serving my mission. It makes me really want to go to the container store and just organize my entire life. There was one guy that had cars on his lawn just filled with stuff, but he really was the nicest guy and was so excited about attending the Christmas party. We also were going around and asking what people were grateful for, which was really nice. They were a lot more happy to see us and it was so interesting to hear what everyone was grateful for. YAY for Thanksgiving! We had dinner with the Joyce's and with Sister Bush. We went to Corky's and I had ribs! I was eating my ribs with a fork and everyone was looking at me strangely. Finally, I confessed, "I don't really know how to eat ribs since I haven't really had them before". Brother Joyce just looked at me and said, "Well, the first step is to throw away that fork", so I did. I must say that I didn't like eating with my hands as much as I thought I would. After that we went to "Pie Night" at the Crandall’s. They had tons of pie and lots of people over so we thought we would go to meet some people. Well, when we got there we were talking to brother Crandall and he said the only nonmembers had left 15 minutes earlier and that all the other people were from different wards. Ohhhh. That was kind of a bummer, but it was super fun to meet other people and take part in such a fun pre-Thanksgiving bash.
THANKSGIVING!!!!! WOOT WOOT!!!! Well, the day started off a bit rough, but it ended just wonderfully. President Wakolo texted us after studies and told us that he would like to do interviews with us in about 15 minutes. So we skedadled out of the apartment and over to the church to have our interviews. It was heaven sent that he called us for interviews at that time because I just needed some help. Although our interview didn't fix everything, it did leave me feeling more peace in my life. We then went to President and Sister Wing's house for Thanksgiving Dinner (lunch). It was so much fun! They had their two sons there, Davis and Clark, and the Lowerys were there, as well! The food was delicious! I just love turkey..absolutely love it!! They also had some really really good sweet potato casserole that was insanely good. It had coconut in it! We all played telestrations after dinner, which of course, brought back awesome family memories of days gone by, such as our rain poncho telestration. It was so much fun and it was great to laugh at everything that everyone came up with. After sharing dinner and fun with the Wings we went to Maumelle and went to see the Miller family. Their family is simply adorable! They have 5 kids between 6-11 and they are just the cutest things! Plus, the kiddos give me hugs every time they see me, which always makes me feel good. Since the Miller family was sensitive about us feeling homesick, they gave us some DELICIOUS mint chocolate pie and then they let us help them put up their Christmas tree and decorate it. We also took turns sharing Christmas memories and just basked in the happiness and joy of the holidays. It was so great. In case you don't know, I am a very nostalgic person. The holidays tend to get me sighing over the memories of Thanksgivings and Christmases of yesteryear (aaaahhhh), so it was such a treat to be around all of those kiddos and to feel (almost) like I was around family. Plus one of their sons reminds me of Parker ***tear***. Honestly, it was just an all around wonderful Thanksgiving. Don't worry, nobody's cherry pie beat your cherry chicken pie, Uncle Nathan ;).
Black Friday. We did not do what hoards of others did on black friday. We did not go shopping. Instead, we had an awesome lesson with Chelsea! She has finished the 2nd Book of Nephi and she just loves the Book of Mormon and how 2nd Nephi ended. She was freaking out about it and reading me a bunch of verses. She was so excited! She also had a friend over named Anthony and he was really interested in the church and learning more about it. No biggie that he was vaping the whole time. He wanted to learn more so we talked a bit about the first discussion lesson. We eventually discovered that Anthony lives in Marigold which is actually in the Mississippi Jackson Mission (Bummer), but it is still awesome that he showed genuine interest in learning more about our church. After our visit with Chelsea and Anthony, we had an awesome lesson in a member's home! We had dinner with the Johnson family and their next door neighbor Kathy, and her two sons. We talked about the restoration and the first vision and then we shared the new Christmas video. It was an awesome lesson. Kathy seemed a bit reserved about learning more, but she was super nice and said that she would like to come to church some time. Yuuuuuuuuusssssss.
We visited Sister Haynie and Sister Sandlin, which was awesome. Sister Haynie is such a sweetheart. It was great to talk to her and tell her that her Father in Heaven loves her. We also went and “turkey attacked” the doors of some ward members which is the same concept as “heart attacking” doors but with turkey feathers. It was a lot of fun.
I LOVE SUNDAYS!! It is one of my very favorite days ever. Just the spiritual upliftment and the fellowship that you feel around everyone is so wonderful. I love that we get to go to church each week and partake of the sacrament. The fact that we get to start new each week and look towards Christ for hope is such a beautiful blessing to me. After church we were going to see a less active sister, but she cancelled on us :( , so we went out finding and inviting people to the upcoming Community Christmas event at church! It was so fun! Some people were really nice and we met some people that really want to come to church next Sunday! What? That never happens, but it was awesome. Also the Christmas video is just the best thing ever and I love showing it to people-or rather inviting them to go watch the video and remember CHRIST in CHRISTMAS. :) We then had dinner at the Brown’s house. They let us decorate a Christmas tree and, man, it reminded me of all the years my family has decorated our family tree. It turned out so cute! I wish that I had taken a picture. Everyone has been so gracious to make sure that we still get to do some fun Christmas stuff. I just love it here. The members are the best and everyone is truly so kind (for the most part). Yesterday, as I was outside in my summer cardigan (it's a thing, look it up. 3/4 sleeves yo), walking around the neighborhood freezing my arms off, a lady at her door said she wished she had chocolate so she could give us some. What a sweetheart!😉
This week my spiritual thought is on prayer. Something we do everyday-or should be doing everyday- and something that I have realized is completely essential in every aspect of life. I don't think I go an hour without praying to my Father in Heaven for guidance, help or thanksgiving. Today I was reading an April 2007 conference talk by Richard G. Scott, "Using The Supernal Gift of Prayer". READ IT. It is a marvelous talk. He taught, "Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul. Think of it: the absolute Supreme Being, the most all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful personage, encourages you and me, as insignificant as we are, to converse with Him as our Father. Actually, because He knows how desperately we need His guidance, He commands, “Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private.” It matters not our circumstance, be we humble or arrogant, poor or rich, free or enslaved, learned or ignorant, loved or forsaken, we can address Him. We need no appointment. Our supplication can be brief or can occupy all the time needed. It can be an extended expression of love and gratitude or an urgent plea for help. He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer.”…”It is so hard when sincere prayer about something you desire very much is not answered the way you want. It is difficult to understand why your exercise of deep and sincere faith from an obedient life does not grant the desired result. The Savior taught, “Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you.” At times it is difficult to recognize what is best or expedient for you over time. Your life will be easier when you accept that what God does in your life is for your eternal good."
This week has really been a week of prayer, as I have sought to understand things, sought to grow closer to God and sought to understand His will for me and for this area. I am so grateful that we can pray to our Father in Heaven and know that He is listening and that He cares. I know there have been times in my life when I have felt like He isn't listening or that He doesn't care, but I know now that He DOES know and that He greatly cares. He LOVES ME! ME! A missionary in Arkansas who is hobbling around in a boot and trying to figure out how to help others. ME! Of course he loves you! OF COURSE! It is such a divine blessing. I think I feel His love for me even more when I feel His love for others. That is the most beautiful feeling in the world. It just makes you want to love and serve everyone around you. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my Savior and my Father in Heaven. I love you all. I love the season of thanks and the season to remember Christ. Remember Him in all that you do and remember how much God must love you to send His son for US.
I love y’all!!!
A sister who misses her ugly Christmas sweaters...and white Christmases.
Thanksgiving dinner with the Wing family
Twin Turkeys!!! Sister Jensen and I BOTH received similar Thanksgiving packages
from our cute moms…Haha!
The fall leaves in Arkansas are simply AMAZING!
Sister Jensen and I had to capture their beauty with a few pics!!
Trimming the tree with the Millers
Eating ribs with the Joyce’s and Sister Bush