Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas, you filthy animals..and a Happy New Year!

This week was filled with little miracles and the pleasant joys of Christmas cheer and gladness.  I started this week coming back to Sherwood, which was great! It was seriously so good to be back "home". Sherwood is straight up the very best place in the world to serve. 

On Tuesday, we went with Sister Amy Miller to go see some young women and some members. It was great! Sister Miller is the cutest member ever. I just love her whole family! We visited Brother McKinney who had just come home from the hospital. After that, we went and visited Alosha. It was so great to have Sister Miller join us because she works with the young women and she invited Alosha to YW the next day and she actually came! Woot woot! 

On Wednesday, we visited Sister Martinez, who lives in our ward. She was as sweet as could be and even asked us to give the missionary lessons to her daughter who turns nine the day after Christmas.  Her daughter, Abby, is so cute, and I am so glad that Sister Martinez asked us to teach Abby! We look forward to working with her in the coming days. After we visited Sister Martinez and Abby, Sister Oakley from the ward treated us to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  Since Sister Farr encouraged me to not get chicken tenders, I decided to order a real southern meal of chicken fried chicken with dumplings and fried apples. Mmmmmmm!! After dinner at Cracker Barrel, we went to see Tara and it was a do or die moment. Before meeting with Tara, we prayed to Heavenly Father and pled to understand His will for her. We had hit a point where really needed to know if He wanted us to keep seeing her and if it was in His plans for her to learn about the gospel right now.  After offering up a prayer, we knocked on her door and she came outside. She said that she was busy but that she really wants to learn about the church. Then she told us that if she were to become a member she wouldn't be able to come every week to church because she works. Whoa! We had never even asked her to be baptized and she brought up being a member. We took that as an answer from Heavenly Father, so we will keep trying to see her and teach her. 

Thursday. WE HAD A BOMB LESSON WITH LAVETTA!!!!!!!! She told us a little while ago that it would be better to meet after the new year so we were kind of bummed out about that, but last week we took some chocolate stirring sticks for hot chocolate and while I was in Bryant she texted us and asked us to come over on Thursday at 11, so we did! Sister Wright, a fantastic member in our ward, joined us and she shared so many great insights and was a wonderful member support. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and it was just so cool because I recently have been studying a lot about our Heavenly Father’s plan for us and it was so wonderful to discuss these beautiful principles of the gospel and feel the spirit testify of these profound truths. Afterwards, we went to Maumelle and had Maddie Windsor come with us to go out teaching. Maddie is so cute! She just turned sixteen and was so excited to come with us. In fact, she actually texted us and asked us if she could come. After picking up Maddie, we had lunch with the Crandalls and then got down to business! First, we visited some less active families and they welcomed us in, which was just so great!  We eventually got to a point where we didn't know who to see, so Sister Farr turned to Maddie and said, “pick a door and knock on it.” Maddie picked a door, we knocked on it, and WE HAD A GREAT FIRST LESSON! It was with this college-aged guy named Garrett and he was super cool and accepted a Book of Mormon and said we could come back for another lesson! YES! GO MEMBER MADDIE!

On Friday, we went to Maumelle and helped Sister Bowen make tamales for the members that helped Sister Bowen with the “Light the World” parade last week.  It was so much fun. Fortunately, Sister Jensen is awesome and wrote down the recipe and the instructions, so we can try making them back home some day! Sister Bowen has a daughter serving a mission in Provo. Honestly, she is just the greatest person ever.  While we were making the tamales, some of Sister Bowen’s daughter’s friends, James and Collin, came over to have some of her awesome food. While they were there, we chatted with them about the church, answered questions about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and then gave them Book of Mormons.  It was a great missionary moment!

Saturday was a “white” Christmas Eve!!  Several months ago, when I first got out in the field, I met this guy named King. Since it was not appropriate for the sisters to teach him, we referred King to the elders. Well, King and his mom, Veronica, were baptized on Christmas Eve….Yay!!!  Even though I wasn't his missionary, it was so exciting to see that someone that I personally had found got baptized. Funny thing though. Right after he got baptized, King asked me if I wanted to go on a date and see a movie. I didn't know what to say, so I just said, “No, thank you.” Wow, that was crazy!!  After the baptism, Emma and Taylor, some cute members from Conway that Sister Farr is friends with, came out teaching with us. Emma came with me in the mommy van and it was awesome. She is so cute! She is a senior in high school so it was almost like having my sister, Meg, with me. Almost. For a moment, it really made me miss driving around with Megan, doing nothing important, just burning miles on our cars. Ahhh. Sisterhood. Later that day, we stopped by the Turner home and then we went to the Blake family home to celebrate Christmas Eve. The Blakes even got us presents so that we would feel included! It was so sweet!

Christmas was awesome! I loved having Christmas fall on a Sunday.  It was wonderful sharing the day with so many members who went out of their way to show us love and kindness. After church, we had Christmas dinner at our stake president’s home. President Wing is such a great man. He is an Arkansas state representative.  Honestly, the whole family is simply awesome!   The best part of my day was the FaceTime visit I shared with my family.   I was surprised how, even though we have been apart for six months now, it didn't feel like we had been apart. It was just like being home. 

This week, I read a talk by James E. Faust called “The virtues of righteous daughters of God”. It was such a great talk that can really be applied to everyone. He taught that virtue, in its fuller sense, encompasses all traits of righteousness that help us form our character.  In his talk, he shared: “May I suggest 10 virtues that each of you can pursue in your quest for excellence and happiness: faith, honesty, chastity, humility, self-discipline, fairness, moderation, cleanliness, courage, and grace. "  Best of all, he testified that if we practice these virtues in our lives, we will have the strength to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” (2 Nephi 31:20) May we each look within ourselves and seek for ways to personally cultivate these virtues in our lives, as we strive to be disciples of Christ. 

Merry Christmas! I love y’all. Have a great week!


Sis Esplin

Christmas photo of our district with Sister Hugentobler. We will miss her!

 🎵 Oh Christmas, Oh Christmas Tree…I loved all your sweet and thoughtful notes!! 

Working with Maddie

 Making tamales with Sister Bowen 

Selfie with Sister Bowen and her daughter's friends, James and Collin. 

Out with the Routts on Christmas Eve

Visiting the Turners on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve at the Blake home

Christmas at the Behunins

Christmas day with the President Wing and his lovely family

Ihop today with Taylor Routt

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