Monday, December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

This  week has been very busy and eventful, so let’s get started!!

We started off the day doing a favor for our mission mission president’s wife, Sister Wakolo. She wanted us to set up a Christmas tree and decorate the tree with ornaments that were pictures of all the missionaries in the mission glued on a plethora of colored paper. Once the ornaments were hung on the Christmas tree with care, we left to go to a lesson with Sister Wing, the mother of our stake president. Sister wing came to a lesson at the Buffett’s house. Mel and Tam are so great. They are originally from Utah but they moved here in the eighties. It was so cool because sister Wing knew some of the same people that they knew! Oh!  We also had a lesson with June, which was really good, but we had to drop her because we finally just realized that she wasn't going to leave her church or even visit our church. We were so sad!

We had our Christmas zone conference!!! ๐ŸŽ„ It was so great. The Beheshtis spoke to us. Elder Beheshti is an area seventy.  It was so cool. He told us that to change the world we needed to (1)Make our bed every morning, (2) Teach repentance, (3) Increase our faith, (4) Baptize converts, and (5) Get over being a sugar cookie or, in other words, realize that life isn't fair.  I absolutely LOVED the zone conference. It was so amazing and I wish I hadn't forgotten my notebook at home so I could tell y'all my notes. Oh well, next week I will!!!!  We also had an awesome lesson with Debbie. Debbie lives in Maumelle and she really liked everything we talked about. She even had her eight year old grandson sit in on the lesson and he sat there and exclaimed, “I know this is true!”. But funny story, when we were teaching Debbie, Caden came home but he slammed open the front door and scared us all so bad. I definitely screamed. I thought I was going to be shot! ๐Ÿ˜† That evening, we went to the Crandalls for dinner. Brother Crandall is also a Viking. He went to Viewmont years ago. 

We had the ward relief society Christmas party. Chelsea came! And so did Haven. I just love the sisters in the ward. The relief society is on fire here. They are fantastic and I just love them. I am so grateful for such a wonderful ward that truly loves the gospel and wraps the missionaries in their love. I do have to say that Christmas needs to get a different meat other than ham. I have had ham just about every day this month. :) 

Saturday night I went to Bryant with Sister VanOrman and Sister Waters (Sister VanOrman was my MTC companion).  They were awesome. It was fun to be somewhere different but I definitely missed Sherwood. Funny thing, apparently a Sister Erica Esplin served in the Benton ward a little while ago -the ward I went to this weekend- so everyone was freaking out that Sister Esplin had come back!!! It was very apparent that they loved her. ๐Ÿ˜ 

Here is my spiritual thought. Whoohoooo!!!!
It has been kind of a rough week, but I truly end up loving rough weeks (not at the time) because that means that good times are coming and that Christ can heal you through His infinite love, sacrifice, and atonement. This morning, I was reading Richard G. Scott’s April 1996 talk, “Finding Joy in Life”. His message completely blew my mind. It just gave me such comfort and healing that I needed. 

He taught, "You are one of the noblest of God’s creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be. Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenge are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do." 

"His intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth. Your joy in life depends upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His holy Son, your conviction that their plan of happiness truly can bring you joy."

"You are here on earth for a divine purpose. It is not to be endlessly entertained or to be constantly in full pursuit of pleasure. You are here to be tried, to prove yourself so that you can receive the additional blessings God has for you. The tempering effect of patience is required. Some blessings will be delivered here in this life; others will come beyond the veil."

"When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you. Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. That path leads to glorious joy and happiness."

"Challenges are growth experiences, temporary scenes to be played out on the background of a pleasant life. Don’t become so absorbed in a single event that you can’t think of anything else or care for yourself or for those who depend upon you. Remember, much like the mending of the body, the healing of some spiritual and emotional challenges takes time."

I can't even pick a favorite part of this talk. Heavenly Father wants us to have joy and wants us to be happy. Once we can accept that and have faith in his timing and love, we can find the joy in the journey and that divine connection to our Savior. I have learned through trials that they are vary rarely easy, but looking back, they were experiences I needed to grow to be the daughter of God that my Heavenly Father wants me to be. This December, as I have been trying to do light the world and striving to be more like Christ, I have learned that serving others truly does help us draw closer to Christ and to love those around us. Men are that they might have joy. I love the eternal joy that comes from the atonement and the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadness and happiness are temporary, and I think they are the salt and pepper of life. But Christ is the bread of life and through Him we may all find eternal joy, despite our circumstances. 

I love yall!!! MERRY Christmas! Thank you for all of the sweet cards! Y'all are the best!
Hugs and kisses from Arkansas 

Sister Esplin
 The tree we decorated for the zone conference
After zone conference

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