Monday, December 5, 2016

The first days of Christmas

HELLO HELLO!!!!!! It's officially Christmas time! YUSSSSSS. In my opinion, this is the very best time of the year. I just love Christmas time!!

This week was pretty crazy, but it was awesome. First of all, we started the week with a whole lot of service. Have y'all seen the Light the World video that the church has put out? OH MY GOSH. I just love it!!   I love the music, the images, the cute little kids, the message, and, of course, I love that all of these things focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ. If you have not seen the video or started doing a Christ-like service every day, START TODAY!!! It is just phenomenal. I really love how the beginning of the “Light the World” video has a lot of different short clips of literal lights, but then it stops showing lights because, at that point, the light IS Christ, as reflected through the life of the Savior as well as the Christ-like actions of so many people that strive to follow Him in their lives. I really love that each of us can be lights to the world as we strive to be Christ-like in our lives, for He is the ultimate example of sharing light. It is just wonderful. I can’t think of a better way to share light and help others to feel love and remember Christ than to be more like Him through service. I think that my mission has given me a much deeper appreciation for the power of Christ-like service. 

Alright, here are some highlights of the week:

“On the first day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me…. A new companion that made us us three!!!”  We have a new companion with us now. Her name is Sister Farr and she is great.  Here is the story. On Thursday, we had exchanges with our sister training leaders. I remained in Sherwood with Sister Kerby and Sister Jensen went to Conway with Sister Decker. While Sister Kerby and I were preparing to visit a Bible referral,  we got a phone call from President Wakolo. Well, you don't ignore a call from him, so we immediately answered the phone. He said, "Sisters, Sister Smith (who serves in Maumelle) will be going home tonight (due to health issues), so as of tomorrow, you will be in a trio with her companion, Sister Farr. Please prepare accordingly". What?!!   After the phone call, we promptly ended our exchanges and the sister training leaders took Sister Smith to the Mission home while the office elders got a bed set up at our apartment in Sherwood.   It has been a bittersweet experience.  I have had a heavy heart for poor Sister Smith who just arrived in October, but I am thrilled to be working with Sister Farr and serving as a trio. Oh, how I have missed trios…they are the absolute best!!  For the remaining weeks of this transfer, we will be the Maumelle-Sherwood Sisters and we will cover both Sherwood and Maumelle!  The Maumwood sisters. Shermelle life.  This is a unexpected and crazy development, but we are so excited to have Sister Farr with us and she is just fantastic all around. Of course, Sister Jensen still rocks, as well:) 

“On the second day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me… two crazy twins that we role-played with!”  On Friday, we visited the Millers in Maumelle and had dinner with them. They are such an amazing family and I really adore their darling twins, Brynne & Anne!  We watched the new “Light the World” video with their family and, afterward, we role played with their kids so that they would feel comfortable sharing the church’s new “Light the World” pass along cards.  The kids even had a friend in mind and ran off to share some cookies and a pass along card to him.  I love the missionary spirit these cute kiddos have!! 

“On the third day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me…three thousand calories!”  On Saturday, we ate so much! We had shakes, apple cider, hot cocoa, and the list goes on and on…I feel sick just thinking about it…Ugh!! We went to Conway to meet with Brother Routte, then afterwards we had lunch with our sister training leaders at this awesome restaurant called “The Purple Cow” that even has purple milkshakes. It was mmmmm, mmmmmm delicious, but seriously, I am sure that it was also a million calories.  Later, we went to the church and helped the members finish setting up for the awesome Community Christmas event which was entitled, “A Night in Bethlehem”. I really don’t have words to adequately express how amazing this event turned out. The members worked so hard and truly transformed the gym into a living town of Bethlehem. Everyone was walking around in ancient clothing, and there was a marketplace, which allowed people to wander from booth to booth and use their Roman coins to buy items such as dreidels, cookies, naan bread, frankincencse, myrrh, etc.. There also were musical numbers throughout the night and, best of all, there was a live nativity, which I loved so much. It truly was such a special night. 

“On the fourth day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me….opportunities to light the world!!!”  On Tuesday, we did a ton of service. It was crazy sauce. First, we visited a ward member, Sister Nance,  and we helped her spruce up a house that she had been renting out, but that the renters had pretty much trashed. We raked up a ton of leaves and we swept the inside of the house.   After, we had a delicious dinner with the Gustafsons which was super fun, as always. They are seriously one of my very favorite families here. After we had dinner with them, we went back to the NLR/Sherwood area and Sister Jensen went with Sister Blake to help Cyrstal clean her house (because I have realized that I am allergic to her house…Bummer!) while I went with Sister Flake to visit some investigators. We had a fantastic lesson with June and we discussed the Plan of Salvation. June shared that she had read through the Plan of Salvation pamphlet beforehand (she even highlighted passages) and that she really found a lot of comfort in it.   It made my little heart sing!!   I was then faced with a predicament. She had told us that she wouldn't be able come to church because she already had commitments at her current church (she is pretty involved in her church but she totally believes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true and that the Book of Mormon is true). So I thought, what commitment are we going to leave her today? In that moment, I was inspired to invite June to pass out the “Light the World” cards with our information on them.  She had been telling us a bunch of stories about how she makes a lot of friends in random places really easily. June happily agreed to share the cards and we said a prayer with her, praying that she would be guided to those needing the “Light of Christ”  in their world.  I can’t wait to follow up with her this week and see how things went for her. 

“On the fifth day of Christmas, my Savior gave to me….An amazing, GOLDEN fast Sunday.” I just love church and I l have grown to love the opportunity to fast. Most of all, I love that we get to go each week and show our Father in Heaven our love for Him by renewing our covenants WITH Him. Later that day, we felt inspired to visit the Sorenson family. We stopped by, showed them the beautiful “Light the World” video, then asked them if we could all pray together and see if they felt inspired to share a name of someone that we should visit.  After praying, the kids came up with the idea to sing Christmas carols, and then give out pass along cards afterwards. We loved that idea and headed out with most of the Sorensen kids and sang beautiful Christ-centered Christmas carols and then passed out cards to people afterwards. We had such a delightful night testifying through music and doing missionary work with the Sorensen family.  

Okay, here is my spiritual thought for the week. I was reading in Matthew 26 where Christ is at the last supper. When Christ tells his apostles that one of them is going to betray Him, all of the apostles ask Christ, "Lord, is it I?”.  President Boyd K. Packer taught that all of the apostles didn't turn to each other and say, “I  bet it is Judas, he's been acting really weird lately.” No, they asked the Lord. President Packer went on to say, "Would you, I plead, overrule the tendency to disregard counsel and assume for just a moment something apostolic in attitude at least and ask yourself these questions: Do I need to improve myself? Should I take this counsel to heart and act upon it? If there is one weak or failing, unwilling to follow the brethren, Lord, is it I?" (That All May Be Edified [1982]). I invite y’all to ask Heavenly Father, “What can I change to draw closer to Thee?”. I have been doing that, and while it is crazy hard to do, it ultimately is so worth it. 

I love y’all. I love the Savior. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love my Father in Heaven. I love this season. I love my family. I love the scriptures. Have a safe and happy week!!

Love, Sister Esplin :)

 Enjoying “A night in Bethlehem” 
(Standing with the Johnson family)

 Our new TRIO!!! Sister Farr, Sister Esplin, and Sister Jensen

 Eating at The Purple Cow in Conway

 Visiting the darling Routte family in Conway

 Raking leaves for Sister Nance

 We love our mini Christmas tree sent from home…Thank you!!

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