Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Your regularly scheduled Sister Esplin broadcast!

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening! 



Hello! I hope that y’all are doing wonderfully! Perhaps the leaves are bright and colorful on the trees or now they are brown and dead on the ground. Here in Arkadelphia it was SO SO SO beautiful and there was a wonderful brisk feel to the air, then disaster hit. It suddenly got WAY HOT, and then it got FREEEEEZING COLD. And now everything is brown and dead and not pretty. But, it was STUNNING while it lasted. 
Thank you, Sister Esplin, for the weather update. Now to Sister Esplin with the news. 



Thank you sister Esplin. (I thought that was funny). This week was filled with crazy lessons, resetting baptismal dates, and exchanges! Oh my. Stay tuned for the full story after this word from our sponsor. 



READ THE BOOK OF MORMON. 
It is another testament of Jesus Christ and it WILL help you grow closer to God. 
It is the most correct of any other book. 



Back to our regularly scheduled missionary news. Okay, okay. I’m sorry I will stop with the newscaster thing. Gotta be creative with your emails after you have written a lot. 

Anywho….On Monday night we had an awesome lesson with Lisa, the lady that came to church with her friend that was speaking and that we tracted into. She was awesome! She had great questions and she was super excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. We even have an appointment with her and her friend, Sister Cordova, where we are going to read the Book of Mormon together. 

On Tuesday we had a lesson with Cameron, Maria’s son. Story for this week. We prayed at the beginning of the week and we said that if we were not able to meet with her that week that we would drop her, which is really sad, but we committed to do it. It was her do or die week. So we came over Tuesday and her 16 year old son came to the door (he actually came to general conference last month, but we hadn’t taught him because he never sat down in our lessons and when he was home his mom wasn’t). He told us that he had read the plan of salvation pamphlet that we had left with him and that he was ready for Bible study. We told him that we could not come inside without another sister and he said that his mom was home but that she was sick in the bathroom and she told us that we could come in. So awkward....We did teach him the plan of salvation and he loved it and had lots of good questions and experiences to share with us. An interesting thing about this lesson was that his girlfriend was on speakerphone and “listening” in on the lesson the whole time. She never said anything, but she was just there. Apparently, they will watch tv together but not be together. They will just waste their minutes! When we talked about how families can be together he told his girlfriend that they needed to get married in the temple. That is good. We also were able to see Maria and set up another appointment with her for the next day. 

On Wednesday, we had our lesson with Maria and it went wonderfully! She loved it and we discussed how we needed to change her baptismal date to December. She said that she really really wants to be baptized and that she is committed to it. She told us about how whenever she leaves her house she takes her Book of Mormon with her so that she can read it. She is great, she is just super hard to pin down for an appointment. Grrrr. 

Thursday we had zone conference and interviews with President Hansen! I love zone conference. I forgot to mention earlier that since we have become a more technology and social media mission, we have a new section of preach my gospel. It is “How do i fulfill my purpose?”.  It is really good and it really focuses on focusing on the people. I just love zone conference! The Hansens are fantastic. One of my favorite quotes from this zone conference came from President Hansen: “Skip the B.S. (direct quote guys). Introduce the Book of Mormon and get them (our investigators) to read it”. He is very straight forward and wears his heart on his sleeve, which I love. He is also brutally honest. I enjoyed my interview with him and I tried to ask him what he was going to do with me next transfer (he is notorious for telling people what is going to happen to them the next transfer in their interviews). Well, I told him that I love Arkadelphia and that I would love to stay here for the rest of my mission. I asked him if that could happen and he kind of said, “eeeeeeeehhhhh, we’ll just have to see”.  WHAT! I was kind of expecting him to tell me yes. PRESIDENT!! Also, I asked if I would be in a trio since I will go home 2 weeks early and the answer he gave me just confused me more. Moral of the story, don’t ask questions to your honest mission president if you don’t want to hear the answer or the NOT answer. Also, my other favorite quote from zone conference was from President Hansen,  as well, when he shared, “WE need to to learn to turn our will to God”. SO SO SO TRUE!!

On Friday and Saturday we had exchanges with the Pinnacle Mountain sisters and I was able to go to Little Rock on Exchanges. It was awesome. I went with sister Feinga and we met so many awesome and sometimes crazy people. There were a lot of people that came to their door and told us that they were indecent. My continuing question is why do people answer their doors if they are not decent!?!? But I learned so much from Sister Feinga. She is such a spiritual giant and she just takes everything in stride. I was also able to see the apartment that my parents  and I lived in when we lived in Little Rock!!! It was so cool to see walk around the apartment complex, knocking on doors, and think about the fact that this was the first home I ever lived in after entering this world.  It was such a surreal experience!

Yesterday, we were able to have a lesson with Brasha, a girl that we had found a couple of weeks ago. It was awesome! We were able to teach her the restoration and she loved it. She felt the spirit and she told us that she felt so calm. She told us that she wanted to share this message with her friends and she was wondering if we could conduct a Bible study with her and her friends every Sunday night. What?!!! She told us that we could teach everyone what we taught her that night because she felt that it will bless and help their lives. We just kind of sat there in awe. WHAT. She is great!!! She also committed to reading the Book of Mormon. Life is good y’all. The church is true!!!

This week I studied something interesting in my Book of Mormon. In Helaman 5:8 we are taught- “And now my sons, behold I have somewhat more to desire of you, which desire is, that ye may not do these things that ye may boast, but that ye may do these things to lay up for yourselves a treasure in heaven, yea, which is eternal, and which fadeth not away; yea, that ye may have that precious gift of eternal life, which we have reason to suppose hath been given to our fathers.”

I had some thoughts on this. My mission is not to “boast” about being a “returned missionary”. It is not to receive worldly praise or gain. My mission blesses my life eternally. My mission is not about me. It is about connecting others to Christ. My mission is to help others gain eternal life. My ultimate goal is eternal life and I would much rather receive those blessings and praise in Heave than on earth. My call is from on high. I am here to assist the shepherd in gathering His sheep. Our greatest gift is eternal life. Do we want praise here? Or in heaven? 

I also read a wonderful talk by Steven E. Snow from his April 2011 general conference address titled “Hope”. He said, “ Hope alone does not cause us to succeed. ...Our hope in the Atonement empowers us with eternal perspective. Such perspective allows us to look beyond the here and now on into the promise of the eternities”. 

I LOVE THIS. This life is the time to prepare to meet God. Sometimes it may seem dark and impossible, but the light that Jesus Christ gives through His atoning sacrifice helps us to see ahead and have that hope to continue on.

I love y’all so so so so much!!! I hope that you have a wonderful week. Read the Book of Mormon and continue to pray. I know that doing those things can help us and bless our lives. I know that this is Christ’s church on the earth again! I know that Christ lives and that he loves us so so much. I know that Heavenly Father knows the whole plan and that he wants to help us. I know that as we turn to Him, he is able to guide and direct us. 
I love y’all!!!!

Love,

Sister Esplin
Ashley
Serving in Arkadelphia

Wannabe newscaster ;)



Side note from Ashley's Mom-
Ashley’s visit to our Little Rock apartment is such a tender mercy bestowed by the hand of the Lord.  Ashley recently wrote home on her PDAY mentioning that she thought that she would be doing exchanges in our former Pinnacle Mountain Ward (where we first lived when Ashley was born).  At the time, I thought to myself, “Wow, I sure wish I could find our old address… Wouldn’t that be cool to share that with her!”  That thought went in and out of my mind lickety-split since I hadn’t seen a record of that address in years and years and I was certain that I not would be able to find the address since all of our papers from twenty years ago had long since been shredded and discarded.   Well, the night before she did exchanges, I was restocking some copy paper in a filing cabinet we use specifically for copy paper…not important files or documents…just copy paper.  As I pulled out an empty hanging file folder to put the copy paper inside of it, I realized that there were a few sheets of paper still inside the hanging file folder.  Those documents turned out to be bank statements from our time in Little Rock…and the craziest part is that the bank statement cycle was the month that Ashley was born.  Honestly, I have not seen any documents with our Little Rock address in about a decade. The fact that I was guided to this address without even trying to find it was truly a MIRACLE!!!  I love that Ashley was granted  this opportunity to discover her first home on earth.  This address is part of HER life story. This is where she came home after she was born at St Vincent Hospital. This is part of who she is. This experience demonstrated to me, once again, just how truly mindful our Heavenly Father is of each and every one of us. This tender mercy was only made possible by Him and I am humbled by His great love and goodness in the big and little details of our lives!!!

 Love these Sisters!



Amazing Sister Feinga

My very first home as a child
13111 W Markham Street, Apartment 288

I can’t believe this is where I first lived!!


Monday, November 6, 2017

Another week teaching the gospel!

HELLO!!! 

I hope that y’all had a WONDERFUL Halloween. It sure was crazy over here in Arkadelphia. They actually didn’t really have kids trick or treat at houses but they went to the university in town and the clubs and organizations did a “safe” trick or treat. But, there were still a lot of people out and about, which meant that driving was terrifying. Also, I was able to go to the dentist on Halloween and that was awesome! Everyone at the office kept talking about how it might be scary, but it is okay. I just kept telling them that I love going to the dentist! Shout out to Uncle Clint for being the best dentist ever! 

This week. Hmmm. Well. We had some ups! And we had some downs. Last week, if you remember, we had the really awesome lesson with Sister Mckim. Well. On Tuesday we got a really sweet text from her telling us that she was grateful for the opportunity that she had to know us and telling us to take care and God be with us. All we responded with was “Thank you so much! Happy Halloween! “ Well, the next day we texted her and asked if we could come and see her on Wednesday. She replied that the note she had sent us the day before was telling us ‘goodbye’ and that she was not a Mormon any more. What…WHAT?!!  On Friday we went over to her home and she grumbled at us through a closed window that she told us not to come back. We both were SO sad!

We also have lost Robert. He moved to Fayetteville because of some things that happened. Now we are just teaching Sara and Michael-which is still great! But it is sad that Robert is gone. One of the things that he took with him though was his Book of Mormon and he said that he is going to read it every day. On Thursday we had a lesson with his mom and brother and with the primary president and her boys and it went pretty well! We talked about service. One of the things that I love in Preach my Gospel is found on page 87, “All callings are important and help build God’s kingdom. We are to accept such callings and work diligently to learn and fulfill our duties. As we do so, we grow in faith, develop new talents and a greater ability to serve, and receive numerous other blessings”. I love that! Everything that we are called to do is to help us in specific times in our lives so that we can learn and grow and become more of what Heavenly Father wants us to be. 

We went ‘finding; this week and when we did, no one seemed to be home. But we won’t let that get us down!! SWEET IS THE WORK! I know that there are people being prepared and that before long, we will find them! 

This week we had a lesson with a lady named Brandy and we were able to teach her the restoration. It was so cool! My companion, Sister Black, asked some awesome questions! She asked if she ever wondered why there were so many churches. Brandy told us that she wondered that all the time. She said it must be because there are so many religions. We told her that Christ only set up one church though, so how are we supposed to know which one is His church? She loved it all! She told us to come back another time thought because she was having tooth problems so she really isn’t able to pay attention because her tooth pain was so bad. She also had the cutest little 3 year old twins!! They were all over the place. We tried to show Brandy a video and the twins kept turning the video off! 😂 They were so so cute though, so that made up for all their shenanigans. 

Okay, for my spiritual thought this week I have thought a lot about how sometimes things just seem like they keep getting worse and worse and that a lot of times we aren’t able to see the light. I love the hymn, ‘How Firm a Foundation’. One of my favorite verses is verse 5 where it says: “When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine”. I know that God has a plan for each and every one of us and that He is in control. We do not need to fear as we have faith in Him. At one point in my life, When I could only see a little farther ahead of me, I wondered why God would let difficult things happen around me and to me if He really loved me. I knelt down in prayer to my Father in Heaven and poured out my heart to Him, asking Him why He would let all these things happen to me. I was humbled then and I still am today by the peace and love that I felt at that time. I am stronger now from the trials I have experienced  and I know that He truly is there through our refining fires. God is in control and I know that we can turn to Him for peace and for comfort. This is truly the Plan Of Happiness! The things that we go through are for our good. You may not understand now, but you will someday. He is so organized. He sees the whole picture. I know that this church is ABSOLUTELY Jesus Christ’s Church, restored on the earth today through Joseph Smith. I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true. Oh my goodness, it brings me such joy and happiness and it has helped me in my life so much. I am so grateful to be on my mission and to give my life to the Lord. This is what I love doing. There is so much to do and so little time. I pray that I will not miss any people I was meant to personally serve!

I love y’all so so so much!! I hope that you have a wonderful week!
Love,
Sister Esplin
Ashley



 I love this amazing mural in Arkadelphia!!




Getting some much needed dental work done!




Monday, October 30, 2017

Come Unto Christ: A Missionary Musical Tribute

Bonjour! It is me! Sister Esplin, BACK AGAIN!! I know you missed me ;) To quote phantom of the opera: “Remember me, once in a while; Please promise me you’ll tryyyyyyy!!” This week was a great week, but then again most weeks are in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. In Arkadelphia, specifically. This week was so much fun, as well! Missionary work is so HARD. But whoever said that missionary work can’t be fun is crazy! We have had some awesome success stories this week and shared some fantastic experiences.

Our Monday night dinner is now pretty much every week with the Johnstuns. Shout out to them!! We love when people feed us :) Not only because we don’t have to spend money on food and Sister Black gets a break from eating my food experiments, but because we get to know the members and help assist and guide them in their missionary efforts. FEED THE MISSIONARIES!!! DO IT! 

On Thursday we went and had a lesson with a member who actually WAS actively trying to become a member of the seventh Day Adventist church, but they kicked her out.  We have been visiting with her and she said we could start teaching her ‘the missionary lessons’. (Side note, I phrased it like that and now she thinks she is taking lessons to become a missionary which she is VERY excited about. She is kind of right). We had lesson one with her and, oh my goodness, the spirit was strong she just kept saying that things made sense and that she felt like a light bulb was going on in her head. She just loved the restoration. It was such a great lesson!!! 

We were also able to teach another member the first lesson this week (side note, as their visiting teachers we are supposed to be teaching them the lessons. That is why we have a lot of lessons with just members). Well, as we taught her, we had quite an interesting experience. Everytime that sister Black talked she LOVED it. Every. Single. Time. I opened my mouth. She FELL ASLEEP!!! Oh my goodness. What in the world?! But it is okay, we ended our wonderful lesson with her singing a song about squirrels getting nuts for Christmas. I really don’t know what is happening with her. 🤷‍♀️ 

On Friday we were able to volunteer at the rehab center’s  Halloween party. It was great, except we were all FREEZING!! ❄️ On the bright side, we were able to see some investigators there and talk to them so it was so so awesome! Just that week we were discussing as to whether or not we should keep serving at the rehab center, but then we had some great missionary moments and we felt like that this was our signal to continue serving in this capacity.  

On Saturday we had our awesome branch Halloween party!!! It was so much fun and we were able to talk to a lot of members that we have been trying to get a hold of, but they have been NOT ANSWERING THEIR: (pick one of the above) phones, doors, Facebook messages, car door. I’m kidding about the last one. But we were able to talk to a lot of them, and guess what!? They came to church yesterday!!! YAYAY!!

Okay, last thing! We had our musical devotional yesterday, “Come Unto Christ: A missionary Musical Tribute”, and it was so good!!! Oh my goodness. I loved it. I definitely cried a lot. We sang in the choir and sang wonderful songs like Joseph Smith’s First Prayer, As Sisters in Zion/We’ll Bring The World His Truth, Called to Serve, and Amazing Grace-My Chains Are Gone. It was so so beautiful. The spirit was so strong and I truly know that what President Hansen has told us about the three things that bring the spirit is true. It is Sacred music, testimony, and doctrine. That is what our performance was. Missionaries bore their testimonies, the stake president spoke and taught everyone core doctrine, and we sang sacred music. It was so delightful. I wish I could be a part of another devotional. 

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon this week, I loved the things that I learned! In Alma 36:14 Alma shared, “So great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.” Then in verses 17-22 he shared: 
17 “And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
22 Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.”

Turning to christ is the only way we can overcome our sins. As you compare verse 14 to verse 22, isn’t it amazing that in verse 22 Alma’s feelings changed from “the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with with inexpressible horror” to “my soul did long to be there (with God)”. The atonement helps us to approach God’s throne with confidence. Alma was a great sinner, but through Christ and His atonement, Alma became a changed man who desired to be with God. ALL OF US, no matter our circumstances can have that desire to be with God. If we have unworthiness or sin, all we need to do is repent and turn to Jesus Christ. He can help us through everything. He has suffered for us and he always has his arms outstretched for us. 

I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I love His gospel. I love the Book of Mormon and I know that it is the word of God. I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and knows who we are. I know that through Jesus Christ we can overcome the sins that we make and we can become even better and truly become disciples of Christ and be instruments in His hands. When Alma repented, God didn’t hold back in utilizing Alma simply because Alma had sinned in the past. Instead, God put him to work and He used him for good. We CAN become new through Jesus Christ. We all have worth!!!


I love y’all so so much!! I hope that you have a wonderful week! I would love to hear from you!!!! HAAAAVE A GOOD ONE!!!!
Love,
Sister Esplin
Ashley
A Super Sister
A choir member


THE MUSICAL TRIBUTE!!!
 Some of our Arkadelphia homies! Sister Johnstun and Sister Franklin

 We caught another one!! Sister Moss:)

 LOOK WHO I FOUND!!! ❤️ My baby has grown up so much! She is reppin’ in Sherwood now! :)


SUPER SISTERS!! 
Sister Black’s mom made these cute capes. Shoutout to her!



Halloween party!!
The Johnstuns
Kool (sisters) and the gang 

Sunday morning selfie 

Walkin’ and knockin’ with Sister Black


Our “chili”—I also made homemade pizza and it turned out pretty good :)









Monday, October 23, 2017

Hey, Do you have water?

HELLO! 

The dreaded transfer email came on Saturday the 21st, dun dun dun!!!! And guess what!? I get to stay in Arkadelphia with Sister Black!! Yay!! HALLELUJAH!! IT HAS BEEN SO LOOOOOOONNNNGGGG!!!! I am so so so excited to stay here and to stay with my companion. We are going to do some awesome work this transfer!! Woot woot! This week was cram packed with so much, I am so glad we get to keep working with this fire for another 6 weeks. 

On Tuesday we were able to have district meeting and our zone leaders came and instructed us on some new mission procedures. WE ARE NOT COUNTING KEY INDICATORS. Yup. You saw that right. We are wanting to focus more on the people and less on the numbers aspect of it all. So that is exciting. OH! Going along, sort of, with this, President Hansen has asked us all to have our family and friends pray with us in praying for 80 souls to be baptized before the end of the year. So if any of you would be willing to help in that regard, I know that those prayers are heard and so so so important. Going along with that, here are some more highlights of the week. 

On Tuesday we had a lesson with the Bradys at the church and it went GREAT! We have been struggling to know what we can do to help Michael and Robert focus and be reverent during the lessons. Like any normal young boys, they are quite rambunctious and so they won’t stay seated, and they will sometimes just walk out of the lesson or run off or lay on the ground or just not pay attention at all, which frustrates their mom to no end. So there we were, sitting at the church at approximately 7:45 waiting for them to show up at the church, when suddenly, Sister Black had an idea! She grabbed a bunch of chairs from a room and basically barricaded the lobby off from the rest of the church. I was a bit wary of it, no way was that going help our situation. Well, the Bradys showed up and the boys walk into the church and see all of the chairs and stop and look at us and ask what is going on. We told them that something horrible had happened that day and they shouldn’t go past the chairs. Surprisingly enough they listened. We had the lesson with only occasional outbursts. It was wonderful! When the lesson was over Robert turned to us and asked what had happened (for about the 50th time). We turned to him and with all the solemnity that we could muster, told him that the WiFi had stopped working. Their eyes got big and they stomped outside of the church in frustration. Then we laughed. We didn’t know that would work! Oh my goodness. Later, Sara (their mom) told us that when they got back in the car, they said: “I cant believe they got us!”. 

Another great story from that same lesson: 
So, we were going to teach the word of wisdom, but then we felt that we needed to read the Book of Mormon with them. So we read Alma chapter 31, where it talks about the people in Antionum, the Zoramites. If I can take you back a little bit, this is where it is talking about the people who would get on the Rameumptom and say the exact same prayers thanking God for making them better then all of the other people. So I demonstrated some bad things to do for prayers, (ie. thanking him for making me better than Sister Black 😉, thanking him for the day and yadda yadda yadda). Then I asked the boys if that prayer was good if I said the same thing every day. The answer they gave was yes. Well, I decided to make my point by raising my right hand high in the air, poising it to slap down into my left hand to make a loud slap. Well, I think that would have worked except for the fact that I didn’t judge the distance all that well and on my hand’s downward descent to my other hand, I SLAPPED MY FACE!!! I also scratched my eye. So. My point didn’t actually get across. Everyone just laughed at me. Oh well! 🤷‍♀️ 

On Tuesday night we were also super blessed to be able to go to a member’s house and visit with her. It was such a tender mercy. We have not been able to meet with her at all the whole transfer, but luckily we were able to catch her at just the right time at her house. A crazy thing happened though that solidifies my theory that people in Arkansas are straight up tough! We were talking to Sister Jernigan and all of a sudden, a she tells us that she killed a wasp. What? She had just been standing there and a wasp had flown into her dress and stung her a couple times and all she did was whack it once and it died. And she just kept on talking to us!! Oh my goodness they are like mighty Amazonian warriors out here! Sometimes... ;)

On Wednesday to Friday we went on exchanges! I went to the Pinnacle Mountain area with Sister Guthrie and Sister Feinga came to Arkadelphia with Sister Black. I came back to my literal place of birth! Oh my goodness gracious. I decided that I am NEVER EVER EVER going to serve in that area. The hills there were CRAZY! We had a walk day there and I seriously about died. 😶 I have never walked that many hills and that steep on my mission. I have truly been blessed with a flatter terrain. As I was walking up the hills of my affliction (as I will now call them), the sage words of the wise Miley Cyrus ran through my head. “Always gonna be an uphill battle; Always gonna want to make them move! Yadda yadda yadda... doesn’t matter how fast I get there... yadda yadda yadda... IT’S THE CLIIIIIIIIIMB!!!!”.  It was indeed a climb. BUT we were able to see so many people and talk to them about the gospel. We were also able to give out several copies of the Book of Mormon. In fact, here is another story for you:) As we headed out into the hill infested land, being beaten down by the cruel sun, I realized that I was thirsty!! I finished my first water bottle and I just turned to Sister Guthrie and said, “It might be a good time to knock on doors and we can also ask for water! “ She acquiesced. So, as we got to this door, I was told by Sister Guthrie that I had that door. So this 20 something year old guy opens the door and asks if there was something we wanted. To which I very smoothly asked if he had water. He kind of looked taken back and responded with a yes and asked if we wanted some. YES. So he went back inside. I turned to sister Guthrie and her eyes were HUGE! Then I realized what I just did and definitely did a facepalm. So smooth Esplin. 🤦🏻‍♀️ But then he came back and he was so nice and we were able to talk to him and set up another appointment and give him a Book of Mormon and later that night we sent him a video and he watched it and started a conversation with us! As we walked away we realized that some people need to be approached in different ways. God knows what we need and often times he uses us to do His purposes. So the next time you have an embarrassing moment, remind yourself that there might actually be a purpose in it all.

LAST THING!! On Sunday we had ‘Friend Sunday’ and it was awesome! So many people brought their friends and it went wonderfully. Well, later that night we were tracting and we came to a street and I just felt like that was not where we needed to be, so we went to the street over and started knocking on doors and NO ONE was answering. Finally we saw a college student outside so we low-key speed walked towards her but then she walked inside and since we didn’t want her to think we were targeting her (we totally were, for the record), we went to her neighbor across the street and knocked. At first we didn’t think anyone was going to come to the door, but when the door opened it was a wonderful surprise! It was a lady that had come to church that day with a member! We all laughed and talked about how God had definitely led us to her. She is great and we are so excited to meet with her on that 2nd of November. 

This week I was reading President Uchtdorf’s talk from last conference, ‘A Yearning for Home’, and I just loved what it had to say!!
“The history of God’s work is filled with people who considered themselves inadequate. But they humbly served, relying on the grace of God and His promise: “Their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield … , and they shall fight manfully for me; and … I [will] preserve them.”
“How encouraging it is to know, though we are imperfect, if our hearts are turned to God, He will be generous and kind and use us for His purposes.Those who love and serve God and fellowmen and humbly and actively participate in His work will see wondrous things happen in their lives and in the lives of those they love. Doors that seemed shut will open.Angels will go before them and prepare the way.No matter your position in your community or in the Church, God will use you, if you are willing. He will magnify your righteous desires and turn the compassionate actions you sow into a bountiful harvest of goodness.”

I love that! As we are willing and humbly ask what we can do and pray to be instruments in his hands, God will help us help others. We can be instruments in His hands. A member said something in passing to us this week and I just found it super profound. she said, “If you want to be a good learner you need to be able to give your will to the teacher. “. I think that is so so so true! Especially in missionary work. As we strive to be disciples, which ARE learners, we need to follow the Master. we need to know our Savior and do what he would do and listen to the promptings of the spirit and do what our Father in Heaven would have us do. 

I just want to bear my testimony to y’all. I know that this church is true. I know that our Father in Heaven knows us and loves us SO SO SO much! I know that as we do HIS will, we will be blessed and happy. As Elder (formerly President) Wakolo always says, “This is the plan of HAPPINESS! Not the plan of SADNESS”. God doesn’t want us to be sad. So if we feel distant from Him, Who moved? If we feel sad, we can turn to our Savior, Jesus Christ and I know that he can heal us and help us. He knows exactly what we are feeling. I love y’all so so much and I hope that you have a wonderful week!!!

Love,

Sister Esplin
Ashley
Hill walker
Asking for water can actually lead people to the Living Water ;)

Willing learner

 Staying together another transfer 



Exchanges with Sister Guthrie 


 Sister Black’s mom sent capes for Halloween!
We will be the Super Sisters!!!


Monday, October 16, 2017

Baptismal dates, the Book of Mormon, and Spanish lessons

Hello all!

This week was a pretty good week. I hope that y’all had a great week as well and were able to see God’s hand in your life. I also hope that you have been consistently reading the Book of Mormon. I have been studying like crazy!!! Oh my goodness, I love that book. There are so so so many ways to study it, and every time that I open the book I feel like I learn new things and the spirit just flows through me. With this last General Conference, where several people talked about the importance of studying the Book of Mormon and then in our mission tour Elder Klebingat talked about how it was the “great sifter”. Oh my goodness, I have been trying so hard to focus more and more on the Book of Mormon and do you know what? I have really been able to see the blessings in my life. I have found that the Book of Mormon is so relatable to our times. The Prophets in the Book of Mormon saw OUR DAY!! I love the music “Cumorah’s Hill” that we performed when I was in young women’s. I listened to the music this week and I felt the spirit so strong. I love the last song where they say “From Cumorah’s Hill there comes a witness and a warning. Out of darkness shines the welcome light of morning.” As missionaries, we are here to share that light with others. Some people would rather not listen and feel the gladness that comes from the gospel. They would rather hide in the darkness. But I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it’s purpose is to help us and guide us. I invite and beg you all to READ THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!! With the days that are here and forthcoming, we all need the strength that comes from reading it. I KNOW that as we read we are putting on our spiritual armor. We are better able to see the cunning plan of the adversary and fight back and be strong. We will be able to stand on holy ground. Being able to testify of the truthfulness of the Book is such an amazing experience for me. Every time I do, I feel like so many are there with me. I know that I am putting my name with the Prophets in the Book.

This week we had a lesson with Maria and oh my goodness! It was amazing. She was kind of distracted because she had her little nephew but we were able to talk to her about the Book of Mormon and she just loves it! I shared 1 nephi 15:7-11. We need to ask god to help us to understand things that we don’t understand. As we turn to him in faith, he will answer and teach us. We talked more about how she feels about the Book and we asked her if she would pray about it and again she told us that she doesn’t need to. She already knows it is true. We still asked her to pray about it though. She agreed and then we invited her to baptism....and she said YES! We set the date for November 4th. She said that it was about time for her to rededicate her life and this time she didn’t want to do it for anyone, for friends, for family, because of pressure. She wants to change her life to the Lord. We are excited to keep teaching her.

We were also able to be in a Spanish lesson this week with Jose while the Little Rock Hermanas Skyped in. We had to use our phone since Jose didn’t have any way to have a lesson with them. But it was cool to see how the spirit was there even if I couldn’t understand a word. Sister Johnstun also came with us and I am so grateful for her help because she was an amazing member helping teach the lessons to him!!!! I love the Arkadelphia branch. The members are seriously amazing.

We also were able to have some lessons with the Bradys this week and we were able to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before my mission, ‘the gospel’ felt a little abstract to me. I just heard everybody talk about it all the time and just thought it was this “thing” that we did. When I went to the MTC I realized that the gospel was actually much easier than I thought! Knowing that through Christ we can be cleansed from sin, then having faith in Jesus Christ, which leads to the next step of Repentance, which leads to baptism (or if you are already baptized, working towards the temple and partaking of the sacrament), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (and trying to keep him with us all the time), and enduring to the end. We had Michael take giant leaps with every scripture we read about those things. He would take a leap towards a picture of Jesus Christ. It was great!!!

I love y’all so so much!!! I want to end with a quote from elder Holland, “[The Lord] has offered us one last covenant, given us one last testament, as part of his final outreach to fallen man. He has offered us one last written witness of his love and his mercy extended for the final time. … That testament and culminating witness, that ‘new covenant’ offered to the children of men but once more, is the message of the Book of Mormon. “No record teaches more of God’s promise to those in the last days.
Those promises focus on his Only Begotten Son, on ‘the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah … [who] shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved’ [2 Nephi 2:8–9]. “The task of the children of God in these concluding days of the world’s history is to proceed with ‘unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save,’ to ‘press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men[,] … feasting upon the word of Christ, and endur[ing] to the end. This is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God’ [2 Nephi 31:19–21]. “No other book helps us do this so well. No other book was ever divinely produced and protected solely for that purpose. No other book has ever been written with such a full view of the future dispensation to which that record would eventually come. … “… In its message of faith in Christ, hope in Christ, and charity in Christ, the Book of Mormon is God’s ‘new covenant’ to his children--for the last time” (Christ and the New Covenant, 8–10). I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ’s Church once again restored to the earth. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that as we turn to our Heavenly Father in prayer, he will answer us-but not always in the way or time that we want. I know that God sees the big picture and that He is taking care of us. I know that when State Farm asks “Are you in good hands?” I can say, “YES!!! I am in God’s hands!!” :) There were definitely days this week that were kind of hard, but yesterday before church I knelt down in prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me and strengthen me. I asked for answers and reassurance. In sacrament meeting my prayers were answered. As we turn to Christ and our Father in Heaven, they can help us. I tell people that if we want to feel better spiritually we need to evaluate how our Church attendance is going, how meaningful our scripture study is, and how personal our prayers with our Father in Heaven are. As we strive to strengthen those areas I know that we will be okay. I love y’all so so much!!!! Thank you so much for the updates and emails and letters! I am so grateful for all of you. OH ALSO!!!! President Hansen has asked that we ask all of our friends and family to pray that we can achieve 80 baptisms for the rest of the year so that we can get every soul that is ready. Please do that if you can:)

Thanks!

Love y’all!!!

Love,

Sister Esplin
Ashley
MISSIONARYAYAYAY!!
Book of Mormon testifier

Happy Dancer


 Sweet is the work with Sister Black!

Our new car!


Whoah! Christmas is already at Walmart!!!

Monday, October 9, 2017

General Authorities, Testimony meeting visitors, and A BRAND NEW CAR!

Hey y'all!

I hope that your weeks have been AMAZING! I know that ours here in Arkadelphia has been pretty great. I sure do love this area. The people are so sweet here! I also for a moment have to talk about how much I love being a missionary. There is nothing like it. I love being able to talk to people about Jesus Christ and witness how He changes people and see through His eyes how no one is a lost cause. I love the fact that I am able to feel even just a little bit of my Heavenly Father's love for my brothers and sisters and that I can share that love with them. I love that I am out here in Arkansas finding my brothers and sisters and helping them to repent and come closer to Christ. Seeing the light of the gospel enter into their lives is so breathtaking. I love it when people hear a truth (that I take for granted because I have known it my whole life) and, as they come to understand it,  it becomes an aha moment. I love that as I help others to come closer to our Savior, I also come closer to Him. I know that He understands and loves these people here and that He cares about them so much. He wants them back. I love it when people have a genuine desire to learn and are "truth seekers”, as we call them. I feel a little bad that they get me as a teacher, but God works with the weak. 

Okay!!! So this week was seriously AMAZING. I don't know how else to describe it. We were able to have interviews this week with President Hansen and that was great! Also, this week we were able to go to North Little Rock and have a meeting with Elder Klebingat of the quorum of the seventy. He was amazing! He had so many wonderful instructions and I learned so so so much! My mind felt like it was just going to explode-in a good way. :) I was taking so many notes. Here are some of those awesome notes:

There are two types of pain in life:
-pain of discipline, which weighs ounces
-pain of regret, which weighs tons
The pain of discipline brings joy. The sooner you will come to love the pain of discipline, you will be blessed. 
He talked about how when you take anything to an extreme, the adversary will use it against you. Don't be a Pharisee. (That was my own little note)

He talked about how knowledge saves us ultimately and how the adversary will always attack first prayers and scripture study. He also told us some amazing things about the plan of salvation and, oh my goodness, it has changed my life. Seriously. He talked about how if you are from the tribe of Ephraim you have the RESPONSIBILITY to share the gospel. So when people ask why I am on a mission he said that President Nelson would want us to say, "I am here to fulfill my pre-mortal covenant to gather Israel". I promised before I was born to be here and to bring my brothers and sisters back. To prepare for our brother's return. This mission is so much bigger than we thought it was. He said that we already did this in the premortal world, as we begged our brothers and sisters to follow God's plan. That, as a missionary, Heavenly Father is asking us to be his witness one more time. 

He also instructed us on how to use the Book of Mormon more in our missionary work. We need to be reading with our investigators and helping them. He said that people who are elect will respond to the book.  He also told us that the less that we speak in a lesson the better we will teach. We need to be using the pamphlets and the Book of Mormon. We are there to lead, guide, and clarify, but  I cannot speak better than the Prophets and apostles, and actually, God. 

He taught us a lot and I learned SO MUCH! I wish I could just have had more time to learn even more! It was amazing and it gave me a renewed energy to work and find all of my brothers and sisters. We got to shake hands with him afterwards and he shook each of our hands and then STARED INTO OUR SOULS and asked how long we had been out and then lifted us all. 

Okay, so after that amazing day on Saturday, we had a CRAZY Sunday. Oh my goodness gracious. So it was fast and testimony meeting in the Arkadelphia branch and this is probably one of my craziest church stories that has happened YET! So there we are sitting in testimony meeting, feeling the spirit, listening to the testimonies of those around us, and there is a new couple in the branch who have just moved in. The sister that was sitting in front us of would ask Sister Black at the beginning of each testimony who it was that was speaking so she could write it down and remember. Good idea, I thought. Well, I looked over and there was a man that kept trying to stand up to bear his testimony, but since he was in the very back everyone in front of him would stand up without seeing him and get there first. I just wanted to look at him and tell him to just keep walking. Well, he finally DID get up and he went to the stand and started talking and he introduced himself. Sister Black didn’t know who he was. He then said that he wasn't a member of our church and that he just felt like he should come here. At this point, our eyes went huge and we looked at each other and freaked out silently (in our heads, of course). The branch presidency kept looking at us as if asking if he was one of our investigators. Not yet. Then he said that he heard everyone having confessions and he felt like he should speak as well. So he started Confessing, which was a little awkward. But then he said that he just felt a very good spirit and he just felt love and that he has a lot to offer this church. He spoke for about 15 minutes. I turned to sister Black and told her that if he finished and walked out we were going to chase after him and talk to him. He luckily just sat down once he was finished. After the meeting, we walked over and talked with him and introduced ourselves and he looked at us and said, you have to be pulling my leg. He thought that we were 15!!! But, he really did want to meet with us and learn more. Also, last crazy thing. The man that just moved in came over and talked to Willie and introduced himself and GAVE HIM IS QUAD. His engraved, giant, written in quad. We were not even able to give him a standard Book of Mormon and now he has all of the standard works. Miracles never cease, folks.

Well, I just want to end with what I studied this week. Some of my favorite scriptures are in Mosiah 27 and 28. 

In Mosiah 27, it says:
36 And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer.
37 And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.

In Mosiah 28 it says:
3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

I know that there are people that are ready to hear the gospel and they "know not where to find it" and I feel so blessed to be a missionary right now and wear out my life in the service of my God and my brothers and sisters. I hope that I can be an instrument in the Lord's hands. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I KNOW that I am a child of God and that He loves me so much and that He loves each and every one of you. I know that He will help us as we come to Him in prayer. He is always there to lead and guide us. I am so grateful to be a missionary now and I know that even though my time might be getting shorter (sob), there is still SO MUCH TO DO. I know that my name tag is just a piece of plastic if I do not become changed inside. If my heart and my soul are not truly converted and desirous to help those around me to repent and come closer to christ it means very little. So I will strive always to wear my tag proudly and reflect what is in my heart and truly be a disciple of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 5:13). 

I pray for you all and I am so so grateful to have y'all in my life. I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and Redeemer. I invite y'all to read the Book of Mormon every day. EVERY DAY!! I know that as you do that and pray that you will come closer to Jesus Christ and feel even greater of God's love for you, and understand what he wants you to do. I know the Book of Mormon answers questions. I love y'all so so so much!!! I hope that you have a great week! Remember that I LOVE to hear from you!!!

Love,

Ashley
Sister Esplin
Shocked testimony meeting attendee
Mind blown missionary
Searching for my brothers and sisters




This week we also got a brand new car!!! YAY!!! 
It is a RAV4 and it is red and it is ADORABLE. 
Also, it drives really well on the dirt roads. 


 District meeting. 
Oh my goodness all of these missionaries have been
out for so little time, I am the grandma of the group!!! AHHH!!
The person that has been out the 2nd longest has been out for 8 months.