Monday, February 20, 2017

Focusing on the Love of the Lord this Valentine's Season

February 20, 2017

Hello my dear loved ones and friends!!

I hope that y'all had a wonderful week and that you were able to see God's hand in your life. I am so so so grateful to be able to serve a mission right now and see all of the miracles that happen every single day. I don't always see them right away, but I am so grateful to be a part of this beautiful and marvelous work. God truly is the one in charge of this work, not me. Oh man. If I was in charge we would all be in so much trouble. Luckily, I'm not! 

Anywhooooo, on with the week. This was the week of looooooove. But not for the missionaries in the ALRM! Our hearts are locked and we are all focused on the work. It is super awesome to be on a mission. Seriously, you forget about so many things. Like holidays. And weekends. And life, in general. Someone recently compared missions to the movie "Groundhog Day". So when other people look at you like you are crazy to be working on a holiday, (but seriously? Valentine's Day? Who is honestly a die hard celebrator of that anyway?) it feels super weird,  because it is just another normal day for a missionary. You don't take a day off. It is business, as usual. Except if you are sick....which brings me to this week. SICKNESSSSSSSSSSSSS. What is wrong with ME!?!? Well, this week has been a bit rough. I have been pretty sick. But it's all good.This hasn't dampened our spirits. We are the Lakeland sisters and we preach the gospel!! 

Here are some tender mercies and stories of the week: 🎬

On Tuesday we had dinner with the Holts and it was so sweet. We made personal heart pizzas and heart cookies. It was so much fun and it made me feel so happy and loved that they would include us on that day. 

On Wednesday we had lunch with Rachel, an investigator who had been taught everything and even got interviewed for baptism but then stopped. She took us to lunch and we talked to her and she said she would like to take the lessons again! Yay! She seemed super awesome, we said we were going to do some personal progress with her, as well. Yuuuuuuussss. I love personal progress!! 

Also, when we were having lunch the restaurant manager came up to us and asked us what church we went to. We gave him our card and explained a little bit about ourselves and our faith. He said that he and his wife had just moved into the area and had been looking for a church. He went on to say that since we seemed so nice and happy, he felt like we must belong to a good church. Even though he was not ready for a visit, he said he would come to church sometime. 

On Thursday, we spent an exhausting four hours at the doctor's office getting blood work drawn. Or at least as much as they could find. For those of you who don't know this, most nurses and phlebotomists STRUGGLE to find my veins. Over the years, it usually takes several sticks and even several medical employees to successfully find a vein.  Needless to say, blood work is always a long drawn out, very painful experience. When we went to the doctor this week I tried to explain this, but no one really believed me. Guess what?? I ended up having FIVE different people try to find my veins and I seriously thought I was going to pass out while they were wiggling and digging their needles around deep into my arms and hands. 

For some reason, I have been dealing with some medical issues so they wanted to do some blood work to find out what was going on.  They drew three vials and then they gave me two shots. I felt like a human pin cushion by the end of the visit. I find out the results on Thursday. Yay! I am sure  that it will all be good. Sweet is the work!!

On Saturday we went out with a sister in the ward and we finally were able to visit someone that we have been trying to get a hold of for months! She accepted the restoration pamphlet and we set up a return appointment which was awesome. She has a sweet family and she said we should come when they are all there. Yay! The gospel truly does bless families and I get so excited when we can help others to come closer to God as a family. 

Eddie came to church on Sunday which was wonderful. His baptism got pushed back to March 11th, but he is so excited for his baptism. :)

I am so so so so so so so grateful to serve a mission and to be a part of this great work. I love it so much. I love all of you and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ so much. He truly does everything. 
I have been reading Jacob chapter 5 recently (if you read really deep into it, it will take you forever)  and what I have been so impressed with is how much the Lord of the vineyard goes out and works with the laborers. In Jacob 5:51 I was really touched by how much the Lord of the vineyard cares and doesn't want to lose His tree. The Lord wants us to come back, to repent, and change. He isn't waiting for us to mess up so that He can destroy us. He wants to work with us because He loves us and believes in us. 

At the end of the chapter it talks about how there are few laborers (I am a laborer! Anyone who helps in sharing the gospel is a laborer with Christ) but that they labored diligently, keeping all of the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard. 

For me, it was really cool because it made me think. We really cannot afford to be even just a little bit disobedient in this work. We need to be keeping all of the commandments and giving our ALL, so that the vineyard may flourish and so we may be able to help those around us to come unto Christ. There was a quote from the April 1990 conference by Hans B. Ringger called "Choose you this day". He said, "I believe that the foundation and guiding light for all our decisions is the gospel of Jesus Christ and His message to the world. The teachings of Christ must be embedded in our desire to choose the right and in our wish to find happiness. His righteous life must be reflected in our own actions. The Lord not only teaches love, He is love. He not only preached the importance of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, He lived accordingly. His life reflected the gospel that He preached. There was and is total harmony between His thoughts and His actions."  
Like the quote says, we need to not only teach obedience and other principles. We need to LIVE IT! 

The lord is laboring with us. We are never alone. He knows what He is doing.Therefore, demonstrate your love for Him by 
trusting Him and obeying Him.

I love y'all. I love this work. I love everything that happens in life, the good and the bad. I have such a testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ and all that He has done for me. I am nothing without Him. I am everything to Him. 

Love, ❤️ 
Sister Esplin 
Sick sister
Celebrator of Galentine’s Day
Human pin cushion 

Laborer in the vineyard

Back together again!!  Sister VanOrman and Sister Esplin

Because I am sick, Sister Van Orman made me breakfast in bed
What a sweetie!!

This is after I was poked a ton by five different people
and had 3 vials of blood drawn

All of my pokes. There are more on my other shoulder.

Valentine’s Day with the Seamans 
(we live in their basement)

 Valentine’s Day dinner & dessert with the Holt Family 

Freezing cold outside, super warm inside

 Smurf faces

 Hot cocoa party at the end of a long but good day

 As you can see, I DON’T like snakes!!

Tennessee blossoms

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