Tuesday, March 7, 2017

They say there ain't no rest for the wicked, so I guess that means I'm righteous? 

This week has definitely been a week of humility-I guess that is something that Heavenly Father really wants me to cultivate. Darn. If you told me in high school that I needed to be on bed rest for a week, I probably would have cried from happiness and jumped over the moon with that cow 🐮 🌙.  Well, it is an entirely different story on a mission. Having mono has been such a humbling experience.  It has been SO HARD to remain on bedrest this week. That isn't my purpose here. I'm not here to convert my pillow to the gospel of Jesus Christ! I am here to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel! Needless to say, I wasn't a completely obedient bed rest patient. Luckily, my companion made sure-for the most part- that I followed doctor's orders. I would stay with members and she would go out and preach the gospel to the people of Lakeland! I was really happy that our area wasn't abandoned this week, but goodness gracious, it was SO hard to not be with my companion. Anywhoooo, the reason I share this is because this week was definitely filled with miracles but Sister Van Orman and I had very different weeks. My miracles occurred more from within, where my Heavenly Father worked on me. Since I was not allowed to get out much, this will be a shorter email this week. Oh well. I am sorry. 

MIRACLES!!!
Eddie is getting BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!!!! WOOT WOOT!!! He was so excited to have passed his interview, that when he saw us he did a fist pump and told me that I was making banana pudding. Darn. I don't know how to make that. Apparently, one of the last sisters that served here made banana pudding for them, so I guess that is a missionary skill that we all are supposed to have. No banana pudding making skills over here. Uhhhhh. Snap. Still, Eddie is SO EXCITED TO BE BAPTIZED! 

On Thursday we had zone meeting, but when I woke up I was seriously struggling and almost passed out several times. Because I REALLY wanted to go to zone meeting, I dug deep and we went, but oh man, I really struggled…but I DID IT!!!! At the end of the meeting, I walked up to our district leader and begged for a blessing, which I then received. HALLELUJAH!!! I can’t adequately express my gratitude for priesthood blessings.  Being on a mission has only heightened my desire to one day marry someone who is a worthy priesthood holder. To have the priesthood in your home is such a blessing…a blessing I didn’t appreciate enough growing up. The blessing brought me a lot of comfort and I would like to believe that I feel a little bit better:) In the blessing, I was told that I would be able to persevere to the end of this illness and that as I keep fighting and exercising faith, Heavenly Father will give me strength and that Heavenly Father loves and appreciates me. So there, Satan! YOU CANT MAKE ME QUIT!!!!!! I AM SISTER ASHLEY ESPLIN AND THOUGH I FEEL LIKE DYING RIGHT NOW, I WILL KICK THIS ILLNESS IN THE TUSH BECAUSE  I AM STAAAAAYYYYYYIIIINNNNNGGGGG ON MY MISSION!!! *insert wild banshee yell here* 

So yeah, I'm ready and pumped to get out there this week. I will take it slow, but it will be good.  I read a really good article on lds.org this week and it really helped me. I have felt miserable and like a horrible missionary just lying in bed and not helping anyone so, yeah, Satan has definitely been working on me, but I read an article called “The Perfect Lie”, which talks about how Satan wants us to think that, in our efforts to be like Christ, we should live by this math equation: me + more = christlike . In reality, Christ wants us to follow this pattern: me + Christ = more. In doing so, we can come to Christ, and in turn, He will help us be equal to all things placed before us. We can be so much more WITH christ. I have spent a lot of time on my knees and the feelings I receive every time are the feelings of love and understanding. I ask for answers, and do you know what? I haven't gotten a huge answer that sounds like someone is talking to me. No , I just have felt that Heavenly Father truly loves me and that I can’t do this alone. It is only through Christ. Heavenly Father doesn't want me to feel bad. He wants me to understand that He has a great plan for me and learn the things He wants me to learn. I can become so much more with Christ than I can imagine. 

I love this gospel. I love this work. I am so grateful to be a part of it and to have the spirit so present in my life. I know this is Christ's church on the earth today and that the priesthood has been restored. I know that President Monson is a prophet of God and that he leads and and guides us on the earth today. I know that the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ. I love all of you and I am so grateful for you. Thank you so so so much for everything you do. Stay strong and keep believing and hoping. 

Love,
Sister Esplin

Ashley :)

 Zone Conference


 Memphis North Zone Conference!!



Rosie's great grandkids: Mia (far left), Money  (middle), and Cam (far right)

Amelia made us a baby pound cake! So sweet. 
Watch out my dear siblings. You could get replaced. Just kidding.....

 EIGHT MONTHS!!!!


How I really spent my eight month mark. In bed. 

 (Almost) aways sunny in Tennessee! 


I realized that it was close to the end of the week and we had not taken any pictures. 
Since this was the only day I had makeup on and went out of the house, 
I told sister Van Orman we had to take a picture. 
This basically sums our relationship!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In spite of mono, my week has been great!

Hello! 

This week was fantastic! Seriously. Filled with Little miracles. 

Thank you so much for your prayers and concern regarding my health. I am so sorry for unloading last week.  I later realized that I probably didn’t need to go on a rant about my time at the doctor. But, lets face it…I am trying to keep things real and and would so much rather let y’all know what is going on. Just know that I am not sad or discouraged with missionary work. Life is good, the work is amazing, its just my health that isn't. But hey, I do not want my health to get in the way of working hard and remaining positive.  POSITIVITY!!!  I AM DOING IT! My lab results came back. I have mono.  Here are two things that are not fun when you have mono: 1. You are exhausted, fatigued, and in pain almost all the time. 2. Everyone makes jokes about you kissing people, which isn’t too hip when you are a full-time missionary.  

Let me get on with my week—HIGHLIGHT REEL:
On Tuesday our district made a VGPA plan (Vision-Goal-Plan-Accountability), which is basically a plan to make the area most effective.  As a district, we really want to see some great success during this transfer, so as a district and we needed to set a goal for how many baptisms we were going to contribute to our zone goal for baptisms and we couldn't decide between two or three. After much discussion,  we finally decided to all kneel down and pray together as a district and ask our Father in Heaven what He wanted for our goal. We knelt down and I really wanted a goal of three because I wanted all of us to be led to people and to push ourselves. But you know what? God is amazing. He tells us things we don't want to hear sometimes and, in that moment, He let me know through the spirit that we needed to have a goal of two. Man that was hard to listen to, but I followed the answer and we all agreed. But what was amazing was after I humbled myself enough to understand Heavenly Father’s will,  He opened my mouth and my mind and helped me to contribute to the plan (the p of the VGPA ) of how we would achieve that goal of two. I recently had read a talk that immediately came to my mind and I was able to share that we should try to contact ten people outside of our set appointments every day and leave something for them to read. It has been working well within the district. YAY!

On Wednesday we went out with Kaylin, our ward missionary, and we had an amazing day. We found three families to teach. We went to a potential investigator's house and they didn’t answer so I suggested that we should knock on three doors before we move on to the next person we had planned to see.  Immediately, Sister Van Orman pointed at a house and said the one with the maroon van. We went over and met a lovely older gentleman chewing his tobacco and he proceeded to tell us that he was happy with his church. Kaylin asked him right as he was closing the door if he knew anybody who had recently had a baby and he pointed to a house- a house that when we had walked past it I had thought to myself that I wanted to knock on their door because I saw a little boy at the door and we wanted to teach more families. So we knocked on the door and the lady, Shannon, told us that she had met with sisters about 2 years ago and would love to meet with us again. YAY! We went to her house later in the day and talked about how the gospel can bless her family and her life and she told us how she hadn't been to church in a really long time and she thought it would be a good idea for her to come with her three young boys. She was really interested and told us to come by whenever we wanted. YES!

On Thursday we went over to see Eddie and Rosie. It was amazing. We talked to them and Eddie told us that he was "ready to be baptized". It was awesome. Then Rosie told us how she has nicknames for us all and that my name is “Quick”…..that's ironic. I kind of laughed and told her that I am anything but that. She looked me dead in the soul and told me that I am “Quick” because I am quick to get into people’s hearts and that I make sure that the adversary doesn't get in there. That I am like a hockey player who shoots my puck into the goal before satan can and then doesn't let him get in. She was so sweet. I honestly adore her. 


On Friday we had a lesson with Eddie and Rosise about the sabbath day and we showed the video “That They Do Always Remember Him”.  We asked Eddie what his favorite part was or what stood out to him and he told us the parts where Jesus was whipped and on the cross. He turned to us and he said with his smile, "He did it all for me". That honestly made my heart so happy. I love that I can be an instrument in God's hands to help others to understand His love and the love of our Savior. 

On Saturday we saw Eddie and Rosie again and reviewed the baptismal interview questions and Eddie was so great at answering them! Towards the end of our visit, I felt that we should do a mini testimony meeting and show Eddie that the questions in the baptismal interview are intended to help him share not only his worthiness, but also his testimony and what he believes. Eddie shared his testimony and it was so sweet. What was great was that Sister Van Orman, Rosie and I also bore our testimonies, and while they were all different, they all were about God's love for us.

Okay, spiritual thought.
I have been reading the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon and I love Mosiah 2:24, which teaches: "And behold, all that He requires of you is to keep His commandments; and He has promised you that if ye would keep His commandments ye should prosper in the land; and He never doth vary from that which He hath said; therefore, if ye do keep His commandments He doth bless you and prosper you." What I love is that it says that He doesn't vary in what He says. He will always keep His end of the bargain. He will bless us. He just wants us to keep the commandments. He loves us. He isn't a mean, vengeful God. He is our Father who loves us perfectly. When I was growing up and was disobedient,  my parents would be hurt and would often tell me that, in being disobedient, I wasn’t showing them love and respect.  When we don't keep Heavenly Father’s commandments, it hurts Him. But when we strive to show our love and respect by trying our very best to be obedient disciples of Christ, our Father is quick to bless us in abundance. When we remember that Heavenly Father recognizes all of our efforts, even if they are not perfect, we can also more fully feel His love for us. Even kneeling down at night and just telling him, “I’m sorry, I know I could have done more and I didn't live up to my potential. Help me to be better tomorrow.”, strengthens our relationship with Him and allows us to grow through humility.  

Well, I hope you have a wonderful week. You are all amazing sons and daughters of God. I love y’all!

Love,
Sister Esplin

Ash


Mono life…Trying to weekly plan while dying


Rosie and Eddie

Summer in February



We both ended up wearing polka dots without meaning to. 
Apparently, we have such great companionship unity. Ha!! 

Beautiful Tennessee rainbow


I LOVE the Memphis, Tennesse Temple!!!