Monday, April 3, 2017

My Mission President is a General Authority? What?! Yelling at general conference and making animal noises

Hello everyone!!!!! I hope y'all had a wonderful week and a great conference weekend! I know that I did:) One of the highlights had to be when President Wakolo was called as a general authority seventy!!!! What in the world?! He is seriously such a spiritual giant, it doesn't even surprise me. It just surprised me that it was so soon! Seriously. Sister VanOrman and I were sitting at the Young's house with some investigators, watching conference and President Uchtdorf got up and starting making announcements. I turned to Sister VanOrman and I nudged her and said, “Watch, President Wakolo is going to be a general authority in the next couple of sessions". And then he said, Taniela B. Wakolo.  What...What! I'm sorry to say that I stood up off the couch and yelled. I had to explain myself to everyone. Partly because no one was paying attention. So cool. 

Just to give you a glimpse into the heart of my incredible mission president, here is a story that Spencer J. Condie once shared about President Wakolo back in 2010:

“While serving in the South Pacific, I received a letter from the First Presidency with an assignment to travel to Fiji and deliver a letter to Taniela Wakolo, president of the Nausori Fiji Stake. After I handed the letter to him, he read aloud the call from the First Presidency to serve as an Area Seventy, and tears flowed freely from his cheeks and those of his lovely wife, Anita. After discussing with him the nature and duties of his new calling, I observed the tattoo on Brother Wakolo’s large right hand. Now, tattoos are very common throughout the South Pacific, and long before he joined the Church, Taniela Wakolo had the back of his hand tattooed with a large, garish design. I said: “Brother Wakolo, in your new calling as an Area Seventy, you are going to be speaking to the youth on many occasions. I would suggest before such meetings that you put a large Band-Aid on the back of your hand to cover your tattoo. It’s hard to discourage our youth from getting tattoos when the speaker has one himself.” He smiled a broad smile, and with a radiant expression he said, “I’ll take care of it. I want to be a good example.” A few weeks passed, and the next time we met, his hand was heavily bandaged as if he were preparing for a boxing match. I asked, “What in the world happened to you?” He smiled with glistening eyes and said, “I followed your counsel and had the tattoo removed.” “Was it laser surgery?” I asked.  “No,” he replied with a big smile, “they don’t remove tattoos with lasers in Fiji. I had it surgically cut out.” A month later Elder Wakolo and I were assigned together to reorganize a stake presidency in American Samoa. As we met at the airport, I immediately noticed an unsightly scar on the back of his hand where the surgeon had removed several square inches of skin and then very crudely sutured the gaping wound closed. This had not been performed by a plastic surgeon. I apologized for having been the cause of the large scar on the back of his hand. He responded with a radiant Christlike countenance: “Not to worry, President Condie; this is my CTR ring. Now the Lord knows where I stand! I’ll do anything the Lord asks of me.’” Elder Wakolo has become a disciple who keeps his covenants and strives to do good continually.”  

Seriously, President Wakolo is SO AMAZING!!  

Alrighty!!! THIS WEEK! I am starting to feel a lot better, but I am still recovering. As President Wakolo always says, fast is slow and slow is fast. The more I try and take it fast the slower my recovery. The slower I take it now, the faster I will recover. Ahh balance, I really wish that I could find you. So on Tuesday and Wednesday we had two sets of elders blitz our area and we went to the Sister Training Leaders area in Bartlett for those days. So fun. Sister Guthrie and Sister Lloyd are awesome. Sister Lloyd actually goes home this transfer and it is so funny because her first area in the mission was actually Lakeland (my area), so we talked about Lakeland and all the people there. 

On Thursday we went over and saw Shannon. Her family has been really struggling so we brought bread over to her house and talked with her. Sometimes it is so sad to see the difficult situations that people are in here. I love that we can share the gospel so that they can have some hope. The church is true. 

Saturday and Sunday were GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!! I love general conference. It is seriously my favorite holiday. ;) Something that has really strengthened me and helped me a lot is that every single time that I go into conference with a question and pray about it and ask my Father in Heaven to help me, my questions are answered. That has happened so many time and this time was no exception. There were moments where I thought  to myself,  “Oh my goodness. They wrote this just for me!” I loved it. I truly felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that the things that were talked about were true! 

It was awesome because Saturday morning and Sunday morning we spent conference at the Seamans and it was like I was home! Except without the fun treats all over the air hockey table. On Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon we went to the Young’s house! We had Becky and Rachel come on Saturday and it was great! I think that they really enjoyed it. On Sunday Eddie came to the Youngs' for both sessions but we were there for only one with him. We asked him if he had a favorite talk and he really liked the talk about the Book of Mormon. Yay! He  was smiling the whole time we watched. He was so happy. 

This week we haven’t had too many super big spiritual experiences but there have been so many moments where I just know that God is watching over me and being mindful of me. I know that he cares about me. I know that He hears me when I talk to him and that He understands how I feel and what I am going through. I love that Jesus Christ is walking this path with me. Every day when we talk to others about Christ, He is with me. 

Funny story.  Last night as we were trying to sleep we kept hearing a really weird noise. So I mimicked it and then the noise would happen again. So late last night we were freaking out and running around our little apartment with me making the noise. We didn’t find anything, but we think it was a raccoon. The Seamans probably think we are crazy. Oh well. 

Anywho, here is my spiritual thought.  This week they released the prince of peace video on and I would invite y’all to watch it. It is amazing and really helps us remember the real reason for Easter.  Earlier this week, I was reading in  Mosiah 27:36 which teaches: “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. 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.”   I LOVE THAT! I love that Christ truly is peace and we can help others to feel peace by teaching and sharing about Christ. One of my very very very favorite things about serving here is that EVERYONE will talk about Christ and their relationship with Him. It is amazing. I know that Christ is our redeemer and he is the Prince of Peace. I know that this church is true. I know that God truly knows and loves each and every one of us. I love this work and I love y’all. 

SIster Esplin
Master raccoon caller

Daughter of God

Elder Taniela B. Wakolo and his wife, Anita
Elder Wakolo was sustained a General Authority Seventy on April 1, 2017

Celebrating NINE months with Sister Van Orman

In case you didn’t know, Sister Van Orman and I started this journey together
We were MTC companions!!

 Catching  a frog
His name is nine  because we caught him on our nine month mark
(I didn’t touch him)

What? Sister VanOrman holding a snake. Gross!

Gretchen made a fairy garden

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