Monday, April 10, 2017

SURPRISED?!?......So were we!! (My Sweet Week)

To start off this week, I have some big news. We had a baptism last Friday! Yeah, it was pretty awesome! But have you ever planned a baptism in one day? Well, now I can say that I have. Check that off of the bucket list. Hollie, our new convert, is seriously awesome. She had been attending another ward in the other stake! Her fellowshippers were there. But the elders were teaching her and she actually asked to be baptized. WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN!?!? Hollie is seriously what you would call a golden investigator. She really loves the gospel and truly feels that it is true. She is just amazing. When the elders that were teaching her got transferred out, because it got whitewashed with some new Assistants to the president (We now have two sets of APs to prepare for our new mission president.), they realized that we needed to be teaching her, which is precisely what we and everyone in our ward have been saying for about a month now. She actually lives about 2 minutes away from us. Honestly, there were seriously so many little miracles that happened this week. THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!!!

So this week. Oh my goodness. If you think that miracles have ceased to exist, THINK AGAIN!!!!
We had our first and only lesson with Hollie on Monday night and we were super stressed because we knew we had told the ward there might be a baptism on Friday, but we had only met her once at church and it was hard for us to tell anyone that she was ready because we had never talked to her and gauged her testimony. WE went in and, HOLY COW, she is golden!! She just has a fire. Seriously. She was telling us these incredible spiritual experiences that had brought her to this point and she was just amazing. I just remember the spirit testifying to me that she was ready and that she truly had a strong and pure desire to be baptized. So when sister Van Orman and I got back in the car we just turned to each other and said, "She's ready." But she still needed to have her interview and we only had a few days so we set up the interview for Wednesday. CUTTING IT CLOSE. Oh no, we would cut it closer. So we show up at the church a bit early for the interview and we don't see the interviewer anywhere. Hollie shows up and we still don't see anyone there. We are at the church for 30 MINUTES waiting for her interviewer, all the while we are calling and texting him and no one is answering. So we are stressed out. WE HAVE ONLY TWO DAYS UNTIL THE BAPTISM. All of a sudden, the Arkansas Assistants to the President (not the Memphis ones, the Arkansas ones. Weird) walk around the corner and shake our hands and ask why we are just standing there looking worried. We tell them our predicament and they say that one of them can do the interview. WHEW! It was so weird though. Talking to them, they said that they were preparing for zone conference the next day and were trying to find a church building (ours is definitely not the closest or best one) and they just felt that they needed to go to our building. They also had thought they would only be there for a little bit, but things kept happening that made it so that they were there longer and longer. They finally finished at that moment. HOW GREAT IS OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN! That was such a testimony to me about how much our Father in Heaven knows each and every one of us and truly understands our circumstances. Well, the APs  do the interview and it took forever. They come out of the room finally and Elder Taleni turns to us and tells us that he will let us know TOMORROW MORNING if the baptism will happen. what. What.WHAT! So we had to stress out ALL night about planning it. We finally sent some texts asking people to help saying that a baptism would probably be happening. But poor Hollie. She had to wait, as well. We met together at zone conference the next day and Elder Taleni came up to us and told us that Hollie was good to go for her baptism on Friday! We freaked out! We sent Hollie a text and she was super happy,  as well,.

It has been a really awesome this week because I have been feeling really awesome. I think that I have finally shaken mono. *she says as she furiously knocks on all the wood she can find* . We went out so much and talked to as many people as we could. It was awesome. We went to this lady's house to follow up on a referral from the elders and she wasn't there. So we thought, dang waste of miles. BUT. I saw this young girl getting something from her car and she was starting to run inside. Well, not really caring what I looked like and what anyone thought, I kind of chased after her and yelled, "CAN WE GIVE YOU A PICTURE OF JESUS CHRIST!?". She stopped and walked over to us, obviously not too terrified of me. She introduced herself and accepted a Book of Mormon and actually told us that she had met with missionaries before but that when she moved they stopped coming over to her house to see them. It was super awesome to find someone lost! We set up another followup time to come and see her. We also went to see Vennice this week and what was awesome was that she had a friend over and she told him to listen to the discussions. We taught Vennice’s friend, Lavern, and he was great. We are seeing Lavern this week at Vennice's house again so we are excited! 

This week Sister VanOrman and I made an exciting discovery. After discovering that we both have “Christensen” in our family tree, we decided to compare our family trees and see if we had any common relatives. After we discovered that we aren't related through the Christensen line, I noticed that someone in her family had “Tew” as a last name. Since this is not a common last name, we both looked farther back and…WE SHARE THE SAME FIFTH GREAT GRANDPA AND GRANDMA! My fourth great grandpa is her fourth great grandma's younger brother. Not only is she my sister in the gospel, Sister VanOrman is my cousin!!! IT IS A SMALL WORLD. FOR REALS!!!!

I still can’t believe this, but I totally stepped in three potholes this week and twisted my ankle…AGAIN…THREE TIMES!!  What a testament to me that SATAN DOES NOT WANT ME HERE. Just  as I start to get better from mono, I start getting re-injured. I don't believe in Coincidences. I really don't. I must confess, part of me gets really motivated from these trials because I can’t help but wonder  what work I personally need to do here that Satan doesn't want me to be here to do. I will keep working, but I will also be wise. I might need to pull my boot out again, and I will do so with minimal grumbling. But I really want to work harder than ever.  I am halfway through with my mission and I want to look back and truly say that I have given it my all here in Arkansas and Tennessee. Even if I come home all battered and bruised I will know that I fought my hardest to bring others to Christ. 

This week I was studying in Alma and in Alma chapter 4 I was interested in how Alma gave up the judgement seat to bear PURE TESTIMONY to his people. I think about how much we give up to bear testimony to others as a missionary. From an eternal perspective, It really isn't a lot, but  if I am not bearing PURE testimony to others, why am I doing this??!  I cannot waste anyone's time with half effort. These people deserve and need my all. I think about how we all serve in the church so that we can truly help others. It doesn't matter what capacity we serve in, we must keep our eye single to the glory of God. Nothing we do is for our own gain. If we do something for the attention and praise of those around us, then that is our reward. I would so much rather have rewards in Heaven. So this week I am going to really try and bear PURE testimony. No fluff. I just want to focus on sharing as much about Christ as I can, especially with it being Easter this week. 
I love y’all so much! I hope you have a wonderful week and a great Easter!!! 

Sister Esplin
Striving to Bear pure testimony
Clumsiest sister in the mission

Someone who yells at satan sometimes

 Hollie's baptism! 

 Hollie with the Elders who also worked with her. 

 Rosie and her new puppy, Samiye.

 Money, Cam, and Mia

The Kiddos

 Just me and “my sticks”!!

 The field is white already to harvest

 Scripture study on the deck by the pond :)

Look! Sister VanOrman and I are related!!! 

 Sister Guthrie and I with our matching photos at the doctor's office 
throwing up our peace signs. Coincidence?  I think not!

 Snake in the front yard. Yikes!

Beautiful spring morning in Tennessee

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