Monday, December 27, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole for the Win (Dec. 27, 2010)

Hey everyone!
First off let me thank my darling mother for giving Sis. Price the recipe for sweet potato casserole. So good. I walked into their house on Christmas for dinner, and she was still cooking stuff and whatnot. I saw her making sweet potatoes, nothing out of the ordinary for me. When she started putting the pecan and sugar glaze on the top  I knew something was up. "Hey, I've seen that before," I said out loud. Sis. Price said, "Good, it's your mom's recipe!" Mom, you'll be happy to know that it turned out fantastic and tasted just like yours.
Ok, pictures this week. The one of me in the chair is just when we got home from roaming around on Christmas Eve. I was pretty wiped because we did a lot of biking. For being 50 degrees outside, I was sweating pretty hard. I crashed in front of the tree. The other two of the tree is our setup for Christmas Eve--one of myself and Elder Abel in front of said tree before opening presents. Notice the stockings hung under the sink with care. The last one is of me holding a chicken at the Prices' on Christmas. They have a few chickens in their back yard for the kids to play with, and soon they'll be taking eggs from 'em. Of course, I needed a picture. Mom is very proud. I'll be sending home the full memory card sometime next week so you can get all the pictures I've taken since September.
Well, today started off with a bang. Elder Abel's being transfered. In fact he's opening a whole new area, PLUS he's training again. Straight up flush training. He's pretty sad to be leaving this area since he's been here for a year after all. I'll still be here, but I also got a friendly call from President Beck this morning with some interesting news...guess who else is training? Yup, me. Tomorrow we get a whole bunch of new missionaries fresh from the MTC, and I'll be training one of them. 
I'll be honest, I'm pretty nervous. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on and whatnot. But I also think to myself that if the Lord inspired President Beck to have me train a new missionary, then the Lord will qualify me to do it. I'll send info and pics next week after I meet my greenie tomorrow.
This week was very simple, but very fun. Not a lot of people were home for the holidays, and not a lot of people were on the streets either. Lots of neighborhoods were relatively empty from people being gone. On Thursday we decided to take a shortcut through a dirt field to get to a certain neighborhood quicker. As soon as we popped out on the other side, an older gentleman named Mike with his grandaughter was passing by us. He recognized us. Turns out he lives in the apartment complex that the Elders lived in over a year ago, and wanted to know if we still lived there. We told him no, that we moved to another apartment complex. He said he always enjoyed talking to the Elders who lived near him. He said he had a friend who was LDS, Greg Parsons. As soon as he said that I lit up. Greg Parsons is in the Stake Presidency here, plus he lives in the Villa de Paz ward! We said that we knew him very well, and that he was a good friend to have. Mike told us about how the Parsons family really helped him out a little while ago with food after he lost his job. It didn't surprise me at all, the Parsons are an incredible family. Mike said he wanted to get his grandaughter coming to Church, and said that he himself had a lot of questions about religion in general. We'll hopefully be teaching him this week, and we're definitely going to try and have Pres. Parsons go with us.
On Christmas Eve we biked around giving little Christmas cards to some ward members and investigators. There were three in particular that stood out to me, Ray, Roger, and Joanne. None of them are even investigators, just nice people we know. All three of them seemed to know that we would be stopping by. Ray was very grateful to see us, and Roger was nearly speechless. Both of them have been out of work for a while, and always appreciate us checking up on them. Joanne is a Catholic woman who lives around the corner from a recent convert. She said she has no intention of coming to church, but each time we stop by the visits are friendlier and friendlier. We stopped by, and she was happy to see us. She doesn't have any family, but a few friends were at her home for the holiday. We said we wanted to give her a card, and a little something from the both of us. We gave her the card, and a DVD of  "Mr. Kreuger's Christmas." She opened up her screen door and we could see tears in her eyes. She reached up and gave us each a big hug and thanked us repeatedly for thinking of her. She said she had been thinking about us and wondered if we had forgotten about her. How could we have forgotten her? Is not every soul precious in the eyes of our Father in Heaven? She was busy at the moment, but begged us to come back soon to see her Christmas decorations in her home. My heart goes out to this sweet sister. We're going to try and stop by tonight and see her. I keep thinking to myself a quote I had heard that said, "If they will not accept our religion, then they will accept our hospitality." Sometimes that's all somebody needs.
Yes, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. No, not everyone is ready to recieve the message of the Restored Gosel. But everyone is most certainly in need of the pure love of Christ, especially when hands hang down and knees are feeble. This has been one of the simplest Christmases I have experienced, but quite possibly one of the best. I hope you all are doing well. To my family, it was wonderful to speak with you. Thank you for your constant love and support. Write back soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Email from 12/13/10

(NOTE: Sorry I forgot to post this one when it came.  Hence the reason why it's out of order. ~TT)
Hey everyone!
Glad to hear things are going well at home. I'm curious to see how the upstairs project will turn out. Hopefully it looks nice. Sorry about the whole Bomber girls basketball fiasco. I'm even more sorry about grandpa. Broken rib? Are you serious? Lotta' pain, nothin' to worry about as he always says. I hope he and grandma are doing well too. Is Marlee doing basketball for middle school? How's everything been going with her?
Things in Arizona are going pretty well. It's such great weather. This past week was in the 70's and 80's, and dipped into the 60's at night. The pictures this week are snippets from the ward christmas parties we covered. In the Garden Lakes party, they did a 12 Days of Christmas "Arizona Style" I thought was pretty funny. Day 8 is my favorite. At the Villa de Paz Party, they did a live nativity skit, and one of the ward members let the youth use one of his goats. I had to laugh when the narrator said that the shepherds made haste. The kids playing the shepherds walked across the yard trying to drag the goat with them, but the goat wouldn't budge. It planted its butt down and pulled its neck back. It looked a lot like trying to get Edgar to go inside the house through the side door, he wouldn't move at all. It took a good two or three minutes to move the goat. One of the kids tried poking it with his staff, and the goat just bit the staff. Everyone was laughing. I had to get a picture with the goat because it reminded me of one of my faovrite Saturday Night Live sketches, "Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals."
This past week had its ups and downs with teaching. We dropped Bro. Webster, the husband of one of the members of the garden lakes primary presidency. He's stuck with his baptist church and has no intention of joining the LDS church, but he says he always enjoys us coming by to hang out...but that's not why we're here. We found out that Stephanie has now gone two weeks without smoking, and she's very excited to tell us about her progress. We're trying to meet with her to extend a date for baptism, but her work schedule keeps us from meeting regularly with her. I taught Scott a few times this week, a guy who was tracted into way back when Elder Hill was in the area, last March or so. We finally got to meet with him. This week we met with him twice, both of which were exchanges with ward members. We taught him the first two lessons, and he said he's willing to be baptized after he reads and prays. We tried extending a date, but he said he wants to study a bit more, which is going to be ok. He's very eager to learn, and already knows the doctrine pretty well. He's getting baptized, it's just a matter of when.
Elder Abel and I did a lot of tracting this week. Because our teaching pool fluctuates so regularly, we hit the streets and just start knocking on doors. This week was a little slow when we tracted, but I really got to have some fun conversations with Elder Abel. We told stories about stuff we did at home. For instance I told him about Baker, he told me about playing water polo. It was pretty fun and really helped soften the blow from all the grumps who yelled at us. On Friday I think we put in the most miles on bike in one day up to this point on my mission, at least 30. We rode from the bottom to the top of or area and bike probably twice? All of our appointments cancelled, and one of them moved! To Missouri!
Ok so mom and dad you asked about Christmas day. Yes, I will be able to call home on Christmas, and it doesn't really matter what time. We call from our mission cell phone, and Elder Abel and I don't have to call at the same time either. I'm fine with whatever, if morning works best then we can do morning. I'm an hour ahead of Washington time, so if you wanted to talk at 9am I'd call at 10. Whatever works best for you guys, just let me know.
I love you all and hope you're having a good Christmas season. I'm amazed at how fast time is going. We in the apartment are doing things to make our Christmas away from home as awesome as we can. We have three mini-trees, lights, stockings, and today I'm buying candy. Elder Abel even got a homemade recipie for eggnog which I want to try and make. The members here take good care of us and also want to make sure that we're doing well. No worries mom, we're all doing great. I miss you all and can't wait to hear from you. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, December 20, 2010

Email from 12/20

Merry Christmas to All!!

Hey everyone!
Merry Christmas! It's been a great week down here in Arizona. The weather has been pretty interesting lately. Every morning it's dark and cloudy, then the clouds disappear and the sun comes out and it's in the 70's and 80's. On Thursday we had a zone meeting that lasted all day, and it poured rain the whole time (hence the picture with the umbrella). Elder Browning hit a pigeon in the car on the way there, that was pretty weird. Anywho, the other pictures. One is of these really ridiculously tight pants that Elder Abel bought at Savers and thought would fit him. They don't. They don't fit me. They don't fit anyone. I tried 'em on and looked like a goof. I put on Elder Abel's shoes and Elder Bush's glasses. Mom, you've raised a fine lookin' son. Spitting image of his father, if I don't say so myself. Sis, sorry you're related to him, but I know you miss him. He certainly misses you. The last picture was the result of a long day of tracting in lower Garden Lakes. We found a kitten. He sat at the door with us while we tracted. Fun day.
This week really has been pretty good. We're still trying to meet with Stephanie, but she's so hard to get a hold of. I did, however, have two great teaching opportunities I'd like to share. The first is the Kramer family. The Kramers are way less active, in fact they're totally inactive. Their daughter, Elli, is 9 and wants to go to church and be baptized. Mom wants nothing to do with church, but is ok with her going to church. We go to their house to teach Elli, but Elli wasn't there this week when we stopped by. It was me and a member of the ward on splits, so we taught Sis. Kramer. Her husband is always out of town for work, and he's not a huge fan of church either. 

We taught Sis. Kramer what I like to call the primary answers, prayer, scripture study and church. We focused mostly on prayer and church. At the beginning of the lesson, her 6 yr. old daughter wanted to pray to open the lesson, but wanted her mom's help. Mom said, "No, have the missionary help you." It broke my heart. What mother doesn't want to help her child with prayer? So I helped her with the prayer, and I was determined to invite Sis. Kramer to pray by the end of the lesson. During the lesson, we uncovered the iceberg of why she's uncomfortable with prayer and church. She doesn't feel worthy. She doesn't want to be judged by the ward. She doesn't feel worthy to pray just because of her past. She wants to learn the things that will help her become a better parent, but is afraid of going to church. After a long, powerful lesson of my personal testimony and a few scriptures, I invited her to pray. She laughed and said no. At this point her daughter was asleep in her lap. I thought for a moment, and reminded her of what she told me. I said, "Sis. Kramer, you told me that you wanted to learn things that will help you better raise your children. Your daughter told you she wanted to pray, and you didn't want to help her. She's learning that prayer is important and can help her in her life. You need to show her that it is." She was a little shocked at what I said, looked at her daughter in her lap, and said to me, "He won't hear my prayer, I sound like a child when I pray." I looked at her again and asked, "Do you think that your Father in Heaven hears your daughters prayers?" She said of course. I promised her that hers could be heard too. It could be the same vocabulary but as long as you were sincere, He will hear and answer your prayers. I reminded her that when she was baptized as a child all those years back, she was given the gift of the Holy Ghost, and was promised that it would be with her at all times if she merely asked. I asked her one more time to pray. She paused for a while. It was kind of a long silence, but that's when the Spirit is the strongest, and is carrying the words into her heart. She said ok, and gave a simple, wonderful prayer. When I told Elder Abel and Bishop Johnson about that, they both were very happy to hear that. She hasn't prayed in a long time. We're going to try and see them again this week.

The second teaching experience I enjoyed this week was Scott. We met Scott a while back and have finally been able to teach him. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and The Gospel of Jesus Christ lessons this week. One was even in the church. He really enjoyed the church tour and was eager to come to church. Bro. Call, the greatest member missionary ever, drove him to church yesterday. Scott even had a suit! He was welcomed by the ward, and a lot of people introduced themselves. He feels pretty welcomed. He loved Sunday School and Elder's Quorum, and even participated in the various lessons. He's continuing reading the Book of Mormon and loves coming to church. Like I'm telling Elder Abel, he's getting's just a matter of when.

I hope you all have a great Christmas. Please keep in mind its true meaning. We hear this all the time but it's so true. It's the time when we focus our hearts and minds on the birth of Him who came into this world and performed that great Atonement so that we may be able to return to our Father in Heaven as a forever family. I'm ever thankful for this knowledge and for the sacrifice which He made. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you. Mom, dad and sis, I'll talk to you on Saturday at noon your time!

Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, December 6, 2010

Email from 12/6/10

Hey everyone!
As you can see by the pictures, we went to the temple this week! On Friday the 3rd, we had a huge Christmas zone conference. I'd say that probably half of the mission was there. President and Sister Beck shared a few thoughts on the holiday season, and there were lots of musical numbers. That took up most of the morning. We had lunch, watched a slideshow of the past year and then got the news of our mission Christmas gift: we got to go to the Mesa Temple! We all drove over and walked around the grounds for a bit. We went inside and did a session with President and Sister Beck. It was incredible. Sitting in the celestial room with nearly a hundred missionaries around you is a very powerful experience, one that's difficult to put into words. Sister Beck was nearly in tears when she saw all of us together. President and Sister Beck were right there to greet us individually as we entered the celestial room. When we finished, we went outside to look at all of the lights. The grounds are decorated like Temple Square in Salt Lake City, tons of lights! I took a few pictures of myself and Elder Abel, and hopefully soon I'll come up with a Christmas card-worthy photo of sending to everyone.
We went to a few baptisms this week. I hadn't taught any of them, but Elder Abel had and so did the other Elders in our district. We went to support them. The first was on Saturday morning, the Thomas family's eight year old son, Jarett. The Thomas' are a less active family in the Garden Lakes ward slowly returning to activity. We had taught them a few lessons for family home evening a couple months ago. Sister Thomas called us earlier this week and asked if we would come to Jarett's baptism, and also if we would stand in on his confirmation. I was pretty honored; I didn't know they appreciated us that much for coming by to teach them. The second baptism was Saturday evening, the Arias family. Missionaries have been teaching them for three years! They know it's true, but they just never made the effort to progress. Elders Egan and Tameilau kept working with them but they kept falling through with commitments. A month ago they started coming to church, and finally expressed a desire to be baptized. Elder Abel taught them when he covered their ward, and so we went to support Monica, Johnathon and Julian. It was pretty cool to see, and they were very excited.

Stephanie still has a desire to come to church. Her son Jared does too. We're still working with her older son Johnathon. Jared loves reading the scriptures and always calls us to ask who's picking him up for church on Sunday and then for scouts on Wednesday. Stephanie was pretty proud to show us this week that she's been using nicotine patches to help her quit smoking! When we saw her she said she hadn't smoked in three days, and that was this past Tuesday. You can tell she's very serious about quitting. She knows it's what she has to do. She called us the other day to say that she wouldn't be at church because she was sick, but had also said that the promise we made her was actually happening. When we started teaching her back in October we promised her that the Gospel blesses families, that her life would make a change for the better and that she would feel comfort as she lives the teachings of the Savior. She called to tell us that it was all happening, and that she's very thankful for us teaching her. It's true though, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of happiness.
For Christmas we were also given a crisp, clean copy of the Book of Mormon. As a mission, we're taking the challenge to read it in thirty days. As we read it, we're focusing primarily on the Savior Himself. We're going to highlight every reference to His name, His ministry, His Atonement, everything He said and did. I'm pretty excited for the challenge. I know it will strengthen my testimony of the Book of Mormon and its testimony of our Savior.
Things are great in Arizona. I really can't complain. I say that a lot, yeah, but it's true. I love what I'm doing. Hopefully everyone back home is doing well despite the cold and the snow (which I miss). Strange enough, last week was cold! At night it dipped into the thirties and I was freezing! I actually broke down and bought a sweater to wear under my suit. It's leveled out right now into the sixties, and it's great. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Email from 11/29/10

Hey everyone!
I hope everyone had a really good Thanksgiving. I certainly did. We were really taken care of by our wards. Our Thanksgiving went a little like this: At noon we ate fried turkey at the Price's, at 1:00 pm we had fruit and snacks at the VanVliet's, at 2:00 another turkey meal at the Layton's, at 5:00 pie with the Johnsons and the McMurdies, and at 6:00 more pie and brownies with the Gibbons and the Juchaus. I was stuffed. Sister Johnson gave us a whole pie to take home and share (yeah right) with the other Elders in the apartment. Thanksgiving morning we had our P-Day and we went shopping way across town at the Walmart. Come to find out at night that Elder Abel accidently left his backpack in the cart while we were there in the morning. Sister Turville, bless her heart, came over to Avondale, picked us up and drove us to Walmart to go and find it. Somebody turned it in, and Elder Abel was pretty happy. On the way home we passed by a 7-11 and I asked if we could get Slurpees to celebrate, so we did. My treat. It's the first Slurpee I've had since I was home back in July. I really enjoyed Thanksgiving down here.
To my family, thank you SO much for the package. I got it on Tuesday this past week. Tuesday must have been "the day" for mail. I got three letters (including dad's card, for which I also give thanks), and a package. Elder Abel got a letter and a package. I think my favorite part of the package was either the pear jam (thank you grandma!) or the ginko leaves. I tried explaining the ginko tree to the Elders in the apartment, but it's one of those things you jsut kind of have to see. They said it sounded cool. The caramel wafers are gone, and I'm doing the best I can to save the Milka and Nutella for's pretty hard though. I absolutely loved it, thank you again.
Alrighty, so the pictures this week. The first is a picture of the sky on our way to an appointment. It's maybe 5:45pm in the picture, but the clouds looked really cool. They reminded me a lot of the sunsets back home. 
The next two pictures need a bit of explaining, so here we go. Two nights ago (Saturday), Elder Abel and I were riding along in uppre Villa de Paz after dark, which is sketchy enough to begin with. All of a sudden we here barking and these two pitbulls start chasing after us. Naturally, I freak. They didn't bite or anything, they just started running along side us. They followed us for nearly a mile as we looped in and out of the neighborhood streets. We eventually pull over and they just wanted to play. So we played! They loved to be pet, and jsut wanted attention. For pitbulls, they were pretty friendly. I was afraid that they'd tear my face off, but they were pretty cool. A guy came outside and gave them snacks so we could get away. We went up north to see a few more people and as we came back down 111th to go home, there they were again! They kept following us, but they left once we got to Indian School Rd. Pretty funny. Who woulda' thought I'd play with two pitbulls on my mission?

This week has been pretty good, it's just been difficult to teach because lots of people were busy or out of town for Thanksgiving. Neither Stephanie nor Michele came to church this week, and we haven't heard from Julius in two weeks. We stopped by Michele last night and she seemed to be feeling better. She was cooking, which was a first for us to see.  A lot of appointments fell through this week, so we tracted. We met some nice people, and some not so nice people too. Last week we actually received a referral for a guy named Lenny Diecidue. We taught him the Restoration last week, and taught him the Plan of Salvation this week. He's maybe 21, and in a wheelchair. I'm not sure as to what his condition his, but his hands and feet are quite large, and he has scars on his hands. He says that all throughout his childhood he was teased and bullied. He's amazing because he just brushes it off and moves on. He loves reading the scriptures and was very  eager to begin reading the Book of Mormon. We read him Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5. As soon as we finished that he said, "WOW! That's good stuff!!!" Now he's planning on being baptized on Dec. 18th. Because of his age, he actually should be going to the Single's Branch, so the YSA Elders are teaching him now. It was great to meet him though.
It's been a wonderful Thanksgiving week and I'm so excited for the Christmas season. I'm planning on buying a mini tree and a single strand of lights for the apartment. I want to put socks on the wall by the tree. I even want to go as far as getting a small something for each of the Elders. I'm already figuring out their favorite candies, so that should be a good start. I hope everyone's doing well at home and I love you all. I miss you but I absolutely love what I'm doing. Keep sending letters, I always look forward to them. Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, November 22, 2010

Email from 11/22/10

Hey everyone!
It's been another pretty good week. No new pictures, sorry about that. With transfers this past week, there's been some changes in the district. In our apartment we have two new Elders. Elder Browning, our new district leader, is from Bountiful, UT and has been out about 21 months. He's training Elder Bush, from Boise, ID, and they're both great Elders. Elder Bush actually is friends with a few people that were in my ward back at BYU last year. It's cool that we have a few mutual friends. Elder Berry left, and now Elder McCarty has Elder Davis with him. Elder Davis is from Portland and he's awesome. He's so goofy but can go mega-missionary in a heartbeat. We've got a pretty awesome district. Right now our district is built like this:
Me and Abel - Garden Lakes/Villa de Paz
Egan and Tameilau - Coldwater/Crystal Gardens
Browning and Bush - Tolleson/YSA
McCarty and Davis - Agua Fria/Independence
I miss the other Elders, but I'm sure they're doing well wherever they are.
This past week Elder Abel and I did a lot of tracting, more than we normally do. As a mission, it's not required for us to spend a certain amount of time each week devoted to tracting. We didn't have a large teaching pool, so we started knocking on doors. We keep running into a lot of interesting people. All that tracting certianly paid off because this past week we found 14 new investigators! We have appointments with all of them coming up, so hopefully that will go well. A few of them cancelled last night, but wanted to reschedule because they're still interested. We did a lot of work this week. By Saturday night I was exhausted. I was more tired than I think I've been up to this point, but it was a rewarding kind of tired. One of those tireds where you know you earned it. My legs are sore from the biking we're doing. Elder Abel and I were pretty happy. We know that these results are possible, so we're just gonna keep working hard!
Church went very well yesterday. Between the two wards, we had five investigators show up. I was most excited to see Stephanie bring her sons Johnathon (13) and Jared (10) to church. This past week when we taught them, Johnathon said the closing prayer to the lesson. He prayed that he could play well in his upcoming football game, that we could score a touchdown. He told us after he prayed that if he scored a touchdown, he'd go to church. I saw him yesterday after sacrament meeting with a goofy smile on his face and all he said was "I scored." I laughed and showed him to sunday school with his friends. Jared told me he loved primary, especially singing time. He said he wants me to give him more scriptures to read because he already read the ones I gave him. He's a bright ten year-old. Stephanie came to gospel essentials and loved it. then she went to relief society and had a good time too. She wants to be baptized, and we have Tuesday as our designated day to teach her family. Tomorrow we're going to invite her to be baptized on a certain date, so she has something to work toward. Her biggest hurdle is smoking. She wants to quit and she knows it's bad for her. Since she's been coming to church she's been getting better at resisting those cravings. Every once in a while she slips, but we jsut love her and keep helping her. She's doing so well, I love working with her and her sons.
Michele's been sick as a dog this week. Her whole house has the flu and they sound terrible. We stopped by to see how they were doing. She loved to see us but didn't want us to come inside her house. We only stayed a few minutes, and asked if there was anything we could do to help her. A little while ago we taught her about the Priesthood, and she had expressed interest in receiving a blessing. We gave her a blessing the other day and she really appreciated it. Bob didn't care for one, but he likes that Michele is happy. Progress is slow with them, but it's still there.
Last night I went on exchanges with Villa de Paz ward, and I went with Bishop Hopkins (current VdP bishop). We had a good time driving around teaching people. We didn't have much luck, but we did get to talk with a part-member family, the Crosby's. Nice family. He was drafted by the Cardinals back in the 90's, but went to school instead. He's completely inactive, and hsi wife isn't a member. She has a lot of questions, and he doesn't know how to answer them all. We invited them to church and they sounded pretty interested. It really helped having Bishop Hopkins there. As we were driving around talking about baseball, mission experiences and whatnot, I was telling him who lives where and whatnot that we were seeing. I joked that since I was starting to know the area so well that I'd probably be transferred. Without hesitation he said, "No way." He told us that he loves all the missionaries, but he's had a string of odd Elders in the ward for quite some time. He said that Elder Abel and I are very good with people, and we know how to work. He said that we're the first normal companionship he's had in his ward in a long time, and that he trusts us to teach his family and friends. I was pretty flattered. Elder Abel and I are sure working hard, and now we can see that we're really gaining the trust of both of our wards. I love this area, and I love these people. They really trust us and they take care of us.
Thanksgiving is coming up and I'm thinking a lot about home. Not in a trunky, homesick kind of way, but I'm just thinking about all of the things I love about the holidays. We have numerous families inviting us over for dinner this Thursday, so we're balancing that out (Thanksgiving is our P-Day this week and today we work). Members ask if there were any traditions that we did that they could do for us. Sadly, nobody puts their turkies in a pit like we do! I explain it to people and they say it sounds good. Good? It's delicious. I think about all the pies, football, and so on. I think about just being together as a family at grandma and grandpa's house. As soon as the long tables all went away, the grandsons all set up the Christmas tree. The holidays are going to be a little different being away from home, but I look forward to making it one of a kind. I hope everyone at home is doing well and they're as excited for the holday season as I am. I love you all and I wish you a happy thanksgiving, and go seahawks. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turkey
(or something like that)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Email from 11/15/10

Hey everyone!
It's been a pretty good week! I'll explain the two pictures. Recently a lot of the cotton fields around the city have been blooming, flowering, whatever the proper term is. We decided to go take some pictures in one. I like the first one of me because it reminds me of the TV show "CSI Miami." Dad and I always made fun of the main character, Horatio Caine, and his cheesy lines that began each episode. I see this picture playing out something like this.
"Horatio, why is that missionary standing in a cotton field?"
"Apparently... the field is white...(puts on sunglasses)...already to harvest."
I figured any CSI Miami fans would get a kick out of that, especially Dad. The second picture is of the six Elders in our apartment complex. From left to right it's me, Elder Kear, Elder Nuttal, Elder Abel, Elder Egan and Elder Tameilau. There's two other Elders in our district, Berry and McCarty, but they live a few miles away.
Mom you don't need to worry about my eating. The families down here are taking good care of us. At times it feels like a little too much care! Every night we have dinner with members of the ward and they stuff us. I'm trying to work out every morning so I don't gain (too much) weight. Thankfully we're in a bike area, that has to help a lot.
Transfers are tomorrow and I just now heard the news. Elder Abel and I will still be here together, and so will Egan and Tameilau. Our district leader, Elder Berry is being transfered, and Elders Nuttall and Kear, who are companions, are being flushed out of their area and are being replaced by two new missionaries. We don't find out until tomorrow who the new missionaries are. That came as a surprise to me. I'm pretty glad that Elder Abel and I are still together and in the same area, too. We had a great week this week and I want to keep working with the people we taught.
On Tuesday we taught Stephanie Garcia at the church with Bro. Farnsworth from the Garden Lakes ward. She really liked the building. We taught a good lesson and Stephanie committed to quit smoking by the weekend. Stake conference was this weekend, and she went to the adult session on saturday night. She loved it! She enjoyed the testimonies and met some really nice people from the ward, including Bishop Johnson. The next day (yesterday) was a stake conference broadcast from Salt Lake covering multiple stakes in Arizona. It was a lot like the one we had back home a few years ago when President Hinckley spoke to us. This time we heard from Bishop H. David Burton, Sis Barbara Thompson, Elder Quentin L. Cook and President Monson. It was really nice to hear from them all. We were sitting and listening when we saw Stephanie walk in with her two sons. They were late because their car wasn't working and they walked. They walked a pretty good distance and I was amazied the see them there. She really wanted to go to church and really wanted her sons to start going too. After the broadcast was over, lots of the youth recognized her sons and said hi. I think they have a pretty good group of youth fellowshippers, which makes Stephanie happy. We're going to meet with her again on Tuesday night.
On Saturday we had the opportunity to teach Julius, a man we tracted into last week. Brother Price, the Garden Lakes ward mission leader, went with us. We taught him the Restoration and he loved it. It looked as if though something clicked when we told him about prophets, that there was a prophet on the earth today. We invited him to be baptized and he said yes without any hesitation. He knows it's true. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he had said he had always seen one at work but never had the opportunity to read it. He asked how much it was and was a little surprised when we said nothing, it was his. He laughed and said, "You know I'm going to read this the moment you guys leave my house, right?" We laughed with him and said that's just fine. He thanked us graciously and said we were always welcome in his home. We have another appointment with him next Saturday.
Things are still going with Michele. She's trying to quit smoking and isn't doing so well. She's been seeing her daughter more often though! She's been really happy because she's been able to see Ashley. She even saw her mom yesterday, which was odd because they've had a lot of fights the past several years. We taught her mom last night and she seemed very open and respectful to Michele's desire to learn about the Gospel. We'll keep working with her.
It's really been an awesome week. I still feel like I can be working harder. I'm amazed at how fast the weeks are flying by. I'm reading the Book of Mormon quite regularly and I enjoy every page. Elder Nuttall is lightning quick at referrring back to any doctrine, story or reference in the Book of Mormon. I'm trying to get there. Elder Abel and I are still working hard and talking to everyone. The wards love us. Brother Smyth said last night that the two of us together remind him a lot of when he was working with his favorite companion back when he served his mission. I'm thankful for such an awesome companion. We work well and get along well too. I've realized that I should always be the kind of companion I want to have, and that seems to be worknig out quite nicelike.
I love you all and miss you. I hope you're all doing well, especially with holiday season around the corner. I hope the turkeys are burried and cooked to your liking. Write back soon, I can't wait to hear from you all. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Email from 11/8/10

Hey everyone!
I had to laugh just now when I saw a new email from mom in my inbox. I stopped where I was and read what mom had to day before I picked up where I'm typing right now. I loves the pictures of Marlee playing volleyball, I wish I could actually see her play. Glad to hear things are well back home. I was just thinking about the ginko, and mom tells me it's still kickin'. You have to catch that tree at the right time when all the leaves fall. There's only about a three hour window when that happens. I always love watching the leaves fall. I bet fall is nice and cool back home. Yesterday was about 88 degrees maybe? It still feels like a Tri-City summer to me.
Well I'll just get the worst news out of the way, Michele will not be baptized on Saturday. She hasn't been keeping some of the commitments she made, and now we have to push her baptism back again. She's still made a ton of progress from where she was before, but still has a lot of other little things to work on. That happens though. We just have to love her and keep working with her. This whole week has actually been testing my patience. We had so many appointments with people and probably 90 percent of them cancelled. Once again, these things happen. We hit the streets a lot and talk to as many people as we can. We certainly meet a lot of interesting people. The worst contact we had this week was a basher. Holy cow this guy is so....loved by his Father in Heaven (as for being loved by me, well, I'm getting there). We had just talked with a teenager and gave him a card. This basher comes around the corner and starts ripping into us. I always know something interesting is about to happen when they say, "Don't get me wrong, these are good guys." Then it gets ugly. He started saying the most ignorant, farfetched things about the church I've ever heard. I tried not to laugh just because of how crazy some of it was. When he finished he told the kid to throw away the card we had given him. I was so devastated to see this kid fold the card and throw it away. We just kept going along.
A few days ago we were sitting on the curb under a tree trying to figure out where we wanted to go. A woman in her mid 20's came outside for a smoke and saw us. We introduced ourselves and she was very friendly. We spoke with her for a few minutes and it became a mini-lesson in her driveway. I can't exactly put into words what happened next, but the Spirit was so strong as she talked about how her divorce was tearing her life apart. It was a touching moment that strengthened my testimony of the knowledge that there is a prophet on the earth today who leads and guides us. A prophet who is called by our God, who loves us and does not want us to wander alone in the dark. Once again I can't entirely explain this personal Spiritual witness, but it happened and I can't deny it. We may or may not ever see her again, but our visit ended on a beautiful note. We bore testimony that she would be ok. She thanked us for our time and wished us luck on our way. I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to meet her.
I hope that all is well wherever everyone is. Things are great is Arizona. Transfers are next week, so that should be interesting. Keep writing, I love hearing from everyone. I love you all and thank you for your support. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Email from 11/1/10

Hey everyone!
I hope things are going well back home and wherever everyone else is. Things are going pretty well down in Arizona. Sickness is going around. Elder Kear in our apartment has been down these past four days with the flu. I'm starting to get sniffly and congested. I think it's the start of a sinus infection or something. I've been getting stuff from the store and it's helping. Mucinex is a wonderful thing. Ok, so pictures from the week. The first is Elder Egan, myself, Elder Abel and our collection of candy from this past week. Of the three companionships in our apartment complex, we cover six wards, which in turn is six Fall Festivals of Trunk or Treating. The wards are nice to the missionaries. We probably have twice as much candy as there is in the picture. The second picture is a horse that was brought to one of the ward Fall Festivals. Too bad we couldn't ride it. The last is how we spent most of our Halloween evening. For safety, all of the missionaries had to be in by 6pm that night. We stayed in the apartment and made a chess board of candy. I know that a lot of the pictures I'm sending home are kind of goofy, but I promise you that Elder Abel and I are working very hard!

So this past week we've spent a lot of time working in the Garden Lakes ward. Because we have exchanges every day, we have to find more people to teach. We've been working particularly with less-active and part-member families. Sister Duncan, our dinner coordinator in Garden Lakes, does an awesome job of finding these kinds of families to feed us. One such family is the Medaglia's. She's a member; he isn't. He works for the Avondale Police Department and at first wanted nothing to do with the missionaries. Over the past few weeks he's let us share messages and now he offered to feed us. He's a big Italian guy who likes to eat and is happy when his guests stuff themselves. We pretty much sacrificed our stomachs to make him happy. Oh man was that food good. They have a huge mastiff that reminded me a lot of Ed. Very social dog. We shared a spiritual thought with them and invited them to the fall festival, and they showed up! They had a good time and made a lot of new friends in the ward. I'm hoping good things come of that.
We taught Monika this week for the first time in a while. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she really seemed to like it. We know she's been reading the Book of Mormon because she had a lot of really good questions about it. She appreciated the answers and was ready to hear the lesson. We had to cut the lesson short because of time. In a few weeks she's going to Peru with her husband Freddy and will be gone for about a month and a half. She told us that she knows where the LDS buildings are down in the city she's staying, and plans to go to church. The missionaries helped her friends a lot growing up in Peru, so she's pretty familiar with the church down there. I was pretty happy to hear that.
My favorite experience this past week dealt with prayer. The Spanish Elders tracted into a woman we had met a few weeks ago in the Garden Lakes ward, but moved into Villa de Paz. They referred her over to us and we had a lesson this past Thursday night. Her name is Phyllis and we taught her the Restoration. She received it very well. She had lots of questions, and we answered them. She grew up religious and sort of fell away. She knows that she needs to pray, study the scriptures and go to church. At the end of the lesson I invited her to pray. She hesitated and said no. She said she doesn't know how to say what she feels in her heart. I took this opportunity to bear my own testimony of prayer to her, stressing the importance of this sacred communication between us and our Father in Heaven. When I finished I invited her once again to pray. She didn't say anything for a moment. She just kind of stared at me, then she bowed her head and offered a simple, humble prayer. It was pretty cool to see. She said she'd read the Book of Mormon and would come to church. Several of her neighbors are members of the ward, and we're introducing them to her. Phyllis enjoys the company and is excited to come to church.
I hope everyone's doing well back home. I look forward to your letters and I pray for you all each day. Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, October 25, 2010

Email from 10/25/10

Hey everyone!
Things have been pretty good this week. We haven't taught too many lessons because we've had quite a few meetings. The whole exchanges every night thing is getting better. It's still a little tough trying to balance which appointments are in which wards, but we're getting there. Last night was sure fun. Brother Smyth (Villa de Paz Ward Mission Leader) and I went out and tried to see some potential investigators. We saw a few people and even set up a few return appointments for later in the week. We went to the last house on my list, Brent, and knocked. He's really hard to reach, but we tried anyways. After knocking a second time he opened the door and was about ready to attack me with a cattle prod! He held it over his head and was half way through swinging it when we both kind of screamed a little bit. He apologized and said he was afraid of who was at the door because a few houses down the road was broken into the other night. I apologized, introduced myself and told him we were missionaries. We eventually left after a conversation on the porch, and Brother Smyth just laughed at me on the way back to the church. I was laughing too. I've heard of missionaries getting guns pulled on them, but never a cattle prod. That's certainly a first.

Michele had her baptismal interview this week and she's all set for baptism. It was originally going to be the 26th (tomorrow), but nobody from the ward would be able to make it. Instead, Michele asked if we could do it on Nov 13th, so that way more people from the ward could go, she could tell her friends, and she could read more from the scriptures to better prepare herself. I'm happy for her and she's pretty happy too. We're still seeing her on a regular basis to help her get ready. She's been cleaning her house a lot lately. The furniture is all clean, she's taken out the trash, cleaned the carpet and kicked all the animals outside. I didn't recognize the house the last time I went to see her. I say it a lot but she's really turning her life around.

On Saturday the city of Tolleson (about a mile down the road from our apartment) had a city pride day where youth all contributed to cleaning up the city. Youth from the church, schools, and all over the city got together to paint houses, clean streets and take care of litter. All of the Elders in our district (eight of us) met up there to help too. A couple of the Spanish Elders were there as well. It was funny because we were all in jeans and t-shirts, and a few of the youth in our wards thought it was a little weird not to see us in shirts and ties. The group I was in with Elder Abel and the Spanish Elders painted a house. In our group of about thirty youth/us, we painted a single story house with two coats in about 3 hours. It looked pretty good and we worked hard. I was exhausted by the time it was over. We came back to the apartment, showered and crashed for about an hour before we got back out to work.

We had an interesting experience on Tuesday this week. We were in the apartment cleaning during lunch, and we heard a knock at the door. It was a guy named Jesse, probably late 20's, who I've never met before. He lived in the apartment complex and told us he'd seen us around. He was a member of the church, very innactive, but was having a rough time with life. He was going through a divorce and nothing was really going well with him. He wanted to know how he could come back to church and how to have the Holy Ghost back in his life. We gave him the information for the bishop of the Crystal Gardens ward and he said thank you. We saw him at the service project on saturday, and again in the singles ward yesterday at church. He looked very happy and thanked us for helping him out. It amde me think of a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance." When talking about that guidance of the Spirit in ones life, Elder Scott says:
"Have patience as you are perfecting your ability to be led by the Spirit. By careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come, you will gain spiritual guidance. I bear witness that the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, can speak to your mind and heart. Sometimes the impressions are just general feelings. Sometimes the direction comes so clearly and so unmistakably that it can be written down like spiritual dictation.

I bear solemn witness that as you pray with all the fervor of your soul with humility and gratitude, you can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life. I have confirmed the truthfulness of that principle in the crucible of my own life. I testify that you can personally learn to master the principles of being guided by the Spirit. That way, the Savior can guide you to resolve challenges of life and enjoy great peace and happiness."

I love how simple it is. Elder David A. Bednar says something along the same lines. If we are being good and keeping the commandments, we'll be ok.

I hope everyone back home is doing well. Things are great in Arizona. Things are even better now that the heat has died off. It's been in the 80's and 70's every day this week, and it's supposed to get cooler. I love it. I miss you all and hope to hear from you soon. Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, October 18, 2010

Email from 10/18/10

Hey everyone!
It's good to hear from you all. First, I need to wish Marlee the happiest of happy birthdays. I hope she liked the card I sent. Dad, thank you for sharing your experience about you and the missionaries last night. [She] had that same excited look on her face when the Elders and I saw her a month or so before I reported. Take care of her and maybe invite her over to grandma and grandpa's too, I think she'd really enjoy that.
This week has been interesting and tough. Not emotionally tough or anything, just a lot of work. Because the stake president has asked that the wards go on exchanges with the missionaries every night, we've been trying to find people to visit. We alternate between Garden Lakes ward and Villa de Paz ward. We've been busy trying to coordinate who's going where and who's teaching who. This has only been the first week and I'm sure it will get better. Now that we actually know which wards are on which nights, we can coordinate our appointments more easily.
We have such awesome wards here. Bishop Johnson and his family in the Garden Lakes ward really take care of us. Sister Johnson is basically our mom. She saw that there was a rip in the pants that another Elder gave me and told me that was unacceptable for a representative of the Lord. She told me she'd fix them. When she said they couldn't be fixed, she went out and bought me and Elder Abel new pants from Deseret Industries, clean, pressed and ready to go. When we went to pick them up she had dinner and fresh baked cookies waiting for us. She wouldn't take no for an answer. She says that she has three sons who are preparing to go on missions in the next few years and it's only right that she takes care the missionaries so that someday someone else will take care of hers (must be a universal "mom" thing). Such a neat family. The Andrus family in Villa de Paz ward is awesome too. He used to be the bishop of the ward. Their oldest son, Zach, is on a mission up in Spokane. Sister Andrus has the same feeling towards taking care of the missionaries. Bishop Andrus called us up the other day and said "My wife wants to know if you have dinner tonight," and we didn't. She had dinner waiting for us the minute we walked into their home. He takes us wherever we need to go and he has a truck, which is great whenever our bikes go flat. I just had to take a moment there and give my thanks for the wonderful wards and families who take care of me. Elder Abel and I both survived this past transfer so we get to continue working here.
We've been working a lot with Michele, getting her ready for her baptism. It's planned for Tuesday the 26th, but it may or may not be pushed back a few days to the weekend so more people from the ward can support her. We've seen her almost every night this week so we can teach her. I've been the one seeing her most of the time while Elder Abel is on exchanges seeing families he's been working with for a while. Anywho, Michele is doing great. I went into the past few lessons with her never having taught them before and it went so well. She was very receptive and she's been reading the Book of Mormon on her own. One night we had to sit down with her and read. I had a lesson planned, but because she didn't read I threw the lesson out the window and we read. That really helped because she was reading much more after that. The Smyths went by to pick her up for church yesterday but she wasn't ready. They went to church, and we saw Michele walk into the chapel with about 15 minutes left in sacrament meeting. She took the time to get ready on her own, brought her scriptures and found a way to church. We thought she walked, which scared us because it's about a mile walk in the heat. She went and asked her neighbor for a ride. Her neighbor had no idea what the church was or why Michele wanted to go so badly, but they brought her. It was pretty cool to see. She loves the Gospel Principles class and the Relief Society. She's made such huge improvements from that first day we met her. She bought clothes that she feels are more modest and self-respectful, went to the grocery store for the first time in months and bought good food, and now she says she has tithing she wants to pay the minute she steps out of the baptismal font next week. I'm speechless. This all coming from a woman who was contemplating suicide the day we came into contact with her. She's amazing.
This past week doesn't have many interesting stories or experiences, mostly busy work. I'm just excited to see Michele so prepared for her baptism. She's telling her friends about it and a lot of them say they want to come. A lot of the ward members say they want to come too. I'll be sure to keep you posted on Michele and how her baptism goes. I love you all and hope you're doing well. Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, October 11, 2010

Email from 10/11/10

Hey everyone!
Dad and sis, thanks for the DearElders this week. I'm glad to hear that Marlee is enjoying volleyball. Sounds like she's doing well too. Mom, thanks for the email, it's great to hear from you. The yard looks AWESOME! I still can't believe there's grass! If and when a fence goes up, you should let the dogs run crazy in the yard. Remember when Joey was running around grandma and grandpa's back yard? So funny. The pictures I attached today happened last Tuesday. We left the apartment and saw tons of clouds. It was maybe in the low 70's and it felt great. There was a breeze in the air, which really felt like autumn. We were biking along in upper Villa de Paz when we felt a little rain. We went to a park with a gazebo and ate the lunches we had packed while an intense thunderstorm was going on around us.

In the middle of the rain I ran outside to embrace it (the kid from Washington, who would've guessed?). The rain was so refreshing. It cleared up after a bit and we went back to work. When we left the porch of a certain house the rain started again, only much harder. It rained harder than any other rain I've ever seen, a straight up monsoon. We had to be across town for an appointment and so we biked in it. We got to the appointment, it fell through, and we were soaked. Literally soaked. It was as if I had jumped in a pool in full proselyting clothes. I took off my shoes and poured a small pool out of each of them. I wrung out my socks, pants, shirt and tie. We went to the church to dry off, and I put my socks in the oven. Yes, the oven. I hate having wet socks and I couldn't think of a better solution! It must have been a last minute summer shower, because last Monday was rainy too. We played football in the rain for PDay. It was just like the rain I had explained beforehand. Soaked. So yeah, freak rainstorms this week were pretty awesome.

The week's been going well, not a whole lot of craziness. We're still working with Michele, it's going slowly but surely. She came to church yesterday, and even had a dress! She left after Sunday School because she wasn't feeling well. Edgar's been sick too so we haven't been able to see him much either. On Tuesday, however, we met a woman named Stephanie while she was walking to work. We told her about the church and she said that she passes the building on a regular basis, and that it "calls to her" for some reason. She invited us over to share a lesson with her family. She has a boyfriend, Paul, and two sons, John (13) and Jared (10?). Each of them have had spiritual experiences in their lives, and certainly believe in something, they just don't know what. Paul has had multiple forms of cancer in his life. He says he feels God's love for him every day despite his illnesses. Both of his brothers are ministers in separate churches, and he's being baptized into one of them next month. Even though he's choosing to join a local baptist church, he was VERY into the lesson. He asked great questions, didn't bash, and agreed with everything we taught. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and he began reading it immediately. We left them with two copies. Jared grabbed the other and wanted to read it together as a family the minute we left. So. Much. Potential!

We've had a lot of people telling us to be safe. I heard that  a lot from home, but I hear it more out here. Not just from members, but random people on the street too. We tracted into a guy in upper Villa de Paz the other night who thought we were crazy for being outside after dark. This guy flat out told us he had recently come home from prison, read up about the church and totally respected what we were doing. He just told us to be safe out there and that he doesn't want us getting hurt. We may not be seeing him again, but I appreciated his respect. He's got a point though. Upper Villa de Paz after dark is sketchy. I don't like staying there long, but it's hard when we have appointments. The stake president just said that he wants members going on exchanges every night with the missionaries, which Elder Abel and I aren't too thrilled about. We don't have much success at night. But I think that I was just typing that I realized that it's probably to keep us safe with members in a car rather than being so vulnerable on a bike? Who knows. Mom, don't worry, we'll be ok. We're making smart choices. Multiple times we've left areas because of mutual bad feelings about the situation.

We had a zone meeting this week. Oh! Remember the Elder I met at Taco Bell at BYU the day I reported? His name is Elder Cheadle and he's here now! He was learning Spanish in the MTC so he was there a little longer than I was (9 weeks total for him). He's in my zone and I see him every once in a while. We saw each other a lot in the MTC and it's cool to see him out here too. Anywho, back to what I was saying. After the meeting was over, we went to lunch at a sandwich shop called WhichWich (new favorite). While we were there, Elder Abel said we had a new voicemail...from President Beck. I didn't believe him until I heard it. He said he wanted to call us and tell us how much he loved us. Apparently Bishop Johnson of the Garden Lakes ward called him espousing the wonderful virtues and talents of the Elder Abel and Elder Turner companionship in his ward. President Beck called to tell us that's what he likes to hear and to keep up the good work. We felt pretty good about that, but didn't believe it so we could stay humble (Elder Rodriguez always tells us that with a smile: "You're a great missionary. But don't believe it.").

I love you all and thank you for your support. I love hearing from you and hope you're doing well. Until next week, take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, October 4, 2010

Email from 10/4/10

Hey all!
First of all, mom, dad and sis, I sure hope you get a kick out of my email subject and its source. When President Uchtdorf said that in General Conference on Saturday I nearly fell out of my seat I was laughing so hard. So yes, I thought you'd enjoy that. (To those outside of our family...Eric does a spot-on impression of Pres. Uchtdorf, complete with the German accent. He makes us laugh all the time with it. ~ Tim)
Dad, thanks for the DearElder this week. Glad to hear that Bomber football is doing so well. As for BYU football, hey it happens. Mom, I hope your New York trip went well! I'm curious to hear about it. Sis I'm glad you're enjoying school and volleyball. I know your birthday is coming up soon, what do you want? I'll try and send you something as close to the 15th as I can. I can't believe you're turning 13, I still remember that night when I met you in the airport. I miss you like crazy sis, and hope you're doing well. Please write as soon as you can, I want to hear how you're doing.
This week has been pretty good. The work has been a bit slow, but that happens. Elder Abel and I contacted like crazy. There's not that many people outside during the day because it's so blazing hot. This past week though, there's been a ton of people outside, which was odd because yesterday it was 105. It's starting to cool off a bit. I attached a picture of what I think best reminds me of a Tri-City sunset.
 We've met a lot of nice people. We're still working with Edgar, slowly but surely. He really wants to come to church and mutual with the youth. Michele is doing great, we see her twice a week. Her husband Bob even enjoys the lessons. Bob gave us the nicest compluiment I think I've ever heard from anyone thus far on the mission. Bob has had a series of medical issues, including open heart surgery. His circulation is poor, and causes him to be in a lot of pain. He doesn't enjoy being around people very much because of how much pain he is always feeling. Bob says that throughout his life, he's been to various congregations of other churches, but a lot of the people let him down. He doesn't like how people teach one thing but don't live it. He can't stand hyopcrites. He says that the first few lessons we taught Michele, he was in the other room, but he was still listening.  He liked the things we were saying, and he especially liked how Michele was receiving it. Finally he decided to sit in on the lessons. He likes how we live what we teach. He told us up front, "I like what you teach. I trust you. You're good men." I was shocked. Michele was shocked, and let out a flattered, "WOW." Bob has now expressed interest in going to church with Michele starting this coming Sunday. Incredible.
Tomorrow's transfers. Transfers are every six weeks, and I'm kind of on my toes. I'm not worried, I have a feeling that Elder Abel and I will be together through the next transfer. Who knows though, he's been here for the past 7 transfers or something like that. Elder Kear has been here for a year now. Since the mission boundaries were split back in July, missionaries are more condensed and from what I hear, aren't transfered as often as they were before. The boundary before went all the way up to the Utah border, but is now cut off just south of Flagstaff. The mission is roughly half the size of what it was, but President Beck says that the work is exploding. Doctrine and Covenants 133:29 is our mission scripture. It says:
 " 29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land. "
I laughed when I first read it in the MTC, but it really is powerful. I'm curious to see where the others in the district will end up.
I really enjoyed General Conference this weekend. Every conference just gets better and better. I liked President Uchtdorf's talk on humility in the Priesthood session, and President Monson's Sunday morning talk on gratitude, especially where he said, "To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." Beautiful. I also liked Elder Holland's talk about how everyone in the church contributes in some way, shape or form. I loved his story about his family's support while he was on his mission. To everyone, I can't thank you enough for what you do to support me and the thousands of other missionaries around the world. I feel somewhat guilty about the days where I'm not trying as hard as I should be. I apologize and will get back to work. I don't want to let anyone down, not my family, not my friends and especially not my Father in Heaven. If He trusts me to serve His children in Arizona then I'd better get to it.
I can't wait to hear from you. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, September 27, 2010

Email from 9/27/10

Hey everyone!
It's been great hearing from you all. Dad, thank you for the DearElder. I'm glad you got to hear from Bro. Peck, he's a pretty incredible guy. Did you meet him at all? Mom, I got your email this morning. Yes I can print out emails at the library, but it costs 50 cents per page. Plus I'd have to wait until Monday to check email anyways. You can most certainly email, but sending letters and DearElders works just fine too (plus it's exciting to see mail on my desk when I get home at night!). You can do whatever, I'm not picky, I just want to hear from my family is all.
I've attached a few new pictures. One is a leaning cactus, and I tried the whole "Tower of Pisa" thing where it looks like you're pushing it up. It was funny when Elder Abel and I tried taking the picture. The other is the side of a building with the huge mural thing on the side of it. It's across from Pete's so we went and took the picture after lunch one day.

This week has been pretty interesting. I must have been a tad bold in my last email because I sure got what I asked for. That night as Elder Abel and I were walking to an appointment when we saw two older men talking with each other. We politely asked if we could give them a pass along card and the bashing commenced. Turns out they were both ministers at different churches. For the next half hour they yelled at us, mocked us and tried to rip us to shreds. It didn't get anywhere. We couldn't say anything without them throwing false doctrine at us. It really makes me sad when people do that, when they tell us what we believe (or rather, what they think we believe). It happens though. Elder Abel and I weren't shaken in the slightest bit. Unfortunately it was a half hour that we could have used enlightening them or even just leaving and talking to other people. Once again, it happens. You shake it off and keep going. The worst, however, was Joe. We met Joe a while back and he had questions, ones that we could easily answer. However, the answers we gave weren't the ones he wanted. We asked if we could set up a time to go back and maybe clarify things. We went by on Saturday afternoon. He's a nice guy and welcomed us into his home. But just like our friends on the street from the other night, we couldn't say a word without him bashing and arguing. It was pointless. He threw out misinterpretations of scripture, false doctrine and contradicted everything we said. It was an hour wasted. He had no interest at all in anything we had to say, he just wanted to break us. It really made me sad how much he twisted the plain and precious truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ to fit what he believed. We left with a testimony and nothing else. We could have easily fought back, but it would have been pointless. It would have only led to more arguing. We are not here to bash. We are missionaries, and we are here to teach.
Enough with the contention. Michele is doing fantastic. She's smiling now. Originally the bishop told us that he didn't want us teaching in her home anymore because it could possibly be hazardous to our health. Michele took mild offense to this and immediately began cleaning her house. The dishes were cleaned, the furniture was organized and the floor was even vacuumed. We went by and said that it was safe for us to come in. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and it all made sense to her. She's been praying and reading the Book of Mormon and knows it's true. She straight up told us, "I know it's true and it makes me happy. I want to join the church. Tell me what I have to do." Elder Abel and I were kind of caught of guard. We invited her to be baptized and she gladly accepted. It's scheduled for the last week of October! It's really amazing to see the Spirit work in this woman. She's great. She wants her husband and kids to hear it too. Bob, her husband, even sat in on part of the lesson. Her daughter is somewhat interested but wasn't home when we stopped by. Michele loves coming to church and looks forward to it every week. She said she even bought a skirt. She wasn't at church yesterday because she was sick, but the ward made an effort to go get her and see if she was doing ok. Way to go Villa de Paz ward!
We're still working with Edgar. Things are getting difficult because his parents are arguing with him about his desire to go to church. His dad is very nice to us, but Edgar says his mom is being hard to get along with. We've yet to meet her, but we're happy to answer any questions she has. The main thing we want to say is that the message we share blesses families. Our Father in Heaven blesses us with families. The world is trying so hard to tear families apart, and a home based on the gospel can be a safe place for families to learn and grow. Edgar knows this and wants to tell her. Thankfully Ross is still being a good friend to Edgar.
That's mostly what's been going on this week! I'm really looking forward to general conference this weekend. We are so blessed to have the technology to make it possible so that we can hear from a modern day prophet and apostles. I love conference. Twice a year we get to hear from these incredible witnesses of Jesus Christ. I've found that whenever I go into conference weekend with specific questions, I always get specific answers. I encourage everyone to listen to some of conference, even if you're not a member of the church! It streams live from on saturday and sunday morning from 9-11 am and then in the afternoon from 1-3 pm. Four wonderful sessions of conference! Here, I've included the link to one of my favorite talks (hopefully it works!). It was given last October. Click the link, and go to "What Have I Done for Someone Today" by President Thomas S. Monson under the Sunday Morning Session. I hope you enjoy it!
The things we hear during general conference are true and applicable to everyone, and I know you and your families will be strengthened. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, September 20, 2010

Email from 9/20

Hello everyone!
It's been a crazy week and I can't wait to tell you about it. I finally bought a card reader so hopefully I'll be sending more pictures in future emails. Dad, it may not hurt to put some of these on the blog, facebook, or whatever. Do as you wish! Speaking of memory cards, do you still have the one I sent home a little while back? The first picture is of me on my birthday trying to fix my flat tire. The second is a member's truck with two hilarious bumper stickers. The third is one of Brother Baggiore's cows. They have a few cows they're raising and will later be slaughtered for meat. I couldn't resist taking a picture with one of them. I immediately shouted HEY COW when I saw it. For those fo you who don't know what "Hey Cow" is, it's a game you play in the car. When you see a bunch of cows, you roll down the window and scream HEY COW as loud as you can. Whoever can get the most cows to look at them wins. I play it with my family, and it's always good for a laugh. I'm sure my family will appreciate that photo more than anyone.

Mom, thank you so much for the letters. I'm glad things are going well with the yard. Any grass yet? Even when it happens, I still won't believe it until I see it. I'm having a hard time rembembering grass, everyone's yards here are either sagebrush or rock. Any "grass" I see is yellow and burned. Grass doesn't survive well here. Dad, thank you for the letters too. How's everything going with school? Sis, how about you? I'm sorry I haven't been writing as much as I have. I promise I'll get you a letter or two sometime soon. I really want to hear how you are enjoying volleyball, school and soccer. I know you're busy, but if you have time I'd love to hear from you. I even got a letter from grandma and grandpa! I laughed so hard because grandpa told me he doesn't usually write letters. I could barely read his writing but I got through it. On the other side grandma told me I should feel honored because grandpa NEVER writes letters. I certainly do feel honored!

It's P-Day once again, and I'll explain how that works. Preparation Day, or P-Day, is kind of like our day off. We still have morning study schedule, but from 10am-6pm we do what we want/need to do. At 10 we go to the Avondale library and use the computers to send emails. After that we go to Fry's Grocery and buy food for the week. After that we do whatever we agree on as a district. We usually go to the stake center and play sports or something. Sometimes basketball, maybe football, ultimate, whatever we feel like playing. Today we're going there and playing Deathball, which I've never heard of but I guess is really fun. It's Elder Nuttall's birthday and he requested that. We have a dinner appointment in the evening and then at 6pm it's back to mission schedule. We tract, teach lessons, contact on the streets just like we do every other day of the week. P-Days are also the only time I'm allowed to write letters. Anyone who writes a letter, I promise I'll write back as soon as I can, I just have to wait until Monday.

Edgar hasn't been progressing. He still shows an interest in being baptized, but hasn't come to church for two weeks in a row now. We're still working with him, because we can see he wants to move forward. It just takes a little bit of work and patience. Robert is keeping commitments, and is no longer under our stewardship because he's technically considered a young single adult. We passed him along to the YSA Elders and hopefully they'll work well with him. John still wants to meet with us, but hasn't been answering the phone. We haven't been able to contact Crystal for three weeks now, but week keep trying.

We met a woman early this week named Michele. She was walking on the street and we talked with her. She doesn't look healthy at all. She looks like the result of a lifetime of drug abuse and poor choices. She's maybe 40, but looks in her 60's. She's skin and bones. She invited us over to teach her. We brought Bro. Smyth, the Villa de Paz ward mission leader with us. Her house is a pit, and that's putting it kindly. The carpet is stained, furniture is destroyed, dirty dishes all over the kitchen and we're welcomed by the lingering smell of her husband Bob's cigarette smoke. She hasn't had running water for three weeks. Neither she nor her husband work and she lives off of disability. They are literally starving in their own home. Bob doesn't love her at all. She is miserable, lonely and lost, and fights through tears every time we talk with her. She even said there have been times when she's considered suicide. Every time we leave I can't help but want to sit and cry. She loves having the missionaries over and loves the message we bring. We invited her to church on Sunday and she accepted. She was a little apprehensive because she hasn't showered in a while and didn't have good clothes. The Smyths offered to help.

Fast forward to church yesterday. I'm walking around and see her walk in with the Smyth's. She had a blue flowered blouse, jeans and her daughter's shoes on. Her hair was combed and pulled up. She was happy to be there, and I was straight up ecstatic to see her there with a smile on her face. I started talking to her about what would happen at church when I was politely interrupted by numerous members introducing themselves and saying hi to her. You can tell she loved that. I didn't mind, I just kept smiling. I was explaining more about church and she asked me, "Do you ever get angry?" I couldn't help but laugh. I was just so happy to see her happy for once. I sat with her and the Smyths, and she eagerly listened to everything that was going on. She even sang the hymns! One of Andrus' daughters in front of us said that she liked Michele's singing voice. The bishop came over and introduced himself. We went into his office and he asked her a few questions. Hopefully the ward is going to be able to help her get a plan to get her life back in order. We went to gospel principles and Relief Society with Sister Smyth (who happens to be the Relief Society President). Mom, you would love Sister Smyth. What an awesome lady. We went to see Michele after church was over, and she was helping put away chairs with a gospel principles book under her arm. We could barely talk to her because of the other sisters in the ward who were introducing themselves to her. It's amazing what a little fellowshiping can do. I can tell she had a good time. The Smyths took her home and she left church with a huge smile on her face. We're seeing her again on Tuesday.

I really can't complain. Things are going great. The work may be slow at times, but that doesn't mean it's not going well. I'm seeing what a little bit of our Father in Heaven's love can do for one of his daughters who can't find the strength to go on. It really is a miracle. I think of all of the hate we get and brush off from the masses of people every day. I hear their completely ignorant, asinine, foolish and downright pathetic assumptions about the missionaries, the Church, me, and worst of all, my family. Yet for some reason I seem to have forgotten all of that when I sat by Michele yesterday in church. No one person can stand nose to nose with me, look me in the eye and tell me that what I'm doing is wrong. I dare anyone to try it.

I love you all and hope you're doing well. Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, September 13, 2010

Email from 9/13

Hey everyone!
Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes! I loved the letters. Family, I got the package this morning. It actually showed up on Saturday, but had to wait until this morning when the office opened up again to get it. I love the ties, I'm wearing one right now! Thank you for all of the pictures too. I had hardly any pictures of us as a family and none of the dogs. I laughed when I saw the ones of Joey playing Scrabble, Jack doing DevilDog and Edgar with the Reindeer antlers. I really appreciate the picture of Barth too! I don't know why, I just really like it. It really reminds me of home. My guess is it's getting to be about fall time at home. Let me know when the ginko gives up the ghost. I'm happy to hear that Marlee is enjoying volleyball! It's no surprise to me that she made A, she's a natural. I'm also glad to hear Richland football is doing well too. I hope the leadership kids are working hard and working what they've learned from Baker into what they're doing. So the BYU rumor is true and they actually left the Mountain West? Interesting. Sister Turville, a lady here who supports the missionaries and helps us with everything, called me on Saturday night to tell me that BYU got crushed by Air Force. We also heard that the Seahawks were playing the 49'ers this week too. Elder Tameilau from San Jose and I made a friendly bet. The losing Elder's team has to buy the winning Elder's team a carton of ice cream. He called us yesterday after church and said, "Tell Elder Turner I owe him some ice cream. He'll know why."
Sorry if I haven't been answering a lot of your questions. Dad, I live in an apartment with Elder Abel and two other Elders, Kear and Nuttall. Elders Egan and Tameilau live in the building behind us in the same complex, and they come over every night to visit. It's four to an apartment, but pretty much six because Elders Egan and Tameilau practically live there too. The members feed us dinner every night and it's always good. Yes mom, I'm eating well. You'd be proud, I destroyed a plate of green beans and cauliflower (and went back for more) last week, and a plate of broccoli last night. I'm eating just fine.
So, review this week. I had a birthday! The day started with a phone call from President and Sister Beck singing happy birthday to me. Sister Beck told me to tell Elder Abel that his stewardship was to make sure I had the best day ever. It was a great day. We had lots of appointments and just worked hard. On Tuesday the 7th, we met this kid named Edgar Ortiz on the street while he was walking home from school. We left him a card to call for a free Book of Mormon. He said he was going to call it right when he got home. Instead, I just gave him a copy that I had. We set up a time to go back on the next day, my birthday, to teach him. We brought a priest from the ward named Ross, who has a few classes with Edgar. The lesson went SO well. He said that he's had opther people talk to him about church, and it's just interesting to him. But when we taught him, he felt good inside. We invited him to pray at the end of the lesson, and he disagreed. I taught him a quick lesson on prayer and bore my testimony about its power, then invited him again. He said he would try. His prayer began as if though he were sort of lost which I completely understood and even expected. But as we waited, I noticed something. It was as if I were reading about Enos' experience. I could tell that Edgar's soul truly hungered to know that his Father in Heaven was listening to him. He began to ask for the safety of his family, and asking for help with things that were clearly troubling him at the time. He focused a lot on his family, which I know is important to him. He finished praying and the Spirit was so strong in the room. We set up our next appointment for a few days later to give him a tour of the church so it would be a little more familiar when he came to church on Sunday.
So now it's Friday and we're in the church. Ross came with Edgar again for the fellowshipping that Edgar needed. As soon as Edgar walked into the building he stopped and said, "Whoah." I asked him what was wrong. He said, "Nothing, it's just really peaceful in here." We showed him the classrooms and finished in the chapel. He kept commenting on how much he liked the peace and quiet of the building. We taught a short lesson in the chapel, and asked if he prayed about what we had taught him before. He said yes and he felt really good about it. Then I extended to him the invitation to be baptized. He said yes. Now, my heart was racing because I had never extended an invitation to be baptized. He on the other hand, was really calm and happy. We're planning on his baptism at the end of the month. We stopped by his house the night before church and saw his dad in the yard. What a nice guy. He was very supportive of us. We told him about his son's desire to be baptized and invited him to support his son at the baptism. He thought for a second and said, "Yeah that sounds good." We're trying to find a time that his dad will be in town to be at the baptism, because he's gone a lot for his work. Yesterday at church, however, Edgar never showed up. Neither did John Villa, another high school boy we're teaching. We don't know what happened, but we're going to see them soon. Perhaps they didn't have rides. That thought never crossed my mind. Come on, Elder Turner, think Maslow! Basic needs! We're really working hard with Edgar and John, I'll be sure to let you know how they are doing.
The rest of my birthday was great too. Sister Turville made a german chocolate cake and brought it to our district meeting. I love her so much, she's the best. It was Elder Kear's birthday too! After the meeting we went to Pete's, like we always do. Oh man, time out. Pete's Fish and Chips. So good. It's a lot like Dick's in Spokane. Think sketchy little walk-up counter and disgusting picnic tables. But the food is SO GOOD. I always get a triple monsterburger and a 44 oz horchata. Pete's is famous for their sauce, this ketchup and tobasco mix that's really good on their burgers. So yes, Pete's. Good stuff. Did I tell you the wonderful gift that the state of Arizona gave me?? A flat tire! Yeah, we got out of the appointment with Edgar and my tire was as dead as could be. We pumped it enough to get me down the road to the Ross' home where he said I could have some slime for my tire. When I put the slime in and started pumping it up, the stem of the tube broke. So, now I need new tubes. We're going to get some today so no worries.
I read an interesting scripture the other day which I am sure is often overlooked. It's in the Book of Mormon, Omni 1:9. One of Omni's sons, Chemish, is speaking. He says:
9 Now I, Chemish, write what few things I write, in the same book with my brother; for behold, I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand; and he wrote it in the day that he delivered them unto me. And after this manner we keep the arecords, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers. And I make an end.
What I think is intersting about this is that this is the only verse in all of the Book of Mormon that Chemish writes. Pretty pointless, right? I don't think so. Think of the thousands of verses in the Book of Mormon, and this one is another testament to its truthfulness. It's a witness that what is being written is true. When I liken this to myself, I think of the thousands of missionaries around the world. Does it matter that I give my time to say what I know is true and what 50,000+ missionaries are saying what they know to be true as well? It most certainly matters. Like Chemish, I give my testimony that this record is true and that this work is the best thing I could be doing right now. I love this work, I love Arizona and I love these people. We're working hard and I'm being kept safe. Thank you everyone for your love and support, I can't wait to hear from you. Take care and be good!
Elder Eric James Turner