Hello from Phoenix Arizona! To clear up everyone's questions and concerns, yes, it's hot. It's so good to finally be in the field. On Tuesday the 24th, we were up at 3 am to get ready to leave. We had to be at our travel office in the MTC by 5. Woo! We were packed and lined up along the curb. A few busses came up, and we got all of our luggage packed into another truck. We loaded on our bus, and made it to the airport by about 6:30. We laughed because on the drive, we kept joking about how there was actually a world outside of the MTC. Who knew? We made it to the airport, got through security, said our goodbyes to the other elders in our district going to california, and headed to the gate. Since we had time before the flight, we all called families. I had a chance to talk to mom and dad before I flew, and I know they appreciated it. We boarded the flight and took off for Phoenix. We were pretty easy to spot, there were 18 missionaries on the flight. The flight was quick and smooth. At one point I think we flew over the Grand Canyon, but I'm not quite sure? Still, it was pretty cool to see from above. We eventually landed and got off the plane. We stuck out. Walking through the airport people were looking at us with puzzled looks on their faces. I think it was about that time when I realized that I wasn't in the MTC anymore. On the other side of security, President and Sister Beck greeted us with smiles and pictures all around! President and Sister Beck are amazing. They were so helpful in getting all of the new missionaries to where they needed to go.
Outside, a few Assistants to the President (AP's) had big vans waiting to take us to the mission home. The drive there was hilarious. We were all exhausted and barely talked. We asked Elder Bingham, our driver, about how often he drove the van. He said not very often, but he has a perfect driving record so we shouldn't worry. He couldn't even finish the sentence before a trooper's lights went on behind us to pull us over. The reason? We were doing 62 in a 65. Sounds kind of dumb to me, but it gets better! The proof of insurance card had expired. This didn't make our tropper friend very happy. He said that if we promised to get it fixed and never drive that way again, that he wouldn't write Elder Bingham a thousand dollar ticket. Oh boy did Elder Bingham promise! So when we showed up late to the mission home, we had a fun story to tell Sister Beck.
We spent a few hours at the mission home with orientation and whatnot. There was a big lunch of pulled pork sandwiches waiting for us, and plenty of Elders and Sisters to get to know. We had a few lessons about the mission and a spiritual thought here and there. Each new missionary had a welcome interview with President Beck. Like I said before, President Beck is a great man. He's very smart and very bold. One of the first things he told me was that by reading about some of the things I've done prior to the mission, he knows that I'm very able and capable of doing hard things. He has total confidence in me and the whole group of new missionaries. I love him. Sister Beck is a sweetheart. She made us a huge lunch, talked to us individually and took a bunch of pictures. Mom and dad you should be getting a picture of me, President and Sister Beck sometime.
After all of the interviews, we had about an hour or so to lounge around before the transfer meeting. Sister Beck encouraged that we nap, because it may be the last nap we have for two years. Elders Johnson, Bennett, Buttars and I found pillows and slept on the living room floor for about half an hour.
We were driven to the transfer building where I would meet my trainer and get my first area. All of the new Elders were taken into a room where all of the trainers greeted us. The assistants read off of a clipboard who would me training who. My first companion and trainer in the Arizona Phoenix Mission is.........ELDER ABEL. He's so cool! He's a little taller than I am, from Palm Desert California, and has been out in the field for about ten months. He and I get along great. He's very obedient and loves the work. That and he's a goof. We get along just perfect. In the chapel, all of the new missionaries and trainers introduced themselves. All of the other missionaries being transferred just sat in the congregation and waited for President Beck to announce their assignments. When the meeting was over, we packed up and headed to our apartment.
Elder Abel and I are in a city called Avondale. We serve in the Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz wards in the West Maricopa Stake! He and I are on bikes, but the other Elders in our apartment have a car. It's SO HOT riding bikes, but as long as the Camelbacks are full of water we're good to go. We get right to work. We knock doors, talk to everyone, visit investigators and work til we drop. Every night I come home exhausted, sweaty and happy knowing I worked hard. I say this a lot but it's so hot. I carry a washcloth in my backpack pocket just to wipe the sweat off my head and neck while we're tracting. When we come back to the apartment I swear I could wring out my shirt of all the sweat. It took me all of about a day to realize that it's impossible to avoid, so I just embrace it.
I had a few requests if that's ok? Would it be possible to get a jar of grandma's pear jam and maybe some strawberry jam too? Elder Nuttall, an Elder in my apartment, got a jar of homemade jam in a package and we're all trying to sneak some when he's not looking. Also, send letters! I really want to hear how people are doing! The address in the mission home in Glendale, and it's all forwarded. 18001 N. 79th Ave Ste C50, that address. It should still be on faceook I think. But yes, I really really want to hear from family and friends!
We've been working really hard. Already have had dozens of people yell at me with the occasional finger of the middle type being raised in my general direction. And yet I smile and wave back, wishing them a good day. Strange, huh? I love it here. Elder Abel and I have so much fun with the work. As for individuals, we're working with a man named Robert. He's maybe in his mid 20's and in the military. Both of his parents recently passed away and he's looking for some answers. I have faith in him. We're meeting with him again on Wednesday.
I love it here. It's hot, hard work but I love it. I hope everyone is doing well at home. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. As I've said before, I'm in good hands. I hope to hear from you all!
Elder Eric James Turner