Before I get started, I apologize for any mistakes in the email. There's a very ominous red timer in the corner of my screen, and I only have half an hour to send my email.
The MTC is amazing. From the very start I knew that I was in the right place. After I was dropped off, I was shown into a large room where I was given an envelope with all of my info in it, including two name badges. I was taken to the bookstore where I was given the books, pamphlets and everything else I was needed. I went to my room, dropped off my stuff and went to my classroom where I met my first companion: Elder Buttars.
Elder Buttars is the best. From the start he and I totally clicked. He's from Logan, UT, and did a year at Utah State before reporting. He's going to Phoenix too and hopefully he and I will get to see each other in the field. Our classroom is like "Base." Our district meets there every time we have class. There are eight Elders and four Sisters in our district. Four Elders are all going to Phoenix (Buttars, Johnson, Bennett and myself) and we room together in the dorms. The other four Elders (Zarate, Hart, Owens and La' Follette) are going to Carlsbad California. Three Sisters (Decker, Ashby and Thurston) are going to LA, and will be at the visitors center there. The last Sister, Sister Lyman, is going to Cleveland and will be at the Kirtland visitors center. Small world, Sister Lyman was actually my TA for my Book of Mormon class my first semester at BYU! Our district is the only one in our zone to have Sisters, and they're pretty awesome.
After our first day as a district, we met with our Branch Presidency, particularly President Myers. We were all interviewed and given callings. Only two days into the mission and I've been called as District Leader. It's a lot like the time I was called as Elders Quorum President. I had only been and Elder for a week and was extended the call. Now I've only been a full time missionary for four days and was called as a District Leader. I enjoy it a lot. Some things I do include leading district meetings, conducting class, getting mail and general leadership. Thankfully Elders Vogt and Cathcart, the other DL's in the zone, have a few more weeks experience than I do and help me a lot. Our zone leaders are Elders Simpson and Eddington, both going to Cape Town, South Afirca. They are great leaders and I'm lucky to have them.
There are three districts in our zone. You'll never guess who is also in my zone...ELDER AVERY TAGG! (For my non-Richland friends, Avery and I grew up together and have know each other since we were little guys.) He came by to greet the new Elders and when we saw each other, joy ensued. It's so good to see him every day. He leaves either tomorrow or Wednesday for Canada, and he's excited. Halifax is lucky to have him. I've really enjoyed seeing the sea of white shirts, ties and nametags. I've also been really surprised to run into people from BYU. I see someone I know every day. I've seen Casey Hare a few times, Braden Nelson, Sam Swenson, the Johnson twins, Chris Holdaway, and the list goes on. I was happy that I got to see Jeffrey Young. I saw him at dinner on my first night. The next day he left for the Dominican Republic. He's excited to go and I'm excited for him.
The days here are so busy, and I love every minute of it. I'm more tired than I've ever been, but I always remember that I've been called to serve with all of "my heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2) and that makes it so much better. I'm always doing something, which is great. Every day I'm up at 6:30 am, and hop in line for the showers. I've yet to have a hot shower since I've been here because all of the hot water is gone by the time I get in line. Needless to say my showers are kept short so I can get right to work! We hve breakfast, and then we head to class. Classes are with either Brother Losee or Brother Thacker, both wonderful teachers. We focus a lot on getting to know individuals and building lessons tailored around their needs. We have many opportunities to practice teaching and I love it. It's very difficult but it's necessary experience. One day, Elder Buttars and I taught Sister Smith, a teacher down the hall pretending to be an investigator. Our lesson was on the Plan of Salvation, and we ended up getting kind of twist-turned around in the lesson at times. At the end, she asked about her family, what would happen to them. Elder Buttars and I kind of looked at each other, smiled, and bore powerful testimonies that families can be together forever. The Spirit was so strong in the room, and we left with smiles on our faces. It's not about how well you speak, your profound knowledge of doctrine or whatever else. The key to teaching is inviting the Spirit to bear witness to the person being taught that what we are presenting is true. I'm really learning to follow the promptings of the Spirit and I absolutely love it.
Last night was had a fireside with a member of the MTC District presidency speaking. The prelude was actually the missionaries singing. We sang "Onward Christian Soldiers," which was very powerful. The actual hymns we sang during the fireside were total power hymns: "We'll Bring the World His Truth" and "Hope of Israel." When the closing hymn ended, I heard one Elder behind me say, "That was legit." It was.
Today is Preparation Day, and I'm starting to run out of time on my email!!!! This morning we went to the Temple as a zone. Sitting in the Celestial Room was wonderful as I looked around at the missionaries in my zone. The only day we are allowed to write letters in the MTC is today. Don't know why, but that's the rule. It should be different in the field but I don't know. We can write emails, do laundry, write letters, and study. We have an hour every day (not sunday) of gym time, and we usually spend it across the street playing volleyball on the sand courts. So much fun. GAHHHH there's so much to say! I'll see what I can do about putting more in a letter.. Oh man, the timer is blinking. Gotta hurry.
I want you all to know that this is where I belong. There is nothing else in the world I can, or even want to do right now. I belong here. I introduce myself as Elder Turner. I love that. I am a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, a defender of the faith. I am in great hands, and nobody should worry. I love you all and will send more info next week.
Elder Eric Turner
P.S. Send letters!!!