This week has been pretty good. It's still hot, in case you were wondering. On Saturday it got up to 115. While we were tracting, a family invited us in for water and a few minutes in an air conditioned house. President Beck wasn't joking when he told us that the Arizona sun would be relentless. I have to fill my Camelback about two or three times a day (3 liters each). I'm very hydrated and very motivated to get to work!
Dad, thank you for the DearElder this week. I'm glad to hear that things are going well with school starting up again. Send Comfort, Q, Deatherage and everyone else my love. Marlee, how's volleyball? Mom, how's work? Thank you for the little extra money in my account, I finally bought a bike and I love it. The owner of the shop gives missionaries a good deal on everything, and free tune ups whenever it's needed. I plan on putting a lot of miles on my bike. All those long bike rides I did at home were good practice for being in the field. Dad to answer some of your questions, money is not an issue here. We are given funds at the beginning of the month on a card, and we use it for grocieries and that stuff. It's perfectly budgeted so there's no need to worry. My personal account from home is fine the way it is, and I don't need money any time soon.
I'll be completely honest, the work this week has been slow. Elder Abel and I have been going to see potential investigators, and they either turn us away or aren't even there. Every day we have appointments with someone but they always cancel on us. We call, visit and do all we can, but nothing happens. We keep trying. We talk to everyone we see on the streets and share brief messages with them Even if we don't have an appointment go through, we feel good knowing that we put forth the effort. However, I'm excited for the next few days and weeks. We have an appointment tonight with a man named Roger. We tracted into him last week and he invited us back. We called him this morning to confirm our appointment and he's eager to have us come visit. I really hope that goes well. Tonight we have exchanges with the Garden Lakes ward, and we're going to try and see Crystal. She's maybe 17, and Elder Abel tracted into her a little while ago. She's been really busy but has been looking for a church to go to. We should be meeting with her tonight too. We had an appointment with Robert on Saturday, but he called a half hour before and had to cancel. We tried stopping by again and he wasn't home. We saw him last night and we set another appointment for tomorrow evening.
I had a cool experience this week. We tracted into a family that only speaks Arabic. The father likes talking about Jesus, but can't speak English. We said we'd try and find Arabic materials. The next day, I was on a companion exhcange with Elder McCarty, and he had an Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon!! I couldn't believe it! He said I could have it and I spent an hour or so trying to find scriptures and write the references in Arabic. I can identify numbers and can write them too. Thank goodness for a table of contents, chapter and verse numbers. I wrote the references on post it notes and put them in the book as bookmarks. We took it to the family and they invited us in. The oldest daughter, Howra, translated for us. They're a Muslim family but were curious about what we believed, as were we about them. We spent the next half hour or so sharing doctrines and principles about each others' faiths. It wasn't bashing or derrogatory in any way. It was really fun to learn, and I know they felt the same way. When we gave the dad the Book of Mormon, he showed us his copy of the Koran. He kissed it and touched it to his forehead. He pointed to the Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon, said, "Jesus," kissed it, touched it to his forehead and we all laughed. We asked if we could leave witha prayer, and that dad allowed us to pray. When we left, he shook our hands and said "Thank you." We won't be teaching them the lessons because they are very faithful in attending mosque, but it's ok, I'm not disappointed at all. I really enjoyed the experience and got to learn a little about an unfamiliar culture.
Tomorrow's my birthday and I've been reflecting a lot on home. Not in a homesick way, but more in thanksgiving. Mom, Dad and Marlee, I want to thank you for everything you have done. I'm so blessed to have been born and raised in a family that is centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm thankful for a home that could be a safehaven and a refuge to me when I needed it the most. We aren't pefect, but that provides us with the oportunities to learn from one another and to grow in righteousness. I know that our Father in Heaven loves families so much that He allows them to be together in this life and throughout all eternity.
I've been asked what I wanted for my birthday, but the truth is that all of my needs are being taken care of. I would like to echo the words of President Thomas S. Monson when asked what he wanted for his birthday: "Find someone who's having a hard time, and do something for them." The other day, Elder Abel and I visited an elderly lady in the ward who's lived alone for the past 37 years. She's turning 88 on Friday. She always prepares snack bags for the Elders in the ward, and she wanted us to come get them this week. We spent the next hour and a half talking and sharing stories with her. I know that she enjoys the company. Elder Abel and I said that we want to try and do something nice for her each week as a thank you for what she does for us. I know that by serving one another, therein lies true joy (Mosiah 2:17).
Thank you all for everything. The work may be slow at the moment, but it is most cetainly moving forward. I hope to hear from you all sometime soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner