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.
Elder Eric James Turner