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 emergencies...it'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