Monday, January 31, 2011

Six Months Already? (Jan. 31, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I always feel a little repetitive saying that "this week has been pretty good," but it's been just that again. Mom and dad, I'm sorry but I sent the wrong memory card home. That was the one I just started on my new camera with only a few pictures, instead of the 300+ on the one I wanted to send home. Could you send that back to me as soon as you can? Thanks, that'd be great. Pardon the goof up on my part.
Glad to hear things are going well back home. Sis, I bet your room looks pretty awesome, mom and dad tell me how much you love it and your new bookshelves. Mom, you had told me that Robbie Talbot's going on a mission? Where to? It's fun hearing about friends of mine going on missions!
Well let's see about this week...we had two solid lessons with Phyllis and with Stephanie. Stephanie is still doing great. She and Jared are set for baptism on the 12th, and they're pretty excited. They even have a car now, and they came to church on their own yesterday! Johnathon's pretty much not interested at all anymore, which breaks my heart. We taught them the commandments this week. When we got to Word of Wisdom, Stephanie was pretty happy because she knows she's kicked smoking and drinking. When we mentioned coffee, her eyes got pretty big and she said, "No coffee??" She paused for a moment and said, "Alrighty, let's do it!" You can tell that her testimony is growing every day and that's most certainly prepared. Our lesson with Phyllis went well, and she loves reading out of the Book of Mormon. She gave us a firm commitment that she'd be at church this week...and she didn't show up. I was pretty upset. She made a plan, her neighbor was going to give her a ride, and she still wasn't there. But hey, next week! I'm happy she's reading and praying though, a lot of people have trouble with that. Church will come.
We had two neat experiences in the same day with tracting (door to door contacts) back on Friday. We wanted to tract on 106th and Mariposa, in upper Villa de Paz. We parked, locked up our bikes, and walked all the way to the end of the street to tract back to the bikes. We had all afternoon to tract, and I knew we'd be out for a while. Anywho, we walked to the end of the street, past a few cul de sacs. We went into the last one, but instead of the first house on the corner, I kept walking and stopped at the second house. Not sure why. We knocked, and a woman answered the door. She wasn't all that interested, but as she started to shut the door her brother ran and opened it again. He introduced himself, Jeremy, as a member of the church. I felt like I'd met him before, but wasn't sure. He had moved from Mesa, but has since gone inactive. He kept asking why we were at his house at that time. I told him we were tracting. He kept asking "But why this house?" I simply told him that I had prayed where we should go, and I felt prompted to go to that street and that house. He invited us in and we chatted for a bit. Long story short, he doesn't feel like he can be forgiven of the things he's done since he was baptized. He kept telling me about his testimony of the Atonement and the Restoration, but he doesn't think he can. I'm so confused, because I know the Atonement is infinite and eternal. I kept inviting him to a new ward, with a new bishop, and to repent. He said he's not ready, but we're always welcome in his house. As we left, I instantly remembered where I had seen him before. A few months ago, he came up to me at Savers while I was buying a tie and he asked me to help him tie his own tie so he could start going to church again. We took his information to the bishop, and we'll see what we can do about bringing him back into the fold.
The other experience I had was about 15 minutes after we met Jeremy. We met a woman named Debbie, probably mid 50's, in her front yard with a little girl. We talked with Debbie for a bit and she said she had met with missionaries before. We asked how she felt, and she didn't say much. I felt like I should change the conversation to something else, and we switched gears and just made small talk. Come to find out Debbie is a foster mom! She has four foster children in her home, including the little girl who was playing in the grass, probably 5 years old. She brings in children who come from abusive homes and helps them feel loved. She told me about the little girl and the hard life she came from. It was hard to hold back the tears as she told me about this little girl's short but violent history. The little girl came over and introduced herself as Serena. She had the brightest blue eyes and curly blonde hair. She was so funny, and she kept telling jokes and running around. She was laughing and playing, but it still hurt me inside to think that anyone would ever hurt such an innocent child. I turned to Debbie and bore my testimony that Heavenly Father loves his children so much and that he wants them to be together forever. I told her about my own family and how Marlee was adopted. I told her how much I love my family and how much the Gospel has blessed our home, and how much I wanted her family to feel the same thing. We'll hopefully be going back this week, Debbie was very grateful for our visiting her home and wants to learn more.
I thought these experiences were pretty unique. I had no idea why I wanted to tract where we did. I know that as we pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we will receive it. We were certainly led by the Spirit to these two families. I hope and pray that we will be able to meet with them again.
I love you all and hope everything's going well. I miss you all and love hearing your fun stories. Write back soon, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Truth of All Things (Jan. 24, 2011)

Hey everyone!
Let me first apologize, I have pictures to email home but I forgot my memory card adapter on my desk. Photos will have to wait until next week. Sorry again about that. Dad, I asked Elder Malmberg about Joseph P. Malmberg from Logan. He said he's not sure, but it's possible because there aren't too many Malmbergs in Cache Valley. He did say, however, that there are Malmbergs related to him that are buried in Clarkston cemetery, so I think it's very possible!
This past week was good, pretty normal week, really. We spent a lot of time tracting, unfortunately we had several of those "nobody in the whole neighborhood is home" days. Hey, it happens! We pretty much just hit the streets and talked to everyone we could. We had one appointment with Phyllis that went well. She doesn't remember a whole lot about the Restoration. I don't blame her, it was October when we taught it to her. She had a lot of questions that her family members have been feeding her. We answered all of them, and she was pretty satisfied with the answers. 
My favorite question to answer was this: Phyllis' sister told her that Mormons believe that all blacks are going to hell. I said, "Phyllis, what do you think the answer is?" She said, "Well, I dunno. Because I keep thinking to myself 'If I'm going to hell anyways, then why do these two nice boys keep coming by to see me?'" We all laughed, and I smiled and said, "So what do you think?"
"I don't think it's true," to which I responded, "Good, because it's not."
That was pretty funny, and then we got into the lesson. She had issues with the fact that God continues to call prophets. We bore powerful testimonies about the prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. At the end, she said, "I guess I just have to find out for myself and read the book." By the time we came by the next day, she had read through 1 Nephi 12! I was pretty impressed. I love hearing when people read the Book of Mormon and enjoy it.
Stephanie and Jared are doing great, and are still set for baptism on the 12th. Johnathon, Stephanie tells me, is losing more and more interest every day. It breaks my heart to hear that. Every time we see Stephanie and Jared, the two of them tell us how much they enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon together. It just makes me so sad. Here is a loved son of God who is being withheld from the joy of the knowledge of the restored gospel because of false things other people are telling him about it. He says he wants to know if it's true, but he turns to the wisdom and traditions of man. I know that there is no way in this world for anyone to come to know of spiritual truths except through sincere prayer, and the witness of the Holy Ghost. It's the only way. He may come around, and it may not be for a while. We're still praying for their family, because Stephanie tells me how much she wants Johnathon to come to church. We taught Stephanie a wonderful lesson this week about keeping the commandments. She's so excited to be baptized. She's been asking people in the ward to come to her baptism. She loves reading the scriptures, and so does Jared. It's wonderful to see. I just hope and pray that Johnathon's heart will be softened.
We had a really good zone conference this week. It was on "The Divine Companionship," and having the Holy Ghost in our companionship. I heard a great quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, saying "At the end of the day, ask yourself this: Was the Holy Ghost the senior companion today? Was the Holy Ghost the junior companion today? Was the Holy Ghost even in our companionship today?" We aren't privileged to physically have God the Father in our lessons, nor are we privileged to have Jesus Christ with us as we teach. We are, however, able to have the Holy Ghost, the third member of the Godhead, in our lessons to bear witness of eternal truths to the hearts of those who are looking for it. I love that. The Holy Ghost is the only way that the lessons cease to become ours and become His. I love that.
I love you all and pray for you. I hope things are going well back home. Things are always getting better down in good old Avondale, Arizona. I'll be sure to keep you all posted on everything that's going on. Oh and dad, gimme a little while to decide on a scripture for the plaque, I'll get that to you as soon as I can. Write back soon, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday e-mail? (Jan. 18, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I know you were expecting an email yesterday, but the library was closed for MLK so we're emailing today. The picture I attached is actually from a few weeks ago, it's me and Elder Malmberg on the balcony of our apartment. Pretty nice view, really. This past week has been pretty good. Last Monday was had dinner with the Andrus'. Sister Andrus showed me the emails you sent to her. Mom, thanks for reminding them to ask me about my stupid human trick. They were pretty amazed. Bro. Andrus laughed harder than I'd ever seen him laugh. Thanks for talking with Bro. Price too. He and I went on splits this week and had a real good conversation about our respective families, missionary work and so on.
Recently the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 Apostles have been talking about the new If you haven't had the chance to check it out, I highly recommend it. Once a week the missionaries here are allowed an hour just to get familiar with the site so we can relate it to those whom we are teaching. I have good feelings about it, it's really a wonderful new tool to help spread the Gospel.
As far as teaching, we had two great lessons this week. One of which Elder Malmberg did all by himself without my help! He and Bro. Flores went to teach Stephanie about prophets and the restoration. They watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration movie. Stephanie loved it, and said she learned a lot about the Prophet Joseph Smith. We taught them again on Saturday to teach them about the importance of the Holy Ghost. As Stephanie and Jared are getting closer to baptism, we'll be meeting with them more frequently to help them prepare. Johnathon, the 13 year old son, still doesn't know what he thinks. He knows that he wants to be baptized, but doesn't know where. We asked him how he thought he could find out which church was right for him. He told us that he thought he would have to pray. We simply asked him, "Well, did you pray?" He said that he hadn't. We left the lesson with a strong Spirit in the room, and I know that Johnathon will be helped along the way of his spiritual journey. We're working really hard with Stephanie and her family. I have very good feelings about them. I hope Johnathon receives an answer, I would love to see that family be baptized together.
The second lesson this week I enjoyed was with Joe and Andrea. We tracted into them on Friday, and Andrea said that she had never actually read the Book of Mormon, but wanted to. We went by that evening with Bro. Kidwell from the ward to share a lesson with them. Joe, her husband, was very nice to us. He invited us in, offered us some water, and sat us in their living room. The two of them actually helped start a local branch of the non-denominational congregation that meets up up in Peoria. They love the Savior and enjoy talking about the church. I'll be honest, I was a little afraid that they were going to try and bash. It's happened down here a few times. Quite the opposite happened. They didn't want to argue at all. They asked very insightful questions and we had a wonderful lesson. I left them with a copy of the Book of Mormon, along with my testimony of its truthfulness. I invited them to read and to pray, and they said they would. I hope we can meet again with them sometime soon, such a nice family.
Elder Malmberg is doing great, he's getting much better each week. Every day he learns a few new scriptures to help him in his teaching. He's very comfortable when we're tracting and has overcome his fear of talking to strangers on the street. I find every opportunity I can to give him praise, because I know that I appreciated it when Elder Abel did the same to me. It's weird to me to think that this transfer is half over now. The time flies by so fast. I have a feeling that Elder Malmberg and I will be together for the next transfer at least, most trainers and trainees are. I'm just thankful that we get along. That's very important when trying to create a strong companionship.
Not a whole lot going on this week, but we're definitely keeping ourselves busy! Every day I learn something new and I try to become a little better in everything I do. Thank you all for the love and support, I hope you're doing well!
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, January 10, 2011

For Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fear (Jan. 10, 2011)

Hey everyone!
This past week has been going very well. I hate using the term "numbers," but our numbers have shot up this week. We've had more contacts and lessons this week than we've had in a long time. We're really meeting and teaching a lot of wonderful people. It's been really nice getting out to work and seeing the results of our labors. The members of the ward are providing a lot of people to go on splits with us and it's awesome!
Mom, dad and sis, you'll enjoy this, we recently discovered that our apartment complex has a sand volleyball court. Guess what we've been doing the past three weeks for P-Day? Oh man it's fun! The sand really makes it a workout. We'll get the whole district in on it and it gets to be quite a party. When half the district is done, we get a little two-on-two going. Last week it was Elder Browning and Elder Tameilau against me and Elder Bush. Best of 5, and we lost in 5. (Sorry dad.) We'll see what we can do today! Hopefully it'll warm up in the afternoon. It's not in the 20's anymore, but it's still pretty chilly.
Stephanie is doing so well. We met with her and her sons this week, and talked a lot about baptism. She's thrilled to tell us that she's completely quit smoking, and that it's been so long since she's smoked that she's lost track of the days! I was so happy to hear that! We invited her to be baptized on a specific date, and she thought and asked if it could be a different date, one that's personal to her. We invited her to pray at that moment to ask which date her Father in Heaven wanted her to be baptized on. We knelt down together, and she gave a sweet, simple prayer asking which day would be best. After the prayer, her son Jared asked if he could be baptized this weekend. I laughed a little bit and told him that would be amazing, but we still had a few more things to teach. He's excited to be baptized too. Stephanie called us the next day and told us that she received an answer. She's planning on being baptized on February 12th. She's very proud of the progress she's making, as am I. Her older son Johnathon has even expressed interest in being baptized. He hasn't said anything to us, but friends of his in the ward told us he's been thinking about it. I would love to see that family baptized together, what a great opportunity for them.
We taught Scott again this week, and he came to church yesterday. He stayed all of Villa de Paz ward, and brought up things we told him about the Singles Branch. We told him about the activities they do, and that their branch started right as Villa de Paz ward got out. He asked something that kind of caught me off guard. He asked, "Can I check that out too?" He then went into sacrament meeting with the singles branch and stayed for their block of church too! He loves coming to church! We're going to meet with him again this week, and hopefully his mom and sister will sit in on the lessons too. We'll most likely be having the Singles Branch Elders be teaching him, but I'm happy to have seen him come this far.
We had a lot of other great lessons this week too, one of which was meeting with Phyllis. We finally saw her again, and gave her a church tour. She really loves the building, and was excited to come to church. We took her into the chapel and taught her a little more. The thing I love about teaching in the church is that the Spirit is always there. Phyllis even accepted the invitation to be baptized if she received the witness that the church was true. She's also excited to come to church and to read the Book of Mormon.
Things with Elder Malmberg are great! We really enjoy each other's company. He's still lacking a bit of confidence when it comes to teaching, and we spend a lot of companionship study sessions working on that. He reminds me a lot of me when I first came out. I had an amazing trainer, and I hope I can help Elder Malmberg feel more comfortable with his teaching. I keep helping him up, and reassuring him that it comes with time and as you teach. It's one of those things that you really learn by doing. The other day he kind of pulled me aside and told me a few things that were on his mind. We had some time before our next appointment, so we went to the church. I had an idea I wanted to try. We went into the chapel and set up two chairs in the front and conducted a companionship inventory. Weekly, we hold comp inventories to check the status of our companionship, things we're doing well, and things we can improve on. We started by identifying the good parts of each other, and what we thought we ourselves did well. We did this with each other, and then checked the companionship. I then asked him to tell me the things he wants me to do better. He said a couple little things that I hadn't even noticed, and I agreed to fix it. I then asked him what things he wanted me to help him with, and it got a little personal. He said he noticed a few traits I had that he wanted while he worked. I shared with him a few thoughts and scriptures that mean a lot to me. It became an opportunity for me to bear my testimony to him about the sacred calling of being a missionary. Things were a little emotional, and I will simply say this much of a very spiritual experience with my companion: the Lord trusts us to build each other up in this area. He will not let us fail.
I love and miss you all. Keep writing, I really enjoy hearing from everyone. I can assure you that things are going very well down in good old Avondale, Arizona. As a personal favorite scripture of mine so beautifully states: "My heart rejoices, and I am exceedingly glad." I love it here. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, January 3, 2011

Twenty Degrees and Dropping! (1/3/10)

Hey everyone!
As you read in last week's email, Elder Abel and I are no longer companions. He got the call Monday saying he'd be transferred, and that I'll be staying. On Tuesday we drove up to the transfer building in Glendale. Just before the announcement of the transfers, all the trainers met their trainees in a classroom. My trainee and new companion is......drumroll......Elder Joseph Malmberg from Logan, Utah! We clicked right when we met and we're excited to work in the Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz wards. The first few days were rough because he had no food and no bike. Wednesday we got all that stuff for him. Thankfully we were in a car, because it rained harder than any day thus far on my mission. It rained all day! Thankfully we got him a bike. It's the same kind as mine, just a different color. A mighty fine bike if I don't say so myself! Thursday was our first day of real work, and it was terrible. We stepped outside and it was below freezing! What's up with that?! Poor Elder comes into the field on his first day and it's colder than Provo. We had shirts, ties, sweaters and it was brutal. We made it about half a mile from the apartment when we broke down and decided to buy some gloves. We went to Sports Authority and bought some good gloves to keep our hands warm. After finally preparing for the cold, we've been working hard.
I'll be honest, I was a little worried at first. I had no idea what kind of greenie I'd be getting. Thankfully we get along, but he's worried about teaching. He knows the doctrine pretty well, just kind of struggles as he teaches it. I took him tracting on Thursday, and his first door turned out to be a new investigator. First door! Look at him, worried for nothing. On Friday we met a man named Kentrell and he invited us over on New Year's Day to teach him and his wife Laquisha. The lesson went very well. Honestly I don't know what Elder Malmberg's worried about; he's going to be just fine. I'm sure all new missionaries have the same general feeling. I know I did. I keep reassuring him that the Lord wants him here, and that he'll qualify him to do the work. The wards like him too. Elder Abel was here for a year, and when they saw a new Elder they were a little caught off guard. They like Elder Malmberg and he's starting to get to know the wards a little better.
President and Sister Beck gave the mission an interesting challenge at Christmas. I think I mentioned it before, but we all received crisp, new copies of the Book of Mormon. Starting New Year's Day, we're to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days. Our focus is the Savior. We circle every reference to Christ, highlight in one color everything He said, and highlight in another color everything related to His ministry and mission (birth, baptism, Atonement, etc). After three days of study I'm in 1 Nephi 15. I can't believe I've grown up reading the Book of Mormon without noticing so much focus on the Savior. The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Christ. My testimony of His divine role as our Savior is growing stronger each day. My outlook of the gospel, the sacrament, the temple, everything is changing for the better. I feel embarrassed for having taken the Gospel for granted for so long. I love being a missionary. I know I say that every week but it's true. Those men in white shirts and ties you see knocking on doors have a wonderful message. The Gospel has been restored to the earth in our time. Families can be together forever. Jesus is the Christ.
I love you all. Write soon, I miss you and hope you're doing well. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner