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.
Elder Eric James Turner