Monday, February 28, 2011

Golfing in February....Sorry Dad! (Feb. 28, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I apologize for the email coming a little late today. Our P-Days lately have been more and more fun. I jokingly called Elder White as the district P-Day coordinator because of all his ideas for P-Day activities. Two weeks ago we played basketball. Last week we went bowling. Today we went golfing. The Villa de Paz golf course lets missionaries golf for free, so our whole district went this morning at 7 am to play the back 9 holes of the course. We went to Savers to get some clothes to wear to look like we knew what we were doing. I found a golf shirt for cheap and it fit great. Elder McCarty found gray pants, a purple, red and orange striped shirt and a sweater vest. He looked hilarious, but pretty awesome too. We've been golfing all morning so that's why I didn't email earlier like usual. Dad, you'd be proud, I did pretty good for not having golfed in a while. Elder Tameilau won, but it was close. The other two pictures are of me when I went on exchanges in the Agua Fria/Independence area but forgot my tennis shoes and socks, so I wore black socks and shoes to a service project. As for the last picture, Marlee, you have every right to make fun of your brother. What happened was I was coming back from exchanges and was waiting for Elder Malmberg. The Wheeler's ten year old daughter left her Justin Bieber books on a table. I had Bro. Wheeler take a picture of me holding them, to show their daughter. She thought I looked pretty dumb, and Bro. and Sis. Wheeler just laughed at me the whole time.
Elder Malmberg and I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on Saturday night. On Friday night, Bro. Overton of the Villa de Paz ward called and asked us if we would speak in church on Sunday. Well, all of Saturday was spent on exchanges so we had no time to prepare anything for Sunday morning. As many other members of the church do when preparing for talks, we started the night before at 9 PM. My topic was "The Importance of Missionary Work." It wasn't particularly hard, there were just so many ways I could have gone about doing it. I spent a few hours looking at scriptures, conference talks and Ensign articles, until I came up with an outline I was happy about. I spent the next little while actually writing it out. Outside the wind was howling and the rain was falling sideways. It was pretty cool but also a little distracting. I finally finished my talk and made it into bed around 2 am (oops). I was up at 6:30 like always and made it to the church for Villa de Paz sacrament meeting by 8. Elder Malmberg spoke first on The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and did a great job. I know how hard he worked on it and it went very well. I spoke and felt very comfortable with what I was saying and doing. Personally I think it was the best talk I've ever written. Considering how much time we had to prepare, I was very proud of myself and Elder Malmberg. The rest of the day we received wonderful comments from the whole ward. We were exhausted during the remainder of our meetings for the day, but we kept working hard and did some good work.
Speaking of the work, things have been getting a lot better this week. We've been finding a lot more people, and even tracted into a family of new investigators. We went tracting on Friday morning and a couple let us into their home right from the start. I've never been invited inside while tracting, except for once back in August for some water. Usually we try and schedule appointments so that we can bring local members of the ward to get to know the people we teach. They let us in, and invited us back for this Friday. Cool, huh? Lots of opportunities are suddenly sprouting up! Last night for exchanges we went with Bro. Call into Villa de Paz ward and tried by two houses. We didn't have any scheduled appointments, so we said we'd try these houses and see what we could do. The first house we tried, nobody was home and it was really dark. Elder Malmberg said, "Why don't we just try it?" We get out of the truck, knock, nothing. All of a sudden their car pulls in the driveway. They couldn't talk for long, but invited us back for Tuesday morning! We drove to the second house we wanted to see, The Beasely family, and they were home. The invited us in and we shared a brief thought. Just after we started, their oldest son (maybe 20 yrs old?) walked in the door and passed by. I stopped what I was teaching and invited him to sit in on the rest of the thought, and he said ok! Not only did he sit in, but he asked questions and participated! We have an appointment with them again next Sunday. Devante Rodriguez, a recent convert, asked if we could stop by sometime because his sister's friend is living with them and wants to learn about the church. We're going tonight. In church yesterday, the Phillips' thirteen year old son invited his friend Brenden to church like he's done once or twice before. He asked us if we could meet with his dad because he wanted to be baptized and wanted Bro. Phillips to be the one to baptize him. I was completely caught off guard. We got his information and we'll be stopping by their home immediately to meet with his father. I feel like I'm only beginning to understand how the Lord prepares His children to receive the message of the restored gospel. I kept asking myself lately, "What am I doing wrong? Why are we not successful?" I felt pretty selfish for having asked those questions. It's not my work. It's His. Success isn't defined by numbers, it's defined by desire to serve the Lord. I've been selfish and impatient and haven't been understanding that when His children are ready,  He'll guide us to them. Until then I need to be diligent and obedient. The Book of Mormon repeats the principle of obedience. I've likened that to missionary work and the blessings that come with it. Doctrine and Covenants 33:9 kind of puts things into perspective for me. The way I see it, inasmuch as we are obedient to the commandments of the Lord and the counsel of our mission president, we shall be laden with sheaves upon our backs. When we're obedient and diligent on our part, the Lord will uphold His.
I hope things are going well at home. Thanks for all of your love, support and letters of encouragement. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Golfing at Villa de Paz (dressed in Tiger Red!)
Service project attire?
The elder has got Bieber Bieber Fever!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pogo Power (Feb. 22, 2011)

Hey everyone!
It's been a quick but a very good week!! We've been really busy and we've been working hard. Thanks for the emails and letters. Glad to hear your trip to Vegas was fun, sorry about some of the disappointments. But hey, throw some plywood with the churros and that sounds like the best trip ever. Worked once for us at Disneyland. Mom, I'm happy to hear that things are going well in your new calling. I'm sure you're going to be wonderful in the Relief Society. Sis I hope that school is going well. I'm excited to hear that you're trying track! You'll love it, I know you will.
Let's see, this past week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with our zone leaders. I went into La Joya ward with Elder Rodriguez while Elder Giles came into our area with Elder Malmberg. Holy cow that was hard. La Joya is a Spanish ward and guess how much Spanish I speak? As President Beck would say, slim to none, and slim just left town. It was a tough day. I didn't get to teach at all. I just sat and watched Elder Rodriguez teach their investigators. I got very good at smiling and nodding though. Even though I couldn't speak the language, I was amazed at how much I could understand what Elder Rodrigues was teaching. I knew what lessons he was teaching and I could pick out words that he was saying. Not exactly manifestation of the gift of tongues, but you can definitely feel the Spirit regardless of what language the lesson is being taught in.
On Friday we had a specialized training/zone conference at the stake center. Both Peoria/West Maricopa and the Goodyear/Buckeye zones were there. It was pretty fun to see all of the missionaries from the two zones. Elder Bush was transferred into Goodyear and I flipped when I saw him. President and Sister Beck gave great talks on having the faith to find. President Beck focused a lot on attitude of the missionaries. He compared it to a pencil (which I thought was odd because President Beck doesn't usually use analogies). Our attitude can be the point, which sticks in the ground and shrinks under pressure. Lame. Or our attitude can be the eraser, or "pogo" as he put it, that bounces onward and upward over trials to keep working hard. He was pretty funny when he talked about the pogo attitude when disappointment presents itself. "Bob cancelled on us? Great! Let's keep tracting! That guy yelled at us? Wonderful! We don't have to worry about him right now! King Lamoni's wants to kill us? FANTASTIC! LET'S SEE THE POWER OF THE LORD IN ACTION!' We all laughed about it for a while, especially the part when he quoted Ammon from the Book of Mormon. We've been trying the pogo attitude more often and it's been fun.
On Saturday I went on exchanges with Elder Egan. He came into my area (bike area) while Elder Malmberg went with Elder Tameilau in their area (car area). Guess what the weather was like that day? Clouds and wind all morning, then epic rain all afternoon. It was pouring from the minute we came back for lunch until the evening. We sat inside at lunch and tried to figure out what we were going to do. We made up our minds that we'd get out to work. I put on my work suit that I got for free a few months ago. I wear it in cruddy weather so I don't have to worry about rips or stains and whatnot. I wrapped my back in a plastic bag and we got to work. It was nuts. It was three miles to our appointment and I was soaked to the core. I wish I had a picture of it. Mom you'd laugh if you saw how pathetic we looked. With the pogo attitude in mind, Elder Egan and I sang "There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today" on the way there. Nobody was outside, so we sang as loud as we could. We were laughing pretty hard by the time we got to our appointment. But guess what, she wasn't there! Wonderful! Hey, dinner cancelled on us too! No worries, we get to make our own food! Guess what else? It's still raining and we get to go back out in it for 4 hours! LIVING WATER TO A THIRSTY LAND!!!! Apologies if it sounds like I've officially lost it, but we had so much fun together despite everything bad that was happening to us. It really is about the attitude. We did get to end the day with a baptism, though. All of us Elders went to support Elder Nuttall and Elder Rivas' investigator, Abel, in his baptism. Abel specifically requested that Elder Bush baptize him, so Elder Bush got permission to come back for the baptism. It was a very spiritual experience and a wonderful way to end such a cruddy yet fun day.
I hope things are going well back home for everyone. I wish I could fit more stuff into emails but there just isn't enough time. I'll be sure to tell you all more in the future, be it in letters, phone calls or just fun stories when I come home. Until then, thank you for your love and support. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baptism! (Feb. 14, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I'll start off by saying that we had a wonderful baptism this weekend! Stephanie and Jared Garcia were baptized on Saturday afternoon and then confirmed yesterday in sacrament meeting. The baptismal service went great! There was a bunch of support from the ward. Stephanie's fiance and other son, Paul and Johnathon, showed up to support them. I attached one of the photos of us at the baptism. It was pretty powerful to see Stephanie and Jared sitting together all dressed in white. Yesterday I was pretty honored to hear that Jared wanted me to confirm him a member of the church. The Spirit was definitely strong during the remainder of sacrament meeting. Jared came up to me afterwards and said, "Elder Turner? Is it ok if the next time you and Elder Malmberg teach somebody if I can go with you guys?" I speechless! Jared's eleven years old, been a member of the church for less than a day and already wants to be a missionary. Simply put, the kid's a stud. Last Monday we were at Savers looking for a tie that we could give him. Elder Malmberg found a purple tie we both thought Jared would like. When we looked on the back, we noticed it was a brand new Jerry Garcia tie still with the tag on it! We laughed when we saw the signature "J. Garcia" and agreed it was perfect for Jared. Jared wore it to school, the baptism, and then to church on Sunday. He looks awesome.
Elder Malmberg, Stephanie, Jared & Elder Turner
 To my family, thank you so much for the Valentine package! As it turns out, Elder Nuttall and Elder Malmberg all got Valentine packages too! Needless to say there's plenty of chocolate and sweets for everyone. Dad, thank you for the Trader Joes goods. Always great to see. Sister Stanley, a sister in the Villa de Paz ward is a frequent shopper at Trader Joes and always has cookies and whatnot for us before sacrament meeting. Unfortunately the nearest Trader Joes is out of our area...darn. This past week has been pretty nuts with transfers and all. I included two other pictures, both of which are pretty goofy. One is of myself and Elder Davis, who went home this transfer. I was pretty sad to see him go, but he served very honorably. The other is of Elder Johnson, me and Elder Buttars at the transfer meeting. Both of them were in my MTC district, and Elder Buttars was my companion. Had Elder Bennett been there too it would've been all of us from our MTC district that particular transfer. As it turns out, Elder Bennett was not there, but he's doing great work up in Cottonwood right now. Such great missionaries, all of them. A lot of areas were split and lots of changes were made this transfer. Elder Malmberg and I are still together, and I've survived my first week as a district leader. It's getting a little easier each day. I keep frequent contact with the zone leaders, call-in's and whatnot. The new district is as follows:
E. Turner and E. Malmberg - Garden Lakes/Villa de Paz
E. Egan and E. Tameilau - Crystal Gardens/YSA
E. Nuttall and E. Rivas - Tolleson/Coldwater
E. White and E. McCarty - Independence/Agua Fria
A couple of the ward areas were split so that Elders don't have to cover buildings in different wards. Elder Tameilau was pretty crushed when he heard he was losing Coldwater ward, and Elder Rivas was a little upset to lose the YSA. Things are going well in both wards anyways, so there's a lot of good coming up for all of them.
Elder Turner and Elder Davis
Elder Johnson, Elder Turner, Elder Buttars
I had the opportunity to conduct my first baptismal interview this week. I'm a judge in Israel. No pressure. I'll admit I was pretty nervous about it. I've been praying all week that I'll have the Spirit with me in the interviews. The interview went very well. He's a great guy who has a very sincere desire to follow the Savior. I'll be interviewing another person tonight, someone who Elder Egan and Elder Tameilau have been teaching for the past few months. They're pretty excited for her. This next weekend is going to be good for the district, two more baptisms. Elder Malmberg and I have a lot of potential with a few families in Villa de Paz and we're eager to get to work.
Things are great down in Arizona! It's starting to warm up. The days and evenings are great, and lots of people are outside to meet. The work is definitely moving forward and it's fun to be apart of. It's so weird to me to think that 6 months have passed. People in the ward say they feel like I've been in the ward for hardly any time at all. I have a feeling I'll be in Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz for a long time, and I don't have a problem with that at all. I love you all and hope you're doing well. Keep up the letters, it's wonderful to hear how everyone is doing. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, February 7, 2011

District Leader: Round 2 (Feb. 7, 2011)

Hey everyone!
Transfers are tomorrow and by the looks of the email subject, you know what's happening. This morning at 8:15 I was doing my personal scripture study when I got a friendly phone call from President Beck! I've been called to serve as the new district leader. I'm not being transferred, I'm staying here. Elder Browning, our current district leader is going home tomorrow. A lot of the other Elders have been saying it would happen for a long time now. Even Sister Turville. I'm a little nervous, but still pretty excited. Elder Browning was such a great district leader, I feel that there's big shoes to fill. I'm sure it will work out. I've got the help of a wonderful district along the way. Speaking of which, the two pictures are of us as a district this past district meeting. The second one has Sister Turville in it. What a bunch of goofs. The rest of the district hasn't received the news yet as to whether or not they'll be transferred. It may come by the time I finish this email. I'll be up at the transfer building tomorrow for a leadership meeting, which should be fun. I know for a fact Elder Buttars (my first companion in the MTC) will be there tomorrow getting a new companion, because his current companion goes home tomorrow too. It'll be fun to see him again!
Elder Malmberg and I are doing great! We spent a lot of time tracting this week, and he's really improving. The other day he did a whole door approach without my help AND scheduled a return appointment! What a stud! After we left I gave him a lot of praise and he just started laughing. He said, "How did I do that?" I told him the same thing I told him the first day we tracted together, that it comes with practice. I'm sure this will help him in his teaching now. Speaking of teaching, Stephanie and Jared are being baptized this Saturday!!! They had their baptismal interview this week and did great! Elder Browning interviewed them, and was quite impressed with how much they knew. He was blown away with Jared. For an eleven year old, Jared knows a lot. He's already read the Book of Mormon and remembers everything we've taught him. He loves coming to church. Stephanie's excited to be baptized, and has been inviting everyone in the ward to come. Her fiance, who is not a member of the church, is happy for her too. I'll be sure to take pictures and send them home. We met Stephanie back in October when we left the apartment to start a new week. She was walking along and we stopped and talked to her. She invited us back and we've been teaching ever since! Such a great family, I'm sad that they'll be moving in the summer. I plan to keep in touch with them once they've left, but they'll be in good hands even when they're gone. They already know where the nearest church building is to their new home. They're set!
I had another opportunity to place a Book of Mormon this week in my favorite way, by talking to someone on the street. We actually know the girl already, her name is Kathy. We've run into her a few times on the street as she walks home from school, but never really set an appointment with her. She has had lots of questions about the church, and we answer every one with simple, pure doctrine and testimony. She goes to a lot and has even defended some of the doctrine of the church in conversations with friends. She's pretty impressive. We saw her back on Tuesday and she told us she was looking for a copy of the Book of Mormon but didn't know how much they were. We had a few copies on us and told her about it. We read the introduction page and then she brought up a lot of questions about Joseph Smith. We answered all of those too, and she wanted to know about his role as a prophet. We told her all about prophets, dispensations and apostasy, all of which she agreed with. I told her the experience of the First Vision. As soon as I finished, she just smiled. We gave her the copy of the Book of Mormon and she was very grateful. The next day a few friends of hers in the ward caught us walking around and told us they were surprised that we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and how proud she was that she had one for herself. I hope that we'll be able to meet with her again sometime this week.
I always love bearing testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, as Hugh B. Brown quotes, "The greatest message that has come to this earth since the angels announced the birth of Christ." I'm so thankful to have this knowledge and to have the opportunity to tell others about it.
I thank you for your love and support, and hope you're doing well. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
At the district meeting
With Sister Turville