Monday, March 28, 2011

Surprises Around Every Corner (March 28, 2011)

Hey everyone!
It's my first email after my first transfer! The transfer meeting was very small, only 27% of the whole mission was changed (that's WAY small). In the leadership training meeting before the transfer meeting, I saw Elder Abel in the front row, so he was called to leadership too! I saw him after and he told me he was called as a district leader. I joked that if he was being transferred back to Avondale I'd kill him. The meeting went pretty normal, and President called my name and my new area and companion. I'm now a zone leader in the Surprise/Peoria North zone and my companion is the other ZL, Elder Kyle Angelos from Columbus, OH! We actually live in Surprise, but as zone leaders we oversee the three districts/stakes (Surprise, Surprise North and Peoria North). Our area right now is the Copper Canyon and West Point Wards in the Surprise Stake. Elder Angelos is so awesome. He's really patient with me and really relaxed. We live in a house appropriately named "The Surprise House" with two other companionships, Elders Custance and Cava (pronounced "thuh-vuh") and Elders Ward and Johnson. Elder Johnson is the same Elder Johnson from my MTC district! When he saw me step out of the truck, the look on his face was priceless. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, "ARE YOU JOKING?!" and ran over to give me a hug. It's pretty cool to be living with him. The whole house is full of great elders who work hard but are also very relaxed about everything.
I'll admit that it was a very awkward feeling being transferred. Having been in Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz the whole time, I felt like a brand new missionary out in the field again. When we went out to teach I felt my mind draw a blank whenever I tried to speak. I have no idea who anyone is, or even which way is up. Elder Angelos just laughed and said that it happens to every missionary when they're transferred. Elder Angelos goes home in June, so my guess is I'll be his last companion. I absolutely love him. I feel so blessed to have had great companions up until this point. When he showed me all of the stuff we have to do as zone leaders, I felt this wave of stress come over me. Elder Angelos showed me the calender of this transfer and almost every day has some sort of meeting, exchange, training or conference. It will be fun though. If I can make it through this week, I'm sure I'll be ok. On Sundays and Mondays we have weekly call ins with all of the district leaders, and then report all of that to President Beck on Monday mornings. All day tomorrow we have a zone leader conference at President and Sister Beck's home. After that I'm going on splits with the Assistants, an exchange with a district leader this week, two district meetings, ward council training with a member of the mission presidency, all of that on top of the normal coordination meetings and PEC's in our respective wards. Whew. Like I said, if I can make it through this week, I'm sure I'll be ok. We just take it one day at a time...and lots of prayer. The organization is like this: our zone has two zone leaders (myself and Angelos), three districts/district leaders (Custance, Bell and Abel) and their respective districts of four to six companionships. I think we have 28 missionaries in the zone? I think there's like 6 or 7 zones in the mission, but I'm not entirely sure. Elder Angelos and I have a truck, which is really nice. As far as area is concerned, our zone is the largest, covering three stakes. You might have noticed that Elder Abel is a district leader in our zone, which is way too funny. He's the district leader over Peoria North and it's a little weird for me to be his zone leader, seeing as he trained me and all. It's fun though, it's so good to see him as often as I do.
I've been trying to take it all in this week. I've been pretty good at remembering names and areas (kind of). Funny story, guess who's in the West Point Ward? The Odells from back home! Surprise indeed! Definitely good to see a familiar face in a new area. We're working really hard with a lot of investigators who are really close to baptism. Jacquiline is close and she wants to be baptized, but smoking is keeping her from progressing any further. Talk about hurdle. She wants to quit, but keeps saying "tomorrow." Thankfully in West Point sunday school yesterday someone said that it's not a matter of saying "tomorrow" when the Lord asks you to do something. The funny thing is that the woman who said it had no idea Jacquiline was struggling with smoking, nor how she always tells us "tomorrow." I think that's something she needed to hear. We're doing great work, and lots of the ward members tell me how fantastic of a missionary Elder Angelos is. I know we're going to do well together. Yes, I miss Avondale a lot. The night before I left we stopped by a couple families to say goodbye. I didn't want to linger so we just made it quick. There were a lot of people I wanted to see, but I still wanted to be out working too, so we made two our three short visits. Elder Mortimer is taking my place as district leader and as Elder Malmberg's new companion, and he's going to do great work down there. I feel very comfortable in the Surprise House, and the Elders here are great. I hope I answered your questions, let me know what else your concerned about and I'll do the best I can to answer it.
Surprise is great, but the whole "surprise!" joke is getting kind of old. I imagine the people here get it all the time. I enjoy it so far, there's nothing really to complain about. There's a lot of work to do in the zone and I'm pretty excited to get to work. I love you all and hope to hear from you soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, March 21, 2011

Transfers....Comin' in Hot!! (March 21, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I've got a few pictures to send to you, so let's start with that. The first two are of our district at the end of this past week's district meeting. Leave it to me to never leave a picture unspoiled, sorry mom! We did a second one (which cut off half of Elder Rivas' face) of what we called our "General Authority" picture. I don't think we'd cut it as GA's, but we had fun taking the picture! The third picture is of a husband and wife who were baptized this weekend, the Sengs. Elders White and McCarty taught them, but I had the opportunity to interview them for baptism. Kear, the husband, is solid. He has one of the strongest testimonies I've ever seen in anyone. Our interview together lasted well over an hour, much longer than I usually interview someone for baptism. He asked me after his baptism if I could step in for a quick picture with him and his family because he really appreciated meeting with me for the interview. So yup, that's the Sengs!
Well this week has had its ups and downs. Thursday was by far the worst day of my mission. I woke up at about 2:00 in the morning and started puking my guts out until about 7:00. It was terrible because it just kept coming and coming. Even when there was nothing left I still kept throwing up. Oh man it hurt. When I thought I had thrown everything up, then came the stomach bile. I'd go into greater detail but you get the picture. No bueno. I was sweating like crazy, pale, clammy, achy, and burst the blood vessels in my face. You can bet I stayed in all day. Sister Beck's exact words over the phone were, "You're grounded." I was in so much pain. It seemed like every muscle in my body was being punched by Elder Tameilau (a rather large Tongan Elder, for those of you who aren't up to date in my emails). I couldn't even lay on my bed and sleep because my back, shoulders and legs all hurt so bad. It was a terrible day. I'm grateful for the other Elders who gave me a blessing and then bought me some 7 Up. Sister Turville bought me some Gatorade, saltines and chicken soup. I don't know what we'd do without her. Friday I felt ten times better, but I stayed in just to be safe, still a little achy and dizzy. By Friday night I was losing my mind and had to get out of the apartment. I spent a good four to five hours just studying, a nap here and there, and listened to a few talks. I was finding every excuse I could to go outside, take the trash out, get the mail, anything. It was killing me to stay inside. It may have just been one of those 24-hour bugs because by Friday night I was pretty much back to normal. Mom and dad, don't worry, I'm back to full health and went back out to work first thing Saturday morning. I'm happy and healthy, but most important of all, busy. Doing nothing in that apartment for two days was not fun at all. Elder Malmberg and I were saying that we never realized how boring our days were before the mission when we sat around and whatnot. But yeah, happy and healthy again!
Alrighty so the work this past week. We met with J.J. on Tuesday and taught a great lesson on the Plan of Salvation. He's still set for baptism on the 9th and is looking forward to it. Yesterday we tried picking him up for church and he didn't wake up. I even banged on his bedroom window and nothing! We stopped by later and he repeatedly apologized for not waking up. He seemed pretty sincere about it and will be meeting with us again this week...or rather, Elder Malmberg and his new companion.
I got an interesting call this morning. President Beck called me at a little after 9:00 and said he had some news for me. Today we found out the news for transfers, who's going where and whatnot. President called and said that as the district leader I'll be receiving the call from the zone leaders about who's going to be transferred. He said that I'll find out the news later in the morning, but he wanted to call and tell that I will be transferred. As soon as he said that I felt this sinking feeling in my stomach. I didn't really want to believe it. He told me that the Lord had a special assignment for me, that of being a Zone Leader. So I'm going to be transferred, and my new companion will also be a zone leader, but I don't know who it will be or where I'll be going until I find out tomorrow at the transfer meeting. And yes my mailing address is still the same so don't hesitate to send more mail, hint hint!
I just now got the call from the zone leaders giving me the transfer news and everyone else in the district is staying except me. I'll be honest I'm pretty crushed about leaving the Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz wards. This is the only area I've known on my mission and I've become quite attached to it. After I hung up the phone with President Beck this morning I went into my room and said a quick prayer asking if this is what needs to happen. Immediately I already knew that it was what needed to happen. It ties back into my email last week about the hymn "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go." Yeah, I'm a little upset about leaving, and although it's a little tough to grasp in the moment, I know the Lord has more in store for me wherever I go. And hey dad, now I can say that I've gone from an EQP at BYU to a DL in the MTC, to a DL and now a ZL in the APM!
I hope things are going well back home for everyone. Things are great down in Arizona. I'm curious to see how transfers tomorrow will go, but I know that President Beck is inspired about the needs of the mission. I trust him and I trust the Lord. I love you all and hope to hear from you very soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
P.S. Shout out to Sis. Carattini, a sister in the Crystal Gardens ward down here who told me that her family was looking up info about the mission and came across my blog. She told me that they follow it, so I guess I have fans!
Goofy face!!!

General Authority pose
At the Sengs' baptism

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kites and Cacti (March 14, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I included a few more pictures this week than I normally do, so let's get some explainin' going. Most of these were taken last week on P-Day after I had already emailed home. The first is me holding a kickball. I accidentally kicked it on top of a chain link fence and popped it. Fail. Elder Tameilau wasn't too happy, considering it was his kickball. Elder Egan had a kite, so we flew that instead of kickball. One is of all of us as a district flying the kite, and then one of me flying it. Elder Malmberg found a pair of sunglasses at Walgreens for a dollar and put them on with his suit. The one of myself and Elder Malmberg together is us at the church waiting for our splits. Nobody showed up. Unfortunately that happened multiple times this week. But hey, yo think that's bad? Try getting your kite stuck in a 30 ft. tall cactus. Mom and dad I have my original memory card that I'll be sending home this week. It's the one that has all the pictures from September up until now. Sorry it's taken me so long to get it to you.
Glad to hear that things are going well back home. Mom I hope you're feeling better. Sis I hear you'll be trying hurdles? Awesome! I'm sure you'll love it. You just have to be patient is all. It takes lots of practice and you can't be frustrated because you've never done it before. You'll notice that not a ton of people line up to try the hurdles. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. You're going to do great, I can't wait to see hear how your races will go.
This past week has been pretty good. It's starting to get warm again, and it's been in the 80's every day. One day it must have touched the 90's and Elder Malmberg and I are dreading the summer. It'll be here quick...but we're prepared. I'm thankful I have a Camelbak, I don't know what I'd do without it. I laugh because the most northern border of my area is a road called "Camelback." The sun just takes it out of ya. I chug water like crazy and I feel great. I've got plenty of sunscreen and thrift store pairs of slacks for long days of tracting. No worries, I'm doing well.
Did I ever mention J.J.? J.J. is a kid we're teaching who is about 17 years old. He's a good friend of a recent convert named Devante, who was baptized about a year ago. J.J. has actually been going to mutual with Devante off and on, and even went to a father and son's campout last summer with Devante and a member of the ward who really acts as a father figure to Devante. J.J. knows some members of the ward already but has never actually been to church. We met J.J. for the first time back in January but the return appointment fell through. We've started meeting with him again and have been teaching him here and there. We invited him to be baptized and he said he would. We brought him to an investigator's baptism (in a different ward) and he really enjoyed it. J.J. came to church yesterday at 8 am and stayed all three hours! He was a little tired in sacrament meeting, which I can't blame him, but he was wide awake for the first speaker. All week he's had questions about temples and families and how we can be together forever. The first speaker spoke on that topic and answered all of his questions. It really was a testimony builder of the revelation we can receive as we attend church. Especially since in the Garden Lakes ward, an investigator who we've been trying to get to church for over a month STILL didn't show, and both speakers answered every question he's ever asked us. Anywho, back to J.J. He loved Sunday school and Priest's quorum. The priest's quorum class was really small, only two other kids there besides J.J., and Bishop Hopkins taught the lesson. We really tailored it around J.J. and any questions he had. We had a great lesson on doctrine and faith that got J.J. involved and answering questions. Long story short, he has a baptismal date for April 9.
Things are going well down in Avondale with me and Elder Malmberg. Transfers are next week and I honestly have no idea how it could go. I'll be sure to let you know what happens, I'm sure we'll know about this time next Monday. Whatever happens though, the Lord is in it. He knows where we need to go and who we need to see. I've been reflecting on the line of the hymn I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go that says, "So trusting my all to thy tender care, and knowing thou lovest me, I'll do thy will with a heart sincere: I'll be what you want me to be." I think Hugh B. Brown's talk titled "God is the Gardner" better explains the point I'm trying to make, but it just makes sense. Despite the our flaws and mistakes, He loves us and knows what He wants us to become. I'm learning that a little more each day. 
I love you all and hope you're doing well. Write back soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Kickball + Fence = Fail

Watching someone fly a kite. Fun?
Eric Turner.....Kite Flyer Extraordinaire

Stood up for splits......again!
Ummm....sorry about your kite....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Free Titleist Pro V1's (March 7, 2011)

Hey all!
The email is on time this week, and we went golfing again this morning! We were up by 6 to get there early and hit the back nine just like last week. It's such a good deal. I didn't do as well as I was hoping. Turns out driving isn't all that impressive when you can't follow up with your short game...sorry dad. I'm getting better though. We may or may not go again next week, but I'll keep you posted. Oh and dad there's a grocery store down the street that sells peanut butter pretzels.
Let's see, what's been going on this week. We've had a bunch of meetings and hardly the amount of time to proselyte as I had originally anticipated. We had a leadership training meeting on Tuesday, specialized training all Wednesday and a district meeting on Friday. I didn't really want to have the district meeting considering all of the other trainings and meetings we were having, but the zone leaders hinted that I should have it anyways. I knew why right from the start. So Friday comes and we have a district meeting. Because it was such short notice I didn't assign any talks and made one up myself. The zone leaders joined us from the beginning, and shortly thereafter the AP's walk in too (assistants to the mission president). I knew that's why the zone leaders wanted me to have a district meeting. I'll admit it, I was a little nervous with the assistants in there. Nervous not like in a brown-nosing "oh man I look good in leadership" nervous, but more like a "shoot, of all the days they drop in it's the one day I didn't make any assignments and we're having a district meeting even though none of us want to be here right now" kind of nervous. The meeting actually went ok despite my lack of preparation.
The weather's been gorgeous lately, but it's going to get real hot real soon. It's already been in the high 80's a few days this week. On Saturday we were about four miles away from the apartment at an appointment and had to hurry back so we could get a ride to the stake center for a baptismal interview. We hauled tail to get back. We were sweaty and gross and I had to change into my suit. Sister Turville was waiting for us and as we came out to meet her, the other Elders called me saying that the interview was going to be rescheduled....and we didn't need to come back to the apartment after all. I figured I'm here, tired, sweaty, gross, in a suit and have a ride, so I asked if Sis. Turville would take us to 7-11 for Slurpees. She loved the idea. There's not much out there that beats an extra large cherry, pina colada and blue raspberry Slurpee. What made it even better was at night when the other Elders came home, they bought Slurpees too, both for them AND for us. Win. Turns out my day wasn't as disappointing as I thought it was.
We're still trying to follow up on those whom we met with last week. Brenden's dad is ok with us teaching him, but says he wants his son to visit other churches before making a decision. My biggest fear is that if and when he does go to another church BOOM: anti. We'll be stopping by again in two weeks. Brenden's pretty much made up his mind.  J.J. is another one we're working with. We taught him The Restoration last weekend and gave him a soft baptismal invitation. This weekend we gave him a direct invitation to be baptized. He looked confused and said, "Guys, I already told you that I will be baptized." We were both a little surprised to hear that. He said he wants to come to church and that he's interested in attending the baptism of someone else next weekend, just to see what it's like. All he asked for was a ride to church on Sunday. We went by yesterday morning 15 minutes before church with a member from the ward and he wasn't there. Ugh. That happens too. His friend is a recent convert in the ward, and said friend said he'd try and see him today to ask him what happened.
We taught an AWESOME lesson on the Atonement to Monika and Freddy this week. Because they know more Spanish than English, we really have to simplify our lessons into English that they can understand. It was one of those lessons that was simple, pure doctrine straight from scripture and honest testimony. Funny enough it was one of those lessons where I ended up teaching myself more than them. It was as if I noticed several scriptures in a different way than I had noticed them before. It's weird, I can't really explain it. It was definitely a spiritual experience for them and for me. They did not end up coming to church yesterday (we're going to fix this) but they look forward to our visits on Wednesday nights.
I hope things are going well with everyone back home. Mom, I hope you're feeling better, Sis I hope track is going well, and Dad you and I are playing 18 holes at Columbia Point when I come home, but hopefully that's not for a long time. Write back soon, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner