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.
Elder Eric James Turner