Monday, April 11, 2011

From 106 to 44 in Three Days (April 11, 2011)

Hey everyone!

DID I HEAR RIGHT THAT SPENCER BRAME IS COMING TO THE APM??! That's awesome! Someone find him, give him my email/writing address and have him get a hold of me. I want to let him know how awesome it is down here. I'll just get this out of the way, since Spencer's going to be here in the middle of July, yes, it will be hot. No way around it, pal. Love it and get to work. Can't wait to see you here Elder Brame!

The first two pictures are of a reoccurring problem in the Surprise House. The toilet in mine and Angelos' room keeps clogging (thanks to Angelos...). The pictures here are probably the third or fourth time it has been clogged since I was transferred in to the house. I give it another two days before it clogs again.

Toilet humor aside, we had a pretty awesome week. Elder Angelos and I have been working really hard, particularly with Jacqueline. She's really struggling with quitting smoking. Last Tuesday I went with Bro. Housari, the West Point ward mission leader to go see her. I told her that by the end of the lesson I was going to take her cigarettes from her. We shared a great lesson and then I asked (for the first time in my life), "You got some cigarettes for me?" She went and got the pack she bought that morning and gave them to me. I asked if she had anything else, ash trays, more packs, lighters, anything. She said she had a lighter, and I told her to give that to me too. We were really proud of her. Needless to say the other Elders were pretty confused as to why I came home with a pack of cigarettes. We went outside and trashed 'em. Since then Jacqueline hasn't been buying any cigarettes, but she's been bumming them off of coworkers and her sons. Ugh. A couple days ago, Elder Angelos and I made special cigarettes for Jacqueline, which were a bunch of scriptures and quotes written on slips on paper and rolled up to look like a cigarette. Whenever she had the urge to smoke, she had to call us and unroll one of the "cigarettes" and tell us what it said. Then she had to go and do what it said. She thought it was very creative and she really liked it. Unfortunately, she didn't come to church yesterday. Elder Angelos and I are still pretty upset about it. Plus, she hasn't called us at all, so we're a little skeptical about that too. I don't want to be, but I've heard that smoking is the toughest addiction to quit, and I'm just concerned for her. I know she can do it because I saw Stephanie do it back in Garden Lakes. We pray for her a lot and we're in frequent daily contact with her too. The bishop in West Point invited us and her to their house for dinner tonight. I'm really looking forward to that.

Today we had a volleyball tournament for a zone activity. All of the missionaries in Surprise and Peoria North got together and we set up a tournament. It was pretty crazy with a bunch of people who hardly play volleyball. Sorry dad, our team lost our only two games and were eliminated. Fail. We had a blast though. Also, sorry for the various times that emails have been sent to you guys. The house is pretty go with the flow when it comes to P-Day, so emails become kind of a "whenever sounds good" kind of deal. Personally I like emailing and shopping in the morning so we have the whole afternoon to do what we want. But hey, no worries, it's P-Day so why complain?

I have to tell you all about the coolest experience I had in a lesson this week. So there's a man named John who was referred to us by the Spanish missionaries. He's probably in his 60's or so. The first time we went by was about three weeks ago with Brenton Beals, a guy who lives in the Copper Canyon ward. Brenton's been home from his mission for a few years and loves going on splits with us. We use him every Saturday night, and he's amazing. He can get along with anyone, regardless of age or interest. He's very intelligent when it comes to the scriptures, so it's always good to have him with us. Anywho, back to John. The first time we went by he asked us a bunch of questions about the Bible, questions we knew that he already knew the answer too. It was kind of a boring lesson that night. We saw him again on Saturday night and boy was it intense. We knew he would have more Bible trivia questions for us, but our goal was to teach the Restoration. John lets us in and sits us down, and begins asking more questions about the Bible, particularly about the book of Revelations, which I know hardly anything about. The questions he was asking were honestly kind of pathetic. I won't go into too great of detail about that discussion, he tried throwing out government insults, all that stuff. It was weird.

At one point he asked about a statue made of different metals. It was right then I lost track of what he was saying, not because of him, but because of something else I heard. In my head I heard something say to me, "Daniel." I thought that was weird, but as I kept thinking I could vividly see a certain picture in my gospel art book. The picture is one Daniel interpreting Nebachudnezzar's dream of a statue made of different types of metals. I kind of knew the story, but I had no idea why this came into my mind. I asked John if he was referring to Nebachudnezzar's dream in the book of Daniel in the old testament, but he kept trying to say it was in Revelations. I have no idea if this is actually in Revelations, but I said, "John, let's open up to Daniel." I still had no idea why I was going to Daniel, but it just felt right...more right than anything I could think of. I opened up to Daniel chapter 2 and was shocked at what I saw. It was the story of Daniel interpreting the dream, and in my margins I saw that I had previously written what each of the metals in the statue represented. I felt this ruch in my body followed by an immediate sense of peace that seemed to say, "Go for it, Elder. Teach." I told him that each of the metals were a certain government that would eventually rule in Biblical history, starting with Nebachudnezzar and Babylon, then Persia, Greece and Rome. John was pretty satisfied with that answer, being the history buff he is. Looking across the page, I saw what what was stronger the statue. It was the stone cut out of the mountain without hands: the fulness of the gospel. I told John that the fulness of the Gospel was on the earth. He didn't have to worry aobut governments or worldly worries, because Christ's true church has been restored. John paused for a moment and said, "Tell me more."     Begin Restoration.

I couldn't believe what had happened. Elder Angelos and Brenton just looked at me with a "How did you do that" kind of look. I know that the Holy Ghost was leading me to that Old Testament account of the fulness of the gospel. It had to be. I hardly know the Old Testament at all, what else could have painted that picture so clearly in my mind? The rest of the lesson was difficult, but incredible. It was easily the best lesson we've ever had. He had so many questions, and tried using so many scriptures to prove the doctrine wrong. We put his scriptures back into context and used more scriptures to clarify his confusion. He agreed with everything we taught. By the end of the lesson he was writing down the scriptures we had used because he hadn't read those before. We told him about the Book of Mormon and he stopped us saying, "Wait, there were actually people who were here anciently who believed in Christ?" We told him yes, and he responded, "I want to read that book." We eventually left his home and came back to the house. Elder Angelos and Brenton kept asking me where that came from. We all knew the answer, but it was so powerful to actually see it in action. I've heard about all of these missionaries who tell stories about the Holy Ghost guiding them in lessons so that they know exactly what to say. I now know what that is like. Teaching by the Spirit is the only effective way to teach. I'm looking forward to seeing John again on Saturday.

I hope you all are doing well at home. I love hearing from you all. Please don't worry about me down here, things are great. Elder Angelos and I are tearing it up down in Surprise. Write back soon. Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

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