What a crazy week it's been! First thing last Monday morning I get a call from the mission office. Sister Cherry, our mission office secretary, calls me and says, "Elder Turner, do you have a moment? A friend of your just walked into the mission office and is looking for you. His name is Benjamin Fussner. If you would like to contact him, you may. Here is his phone number." I literally could not believe what I was hearing. I called Benn and he asked where I was. He didn't have much time left in Phoenix but wanted to say hi. I gave him the address to where we shop for groceries, and he rolled up just as we finished emailing. Boy was it good to see him. He and a few of his buddies were in town for some reason or another, and on their way out wanted to see me. He went around Walmart for the next half hour while we were shopping and we just had a good time. He had been in Afghanistan for the past 8 months(?) or so. We had fun telling stories about what we've been up to for the past year. We knew we didn't have a whole lot of time to see one another, but this was still a pleasant surprise. I snagged a quick picture with him in the parking lot and we were on our way.
This week sure had its ups and downs, because I found out that JJ wasn't going to be baptized after all. His mom had another fit and said he couldn't be baptized. I was pretty upset when I heard that. But it's ok, the seed is still there. I shouldn't complain too much, because Sandee Pearce was baptized this weekend! Her brother in law Chris Cannell baptized her. She had great support from the West Point ward. I think she'll fit in great with the ward. We've really developed quite the friendship with Sandee and the Cannells. They had us over for dinner on Friday night and we had such a fun time. It had been pretty hot that day, and it was nice to just sit for an hour and have a good steak dinner. Trust me, it was hot this week. Don't believe me? Check the picture of our truck's thermometer reading. The last picture is just me having a little fun with Elder Halligan. He didn't like the picture when I showed it to him though!
Joumana, an investigator of ours, speaks Arabic and very little English. We've had lessons with her while Bro. Housari (West Point ward mission leader) translated for us. We saw Joumana on Saturday morning and gave her an Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon. We had a little struggle without a translator, so the lesson was really simple. We read the Arabic Introduction to the Book of Mormon. The paragraphs were the same, so I could follow along in English. She came to the part about praying and receiving an answer by the power of the Holy Ghost. She said the Arabic phrase for "Holy Ghost" and asked in English, "What is it?" We had no idea how to explain it...but the scriptures did. Neither Elder Halligan nor myself could read Arabic, but I know how to read Arabic numbers. It took me a few minutes to thumb through the pages to find the book, chapter and verse I was looking for. I finally found Helaman 5:30. I had her read it and asked her to explain it to us in English. She thought for a moment, until the light bulb went off and she pointed to her heart and said, "Feel!" She got it! Despite the maze of language barriers, Joumana understood! Only the Spirit can teach and testify so powerfully that teacher and student can understand one another and rejoice together. It's no wonder that Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-22 is our mission scripture for the month of June. I just can't believe it took me a month to actually witness it firsthand.
So now we jump to Sunday. We had a very stressful sacrament meeting in Cooper Canyon ward. Joumana comes to church and brings her two kids, ages 2 and 4. Holy cow... Sacrament meeting was very difficult for Joumana not only because she could barely understand, but her kids were being so loud. They were climbing over the benches, throwing hymnbooks and screaming Arabic words in mine and Elder Halligan's faces. Joumana felt so embarrassed and I kept letting her know that people understand, their kids are noisy too! In all honesty though, those kids were being pretty difficult. The 4 year old tried climbing up on my shoulders and kept yelling in my face during the sacrament, and the two year old tried pulling Elder Halligan's fingers apart while scratching him. Mom and dad, I don't know how you managed to keep your cool with me when I was that age. I hope that we can still meet with Joumana in the future, thankfully the ward was very nice to her and very welcoming.
We had a great lesson last night with Amber at the VanTienderen's home! Bro. VanTienderen called us out of the blue last night and said, "If we call and invite Amber over tonight for dessert, could you Elders join us for a lesson?" OF COURSE WE COULD. High fives to the VanTienderen's for stepping it up! The VanTienderen's made cupcakes as a family, and wanted to share them with someone, so they called Amber! We joined them and had a very great lesson about the commandments. The Spirit was strong as Amber expressed concern in asking her boss for time off work to come to church on Sunday. We taught, testified and promised her that she would we able to come to church if she showed that she was sincere about it. Amber understood and said she will ask for time off. On the drive home from the lesson, Amber texted us and simply asked, "What do I need to do now to be baptized?" That was nice to see! We had talked with Amber numerous times about baptism, and she said she might, but still wanted to come to church, which is the reason why we hadn't set a date with her. Yes, I'm repenting for that! This week we're meeting with her again and we're extending a baptismal date.
On Wednesday this past week we had our last zone conference with President and Sister Beck. Toward the end of the conference they presented information about President and Sister Taylor. They had a little slide show on the difference between change and transition. Their departing testimonies were very powerful. You can tell that Sister Beck just absolutely loves being the mission mom. President Beck said something that quite frankly, spiritually smacked me in the face. He said, "Elders and Sisters, I want you to know that this week you will be receiving a new mission President. I will then remove my mantle and will return to what I was--nothing. Elders and Sisters, I am nothing, but the mantle I bear is everything." I'll simply say that for those of you who don't know much about President Beck, he's sure appears to be more than nothing. But I thought about it and the Spirit bore witness to me the exact same thing in my own case. The mantle we bear is everything and we need to live worthy of it. In not a very short time, it will be gone. We're working really hard and many more little miracles are happening each day. I love my service, even in the heat. Write back soon everyone, take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|A surprise visit from Benn Fussner|
|It's hot out there!|
|Sandee Pearce's baptism|
|Elder Halligan...Future Assistant to the President!|