Mom and dad, I'm glad you had the opportunity to speak with Sister Turville. She isn't paid or anything, and it's not a calling. She just volunteers her time out of the goodness of her heart to help any missionary with anything. Her husband passed away a few years ago, and all she does now is help people in the mission, in her stake and anywhere else she is needed. President and Sister Beck give her the utmost thanks and praise for her kindness. She's one little ball of energy and it was so good to see her at Victor's baptism.
I hope everyone is doing well back home. Sorry you had to wait until Wednesday for the email. Monday was Memorial Day, and all of the libraries were closed. Tuesday (yesterday) was very busy. From 10-3 we had zone leader council at the mission home, then we had back-to-back-to-back-to-back appointments from 4-8 pm and had no time to do emails. This morning we had a district meeting to attend way out in Peoria North and we had a few more things to do after that. So we had to wait until 3 pm on Wednesday to send our emails. To me, I see that as a good thing, being so busy that we actually have to wait to send emails home. But now I can take a breather and actually write about our adventures this past week.
So Monday, like I said, was Memorial Day. We knew that the libraries would be closed, but we had a zone activity planned! At about 10:30 that morning, our zone of about 28 missionaries met at a park in our area for a good old fashioned game of softball. Perfect for Memorial Day weekend. Elder Angelos and I called President and Sister Beck the night before to invite them to come. I'm sure Sister Beck had a heavy influence in their decision to come. She played softball in high school and really wanted to play with us. Just before we got started, President and Sister Beck rolled up ready to play. We had already brought some watermelon to put under our shade tent, but President and Sister Beck also brought popsicles, peanuts and licorice for everyone too. Now if that's not Memorial Day weekend, I don't know what is. Hot dogs would have been ideal, but we can't be too picky, can we? The game was so much fun. We played for a good 3 hours. Sister Beck was out in the field catching pop-flies and President hit here and there too. I even managed to get a few good hits (note the Ichiro at-bat pose). The funniest was when I came up to bat one time. Sister Beck was on second, and Elder Custance was pitching. First pitch and I crush it out into deep left-center field. This thing was gone. One of the Elders in the field was running after it and I was moving around the bases. By the time I rounded second, Sister Beck was at third, to which I yelled, "GO SISTER BECK GO GO GO!!!" She reached home and I followed about half a second behind her. President said, "Nice job Elder Turner, best hit of the day!" That glory was short lived because in the next inning Elder Angelos did the same thing. Everybody had a good hit somewhere. It was all just for fun, we didn't keep score, and we all loaded up on watermelon, licorice, peanuts and popsicles. It was an awesome zone activity. I think everyone who came had a good time. A couple companionships, including all of the sisters, left early, and we got a group picture of everyone who was still there. Notice President Beck in the Reds hat and the T-shirt with a tie printed on it.
On Wednesday last week, Elder Angelos and I had the opportunity to go to the Mesa Temple. It was Elder Angelos' last time before going home, and Brenton Beals and his brother Stettson in the Copper Canyon ward took us. It was a great way to spend the day. We gave up our P-Day for it, and our P-Day for that week became that Wednesday when we went to the temple. I hadn't been since Christmas, and this was great. At one point we, the four of us, pretty much had the Celestial room to ourselves. We all were enjoying the feeling. Yeah, there's things that are fun, but this was much more than just fun.
I'm sure most of you have heard already about Victor. Let me tell the full story. So we all know about the awesome lessons 1 and 2 last Saturday and Sunday in the Alger's home. We had set up another appointment for last Monday evening to teach lesson 3. He for sure knew when he wanted to be baptized, but when was the problem. His best friends in the ward would be going out of town, and the day before they would come back his other friends would be gone too. He wanted everyone to be there. We joked about just being baptized tomorrow (last Tuesday) and then we thought about it for a minute...why not? It could be done. It would be rushed but we could do it. We asked him, "Victor, when do you want to be baptized?" He had a huge smile on his face as he nodded and said, "Tomorrow." Instantly I got up to make some calls about scheduling the stake center and everything, while Elder Angelos answered questions and continued with the lesson. We asked if we could come back in a few hours to teach lesson 4, because we had another appointment, and the Algers said ok. At about 7 on Monday night we came back to teach all of lesson 4 and then reviewed the baptismal interview questions. The next morning he was interviewed by our district leader in the area, and he was baptized that night at 8 pm.
It was a busy Tuesday trying to get ready for the baptism. All morning we were inviting the ward, making the programs, setting up the baptismal service and all that good stuff. A ton of people from the Copper Canyon ward showed up to support him. Even friends from school who attend other wards came too. It was the most well attended baptism I had seen probably my whole mission. What made the baptism especially meaningful for me was that Victor asked if I could be the one to baptize him. I felt so honored. I had never had that opportunity to baptize anyone before, and it meant a lot to me. The service went really well. He asked his two best friends Sam and Travis give a few short talks. They were simple, powerful talks that invited the Spirit into the room with such great force. Everyone could feel it. After a few talks had been given and a few musical numbers performed, I took Victor into the font and baptized him by Priesthood authority. It was a fantastic thing to see. Elder Angelos confirmed him in church this past Sunday, and now Victor is preparing to receive the priesthood and go to the temple with his friends. Looking back on it, it went like this:
Saturday-Lesson 1 Sunday-Lesson 2 Monday-Lessons 3 and 4 Tuesday-Baptism
He had already been coming to church, mutual and early morning seminary. He was just that prepared! It wasn't anything we did, he was just ready! It's certainly the fastest baptism I've ever been a part of. Strange, don't you only hear about stories like that in the Ensign and Church magazines? But wait, it gets better. Yesterday, Elder Angelos and I set three more baptismal dates. This past weekend alone, our zone had ten baptisms. We also found out that for the month of May, the Arizona Phoenix Mission set an all-time record for baptisms in a single month. President was so happy. He had nothing but good things to say yesterday in zone leader council during our return and report for the month of May. We're baptizing at 90% efficiency, meaning that 90% of baptismal dates that are set are going through. Last month we were at 50%. This was just incredible. We're seeing blessings everywhere and they're continuing to come. But we can't just stop there, we have to keep it up.
Time is running short and there's so much more I wish I could say. I miss you all and it's so good to hear from you. I'll try and organize my thoughts a little better in next week's email, it's just that this week has been going so well. I cannot complain at all! Why should I? We've been so busy and we've been so blessed. I love you all and hope to hear from you all very soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
With Victor at his baptism
Outside the Mesa Temple with Elder Angelos
Get out the rye bread and the mustard Grandma.....!!!