A lot has happened this past week. On Monday after emails we took Elder Angelos to this mission home. The whole house drove. President and Sister Beck came outside and said, "Wow, how many missionaries does it take to send one Elder home?" That's what the first picture is, the house sending Angelos home. It's taken at the mission home, in front of the tree I simply refer to as "The Personal Pineapple." I miss Elder Angelos like crazy but I know he's doing well back home. As far as I know he should be on his way to Provo right now for summer term. So now that leaves a vacancy in my companionship...cue transfer meeting. At transfers on Tuesday, I had no idea who my companion would be. They were calling three new zone leaders, so it was just up in the air. President announced, "In the Peoria North/Surprise zone, in the West Point and Copper Canyon wards, Elder Eric Turner will continue to serve as a zone leader with Elder Mason Halligan as his new companion." I knew Elder Halligan already from a few past meetings, and I was ecstatic to hear he was my new companion! We met halfway between our seats and he scooped me up in a huge bear hug. President got a good laugh out of that. I can't believe it! Elder Halligan! He was previously serving as a zone leader up in Prescott for the past 4 months, and now he's here. He's from Tooele, Utah, and has been out on his mission for about 13 months. The two of us hit it off immediately. Instant buds. Picture Elder Abel's knowledge of the gospel, Elder Malmberg's sense of urgency, Elder Angelos' wisdom, all bundled together in Chris Farley's body. That, my friends, is Elder Mason Halligan. He's so great. The past few days have been so much fun, and we've been working so hard. All we do when we drive is laugh and sing really loud. When it comes to teaching, we work in such unity. I am so blessed to have Elder Halligan as my new companion. He and I are going to do wonders together.
We've been working closely with our investigators with baptismal dates. Sandee is going to be baptized this weekend and she's really excited. She had her baptismal interview a few days ago with Elder Johnson and he said she was so ready. She came to church yesterday for a great lesson on Gospel principles on the gift of the Holy Ghost, which I think is a great transition into her baptism next weekend. We're still meeting with Bro. Masch, and we finally established a baptismal calender with him. So many appointments have been cancelled and now he and his family have something right in front of them to help them remember to keep appointments and various other commitments.
Two things happened this week that meant a lot to me. The first was our window of heaven we had set on Friday night. A window of heaven is, briefly, a space of time at a particular location we pray about where we will be led to meet someone whom the Lord has prepared for us to meet, hopefully a new investigator. In our planning the night before, we pick the time and place, and set empty brackets in that time frame of our schedule. If we are obedient and on time, we will find someone. It's sort of an informal covenant we make...and it works. So we pick the area to go and the time to be there. 7:00pm-7:30pm was our time frame. We pull around the corner to our street to contact, and it hit me--I had already contacted this area a few weeks ago. We thought about it and wondered, "Should we go to a new area?" Elder Halligan said these simple, but profound words: "Elder Turner, we made a promise and felt inspired to come to this area, and the Lord has someone here for us to see." He was right. So we step outside and start knocking doors. The very first door we knocked, a man came outside and spoke with us. His English was terrible. He talked about how much he loved his church already. We could only understand every 4th word or so, and even then it was still difficult to understand what he was saying. This went on for 26 minutes. He said he wouldn't mind if Spanish missionaries wanted to come by, so we'll pass them off to them. We only had 4 minutes left for our window of heaven! Almost right at 7:30, we met a woman named Rosemary unloading her van. We offered to help her, and she said no thank you. I noticed she had a rug still in her van, and I offered to carry it in her garage for her. She said that would be ok, so I did. She recognized us, because she had met with missionaries before. Just this past week she moved here from California, and said that she had lost contact with the missionaries back there. She already knew about church, about Relief Society, all that. She told us how she really wants to bring her grandchildren to church, and thought it was funny that we happened to run into her. I told Rosemary about how we specifically prayed to know where we were to go, and when we needed to be there. I bore testimony to her that this wasn't just a coincidence, and how we'd love to pick up where she left off with previous missionaries. She'll be moving in for the next few weeks, but asked us to stop by again sometime. Hopefully this will go through. Sometimes they don't, but the lesson here is what's important. Our faith was put to the test. Maybe not to the extent that the world wants you to believe, but simple faith brings forth great blessings and answers to prayers. The best part is that this has happened multiple times this week. Specific prayers about specific times and places, and the Lord provided. Little miracles.
The second thing that happened was during Sandee's baptismal interview while I was waiting in the foyer. I received a phone call from the zone leaders in Peoria/W Maricopa, my last zone. I answered and heard, "Hey Elder Turner, this is Elder Malmberg!" I jumped out of my seat when I heard that. I haven't spoken to him since I was transferred back in March! He called to give some some news. He told me that JJ just passed his baptismal interview. I asked if it was the JJ whom we had taught all the lessons from when we were together, then his mom said he couldn't get baptized? It was! JJ is going to be baptized this Saturday an hour after Sandee's baptism. Elder Malmberg told me that JJ requested that I come. I heard his voice in the background saying, "It's mandatory, man!" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I thought that was lost. I didn't have a single baptism in Villa de Paz, and at times I kind of thought my effort was in vain. No effort is wasted. But now I'm thinking, what other seeds were planted? What other fruits will come forth from Elder Malmberg's, mine and Elder Abel's service? I was so happy when I heard that news. You can bet that I'm going to be there.
Blessings just keep coming in this great work. I'm trying to see the long term results in my efforts, even on those rough days. I wish I had more time to explain in greater detail everything that's happening, but just know that miracles happen. The Lord sees our efforts and doesn't let them go to waste. I'm happy and I'm enjoying the work in the vineyard. Write back soon, everyone. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|The Surprise House saying goodbye to Elder Angelos|
|Halligan and Turner......on the road|
|Your guess is as good as mine!|