It's a bit of a sad day at the house right now. We just got transfer news. Nelson and Cava are staying. Ward's getting transferred and Johnson's training a new missionary. I'm staying, but Elder Halligan is getting transferred. I was pretty crushed when I heard it. Halligan's upset too. He just barely got here! One transfer? That's the shortest time I've ever had with one companion. You're probably wondering why the email's on Tuesday this week. President Taylor moved transfer meeting to Wednesday instead of Tuesday, and P-Day the week of transfers will be on Tuesday instead of Monday. So now every six weeks you'll receive an email on Tuesday instead of Monday. Yeah, I'm pretty sad that Elder Halligan is getting transferred. The two of us were really starting to make things happen in our area. The wards love him too. I know he'll be going somewhere good. I have my hunches as to who I think my new companion will be, but aren't transfers always full of guesses? I'm mostly wrong, but we'll see how tomorrow plays out.
I've attached a few pictures this week. Last Monday we had a mini dust storm, quickly followed by heavy rain. The dust picture was taken out of the back window in the truck. We were walking around the church and then the rain hit. We were drenched. We went back to the church to dry off and do some planning for things that were happening this past week. Halligan and I both sat by the doors, soaked, and you can probably see the rain outside. The other night we had a really cool lightning storm. Every four or five seconds was a lightning strike. I set up my camera and managed to snap a few strikes. Not the best quality, but still pretty cool. Elder Tripp went home yesterday, and we got a few pictures with him before he left too. The last picture is of Halligan, Brenton, Steve and myself. Brenton is a guy in the Cooper Canyon ward who helps us out a lot with lessons, and Steve is one of our investigators. We got a quick picture with them last night after our lesson at the church. Steve has a baptismal date and we're trying to help him be ready for that. The only problem is that he might be moving to Minnesota soon. Hey, there's missionaries there too!
We had a zone meeting last Tuesday that went very well. President Taylor brought Braden and I think they enjoyed it. Knowing that it was Baker week, I used an ice breaker from Baker and taught a lesson with it. I used the Play-Doh ice breaker dad always uses. I chose this for two purposes. First, to get the zone to know each other a little more. I don't think the zone really knows everyone else, especially since we have three districts so far away from one another. The second purpose was the gospel principle behind it. Our huge focus for the month has been living our purpose as missionary by inviting everyone to be baptized. I tied it back to being moldable, the Isaiah 64 reference about being clay in the potter's hands. When the Savior speaks, we listen. We obey. I think it sounded ok. Lots of people seemed to enjoy it. President Taylor came up to me after the meeting and said, "Elder Play-Doh, good meeting!" I really do think the whole meeting went well. We had great talks and a great skills training. The Play-Doh thing threw everyone off a little bit, seeing as it hasn't ever been done before. At least they'll remember it!
Thursday was a crazy day. We had to be up at 5 am for our Peoria North Stake coordination meeting. From 10:00-12:00 we had a district meeting, and another one from 1:00-3:00. Then we had weekly planning, which took up a chunk of time too. The only time we had to proselyte was from 6-6:30. Halligan and I both knew that our time was limited, but we prayed for a miracle. The night before we established a window of heaven in that half-hour time frame on the street that runs by the church building. We didn't even know the name of the street, but we prayed that at that time, the Lord would provide someone for us to talk to. So we get there just a few minutes before 6, say a prayer, and start walking. Nobody. There isn't a soul on this road. We get to the end of the road, and across the street we see a man working in the yard. He wasn't interested. We tried to cross back to get walking back to the church, but there were a ton of cars. We couldn't cross, so we waited for a bit. Just then a bus stopped. I looked and noticed that we were standing by a bus stop. Elder Halligan nudged me and said, "Elder, look!" A bunch of people were getting off the bus. Elder Halligan talked to the first man and he wasn't interested. A group of about 5 middle-aged women came to the crosswalk. I approached one of them and offered her a pass-along card for a free copy of the Book of Mormon. She kind of said thank you, and started walking across the street...so I went with her! Elder Halligan eventually caught up to me but I was explaining to this woman what the Book of Mormon was and how it could bless her in her life. It must have looked kind of funny to see me walking across the street with her while talking about the Gospel. We got to the other side of the street and she stopped to speak with us some more. Her name is Mary and she was actually looking for a church to attend. We pointed to the nearby church building and invited her to come sometime. She asked if they allowed black people like her, to which we said yes. She laughed and said she'd be interested. Elder Halligan took the opportunity to bear testimony to her that we specifically prayed to be at that spot at that time to talk with someone. It wasn't a coincidence that we were speaking with her. The cars driving by were pretty loud, and there were lots of sounds all around us, but in that moment you couldn't really hear any of it. The Spirit bore witness to her that what we were saying was true. She paused for a moment, looked us in the eyes and said, "I believe you. Something feels right about this." Mary said she'd like to come to church very soon.
We found out that she doesn't live within our ward boundaries, in fact she doesn't live within our stake boundaries. That doesn't matter to me. Elder Halligan and I both walked back to the church and couldn't believe what had happened. We went out on a limb to set a window of heaven for that VERY brief amount of time...and it was fulfilled. It was a powerful realization that we are not alone in this work.
Little miracles like this are happening every day. I wish I could tell you that I'm making things up but I'm not. I'm learning so much about everything. When I originally planned on serving a mission, my thoughts were that my "building up the church" would be by baptizing new members. It's turning into so much more than that. Because I have these opportunities to work with ward councils, bishops, high councils, stake presidents, mission presidents and so on, I'm learning about how the church truly functions. My missionary service will be so much longer lasting because I'm learning the order of how things work in the church. The things I'm learning as a missionary are preparing me to continue building the church even after my full-time service. I know my words were a little jumbled right there, but it just made sense to me. That little bit of revelation came to me as we were driving home from Peoria on Thursday morning. I'm grateful for these opportunities I've had to train and to lead, even at such early points of my mission. It's a great opportunity to grow.
I love you all and hope to hear from you soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|Another dust storm|
|Drying off after the cloudburst|
|With Elder Tripp before he left for home|
|Halligan, Brenton, Steve, Turner|