Big changes this past week with transfers. The reason why President transferred Elder Halligan is because a lot of the mission is getting a makeover. Instead of 9 zones, we now have 11. We lost Peoria North stake in our zone, and created the new Peoria/Peoria North zone. Elder Halligan was transferred in with the newly called zone leader Elder Freeman to open the zone. I couldn't think of any better missionary to open a new zone than Elder Halligan. The ward was pretty confused. Yesterday at church we heard a lot of "Wow, that was fast!" I also saw that Elder Malmberg was transferred up to Cottonwood and would be a district leader!! That made me pretty happy! As soon as I got to the transfer meeting, I knew who my companion would be. It was different than my hunch from last week, but as soon as we went into the leadership training meeting, I knew who it was: Elder Thatcher Allred, from Ogden, Utah! Elder Allred actually trained Elder Johnson, and lived in the house about 6 months ago. When he heard he was coming back to the house, he was pretty excited. I'm excited too. Elder Allred's a great missionary. He's been out for about 20 months, and goes home in November. He was just called to be a zone leader, so this past week has been lots of busy work trying to get him in the groove of being a zone leader. He's the man. His style of planning is a lot different that companions I've previously had, but it's been good. He's teaching me a lot and we're building one another up. I don't have a picture of him yet, sorry about that. The zone has been changed, big time. We lost Peoria North, and now we just have Surprise and Surprise North stakes. Each stake previously had one district each, and now both of those districts have been split into two districts. Now we cover four districts within two stakes, with two newly called district leaders, but this past week we've had to function as if we were still the Peoria North/Surprise zone. It's been pretty stressful because we have little to no structure to the two new districts and neither of the district leaders have any records of what have been done in the past. I've been having to compile everything from past records and it's been a mess. With zone leader council tomorrow, everything will be taken care of so we can get the ball rolling. Starting this week we'll function as the Surprise/Surprise North zone!
So yeah, this past week has been pretty nuts! My last night with Elder Halligan, we went to go say goodbye to the Housari's in the West Point ward. Bro. Housari brought out his Arab clothes and hookah and we had a photo shoot. We also brought out his Arabic scriptures and took pictures with Bro. Housari. I thought the picture of me and Halligan with the hookah would make a great Christmas card. If I'm still here at Christmas (which is very possible), I'll make it happen. The third picture is of Elder Johnson and his new missionary trainee, Elder Burden. Elder Burden is awesome. You'd swear he has been on his mission for a year. None of us believe that he just left the MTC. The other day during weekly planning, I snapped this picture. Elder Johnson left the room to go to the bathroom, and Elder Burden fell asleep in the chair. I couldn't help but laugh because I knew exactly how he felt. He's in a bike area and he's got to be exhausted this first week, so no wonder he fell asleep! I'm pretty sure that I did too my first week. Elder Johnson gave us a good thumbs up for training. Sorry it's blurry. The last picture is of the mega cockroach that Johnson and Burden found. No joke, this thing had to be 2-3 inches long. Monster.
We haven't had a whole lot of opportunities this week to teach because of transfers and getting new districts settled in. I know that's not an excuse, but it's been the bulk of our time recently. We've managed to go tracting and fill a few windows of heaven, which have been miracles in and of themselves. We had a cool experience on Saturday morning at a baptismal service. Joumana's mother in law, Elizabeth, was baptized. Because she and her family speak hardly any English, Bro. Housari translated the baptismal service. It was amazing to feel the Spirit across the language barrier! You could just feel the Spirit of the words and testimonies that were being shared. Joumana was there, and we're hoping that will be the spiritual boost that will help her commit to a baptismal date. Speaking of baptismal dates, another great thing happened to us at church yesterday. As we're standing outside of the chapel after sacrament meeting, Tristen approached us. We've been teaching Tristen, his sister Angel and their mom Andrea for a few months, and missionaries long before me have been teaching them too. We've been trying for a long time to help them commit to be baptized on a date, and none of them really felt ready. Tristen came up to us yesterday and asked if he could talk with us for a moment. We said yes, and he asked, "I want to be baptized. Can I be baptized this Saturday?" I was very surprised to hear that. I knew all along that he was ready, but to hear him say it himself was what threw me for a loop. Elder Allred's eyes got really big. He didn't know who Tristen was, and he must have been confused. I told Tristen that we'd have to meet with him a few times this week and it can happen. He had a smile on his face and said, "Ok, that works!" So now we'll be having a baptism this weekend! What a great way to start a transfer cycle and a new companionship!
This Thursday, the 4th, I hit my year mark. Has it really been a year already? I remember writing emails back in Avondale when I'd say that I couldn't believe that I had been out for three months, and now I'm at a year. I'm still figuring out how things work. There's still so much I'm trying to learn. It's very unreal to think that a year from now, I'll be home. I honestly try not to dwell on that. I'm so busy here, home is just one giant, "does not compute." I guess that's a good thing, though, isn't it? I'm not trying to get at anything deep our profound here, but it's hitting me that my blessing and opportunity to serve as a full-time consecrated servant of the Lord is a very limited time frame. At the leadership training meeting at transfers, I spoke about accountability and how we use the time that the Lord has given us. In preparing the talk, I received personal revelation about how to better use my time to serve as a missionary, how to find the lambs and how to feed the sheep. I hope all is well for everyone wherever you are. I love you and hope to hear from you soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|With Bro. Housari|
|Elder Burden fell asleep|
|That's a big bug!|
|A really big bug!|