This past week hasn't exactly been the best week for our work. Elder Allred and I have spent hours on end planning for meetings, trainings, conferences and our own area. We may have only taught one lesson the entire week, which wasn't what we were hoping for. We had two stake coordination meetings yesterday, Surprise at 7 am and Surprise North at 8:15 am. We were pretty rushed getting from the first meeting to the next, and we spent a lot of time this week trying to gather information to give to the stake presidencies. Our minds were pretty fried by the end of each day. The meetings went very well. It wasn't a bad week at all, just very very busy. The picture should be good for a few laughs. A family in Elder Nelson and Elder Cava's area owns some sort of vending machine business, and had a ton of leftover/"expired" (day old) bags of chips, candies and snacks..so they gave them to us. Oh boy, not a good idea. Our entire kitchen table is full of snack bags, and we've packed them away into boxes and have set them on top of our cupboards. Mom, you'll be happy to know that I've been disciplining and limiting myself to my snack intake! Elder Allred and I have been running more often and it feels great.
As far as eating is concerned, I had my first sketchy mission meal this week! Anyone ever heard of menudo? It's basically tripe soup...yes, cow stomach. It was chopped cow stomach in a kind of broth with some corn and various other mix ins. It smelled terrible. It wasn't this woman's cooking, it was the menudo. I don't wish to offend anyone, but it honestly smelled like a bowl of horse droppings. We were with Elder Johnston until he got a new companion, and he covers the Spanish area. We had a dinner appointment and menudo was on the menu. I ate the whole thing! The meat itself was like chewing on a rubber hose. I put so much cilantro, lime and chili on it that it covered up the taste, plus I washed it down with several glasses of homemade lemonade. I told the other Spanish missionaries that I ate the whole thing and they said that some of them couldn't even do it. Elder Allred choked it down too. I appreciated this family's hospitality, but I never want to smell menudo again.
To answer some questions, yes mom and dad, I did get your package and I love it! The peanut butter pretzels, Cliff bars, and banana bread look awesome. I love the socks, and I'm saving the donut for a special occasion. I absolutely loved the posters from the JCs at camp. If any of the JCs are reading this, thank you so much. I hope to hear from you all very soon. Dad, you said something about another package from the primary kids? Haven't seen anything yet. I have no idea what's been going on with the mail service down here. You could always mail packages to the mission office before, so this is weird. There's nothing wrong with mailing my actual address, the only concern would be transfers. If you sent something to the house if and when I get transfers, I would have to wait a while to receive it. The next transfers are September 7th, and we'll find out the news on the 6th. I don't think I'll be getting transferred, so no worries!
We have a new district leader to take over for the missionary who went home. His name is Elder Mortensen. He was actually serving down in West Maricopa, my last area. The AP's told us to coordinate with their zone leaders for the emergency transfer, and we said we'd just meet them down there. We drove down to Avondale and picked up Elder Mortensen. Just before we left, I asked their zone leaders for permission to go into my old area and see Elder Tameilau before we went home. They said go for it! It was at night, so I knew they'd be home. I drove to my old apartment complex (which was a very strange feeling) and went to the door. I gave a quick knock and just walked inside. Elder Tameilau was sitting at the table with his backpack on, like he always does, and his eyed nearly popped out of his head. He jumped up and shouted, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE??" He ran over and practically snapped my back with a big hug. For those of you who haven't been bear-hugged by a Tongan recently, it feels just like how it sounds. The joy masked the pain, but only a little. We couldn't stay long but it was so good to see him. No doubt he'll be getting transferred soon, he's been in Avondale for a long time.
This past week had its ups and downs. We finally got to see Joumana after having not seen her for a few weeks. We found out that she's moving, and both of our hearts just sank. We know she'll be taken care of out in Glendale, but we love her so much and just wish we could continue to meet with. She moves in a few weeks, so we'll most likely be able to put in a few more lessons with her family. It seems like recently when families have been doing so well and have been making so much progress, they move. Amber and Zack have been doing AMAZING. Zack's meeting with the bishop this week to talk about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. We had a brief lesson with them last night and even Amber's husband Wes is starting to take interest in the Gospel. The whole family just seems happier! Why? Because the Gospel blesses families! The family is ordained of God! The Family: A Proclamation to the World says, "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." It's been a miracle to see this family grow closer together. Who knows what it will be like later on down the road, but I see good things to come.
I'm happy and healthy and I love this work. Why does the time pass so quickly? Each and every day I try to ponder what the Lord wanted me to learn that day, that week, and so on. The people who treat us poorly are becoming less and less of a burden on my mind. Elder Allred has been a huge help in teaching me the importance of patience and charity. Write back soon everyone! I hope to hear that things are well back home. Until next week, take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner