It's been another great week. So many events will have taken place within just a week's time. Two days ago I hit my thirteen month mark, in two more days will be my 21st birthday, and we just received transfers news saying that Elder Allred and I will be staying together in Surprise for another transfer! Neither of us were surprised with our transfer news, we both knew we'd be together. The news that was hard to take was everyone else who is being transferred. Elder Cava, who's been in the house since Christmas, is getting transferred. Nobody's happy about that. He's the life of the house, our little Fijian friend. We also found out that Elder Alvis in Surprise North is getting transferred, along with Elder Johnston, one of the Spanish missionaries in the Estrella branch. Transfers should be interesting tomorrow, I'll be sure to let you know who the new addition to the house will be.
Let's go over this week pictures, shall we? The first is of me and Elder Farnsworth, one of the zone leaders in the Cottonwood zone. We had zone leader council this week and just before lunch, Sister Taylor brought out little dishes with individual cakes in them for all the zone leaders with September birthdays. There were about six of us total, and everyone sang to us. It was a lot of fun. The second picture is of me and Elder Malmberg. Right now he's a district leader up in Cottonwood, Camp Verde area and the day after ZLC was a leadership training meeting for all district and zone leaders in the mission. It was the first time I really got to sit and talk with him for a good length of time since March when we were companions. I miss him like crazy and I'm happy to see that he is doing well up north. The last two pictures are of Elder Allred and myself with what we thought was a tumbleweed. We got a little closer to it and realized it was actually a bush, and a very heavy one at that (note the struggle in my face as I tried to lift it).
It was good to hear about the BYU / Ole Miss game. Braden, President Taylor's son said he'd keep me posted about it, but I quickly heard the news from Bro. Thomas the next day in Ward Council. And yes, I did know Spencer Hadley from camp! We had bunks right next to each other and he told me he had plans to play there after his mission. Sawyer Powell, too? Yeah, I know the Powells! That's so cool! Dad you'll have to keep me updated on college football, I felt a sort of empty feeling inside as I heard some guys in the ward talking about the games. Is it true that Utah St. nearly upset Auburn?
Our teaching pool has been a little shallow these past few days, so Elder Allred and I have been making changes to our finding efforts. We've been on our bikes more often, which has been great for talking to people on the streets. Last night we had the first of our dinners with members where we are creating Family Mission Plans. Bro. Blackmore approached me a few weeks ago and asked what his family could to to help the missionaries. A lot of the members of the wards want to feed us, and the guidelines are that investigators, less-actives and part member families need to be there too. It's not a "we can't eat" kind of rule, but rather a "we are called to teach" thing. We love associating with the ward, but our purpose as missionaries is to teach. We came up with the idea that we can have dinners with the ward, and for our dinner thought we would work with them to create a family mission plan. Last night we ate with the Blackmores and made our first family mission plan. It went extremely well. The family sat together and set goals on ho to better prepare for, invite and follow up on missionary experiences. Since that went so well, we're in the process of contacting other members of the ward to implement these plans into their families. It may take a while to see the fruits, but Elder Allred and I both have very good feelings about it. We have two more dinners scheduled with families this week.
Church this past Sunday was a very good experience. There is a brother in the ward who hasn't been active in quite some time. His home teacher made contact with him a few months ago, and so did the bishop. They asked if we'd try and see him sometime too. We've had a few lessons with him and he's a great guy. About a month or so ago, he came to church. He missed the next week, but then hasn't missed a week since. He wanted to meet with the bishop regularly so he could prepare to bless his granddaughter in sacrament meeting on September 4th. We called him on Saturday to set up an appointment to meet with him, and he was ecstatic to tell us that he was going to bless his granddaughter like he planned! He even asked if we would stand in the blessing, to which we said yes. He was really nervous at first, but as soon as he opened his mouth to give the blessing, the Spirit filled the room with such force that nobody could deny it. Talk about a powerful experience. I've never had the opportunity to stand in on a baby blessing, and for just a moment I received a small glimpse of what it must be like to be a father blessing his child. What a great feeling it was to participate in this Priesthood ordinance!
Shortly after that, I sat back in my seat and couldn't help but notice something a few rows ahead of me. I was looking at a family in the ward who recently had a baby. He's maybe five or six weeks old and was sitting in his little car seat carrier on the floor. He was looking around like most babies do, and he looked up at his mom. His mom instinctively knew when he looked at her. When they looked at each other, the baby's eyes lit up and he had the biggest smile on his face. Mom had a smile on her face too that seemed to say, "I'm so proud of you." The tears streamed down my face (don't worry, nobody saw, I was in the back row) as I thought to myself how proud our parents, earthly and eternally, are of us. His mother was so proud of his righteous little spirit that has so greatly blessed her life, even for just these past six weeks. You could see the happiness in her eyes as she thought of all the great things he would do as he grew. I thought of an atoning Savior who made possible eternal life for all. I thought of His teachings, bidding us all to become as a little child, submissive, meek and humble. I thought of a perfect Heavenly Father who knows when we look to him and who, in return, seems to say, "I'm so proud of you."
I love you all, please write back soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner