As I mentioned last week, the Surprise Stake is undergoing ward boundary realignments, and we all received the news last night. At an all-adult evening session at the stake center last night, all of the boundaries and new wards were announced. The place was packed, the chapel and the cultural hall were filled. The first thing President Allen said was, "It's amazing what a rumor will do to get a meeting together," (laughter) "...Brothers and sisters, welcome to stake conference." Everybody laughed, but then he said, "Now if we could get this many people to the adult session of stake conference in January." After an opening prayer and a few announcements, President Allen stood up and said, "Now let's get to business...I need a drink." Everyone laughed as he pulled out a water bottle and boldly clarified, "It's water, people!" More laughter. It was a fun way to start such a tense meeting. There was a projector in both the chapel and cultural hall. As the new ward boundaries were announced, so were the new bishoprics, and they were projected on the wall for all to see. Several bishops in the stake stayed the same, including Bishop Smith and Bishop McLaws. As far as the boundary realignments are concerned, Elder Allred and I are pretty sad. We sustain it. but it's still sad. West Point ward was hardly changed at all. We lost the less-active family we've been working with for the past few months. The reason why we're really sad is because we lost nearly half of the Copper Canyon ward to the creation of the new ward, the Gateway Park ward. There's a square mile of what was formerly Copper Canyon that is now Gateway Park, with newly called Bishop Poddle, who I absolutely love. We lost a ton of families. The hardest part for me to accept is that Copper Canyon lost Victor. On top of that, Amber and Wes and all their kids. I know they're in good hands and I trust Bishop Poddle, but it's still hard to accept. We've been in contact with President Taylor, and it's most likely that the sisters in the stake will be covering Gateway Park ward now along with their current ward. We lost nearly all of our teaching pool except one or two investigators. We may or may not pick up a few from some of the former Cactus Lane ward (now part of Copper Canyon), but we're not too sure yet. Wow was it a crazy meeting. One new ward was created and four new bishops were called. Change is good though, the work is moving forward.
On that note, let's talk about the week. I've attached two pictures this week. The first is of me outside of the Surprise Stadium, were the Rangers and the Royals have their spring training games. We happened to be in the area, so I snapped a picture. The stadium is actually used year round for all kinds of events, it's pretty cool. The second picture is of Elder Allred just a few nights ago. We had a really long day and he crashed on the couch just after we did our daily planning. He was out pretty hard, and I don't blame him. He goes home in two months, and I put a little dream cloud around his head. He's not trunky at all, thank goodness, but I couldn't resist. The house got a kick out of it. Elder Allred doesn't know I took the picture, so it's our little secret!
Elder Allred and I had the pleasure of doing a tri-panionship exchange with Elder Perkins, one of the Assistants. He joined us on Friday night to Saturday afternoon and he was a huge help. We had a great church tour with Tanya, the sister whom we gave a blessing to about a month ago. Her schedule's been slowing down and we finally had a lesson with her. The Moore's joined us and we're so thankful they did. The church tour went extremely well, Tanya loved that we focus so much on the family. She was very curious about Relief Society, and Sister Moore did a great job at explaining it to her and inviting her to attend. When we got to the chapel, the Spirit was the strongest. We went to the sacrament table and she started to get a little emotional. She told us that the story of the last supper was very special to her, and that she felt very comfortable in the church building. We know she's feeling the Spirit, but it's so difficult for her to act upon those feelings because of how chaotic her life is right now. Hopefully she can see some conference this weekend.
The best part of the week was Friday night when we met with Wes and Amber. A family in the Copper Canyon ward took the three oldest kids to the ward camp out with them, so it was just Wes, Amber and the two youngest kids. We taught a lot about how the gospel blesses families, to which they both agreed. Wes told us that despite his ability to trust others, he's definitely seen the hand of God in his life since he and Amber have been going to church together each week. He started praying regularly about a week ago, and since then he's had two job offers. Their family has been happier. Wes told us that he needed to start being a better example to his family. When the Spirit was the strongest, we invited him to be baptized on October 22nd. Without any hesitation at all, he said yes, it's something he needs to do. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Two months ago he wanted nothing to so with church or missionary lessons, and now he has a baptismal date. He's still very hesitant to pray with the whole family together, and that was our end goal for the lesson. We invited him as the head of the home to pray. Amber was VERY supportive. Wes thought for a minute and said he didn't think he could. He promised him he could. He told us he wouldn't be able to finish it and that he preferred is Amber would do it, and asked if that could happen. The Spirit kept telling me to ask Wes to do it, and I told him that I knew he should do it. For the next two minutes we sat in silence as Wes was thinking. Honestly, it was probably the most intense two minutes of my whole mission. The Spirit was so strong it was practically smacking us in the face. There was absolutely no way Elder Allred, Elder Perkins, Amber or I would say anything to disturb it. It was all on him. With a choke in his voice he said he couldn't do it. Our hearts all sank because we all knew that it wouldn't be good to invite him any more than we had. Amber said the prayer, and we left, but we left with smiles on our faces because we know that he felt it, and that he has the desire to be baptized.
I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't say that I'm not the slightest bit disappointed about the boundary changes, but I have a testimony that our church leaders are inspired! I'll definitely miss seeing Amber and Wes and their kids on a weekly basis. I'll miss seeing Victor and Zack passing the sacrament on Sundays, and I'll miss the great families who are now in the new ward. President Allen pulled me aside and told me personally that they weren't changes made by their own opinions and logic. It took them months and months of careful prayer and fasting to know if the changes were right. This is the Lord's work, and He knows where He wants His wards and stakes to flourish. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it will all work out.
I love you all, please write back soon. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|In front of the Surprise baseball stadium|
|Elder Allred dreaming of home|