Right now it's about 10:30 am and we're in the library writing emails home. Transfer news still hasn't come in yet, and the suspense is killing everyone. All of the zone keeps asking us if we've heard anything and we haven't. The only news we know is who the new Assistant to the President is, Elder Henrie. We all saw it coming, and we're so happy for him. He's a fantastic missionary and he'll do a great job. News might come in by the end of this email, so I'll mention it when it comes. For a fun picture, Elder Allred and I had wings on Wednesday night. Pizza Hut has a deal on Wednesdays for 50 cent wings. Brenton bought us the hottest wings they had (not bad at all) and we chowed down.
This week has definitely been busy. We had two stake coordination meetings back to back on Sunday morning, and we spent the week typing information to take to the stake Presidents. Surprise Stake meets at 7 am and Surprise North at 8. It's too tough to have those meetings back to back. Last month we split for it, and this month we were together. Elder Allred and I both agreed that being together is much more effective when taking information and requests for help to the stakes. Bonnie came to church on Sunday and stayed for all three hours! She didn't have a seizure! Instead of sitting in the chapel, we went with her into the foyer, along with the Del Vecchio's and just walked around and looked at pictures for the time being. It was a good way to relieve some stress and just get her mind on other things besides her past two seizures she had in church. She still has a strong desire to be baptized, but it's going to be crunch time teaching her everything before her interview. I know it will work, she's so prepared. Halfway through whatever principle we teach, she teaches the rest to herself because, as she says, it makes sense. I believe she'll be ready for her interview...remember Victor? Also, speaking of church, Bro. Housari was released as our Ward Mission Leader. We were pretty shocked to hear it. He was called to serve in the high priests' group leadership. And as for our new Ward Mission Leader? Bro. Del Vecchio!!!! Elder Allred and I are downright pumped to be working with him more often. We've been meeting with them a lot already because they go to a lot of lessons with us as ward missionaries, and now this. We're definitely going to miss working with Bro. Housari. He's been such a HUGE help to the missionary efforts in the ward. A big thank you is in order.
Friday and Saturday were full of strange experiences. Highest of highest and most annoying of annoyings--we'll start with the latter. Elder Allred and I tracted on probably one of the most sufficiently hard-hearted streets of all of Surprise. One side of the street hardly anyone was home. The other side had many people home, but none of whom were either interested or polite about it. The first door was a man named Bill. He tried to be all nice to us at first before he tore into us with all of the lies and misinformation he had heard about us as missionaries, about the Book of Mormon and about the church as a whole. He claimed to have read the Book of Mormon and started bringing up "things he read" that we all knew just flat-out were not true. We had to be a little bold. I told him he had not read the Book of Mormon. Elder Allred told him the things he had heard were not true. He yelled at us. A lot. Was I a little frustrated with him and the situation? Of course. Yet we both knew his argument was wholly invalid because he had not heard the message from a reliable source, most certainly not representatives of Jesus Christ. I'm sorry he felt that way. Isn't it sad how misinformation and ignorance leads some to such foolish actions? The same statement is directed to the man at the other end of the street who called the police and kindly left us with a few derogatory statements which will not be repeated in this email. Tough crowd.
Contrast that with Briana. Briana is a woman we received a referral for who knows many members of the church, and even worked with one. She liked how he carried himself, how he had a positive outlook on family and relationships with others and the abundant amount of hope he seemed to have. She wanted to meet with us. A little while ago she was diagnosed with cancer, and so has her five month old daughter. Things have been tough for her family, to say the least. She's always had a belief in God, but she and her husband felt the need to reevaluate their lives because of their current struggle. They want to go to church. They want to teach their children correct principles. The first thing she asked us was if she could have a Book of Mormon. Our visit was brief but very worth-while. She was very kind to us. We bore testimony of the Savior. We bore testimony that families can be together forever, despite the challenges of this short span of mortality. She has a sense of respect and a level of open-mindedness and understanding that I don't think I have ever seen up until this point of my mission. We should be seeing her again this week.
Agency is a funny thing. I've been giving it a lot of thought lately. Elder D. Todd Christofferson last October quoted Elder Richard L. Evans saying:
“Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.
“Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.
“A prophet of God has said: ‘Men are that they might have joy’—a joy that includes a fullness of life, a life dedicated to service, to love and harmony in the home, and the fruits of honest toil—an acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—of its requirements and commandments.
“Only in these will you find true happiness, the happiness which doesn’t fade with the lights and the music and the crowds.”
I've been trying to use my time by making correct choices. Ten months left of my two years may seem like a long time, but the mission goes fast. I'm learning to love those who despitefully use me, and to be the better person. Recently I've been put in great situations where I had to make a correct choice. I think about Bill and Briana. Both Bill and Briana used their agency in a way that put me and Elder Allred in a position to act or respond. Option A) Bill's foolish choice put me in a position to choose whether or not to make the right choice in response. Trust me, the choice to respond is always difficult in Option A. Option B) Briana showed quite the opposite emotion towards us. Humility. Her righteous choice put me in a position that not only made my response an easy choice, but nearly conditional. It would be foolish not to feel a great love for someone such as her. Light cleaveth unto light.
Transfer news just came in. Elder Allred and I are staying and I'm so relieved. We're going to finish his mission stronger than ever. However, Elder Johnson is leaving...I'm crushed. My friend from the MTC and the past 7 months of the Surprise house will be transferred. I think he's going to be a new zone leader, so I'll be able to see him still! That call may or may not come for another hour or so. More to come next week. Take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner
|Hot wings at the Pizza Hut!|