Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! (Oct. 31, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I'm not sure where to begin this week. How about pictures? Elder Allred's birthday was on Friday, the big 21. The Del Vecchio's had us over for dinner and surprised Elder Allred with a new tie, and some large wine glasses and a few bottles of Mtn. Dew. It was a pretty awesome night. From past experiences with messy eating habits, the Del Vecchio's brought out their daughter's bibs for me and Elder Allred. Gotta keep them white shirts clean. The second picture is of us and the Lakes at the Copper Canyon trunk or treat. I almost didn't recognize Bro. Lake at first. Both of the wards' parties were a lot of fun. We met a few new people too, including a few friends that people brought (more to come about them in future emails!!).
I'll get the worst news out of the way first. Bonnie did not get baptized this weekend. We were told that she had smoked here and there, and we went over on Friday to talk with her about her baptism scheduled for Saturday. She told us how excited she was. She also mentioned how she had smoked a cigarette the night before, but now she's done for good...I've heard that once or twice out here. Elder Allred and I had planned on pushing her date back a few weeks to make sure she was really ready and that she was really repentant enough for this covenant. When she had told us herself, that made it easier to bring up the concern. We talked to her about it, and said it would be in her best interest if we pushed the date back. She said, "I was afraid of that." She broke down and started crying, and ran inside the house. Oh boy. We talked with Barbera, her friend and roommate, about the situation. We all knew it was the right thing to do. Bonnie came outside and was pretty hysterical, hyperventilating and basically throwing a tantrum. She kept saying how when she was growing up she was taught never to tell the truth because she'd get in trouble, and now she knows shy, how God doesn't want her because she's not perfect. It was terrible. Nothing she was saying was true, and she didn't understand. There was no getting through to her. She ran back into the house and continued to be upset. We eventually left, pretty disappointed in her reaction. Saturday afternoon we got a call from Barbera saying that Bonnie has made the decision to continue smoking. She wasn't at church yesterday, and has been pretty bitter to a few people who have tried to make contact with her. No we know that she for sure just was not ready for baptism. We'll let some dust settle and let her blow off some steam, and we'll try to pick back up again. Yeah it's no fun, but we know that we did everything we needed to do. We did our part. She used her agency and is now coming to grips that we are accountable for the choices we make. It really is best that she wasn't baptized only to continue smoking again, with no sincerity of repentance, and then have to work through the bishop to make things right again. This really was the best thing to do. I sure hope we can see her again soon.
With that out of the way, let's move on with the rest of the week. With our teaching pool as shallow as it us, we've been using every method of finding we can think of. Lately we've been working in the area book, trying to make contact with past investigators and potentials that have been recorded by past missionaries. That's how we met Tom and Donna. They were being taught by missionaries in the past, but Tom had an accident that completely wiped his memory of everything before said accident. He had to relearn who his family was, who he was, his interests, basic motor skills, everything. He's ok now, but there's still a lot for him to learn. He says mostly pictures will bring things to surface. When we knocked on the door, they let us right inside. I have never before felt such an immediate love for a family. They were so kind they have three sons, ages 2 to 13. Tom said that he loves the welcome feeling he gets when he comes to church and church activities. Plus his chili was probably my favorite at the trunk or treat party! Their middle son has a form of autism and Donna is easily the most patient woman I have ever met. She was in the other room doing something, and Elder Allred was talking to Tom. I got down on the ground and started talking to their son with autism. He had these wax sticks that could be bent and twisted, and he was making Halloween shapes. I asked him if I could make some shapes with him and he was really excited. I asked him which sticks I could use and what shapes I could make. He was calm and cool the whole time, and we made a lot of fun Halloween shapes like ghosts, pumpkins and bats. Tom and Donna were pretty amazed at what they saw. They said that their son hasn't ever made a connection with anyone that fast. I had always enjoyed working with kids in high school who had learning and mental disabilities, and I really enjoyed making these shapes with their son. They had expressed that they'd like to have us come over every so often to start teaching again. It may be a long process, but I'm very much looking forward to seeing this family more often.
The best part of the week happened yesterday after church. We had to be on the other end of Surprise for an appointment. On they way, we stopped at the other church building. We turned the corner, and saw a couple of Wes and Amber's kids turning the corner at the same time as us! I looked down the hall, and saw Wes and Amber walking the the rest of their kids out of the bishop's office and down the hall towards us. It's difficult to explain, but they looked different. Their countenances had changed. This was not the same family we began teaching back in May. Amber looked like she had been a member of the church her whole life. She was recently called to the Primary, and came up to us with a bag of candy she had brought for her class. She was just different! Wes was wearing a white shirt and a tie. His piercings were out, and told us he had just been received the Aaronic Priesthood. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He was tired from the hours he had been working, but the whole family just looked happy. Like I said before, this was not the same family we were teaching back in May. Isn't it amazing what the gospel does to families?
I know my emails aren't exactly saturated with principles of doctrine laced with scriptures and cross-references--trust me, I'm in the scriptures every chance I get. I just finished the Book of Mormon again this week! My understanding of the doctrine grows every day. What I'm trying to convey in my emails are the joys and emotions I've been feeling in applying what I've learned to those I'm teaching. It's difficult to do, but I feel that a simple testimony of how the gospel blesses families is more powerful than something I share from my personal study that morning. It's all in the application. I hope and pray that the Holy Ghost speaks to your hearts and confirms the truth of the experiences that have so greatly blessed my mission and my life up until this point, and in the experiences to come. Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Elders with bibs

At the ward Halloween party

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