Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Luck Elder Allred (Nov. 29, 2011)

Hey everyone!
It's been a pretty crazy last week for Elder Allred. Thanksgiving Day was fun, we went to the Masanai'i's in Surprise 2nd ward. They were actually in Garden Lakes ward back when I served in Avondale, and they just moved up here! They invited us over, and we went for a good meal. Bro. Reupena was there too, and he helped us out a lot when Elder Malmberg and I were together. After that dinner we went to the Snyder's in Copper Canyon ward. Another Avondale connection, Sis Snyder is Bro. Price's sister! We had another dinner with them, and Bro. Price even came up to Surprise to say hi. That really meant a lot to me.
So you heard that I met the Homers huh? It's true! Up in Wickenburg I was on an exchange with one of our district leaders (which was one of the best exchanges I ever did). There was a family pizza dinner at the Hancock's, and they invited the missionaries. When I told them I was from the Tri-Cities, they said, "Oh that's where Hugh and Bev are from!" I met them and they said I might know their daughter and son in law, Debbie and Dana Anderson. As a matter of fact I do!! Pretty small world, huh? On that day, I also snapped a picture with Elder Juchau at the cemetery of Henry Wickenburg, the founder of the booming metropolis of Wickenburg, Arizona.
Other pictures from this week: Elder Allred and I did the Blazin' Buffalo Wild Wings Challenge. 12 of their hottest wings in 6 minutes. Can you see the pain in our eyes? The challenge itself wasn't terrible, but afterwards was. In all reality, I didn't actually complete "the challenge." I had all of the bones picked clean with 15 seconds left, but didn't actually swallow it all until about 6 mins 2 seconds. Pretty crazy though. the last two pictures are of the Surprise House and Elder Allred's last day before he went into the mission home. His last day was pretty intenese. He spent the morning packing, and with about two hours before he went into the mission home, we went tracting. We kept working until the last minute. We talked to some really nice people, and even filled a window of heaven. We drove him to the mission home, and said our goobyes. As I'm typing this, he's already on the plane and heading home to Ogden. I miss him like crazy. As far as transfers are concerned, I'm staying, and so is most of the zone. Elders Carter and Fluckiger are the only ones in the zone being transferred. Tomorrow morning I'll be receiving a new companion and I don't have the slightest clue or hunch as to who it could be...so you'll just have to wait until next week to find out!
In one of our district meetings this week, I had a very strong spiritual impression come into my heart. I bore my testimony about how the Lord expects me and Elder Allred to do something great that night--invite Sarah to be baptized. Sarah has been coming to church for a while with her husband (who is already a member of the church). She's been so prepared for so long and the Spirit was telling both me and Elder Allred what we had to do. It was why we were meeting with them that night for the first time in months. We visited their family, and set some expectations with all of them. By the end of it, we invited the whole family to act in some way. We invited the boys to lead in family prayer, the father to come to church more frequently and Sarah to be baptized. She paused for a long time and simply responded, "I don't know yet." I was perfectly ok with that response. Not the best ending to a story, I know. Elder Allred and I both knew what we needed to do to be a successful missionary: represent the Lord and invite her to act. We did it. It was Elder Allred's last lesson with an investigator, and we left with high spirits because we did what we needed to do.
The work is still a little slow but that doesn't mean we're down. I just love it here. Lots of changes are being made with quorum and auxiliary organization, so we'll hav the chance to get some fresh ideas how to strengthen the wards. Bishops want us to be working with more less active families, which is becoming more and more of an adventure every week. I love you all and hope to hear from you very soon. More Surprises next week, including a new companion. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Wickenburg Cemetery

Visiting old friend for Thanksgiving

The Buffalo Hot Wings Challenge

Allred's last night at the Surprise House

Saying goodbye to Allred at the Mission Home

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bring on the Turkey! (Nov. 21, 2011)

Hey everyone!
After this past week, I'm pretty exhausted. We've been running around at a million miles an hour trying to get ready for the two stake coordination meetings we had yesterday. Saturday was one of the busiest, if not most stressful days we've had in a while. After trying to get all of the information typed up, we realized we still needed progress records from the whole zone. We drove around getting all those, made copies of all the packets and whatnot, and made it home at about 10:30, and weren't in bed until about 11:15. The worst part was just planning the next morning. We had to be up by 5:45, at the coordination meetings before 9, at a ward council training at 11, our own sacrament meetings at 11 and 1, and a baptismal interview in Wickenburg (an hour away) at 12:30. It couldn't be done. There was no way we could have done it all. We called Elder Juchau, our district leader in Wickenburg and asked if we could push the baptismal interview back an hour or so, he told us that it was actually next Sunday. Right then I let out the biggest sigh of relief. The trip to Wickenburg was going to be the hardest, and now we didn't have to do it. The day was still pretty crazy, but it all worked out. I'm starting to understand what Elder Duncan of the Seventy meant when he said that there's never enough time in a day to plan.
Just one picture this week: Elder Allred's trunky papers. About a week before every missionary goes home, the mission mails him or her their flight plans for going home. The look on his face says enough, but he wasn't too thrilled to get the letter. With all the craziness this week, we needed a boost. We got it on Friday and Saturday night. Remember those baptismal interviews I told you about last week? Their baptisms were this weekend. Autumn was on Friday and she had a ton of ward support. The Spirit was strong as close friends bore testimonies in the baptismal service. Saturday night was Gary, the man whom I interviewed that took over and hour and a half. His service was really simple, but with nearly a hundred people there. After he was baptized, he bore his testimony. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. It was so powerful as he bore testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. His wife was in tears when he talked about their plans to go to the temple to be sealed for eternity. He pointed to the font and was in tears as he the only thing he wants now is to bring his daughters and son into the font when they're old enough. He praised the missionaries. He bore testimony that we were young, inexperienced, but called and qualified by God. It was the spiritual boost we all needed for the week, the powerful reminder of why we do this work.
I'm out of time, lots of other things going on. Mom and dad, I read your emails and I'll be sure to let you know about everything in next week's email home. We have a few places to go for Thanksgiving, and I'm going to make sure Elder Allred has a good last week in the field. With next week's transfers, the email will be coming on Tuesday. Until next week, I love you all, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Elder Allred with his travel papers for going home

Monday, November 14, 2011

Get Ripped (Nov. 14, 2011)

Hey everybody!
It's been a really good week down in the APM! I hope this week's picture shows just how hard we've been working. A few of my shirts have been getting a little rip just on the side, not sure why or how. At first I could always hide the rip under my belt line if I just tucked in my shirt, or like when I'm in a meeting and I'm just wearing my jacket the whole time. As I've worn them more, the rips have grown. This was a bit much, two of my shirts have completely ripped across the back and up the side, as we can clearly see in the picture. No worries, my other shirts are ok, plus I found a box in the garage of some white shirts that a missionary had left that were too small for him...but just perfect for me! I picked out two of them to replace the ones I ripped. It all works out, I broke even!
I had the chance to conduct three baptismal interviews this week, all of which were very good experiences. My favorite was Gary. Gary showed no interest a few months ago, but over time has softened his heart to the church. As he read the scriptures and prayed in his family, he wanted that feeling more. His interview on Saturday was pretty incredible. He was so humble and so eager to continue to learn. I appreciated how he had a testimony that baptism wasn't the end, but the beginning to learning more. His interview was over an hour and a half, the longest I've ever conducted. His testimony was so strong. I'll admit that he clarified principles of the gospel I had been taught, but kind of took for granted. It was a humbling experience for me to be the one to interview him for baptism.
A good friend in one of our wards, Eric (rockin' name, eh?) just got his mission call. He's been waiting for a little while to put in his papers, and his call came this past week. He's going to the Philippines Angeles Mission, speaking Tagalog. He's pretty pumped! It was funny how he was called there, because of some stuff we had in our apartment. Before Elder Cava was transferred, he left a bunch of Tagalog study materials, including a Bible, leather-bound triple combination, Preach My Gospel, English-Tagalog dictionary and the MTC missionary lesson book...all in Tagalog! Elder Cava was given it in the MTC by accident, and he just carried it with him. The night we heard Eric got his call to the Philippines, we immediately wrapped up all of the materials and put them in a box to give to him. We were over at his house the next day talking to them about something, then we had to leave. We drove around the block, left the box on his porch, rang the doorbell and hid in the most obvious places possible. Elder Allred was "behind" a tree about as big around as my wrist and I crouched behind a rose bush not much taller than a foot or so. Eric came outside, saw the box, and looked around for a minute. He seriously couldn't see us! We poked our heads out and he made eye contact with us--he saw us, but played off like he couldn't. We giggled like goofballs, and Eric shouted, "THANK YOU TO WHOEVER DID THIS!" Aren't we silly?
The week was a little slow for, well, everything. We spent most of our time making contact with prospective elders and setting family mission plans. I've really been enjoying setting these family mission plans. Mom and Dad, I'll have to send one to you to tell me what you think. The bishops in our areas love them, and so do the families! It's safe to say that many families have a desire to share the gospel, but sometimes don't know how. And that's ok! That's where we come in and help. Our purpose isn't to guilt members of the ward into missionary work but with these family mission plans, we give them the opportunity to set their own goals and let us know how we can help them. We set probably four or five this past week, and we're looking to probably double that this next week.
Our finding approach is quickly changing to less-active and part-member work. Elder Duncan last week drew something out on the board. On the left side he drew a baptism, and on the right side a temple, with a line connecting the two. He carefully taught that within that time is when true conversion takes place. Some personal revelation hit me shortly thereafter. I thought of stories that people like to hear about from the mission. The stories that end in baptism are pretty cool, aren't they? It's the stories that end in conversion that brig more joy to the soul, stories after baptism. Stories like Victor wanting to serve a mission and not missing a Sunday since his baptism in May. Stories like Amber working in Primary now and Wes receiving the Priesthood. We're changing our work to helping more people in their own conversions.
Not a whole lot of exciting news from the front, but I thought you'd like to hear some of the fun stories about everyday missionary life. What else would everyone like to hear? Once we pick back up in our teaching pool, I'll be sure to let everyone know how that goes. We've been working hard and enjoying every minute of it. Until next week, take care and be good!
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Apparently white dress shirts aren't designed to be worn EVERY day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Starting to Get Cold Again (Nov. 8, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I hope everyone had a great Halloween! The first picture of me and Elder Burden explains our night pretty accurately. Mtn. Dew. Lots of it. We had to be in by 5, so we bought some soda to stay active. We got a call from the AP's telling us that we were going to be housing the Prescott zone leaders, Elders Anderson and Nelson, who were coming to the valley to stay the night for zone leader council. So at about 8:30 pm on Halloween, we drove to Glendale to pick 'em up at the transfer building. I wanted to make a pit stop on the way back, so I drove to the mission home to trick-or-treat President and Sister Taylor! The four of us rang the doorbell and hid. Sister Taylor opened the door and sounded a little confused. We jumped out and said "Trick or treat," and she got a kick out of that. She invited us inside for some candy. Slow night at the mission home. They only had 5 kids knock on their door the whole night. President and Sister Taylor had a bunch of snacks and food on the table, including two whole pizzas. We gladly finished those off for her. We spent the next hour or so chatting with them about the mission, stories, successes, questions, all that fun stuff. It was so much fun, probably one of my most memorable Halloween nights. I wish I had taken some pictures. I love that we can have those experiences with our mission president. We made it back home by about 10:30.
The next morning, Tuesday, we had to be up at 5:30 for zone leader council. We did another hike up Sunrise Mtn., just like my first ZLC back in March with Elder Angelos. I enjoyed this one a lot because I knew more of the zone leaders. Elders Johnson and Buttars were there too, which made it a blast. We took a few pictures from the top, one of me and Elder Allred with Surprise about 10 miles behind us. Everything at the foot of White Tank Mtns is Surprise. The last picture is of me, Elder Anderson, Elder Nelson (Prescott ZL's) and half of Elder Buttars' face. The zone leader council itself was great, and definitely set the stage for the mission leadership training the next day. At the training, President played a talk from the new mission president's seminar in the MTC called "Becoming a Preach My Gospel Missionary," by Elder David A. Bednar of the Twelve. It as amazing. We set so many goals as a zone, and the talk alone shaped the structure for our zone meeting this Friday. It might be one of the least planned zone meetings, but we feel like it will be one of the most effective. If it's anything like the combined Surprise district meeting we had this week, it will be great.  Elder Allred and I led a skills training about the importance of the progress record, a form we use when presenting information to the ward and stake. We wanted everyone to understand just how important it is. A huge discussion began about how we use it, information we need to present and accountability. At the end of it we drew a mock-progress record on the board and had everyone fill it out with the information of one of their investigators. By the end of it, it was beautiful. Nobody really said anything because we were so proud of it. I think this is going to help the missionaries in Surprise stake build the trust of the stake presidency just that much more.
Yesterday was our mission tour by Elder Kevin R. Duncan of the Seventy. It's broken up over the course of three days, kind of like a zone conference. Yesterday was our zone, Peoria/Peoria N. and Goodyear/Buckeye. In the morning, he did a special training with the district and zone leaders in the zones, about 15 of us total. What a great experience. It's difficult for me to recall all of the things he said because I was too busy writing down personal revelation in my notes (which he told us to do). In the meeting with the rest of the zones, he spoke a lot about what is referred to as "My Doctrine" in the scriptures and how that helps with goal setting and planning. I loved it! My mind was a little blown by all of it but definitely a spiritually uplifting experience. Once again, hard to describe, but take a look at my notes!
I'm sure everyone's wondering about what happened with Bonnie. We met with her on Thursday night. The first thing she said was that she apologized for the way she reacted last week when we informed her that her baptism should be pushed back. We talked a little bit more, and really helped her understand the principle of repentance. She seems to understand it a little bit more, but I fear that she may actually have to go through it to fully grasp its meaning--"learning it the hard way" so to speak. She understands why her baptism had to be pushed back. She's still upset, but at least she understands. We asked if this was something she still wanted to pursue, and she said yes. However, it won't be happening here. She told us that she'd been doing a lot of thinking and praying, and will be moving back to Florida. She said that's where her dad is, and she wants to be closer to him. Plus, she knows the area, she can get all the medical attention she needs and can even get around on foot. It's just better for her there. She'll be leaving this weekend. We're sad to see her go, but like I said, it's in her best interests. She asked if we could help her get in touch with the missionaries in the area, and we can. I think that night I felt more love for her in that one lesson than in any other lesson prior to that.
With Bonnie leaving, we're back to where we started at the beginning of the month. We're not discouraged at all, because we know great things are going to happen. Elder Allred goes home in three weeks and I want to help him see a baptism before he leaves. High bar? Probably, but the Lord will provide. We've been working hard and changing our finding efforts to working with families, and we feel that's how we can best live our purpose as missionaries. Let's get to work! Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Mt. Dew on Halloween with Elder Burden

On Sunrise Mountain overlooking Surprise, AZ with Elder Allred

With Elders Nelson, Anderson, and Buttars on Sunrise Mountain