Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Zone Conference This Week (Dec. 12, 2011)

Hey everyone!
News from the front--it's cold. I think winter has hit the valley. Right now it's in the mid-40's and raining. At nights it gets into the low-30's and here and there it can get below freezing. In the day it'll sit in the mid/low-60's, which is just perfect. Come sundown we bust out the sweaters and get to work. Things with Elder Wood are awesome. We do everything together, such as shopping for septic tanks and old-fashioned Christmas photos (as seen in this week's photos). Really though, I love the man. The two of us have said that we want to completely eliminate tracting for our work. We spent the whole week working with the members of the ward. Subsequently, we reported straight 0's in our call-in, except the one lesson we had with a less active family. It may look discouraging on paper, but we hit the wards hard. We've set a few more family mission plans this week, and Bishop McLaws even showed us in PEC the new ward mission plan for 2012. I. Love. It. It's beautiful. Bishop came up to us at the start of sacrament meeting and said with a smile on his face, "Is that a ward mission plan, or what?" It's so specific with names, goals, everything. By the end of 2012, I'd love to see where the West Point ward will be.
A few things have hit our teaching pool this week. Remember Tom? Tom was the man who we spoke to that has the autistic son that we met just before Halloween. For weeks, Tom was telling Bishop Smith about how he was going to come to church, and he came once. He also kept asking how he could get involved with volunteering in the ward, and he helped with the stake youth service day. We tried setting appointments. Nothing. Rumor was going around that he and his wife were having arguments about the church. We heard it from Bishop, but the story didn't match up with what we were told by his wife. The week before, his wife let us into the home, gave us food and water, and even gave us Tom's cell phone number to get a hold of him. Just the other day we went to their fellowshippers' home and asked what was going on. They told us the same story as Bishop, that he wasn't going to help anymore, and that he'd repay anything the church had done to help his family. I was crushed. We're not giving up though. Tonight we're going over and we're going to try and get the honest truth. I love them too much to just quit, I have to hear it from them.
The other night Elder Wood and I had a little extra time before we had to be home. It was that awkward time at night where nobody wants their door knocked on because it's dark, but we still have time to work--"the bewitching hour" as I jokingly call it. It's just confusing to know what to do in that time when your appointments fall through, and tracting just irritates people. We parked the truck in Old Surprise/El Mirage (remember what happened Easter night?) and we walked the streets. There weren't as many people outside because it was pretty cold. At one of the last houses on a road before it turned into fields was a woman named Alicia. She was carrying groceries inside and we offered to help. She was a little weirded out that we were out "so late." We began to speak with her about what we do as missionaries. We offered her a copy of the Book of Mormon, and she hesitated. She asked, "How much?" We said it was free, her gift from us. She smiled and said that she never has a Bible growing up, so she was very grateful. We explained the difference between the Bible and the Book of Mormon and we'll be going by this weekend to give her a Bible too. Alicia was pretty excited and she told us she was going to go inside and start reading right away. It may not be the greatest story in the world, but it was a good experience for all of us on that cold Saturday night.
Mom and dad thank you so much for the little Christmas box. I love the music and the pictures. I look through them frequently and I show them to the Elders in the house. I laughed so hard when I saw that picture of Ed laying on the blanket I was trying to make. There were two pictures of the front yard and the street, and I put them side by side to make it a mini-panorama. It made me so happy to see the ginko, the house, dad's truck, Fetrow's, Joe's and even down on to the 300-block of Delafield. I love it so much. 
With the few things I had been asking for for Christmas, there's one more thing I would like. It's a little bit different, but please try it. I want mom dad and sis to go to the temple to do baptisms together as a family. Go some early morning before school or some afternoon, whenever, just some time before Christmas is all I ask. After you're done, take a piece of paper and right down your thoughts and feelings about what you did. Write about how the day was. How did you feel before, and how did you feel after going to the temple? Before you go home, please take a picture the three of you outside the temple with the temple in the background, church clothes and everything, and email it all to me. The mission is going to the Mesa Temple this week and I couldn't be more excited. I want this Christmas to be a time where it'll be fun to call home, but even more joyous to be able to remember covenants and to be able to feel the Spirit in the House of the Lord. I hope this isn't too much more to ask this year for Christmas, but it would mean a lot to me. I know it will mean a lot for you too. I'll follow-up with you when I call home on Christmas day. I love you all, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Companionship Christmas Pic

The joy of Christmas!

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