Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A White Arizona Christmas (Dec. 27, 2011)

Hey everyone!
I hope everyone back home had a Merry Christmas! The holiday weekend here in the APM was pretty fun. Christmas Eve was pretty busy. We had three scheduled appointments that day, to of which fell through. The first one was with a new family of investigators, seven in all! Their home is the same apartment complex as the Spanish Elders. The Spanish Elders fit comfortably the two of them in their place, but seven is WAY too packed. We were all crammed around a little table in the kitchen and barely had time to share a scripture because of how loud they all were at the same time. It worked though, and hopefully we should be seeing them more regularly now. Later in the afternoon, President and Sister Taylor met us at the Surprise Stake center to give us all of the mail and packages for the zone. We spent the rest of the afternoon delivering mail to everyone, including a whirlwind trip to meet the Wickenburg Elders. We were invited by the Cuthbertsons to go caroling with their family, but had to be in by 6pm. We asked President and Sister Taylor about it. No longer than about two seconds went by before Sister Taylor poked President on the arm and said, "Oh please let them go!!" President gave us the ok. Sister Taylor rocks :) We met the rest of the house at about 6:30 and sped over to the Cuthbertsons. Their entire family was there, maybe 50-60 people? We all went caroling around the housing development and went back to their house for cookies, cocoa and fun. Bro. Cuthberston let us come out into their back yard to sit around the fire pit, eat cookies and kick back. It was a fun night! We dropped the other Elders back at the house, finished delivering the mail, and made it home for bed.
On to Christmas morning. SANTA CAME! Everyone got a stocking filled with candy and trinkets, including 12-month calenders for 2012 and their very own 1998 Nagano Olympics drinking glass. It was a Christmas miracle! We all got up at 6:30 to open our packages and presents. I absolutely LOVED the M&M machine, and I plan to use it. I already stole all of Elder Wood's M&M's to use it. Owned. I've attached a couple pics of Christmas morning. Church that day was so well done. Copper Canyon ward was one of the most spiritually uplifting sacrament meetings I've been to my whole mission. There was only one short talk, a few musical numbers, and a small message from the Bishop. The Russell's eight year old daughter sang "What Child is This" with Sis. Russell on the piano. Absolutely beautiful. The Bishop gave a little Christmas thought about something he read in the newspaper that morning and it was just the little Christmas message we needed to hear.
For dinner on Christmas we went to the Stringam's. It was a very laid back evening and we had a lot of fun. Their son got Legos for Christmas and we helped him put together the plane and truck while Bro. Stringam was finishing dinner--steak, shrimp and potatoes. I took my time to enjoy the steak and potatoes but needless to say, I pounded the shrimp. Best dinner ever. We all had fun telling stories from missions and throwing out jokes here and there. I'm so excited to get working more with Bro. Stringam as our ward mission leader.
West Point ward was a little different. I wish I could have been there for all of it. We left halfway through it because of the baptism. Wes and Amber's family is complete! We went back into the room with the font and saw their family come in, along with a lot of the Gateway Park ward. Wes baptized Gabriel. He came up to me, gave me a hug and asked, "So what do I say again?" It was still pretty unreal the see it all happen. Like I said, this wasn't the same family we began teaching back in May. Wes takes his priesthood seriously and wanted to make sure it was done right. I attached the picture of the whole family just before the baptism. The two littlest still have a few more years before they're baptized, but now begins the countdown to the temple.
It was great to be able to talk to you guys on the phone, it just went so fast. It's ok, Mother's Day is only, what, five months away? No big deal! I'm keeping plenty busy and I love the work. I'm grateful that my final mission Christmas was the way it was. I got to spend it with missionaries I love, in a place I love, doing things I love, and seeing the completion of a family I've come to love so much over the past few months. I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to hear from you all very soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Eric on Christmas morning

Eric's companion Elder Wood

Wes and Amber's family

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