I apologize for the email coming so late this week. All of the libraries were closed for the New Year, and Tuesday was zone leader council from 10-4, then we had appointments the rest of the night. All this morning we had meetings, and now we finally have time to email home. Dad, I got your email and transfers are actually next week. Jan 11 is the actual the day of transfers, which means next week's email won't come until Tuesday the 10th. Sorry folks, emails are crazy lately!
Everyone gets to wait another week to find out if I stay or go. It's weird, when I left Avondale I thought that I'd never have that great of a love for any place else. Boy was I wrong. I'm not saying that I love Surprise more than Avondale; they're completely different areas with different people. But I've met more people and witnessed more miracles here than anywhere else. I love Surprise. It's such a special place.
So let's review the New Year, eh? No pictures this week, sorry about that too. New Year's Eve was honestly one of longest, most drawn-out days of my mission. Every one of our appointments fell through. We were out of miles for the month on our truck, so we just walked. We walked and walked and ("...pioneer children sang was they walked and walked and walked..."). There wasn't much singing going on though. We recently obtained a geo-coded map of the ward to make member missionary work a little easier. We still had to walk quite a ways. Nobody was outside. Not a soul. To pass the time we played scripture baseball, which is essentially naming the references of scriptures being read out loud. We had fun with that, and had a few good laughs here and there too. By the time we made it back to the truck to drive back, it was only 5:15 and we had to be in by 6. We were dead. It was a long day. Time just seemed to pass slowly, and nobody really wanted anything to do with us. We eventually made it back to the house, and we hung out the six of us. Elder Pugsley had a deck of cards, so we all sat around in the living room playing "scum" for 2 hours. It was actually a lot of fun. Outside started to sound like a war zone in little spurts. I'm pretty sure that the fireworks were illegal, but that didn't stop them. New Year's Day was much nicer. Church was very well done, and with the time changes we'll be having full Sundays of church. West Point ward meets from 9-12 now, and Copper Canyon from 1-4. Elder's Quorum in West Point was one of the best I've ever been to. Bro. Nelson, the new Elders Quorum President, gave a very good lesson on what it means to be men of the priesthood.
Yesterday's zone leader council was also very well done. The focus was on the culture of the mission. There have been more and more cases of disobedience here and there, and we talked a lot about it. Elder Henrie gave a great talk about what it means to sanctify one's self. President then led a discussion on what we need to do, and how we as the zone leaders are essentially that first line of defense when it comes to correcting misbehavior within our stewardship. The next few months are going to be interesting with two transfer meetings, interviews and a zone conference. I'm thankful that we have an obedient zone.
The work has really been picking up in our area. We had an awesome lesson last week with Eric, who was referred to us by his neighbor Steve, a member of the Copper Canyon ward. We went and had a lesson with him and his nine year-old daughter on Wednesday, and it was great experience. As we taught about the Restoration, we began talking about the Apostasy. As we explained that there were so many different churches who interpret the Bible so differently. If they would teach the Bible the same way, they would be the same church. It clicked for him. He said, "Exactly, and what I want to know is which one of them is the right one?" I told him that was the best question to ask. Eric set the stage perfectly to bear testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He loved it. He came to church for the second time and really liked it, just like he did the week before Christmas when he came. At the lesson last week, he said he felt very comfortable and very welcome at church, something he said he hadn't felt anywhere else or had even felt in a very long time. We'll be seeing him again tonight and I've been looking forward to it all week.
We also set a baptismal date with an investigator named Tim (yes, we're teaching an Eric and a Tim, and no, I'm not making this up, dad!) He has a great desire to make changes in his life. His family sure needs it. We had a lesson at the church building last week and Bro. Nelson joined us. He was a huge help. Tim had questions about baptism, and seemed to feel more at ease when we showed him the baptismal font and explained the covenant to him. In the chapel, we invited him to be baptized on Feb 11. He said maybe. He doesn't like to set goals because he said that he often doesn't reach them. We promised him that we would help him, but it would take great effort on his part. He accepted it, and said that this Sunday would be the last Sunday he wouldn't be at church, because he would finally talk to his boss about getting Sundays off work to come to church. Good man. Now comes the next hurdle--smoking. I'm confident that he can beat it. If he shows as much desire to quit smoking as he does to come to church, he'll be ready. Tim's a really good guy and I'm happy to see him make such great changes in his life.
I'm running out of time and I wish I could tell everyone everything about what's going on. It's such a great time to be in Surprise. The back of my planner is getting full with the personal revelation that I've been recording. We have such great support from the wards and stakes, and our Bishops and Stake Presidents are totally on board to help us. I'm thankful for your love and support. I'm grateful for the little notes of encouragement and I keep you all in my prayers. Until next Tuesday, take care and be good.
Elder Eric James Turner