Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photos from Sister Taylor

The following photos are taken from the mission blog maintained by Sister Taylor. It's fun to search through all of the pictures she shares of the elders and sisters in the mission and find Eric in them.

These photos are taken from two meetings. The first is a follow-up on the media campaign that was unveiled in the Phoenix area. Eric said it led to lots of new contacts from people who wanted to learn more about the church. The second meeting was an area training meeting.

Discussing the responses

Elders Turner and Wood, awesome zone leaders

The missionaries of Surprise, AZ

Monthly vehicle inspection

Another Clean Car certificate!

Elders Turner and Wood teaching a lesson to their zone

Monday, March 26, 2012

Yup, It Does Work! (March 26, 2012)

Hey everyone!
What a week it's been. I want to first thank Sister Richardson's class for sending the puzzle pieces. I received it when President Taylor and Braden came to zone activity last week and brought all the mail with them. I spent a bit of time off to the side trying to put it together. Everyone thought it was cool that I got a puzzle. I thought I'd take a picture of it and let you know that I finally figured out how they fit together! Thank you so much! the other picture is of Elder Hall on his birthday, which was also the same day as my one year mark of being in Surprise. We baked brownies and sang to him after district meeting that day.
I'm just going to fast-forward to the best part of the week. We set a baptismal date with Chris! I talked about how great of an experience it was last week to have Bishop McLaws with us, and he wanted to be more involved with it. We had another lesson with Chris at the Crockett's this past Wednesday night. Bishop went with us, and it was amazing. We wanted to talk about some of the commandments, and help Chris understand the kinds of things he would be expected to live in preparation for his baptism. At first he said he had some questions. He said that his dad asked him about some of the things he had been learning, and Chris told him a little about the church and the prophet Joseph Smith. He told his dad that he wanted to be baptized, that he'd been praying about it and he felt it was what he needed to do. Chris' dad said he supported him in his decision, and that he had noticed over the past few weeks how his son has been a different person, but for the better...he just didn't know why. While Chris was saying all of this, both Elder Wood and I had the strongest feeling to just extend a date and move on, but it was just too great to hear him say these things! He also said that he wasn't sure if he could serve a mission, and we assured him that he wasn't required to serve a mission after he was baptized. In my opinion, I think he'd make a great missionary. He already talked to his dad about how he, simply put, gained a testimony. He bore his testimony!
As the lesson went on, Chris was asking about commandments. We said we wanted to talk about a few of them, so we knocked out the big three right there: Word of Wisdom, Tithing and Chastity. Chris is a big time triathlete, so the word of wisdom was easy for him. He said that he does drink green tea here and there. After we taught the principle, we asked him if he would live it. He said, "Yup." We asked if he would even give up drinking green tea. He said, "Sure, I don't drink it that often anyways so no problem!" Tithing, easy. Not an issue for him. Chastity? Piece of cake. He said that he works with a bunch of guys who always talk inappropriately about women, sex, things like that, and it makes him uncomfortable. So he just walks away. He said that his parents always taught him to respect women, so chastity made a lot of sense to him. We continued teaching, and he asked if there were any other commandments to know about. He said he likes commandments, because they're sort of a challenge to him. He's a pretty competitive-natured guy, hence his love for triathlons, and he said he wants to learn more about commandments. We were amazed at just how prepared he is. When we first started teaching him, we promised him that living the gospel would help him find greater happiness in his life. He said that he was already happy. Now he's starting to recognize why that is, it's because he's already living and keeping the commandments! We invited him to be baptized on April 14th, and he said yes.
On our way out the door, I told Chris that Satan was going to do what he could to keep him from being baptized. People might say things, or opportunities may arise where he may second-guess or question the feelings that he had been having. I invited him to continue praying daily, asking for help, and always remember what good he feels when he reads, prays and comes to church. The next day, we got a call from Chris. Elder Wood answered it, and laughed when he hung up to tell me what happened. Chris was driving, slowly turned the corner and accidentally bumped a woman he didn't see in the crosswalk. He didn't injure her, knock her over, or anything like that. She wasn't too upset, and Chris was very sincere in his apology. To be safe, they had a paramedic check her out, and she's just fine. The police even said that Chris shouldn't worry about it, it was an honest accident. Chris said he felt terrible. He had never been in an accident or even pulled over, and he just felt bad about it all. He started thinking to himself that he screwed up and couldn't be baptized...but then he remembered what we said the night before. He called to tell us the story and say that despite everything that happened, he still wanted to be baptized. Elder Wood finished the story, chuckled a little bit and said, "I love that guy!"
Yesterday at church, Chris came to Copper Canyon ward by himself. He technically lives in West Point, but they start at 9 and Chris didn't get off work until 6 am and wanted some sleep. Bishop said that wasn't a problem. He sat by us and Bro. Stringam. Chris leaned over to Bro. Stringam and said, "Did I tell you that I'm getting baptized on April 14th?" Bro. Stringam responded, "Shut up. No way. That's so exciting!" We had already told Bro. Stringam about the lesson that night, and he was such a good sport to let Chris tell him about everything that happened. A girl in the ward bore her testimony about missionary work, and said that she has a friend who lives coming to church. She finished by saying "I like missionary work and I know that it works!" Chris leaned over to us and said, "Yup, it does work!" The rest of the day he was telling others about his baptism. At the end of church, he said, "Man, I wish I could've attended Bishop McLaws' ward today." This Wednesday we'll be having dinner with Chris at Bishop McLaws' house. Chris is the man. He's so sincere and he's willing to try new things all the time. The baptism itself (Apr 14) will be after transfers (Apr 4), and I sure hope I'll be here to see it. Even if I am transferred, I won't be able to come back to see the baptism. Yes, that would be hard. Although I can't be too upset, because I'm just so grateful that I've had the chance to work with him and see him progress in the Gospel.
So there you have it, folks! Chris is preparing to be baptized on April 14th. Elder Wood and I left the lesson that night high-fiving and happy. Isn't missionary work the best? In Chris' words, it works! I'm thankful for all of your support, everyone! I feel your prayers and I wouldn't be able to enjoy this work as much without them. Next week is the dreaded T-word...transfers. Emails won't come out until Tuesday, and by then we'll know if I am blessed with another six weeks in the promised land of Surprise, Arizona. I love this place. Until next week, take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Notes from the primary kids back home in Richland

Elder Hall's Birthday

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shout Out to Allred--Good to See Ya' Buddy (March 19, 2012)

Hey everyone!

We've had quite the busy week! Stake coordination meetings were this week, so we spent time preparing for that. We've really been better at preparing packets and information in advance and not waiting until Saturday night. This week we had quite the scare. There's a flash drive that contains all of the paperwork for us as zone leaders. It's gone. Not a clue where it went. I opened the compartment in the truck that it;'s kept in and my stomach leaped up into my throat. We still can't find it. We had to start over and make all new packets for our stake presidents. Yeah, that was fun! I was pretty stressed at first, but we did it. Everything worked out. We did a few exchanges and a few blitz's. The one I did with Elder Walpole was a hoot. He rides his bike really fast and ate it while we were riding home. He skipped up the curb, over a tree root, swerved into the gravel and crashed into a bush. He flew a good four or five feet over his handlebars and landed in the gravel. He's ok, he just scratched his wrists and elbows a bit. We were both laughing pretty hard about it. I wish I had a video of it. Both of his arms were outstretched in front of him and he looked like Superman as he flew through the air. Like I said, he's fine now and we both joke about it. In all seriousness though, if I had a video I could have won $10,000 on America's Funniest Home Videos! Also, the Allred formerly known as Elder (now Thatcher Allred) came back to visit! So good to see him again. I can't believe it's been four months!

We had a great lesson with the Strong family this week. Elder Jones and I tracted into them a few months ago on exchanges. She's an inactive member of the church, and the only in her family. Her husband has become quite interested, and her 14 year old daughter has latched on to a few girls in the ward. She goes to mutual every week and even wants to go to Girls' Camp. They invited us over for dinner a few nights ago for some homemade lasagna. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel after dinner and the Spirit was very strong. Their daughter is very intelligent. She understood the apostasy and restoration more than any other teenager I've taught, except probably Victor (who by the way, is still doing awesome). We'll be having regular weekly lessons with the Strongs and I'm already looking forward to it.

Remember Heather, the sister that Elder Wood and I taught in President Allen's home a few weeks ago? She was baptized on Saturday night. She looked so happy. She had quite the support from her ward, and Sister Allen even sang a beautiful arrangement of "I Stand All Amazed." I still feel intense amounts of gratitude for the prompting that Elder Wood had to accept President Allen's invitation to his home that evening. We even cancelled another appointment just to go. The Spirit was working that powerfully to tell us that was where we needed to be...even if we didn't find out exactly why until we got there. Saturday evening was filled with peace as Elder Wood and I sat in the back row of Heather's baptism. I thought you'd all like to hear that.

On Friday I had a fun experience at the church. Elder Juchau and I were on exchanges and had to use the bathroom at the church. When we went inside, we saw a cleaning cart outside the bathroom. When we got closer, the door opened and out walked Chris and Bro. Crockett! Bro. Crockett was cleaning the church and asked Chris to come with him. It was neat to see Chris there doing service in the church even though we'd only taught him here and there. Now, I need to take a moment to glory in the awesomeness of our ward leadership. That same night Bishop McLaws called us asking what we could tell us about Chris. Chris is being taught in the Crockett's home in Copper Canyon, but technically lives in West Point ward. Bishop was going to go to a lesson with us the next day, but suddenly had to cancel. We drove to Bishop's house and explained a little bit about Chris. Bishop McLaws was pretty upset that he couldn't go. He thought for a moment and said, "Hey, can you call them right now? Let's go see them." We called Bro. Crockett, and sure enough he and Chris were still together. Bishop dropped everything he was doing, changed into a shirt and tie and off we went to introduce him to Chris. It couldn't have worked out better. Bishop is such a great example of priesthood and servant leadership. The whole time we were driving there and back, he was always teaching. It really helped me see the importance of those little teaching moments that unexpectedly come up. Yesterday during Copper Canyon sacrament meeting, the speaker talked about how his dad taught him all the time and the little ways he did so. I wrote down some impressions that came to my mind and I look forward to using them. As President Beck would always say, "Elders and Sisters, learning is not compulsory."

Things are great out in the barren deserts! I'll be sure to try and send home some pictures next week and I'll keep you updated on anything new. I love you all and can't wait to hear back from you. Take care and be good. shoutout

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eye Set on the Temple (March 12, 2012)

Hey everyone!
Lots of stuff this week! It ended with a pretty funny rumor yesterday that Elder Wood made at my expense. So he was asked to speak in Copper Canyon ward. I'm sitting in the congregation and listening. He did an awesome job. At the end he was bearing his testimony and said, "I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with Elder Turner. He's a great companion and a great example to me and he's going to be a great Assistant to the President." I couldn't believe it. He sat down and I just glared at him from the back row. He had the goofiest looking grin on his face and we both just laughed. After sacrament meeting a ton of members, including Bishop Smith, approached me and asked in a panicked tone if I was getting transferred. It was a little annoying at first but then it just got funny. I had to keep telling people it was a lie, that Elder Wood was joking over the pulpit. Elder Wood's face just kept getting redder and redder because he was laughing so hard. In the car he said, "Woo that worked out better than I thought it would. I've been planning that all morning!!" So yeah, to anyone in Copper Canyon who heard the bold-faced lie from my companion in church yesterday, it isn't true...but it's pretty hilarious!
Tuesday night we had Bro. Steinagel join us at a few lessons. He's a good friend of President Taylor from Provo, former bishop under Pres. Taylor's stake presidency, and was just released as president of the Ukraine Kiev Mission. He was in town with Bro. Watson of the missionary department in Salt Lake. President wanted him to join me and Elder Wood on Tuesday at some teaching appointments. Thankfully they were great appointments, some of the best we've had in a while! He and Bro. Watson were there the next day at Zone Leader Council, and the next day at the mission leadership training meeting.
Bro. Watson is the director of proselyting for the church. He came to train us and to evaluate how the mission was doing. He was down here back in September to introduce the media campaign. At the zone leader council and at the leadership meeting, he invited us to try something new while we were out on the streets. He asked us to pray with people. Go into their homes and offer prayers over their homes and families. It sounded so weird to us. One Elder had the guts to say that it sounded weird. Bro. Watson replied, "You know why it's weird? It's because you're a Mormon!" We thought about it for a second, and didn't get it. He continued by saying that if you think about it, it's not in Mormon culture to just gather to gather and offer prayers on the spot. Typically in the Church, people either pray in families, church meetings or just personally. Christians of other denominations LOVE to pray! Offer to pray with and for them! We've been trying it and it's been awesome! Even if people don't want anything to do with us, they love and appreciate the offer to pray with their families. It's been a great way to bring the love of Christ into homes and families. Not only that, but missionaries have just been happier about the work. You find great joy in sincerely praying for someone else's welfare and happiness. Elder Wood and I have been doing that over the past few days and it's been amazing. For everyone out there who hasn't ever had the chance to talk with missionaries, invite them into your home to pray. Don't want to go to church with them or hear what they have to say? That's ok! No big deal! Take the opportunity to come together and pray for one another, and then see how the rest of your day feels.
We had a pretty amazing lesson with Chris this week. He had grown so much over the past few weeks. He's gone from "I don't want to be baptized," to "baptism is good for people who want to change," to "Elders, I want to be baptized." The Spirit was very strong as we taught the doctrine of Christ and invited him to be baptized on March 24th. He wasn't sure about it, but was very deep in thought. We invited him to pray about it on the spot. We knelt down together and Chris offered a simple, sincere prayer asking if that's what he should do. He texted us yesterday saying that this weekend has been very difficult for him and that he wants to meet again very soon. I hope that he's starting to recognize the blessing of living the Gospel in his life.
The leadership training meeting this week was very powerful. It was mostly the same things being taught at zone leader council, but the location was different. It was held at the church building on 51st and Pinnacle Peak, across the parking lot from the location of the Phoenix Arizona Temple. I've attached a picture of me at the site, with the picture of the new temple and the construction behind me. I was a powerful experience to stand there on that sacred ground. Most of the basement walls and foundation of the temple are complete, and they'll start going up here in a few weeks. My mind quickly raced back to 2001 when the temple back home was being built. I remember standing on the little wooden platform, looking over the site and up to the spire as it was being assembled. It was cool for someone as young as I was to witness the construction of the House of the Lord. I felt an an immense amount of joy as I looked at the site for the Phoenix temple. President Taylor always takes the opportunity to teach, one of his many attributes I greatly admire. He stood in front of all the zone leaders, district leaders and trainers and said, "Elders and Sisters, next door will be the location of the Phoenix Arizona Temple. Some of you will be here to see its completion..." He paused for a moment, and his voice choked with emotion as he continued, "...but most of you will not." That was beyond difficult for many of us to hear, especially myself. Having witnessed the construction of a temple back home and having been through it for myself, I understand the magnitude of its creation and how it blesses the lives of all who are within its spiritual reach. A feeling of sadness grew within my heart, but certainly not for selfish reasons. President continued on, "but know that the people you have taught and baptized will shortly have the opportunity to receive the all the blessings and ordinances of the Lord in this His Holy House." We all felt what he meant, and joy filled the room as we thought of the lives we've touched during our service.
Isn't being a missionary fantastic? Victor has been doing double duty of church in his current ward and then he comes to Copper Canyon. Every time I see him I just give him a hug and tell him how awesome he is. It's wonderful to be here to witness his growth and the progression of everyone else I've come to know and love. Write back soon everyone! Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
At the site of the Phoenix Temple

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Many Missionaries Does It Take to Change a Doorknob? (March 5, 2012)

Hey everyone!
This week's picture explains the frustration of mine and Elder Barkers' Friday afternoon. We had planned an exchange that day so that he could get a little district leader training. We spent the morning at another district meeting to give him ideas as to how he would like to plan and conduct his own meetings. That went very well. After lunch we were all ready to get to work. We attached the bike rack to their car, fixed up the bikes and everything. All we had to do was shut the garage door and leave. Well, you have to hold the garage door button from inside the garage to close the door, then walk through the kitchen to leave. The kitchen door wouldn't open. We couldn't very well leave until the kitchen door opened, so that way we could close the garage and leave through the house. It was very much a twisted puzzle to figure out. We spent the next hour and a half trying to get the door open. The knob turned, but the bolt wouldn't move or anything. We tried everything we could think of short of kicking down the door (and that's not to say that the thought didn't cross my mind...several times). Elder Barker and I took out the door knob and tried to wiggle out the bolt. It wouldn't budge. By some miracle it eventually opened. We quickly took apart the rest of the doorknob and now there's just a hole in the door of our kitchen to the garage. It was annoying more than anything, because we had a whole afternoon to work. I think, though, that this experience taught me more than an afternoon of knocking doors would have done. I took the opportunity to point out to him what that experience taught us. I can safely say that I've added a few tallies of life experience to my board of problem solving, diligence, teamwork, handiwork and patience.
Saturday morning was pretty cool. It was Surprise's community day where people come together to clean the city. We went into old town Surprise to paint houses and clean up yards. Elder Wood and I tagged along with surprise 2nd ward as they went to a less active gentleman who lives in West Point ward. His house needed a bit of work, and we had been there earlier in the week to wash the side of the house to prepare it for painting. We didn't have a whole lot of time to work, but I managed to help plant a tree! There was a plot of hard dirt in the corner of the yard where a tree was to be planted. I dug some of it out and took a pick-ax to the dirt to loosen it so some little kids could dig it out with shovels. The bishopric came around the corner with the tree and dropped it in. It was a lot of fun to plant that tree. I wasn't used to that kind of work so I was a little sore the next morning. Elder Wood ad I drove by yesterday to see the house and it looked pretty good. Nothing like a little yard work to start off the weekend.
Eric's been really sick lately and we haven't been able to meet with him hardly at all. Elder Wood was able to teach Tim this week, but I was on exchanges that day so I wasn't a part of that lesson. We had an awesome church tour on Saturday with a woman named Robin. I had actually met her last May when I was still with Elder Angelos. When we taught her, it was like she just wanted to learn and had no intent behind it or anything. We've started teaching her again and a lot has changed. We took her on a tour of the church building this Saturday after the yard work and had two sisters from the Copper Canyon relief society with us. She loved the building. She LOVED learning about Relief Society. Every time we bring an investigator inside the chapel, the reaction is always the same. I love how they always comment on the peace they feel. We had a wonderful lesson and she had great questions. She began to piece together what it meant if she knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet. What was really interesting was that she asked us a question that she had taken to her church. Robin told them that this particular question came up while talking with us. Not only did they completely ignore the question, but they pretty much chewed her out for talking to us. All she told us was, "I just want my question answered!" She commented how she's church hopping and how she feels like there's something missing in each one. The church tour was a great experience for all of us. She wants to come to church, but work is keeping her busy and she may not be able to come to church for over a month. I'm sure that the church tour had a great and lasting impression on her, and I hope to see her at church very soon.
We've got a really busy week coming up with zone leader council and leadership training, and I'll be sure to tell you all about it next week. Thanks for your letters! I hope all is well back home and I look forward to hearing from you again real soon. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner