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 mormon.org 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.
Elder Eric James Turner
|At the site of the Phoenix Temple|