Monday, April 30, 2012

The Tie That Binds (April 30, 2012)

Hey everyone!

What an awesome week we had! The heat's been picking up. We broke a
hundred a few times from what I was told. One day it poured rain in
the morning, so that was a nice refresher. Elder Kamissoko and I have
been talking to tons of people on the street. Lots of people are
outside and it's been fun to talk with them. Our only lessons this
week were with Rob in preparing him for his baptism, and what a joy
that was!

Rob's baptism was certainly a spiritual feast. His step-son Shane
baptized him. The family is complete and you can see the joy in the
family's picture. The picture is of me and Elder Kamissoko, Rob, his
wife Darnell, and her sons Shane and Valentino. Rob came to the
baptism dressed in a clean suit and had on a white paisley tie. He
looked pretty impressive. He specifically asked if the closing hymn to
his baptism would be "Families Can Be Together Forever," because, said
Rob, "Isn't that what it's all about?" He was confirmed yesterday in
sacrament meeting and had great support. His father in-law confirmed
him and the Spirit was so strong in the chapel. After the sacrament
meeting was over, dozens of people came up to Rob and Darnell and
congratulated them. Rob's also been going on and on about all of the
stuff they want from Deseret Book. He wants artwork of the temple,
books and study guides. Now begins their countdown to the temple! I
may or may not have mentioned that a few weeks ago in stake
conference, the theme of the adult session was the blessings of the
temple. The next lesson we had with Rob, he told us that he and his
wife both felt very powerfully that the temple was the next step in
their family's life.

The second picture I've included doesn't pertain much to Glendale. The
only person any of you might recognize is Elder Wood on the left. It's
the picture of Chris' baptism back in Surprise the week after I was
transferred. I wasn't able to attend, but Elder Wood followed through
and sent me a picture of all of them. You've got Chris in the middle,
with his parents between him and Elder Wood. To the right of the
picture, you have the Crockett's with their two kids. Bro. Crockett
was the one who introduced Chris to us and to the church. It was a
great blessing to have had the lessons with Chris in the Crockett's
home. I thought you would all like to see that. Chris is a dear friend
of mine and I'm grateful that his baptism was a good

Last night was a cottage meeting held in the Cathcart's home. The
topic was the plan of salvation. It was taught by Pres. Bingham from
the stake presidency. He and Pres. Cathcart sang a few songs that
Pres. Bingham wrote about families and about the gospel. All of them
were beautiful in their own way. One of them just threw me to tears,
called, "The Tie That Binds." I wish I had a recording of it to send
to you. It was about a boy and his father who passes away when the boy
was young. The song went on about all of the times the boy felt like
he was alone, but how he had the assurance that he would be with his
dad again. The song itself was about sealing power that binds families
forever, hence, the tie that binds. It was very powerful, and as I'm
typing this experience, my mind is dwelling on the reason why I'm a
missionary--families! Look at the pictures of the beginning of these
eternal families and tell me that's not what this is all about. Worth
it? Is it worth all of the heat, sweat, mocking and sacrifice of time
and energy? Most definitely.

Thanks for all of your support, more to come next week from Glendale.
I love you, I miss you, and I look forward to hearing from you. Take
care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Rob's baptism in Glendale

Chris's baptism in Surprise

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hangin' With My Peeps (April 23, 2012)

Hey everyone!

I'm really short on time today because of a long email I sent to
President Taylor. He asked us to share some of our favorite mission
experiences, and I wrote quite a lot. I'll get in as much as I can
before time runs out! For fun, take a look at my picture of Elder
Kamissoko's first experience eating a marshmallow Peep.

The family home evening last week with Juan at Rob's home was awesome.
Rob's father in law has all of his kids in the area, and their kids
too. It was very much like Thanksgiving at the Goodey's, kids and all.
What a blast. They made a Hawaiian chicken and had an onion-Hawaiian
pepper "salsa" over the top of it. Juan, Elder Kamissoko and I were
all sweating. Juan loved it when all of the kids came together and did
the message on choosing the right. Juan commented on how good he felt
being in the family atmosphere. We're in the process of scheduling
another one for this evening. Juan also expressed how he still wants
to be baptized, but he feels that May 5th is too soon. We said that
was ok, that we'd talk about it more this week. However, Rob will be
baptized this Saturday and the whole ward is excited for it.

We've had more and more great experiences praying with people in their
homes. We had four prayers this week that just changed the way we've
been seeing people. We prayed with a woman named Christina who is
fighting cancer. We prayed with Chuck whose wife just left him. We
prayed with Ann who lives alone, but her daughter has cancer. The best
was when we prayed with Shawn. We had spoken with him on the street a
few weeks ago. He's a scary looking guy, with tattoos covering every
inch of his torso and neck. When I was on splits the other night, I
felt a strong impression not to see a particular person, but to go see
Shawn. We went, and Shawn was there. We spoke with him outside and he
said how they were actually just taking off because his dad was in the
hospital. I asked if we could come into his home and offer a prayer.
We knelt on the tile floor and prayed, and the Spirit was very strong.
Shawn didn't have a whole lot to say, he just kind of sat there in a
sloppy kneeling position with his head down. You could tell he
appreciated the prayer. We'll be seeing them again this week.

I'm grateful for these experiences we have out here. It's getting hot
but the work is picking up. We're excited for Rob's baptism this
weekend. I thank you all for your prayers and your letters of support.
More to come next week. Take care and be good!

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Elder Kamissoko trying Peeps for the first time

(The following photos are from Sister Taylor's mission blog)

The Glendale missionaries

Elder Turner in the Cleaning Olympics

Chatting with Zone Leader Elder Johnson

Mounted up and headed out (Elder Turner on far right bike)

Elder Turner doing bike tricks

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adventures in Glendale (April 16, 2012)

Hey everyone!

Two great pictures this week. Remember Angel and Tristan from
Surprise? They were baptized in August. A week after their baptism,
they moved out of Surprise and to Glendale. This weekend was stake
conference and they crept in with their brothers and sisters. They
live in the Black Canyon ward, but it's still the same stake! It was
so good to see them! I pulled them aside to say hi and get a quick
picture with them They're really involved with the youth and just
doing great. I'm going to have to print a picture or two of this and
send it to some people in Surprise! The second picture is of me and
Elder Kamissoko at our dinner appointment last night. The family has a
two year old son named Nathan. He LOVES the missionaries. He sang "I
Hope They Call Me on a Mission" for us at dinner and it was so funny!
He's a sharp little kid. Two weeks ago, Elder Kamissoko and Elder
Brame were having dinner over there. The parents asked him who they
wanted to say the prayer. He pointed to Elder Brame and said, "The
white one!" Elder Kamissoko still laughs about that one.

Things are great out in Glendale. The area is really small, only about
4 square miles. Being on a bike is the best! There's so many people
outside all the time! I printed myself a little map and I think I know
where I'm going now. This week was stake conference but after only one
sacrament meeting in the area, I feel like I've made connections with
a sufficient number of families that will be able to help us with the
work, especially our ward missionaries. Living with the Cathcarts is a
hoot. They have Tanner's old room set just for us. We sleep and study
in there, and have our own bathroom. They said, "Our home is your
home." We're open to any food we want, and we can get any extra food
we want with our own money. That's still really weird for me. Foir the
past 20 months I've been buying and eating my own food. It's been good
though, and I make sure not to pig out. For morning workout, Kamissoko
and I usually go run, and then stretch and whatnot in the living room.
Preston, Devin and Nathan are always fun. The other day at lunch we
got into a Nerf gun fight before we took off to work. We only cover
the one ward, La Pradera Park, and that makes the work so much easier
when you only have one ward council, one area book, one ward mission
leader, etc. You don't have to worry about balancing out how much work
is going on in what ward.

Speaking of the work, Rob is doing awesome. Because of a few
scheduling conflicts, his baptism has been pushed back to the 28th so
his step-son Shane can baptize him. He's already been calling family
members about coming. We meet with him almost every day. The lessons
are short, but very powerful. Every time he just keeps bearing his
testimony about how he's a changed man because of the Gospel. They
came to the adult session of stake conference and the stake presidency
focused on the blessings of the temple. The next day, Rob was saying
that he and his wife loved the talks and have been talking even more
about going to the temple once he's baptized. They make frequent trips
up to the Deseret Bookstore on 59th and Greenway to look at artwork,
music and study books. The man is converted to the Gospel.

We picked up another new investigator this week, Juan. He was referred
to us by a member from the West Point ward back in Surprise! Bro
Burrup even came out to Glendale for the first lesson with Juan. After
an awesome lesson, we set a date for May 5th. Juan loves reading from
the Book of Mormon and wants to get to know more people. One idea I
had was to bring Juan to a family home evening with Rob and his
family. Rob's in-laws are all members of the church, and every Monday
they have a huge family home evening. We explained family home evening
to Juan and he looked beyond confused. "Wait, so, your family
just...hangs out? Just for the night?" We said yes, and he followed up
with, "And do what?" We told him how different families do different
things, like read scriptures, watch movies, tell stories, have dinner
and ice cream, play games (like Turner family Scrabble night, Elder
Turner reigning champ!!). His face lit up and he said, "That's sounds
cool! I've never done that before!" We called Rob and he said that we
and Juan are more than welcome to join them tonight for dinner and
family home evening. I can't wait!

Glendale is just an awesome place! Elder Kamissoko and I have a blast
together. Seriously, he's just the coolest guy in the world. Playing
basketball is tough because he swats every shot you take. There's a
park near the bottom of our area that always has soccer games going
on, and he loves soccer. I'd be afraid to play him in that,
considering how good he is at basketball (even though he never payed
it until he came to the states 3 years ago...). His English is getting
a lot better, and a lot of our conversation while tracting is how you
say or interpret different things in English. Slang has especially
been fun to explain. There's never a dull moment in our companionship.

Write back soon everyone! Take care and be good!

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

With Angel & Tristan (see Aug 15, 2011 entry for baptism photo)

With 2-year-old Nathan

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nama Kamissoko (April 9, 2012)

Hey everyone!

So I know there's been a lot of wondering what has happened after
transfers this week. I'll start by saying that packing to leave
Surprise was pretty tough. I didn't have a whole lot of time to say
goodbye to anyone, so I apologize to anyone from Surprise who might be
reading this.

My new companion is Elder Nama Kamissoko. Say what?
That's right, Elder Kamissoko! (Pronounced "Kaw-Mee-So-Ko") He's from
Mali, Africa, been out in the mission for about 8 months, is a convert of about two years
and is amazing. I'm serving in Glendale Stake, in the La Pradera Park
ward. I took Elder Brame's spot here, and now he's in Prescott! It's
fun telling everyone that I'm from the same city as their last
missionary. I'm no longer a zone leader, but I'm a district leader
over a district of six missionaries including Elder Johnston and
Sister Jeanfreau, two missionaries who served out in Surprise a while
back. It's good to be out here. I'm on a bike, which is going to be
awesome once the summer hits! In all honesty, I love being on a bike.
There are a TON of people on the streets to talk to. I'm learning the
area pretty quick and I have a feeling I'll be here for the rest of my

We live with the Cathcarts, a family in the ward. Cool story
about that, because they have a son on a mission in Texas right now.
His name is Tanner, and we lived on the same floor while we were
together in the MTC! He comes home about five days before I go home.
It'd be pretty cool if I were to see him. I'll need to write him and
tell him that I'm living with his family. They're a great family, they
have three other sons still at home, Preston, Devin and Nate. It's
like having brothers!

I'm happy out in Glendale. I was pretty nervous
at fact, a lot nervous. I had been so used to how things
worked in Surprise. I was really thrown out of my comfort zone there
for a bit. The first night was pretty hard because I didn't know the
area, ward members, nothing. I feel like it needed to happen. If I
were to grow at all, I needed to be put in a situation that would make
me grow. I think that's how all of us progress, by being put in
different situations and then figuring out how things work. I'm pumped
to be a district leader again. I feel like I can take some of the
things I used in Surprise and put it to work out in Glendale.

Leaving Surprise was tough especially since Chris is going to be
baptized on the 14th. Coming into Glendale, I met Rob. He has a date
for the 21st and is beyond ready. He just passed his baptismal
interview yesterday, and we meet with him nearly every day. He had a
blessing to help him quit smoking, and he said that the next day he
felt sick to his stomach when he was around others who were smoking.
He's talking about his baptism a lot, and even about preparing to go
to the temple. I feel very blessed to be able to have the chance to
work with Rob, and everyone else out here. Like I said, there's so
many people to work with that I can always be busy. New people seem to
just appear out of nowhere. What a blessing!

I wish I had hours to go on about Elder Kamissoko. He is easily the most
humble man I have ever met in my life. Everything he says or does is
pure humility. He's so positive all the time. He takes an extra hour
of study every morning for studying English, and it's fun to help him
along. Every once in a while I have fun trying to explain certain
things to him. In the past four days I've explained: whales, moose,
The Wizard of Oz, jelly beans and Nerf guns. He saw a picture of a
deer and asked, "Is that a moose?" Close! I'll have to have the
Cathcarts google some pictures of those things for him. Every day is a
new adventure. We have a good time out on the streets. I have to laugh
because nobody can say his name. The other day we were riding across
the street and some guy leaned out of his car and yelled "KAWASAKI!!!"
Elder Kamissoko just laughed and waived back. He gets called,
Kassimoko, Kamasumi, Kawabunga, Kamisookoo, but he just lets it
happen. Every time he prays, you can feel the power of his humility in
seeking the Lord's will. I love the man. He's a great teacher and I
look forward to every chance I have to work with him.

 I stand in awe of the man more and more every day. He's one of only four members of the church in Mali, and the first missionary from his country. He was introduced to the church when he came to America a few years ago to learn English. He has a sponsor family in Boulder, Colorado, and emails them every so often. He has no contact with his family in Mali. Talk about sacrifices to serve the Lord. I feel compelled to be humble every time I look at him. I genuinely love him and we have so much fun together. I can't help but feel like dirt when I'm around him sometimes. I look
at all of the junk I've acquired over my mission and then I see how simple he is, but he's beyond happy all the time. He's really given me the opportunity to think about some of the priorities in my life.

Not a whole lot to update on this week. I'm still trying to figure
everything out and I'm having so much fun. I hope to hear from you all
soon! More to come next week from Glendale but until then, take care
and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Last day with Elder Wood

With new companion Elder Kamissoko

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Life is Full of Surprises....and So are Transfers (April 3, 2012)

Hey everybody!
Wasn't General Conference amazing? I seem to look forward more and more to conference every session. It's like the Super Bowl to us missionaries. I honestly wish I could talk and talk about all of the talks that I liked and the few phrases I wrote here and there. Honestly, I'm saving all that for when the Ensign comes out next month. Most of my notes were simply personal revelation. I write bolded brackets in my notes every time I write an impression that comes to my mind.  My notes have a lot of brackets! Elder Hallstrom started off conference with a bang on conversion to the Gospel, something we've been working hard on in weaving into our teaching. I'll briefly mention also that Elder Bednar's talk in the prietshood session was a spiritual smack to the face on priesthood duty. The story about his dad was very powerful. I have a feeling that one will be quoted by bishops, stake presidents and various other priesthood leaders for years to come. 
Another great talk I loved was Elder Ronald A. Rasband's. I always look forward to hearing him speak. When I was a youth, he came and spoke to our stake in Richland. I had the chance to meet him and to shake his hand. He was saying hi to all of the youth and when he shook my hand, he looked me in the eye and said, "You're going to be a great missionary." That always stuck with me. Ever since then I've just had a special love for his messages. This one in particular sat well in my heart. I can't really explain why. It brought me to tears and I just sat there thinking about the blessing of this life and of our Heavenly Father's love for His children. If you haven't had the chance to hear it, I recommend it...and maybe a box of Kleenex too!
Chris is doing fantastic. We had dinner and a lesson with him this week at Bishop McLaws' house. We set up a baptismal calender with him and planned out how things would go up until and even after his baptism. The Spirit was very strong in that home. Chris was almost a little emotional as he was talking about how much this has been helping him in his life. Bishop is going to take good care of Chris after he is baptized.
I'm going to keep this email short, but I want to briefly touch on something that came to my mind as I was sitting in conference. I thought a lot in the priesthood session about things I had been taught as a youth. For some reason I kept remembering Bro. Tom Erickson always telling the young men to, "Sit up straight, feet on the floor, stick your chest out and smile! You're a priesthood holder, be happy about it!" I swear he said that to me and everyone else every Sunday from the time I was 11 (yes, still in primary) up until I was about 17 years old. It was never done in a threatening way or anything--always with a smile, and I've always remembered that! Even now I'll catch myself in zone leader council or in district meetings and I have to have my feet flat on the floor and roll my shoulders back a little bit. "Be happy, guys! It's a great day!" I know Bro. Erickson is going to read this eventually, and I have to openly thank him for that little lesson over all those years.
Well, transfer news just came in. I'm gone. Yup, after a good year of Surprise, I will be transferred. I can't lie, I'm pretty crushed. Then again I had to have seen it coming eventually. Not many zone leaders stay in their area for over a year. I'm a little upset, yeah, but I have a better feeling about it than when I was transferred from Avondale. Maybe it's a sign of maturity? I know and testify that President Taylor is inspired and that wherever I go, I'll be where I need to be. I'm sure going to miss this place.
Write back soon everyone! Have a great week. Take care and be good.
Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner