Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Believe (May 29, 2012)

Hey everyone!

I have more pictures to send home, but this computer I'm on isn't
exactly cooperating right now. I'll just send this one. While biking
east on Dunlap, we saw this wall and snapped a picture of a little
morning scripture study. Another picture I wanted to include is of
Elder Nield. He sunburns REALLY easily and it's a picture of his arms
on the one afternoon he forgot sunscreen. He learned that lesson once!
Boy he got roasted!

The week itself was a little slower than we wanted. So many
appointments fell through! I'm used to these kinds of things
happening, but this week was just too many to count. Splits fell
through, appointments, investigators not coming to church, just a lot.
It was almost comical. Earlier in the week we had a zone conference
and had a guest speaker from the Buckeye stake presidency. He spoke
about some experiences he had on his mission, including the "perfect
day." He said they had some five or six back to back to back teaching
appointments in the day, and a baptism of a couple at the end of the
evening. One by one, every appointment fell through. At least they had
the baptism to look forward to. Once they got to the church, the
family never showed up, and weren't baptized. You could see a lot of
missionaries nodding their heads in agreement, because that happens!
He said, "Elders and Sisters, the next day I woke up. I was still a
missionary. I put on my tag and got back out to work. They work went
forward." It was just a reassurance that those days happen, that you
cowboy up and get back to serving. Like I said, pretty funny
considering what happened to most of our appointments!

The best part of the week was the lesson we had with John, a
less-active brother in the ward. The bishop had asked us to see him,
and we did on Wednesday night. We set another appointment for Friday
morning. He expressed that he still believes the church is true, but
because of too many mistakes the guilt kept him from attending on
Sunday. I was rather blunt with him when I told him that those
thoughts were not from his Heavenly Father. We continued by helping
him understand things that would help him fight against Satan. Elder
Nield's invitation trumped it all when he said these words, "John,
will you kick Satan's butt and come to church this Sunday?" John got a
good laugh out of that one and said he would. He came to church and
stayed just for sacrament meeting. I spoke in sacrament meeting this
week and when I finished, I looked to Elder Nield and John, and John
gave a big thumbs up from the back row! I had a big smile on for the
rest of the meeting. That there was worth all of the appointments that
fell through. He's making steps to having the Holy Ghost more in his
life, and he knows that it's the right time for him to do it.

There was another cottage meeting at the Cathcart's home on Sunday
night. Pres' Cathcart and Bingham did a few more songs, including one
I hadn't heard before called, "If I Believe." I love the chorus, and I
hope it illustrates what we're trying to do out here:

"Could I make the world better by doing some good?
Could I look for the lost till they're found?
Could I help move a mountain in somebody's life,
Or lift up the head that hangs down?"

It's such a beautiful song. I'm grateful that I was able to hear it.
I'll be singing it throughout the week. Concern for the one, it's
always been about that. The work moves forward! I'm just amazed at how
quickly Elder Nield is progressing. He's such a great missionary! If
anything, these weeks are helping shape him into the powerful servant
of the Lord that he is going to become. I sure love this place. I look
forward to hearing from you all very very soon. Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Scripture Study Phoenix-style!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Welcome Elder Michael Nield (May 21, 2012)

Hey everyone!

Well transfers were this week and Elder Kamissoko was taken from me.
Guess where he went? Avondale! Garden Lakes and Villa de Paz! He was
transferred to my first area! I told him he would love it out there.
He's going to be well taken care of, I know that for a fact. The work
is great down there. I'm very happy for him. I managed to snap a
picture of us before he took off after the meeting.

The transfer meeting was pretty fun. All of the trainers and trainees
met in the Relief Society room. They lined us up as trainers and
trainees against opposite walls, like middle school PE square dancing
lessons. President said a little bit about each trainee and announced
to the group who would be training them. My new trainee and companion
is Elder Michael Nield from Hillsboro, Oregon! I love the kid already.
We met in the middle of the room with a big hug and began to get to
know each other. He may be my tallest companion, over 6 foot (like
Elder Abel?), and he's quite athletic. He's big into downhill mountain
biking, and he absolutely smokes me on the bike! He has plans to play
BYU football post-mission as a free safety. After a round of morning
basketball, I figure I don't want to get in his way when it comes to
sports. He's awesome though, and reminds me a lot of me when I started
my mission.

The transfer meeting itself started awkwardly. We had to use the
bathroom really bad after we met. That's when trainers and trainees
enter the chapel to all of the missionaries singing, "Called to Serve"
and then we sit on the stand to introduce our trainees. I stepped out
of the bathroom and heard the second verse of the hymn and grabbed
Elder Nield. We went into a full sprint down the hall to get to the
chapel. We walked in just as everyone was still singing and taking
their places on the stand. That was a little embarrassing, but
definitely a unique start to our companionship!

I took a few pictures of the week already. The first day his bike
hadn't arrived, so we walked everywhere. Day 2 his bike came, so I
snapped him putting it together. As we were biking north on 39th,
someone drove by and threw an egg at Elder Nield. It hit him square in
the backpack, exploded, and yolk flew over his head and off to my left
in the street. He handled the situation like a champ. He gave a
fun-sounding, "Thank you!" after I heard the pop of the egg. We were
laughing about it, mostly. It was so hot outside that I told him not
to clean it off until we got to the house because by then it'd be
cooked and we could have a late lunch! You can't really see the egg on
his backpack in this picture, but it was all over the left side and up
on his shoulder. The last picture I couldn't resist. This weekend was
Pres. Cathcart's 50th birthday. Momma Cathcart special ordered these
for everyone to wear at the party she threw. Across the top it says,
"In dog years I'm dead" with a picture of his face. It's been a fun

I'm amazed at how quickly Elder Nield is taking to the mission. On the
first day I talked to the first maybe three or four people while we
were walking around. After that I told him he would talk to the next
person. He was beyond nervous. He stopped a few times while talking
and glanced to me if I'd help him. I just kind of smiled and let him
do his thing! He did just fine, and the man said we could come back!
Elder Nield's confidence just shot up in that one street contact. He
was so excited! Turns out the man gave us a wrong address, but I think
that was a good experience to show Elder Nield how fun it is to talk
to people about the gospel.

After that, I did the same thing with knocking on doors. About three
doors and then I let him take over. Elder Abel did it with me, and it
was necessary experience to help me learn how to teach and testify at
a moment's notice. Elder Nield took to it like a fish to water...which
may not be the best description considering how blasted hot it's
getting! Now he wants to step up at almost everything! I love working
with him already. He's not afraid to try new things and to learn from
those experiences. Companionship study is the best it has ever been on
my mission, thanks to the training program we have. I swear he's come
pre-trained! He's humble and excited, and he loves the work.

Thank you all for your support! I look forward to hearing from you
again very soon. Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

With Elder Kamissoko at the transfer meeting

Nield assembling his bike

After getting hit with an egg

Bro. Cathcart's birthday button

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Farewell to Elder Kamissoko--Bring on the Trainee (May 15, 2012)

Hey everyone!

As you can probably tell from the email subject, Elder Kamissoko will
be transferred tomorrow. The reason why is because I will be training
a new missionary! The hardest part about the past 6 weeks was not
telling anyone...say what? Yup, I've known for six weeks that this
would happen. The day I was notified I'd be leaving Surprise,
President Taylor called me to tell me he's trying something new.
Instead of having zone leaders and assistants "flushed" into new areas
and train, he's going to have them come in for one transfer with an
existing companion. After that, he'd have them train. He told me,
"You'll be going to a new area with a companion who is already there.
You'll be with him for six weeks to learn the area and the ward. After
that, he will be transferred and you will train for your last two
transfers until you go home." He told me not to tell anyone,
especially Elder Kamissoko. Elder Buttars is doing the same thing, but
out in South Phoenix. The phone call came on Saturday confirming that
I would train.  I told Elder Kamissoko and he wasn't too surprised.
He's been here for nine months, and he felt like he'd be leaving soon

The pictures this week are of me and Elder Kamissoko calling home. The
picture of him is him calling his sponsor family in Colorado. He
called Africa at the mission home on President Taylor's land-line. I
got to hear him speak in Bambara, one of the dialects of Mali. I got a
video of it too and I'll have to show you all someday! The last
picture is of a woman we met outside after our phone calls home. Just
south of Glendale Rd we met a woman from Sudan who spoke only Arabic.
We went and got her an Arabic copy of the Book of Mormon that we had,
and we got a picture holding our books. It was tough trying to
communicate with her. Both her and us were all laughing most of the
time, so we had fun!

Mother's Day was a hoot! We biked to church that morning just as the
ward that met before us was leaving. We walked inside and everyone was
saying, "Church is cancelled." Huh? We went inside and it was dark,
and hotter than outside. The power was on the fritz and the air
conditioning was broken. When we went into the chapel, there was a
funny smell in the air. Just then our bishopric came walking around
the corner telling people to evacuate the building. The smell was burning
cables and wires, the early signs of an electrical fire! They
called the fire department and the building was cleared. No fire was
started, but church was cancelled. Elder Kamissoko and I spent the
next twenty minutes outside telling people that church was cancelled.
Remember that lesson we had last week where our investigator wouldn't
come to church? He came! He came just in time for us to tell him to go
home! He was laughing about the whole thing. But hey, he's going to be
blessed for his effort to come anyways. We then drove with our Spanish
Elders to the mission home in Peoria, where Kamissoko would call
Africa and Elder Zeledon would call Costa Rica. While Zeledon was on
the phone, Elder Kamissoko and I went to the stake center down the
road to take the sacrament. Sounds like quite the sabbath!

We had the chance to pray with a family of eight this week. Talk about
powerful! We were trying to see some former investigators in a
particular apartment complex. These buildings have two floors, with
two doors on each level. This particular person lived in the top-right
apartment. The person didn't live their anymore, and the door was
slammed in our faces. As we went downstairs, I remembered something
Elder Johnson told me. He suggested knocking on the neighbors doors of
the people you visit. It's been really good for him and Elder Young. I
thought, hey, why not? We knocked the two bottom doors, nothing. We
went back up the stairs to knock the top-left door, and a girl about
our age named Stephanie answered the door. She very much wanted us to
pray with her, but when the whole family was there. We went back a few
days later and met everyone. We all knelt in the crowded living room
and I offered the prayer. After that, Elder Kamissoko was talking to
the mother of the family while I was talking to Stephanie. She was
nearly in tears as she was explaining all of the poor choices she's
made in her life and how she just wants to change. She was saying that
she had been thinking about all of the things she had done, and how
shocked she was she saw two missionaries knocking at her door. I don't
doubt that we may have been an answer to her prayers. It's tough to
get a hold of them, but we're going to do everything we can this week
to meet with them again.

It was good to talk to you guys this weekend! Mom, did you get the
package I sent you? I really hope you like it. I got the package you
sent. I love it. I'll probably be giving most of those ties to Elder
Kamissoko. His eyes got really big when he saw the gold one! I figure
it's the least I could do for such an amazing companion! I wish I
could put into words how much I'm going to miss him. Last night we
were chatting altogether with the Cathcarts about how awesome Elder
Kamissoko is. I had to leave to go put my stuff in my room, but I
couldn't help but just kind of sit there and cry for a moment. I've
been beyond humbled every day that we've been together. He's just the
nicest guy in the world, and the most sincere missionary I've ever
met. What an incredible man. I'm confident that the remainder of his
mission will give him the necessary experience he will need to build
up the church wherever he goes--especially in Mali.

Thank you all for your support. I now ask only for your prayers as I
begin this next step in my service. I plan to do everything in my
power to help this new missionary feel as comfortable as Elder Abel
made me feel the moment I was put to work. Pray that he will be at
ease with this huge transition in his life, and for patience with me.
I'm eager and enthusiastic to meet my new companion, and one thing is
for sure... I'm going to work that boy until he drops! Take care and
be good!

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Elder Kamissoko calling home

Elder Turner calling home

An Arabic Book of Mormon for the lady from Sudan

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Early Birthday/Mother's Day/Phone Call Mom (May 7, 2012)

Hey everyone!

I know parents of missionaries are excited for phone calls next week!
Here's a brief rundown on what's going to happen. Elder Kamissoko will
be calling his family in Mali on Sunday at 12 noon from the mission
home. I don't know what time church is back home, so what I'll
probably do is call in the morning just to see when you are available.
Mom and dad, if you just want to text the Cathcarts and tell me when
church is or when works for you, that would be fine too. Our sacrament
meeting starts at 11, and we'll be at the mission home at noon. As far
as I know, we're in the same time zone. I will have 40 minutes max to

Pictures this week! Elder Kamissoko and I made a huge effort to see
part member families this week. One such family had a lovely sign on
their door that sent a chill down my spine despite the 100+ temp
outside. It said, "A house is not a home without a pitbull" Yeah, who
wants to knock that? The other picture just makes me laugh. On
Saturday night the ward had their annual "Spring Sing" to raise money
for camp. Their was a dinner and entertainment was provided by the
youth of the ward. At the end the youth did a skit they had done in
the past. It's the story of Johny Lingo, but backwards. It's about an
ugly cow and a studly cow who offers eight women to marry the ugly
cow. Devin Cathcart narrated the whole thing, and Shane and Carly were
the main cows. It was way too funny and I had to have a picture with
them in their cow costumes.

I was able to go on an exchange with Elder Johnson this past Friday. I
love the guy. Ever since the MTC I've just been good friends with him.
Living with him in Surprise was a blast and now I get to see him in
action. What a great leader! Our day together went so well. We were in
his area, and it was a pleasure to be able to see how he worked. We
had a good time on the exchange sharing stories, opinions and
testimonies of our missions up until this point. It was also great to
see him work with the stake leadership in the stake coordination
meeting this past Sunday. The stake president out here is amazing. All
the zone leaders had to do was give him information and he began to
make assignments for himself and the rest of the presidency. What a
sense of urgency! I'm loving Glendale more and more every day!

The week was tough. We worked so hard and all appointments but one
fell through. The one lesson was with an investigator who just hasn't
been coming to church. No idea why. I was told in the MTC that when
extending invitations, anything less than a definite "YES" is a "no."
I invited very directly, "Will you come to church this Sunday?" He
paused and said "Yeah, I might be there this week!" Elder Kamissoko
asked what would be keeping him from coming. He didn't have a reason.
He went on to say, "I don't want to say yes and then not show up. I
don't want to let you guys down and..." That caught my attention and I
had to speak up. I told him to listen to what he was saying. I told
him, "We're not inviting you to church for US, we're inviting you for
YOU. It's your choice to follow Christ and you'll will get what you
put into it." It was a little bold, but it needed to be said. Elder
Kamissoko was nodding his head the whole time. I felt upset inside,
not with what I said, but with thinking about how we've been teaching
him up until this point. Does he think that the whole time we've been
inviting him to follow Christ to please us? We may need to go back to
the start and set a better foundation in explaining our purpose as

This morning I read Alma 26:21-22 (printed below) and spent nearly half an hour
writing notes and personal revelation on that scripture alone. I had
never noticed that before. I had always seen Alma 26 as a way to
express thanks and how to humble yourself in the building up of the
Lord's work. I feel as if though I need to memorize this one. I felt
so inspired after that and couldn't wait to tell Elder Kamissoko about
it! This week I had a great conversation with someone and walked away
with a strengthened testimony of the Atonement. I went to bed that
night and couldn't sleep. I laid there for over 45 minutes just
thinking about how real all of this is. It's moments like those that
solidify my testimony of a perfect work for a perfect Heavenly Father.
This week I was yelled at by people more over the course of three or
four days than the past year all together. And? Shrug it off, get to
work! There are people out there who are capable of feeling what I've
felt these past few days and I'm eager to meet them. Elder Kamissoko
and I are just plain happy. The work moves on.

I'm excited to talk with you guys this week. Have a great week, and
I'll talk to you on Sunday! Take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner
Alma 26:21-22 from the Book of Mormon
 21 And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent.
 22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
This sign speaks for itself

At the Spring Sing