Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Glendale's Angels (June 26, 2012)

Hey everyone!

What a fun week it's been! With Elder Vaoga with us it's been a little
busy trying to coordinate who's going where in what area. The past two
nights he's stayed with the Black Canyon Elders. To make room for him
in the Cathcarts, we've assembled the bunk bed in our room. Vaoga will
get a new companion tomorrow and everythin will o back to the way it
was...ish. Transfers are tomorrow and our district is losing Sister
Jeanfreau, which makes me sad. I've known her since she started way
back in Surprise, and having her here was a huge benefit to the
district. The Solano Elders will stay, which makes me happy. Elder
Johnston and Elder Zeledon are just too awesome together.

Pics this week. Elder Nield was cooking burgers on the stove. They
were spittin' up a lot of grease, and he put on Sister Cathcart's
apron to cover his shirt. Yup, that's my little princess flippin'
burgers. The second picture is the whole Glendale zone. We had a stake
fireside the other night on the plan of salvation, explaining what
happens after we die. All of the missionaries wore white and played
the angels that guided them on the tour. It was a lot of fun and I bet
it was pretty cool for others to see all of the full-time missionaries
dressed in white.

We were knocking doors on Wednesday and found a 16 year-old named
Marcus. He told us that his parents were going through a divorce, and
that he could use a prayer. We said a quick prayer with him right
there, and went back on Friday to share more. On Friday, he was mowing
his yard when we rolled up. He stopped in the middle of mowing and
talked with us for a good twenty minutes in his half-cut yard. He told
us that he actually knew two young women his age who were LDS, and
that he'd been invited to activities in the past. He even went to one
of them about a year ago. When we told them that those two girls were
in our ward, he was more interested. He's known them for years, and
they've all been great friends. We gave Marcus a Book of Mormon and
invited him to pray right there in his yard. He seemed pretty nervous,
and I don't blame him. But the fact that he offered a prayer out loud
in his front yard with two missionaries said a lot about his intent. I
think this could be a really good thing. We talked to these two girls
and they both committed themselves to helping him come to church.
There's so much potential with our youth and their friends right now.

We also had the chance to pray with a woman named Carli. She's about
25, black, has a few kids, and seemed really relieved when she talked
to us. She said that she's having trouble forgiving someone for what
they had done to her family. After saying a prayer with her, we spoke
with her on her porch for the next hour! She said we could come back
and we plan on going tonight! She was very sincere with her questions
and was looking for something. Yesterday was great day for finding,
and speaking with Carli was the boost we needed.

On Sunday I had the chance to bless the sacrament in La Pradera Park
ward. Lately I'd been studying covenants (promises with God), and
there was a fantastic article in the newest Ensign on the covenants
that we make. Up until my mission I had thought that the sacrament
only renewed our baptismal covenants. Well now I've come to learn that
the sacrament renews all covenants, including baptism, priesthood and
even temple covenants. Better late than never, I guess? Like I said, I
knew that the sacrament was a renewal of certain covenants, but I
hadn't realized the magnitude of it until a few weeks ago. Elder
Dallin H. Oaks says that the appropriate blessing and partaking of the
sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred meeting in the
church. I blessed the water, and made sure to take my time in really
pondering those covenants I was renewing. Yesterday while we were
knocking doors, we stopped at the Alba's, a family in the ward. Sister
Alba turned to me and said, "Elder, I want to thank you for what you
did on Sunday in helping with the sacrament. When you were blessing
the water, I thought to myself, 'Wow, there's one Elder who genuinely
knows the importance of what he is doing.' Elder Turner, thank you for
that, you made my week." I was flattered! What a great thing to hear.
It was one of those little testimony confirmations of applying the
things I've learned.

Thanks for everyone's support. I'm now in week 1 of my last 6 weeks as
a full-time servant of the Master. I love the work and I love the
Lord. Elder Nield and I have been coming closer together in the work
and it's been amazing to see him step up. We have a fun week planned
and I'm already looking forward to writing about the little miracles
in store for Glendale. Until next week, take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Elder Princess Nield

The Glendale Zone missionaries

Friday, June 22, 2012

Random Pics from the Mission (June 22, 2012)

These photos come from Sister Taylor, the mission president's wife. She has a mission blog at http://azphxmission.blogspot.com 

Sister Taylor set up a regular food drop where the missionaries can get fresh fruits and veggies. 
Group shot from the Glendale Zone training

The Glendale Zone

Our Polynesian Tri-panionship (June 18, 2012)

Hey everyone!

Awesome week! Lots of stuff to cover so let's blaze through it! A few
pictures to start us off. The first is of me in an apartment complex
that Elder Nield and I call "Ghost Town." This place is huge, and
there's a few people we see in there, but it's practically empty.
Hundreds of apartments, but probably less than 10 percent have
occupants. Nobody is outside. It's kind of run down and a little scary
(ok a lot of scary) after dark. I'm the one looking confused by the
empty tennis courts, empty pool and empty courtyard. Elder Nield had
to make a phone call, and he found the best shade near him--a palm
tree. I thought it was too funny that he stood directly in the shade
of the trunk of the tree! I don't blame him, it broke 110 that day.
And it's only getting hotter! The third picture is of a dust storm
that hit us on Saturday afternoon. Elder Nield and I were biking and I
saw a huge brown cloud south of us. We only got a little of the dust,
but my guess is Avondale and Goodyear were hit pretty good. It was
enough to brown the skies a little bit. Elder Nield thought it was
pretty funny. Hey, at least it wasn't as bad as the one last year
about this time. That was insane.

The last picture is of Elder Vaoga (pronounced "Vah-own-guh"). He was
Elder Tiatia's companion before Tiatia left for New Zealand, and we
all miss him a lot. Elder Vaoga is without a companion for who knows
how long...it could be a few more days, or it could be until transfers
next week. We just don't know. Elder Nield thinks it could be until
next week, which is starting to look like the way it's going to be.
Anywho, Elder Voaga moved in with us! He's from Samoa, and is a
convert to the church. Nicest guy in the world. He has one of the most
contagious laughs I've ever heard, and one of the most sincere
testimonies to go with it. He has a lot of work going on in his ward,
so a few brothers from his ward take him for the day to his
appointments. Sometimes he'll join me and Nield for knocking doors or
teaching appointments. I like it because I have two big companions to
keep me safe in Ghost Town! Seriously, Elders Nield and Voaga are both
over six foot, and on either side of me we look like the letter "H"
walking down the street. Fun times. We all three sleep on the living
room floor of the Cathcart's home.

So on Tuesday we had a district leader council. I was meeting with the
zone leaders and other district leaders. Elder Nield had the idea that
we call Shane, one of the priests in the ward (16-18 year olds for
those of you not familiar with the LDS term "priest"). We asked Shane
if he wanted to join Elder Nield for a few hours. He said he would! I
let Shane borrow my bike, and he dressed up in a shirt and tie. You
could tell he was nervous. They had an appointment with one of our new
investigators, Kevin. When I came back from the meeting, I heard that
Kevin accepted the invitation to be baptized on July 14th. WHAT?! How
cool is that? At five weeks out, Elder Nield is already taking
prospective missionaries with him to lessons, and inviting people to
be baptized! It's like Nield is training a new missionary! What a grat
experience for the both of them Shane gets a taste of full-time
missionary service, and Elder Nield gets to step up. I wouldn't be
surprised in the slightest if Elder Nield trains a new missionary the
transfer after I go home. In all honesty, it's what Im trying to
prepare him to do. He could totally do it.

On Sunday we had a few investigators at church! One was a 26 year-old
named Jay. He was a little nervous, and I gave him a pair of my slacks
to wear. He seemed to enjoy himself. Elder Nield had a great lesson in
gospel principles prepared on the sacrament. After the lesson, I asked
Jay what he thought so far. He said, "It's a lot to take in...and now
I feel like I've got some repenting to do..." That was good to hear.
We'll most likely be having the YSA teach Jay, but I'm happy that his
first experience at church was good for him. We also brought a 16 year
old named Cesar to the cottage meeting last night. He enjoyed it a
lot. We have an appointment with him on Tuesday to teach him more
about baptism, because he has a lot of questions about it. It was just
a good week to give people a little taste of the gospel in their

Dad, Happy Father's Day. And Happy Birthday at that, too! I'll be
honest, I don't have anything to mail home for your birthday. I tried
looking for something, but nothing seemed right. However, I do have
something I'm going to email you. It's just for you. I obtained the
audio files of Pres. Bingham's songs that he wrote. They are "If I
Believe," and "The Tie That Binds." I want you to listen to them. I
feel very strongly that you will enjoy them. You and I have always
listened to different types of music over the years, and I find myself
singing these songs to myself lately. I think of you when I do. Thank
you for your example to me, and may these songs bless your life as
they have blessed mine.

Until next week's Tuesday email, take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

Ghost Town

Elder Nield in the shade

Elder Vaoga on the ukelele

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stop and Smell the Cacti (June 11, 2012)

Hey everyone!

It's been a week jam-packed with meetings and specialized trainings.
Wednesday and Thursday there were leadership training meetings at the
transfer building. It was good to see friends from other areas. I
snapped a few pictures but I just had to send home one of Elder Wood,
Elder Peterson and myself. I love those Elders. The meetings went all
day and there was a huge focus on accountability and general
instruction of stewardships. I took pages and pages of notes and
impressions that I plan to use in the coming weeks with the district.
The best part of the meetings was when President Taylor played a video
compilation of a few talks by Pres. Eyring and Elder Holland, along
with some piano arrangements of hymns and clips from "The Lamb of God"
DVD. It's called, "Missionary Work and the Atonement," and you can see
it on YouTube. It's about ten minutes long, if that helps narrow the
search. It talks about the value of work, and about the struggles of
missionary work, but most importantly our need as missionaries to
depend the Atonement to keep working hard. Very powerful, I encourage
everyone to watch it.

Oh no...we just got word about Elder Tiatia. He's in the zone out here
in Glendale, but he's waiting for his visa to serve in New Zealand.
He's been here for six months and just now got word from President
Taylor that he leaves in two days and he needs to pack. We're all
pretty crushed. Elder Tiatia loves Arizona and said that he doesn't
want to leave. Talk about losing yourself in service. He's a big
Polynesian boy and he's certainly loved by people out here including
all of us. We're going to miss him but he's going to do great.

Elder Nield and I have been working a lot lately. Despite the work,
you've got to take time to stop and smell the cacti, as shown in my
other photo this week. My whole mission I've never had the chance for
a "hugging-cactus" photo. Got one! Joking aside, we really have
been working hard. During Friday's specialized training put on by
Pres. and Sis. Taylor, we learned about a focus of helping families
AND prospective families, namely, older teenagers and young adults. My
mind flashed back to teaching Victor, seeing the enthusiasm he had for
the gospel. That boy is going to be a great missionary and priesthood
man very very soon. During that part of instruction, Elder Nield and I
both had the impression to ask the youth leaders in the ward about
doing a Sunday lesson on missionary work. Earlier in the week we
planned on asking the bishop for permission to instruct the ward on
the fifth-Sunday lesson in July. During this instruction from Pres.
Taylor, I turned to Elder Nield and suggested that we try the youth
instead. He said he had the exact same idea come to his mind too.

So, Juan. What's going on there? We're not teaching him anymore. He
said that he's just not feeling as enthusiastic about being baptized
anymore. Our lessons with him are spiritually explosive by the end of
it, but he's not recognizing that, no matter how much we try and
explain it to him. He just needs time. He said he might still come to
church (he didn't come yesterday) but he wants to continue "walking
his own path" right now. Elder Nield and I are both a little sad about
that. We're giving him some space and said he could contact us when he
feels ready again. He was doing so well!

Again, it's tough, but I keep tucked in my mind something I heard a
few years ago from Elder Wirthlin in general conference. Probably one
of my favorite talks, "Come What May and Love It." I've never
forgotten this talk. I read this quote in the most recent Ensign:

"[One] we can do is understand the principle of compensation. The Lord
compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from
those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While
it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that
every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears
of rejoicing and gratitude."

It's just like when Elder Allred and I dropped Randy. Shortly after
that, work picked up tremendously. You just need the faith.

Recently we met an African man named Robert. He pointed to the house
he lived at, the one on the corner, and said we could come back. We
went back, and a white woman answered the door saying she'd never
heard of Robert. We knocked all of the nearby houses. No Robert. We
had to be there for some reason! While we weren't able to find Robert,
I still know in my heart that there's a Robert out there who's ready
for the gospel, and many others just like him. Why be discouraged? The
members of my district have been happier and happier lately, and
they've been busier as a result. I read Alma 29 the other day. This
jumped out and grabbed my attention:

14 But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full
because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of

The only thing I conclude is that others are doing well too. I feel a
sense of accomplishment in assisting them. Solano ward is doing better
than they have been in a while. I love building them up every chance I
get. I look forward to district meetings because I'm being driven by a
hope that good things are coming...maybe not for me particularly, but
for everyone around me. The work moves forward!

Until next week, take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner


Elders Wood, Peterson and Turner

Monday, June 4, 2012

First Week Over 110°! (June 4, 2012)

Hey everyone!

Much better week this week! Only a few of our appointments fell
through, and we were able to talk to a lot of people. Elder Nield had
a great idea. Instead of just biking to the furthest points of our
area, let's just walk around our neighborhood. On Thursday and Friday
we walked only in the neighborhood where the Cathcart's live. We
knocked on the doors of all of the members of the church in the area,
and taught mini-lessons to create an appropriate environment to seek
referrals. After that we'd knock on all of the doors on that
particular street, and then let the members know how it went with
their friends. It was cool to see how members reacted when we told
them how receptive their neighbors were just to a prayer! One
particular door had a cool arch out front, and I couldn't resist the
"keystone of our religion" photo with the Book of Mormon.

One small world story for you. We knocked on a door and an older woman
let us inside. She's very set in her Roman Catholic church, but was
very nice to us and just asked us how we were doing. She asked where
we were from, and the conversation went something like this:

"Where are you from?" (her)

"Washington state!" (me)

"What part?"

"East side of the state."

"Like Richland area?"

"Yeah! As a matter of fact I'm from Richland! How are you associated
with the Tri-Cities?"

"Do you know any Volmers?"

"Absolutely I know the Volmers! How do you know them?"

Come to find out that her second cousin is none other than Carl
Volmer! Her name is Kathleen Devine. When I told her that Volmers were
in my family tree, her jaw about hit the floor. It was such a fun
conversation! I hadn't had that much fun of a conversation about the
Tri-Cities since Jim Bobo back in Surprise. We had the chance to say a
blessing for her home, which she greatly appreciated. She said we were
welcome any time if we needed water or anything else. I thought you'd
all enjoy that! Oh, and I'm supposed to ask about when Carl and his
buddies bought a hearse in high school? Can anyone fill me in on that
one? Story for another time!

Juan came to church!!! He stayed for the whole block! He was welcomed
right inside and many people introduced themselves. When we went into
Elder's quorum, there was a brother in the ward who had joined us for
a lesson. He knew that Juan had a two-year old daughter (who didn't
come to church this week) and asked him if he wanted to see the
nursery where the little kids go during Sunday School. Juan was able to
see the nursery before Elders Quorum and he seemed to like it. It was
pretty cool. Juan seemed to be more welcomed than anyone we've invited
to come to church. Our lesson with him this week was on the Godhead.
It made a lot of sense to him. By the end of the lesson we invited him
to pray about being baptized. The Spirit was very strong and he seemed
to have felt it. I don't know if he really understood or truly
recognized what it was. We've set Saturdays as days for lessons, and now
I'm always looking forward to the weekend.

The young men in the ward have been preparing for scout camp all week.
Devin and Nathan Cathcart will be gone, and it's going to be quiet
around the house. Bro. Bluhm had asked us about our experiences in
Scouts. I remember the campouts but I remember the lessons behind them
more. Jason Medina was the best at that. Every campout had a lesson to
teach. I loved when he would have us bring our scriptures not just for
having, but because he had each boy in the group present a thought
each night. He would joke around like crazy but when it came time to
teaching the gospel, I remember his great reverence for
those principles. He emailed me a few weeks ago, and I want him to
know that I got it and re-read it frequently. All of the things he
taught me in Young Men really helped shape me into the missionary and
priesthood man I'm trying to become. It's been a fun week to ponder on
the influence that all of my priesthood leaders have had on me. What a
great blessing it would be to work with the youth! The youth are
incredible at what they do and in applying the things they learn.
Thankfully the church has so many tools and resources to help the
youth prepare for a gospel-oriented life.

It's hotter and hotter every day but we've been pushing forward. Elder
Nield and I are just wiped out by the end of the day. I love how Elder
Nield always says, "Man I love being a missionary," after we have good experiences
with people--and he's said it a lot this week. We've
really been having a blast as we see little miracles unfold every day,
like the sister we tracted into who referred us to all five of her
neighbors. We had no idea she lived there! We felt prompted to go and
what a great blessing that turned out to be. Thanks to everyone for
your prayers and letters of support. Have a wonderful week. Take care
and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

The keystone of our religion