Monday, July 30, 2012

Whatever I Was Before, I'm Different Now (July 30, 2012)

Hey everyone!

This will be my last email home as a full-time missionary. People seem
to keep reminding me that I go home next week, which is ok I guess.
They wish nothing but the best. In all honesty, the thought doesn't
really compute within me. I don't feel like next week will be any
different. I feel like Sunday night will be call-ins, Monday will be a
normal work day, Tuesday P-Day due to transfers, back to work on
Wednesday through the rest of the week, Thursday weekly planning,
Friday district meeting, Sunday ward council and PEC meetings, church,
dinners with families in the ward, and so on. It has become a part of
who I am now. But thinking that Monday I will enter the mission home
and that Tuesday I'll board a plane? I fully recognize that the
transition home is going to be a difficult one, but I embrace it.
Being transferred was tough, but I grew and became more dependent on
heaven as a result.

I plan on making this last week no different than any other week, if
not better. Why slack? The work is still work, and I cannot leave
Phoenix satisfied without feeling that I've left my area better than I
found it. I anticipate Elder Nield to train, and he needs to be ready
if that is the case. I feel that he will be. We had a great lesson
this week teaching the youth in church. By the end of it, we received
over 15 names of their friends who they want to invite to church,
mutual, family dinner or some other activity. Most of the week will be
contacting the youth and their friends. I couldn't think of a better
way to end than to set the stage for the youth to invite their friends
to learn more. Elder Nield is going to be busy, that's for sure!

On Wednesday we were able to see Dave. Dave is a larger black man who
we had met a few months ago when we offered to pray with him. He
gladly welcomes us into his home to speak with him. The other day he
had a lot of questions about us and why we do what we do. He had no
idea that neither of us were from Phoenix. As we explained why we
served missions, he was amazed. He had said that when he first met us,
he was hesitant to let two "white boys" into his home to pray with
him. But when we felt that all we wanted to do was serve him, he
wanted us to come back. By the end of the conversation, he was filled
with emotion as he said, "Just thinking that you came all this way,
that you sacrificed so much all just to save souls and find someone
like means so much to me. Brothers, you are always welcome in
my home." He then proceeded to say that he wants us to come back in a
few days to meet his girlfriend and teach them both more of what we
have to say. We did.

Friday was the best lesson that Elder Nield and I had together. Dave
loved every minute of it. This large man knelt to the floor and
offered a simple prayer asking if what we had taught was true. His
girlfriend was a little skeptical, which is not a problem at all. In
fact I prefer it. It's a proving ground for faith. While still on our
knees, Dave admitted that, "I need to wait for my answer...but it
feels good so far."

I sure love being a missionary. The time has flown, but I've sure
enjoyed every minute of it. Over 24 months I've probably grown an inch
or so, and maybe five to ten pounds? I've walked and biked who knows
how many thousands of miles. I've helped fixed flat tires and
testimonies. I've promised blessings and received more. I've taught,
testified, baptized, sweat, struggled, trained, exchanged, led,
counseled, planned, laughed, bawled, and even ripped a shirt from time
to time. As for what lies in store after the mantle is removed, we
shall see. A missionary once told me that "You are called of God.
Whatever you were before, you are different now." I sure believe it.
My heart stirs with gratitude as I close the last week of my mission.
I testify of the enabling power of the Atonement of the Savior,
because I know that I received nothing less than divine help over the
course of the last two years.

Thank you again to everyone for your love and support. Until next
week, take care and be good.

Much love,
Elder Eric James Turner

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