Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Received on Jan. 27, 2015...FINALLY

I'm not dead, I promise! My plane didn't crash, my companion didn't stab me in my sleep, I didn't get hit by a car... I'm alive! No, really!
It's been crazy the past little while. I got to San Diego a week ago today (after waking up at 3 A.M. to get on a bus to get to the train station to get to the airport... ugh!) and it turns out P-days are on Tuesdays but I couldn't email last Tuesday because there was a distinct lack of computers at the mission home. I sent my parents a letter and it may or may not be on Facebook now. In any case....
I'm serving in El Cajon right now. My trainer's name is Elder Poffenbarger. He's from Virginia and started Arabic work about 18 months ago. El Cajon is full of Chaldean Catholics, Muslims, Assyrians, and just about any other religion from the Middle East. The nickname for the city is "Little Baghdad" and it lives up to its name; businesses usually have their names in Arabic as well as English, there are a lot of Iraqi markets and businesses here, and the majority of people speak Arabic. It's almost a rarity to find someone who speaks English well enough that we can teach them in English. When President Schmitt says "Arabic-speaking", he means it!
We have two baptisms scheduled this week. Two brothers, Mario and Marcelino, are getting baptized with their mom's permission. Their mom has been receiving lessons as well, but she won't commit to a specific baptismal date just yet, which is mildly frustrating since she wants to get baptized and she's probably more ready than her sons are. :/
The Arabic materials at the MTC bookstore didn't offer a lot of choices.
We also added a bunch of investigators this week. We were out street contacting and had prayed that we would find someone to teach. We met an Assyrian man who let us walk with him back to his apartment. When we got there, he got his wife to come into the room and we were able to teach him the Restoration. He seems really open and accepting of our message, which is exciting! Another man was a referral that we had met on the street earlier. We went to teach him and it turns out he and his family have been praying for the past little while that we would come and teach them. That was really cool.
Our mission is one where we would normally have a car, but we're car-less for 6 to 10 weeks. Our car was totalled by a distracted driver about two weeks before I arrived in San Diego, leaving my companion with a concussion and a dislocated shoulder (he's fine now, don't worry!) and our area (Hillsdale-Arabic South) without a car. There is a lot of walking right now until we get another car, and that is all dependent on when SLC wants to give us one. I'm hoping for sooner rather than later, but we'll see.
The weather is lovely. It rained yesterday which was unpleasant since we forgot our umbrella. But hey, at least it wasn't snowing! I feel bad for you Utah folks who have to deal with that stuff right now; it's sunny and 60's for the entire week this week. :P
I am about 90% sure that I've covered everything. I can actually send pictures from this computer, so let me go ahead and send those in another email. I promise there won't be a super long drought between emails this time around!
-- Elder Hawkes

Patience is NOT one of my Strengths

Christian's P-Day in the MTC was on Fridays. He left for San Diego on a Tuesday and we anticipated a letter or e-mail from him the following Monday. Monday's are traditionally P-Day, but it's not alway set it stone. Monday came and by late afternoon there was no word from him. We received a letter from him that he sent the day he arrived in San Diego which said his P-Day is on Tuesdays. So, we took a big breath and waited for Tuesday.

Waiting for the missionary letter is like waiting for class to get out. I remember sitting in High School watching the clock and waiting for it to be over. Those last few minutes would last forever. Knowing that it's P-Day for Christian and waiting for letters is the same....agonizing!

By 5:00 pm, I was beginning to wonder if maybe he didn't have time or forgot or something.
5:15 pm nothing...I'm thinking about writing his mission president the next day and demanding that my son be freed up enough to write home.
5:30 pm ...San Diego is only 10 hours away...if I leave now......
5:35 pm ....there is an email from Christian...but it's out of context and only two sentences responding to a question I sent him while he was still in the that it? Only two sentences for another week?
5:40 pm ...finally a long email from Christian...I can breath again.

Yeah, I know...just a bit overreacting.

He Arrived Safely to San Diego

Received Jan. 21, 2015

We had spoken to Christian on Jan. 20 as he was waiting to board his plane at the Salt Lake City Airport. He sounded upbeat and positive about his MTC experience and excited/nervous about heading to San Diego. It was soooo nice to hear his voice.

Dear Parents, 

We are so grateful that your sons and daughters arrived safely in San Diego today.  They were a bit weary due to early morning travel, but we were able to feed them lunch, get them some rest (along with a letter written to you), and some training.  I was able to individually meet with each of our new missionaries and am so impressed by their dedication and desire to follow Jesus Christ.  Tomorrow morning, we will assign them their first area and missionary companion.

Thanks so much for your love and support of these great missionaries.  It is truly our privilege to serve alongside them.

May God's choicest blessings be with each of you and your families.

Best regards,

Jonathan S. Schmitt
President, California San Diego Mission
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

All the new missionaries that arrived to the California San Diego Mission.
President Schmitt and his wife are seated in front middle.
Christian looks good with his red tie.

"If you don't mind me asking... Why is your dad in prison?" - Elder Hawkes

Sent on Jan. 16, 2015

Hi everyone! P-day is here! Honestly, it feels like it's been forever since I wrote you guys last, even though it's been a week. That's one of the things about the MTC... every day feels like three. Members of my district will sometimes say, "Remember yesterday when..." and then realize that it didn't happen yesterday, it happened that morning. 

I think the reason that it feels like forever is so much has happened this week that it feels like everything should be spread out more. Where to start....

I'm a Zone Leader now! President Washburn pulled me and Elder Pehrson aside on Sunday and said, "I've heard great things about you from your teachers. We'd like to make you a Zone Leader." Honestly, just saying that first part about my teachers saying I'm great would have been enough for me. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be a Zone Leader, even if it's only until Tuesday. 
Christian's MTC District
Speaking of Tuesday, we got our travel arrangements for Tuesday. We'll be flying out of Salt Lake City at around 8 on Tuesday and arrive in San Diego around 9:30 local time. That means we have to report to the travel office at 3:30 A.M. on Tuesday. Not really looking forward to that, personally!

Our Progressing Investigator (Sarah, whom I mentioned in my last email if I recall correctly) is doing really well. We were initially having trouble connecting with her and getting her to respond to our questions. We started digging a little deeper and getting more in-tune with the Spirit, though, and we were able to teach her about faith on Wednesday. We invited her to pray and ask in faith if there is a god and she said she would. She also said she wants to know a little more about baptism and the requirements for baptism. After the lesson, Elder Harris, Elder Sorensen, and I all cheered and got really excited! It's so wonderful to have someone whom we've had trouble with progress so much!

Another investigator we've been teaching is Michelle. Michelle is our TRC assignment (TRC basically means that at a specific time on certain days we go over to 11M and teach an investigator) and has met with the missionaries in Arizona. She's up here for a few weeks and wanted to come to the MTC to learn more. She's a little more difficult than Sarah, actually, because she doesn't seem too interested in learning. The three of us bore testimony of the Book of Mormon to her and helped her read it and understand it last night, and she seemed almost heartbroken at the fact that we had to leave by the end of it. Again, we did a little happy dance and cheer in the hallway after we were out of sight and sound of anyone else (to show respect for the other missionaries, of course). :D

As Zone Leaders, it was our responsibility to welcome the new missionaries (which include an all-elders district and a district of ASL missionaries) Wednesday evening and show them around. We didn't realize we had to pick them up from their classrooms, so we sat around for 15 minutes while no one showed up. Finally we thought, "Maybe we should check their classrooms" and after another 10 minutes of rounding everyone up, awkwardly explaining to them that we were their Zone Leaders and that there was some miscommunication, and gathering them all into a room, we began the meeting and showed them around. On Thursday night, we gathered them all into the wrong room for their meeting with the Branch Presidency and so had to walk them to the room where the Branch Presidency was waiting. President Washburn didn't seem to care and in fact commended us for gathering them all in one big group and getting them all in on time. I was about to point out that we were five minutes late, but decided against it. 

Oh yeah, the quote in the title is from Zone Teaching last Friday. I was supposed to be a missionary and was talking to an "investigator" played by another person in our zone. She mentioned that her dad was in prison and I couldn't think of any other questions to help break the ice. So I said the first thing that popped into my head: "If you don't mind me asking... Why is your dad in prison?" The entire group I was with just starting laughing and I realized that asking someone why their dad is in prison is probably not the best way to break the ice. 

If you haven't sent me your physical address yet, I would love it if you did. I love writing letters to all my friends and family, but a weekly email just isn't enough. ;P I might not be able to check my email for a little while (unless my mission president says I can email you all, which might or might not happen), but I promise I will respond as soon as I can!

-- (Still really bad at breaking the ice) Elder Hawkes

The Adventure Begins

This blog is designed as a way for family and friends of Christian Hawkes to follow him as he fulfills an LDS Mission. He is serving in the California San Diego Mission. He is teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Arabic.

A little background about the language he is speaking.

Christian began attending a local charter school when he was 10 years old (5th grade). When he began 6th grade, he came to us and said "I'm going to sign up to take Arabic as my language choice." As parents, we supported him in this decision and waited to see what he would do with it. He took Arabic from 6-9th grade at his school and then attending two intensive month long Arabic immersion camps at BYU. By the time, he finished 9th grade we felt that the choice he made in 6th grade would have long-term results.

As Christian prepared for his mission, we knew that there were no countries in the world where Arabic is the primary language that allowed LDS Missionaries. Our hope was that he would have the opportunity to meet someone somewhere and his knowledge of the Arabic language would open the door and allow him the opportunity to teach someone about the gospel.

Imagine our surprise when he opened his call to the California San Diego English speaking mission. Southern California was no where on our radar as where we thought he would go. But, the Lord has plans that we aren't aware of and that's where faith comes into play.

Several Sunday's later, Christian was asked to come visit with the Stake President of our Stake. When he returned from that visit, he was beaming. He told us that the Church Mission Offices had spoken with the Stake President and asked if Christian would be willing to modify his mission call a little and teach the gospel in Arabic. What do you think Christian's response was like? Imagine our surprise.

For those of our friends/family that are new to missionary training, the missionaries go to a training facility (MTC) in preparation for their mission. For English speaking missionaries, this is only 2 weeks training. For foreign language speaking missions, it is 6-8 weeks. The MTC doesn't train missionaries in Arabic because there aren't any countries open. There are materials available, but he got to order them and bring them with him.

Thus the adventures begins for Elder Christian Hawkes who is serving in San Diego and speaking Arabic.

We'll update this as often as possible. Feel free to write him at His mission address is:
Elder Christian Morgan Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Pl.
San Diego, CA 92111-4912

His P-Day is on Tuesday. This is the day he does laundry, sends letters, etc.