Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A collection of new photos sent by Christian

A selection of photo that Christian Sent.

Happy Ice Cream!

Apparently "to imitate Hitler" is a verb

The pet spider that the Elders have

"Is this what a hangover feels like?" - Elder Hawkes, experiencing a caffeine headache

If you ever want to start a list of things that Mormons say, put that quote at the top. 

Welcome to my weekly email! This week, I...
- Embrace my Scottish heritage by throwing trees around
- Help consume a 28" pizza
- Add people!
- Go on exchanges and miss out on crazy times at the Mormon Battalion 
- Add more people!
- Have people come to church!
- Give Elder Poffenbarger "the look" as a member rambles about food storage in church
- Find out that I prefer Pepsi
- Panic as a member cancels on us 5 minutes before a lesson
- Get the car's odometer to be JUST. PERFECT.
- Find out about Arabic translation for General Conference

So to start off, on Wednesday we got the missionaries together at a member's house to do service. We had Arabic North and Arabic South participating, as well as Hillsdale and Fuerte. After a wonderful pancake breakfast, we got to work stacking firewood. As it was being cut down by the member.

He had some trees in his yard that he wanted removed to open up the view a little bit. It's a good thing we had so many missionaries there, because together we felled four different trees! Since we can't use chainsaws, the member's father-in-law would climb up one tree and systematically chop up the tree bit by bit. When most of the big branches were cut down and chopped up, we would pull on the tree using ropes while he cut it, effectively guiding the tree to fall where we wanted it to. There were a lot of large tree branches that I got to grab, carry, catch, stack, etc., and I'm sure my Scottish ancestors are proud of me because of it. After the service, the member ordered a 28" pizza from a local pizza shop (I didn't even know pizza shops with 28" pizzas were a thing until I got to El Cajon; they're everywhere!) which we all consumed. Very much worth it. 

28" pizza is a new favorite staple.
Later that day, we got a referral from Arabic North for three young men - Marvin, Morad, and Miller - and their dad that was just barely in our area. Turns out, they're former investigators from a really long time ago, back when Elder McCombie and Elder Poffenbarger were together. They weren't really interested back then and just complained about church, so they got dropped. We thought they had moved to Arizona and that was that, but they moved back. We got to teach them the Restoration and answer their numerous questions (we wound up mixing "The Restoration" with a little bit of "The Gospel of Jesus Christ"). They were able to come to church on Sunday, but more on that in a bit. 

Thursday night we had exchanges. I went up north with Elder Greer and tried to teach Bisam, the uncle of a recent convert. I say "tried" because he and his wife were listening for a little bit but kept getting distracted by other family members who were talking or taking care of a baby. Apparently, though, I missed out on the Mormon Battalion trip with Sandra that turned out to be a slow-motion train wreck. 

Sandra has three boys: Anthony (11); Andrew (9); and Alex (7). The older two are a little more subdued, but Alex has always been a little... hyperactive (he has a tendency to grab things, throw things, hit things, hit people with things, etc.). At the Mormon Battalion he was much worse. He was climbing on things, running around the rooms screaming, and at one point he dropped his pants and ran around. The Battalion sisters actually tried to get a senior missionary to come in and subdue him, but to no avail. Finally it was too much for his mom and she grabbed him and had him sit down on her lap, arms folded straitjacket-style. Elder Poffenbarger and Elder Jackson said it was embarrassing for all parties involved. We probably won't be going back to the Battalion anytime soon. 

On Saturday we got to meet with George and Miriam, an older couple we had street contacted a little while ago. We got to teach them the Restoration and they were pretty receptive. On our way out the door their neighbor asked if we were going to come teach her and we said, "We can if you want." We'll be stopping by later this week. 

On Sunday Muwfaq, Basim, Marvin, Morad, and Miller all came to church. Muwfaq was the only one who had the headphones on to hear our translation because the others wanted to practice their English. We try to get talks ahead of time so we can have them translated in time for sacrament meeting that Sunday. We got the talks the night before with the promise that "We'll stick more or less to what's written." Which would be nice because none of the Arabic elders have the vocabulary to translate random tangents on-the-fly. Well, one of the speakers went on a five-to-ten-minute tangent about food storage, when the talk only mentioned it for one or two sentences. I gave Elder Poffenbarger the look of "This is really difficult to translate, isn't it?", he gave me back that look, and we gave our investigators that look as well. Please please PLEASE stick to what you've written out if you're having a live translation done of your talk (protip from Elder Hawkes); it helps a lot if you do! 

After sacrament meeting, the three boys just left. 

They just walked out the door. 

No idea why. It looked like they were enjoying it. 


A big thing for Chaldeans is offering people something. In many cases, it's either water or some sort of soda. We got offered Pepsi twice: once by the three boys during our first visit (where the quote comes from); and the other time by a potential investigator, Salim (who lives right next door to our old apartment). I discovered I prefer Pepsi over Coca-Cola, although I'm still not a big fan of either. 

Last night we were going to teach Suhaila, but she wanted to have it at the church building. We called the person we were going to have come with us and he said he couldn't make it to the building, so we frantically called a few people to see if they could meet us at the church building right about now. Thankfully, we did get someone to come with us, even though it was very last minute, and the lesson went well. On the way back I noticed that the odometer was at 42998 or so, and decided I wanted to get it at 43000.0 when we got back. It was very close, but right as we pulled into the driveway it rolled over to 43000.0, thus satisfying my mind's demand for a bunch of zeros. :D

Lastly, we got some great news about translation for general conference. We were going to have to resort to a call-in system (basically, we call a number in Salt Lake then they patch us through to the European broadcast system that has Arabic), but the member who's been working on getting things set up (he's serving an LDSTech mission, so it's kind of his job) got a phone call from Church HQ. Because he was pushing so hard for Arabic translation, some departments that normally wouldn't talk to each other started to and got the logistics worked out to get Arabic added to the American satellite system. No call-in necessary! Not only that, but because of our push for it, 6 other chapels in the U.S. have requested Arabic translation. And those wards/stakes (including some in D.C., Iowa, and Michigan) changed their demographics to say essentially "99% English, 1% Arabic", which means that more Arabic missionaries will be popping up in the U.S. very soon (currently, there are four in San Diego and four in D.C.)! It's so exciting!

Thanks for taking the time to read my novel this week. And thanks to everyone who has been writing me; I love getting mail, so write when you can!

-- Elder Hawkes
Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Do Arabian camels have one hump or smallpox?" - Elder Poffenbarger

If that isn't the most confusing, strangest email title in existence then I'm not sure what is. 
In this weekly email, we...
- Collectively decide on Avatar: The Last Airbender as best cartoon (well, sort of)
- Come to the conclusion that Welch's should pay Elder Hawkes for advertising
- Have people flake out on English class
- Add two people!
- Further confirm Basim is awesome
- Have a tough time getting to church because of runners
- Spend four hours building a wall
- Learn more about camels while teaching Mohammed English

This week isn't as action-packed as last week, but a lot still happened. First off, Zone Meeting! We had an icebreaker question of "Favorite cartoon and why". I chose Avatar: The Last Airbender as did several others in the zone. "Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses..." :) 

Also, in my trips to the grocery store I've taken a liking to the Welch's juice selection. They've got some interesting ones aside from the grape juice that they're famous for. I bought two varieties that were a little different: Dragon Fruit-Mango and Star Fruit-Kiwi. Not bad. I like the former more than the latter but now I know what a star fruit tastes like (sort of). You're welcome, Welch's! I'm expecting a nice paycheck from you all soon for the advertising I just gave you all! 

One of the things we offer is English classes on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. We pass out flyers like candy and usually have people say "Yeah! I'll come!" only to not have anyone call us. Well, two weeks ago we had someone call us and come to the Saturday morning class! She said she would bring her and her family next time (this past Saturday). So we went to the stake center. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

No one showed up, which was frustrating. I'm always sad when people don't show up when they said they would. 

On Sunday we had two investigators come to church: Muwfaq and Basim. Muwfaq is an older gentlemen who lives on one of several streets where all the interesting (read: crazy) people live. We don't walk there after dark. Anyway! We had a member bring him to church and he thought it was awesome. We're going to call him and see if he can come this Sunday. It's a little difficult getting in touch with him, but we're hopeful.
It was difficult getting to church because one of the main roads we take (Jamacha/Second) had cops directing traffic around runners who were participating in a St. Patrick's Day 1/2 marathon. We wound up having to take a more roundabout route to church, which took about ten more minutes than it would have had we been able to get on Jamacha. E. Poffenbarger and I joked that it was a perfect time to go street contacting because of all the people who were running it!

Yesterday we went over to a member's house to do service. This is the same one I mentioned a few weeks back that dropped the cast-iron sink on his thumb. We helped him lay bricks for a wall/walkway he is making in front of his house. There were two piles of dirt we pulled from, alternating which one we would pull from and when; one was a big pile of just normal dirt, and the other was a big pile of decomposing granite. We would lay down normal dirt, then granite, then pack it all in, lay the bricks, and repeat the process. Despite the 90-degree weather and the four hours it took, we had a lot of fun! He even told us a bunch of crazy stories from his time working in the Border Patrol!

Lastly, the context of the title. 

Mohammed is learning English and one of his final tests is on a story in his textbook about camels. It talks about what a camel's hump is made of (fat), where camels live (Middle East and Asia), some unique things about camels (they have a double set of eyelashes), etc. To help him, we formed answers based around the info in the story and had him write questions based on the answers and on the three types of questions he focused on: "Yes/No" questions, "Either/Or" questions, and "Who, What, When, Where, Why" questions. One of the answers was "Arabian camels have one hump." He turned to Elder Poffenbarger and asked, "What do I put there? 'Do Arabian camels have one hump or...?'" "You can put any noun in there," E. Poffenbarger said. He then listed some examples: "Do Arabian camels have one hump or two?" "Do Arabian camels have one hump or twenty?" "Do Arabian camels have one hump or smallpox?" It went right over his head, but E. Poffenbarger and I laughed about it for a little while!

That's all for this week! Thank you all for writing to me! Keep being wonderful people!

-- Elder Hawkes

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"How much do you want to bet this road is a circle?" - Elder Hawkes, while getting lost on Monarch Ridge Circle

Welcome to my weekly email! Wherein:
- We show up to transfers when we don't have to and burn through 70 miles because of it
- Elder Poffenbarger and I finally listen to something other than male acapella(sp?) CDs
- Elder Hawkes almost Bible bashes an investigator
- We eat food with the ward and collectively decide "The Lion King" is the best Disney movie
- We get lost in two different gated communities
- Zone Conference happens and is AWESOME. 
- We find out more about the local anti-Mormon church

So first off, TRANSFERS. I'm still with Elder Poffenbarger, but Hillsdale (the English speaking portion of our ward) and Fuerte both got white-washed. Here's the lowdown:

Some sisters were serving in the Fuerte ward but living with a member of the Hillsdale ward. The Zone Leaders (E. Scott and E. Dimond) were serving in Hillsdale and living with a Hillsdale member. E. Poffenbarger and I were serving in Hillsdale but living in an apartment in Fuerte ward boundaries. The El Cajon zone has had some trouble with mileage lately and President wanted to figure out a fix for that. So transfers happened last Wednesday. E. Dimond got put with E. Fiso (who came from Imperial Valley where it's about the same temperature as the surface of the sun every day) and moved into our apartment in Fuerte boundaries. The sisters stayed with the Hillsdale ward member but got put in Hillsdale with us. We moved into the member's home where E. Dimond had stayed previously. 

Got it?

Basically, Hillsdale (our ward) has sisters now instead of elders, Fuerte (the ward next to ours) has elders now instead of sisters, and everyone lives in their respective area boundaries again, saving everyone on miles, time, convenience, etc. Yay! It's almost like our mission president is inspired or something. 

Old Apartment

New Apartment
We thought there was a trainer-trainee follow-up meeting, so we went to transfers. When we stayed after for the meeting, President Schmitt turned to us and said, "Haven't you already attended this?" We responded that we were told we had to go for a follow-up meeting. He smiled, shook his head, and said, "This is your follow-up." He gave us both hugs, told us to go to work, and waved at us on our way out of the chapel. So that was our follow-up meeting. 

I'd now like to take a moment to brag about my dad. Most of you know him, and he's a cool guy, wouldn't you agree? I asked him "Would you mind digging through my music collection and burning a CD with some music on it [within White Handbook guidelines, of course]?" So when we get our mail on Tuesday, I find that he was not only packed one CD, but three CDs full of music, a box of Skittles, and a Subway gift card. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just one of many reasons why my dad is awesome. 

One of our investigators, Bulabek, is a Sudanese man who is a Seventh-Day Adventist. We talked with him about a pre-mortal spirit world and he would have none of it. We then brought up that the way to know it was true was through the Book of Mormon, and how everything we believe hinges on that. He got a little defensive when we brought up the Book of Mormon. Come to find out, he thinks we're trying to replace the Bible. I start talking with him about the Book of Mormon and why it's necessary as well as backing up pre-mortality with scripture and suddenly I get this feeling that I should really stop. Bulabek was getting more defensive and I was about to cross the line between backing something up with scripture and Bible-bashing. Fortunately, we all let cooler heads prevail and he agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We'll be visiting him this coming week to see if he did. 

The dog is named Peaches. She's the dog of the members we are living with.
Super friendly and playful. Not a very good guard dog.
Basim is still awesome. Bro. Seba, the new Ward Mission Leader, got him a copy of the Gospel Principles book in Arabic for him to look through. Turns out he's been reading that and the Book of Mormon and praying and keeping commitments. We taught him about tithing and fasting and he accepted and understood the doctrine. The ward is already looking to get him home teachers and a calling.

On Friday night the ward hosted a potluck/game night. We invited our investigators and recent converts to attend. Basim joined us, as did a recent convert Mohammed and his family as well as Suhaila and her family. We had a lot of great food and got to know each other a lot more. We played a game called "Majority Rules", where a question was asked (e.g.: "Which Disney movie is the best?"), each table comes up with an answer, and the answer that is said most often is considered correct and everyone that put down that answer gets a point. In essence, we determined that dogs are the superior pets, "The Lion King" is the best Disney movie, and "I Am A Child of God" is the best hymn. Even though we were having to translate on-the-fly, everyone had a lot of fun and got involved. 

On Sunday we were going to pick up a talk so we could have it in front of us while we translated for the Arabic-speaking investigators/recent converts. E. Poffenbarger and I found one gated community where we thought the address was, so we punched in the gate code to no avail. We finally had someone open the gate for us and as we were driving around we realized that we were in the wrong place. So we exited, found the right place, and got the talk. On our way out, we were trying to find a supposed exit that would place us near the church building, so we kept driving on this road named Monarch Ridge Circle. Like the name suggests, it was a circle. We didn't find the other entrance, so we just cut our losses and went out the way we came. 

Lastly, in El Cajon there is a Baptist church named Shadow Mountain. The members have always been strangely anti-Mormon (requesting Book of Mormon copies only to blast missionaries with anti material, protesting at temple open houses, etc.). They apparently even have anti-Mormon classes. E. Poffenbarger, at a member's house, pulled up a profile from a man who used to be part of Shadow Mountain before he joined the LDS Church. In his profile, he talks about how he went to temple dedications and handed out anti-Mormon materials, met with government officials in Russia to try and hinder missionary work, and even bought a temple recommend for $600 and attended endowment sessions using it. So I learned that Shadow Mountain has entire groups dedicated to missionary work to "rescue" Mormons, newsletters designed to discuss how wrong Mormons are, and even buys up temple recommends from people to take notes on what goes on in temples. The more you know. 

I think that's all for this week. Thanks for writing to me, all those that do, and feel free to write me anytime! 

-- Elder Hawkes

(P.S.: If you want to read the former Shadow Mountain member's profile, go to and look up "Victor Garcia")
Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

San Diego Mission Office Visit

Over the last weekend, I had the opportunity to be in San Diego for a Color in Motion 5K event. I am a contractor for this company and travel to most of their events. I knew when Christian received his call that I'd be in San Diego the week of Feb. 28 and that although it would be tempting, I wouldn't go searching for him. If however, he was able to come volunteer at our event (because the missionaries sometimes do) then that would be totally acceptable and I'd take him to dinner. He wasn't in a position to come to the event so I didn't get to see him.
However, I did drop a package off at the mission office for him. I was able to take a brief tour of the mission office and talk to the missionaries working there. I didn't take a lot of photos, but this one is of the mission office building.

- Christian's Dad

"Good morning. Elder Hawkes may or may not be in a tree-throwing competition at 6. May we come for dinner at 5?" - Elder Poffenbarger, to some members

Transfers is going to be weird. My companion just told me about it. I'm not going to tell you all because I don't even know. But from what I understand, it's weird. 

[Note: I followed up on this comment while he was still  online because it read really weird. I thought maybe he was being transferred which would also be strange considering there is only one other set of Elders who are Arabic speaking. He clarified that they have to go to the transfer meeting, but he will be with the same companion until May when his companion finishes his mission.]

Also, I loaded up my missionary portal on today and President Schmitt's email was this: "The iPads are coming!" 


iPads are coming in May. I have to pay $380 and I'll get an iPad with some restrictions on it as to what I can and cannot do (obviously). After my mission is over, they'll remove the restrictions and we'll get to keep them. 

And now you know just as much as I do about it. 

We added a few people this week! Su'ad is the wife of one of our investigators, Hana, and she's very open to hearing from us. We taught her about prayer and why we don't pray to the Virgin Mary or to the saints nor do we recite the Lord's Prayer. She seemed to understand it, but she's very rooted in tradition, so we'll probably be going over it a few times with her. Hana was there, but he pretended to sleep the entire time we were teaching. 

De'a and his wife, Injeela, are an older couple that live in an apartment complex just above a convenience store. He has bladder cancer and just got surgery two days before we met with him. We kept telling him to sit still and not move around, but he wouldn't listen. He opened the door, walked around, adjusted his seating, walked us to the stairs as we were leaving... Elder Poffenbarger and I felt bad for him! We taught him and his wife the Restoration, and he wants to come to church with us on Sunday. In fact, he told us very plainly that he doesn't want to meet with us until he comes to church, because he'll know whether we're good or not based on our worship services. 

We also added a man named Marooki last night. He was an investigator from Arabic North who moved away for a while. Elder Poffenbarger and I just walked into his complex a few weeks ago and found him. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom. He wasn't too thrilled about the "no tea/coffee" instruction, but agreed to pray about it. 

Basim is progressing well. We taught him the Word of Wisdom and he said he would do his absolute best to follow it. Suhayla is also doing well, although we had exchanges this past week and so I didn't get to see her. But Elder Greer and I did get to teach a less-active man named Bro. Dunlop. He said he doesn't feel the desire to come to church right now, but he'll be working on increasing that desire. He also gave us a big stack of old Church books, including copies of the Book of Mormon from the 1950's and a few fiction novels. I'll be sending those home when I can. 

I think that is all this week. More than likely I'll forget to send something and resolve to send it next week, only to forget about it next week. :) 

I love you all! Be sure to write!

-- Elder Hawkes