Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"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

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