Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"I just read that and I'm even more confused now." - Elder Hawkes

Alternate email title is "Ghost Sasquatch for the WWE!" by Elder Poffenbarger. I'm not going to include context for that one because it won't make a difference. 

This week, we...
- Help the husband of a former get home and then add his wife a few days later
- Add a man in National City who mixes four different dialects
- Get in the door with a recent convert who is simultaneously less-active
- Try (and fail) to figure out what Unarius is
- Drop the people who came to church
- Murder a bunch of ants
- Have a throwdown by a recent convert in the Gospel Principles class (and figure out when I'm teaching my first Sunday School lesson in Arabic!)
- Get to witness a Mission President's Fireside
- Get in the door with a few people we've been meaning to see
- Pull the biggest dandelions ever

So first off pardon me if there's some overlap in weekly emails. As a missionary, I know only a few days:
- Weekly Planning day (Thursday)
- District Meeting day (Friday)
- Church and Ward Council (Sunday)
- P-day (Tuesday)

Any and all proselyting activities blend together into what we call a "week", which is normally comprised of seven days but could actually be anywhere from 6 to 10 days depending on what happens and how good I am at remembering things. Dates don't matter (for example, I realized today as I got to the library that today is the 21st of April) because we divide things up according to days of the week (e.g.: "On Wednesday we will..." "On Saturday we've got..."). I don't know if this is typical in missionary work because 1) I'm in the CA San Diego Mission which is very different from other missions and 2) Preaching in a language that according to the MTC is not actually available for proselyting. Arabic work is WILDLY different at times and unlike the other missionaries (who worked in English work for anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months before going Arabic) I've never done anything aside from Arabic work. 


One of the days last week (I think) we were street contacting and found an Arabic-speaking man in a wheelchair. He waved us over (we were on the other side of the street) and we wheeled him back to his apartment which was nearby. Elder Poffenbarger recognized the apartment as that of a former named Ikhalas (whom Elders McCombie and Jackson taught) and we went back a few days later. We had a brief discussion with her and invited her to church and to take the lessons again. She agreed, so yesterday we taught her about prayer. She's solid.

On Friday we went down to contact a referral in National City (a 20-minute drive south of El Cajon, much closer to downtown San Diego and the airport than El Cajon is). We got in contact with him and taught him a little bit of our message. His name is William and it turns out that he is an immigrant from Iran (so he speaks Farsi as his first language) who lived in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria before coming to the U.S. His Arabic is a weird conglomerate of Jordanian, Iraqi, Egyptian, and Gulf (UAE-Saudi) Arabic, so Elder Poffenbarger and I had trouble understanding everything that he said right away. Then again, Elder Poffenbarger knows Iraqi and maybe one or two words in other dialects while I've bounced around between Jordanian, Egyptian, and now Iraqi, so some parts of it sounded more familiar to me than others!

We also got to visit a recent convert named Fawzie. He's awesome! He's less-active because his job requires him to be in Chula Vista (south of downtown San Diego and about a 30-or-40-minute drive from El Cajon) almost every day, but he prays every day that he can come back to church and progress. We're preparing him for the Melchizedek Priesthood and his endowments while helping him find a job in El Cajon that doesn't force him to work on Sundays. 

On Saturday we had a big street-contacting day in an effort to get more people added. In downtown El Cajon, just a little south of Main Street, is a building called "Unarius Academy of Science". We've all expressed interest at finding out what in the world it is. We never see anyone go in or go out (except for this weekend when we drove past and saw some people having a conversation in the doorway), no one ever acknowledges it exists, it's just... there. If you walk by it there's some stuff about how you can get palm readings and "past-life therapy" as well as something about a confederation of star systems and another thing about "Atlantis returning in our hearts." Elder Poffenbarger and I took a few minutes to look the displays they have outside over and we both came to the conclusion that we know even less about Unarius now. Hence the email title.

Nather and Siham, the old couple who met missionaries in Sweden and Jordan, dropped us. Essentially they said, "Thanks but no thanks." They're not interested in learning our message or changing anything. They're complacent. That makes 10 investigators dropped in two weeks. If there was a key indicator for that we'd be on fire. 

It's ant season now, which means we've got to make sure not to leave food lying around. Elder Poffenbarger and I woke up to find a trail of ants boldly marching in the middle of our floor over to a bag of candy sitting on a dresser. We sealed the bag, threw it away, grabbed some bug spray, and murdered every single one of them. We also sprayed every crack or hole in the baseboards, the wall, and the doorframes just for good measure. "I am become death, the destroyer of [ants]."

"I think we're going to need more RAID" 

On Sunday we had a discussion about the Word of Wisdom in the Arabic Gospel Principles class. We had one of Arabic North's investigators, her mother-in-law, a recent-convert (Mohammed), and one or two active members in the room (we've got three active families in the ward that each have at least one Arabic speaker). The investigator, Dalia, asked about tea. She said, "I get the whole 'No coffee' and 'No alcohol' thing, but why not tea? I love tea!" Mohammed turned to her and said, "What would you do without your tea?" "I would die!" "EXACTLY! It's addicting! God doesn't want us to drink addicting things!" He then went on to say that tattoos, transgender surgeries, etc., are implying that God isn't perfect or that He made a mistake in making them. Regardless of anyone's views on those things, it was still an interesting throwdown. As an aside, I'm going to be teaching my first Gospel Principles lesson in Arabic on May 10th. 

On Sunday we went to a Mission President's Fireside in the Del Cerro area. We went because we thought we would have a recent convert there, but we didn't see them there. As we were sitting there, one of the sister missionaries' investigators came and sat by us. Our thought process was, "Well, we don't have anyone here but the sisters are up in the choir singing, so we can't just leave him." So we didn't. President Morgan, one of the counselors in the mission presidency, gave a final testimony. He and his wife are going to be presiding over the Chile Santiago East Mission beginning in July (if you know anyone serving there, tell them they're SUPER lucky for getting President Morgan as a mission president!). He started off by saying, "Many people say they were 'born in the Church'. I wasn't born in the Church. I was born in a hospital. And others say they were 'raised in the Church'. I wasn't. I was raised in a house and at school. But I went to church!" 

And that is the third alternate email title for the week. 

He bore powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and his experience reading it and praying to know if it was true. We're going to miss him. 

Yesterday we got to see Morad and Miller again. Miller is going to Michigan in a few days with his cousins while Morad is staying here in California and saving his money. We taught them about the 10 Commandments and the Sabbath Day. We also got to see Muwafaq again! He's been very busy working and he's got a foot injury, but he still loves seeing us and hearing our messages. We didn't count him as added because his schedule is really shaky still, but we hope to add him soon!

That's it for this week! Thanks everyone for your emails and letters! I love hearing from you! 

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

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