Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"... Joseph Smith was behind the Moon landings!" - Elder Hawkes

Originally sent on April 14, 2015

I don't even know.

This week, we...
- Have a slight panic attack as Basim drops us
- Drop people
- Drop more people
- Go on exchanges and drop people
- Play "Hot Potato" with other missionaries regarding a referral in Long Beach
- Get called on to do a baptismal interview last-minute
- Add some people! :D :D :D 
- Have investigators come to church!
- Celebrate Elder Jackson's birthday
- Find out what in the world is up with Basim
- Get really really good at pulling dandelions

There are some weeks in Arabic work that I wish "Dropped investigators" was a key indicator. This week was one of those weeks where a lot of people got dropped. 

First off: Basim.

On Tuesday, Basim called us to tell us that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He's got more family coming from Jordan in the next month or two and none of his family is on board with him wanting to get baptized. We offered what advice we could. On Wednesday he called us to tell us that he was working at Wal-Mart full-time for a month and so he couldn't meet with us during that time. D: We said we would respect his wishes (not like we weren't going to anyway) and told him we would be keeping in touch with him. At that time we were at a member's house and he said, "In my experience [as a Border Patrol agent], if something doesn't add up it doesn't add up." We figured he probably was taking a month off to let his family cool off a bit and resolved to keep in touch. 

We started going around to other investigators to teach them but one by one they got dropped until we had dropped 9 investigators for the week. Not fun! It does give us time to go contact people and find more people, though, so it's kind of a bittersweet thing. Everyone we dropped said that they don't want to hear our message but that they would be inviting if we needed some water or something, so at least no one hates us. 

On Thursday evening we did exchanges. Elder Jackson came down south with me and we spent most of the day walking on the streets to find people. We were able to get in the door with some investigators, one of whom dropped us by saying, "I'm a Mandaean [John the Baptist follower. Look it up.] and I'm going to stay Mandaean." He also got rather upset with us when we mentioned that we were made in the image of God and that God has a body. Mandaeans, I found out, are an ancient group of Gnostics, so they believe God is a spirit, that we need to do things only in spirit, etc. The other investigator we visited, Marooki, said that he was too tired that day but that we were welcome another day. 

And now... the "Hot Potato" referral. 

On Wednesday the mission office called to give us a referral for an Egyptian man up in Bellflower, CA. We were busy so we weren't able to call him. On Thursday the mission office called back and said that the missionaries up there were going to teach him because his son knew English and could translate. So we crossed it off our list and went on our way. On Friday the mission office called again about the referral and said the missionaries in that area would be giving us a call about him. Which they did. They explained that the entire complex is full of Egyptian refugees and that the man seemed interested. They then asked us if we could come visit him. 

Bellflower is two hours north. And it's two missions away.

That wasn't going to happen. 

So we passed it back to them and said essentially "You teach him. He's in your area." They passed it back and told us that they wanted us to teach him because he spoke Arabic and his English wasn't that good. So we called him and he said he would be open to a visit. Now we've got an interested potential investigator and two different companionships who cannot teach him. Then the thought came to us, "What about that Egyptian you met at the San Diego temple?" 

When we taught Sandra at the temple a few months ago we ran into an Egyptian convert named Ahmed. We talked to him and he said he'd love to keep in touch and gave us his phone number. We wrote it down and kind of brushed it off since he said he was in Los Angeles. But now this referral came up. So we called him and told him the situation, he agreed to visit the man with the missionaries, we got the missionaries in touch with him and he with they. We got someone to teach him and avoided opening a can of worms for President. 

On Saturday, Elder Poffenbarger got a call. "Could you come do a baptismal interview in Arabic? Like, now?" We were helping a family move out at the time, so we had to finish up there, get changed back into proselyting clothes, head to a stake center about 20 minutes away, and do an interview. It turns out that a family I had taught on MTE's (see earlier emails) was getting baptized and the wife last-minute decided she wanted to get baptized too. They called President and asked what to do and he said, "Get her an interview!" Since she spoke primarily Arabic we got called on to do it. She was surprised that there were Arabic missionaries and asked why we didn't teach her. The reason: her husband had said that he wanted English missionaries. Despite that, she was able to get baptized with her husband! 

Also on Saturday we went to the house of some former investigators and they agreed to a teaching visit. We taught them about prayer and had them break from tradition a bit. They were initially hesitant, but by the end they prayed without using the Lord's Prayer (as is tradition)! :D

Nather and Siham came to church on Sunday. When they sat down they made the Sign of the Cross and looked around confused as to why no one else was doing so. Despite the fact that they were expecting it to be similar to Catholic services, they loved it and want to come back next week!

Elder Jackson's birthday was also on Sunday. We went around the church building telling people. He's 20 now. I gave him a two-week-old croissant for his birthday, which he didn't take. 

We pulled some more dandelions yesterday for the same part-member family. I'm getting really good at that. 

Also, we were able to talk to Basim last night. Everything does in fact add up. He's working at a Wal-Mart in Santee (about 10 minutes north of here) but he has to take transit up. So he has to leave early in the morning, go, and come back late at night. We talked to his mom about our visits and cleared the air a little bit. She was concerned that he would be called to be a full-time missionary if baptized into our church. We told her that we're missionaries only because we had the time and the ability. Since he's got obligations (he's the only person in his household working right now) he wouldn't be able to. She was a little less freaked out after we explained that. She said that he can choose his own paths but at the same time that "second baptism is not allowed in our church [Catholicism]." At least she's warming up to it a little more! He's definitely not cold, but his schedule is so crazy that he can't come to church or meet with us often. He said that hopefully in the next month he'll be able to find part-time work or get his schedule solidified. 

That's it for this week! It's been absolutely crazy! I hope you all are doing well! :D

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

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