Thursday, July 30, 2015

"تؤمن بامك؟" - Almost every Chaldean we meet

Elder Hawkes wrote the longest email of his mission last week. You give a missionary an iPad and they write a novel...

The phrase "تؤمن بامك؟" (too'min bi'oumak) (sort of; Arabic doesn't really work in English letters, I've learned) means "Do you believe in your mother?" and is used by a lot of people to justify praying to the Virgin Mary. For those keeping track at home, that logical fallacy is known as a "strawman".

Anyway, enough about praying to Mary (although I will talk about it in this email), let's talk about what happened this week in El-Cajon-Land! This week, we...
- Have three lessons in a row
- Do service and wind up showing up after everything's done
- Teach a pancake
- Add someone!
- Drop someone. :(
- Have a guy talk on us about the Bible (and he knows what he's talking about!)
- Have a dream wherein my ward mission leader is the mission president
- Finish inputting stuff into Area Book Planner! :D
- Find someone because of pool water
- Get told to "Pray to Mary" many much times

First off, I'm recovering from a cold and my voice is pretty much non-existent today. So when reading this, in order to get the full effect, read it out loud in a very raspy voice. ;)

One day Christian will see this email and laugh that a strong photo would
be used for a missionary with a cold. This is what happens when said
missionary didn't send any photos....notice how they all have black badges
about where the pocket is....I thought that was appropriate.
On Wednesday this week we had a great day, albeit a little unusual. To start the day off, someone actually called us and said that we could come teach them!

Which never happens.

So we went and taught them. It was a very scattered lesson. They weren't very focused and had a lot of questions. They said they're pretty busy but that we were welcome if they're around. Right after that, there was another potential investigator we wanted to go visit. So we went to their house and they were home! We went in and taught them the Restoration. They weren't too interested in hearing the message ("We are Catholic") but they also said we're welcome to stop by sometime. After that, we tried a few people who weren't home and then got in the door with the family we had taught earlier in the week (see last week's email where it talks about what happened on Monday to know which one I'm talking about). This time the entire family was home and we started to teach all of them.

I say "started" on purpose, because their uncle who was sitting in on the lesson pulled out the Bible and started trying to bash with us. Revelation 22, John 3:16, etc. Learning from past experiences when it comes to people trying to bash with us, we bore testimony of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and asked if he believed it were possible for God to reveal more scripture. He gave a solid "No." And that was pretty much the end of the lesson. After that, the family was
really not interested in hearing anything else and it was quickly turning into the wrong time and wrong place, so we prayed with them, thanked them for their hospitality and willingness to have us over, and left. That lesson was a bit of a sour patch for the day, to be honest, but we got back up and after discussing whether or not it was worth our time to go back later got going again.

On Thursday we had a service opportunity! The Special Olympics are being held in Los Angeles and so our local public affairs coordinator person guy got the church lined up with the opportunity to prepare lunches for the kids who were going to be participating. It was at 7 A.M., so when we woke up we had to quickly shower, get changed, and drive to the stake center. By the time we got there, it was pretty much already over! The coordinator person dude thanked us for coming and helping (even though we didn't really do much aside from close some brown paper bags) and told us we could head out. Wish we had been able to do more, but it was still a great time! After that, we had a great weekly planning session and companionship inventory wherein we planned really well for people we would work with (more on that in a later section) and made sure we were both on track, then we went to contact some more potentials. That evening, we taught Nishwan, a referral from some Spanish Elders (the same guy that was bashing on us Monday night).

Bit of an explanation as to why I called him a "pancake". I do not intend to demean him or to say he's a bad person, because he's cool. But he flipped and he flopped on a lot of things in the lesson. One minute he was telling us we're welcome anytime, the next he was saying we could only come if we had a native speaker with us. One minute he was telling us he liked our pictures and the next he was saying that he doesn't like pictures because it says in the Bible not to worship idols.

We had a scattered lesson with him and by the end of it he told us he's searching for truth and willing to meet with us, so definitely someone we're going to go back to... most likely. Like I was describing earlier, he was kind of flip-floppy in the lesson so we're not sure if we want to bring a native speaker and waste his time with a guy that isn't interested.

On Friday we added a man named Saif (سيف, "Sword" His full name translates to "Sword of the religion." Arabic names are cool.)! He was a potential we'd been trying to get ahold of since the middle of being a trio, so it was great that we were able to finally meet with him. He had really good English and understood what we were telling him, even if we were saying it in English. At the end, Elder Greer extended the baptismal invitation and he accepted! Elder Greer then said, "We'll be holding a baptismal service on August 15th. Will you be baptized on that date?" And he said yes!

:D :D :D

... and then told us we're welcome back but that he isn't available until August 1st.

So that's how our investigator gained and lost a baptismal date within 5 minutes of each other.

We also dropped إخلاص (Ikhlas) because she hasn't been progressing and she's got a lot on her plate right now. :(

On Saturday we went to visit a man named عدل (A'adal; the first letter, ع, has no English equivalent). He invited us in warmly and we explained who we were. He then proceeded to talk about the Bible. Extensively. He dove into the Old Testament, connected things from the Old Testament with the New, discussed culture and the original Greek and Hebrew... after a little while (it felt like a much longer time) we found a good stopping point, asked if we could help him out with anything, and asked who he knew that we could teach. He gave the response that we get from a lot of people ("I'm a Christian, they're Christian, go teach Muslims!") but then pointed us to a door and said "They're Muslim. Go teach them!" So we went over and asked if we could come by. They weren't really interested in learning. But hey, he pointed us to a specific door, which is something people tend to not do, so that's a major plus!

Right before I woke up on Sunday, I had a dream wherein the ward mission leader, Bro. Seba, was acting as the mission president unofficially. He was interviewing missionaries to be new Arabic-speaking missionaries and was also going to interview Elder Greer and I to see if we should stay. He interviewed Elder Greer first (I remember telling him in my dream to interview him first, then two others, then me, so it didn't seem like he was picking favorites) and I suppose Elder Greer "passed". Then after a little while he interviewed me. He started off by telling me, "I'm thinking of transferring you where you'll have more success..." and I told him that while it was up to him whether I got transferred or not, I didn't care how many people were or were not baptized by the end of my mission in Arabic work as long as I was able to work hard and "warn the people." I remember walking out of the room feeling like he'd probably keep me in Arabic work. And then I woke up. I'm not sure what to make of the dream, to be honest. In hindsight, I'm a little confused as to why I would think the ward mission leader would be calling the shots as to whether I get transferred in the future or not, but I suppose dreams don't always make sense. I only include it in here because I thought it was noteworthy and I remember it quite vividly as if it had actually happened.

On Sunday, محمد (Mohammed/Muhammad, one of our recent converts) brought his kids to church, شمس (Shams, "sun") and كرام (Karaam, I think it's from the same root as كريم which means "generous", so maybe like "A person who is generous" or something to that effect; Elder McCombie will probably correct me). We've been talking with Bro. Seba about how to help محمد progress towards the Melchizedek Priesthood and we think that the best way to get him to progress towards the temple and get his wife baptized is to teach the kids and build their desire. So right now we're in the "set-up" stage. In my mind I'm envisioning it like a row of dominoes, where right now we're setting it all up so that when it's executed in the Lord's time and the Lord's way the kids will not only be baptized, but محمد will get the Melchizedek
Priesthood and receive the temple endowment, his wife will be baptized, and together they'll be sealed in the temple, which is the end result of all activity in the church. It's really interesting to set it all up and see under the guidance of the Spirit how to set it up in such a way that all of that will happen. And it all starts with building their desire to come to church. In the coming weeks (and quite possibly months), as things fall into place, it'll be wonderful to see it all happen.

Yesterday we finished inputting our records into Area Book Planner. This means that (aside form a few gaps when it comes to sacrament meeting attendance and new-member lessons) everything is not only online but up-to-date. It's been a little tedious going through and getting everything in, but now that it's over I'm relieved. Also yesterday, we were walking around and noticed a trail of water. And not a tiny one. It looked like someone had left their hose running. Wanting to be good pseudo-citizens of California we decided to follow it and let the homeowner know. We knocked on his door and he said he was just draining out his pool to get it replaced. He also took the time to expressly tell us he wasn't interested in our message. So we asked him who he knew that spoke Arabic and he pointed us to his neighbor across the street. We walked over there, knocked on the door, and a lady answered. She talked to us about how she's looking for a place to bring her kids where they can learn about Jesus and they can understand (the kids speak Chaldean and English, not Arabic, which makes it hard because she attends an Arabic congregation). We said we'd love to come by another day and share a message and even do some yard work for her. She was really happy to hear that and kept telling us that we must have been sent from God. We gave her our number and the church's address and she said she'd talk to her husband and set up a time when we could come and do service for her. So that's how we found someone because of a swimming pool!

Few more things, I promise.

I mentioned earlier praying to Mary. In the Chaldean Catholic Church, praying to Mary is a very big deal. Most people say they don't like the إنجلين (Injeleen, Evangelical Christians) or the Jehovah's Witnesses (both of which have a presence in Iraq) because they don't pray to Mary. I'm not entirely sure when Mary worship got started, but I know that it's centuries old at least. Usually, when we're talking with someone, they'll ask us "Do you believe in the Virgin Mary?" And that's when we tread lightly, because by "believe" they tend to mean"pray to". So we usually say, "Yes, but we don't pray to her." That's when we usually get one of a few responses:
1) "تؤمن بامك؟" ("Do you believe in your mother?")
2) "You HAVE to pray to her!"
3) "She's the mother of Jesus and you HAVE to honor her!"
4) A few really out-of-the-blue ones, such as "In the 10 Commandments it says to 'Honor your father and mother'" and "If I took you and your mother out to dinner, and I bought you tons of food but I didn't get your mother anything, would you be happy? That's why you have to pray to her!"
Generally we can get people to rethink it by telling them the Bible says to pray to the Father only, with a few exceptions here and there. Out of all the traditions and interpretations I've heard, praying to Mary is the one that I can't wrap my head around because it isn't rooted in any scripture or even loose interpretation of scripture.

Something something something "Let them worship how, where, or what they may."

Not to say I hate Chaldeans because of Mary worship (of course not!), but it's just a tradition that doesn't make sense to me.

Thanks everyone for your emails and letters. I love getting mail (physical and electronic) so don't be afraid to send me something! Have a great week!

Cool Arabic thing for the week is actually a culture thing: There is Chaldean (a modern evolution of Aramaic used in Chaldean rituals and spoken by most Chaldeans) and there is also Coptic, which is a modern evolution of Ancient Egyptian. In Egypt, 5% of the population is Coptic, which is a Christian church similar to the Orthodox churches traditionally founded by Mark (the Gospel writer). Coptic is only used in Coptic worship services.

-- Elder Hawkes

Monday, July 20, 2015

"We've got old Chaldean women cheering for us. What more do we need?" - Elder Hawkes

There are three or four older Chaldeans that we pass by almost on a
daily basis. They always sit around in front of their complex and
chat. They're never interested in learning, but every time we pass by
they wave and say "God bless you!" It's nice to have fans.

This week, we....
- TRANSFERS! (Yes, "This week we transfers.")
- Get lost on the way to a restaurant after transfers
- Get kicked out of a house
- Have a kid in a complex introduce us to his family
- Attend the funeral of President Packer
- Drive 20 miles to the mission office to find out we're keeping our car
- Help a guy in Jamul move (mostly by watching other people do it)
- Restart the sacrament hymn in sacrament meeting
- Meet the 7-foot-tall, lightning-shooting, fire-breathing Seth McCombie
- Get confused as to whether we're going to the English or Arabic
Gospel Principles class
- Add some people and set a baptismal date for them! :D
- Get Bible bashed
- Start transferring our Area Book online

So first off, TRANSFERS.

We had them.

So on Tuesday the Zone Leaders called Elder Jackson and said, "Pack your bags. You're training." And we got excited and Elder Hawkes may or may not have done a little dancing around the room. And then the Zone Leaders called back and said, "Actually, hang on. Don't pack yet. We don't know whether you're getting a new Elder or not." And so Tuesday was a pretty nerve-wracking day for us (read: me). That night, the Assistants called us and told Elder Jackson that he was going up north and getting a new Elder. Cue dancing around the room once again.

So that's where we went on Wednesday. We went to transfers. Elder Jackson went into a training meeting while Elder Greer and I sat in the chapel and heard some great instruction from one of the senior missionaries. After about an hour, President came back with Elder Jackson and the other trainers and the new missionaries shuffled into the chapel. After some instruction, President began reading the transfers. "In Zone 11..." *cue quiet excitement from the Arabic Elders* He proceeded to start reading the changes. "In Alpine..." *cue more excitement from the Arabic missionaries at the fact that we're up next* "In the Hillsdale Arabic group..." *silent cheering* "Elder Jackson, please stand. You're going to be training Elder Jensen!" *more silent cheering from us*

The new missionary's name is Elder Jensen. He's from Cedar Hills, UT, and took 2 years of Arabic at Lone Peak High School. It's been a while since he studied, so he's got some studying to do! But he's really really cool. A little bit like me before I came out on my mission. I'm looking forward to serving with him over the next 18 months. I'm still in Arabic South. My companion is Elder Greer, who also happens to be the district leader.

After transfers, we had to get our phone back and a car (both of which took quite some time because it seems the Assistants and President weren't sure we were going to split until the night before transfers). We got a phone and the instructions to activate the number and got handed the keys to a car and told "We know this is going to be sold soon, but drive it anyway until Friday when we can get you something else." So we drove a very dirty Chevrolet Cruze with a bike rack attached (more on the car later). After all of that (who knew splitting up would be such a hassle?), we were going to go to a restaurant called "Cafe Socrates" which is owned by one of the ward members. We forgot to load up the address before we left, so we wound up getting lost. Elder Greer had his iPad out and was looking at the map of the area much like one would look at the road maps during a road trip. After about 30 minutes of driving around, we finally got to the restaurant and had lunch. On a semi-related note, we found out Comic-Con started because traffic near where we needed to go was awful.

On Thursday we spent pretty much the entire day either planning (weekly planning day!) or contacting potentials. One potential we knocked on invited us in, gave us some water, and told us to feel free to teach. About five minutes later, another man entered the house and asked what we were doing. "We got invited in to share a message." "No. We're Catholic and we don't need you. Goodbye." And that's how we got kicked out of a house! Good times in El Cajon...
Later that day, we were walking in a complex (near the aforementioned old Chaldean women) when a kid approached us and said, "I know you!" (Not too uncommon, we have quite a few potentials and formers in that area) So we reintroduced ourselves and asked if we could talk to his family. "Sure!" And he led us right to their door. His mother came out and graciously told us they wouldn't mind if we came by another time. We went back a few days later and her husband told us we're welcome but it's hard to catch them at home. So the next time you're doing missionary work in an apartment complex and a little kid talks to you...

On Friday we drove to the church building in Del Cerro (for reference, Del Cerro is to San Diego as Salt Lake City is to Sandy) to attend the funeral of President Boyd K. Packer. Not going to lie, I'm really going to miss hearing from him. After that we had zone meeting back in El Cajon and then Elder Greer and I had to go to the mission office to return a car. When we got there, we talked with the fleet coordinator and he told us, "The APs didn't call you? Sorry! Just plan on keeping the car." An hour later the Assistants called us and told us we're keeping the car until it's time to sell it and new cars come in. So now we're driving a (soon-to-be-clean) Chevrolet Cruze with a bike rack until new cars come in!

On Saturday we helped a man in Jamul pack up some furniture. Except we didn't do a whole lot of moving. We helped put a table in the little U-haul trailer, Elder Greer helped reattach one of the legs, and then the rest of the furniture was largely moved in by the man moving. When we offered to help, he told us, "No thanks. Go eat!" So we sat down on his porch, his wife brought us sandwich-making materials, and we ate. It wasn't really much of a move. The rest of the day was spent walking around and trying potentials and formers (because our teaching pool is pretty thin right now).

On Sunday, Seth McCombie came to sacrament meeting! For those that don't know, Seth McCombie was the first of two Arabic Elders in San Diego (the other being my trainer, Mason Poffenbarger). He got called to do Arabic work 6 months into his Spanish-speaking mission. And he's really really really cool. We got to chat with him a little bit and share some stories. Did I mention he's really cool?

During sacrament meeting there was a mix-up in the program and the wrong sacrament hymn was listed. So the organist started playing one song and the congregation tried to sing another. By the third verse the entire congregation was silent. The bishop stood up, stopped the music, and said, "Brothers and sisters, we're going to restart. There was a mix-up and we'll be singing Hymn #171, not #169." Right after that, the organist started up again and this time the words actually
matched the tune!
Elder Jensen, Elder Jackson, Elder Greer, Elder Hawkes

Right after sacrament meeting, Mohammed told us he was going to leave. But his son, Karem, wanted to stay for primary. So we went to the English Gospel Principles while Mohammed's son went to primary. The Sisters asked us, "Aren't you doing the Arabic class?" We said that we weren't because Mohammed was leaving. The Sisters told us, "Well we just took his son to primary." So we awkwardly shuffled out and over to the room where we would be teaching the Arabic Gospel Principles and taught the lesson in Arabic!

Yesterday we went and contacted two potentials named Raid and Mary. The entire lesson was pretty much us testifying of the truthfulness of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. At the end of it, Elder Greer asked them "If you know this is true, will you be baptized?" And they said, "Yes."!!!!!!!! We set a tentative baptismal date for August 15th. They're really cool. Also yesterday, Elder Greer and I went to contact a potential named Wasam. The moment we came in, he asked if he could look at one our Bibles. So I handed him my Bible and we gave him and his wife Restoration pamphlets. As we were going to teach, he opened up the Bible and started ripping into us on things that we weren't even in conflict about. At the end of I got a little impatient after being bashed at for about 10 minutes and asked, "Can we share our message
with you?" He said, "No!" At that point Elder Greer was already packed up and ready to leave. I did my best to ask for my Bible back, apologized for seeming frustrated and angry at them and told them I appreciate their faith in Christ and their knowledge and left on tense but otherwise alright terms. Elder Greer and I right afterward discussed how I could have improved and what I did well. Let's just say that I could have handled it a lot better at the end but otherwise it went okay. It took a lot of willpower to sit down and be bashed at without bashing back.

Lastly, yesterday the California San Diego Mission took another big step into the digital world. We now have the Area Book Planner app, which puts all of our information and records onto one app. We're being instructed to use an hour each day (aside from Sunday and Tuesday) to enter in records. And let me tell you, we've got a LOT of stuff to transfer!

That's it for this week! Arabic work progresses with four Elders now! Feel free to write and email me whenever you can; I love getting mail and email! Have a great week, everyone!

-- Elder Hawkes

Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111-4912

"Now you're comparing Egyptian Arabic to quantum physics!" - Elder Hawkes

Please remember that they aren't the same thing.

This week, we...
- Get measurable rainfall
- Help report a car accident at the stake center
- Teach a man who promises to speak فصحى (and then proceeds not to do so)
- Celebrate a birthday by breaking the Word of Wisdom
- Go to a barbecue
- Do a day exchange with Jamul
- Find out President Packer died :(
- Go to a baptism with some investigators
- Turn in early and update Area Books
- Have an awesome time at church (despite the lack of investigators)
- Teach the Word of Wisdom to Marvin, Morad, and Miller

First off, after sending my weekly email last Tuesday we actually got
rain! A thunderstorm moved in and dumped some rain on us as we were
driving to the stake center to get mail from the Zone Leaders. Once we
got there, it turned out that someone had crashed their car in the
parking lot! D: It looked like they were trying to do doughnuts in the
parking lot and wound up losing control (because it was raining).
Whatever happened, they wound up crashing into a concrete pillar
holding up the lightposts in the parking lot. The guy was okay and
everything else in the parking lot was okay (aside from some dirt that
got displaced from a center island and, of course, the guy's car), but
the stake president still had us give his contact info to the police
so that the driver could be in touch with the church if anything came
of it. To my knowledge, nothing has.

On Wednesday we got in touch with a member who agreed to come teach a
potential with us. We knocked on the door and the potential let us in
to teach him. He started talking شامي ("Shammy", Syrian dialect) and
Elder Jackson asked him politely if he wouldn't mind speaking in فصحى
("FusHa", Modern Standard/formal Arabic). He agreed to speak فصحى for
our sakes and so we thanked him and began the lesson. Once we got to
the First Vision, he told us (in شامي!) that he really wasn't
interested and that we would be better off going and talking with
Muslims because he was Catholic and didn't understand other churches
(in that many words). So we thanked him for his time, shook hands, and
left. Afterward we all told the member that he essentially got as much
out of it as we did. شامي is weird.

On Thursday we went to teach فوزي (Fawzi), one of our recent converts.
It was his birthday, and his family had bought some cake! :D So we
sang "Happy Birthday" to him in Arabic and he offered us some cake. We
took a bite of the pieces we got and after tasting it looked at each
other, then back at him, then told him that it was definitely
coffee-flavored cake. He was a little embarrassed because he didn't
know it was until we told him! We put the cake away, reminded him that
it's alright because he wasn't aware but now he is, and carried on
with the lesson. And that's how we celebrated a birthday by breaking
the Word of Wisdom! Right after that, we had a ward barbecue in honor
of Independence Day that فوزي was able to attend. It was a
well-attended event and we were able to have a good time with some
investigators, less-actives, recent converts, and members.

On Friday we had district meeting and then exchanges with Jamul.
Everyone had events the next morning they needed to be at, so we did a
day exchange. I went to Jamul with Elder Corum while Elder Avery
joined Elders Jackson and Greer in Arabic work. Jamul is a very big
place, I learned. Very rural. Not necessarily my cup of tea. We spent
a lot of the day driving on dirt roads from house to house passing out
flyers for the ward's 4th of July breakfast. Meanwhile, Elders Avery,
Jackson, and Greer taught a very frustrated Morad about prayer after
he had a long and tiring day at work; got one or two potentials; and
got one very inebriated potential to yell at them about how our church
was wrong (complete with a list of 14 points about what we believe
that's wrong. I'll take a picture of it and send it to you all). Fun
times. Also that day Elder Avery forgot to give us Jamul's phone, so
we couldn't make calls or texts. Nor did we find out until we
exchanged back that President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the
Twelve died at age 90. :( I always liked hearing from him.

On Saturday the Sisters had a baptism that we were able to attend with
Marvin and Miller. Afterward, Miller and Marvin told us, "We thought
baptism was hard! But it's so easy!" They were a lot more excited to
get baptized after seeing one. The ward had set up a box in the back
of the room where people could write their favorite scripture down and
put it in the box. Marvin and Miller didn't quite catch the concept,
so they wrote down their names and what they liked: baptism. They're
so cool.

We got instructed by President to turn in early on Saturday so that
there was no chance of us getting hurt or have anything happen to us.
We spent the night updating our Area Books in preparation for the
digital Area Book Planner that we'll be getting next week. President
told us it'll probably take us about 2-3 weeks to input everything
from our paper Area Books to the digital Area Book Planner, so he
wants us to take an hour each day (aside from Sundays and Tuesdays) to
input information once we get the app. I'm so excited to get our Area
Book online! It's going to make updating things a lot easier! :D

On Sunday none of our investigators showed up to church. :( But we
still had a good time! The Gospel Doctrine lesson was on the Sabbath
Day and the instructor discussed how we shouldn't focus on what we
can't do on the Sabbath, but rather what we can do. He left us with
two caveats:
1) Don't judge others for doing something or not doing something on
the Sabbath, especially when you don't have all the information
and 2) Don't "put on the Pharisee hat" and worry about what one
shouldn't do on the Sabbath. Instead, focus on what you can do.

The third hour lesson was about pornography and how to better teach
the danger of it to children and teenagers. It reminded me of a quote
by Russell M. Nelson we saw during our Digital Age meeting a few
months ago which said, in essence, that the days are gone where we can
quarantine people from sins such as these and it's time to immunize
them by teaching them correct principles. Really insightful lesson.

Yesterday we spent a lot of time walking around and contacting people
(as usual) and ran into two Iraqis visiting from Holland. They taught
us how to say "Good morning" in Dutch. It was kind of strange learning
Dutch from some Chaldeans, to be honest! In the evening we taught
Marvin, Morad, and Miller about the Word of Wisdom to prepare them for
baptism (on a related note, their date is going to be moved back
probably to July 25th so they can be taught everything). They said
they'd be willing to follow it but that they weren't sure if they
could or not. Understandable, it can be difficult at first. We
committed them to read D&C 89 and pray about it, and we will be
bringing a member with us who can better testify of the benefits of
following the Word of Wisdom.

Lastly, transfer calls went out today....


Elder Jackson is going to be picking up a companion tomorrow! :D :D :D :D

Whether that means that President is opening up the other Arabic area
again, or it's going to be an English/Arabic split, or something
totally different, I don't know. All we know is he's picking someone
up tomorrow and that the APs are going to call us tonight to talk
about what's happening.

That's it for this week. I will be sure to let you all know next week
what happens at transfers tomorrow! Thank you all for your emails and
letters of support and encouragement! I love getting mail!

Also, shoutout to my sister Tiersa who turned 15 on Saturday and to
both my parents who are celebrating their 44th birthdays today! Love
you all!

-- Elder Hawkes
Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111-4912

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Not to imply that Joseph Smith is Darth Sidious..." - Elder Hawkes

The GPS representation of the San Diego temple on the right
No Explanation Necessary 
El Cajon Zone

Well, this week we...
- Drop فخري (Fakhri)
- Spend most of the day cooped up inside because one of the three of us falls ill
- ALMOST have a member-referred new investigator
- Add a blind man and his daughter
- Help build a fence with a member
- Try to talk investigators out of moving to Michigan (and succeed hopefully!)
- Score a moral victory by discouraging another investigator from
getting a payday loan
- Walk and walk and walk and walk...
- Wake up early for meetings on Sunday
- Run out of materials, requiring us to drive to the mission office to get pamphlets
- Teach the Gospel again to Marvin, Morad, and Miller

On Tuesday last week we went to visit فخري, whom we've been trying to get ahold of recently. He answered the door and told us he couldn't meet with us any more because he "go[es] to مار ميخا [St. Michael's, a local Chaldean Catholic church]". But he still likes us, so we'll give him another try in a few months. After that, we went to Main to go
street contacting. We ran into a man who told us he was Catholic and not interested. Elder Greer started chatting with him and asked him, "Why aren't you interested?" He said he believed in the Trinity, which we don't believe in even though it clearly says in the Bible. Right then Elder Greer paused for a minute, opened up his iPad, and turned to John 17:10. He then explained that when Christ says he is one with
the Father, he means one in purpose. The guy said, "Wow. I've never read that before," then gave us his phone number, which we passed off to the Sisters. Elder Greer said afterward as we were walking away, "I
didn't think that was going to work. It never has before." When the timing is right and the Spirit directs...

On Wednesday we woke up and Elder Greer said he wasn't feeling well enough to run (we go running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays). So while Elder Jackson and I got ready for the day, he slept. About a half hour later he woke up and told us he wasn't feeling well that day. So Elder Greer slept most of the day to get better while Elder Jackson and I studied. That evening we had a dinner with a member who was bringing a friend for us to teach, so we called the Zone Leaders and asked them to watch Elder Greer while we went to the appointment and got some medicine for him. The member dinner went well; she invited a Muslim man she had met at her yoga class named Hydar. He spoke really good English but still wanted to learn in Arabic, so we obliged. Once we got to prophets, he paused and asked us about
Abraham. The member then took over from there and discussed the lineage of Abraham (Isaac and Ishmael) and how we follow Isaac's lineage. We had to leave, so we wrapped it up, set up an appointment with him and the member where we could bring President Schmitt with us to interview him, and ran down to Rite-Aid to get some medicine for Elder Greer. When we got back, he was feeling better, so we went out for the day to go walk around and contact more people.

On Thursday we added a blind man named نديل (Nadeel) and his daughter, Diana. Diana said she wanted to be a missionary too and we told her she could be if she learned that this was true. نديل loves America and Americans in general, so he set up an appointment with us and told us that he wanted to take a picture with us the next time we came to post on Facebook for his family to see. So that was pretty cool. Other than that we walked around for most of the day to find people. If you aren't sensing a common theme yet, you should be shortly.

Friday morning we got a call from a member who wanted us to help him put in some fence posts. We got in our service clothes and drove over to help. The three of us dug some holes for him to put the posts in while he poured dry concrete in and added water. We had to go to district meeting and then exchanges, but we wound up going back later in the day. We helped him put some boards up, but the concrete was still pretty wet and it was really muggy. So we called it a day, had some smoothies, and he showed us some Border-Patrol-related things.

Later that day we went to visit Marvin, Morad, and Miller. They started off by telling us they wanted to move to Michigan because "there's no work here!" We did our best to talk them out of it, largely due to the fact that Marvin and Miller just came back from Michigan because there was no work and it was cold. After some wrangling with that, we taught them the Gospel. When we got to confirmation and the Holy Ghost they weren't sure they wanted to anything beyond baptism, but once we explained it a little bit they were on board. Also that evening we went and visited إخلاص (Ikhlas). Her not-too-keen-on-missionaries daughter was around, so we just checked to see if she was reading and praying and if she wanted to come to church. Afterward we helped her go through her mail. She got to one that said "Pre-qualified" and she got excited because it showed "$600" on it. We immediately told her "Don't do it!" and tried to explain that it was a pay day loan (and by "explain" we just told her "It's not good. Don't do it."). She ripped it up and threw it away, and I walked away feeling like I had just won a great moral victory.

Saturday we walked. And walked. And walked. And walked. And walked. And walked...

Which is what we do a lot of days anyway, so it wasn't anything too out of the ordinary.

On Sunday we had to wake up early because the Stake Presidency wanted to have a meeting
A member family went to Voodoo donut and this was left
about the Arabic work and how to progress it. We 
eventually came to some solutions with Bro. Seba, Bro. Faradjian, and the Stake Presidency and President Hixson (the stake president) said he'd bring it up with the Area Authority. So we'll see what happens there. After that we had church, to which إخلاص came. In Gospel Principles she asked about crosses and why we don't have any in our church, so محمد and Bro. Seba helped clear that up for her.

Yesterday we drove out to the mission office in San Diego to get some more Restoration pamphlets in Arabic because we had run out. Afterward we drove to another part of the city to contact a referral that wasn't home. Yesterday evening we taught the Gospel again to Marvin, Morad, and Miller to make sure they understood it. After we discussed baptism we told them about "baptism by fire" to introduce the subject of the Holy Ghost. Miller's eyes got wide and he got a little nervous. We then quickly explained that "baptism by fire" is just receiving the Holy Ghost, which relieved the fear quite a bit! They're still solid for July 18th, and we'll continue to be working with them to get there.

Unless my journal is lying to me, that is it for this week's email! Thanks everyone for your letters, both electronic and hand-written! As I've said every week, I love getting mail so don't be afraid to drop something in the mailbox. My address as always is in the signature. Also it just rained a little bit, which is good. I approve of rain.

Happy birthday on Saturday to my sister Tiersa!

Love you all! Keep doing what you need to do!

-- Elder Hawkes