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

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