Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"So now I know how to say 'Bless the sick' in coyote..." - Elder Hawkes

From 9-8-15

Long-winded background in 3... 2... 1... The area where we live isn't as developed as the rest of Rancho San Diego/El Cajon, but isn't quite as rural as Jamul (where you can drive for 10 minutes and see one house). Usually coyotes come out across-the-street-ish to hunt for rabbits and probably the occasional stray cat or two. And they have a tendency to hunt in packs and howl rather loudly at night, especially during a full moon. Last night I woke up in the middle of the night to hear what sounded like a large pack of coyotes across the street howling. As I started dozing off, some of their howls made it into my dream wherein I was called on to bless someone. I wondered to myself in the dream how I would say 'Bless the sick' in coyote howls. I got woken up by not only the howl that in my dream answered my question but the fact that it was one of the weirdest things one could possibly ask.

Also, I was almost convinced halfway through the night that those weren't coyotes, they were hyenas. I had never heard a coyote cackle (or make a similar sound as a cackle) until last night.

Anyway, enough about my weird dreams and the weird coyote-hyena hybrids that roam east county, let's get on with this email!

This week, we...
- Go on exchanges
- Drop Hind and Aida
- Have a great Zone Meeting
- Come to the conclusion that McDonald's shouldn't serve artisan
burgers and do some organizing
- Talk about keeping the Sabbath Day holy right after the Elder's
Quorum president shows us the video of BYU's win on Saturday
- Add Saita and Jenny and commit one of them to a baptismal date! :D
- Get fed by a family that doesn't like that we don't cross ourselves
before prayer

On Wednesday I went up to Arabic North and got to be with Elder Jensen for the day. He's a solid missionary. The entire time he was asking me for help pronouncing things and constantly seeking to improve his abilities in understanding and speaking. He's going to be a great missionary and I'm going to enjoy serving with him over the next 15 months or so.

We mostly just walked around and talked with everyone. We only had one lesson, and that was with a Muslim man with whom Arabic North has been trying to get in the door with for a few weeks. He wasn't very interested, but we left him with a pamphlet and told him to call us if he had any questions. Since we spend 90% of our time teaching Catholics and Orthodoxes (Orthodoxes? Members of the Syrian Orthodox Church? Whatever), it always seems a little weird teaching a Muslim.

Later that evening we had language study with Bro. Seba, wherein he and Elder Jackson debated (in Arabic) about whether Superman or Batman was better. I wish I had filmed it.

On Thursday we exchanged back, did Weekly Planning, and went out for a little while. It was one of only a few nights where the streets we were walking on were completely empty. We ran into maybe 2 people on the street. It was very unusual.

We called some members to come out with us to see Hind and Aida, but we felt that we should stop by before the members came and see if they were home. We stopped by and Aida answered the door. Hind wasn't home, she said. She also told us that she didn't believe our message and didn't want to hear more. So we'll follow-up with them in a few months.

On Friday we had Zone Meeting, wherein we talked about finding people to teach and involving members more in our work. I gained some great insights about how to be a better missionary. A really interesting article we went over was "Lord, Increase Our Faith" in the March 2002  Ensign. I'd highly recommend reading it.

After Zone Meeting we may or may not have raced some other companionships in the zone to Taco Bell (we totally won) and then we drove to the mission office to get our Tiwi device (the device on our car that tells us when we're going too fast or accelerating too quickly) replaced since it hasn't been working. After doing a little bit of proselyting, we helped move a couch in for a family and then went out to visit some more people.

On Saturday we did language study at Bro. Seba's and after finishing that he took us to McDonald's to get some lunch. Elders Jackson and Greer decided to try some of the new "artisan burgers" they have. After each of us had a piece of each of them, we came to the conclusion that McDonald's shouldn't do artisan burgers. After lunch, we helped him organize some receipts and invoices from his restaurant so that his bookkeeper can better track them. It was a very fun time.

Sunday was a great day! In Elder's Quorum they talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. To begin the meeting, the Elder's Quorum President showed everyone the video of BYU winning on Saturday. I found it rather ironic, personally. Later on that evening we taught a lesson to a mom and daughter named Jenny and Saita (sp?). Jenny was very attentive in the lesson and Saita was also interested in it. As we were teaching, we invited them to be baptized and they accepted!
Saita was concerned because she said she'd already been baptized, and Jenny then turned to her and bore testimony of the importance of baptism. She essentially said that being baptized again shows one's willingness to follow Jesus Christ and the true path. It was an amazing lesson! :D

On Monday we went and tried a bunch of potentials. We sat down with a family who had entire shelves filled with Catholic statues and decorations and after praying with them they asked us why we didn't cross ourselves. We tried to bring it back but they wouldn't have it. So we ended the lesson and they said, "No, stay! Eat with us!" So we ate with them. They were a "very" family: very nice and had very good food, but were very not interested. The rest of the day proceeded like
any other day in trying potentials. Most people were either not home or not interested. Oh well. We keep working!

That's all for this week! Thank you everyone for your letters and emails! I love getting mail and hearing from my friends and family, so don't be afraid to write and email! Have a great week!

-- Elder Hawkes

"Of all the things I've taught you, this is what I'm most proud of." - Bro. Seba, about chasing after ice cream trucks

From 9-1-15

Not a whole ton happened this week, but you still get a novel of an
email! Hahahahaha!
This week, we...
- Drop Wisam, the guy who said he wanted to get baptized
- Teach English
- Go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders
- Convince an ice cream man (through no fault of our own) that we're Iraqi
- Add a man!
- Teach a man who doesn't see a need to change
- Have a sort-of surprise party for Elder Greer

On Wednesday we drove out to National City and taught English to عدل (Adil), the Muslim man I mentioned last email. It was a great lesson that involved a lot of practicing of basic phrases. His vocabulary is great, it's just a matter of placing that vocabulary in sentences. I also learned just how difficult teaching English is. English grammar is really weird and puts a lot of "filler" words in that other languages don't have.

Also on Wednesday Wisam texted us and said he didn't want to meet with us anymore and that he changed his mind about baptism. Which was sad. We'll follow-up in a few months.

On Thursday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Elder Egnew (the new Zone Leader) came with me to Arabic work and Elder Greer went with Elder Harris. We wound up dropping بالقوش (Balcosh; I don't know if the Arabic spelling is correct) because she's pretty busy right now. Another one to follow-up with in a few months. We spent most of the day walking around finding potentials. We got a bunch of referrals for other companionships, which was a big plus! Also, Elder Egnew is into Pokemon, Doctor Who, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, so we had a lot to talk about. :)

Friday consisted of district meeting, weekly planning, dinner, more weekly planning, and finding, so let's skip over to Saturday. On Saturday we started off the day with language study at Bro. Seba's like we normally do. We helped him clean up around the house because he wasn't feeling too well. Right as we were finishing that up, an ice cream truck started driving by. Bro. Seba heard it, turned to Elder Jackson, and just said, "Go get him!" Right on cue, Elders Jackson and Jensen jumped up and ran out the door yelling at him to stop. Fortunately he did. He opened up the door and, recognizing that he was Iraqi, we started talking to him in Arabic. Bro. Seba joined us shortly thereafter and we all had a nice conversation in Arabic about how we know Arabic. The ice cream man was convinced we were from بغداد (Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq), and despite our assurances that we weren't he would not be convinced otherwise. So we bought our ice cream and went back inside. Elder Jensen commented that he had never actually bought ice cream from an ice cream truck before, to which Bro. Seba replied that he really missed out on a piece of childhood/life and gave us this week's email title.

On Sunday nothing drastic happened. A member of the mission presidency spoke and that was probably the most exciting thing. So skipping over to yesterday...

We actually had things happen yesterday! :D We taught a man named نائل (Na'il), whom we'd been trying to get in the door with for a few weeks now. He said that he's pretty busy but that we're welcome to come by and teach him. When we followed up on what he remembered from the Restoration his belief was essentially one of "Why not?" He doesn't know it's true yet, but he doesn't see why it wouldn't be, so we've definitely got something to work with. We also taught a man last night who had great questions that highlighted some truths taught in the Restoration. Unfortunately he told us after we taught him that he might come to church sometime but that he wasn't really interested in changing or doing anything. In that lesson I experienced how to be bold without overbearing; it has to be done out of love and by the Spirit, otherwise it doesn't work.

Lastly, yesterday was Elder Greer's 22nd birthday. Elder Jensen informed me that Sis. Dreesen wanted us to come home a little early to have cheesecake and sing "Happy Birthday". I can't keep a straight face to save my life, so rather than trying to tell Elder Greer a lie and have him see right through me, I told him a half-truth. He asked me what was going on after I got off the phone with Elder Jensen and I told him, "North was wanting to sing to you at 8:30." And then the "no-straight-face" portion of me kicked in and he saw through that one. I kept insisting it, though, and the smile of "I know something you don't" was enough to keep him second-guessing me the entire time. At about 8:30, I turned to Elder Greer and told him, "We've got to go." He expressed his disapproval but went with it. When we got inside, we were welcomed with the sight of North and the Dreesen's.

After singing "Happy Birthday," we cut the cake up and Elder Greer promptly forgave me for the fact that we came back a little early. Because cheesecake makes everything better!

That's it for this week! Thank you all for your letters and emails! I love hearing from people, so don't be afraid to write/email me! Love you all!

-- Elder Hawkes

*repeating back heard song lyrics* "Go ahead as you waste your days with bacon?" - Elder Greer

From 8-25-15

A meal that was served to the missionaries.
We were shopping today and "Move Along" came along. The first line says, in part: "Go ahead as you waste your days with thinking..." Elder Greer heard it, then repeated the above to me.

This week, we...
- Miraculously find a person to teach! (Who then drops us later that week)
- Teach an Iraqi from Utah
- Teach a lady who doesn't show interest, then listens intently, then
closes back up
- Drive all over the place and meet a one-legged Muslim
- Teach the people responsible for the aforementioned miracle! (Who
dropped us yesterday)
- Get eaten alive during a Plan of Salvation lesson to the High Priests
- Teach a kid who's really excited for baptism
- Stay constant as pretty much the rest of the mission changes around us

First off, we were walking around on Wednesday and found a man leaving his apartment. In talking with him we learned that he had moved here a few months ago and wouldn't mind hearing our message. After getting down his information we asked him "Who do you know that we could teach?" He pointed to a complex up and to the left of where he lived and said that although he didn't know them personally they might be accepting of a message. So we thanked him, went up the stairs, and knocked on the door. A man opened up and let us in. We sat down with him and his wife and in talking with them found out they had lost a son in Iraq. We felt impressed to teach the Plan of Salvation and so we did, bearing testimony of its truthfulness and listening to the wife as she shared experiences and talked about her faith. She was
listening really intently and invited us back for another lesson on Saturday!

Then she dropped us on Saturday.

Also on Wednesday we taught an Iraqi man named Jaafar who had actually lived in Utah for a time. He expressed from the outset that he wasn't very interested in changing religions or hearing about our church, but he did have some questions for us.

I don't know why the missionaries up there were teaching him super deep doctrine, but that's what all his questions were about.

Anyway, he wasn't interested in hearing our message, but accepted a Book of Mormon and said he might read it sometime. So after helping him fill out some school forms we went on our way.

On Thursday we taught a lady who initially was utterly convinced we were the Evangelicals. After about 15 minutes of back-and-forth we eventually reiterated that we wanted to share a message and asked if we could do that. She said yes, so we began teaching her the Restoration. When we were teaching her she was very intent and was listening and really thinking about our message, while the young girl sitting next to her kept asking us questions about why we didn't believe her traditions. Eventually the little girl asked us, "What's your point?" We told her that we wanted to help her know it was true and help her be baptized. At that point both she and the older woman closed up and reverted back to their traditions. Essentially they said, "We don't want to change. You're not Catholics. And you don't pray to Mary." Well, at least we did everything right.

On Friday we drove out to La Mesa to contact a guy who said he wasn't interested, then drove out to National City to contact a guy who said he wanted to learn English. His name is عدل (Adel) and he was really cool. He's Muslim and tolerant of all faiths and religions. He's got decent English (he said his problem is that he can't remember grammar
or sentence structure well) and really helped us in our Arabic. And he's also got one leg. He was talking to us about his religion and his views and all sorts of things. Cool guy.

On Saturday we taught the family that gave us the aforementioned referral. They both were really receptive to the message and agreed to be baptized and pray about the message. We were really grateful!

And then they dropped us yesterday.

On Sunday Muhammad said the opening prayer in English. He had been practicing with Bro. Seba and with us for the past two weeks to make sure he got it down. He also accepted a calling to be a greeter at church! I taught the Law of Chastity in Gospel Principles and it was a good lesson, even though it ended about 15 minutes early. Elder Greer
and I got pulled into High Priests to teach the Plan of Salvation.

And they pretty much ate us alive (in a lighthearted manner).

A lot of them started discussing semantics with us and went out of their way to poke holes in our lesson. It was a lot of fun!

Yesterday, after getting dropped by our new investigators, we went and taught a young man from Jordan named Wisam. We taught him at a nearby park and initially he seemed to just want some help with finding work. As we kept teaching him, though, he agreed with us and was willing to listen to our message. At the end we asked him if he would be baptized
if he knew it was true and he said "Yes!" We weren't able to get a specific return appointment from him, but he's got some great potential.

That's it for this week. Thank you all for your emails and letters. I love getting mail, so don't hesitate to write! Also, shoutout to my companion, Elder Greer, who's turning 22 on Monday! If you want to email him some birthday wishes, it's agreer@myldsmail.net. Have a great week!

-- Elder Hawkes

"You just went from 'I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus' to 'Let it Snow'." - Elder Hawkes

From 8-18-2015

Elder Greer whistles a lot, but sometimes he gets just a few measures of a song stuck in his head and sometimes he accidentally blends two together (as mentioned).

This week, we...
- Help move the world's heaviest china cabinet
- Meet a man who's read the Book of Mormon!
- Visit إخلاص (Ikhlas) again
- Go on exchanges and get lost going to the San Diego Institute building
- Teach Morad and Miller
- Have an Iraqi breakfast with our ward mission leader
- Try to visit potentials on the Virgin Mary's feast day (that should
tell you how it went)
- Dress up to teach a Primary class about miracles
- Drop سيف (Saif)
- Drop ولسن (Wilson)
- Sort-of kind-of teach Nishwan the Pancake

First off, we have a family in our ward, the Wurtz family, who is planning on going on a mission this year. They needed some help on Wednesday putting stuff in their garage and a storage unit in preparation for their departure. As missionaries, we get really excited whenever someone needs furniture moved from Point A to Point B, so we eagerly accepted the opportunity to serve. The first little bits were easy; they needed some help bringing a heavy glass table to
their storage unit and then wanted us to help them move their couch down to their garage. After that, though, was when Challenge Mode started. They had a china cabinet that they were giving to their neighbor and needed some help putting it in her garage. The cabinet came in two pieces. The bottom half was pretty easy to take down because it was just like moving a bulky dresser. The top half (where the china would be stored) was a monstrosity. I knew I would need help
at some point but wanted to go as far as I could before calling on Bro. Wurtz so there would be less work for him.

"As far as I could" was about 20 feet.

I was lifting it and doing my best to carry it while keeping it steady, but as it started to
tilt left my back tilted left with it and
pulled a muscle. Bro. Wurtz asked if I needed help and I immediately said "Yes!" With some repositioning and careful lifting and moving down the stairs and out to the garage, we finally made it. We celebrated our victory with the Wurtz family by having a spaghetti lunch partially in honor of Elder Greer's upcoming birthday (August 31st). Sleeping was rather uncomfortable that night. My back's fine now, don't worry (still a little sore but not bad). But I've officially ruled out "professional mover" as a future career.

Later that day we were going to teach a young man who said we could come back another day. We got in the door and his father accepted our visit but didn't seem interested. Then he asked us, "You're Mormons, right?" We responded truthfully in the affirmative. He mentioned that he'd read the Book of Mormon but that there wasn't really a difference
between us and the Catholics because "We all teach about Jesus." Since we felt he was essentially handing us a teaching opportunity on a silver platter (most people we meet have never heard of the Book of Mormon or Mormons, and most don't even read the Bible, so this guy was a miracle in our eyes), we opened up the Book of Mormon and started to
discuss its role. And he had definitely read it before! But at the end of it all he restated that he didn't want to change because "There's no difference" and so we thanked him for the opportunity to talk with him and went on our way.

On Thursday we added a lady named بالقوش (Balcosh/Balqosh) whom we had met and taught before. She's shown a little bit of desire but we've definitely got our work cut out for us. She loves Jesus and has a lot of traditions that we're going to have to work on. She said she was going to come to church, though. Skipping ahead a little bit, we stopped by on Sunday with Bro. Seba to pick her up for church and she wasn't home. So she didn't come to church.

We also taught إخلاص (Ikhlas) again. Her life's a little crazy still. Her husband is doing better. She wants the church to give her a loan so she can buy a burial plot. We told her that we don't do that. She's nice, and she likes having us over, but she isn't really interested right now in progressing.

On Friday I went up to Arabic North on exchanges with Elder Jackson. They had a Muslim potential who said they were going to meet at the LDS Institute after mosque to talk about our message. It turns out, though, that when we loaded up directions we typed in the wrong road. The LDS Institute is located on Montezuma Ct. in San Diego, but we typed in Montezuma Rd., which is an entirely different road (if there's one thing I'm learning to like on my mission, it's Utah's grid
system). So we wound up going to the wrong place and calling the APs (who cover that area) to figure out where in the world we were going. All the while the potential was texting us telling us that he was almost there and wondering if we were coming. Then we turned right instead of left on the road that would take us to the institute building and wound up in Lemon Grove. As we were driving the right way to the institute the potential texted and said that he had to go and maybe we could try another day. It was admittedly very frustrating.

That day we also taught Morad and Miller. Miller is going to Michigan again because "There's tons of work there!" Morad... let's just say he's going through a rough patch right now and is losing faith. We taught about prayer and the Holy Ghost and Morad was really not having any of it. :( At the end he prayed though, and he said we could come back, so we'll see what happens.

Saturday, August 15, was the Feast of Assumption for the Virgin Mary (the day that the Catholics celebrate Mary's supposed ascension into heaven). We learned that as we talked with people all day and got a lot of "Today's Mary's day. Do you love Mary?" responses. "We love Mary, and we respect and revere her, but we don't pray to her," was the usual response we gave. We didn't get a lot of teaching in that day (we did teach one person which was a miracle for us in that she let us in to teach her on Mary's feast day). But one awesome thing that did happen was that we got to eat an Iraqi "poor man's" breakfast with our ward mission leader after our Saturday language study with him.

And oh my goodness where has this been my entire life?

The breakfast consists of Arabic bread (kind of a cross between pita and tanour bread if you know what the latter is), tahini (sesame paste), cream, apricot jam (in place of dried apricots), and date molasses. We warmed up pieces of bread on his gas stove, split it in half so it made a kind of pocket, spread the cream (which had the consistency of butter) on the inside, then put apricot jam and date molasses in it and ate it. Remind me when I get back to make this for you all because it is amazing. Another thing that he did was mix some date molasses with tahini to make a sort of spread similar in consistency and taste to peanut butter.

I feel like a part of me is now filled that I didn't know was missing.

On Sunday we helped teach Primary about miracles of Jesus. The Primary Presidency had a bag of Middle Eastern clothing and headscarves that they gave us. So Elder Greer put on a ثوب ("Thob", a Middle Eastern robe) and a headscarf and I put on a headscarf (we did get a picture taken). As we were waiting to go in, Sis. Cody walked by and spotted us. She died laughing. It was a great lesson, too.

We also dropped سيف (Saif) because we haven't been able to see him. Hopefully we will be able to see him again soon.

Yesterday we dropped ولسن (Wilson). We had a lesson with him where he spent half the time sharing his belief out of the Bible. We finished up the lesson on good terms, though. We'll go back in a few months and see if he's willing to change. We also ran into Nishwan again (you may remember him as the pancake I mentioned a few emails ago). He spent a portion of the time trying to bash with us and told us to not use the Book of Mormon. He wants us to come on Thursday at 8 with Bro. Seba to talk about his belief. We'll see how things go.

That's it for this week! Thanks everyone for your letters and your emails! Happy 20th Anniversary (this past Sunday) to my parents!

-- Elder Hawkes

"We should get back to studies." "Yeah, fo' rizzle!" - Elder Hawkes and Elder Greer

From 8-11-15

I don't even know.

This week, we....
- Go on MTE's and teach a very scattered lesson
- Go on exchanges with Elder Jensen
- Add a volleyball
- Have one of our recent converts say the closing prayer in sacrament meeting
- Have an awesome Zone Meeting
- Teach a not-very-religious man

First off, MTE's were on Wednesday. As a brief explanation for those who don't know, MTE's are basically inter-zone exchanges. President Schmitt and the AP's gather a few zones together (in our case, El Cajon, Santee, and San Diego East), give some instruction and counsel on how to do a better job, mix up the companionships, and send us on our way until the next morning, where we receive further instruction and exchange back. I wound up staying in Arabic work and had Elder Fraughton from the Santee Zone join me for the day. The day was mostly just spent walking around trying potential after potential without any lessons.

That evening we tried a potential named عبدالمسيح (Abdalmessiah, "Servant of the Messiah"). When we got to the complex his wife was standing outside and starting talking to us. I spoke back (in Arabic!) and she told us (in Arabic!) "I don't speak English." So she called out her neighbor and started asking him questions and having him relay them to me. I responded to the questions in Arabic and he would repeat what I said back to her. About two minutes into it he finally said, "Look, he speaks Arabic. You can just talk with him." At that point, she said in a surprised tone, "Oh! You speak Arabic!" She then invited us in to teach her and her husband. We got through most of the Restoration up until about the Apostasy when we felt it was best to stop and come back later because they were both kind of spaced-out and not really paying attention. So we thanked them for their hospitality and willingness to listen and asked if we could come back another day. As we were walking out I asked the neighbor through his open window "Thanks for your help. Could we come teach you?" He said, "Sure."

On Friday Elder Jensen came with me to Arabic South for the day on exchanges. Again we tried potential after potential. That evening we went back to teach the neighbor. It was a really good lesson and he accepted a return appointment. His name is ولسن (Wilson, "Wilson") and since everyone in our district has seen "Castaway"... draw your own conclusions.

Not much happened on Saturday (most of the day was spent finishing our Weekly Planning and doing studies), so we're going to skip over to Sunday! On Sunday we didn't have anyone come to church. :( But Suhaila and Muhammad both came and that meant that Elder Greer got to teach the Arabic Gospel Principles class! :D In sacrament meeting Suhaila
said the closing prayer. She said it in English. It was a personal prayer (essentially "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm a sinner, but I'm doing my best. I love Jesus and want to follow Him. In His name, Amen") but the fact that she was 1) willing to do it 2) in front of everyone 3) in a language other than her native tongue is very noteworthy. Everyone took time to tell her they loved her prayer, which made her even happier.

Yesterday we had Zone Meeting. We talked about following the Spirit and how to better recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, which was a great subject. After that the only other noteworthy thing about the day was that we taught a potential named أردلان (Ardalan, no idea what it means). He seemed a little nervous having us over but let us teach the Restoration to him. We talked about prayer and asked if he would pray about the Book of Mormon. He said "No." He further elaborated that he doesn't like the mentality of only praying to get something or when he's in trouble (which is a sound opinion) and therefore doesn't ever pray (which isn't quite the conclusion I would draw). He said that he's grateful we came by but he isn't too interested in religion or learning from us.

So that was interesting.

That's it for this week! Thanks everyone for your emails and letters! I love getting mail!

Also, shoutout to my older brother Alton who married his fiancee this past weekend! Congratulations!

-- Elder Hawkes

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"Do you speak 'deaf'?" - Elder Greer

From 8-4-15....

Turns out Elder Jensen knows a little bit of ASL and Elder Greer was
wanting to know if he knew it well.

This week, we...
- Have some interesting experiences on Wednesday night
- Have exchanges with the Zone Leaders and find out just how weird English work is
- Teach Saif and get a baptismal date!
- Add some people!
- Add some more people!
- And the rest of the time, walk around and try potential after
potential after potential...

First off, what do pumpkin seeds, a drunk guy, and giant cockroaches have to do with each other? The answer is "Wednesday night on El Cajon Main Street". We started Wednesday off by walking around the streets visiting potential after potential without any lessons and a lot of No's and "Go teach Muslims!" On Wednesday night we decided to walk on
Main Street because there are almost always Arabic-speakers there that we can try. As we were walking we noticed a drunk guy playing in traffic and commented to ourselves how he's drunk and we should go out of our way to avoid him (the best we've gotten out of a drunk person is "No"; the worst is usually something about how they're God or some
other major historical figure). So as we're walking and talking with this family, Drunk Guy spots us. And yells at us. Typical, drunk people in El Cajon have a tendency to yell at us. And then he runs toward us swearing up a storm, stops, gets in Elder Greer's face and tells him (in between the cussing and slurred speech) to get lost because he doesn't like us. 

Now Elder Greer is from Florida and grew up in an area where he got to interact with drunks from time to time, so he calmly told the man "Sir, you're drunk. You need to leave." And when that didn't work out we both just walked away resolving to call the police if he follows us. He didn't. But he did take the time to circle back about 10 minutes later and remind us (from a distance this time) that he doesn't like us. Interestingly, I think he's the same guy that told Elder Poffenbarger and I that he was Jehovah (I'm pretty sure I talked about that a while ago).

After that little incident we kept walking and talking with people with again a whole lot of "Not interested. Thanks." As we're talking with this one guy he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handful of pumpkin seeds and proceeds to drop them in Elder Greer's hand. Elder Greer stood there rather confused for a second and then continued talking. The man then put his hand in his pocket again and gave me a handful of pumpkin seeds. We both walked away from the situation very confused. Why did he have pumpkin seeds? Why did he think we wanted pumpkin seeds? What are we supposed to do with these pumpkin seeds?

So we walked on and ran into another guy right in front of a closed-down lawn mower shop. As Elder Greer and I were talking with this guy, we both noticed on the building one cockroach. Then another. Then another. And then a few more. Which was rather disgusting to watch and rather distracting. So after we finished up the street contact we got out of that area as fast as we could before the cockroaches decided they'd much prefer the sidewalk (and the missionaries standing on said sidewalk) than the seemingly-abandoned lawn mower shop.

And really this isn't that exciting but it's probably one of the only major things that happened this week.

On Friday we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Since Elder Greer is the District Leader the Zone Leaders go on exchanges with him once a transfer. So Elder Greer was with Elder Fiso in Arabic work while I went to Fuerte with Elder Harris.

English work is weird. Super super weird.

As we were teaching lessons a lot of times I'd almost hit a wall in teaching because I was so used to hearing Arabic and speaking in Arabic that I at times couldn't figure out what to say in English, especially when we were teaching the Restoration. We taught a few people who are progressing towards baptism and tried some less-actives in Fuerte boundaries (Fuerte covers downtown El Cajon, which includes many care facilities and halfway houses. I'll let you make the connection there).

On Saturday we taught Saif again. This time we brought a member with us and taught the Plan of Salvation. His whole family was home, but they didn't want to participate in the lesson, so they just sat in the dining room chatting while Saif listened intently and participated very actively in the lesson. Once we got to "Our Life on Earth" in the Plan of Salvation, Elder Greer invited him to be baptized. He said yes! And accepted a date for August 25th!!!!!!!!!
He wasn't able to come to church, but we feel like he's solid. After Saif, we brought the same member to teach a potential named Hind. We were able to teach Hind and her mother, Aida, the Restoration. They got it! They said they would be baptized if they knew it was true. They're a great family.

Yesterday we went to teach a family we had street contacted earlier in the week, Mazin and his son, Yusif. We got in the door with them and the wife joined us for the lesson. After starting off by showing them "Because He Lives", we taught the Restoration. They're a Catholic family but said they were willing to listen and learn more. We got a return appointment set up for this Saturday, so we'll see how that goes.

And for completeness' sake, fill in the rest of the time I haven't mentioned with "We walked around a lot and tried a bunch of potentials with a lot of 'No thanks' responses." On a semi-related note, Elder Greer and I have noticed that it's getting hotter in El Cajon now that it's August.

That's it for this week! Sorry for a rather uninteresting email. Thank you all for your letters, both electronic and physical! I love being able to hear from friends and family, so be sure to write whenever you can! As always, my address is in the signature. Have a great week!

-- Elder Hawkes