Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"How do you say 'Quantum physics' in Arabic?" - Elder Jensen

*checks Google Translate*: فيزياء الكم

This week, we...
- Go out of chronological order in this email to talk about Basim
- Have lunch with عادل (Adil)
- Add a family!
- Sort-of-not-really bash with some people
- Teach Fawzi and commit him to do more to come back to church
- Add someone else!
- Pass Shaima off to the Sisters
- Listen as our investigator says he's going to join the Mafia (without actually knowing what the Mafia is)
- Do service at a school (with permission, mind you!)
- Show up to the Halloween party and meet some nonmembers there
- Listen to the Primary program than teach the Law of Chastity in Gospel Principles
- Get some hints from President about some transfer possibilities....
- Have an all-around awesome Monday!

First off, if I had to sum this week up in one phrase, it'd be this: The right place at the right time, every time. The more I read that the more it sounds weird but I'm going to keep typing and go with it before I second-guess myself. 

Going out of chronological order... let's talk about Basim. 
This is what I imagine the Elders were doing afterreconnecting with Basim.
Once upon a time, Elder Hawkes was new to the whole "being a missionary" thing and was being trained by one of the most حديد missionaries on the earth, Elder Poffenbarger. The two of them found and taught a young man named Basim. Basim was the miracle child. He understood everything we taught and accepted it. He prayed about baptism, he prayed about the Book of Mormon, he prayed about Joseph Smith, and he knew all of it was true. He asked us, "When can I be baptized?" And we told him April 18th. 
Flash forward to April. Basim is still solid, but he's got some external pressure on him. First off, his family isn't too thrilled at the idea of him getting baptized. Second off, since he's the only person in his household capable of working he gets a job that provides him with long hours and no time to meet with us. So unfortunately he drops us, but he says we could try in May. 
Flash forward to May. Elder Poffenbarger calls Basim and Basim tells him we're liars and that he doesn't want to hear from us ever again. With much sadness to be had we put him in the mental "Forever Former" category but pray that he'll be willing to meet in the future. 
Now to last Monday/Tuesday. Elder Poffenbarger and Elder Jackson are home now. We're in a trio. We knock on Basim's door (with Elder Hawkes almost ready to call it off and run back to the car) and his mom answers the door. She says he isn't home but that we could try another time. We leave her with our number and ask her to call us if she needs any help with anything. About a half hour later, Basim calls us and says he need
s "urgent help" with something and asks if we can come Tuesday at 8 with Bro. Seba. 

So last Tuesday we went to Basim's at 8 with Bro. Seba. 
The details of what they need don't matter and are confidential, but suffice it to say that it has Bro. Seba wringing his hands and not feeling good about it but he reluctantly agrees anyway. On Wednesday at Language Study Bro. Seba hesitantly tells us to deliver something that will help to Basim and his mom. On the way Elder Greer and Elder Jensen felt that we shouldn't do it. I'm ashamed to admit that I felt the same but didn't want to say or do anything for fear of Basim rejecting us again. We agree (along with Bro. Seba) that we aren't going to follow through with it and instead tell Basim and his mother that we didn't feel good about doing it and so decided against it. At this point Elder Hawkes is again nervous. But there's nothing to worry about, Basim and his mother understand and thank us for being honest and say it's no problem. His mom tells us we can teach Basim and Basim says we can come back Saturday at 8. 

So we went back Saturday at 8 and re-added him! :D
We reviewed the Restoration with him and while the details were a little sketchy he remembered most of the concept and most importantly remembers believing it to be true. We invited him to baptism and he said he'd be baptized on November 28th. On Sunday we reviewed the Restoration again and went over the Plan of Salvation and he's still solid. Truly the Lord prepares the hearts of people!

Back to chronological order...
On Wednesday we had lunch with our Muslim friend in National City, عادل. He fed us a really good Iraqi meal consisting of حموس (Hummus), كبّة (Kubba), and a few other things. It was really good! We also got to add a family that the Zone Leaders had found while tracting. To make a long story short President felt that we should go tract the areas near the stake center before the Mission President's Fireside last Sunday and the Zone Leaders found this family. We taught them (and by them I mean the dad, since the daughters couldn't really understand a lot of words and wanted to be taught in English) the Restoration and the dad, Sabri, said he'd read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover and that after that we could teach him. To wrap up the night, we got a call from the Zone Leaders that there was a really awesome Arabic conversation going on where they were and that we needed to come ASAP. So we went, and the people they were talking to proceeded to sort-of bash with us. I say sort-of because they were wanting to bash but we were really really working hard not to bash. Eventually we just gave them each a Book of Mormon, a Restoration pamphlet, and an invitation to pray about it. One of them was saying, "If I believe the Book of Mormon is the word of God then I also have to believe the Qur'an is the word of God also!" 

That sentence had so many logical fallacies in it that it made me cringe a little even when writing it. 

Anyway... on Thursday we did Weekly Planning and then taught Fawzi, our less-active recent convert. He's still having Word of Wisdom problems, but he's getting better. We talked about faith and reminded him that if he wanted the Lord to bless him with a job that would allow him to come to church on Sundays, he needs to put forth his effort and look for work. It was a really great lesson that did a lot for him, I think! 

On Friday we didn't have district meeting because Bro. Hemmingway, the Director of Proselyting at the Church Missionary Department, came down to do a special MLC with us that all the zone leaders and district leaders had to attend. Since this email is long enough I won't talk about everything he said, but he essentially told us to be better at setting goals and achieving them; finding referrals; and having the faith to baptize. After that we went to a restaurant called Wings 'n Things. It was... okay. And really not noteworthy. We passed Shaima off to the Sisters, since Habib decided to move to Las Vegas. We also added a man named Ashur who was originally having the attitude of "All the churches are the same" but by the end was willing to give the Book of Mormon a chance. 
We went to go visit Morad on Friday and he started it off by answering the door with rap music blaring in the background and swearing at us in an attempt to be tough. He quickly changed his mind about that when we started to turn around and leave. He told us that he was going to join the Mafia... and then he talked about how much he loved the police in El Cajon. 

Woah woah woah. "Morad, you know that the Mafia is against the police and hates them, right?" 
I guess it had never dawned on him. 

We had a good lesson after that. We shared a little bit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him and reminded him of the importance of baptism. He agreed (sort of) to a baptismal date of Nov. 14th! :D He's got some Word of Wisdom problems to sort out and he needs follow-up on everything else, but he's slowly but surely inching forward. 

On Saturday we got permission to help out at Jamul Primary School by moving some mulch around in their garden. They fed us Subway in exchange for our labors. Very much worth it. We had the ward Halloween party that night, and we weren't sure that anyone was going to come. We went anyway and it turns out that Jenny (Muhammad's wife) and her kids came. We were grateful they were able to come, and they had a great time. We invited them to the Primary program on Sunday and they accepted the invitation. 

On Sunday Jenny and Muhammad came to church and listened to the Primary children blurt out "GOD GAVE US FAMILIES!" and some other songs. Afterward, I taught the English Gospel Principles class about the Law of Chastity. Nothing too noteworthy about that; I just explained what it was and how following it was a principle of faith, as with all the commandments. I said that the way to know if it's from God is to live it and ask. It was pretty good. 

Yesterday we had an okay lesson with Morad. We went in expecting to teach the Gospel and the Word of Wisdom, but we didn't really practice or prepare as much for the Gospel part as we did the Word of Wisdom part. So most of the lesson was really kind of directionless and didn't feel like a good lesson. Live and learn. 

Also, President gave us some interesting hints about transfers in interviews yesterday. We know for sure that someone is coming, and President told Elders Greer and Jensen, "I wouldn't be surprised if two came in this transfer..." So now that's an option on the table. I guess we'll see in two weeks!

Thanks for enduring this novel, everyone! Thanks also for your letters and emails! Don't be afraid to keep in touch!

-- Elder Hawkes

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Is this moderation? I just ate 7 tacos... and I'm going to eat 4 more." - Mario, a recent convert

First, off welcome to my weekly email No-longer-Elder Jackson (Just because you're home doesn't mean I need to call you by your first name). And welcome everyone to this week's edition of What Went Down in El Cajon, CA (as it relates to missionary work). 
This is a popular yogurt drink that is more savory than
sweet. Elder Hawkes likes it, Elder Jensen doesn't.

This week, we...
- Have a pizza party
- Teach عادل (Adil) English, wherein he struggles with the word "Kindergarten" and the ABC song
- Move some wood from a wood shed
- Get حبيب (Habib) in touch with LDS Employment Services in an attempt to dissuade him from moving
- Remind everyone that Elder Hawkes is an expert on lighthouses by virtue of him hearing a song about them
- Invite Morad to dinner
- Get to know Shaima's concerns rather than her beating around the bush
- Teach the Plan of Salvation in Gospel Principles
- Sing to a bunch of people
- Meet with an investigator we've been trying for a month now
- Teach Morad, then teach Suhaila
- Get a call from Basim (the golden investigator who dropped us in May)!!!!!!!!

First off, on Wednesday we - along with the sisters - helped our ward mission leader's family clean up their house and rearrange some stuff. Afterward we were running a little behind, so we told عادل we would be at his house around 1:30 to teach him English and then rushed to the nearest Little Caesar's to get lunch. As we got there and were contemplating what to order, Sis. Seba (the wife of the ward mission leader) and the sister missionaries pulled up right beside us. So we went back to the Seba's and had a big pizza party. We ate pretty quickly and rushed out the door so we could get to عادل on time. Once we got to عادل, we realized that we had forgotten to grab the papers that contained his next lesson. In the spirit of quick thinking, Elder Greer decided to review some things with him and work on teaching him the ABC's via that wonderful song that everyone who was 5 years old at some point knows. 

And it was hilarious. 

Elder Hawkes, Elder Jensen, Elder Godby 
In Arabic, 90% of the time you pronounce every letter exactly as if it was written. In English (at least American English) we have a tendency to blend consonants together. For instance, read this sentence out loud. Then, think back at how you blended those consonants and words together. If you're anything like me you'll probably get a little self-conscious of the fact and try to correctly pronounce every single letter in the sentence as you read it out loud again. My point is, if something makes a "t" sound in Arabic, they pronounce it with a "t" sound, not a "d" or some other sound. So about halfway through the song (the part where it goes L-M-N-O-P) the letters kind of blend together and it was really funny to listen to عادل copy Elder Greer while still trying to pronounce every letter. We also learned that the word "Kindergarten" is tough for some people. He kept saying "Kindergarun" or "Kinnurgarren" or something to that effect. We had to take it syllable by syllable. He eventually got it, thankfully. 

On Thursday we started the day off by helping a family in the ward, the Knight's, move some wood from their wood shed to the other side of their house so they could use it during the winter. Let me tell you, there was a lot of wood. It was almost stacked up to the ceiling in the little shed they had. The first few layers were pretty easy because most of it was okay. But as we got closer and closer to the bottom, there was more decayed wood than there was good wood. Elder Greer, being in pest control before his mission, knew that the entire bottom layer was filled with termites, so we didn't even bother with that. By the time it was all done, we had discovered many spiders (some large, some small), two dead rats, a few lizards, and more termites than we would have cared to have seen. It was all worth it though, because afterward they fed us a great lunch. Also, we learned that pretty much every house in San Diego County that is at least 20-30 years old has termites. Fun fact!

That evening we taught one of our investigators with a baptismal date, حبيب (Habib). He told us that he was probably going to move to Las Vegas because he couldn't find work out here. In an attempt to dissuade him from moving we got him in touch with LDS Employment Services so he could have a resource for finding jobs in the area. (Spoiler alert: He's decided to move anyway.) We had a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation which was pretty straightforward. 

On Friday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. Elder Godby came here to Arabic work while Elder Greer went to English work for the day. In district meeting we talked about the Book of Mormon. I used the analogy of a lighthouse to explain how the Book of Mormon guides people to Christ. Since I've never been east past Kentucky and have lived in a land-locked state my entire life, I am an expert on lighthouses by virtue of me listening to the song "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" and a Conference talk about it. :) It was a really good district meeting and helped me gain some greater insights about the Book of Mormon and how to use it better in my teaching. 
A member gave Elder Hawkes a stack of Arabic Flashcards
that he used while learning Arabic. 

We invited Morad to a pizza dinner with the Seba's because he's been in need of fellowship. We showed up and waited. And waited. And waited. 

Eventually we got in contact with him. He said he had forgotten and had already gone to get food, so he wouldn't be able to make it. So we ate the pizzas all by ourselves (and the Seba's were there too). On an slightly related note, the best pizza I've had is actually from The Pizza Place at the Barnoa casino, owned by Bro. Seba. 

We went to teach Habib and Shaima the Gospel of Jesus Christ that night, which we did. It was a pretty simple and straightforward lesson. Shaima then brought forward her concerns: She said she had received a vision of God telling her that the Bible was the only true book and that there was nothing more. She also showed us that she had looked up Joseph Smith on Wikipedia and found out about polygamy and wanted answers. We answered as best we could and said we'd work on getting her more information about the subject. Habib was a little overbearing in the lesson, though. He was telling Shaima that he felt the Book of Mormon was true and that if Joseph Smith was a prophet then he must have done it as a commandment from God, except by the end he was almost at the point of yelling. Eventually she walked out of the lesson. Habib again said that he felt the Book of Mormon was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He's so prepared and the Elders in Las Vegas are going to great with him there! 

On Sunday I woke up then realized, "Oh no. I haven't the slightest clue what I'm teaching in Gospel Principles." So I looked at the English manual to give myself a brief overview of the lesson "The Gathering of Scattered Israel." "I got this," I thought to myself, knowing full well that I didn't because I had forgotten about it until the day of. So I flipped open the Arabic manual to review it in Arabic. 

It turns out they skipped that lesson in the Arabic version. 

And I didn't know that until five hours before the lesson. 

Running low on time, I grabbed the Arabic manual and rushed out the door with my companions to ward council and then to sacrament meeting. "I'll just read from the manual," I thought to myself. When I got to the church, I decided, "Actually, I'll just teach the Plan of Salvation because I know the material and it wouldn't hurt to review it with محمد (Muhammad)." So I gave it on the Plan of Salvation. It went okay. 

That evening we had a dinner-lesson with some friends of a family in the ward that we had inadvertently street contacted a while ago. They weren't super interested, but they were inviting of the message and were willing to give it a shot. They said they'd hold off on more lessons until they had read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. All in all the members liked it and their friends were appreciative of their friends' willingness to share what they believed. After that we rushed over to the stake center so we could sing in the Mission President's Fireside. Morad actually came to the Fireside and stayed for the whole thing, even though he said he would only stay for 10 or 15 minutes. They had music, then a video, then some testimonies from some recent converts. After repeating that cycle once or twice President and Sister Schmitt both bore their testimonies and shared some thoughts with the audience. It was really great!

Yesterday was a really good day. We started the day off by meeting with one of our investigators in Arabic North's area, رعد (Raed). He seemed to mostly just nod his head in agreement even though he didn't understand what we were telling him, so we'll see how it works out. After the lesson, he gave us each a business card for his uncle, who's a pastor over at a local Nazarene church. We taught Morad a really good lesson about obedience and being kind and charitable to everyone. The entire time he was very happy and was actually helping to explain some of the points we brought up. Once he makes that step to be baptized he'll be solid! We also taught Suhaila a pretty straightforward lesson about prayer. Not much to note from that, other than the email title for the week. 

This morning Habib texted us to say he was moving to Las Vegas but that his wife was going to stay in San Diego, so we could still work with her. We sent his info off to the missionaries over there and wished him the best of luck. Not necessarily a sour note, but not one I'd like to end on, so let's jump back!

Back when Elder Poffenbarger (my trainer) and I were together, we worked with a young man named Basim. He was solid and sure to be baptized. Then, due to work and probably some family pressure, he got dropped. In May he called us to say he didn't want to talk to us anymore and that he hated us. Really sad, but the story doesn't end there. We've felt like we've needed to visit with him for a while and at least see how he's doing, so last night we went by his apartment. He wasn't home, but his mom was, so we gave her our phone number and asked her to have him give us a call. Probably about 30 minutes later he gave us a call and said that he needed some "immediate help" and asked if we could bring Bro. Seba tonight at 8 to meet with him. That was a big miracle for us! We don't know what exactly he means by "immediate help" (probably help with translating something or help finding work), but we feel really good about it, so we'll see how things go tonight! :D

That's it for this week! Thanks everyone for your emails and letters of support! I love you all and love hearing from you! My scripture this week is Romans 8:6-9. 

-- Elder Hawkes

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"What's your secret to longevity?" "Chocolate." - Elder Jensen and a 90-year-old woman in the ward

Can't argue with that.

This week, we...
- Get preached to... sort of
- Thin an apple tree
- Have an awesome lesson with Morad!
- Help our member family with plumbing problems
- Call a Detroit branch president about Arabic work
- Get a baptismal date for Habeeb and Shaima! :D
- Have a not-so-great lesson with Morad
- Add a former named Lewis
- Have a family home evening with Suhaila
- Wind up giving blessings to some potentials

So first off, Tuesday ended on a weird note. We moved a marble table for some members (which was really uneventful) and then we went proselyting. We wound up in a complex that had one of the weirdest organizational patterns possible when it came to apartment numbers. So we got lost in it, and after a half hour of wandering we finally found the apartment. The residents let us inside. I'm pretty sure they were in their 80's at least. Anyway... we told them we wanted to share a message about Jesus with them and I kind of lost track of the conversation (or lack thereof) after that but suddenly the older man was showing us his Chaldean Bible and playing Syriac tape recordings (yes, tape recordings) of the Old Testament. So that was kind of weird. Needless to say, we thanked them for their time and left.

On Wednesday we helped Sis. Sorenson (the 90-year-old mentioned in the email title) thin her apple tree. It was a lot of fun helping to pick apples and she let us take one or two. Afterward, she fed us ice cream. Lots of ice cream. That's when Elder Jensen asked her about how she's lived so long and so well. She said that whenever she got money
she'd take some of it and go down to the store and buy a chocolate bar. So now I know the secret to longevity.

Also on Wednesday we had a lesson with Morad that started out a little blunt. But we talked to him about his reading and his lack of progression, and he said that he's been reading from the Book of Mormon every day and is cutting back on smoking. We talked about how to get more out of the scriptures and then asked if he'd prayed about baptism. He said he wants to get baptized, but he wants to do it when his brothers return from Michigan. He's almost there!

Friday was an interesting day. It started off with our shower and toilet not working, so we had to go to our Zone Leader's apartment to shower. We told the Dreesen's and they said they'd look into it. We wound up going to Zone Meeting, coming back and helping them out, going to teach عدل (Adil) English, coming back and helping them, and then finally finishing up studies for the day at 8:00 P.M. It took a lot longer to fix it than anyone was expecting or wanting, and it was
slightly frustrating for all parties involved. On an unrelated note, there's this yogurt drink (in Arabic it's شراب لبن, which literally means "yogurt drink") that we had at Adil's house. It isn't like a drink made from American yogurt, which is sweet. This is just plain yogurt, salt, and water mixed together. It's interesting because when you think "yogurt" you probably think that American Dannon or Yoplait sugary "yogurt", but it's actually kind of savory almost. It's pretty good.

Oh, I added a bit about calling a Detroit branch president. Frankly, it's rather anticlimactic; the mission office called us and told us that this branch president wanted to know more about how to teach in Arabic. We called him and he basically just asked 1) How to teach Muslims and 2) What dialect we spoke. I was expecting it to be a little more like "How can the missionaries learn Arabic?", but it wasn't. Oh well, someday they'll have Arabic missionaries in Detroit! (For reference, we are the only Arabic missionaries in the U.S. There are some in Toronto, and some in Uganda, and that's it.)

Saturday was a jam-packed day full of greatness. To start off, we taught Habeeb and Shaima. They told us a little more of their story. To make it short, Habeeb was driving and noticed a guy in a wheelchair that needed some help. As he was helping him, he was handed an Arabic Book of Mormon by the guy and it had Arabic North's phone number in
it. He called them and asked if they could come teach him about the book. Shaima converted to Christianity from Islam when she was young. She met with missionaries in Ramona a few years ago and has kept the Book of Mormon they gave her ever since. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation and the importance of being baptized. We asked them,
"When you know that this is true, will you be baptized?" and they said "Yes, of course!" We offered them a date of November 14th and they accepted! :D They're solid!

Later that evening we wanted to invite Morad to a baptismal service, so we stopped by his house. He was having a really bad day and proceeded to curse God, his parents, his neighbors, the police, the Muslims, the Chaldeans, Detroit, and just about everything. We left after letting him rant for a little bit and I went ahead and dropped him in Area Book Planner. Elder Greer had other opinions and so we agreed to just leave it alone for a little bit and come back to it when cooler heads prevailed. As we knelt in prayer as a companionship at the end of the night, I got one of the most clear impressions I had ever received that we needed to keep Morad as an investigator. I shared that impression with my companions and they both said they felt the exact same way while we were praying. So he's still an investigator, and we'll see what the Lord has in store for him and for us.

On Sunday Morad came to church and apologized for the day before. He said we could keep coming and sharing our messages with him, which made me really grateful I had followed that prompting. Habeeb and Shaima also came to church, although they only came for the first hour. That afternoon we went out proselyting and Elder Greer felt that
we should stop by a member's house to see if she knew anyone we could visit. When we got there, it turns out she was having some health problems and needed a blessing. She said that that morning she had been praying for someone to come give her a blessing. We were able to give her a blessing. Because we had been willing to change our plans
we wound up being an answer to someone's prayer. That really strengthened my testimony.

Later that evening we wound up going to visit a former investigator named Lewis. We invited him to church and he asked, "What time?" He proceeded to put it on his calendar so he wouldn't forget. We had a lesson on the Book of Mormon and he loved it! He said we could come back anytime, and since we taught him a few weeks ago Area Book Planner counted it as an added investigator. He's cool!

Yesterday was hot and humid. I only say that because we were walking around in it all afternoon. Not the most fun thing in the world but you do what you need to. We had a family home evening lesson with Suhaila last night. We shared the talk "God is at the Helm" by M. Russell Ballard from Conference and bore testimony of living prophets. She's got a lot of faith, she's just a little unsure about things. We also went to go visit some potentials and it turns out they had moved.
But in a sudden turn of events the current residents said they had some health problems and Elder Greer, after sharing James 5:15 with them, asked if they would like a blessing. So we wound up giving a blessing to some potential investigators. I had دليل المبشر (the Missionary Handbook) in front of me as I anointed. It was kind of weird doing it in Arabic. I'll get used to it, probably.

That's it for this week! Shoutout to my sister Megan who turns 18 on Saturday! Thanks everyone for your support and prayers on my behalf. And don't hesitate to write!

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Are you seriously using the Lego Star Wars video game as a point of reference?" - Elder Hawkes

Elder Hawkes received some colorings from the Sunbeam
class from his home ward.
Turns out Elder Jensen hasn't seen Star Wars. How sad.

So this week started off crazy weird and has gradually smoothed itself
out, so let's get into it!
This week, we...
- Find out about "The transfer that never was"
- Unpack
- Drive up to the Arabic North apartment only to realize we don't have the keys
- Have a Catholic tell us he's not interested because he's Muslim
- Help Suhaila move
- Listen to Conference! And then teach a person!
- Get a call from a member after one of our investigators shows up to
church when no one's there
- Help redecorate a retirement center.
- Forget to bring a member to Suhaila's and wind up teaching her outside
- Teach a family who says they'll get back to us on whether they
believe it or not

So, first off, let me tell you all about "The transfer that never was..."

When we last left off, I was going up North, Elder Greer was going to be training, we needed to be at the transfer meeting at 9:30, and I learned how much of a pain it is to pack everything you have in preparation for going somewhere new. And then at 10:05 P.M., we got a call from President Schmitt.

He told us that during his interviews with the incoming missionaries, he didn't receive any inspiration as to who should be the new Arabic missionary. But he went and looked at the missionaries coming in next transfer, and he saw that there's an Elder coming in November who studied Arabic for 5 years! "So," he said, "Elder Greer, you're going to train him when he comes. I'm sorry that you don't get to train right now. You three are going to be in a trio this transfer."

So I'm still in Arabic South, technically. It was a really last-minute decision. But it just goes to show how much the Lord is in this work!

After spending a good chunk of the night and the next morning unpacking and determining what I need in the next six weeks and what I don't (I know with 100% certainty that I'm going up North next transfer), we drove up to the Arabic North apartment on Wednesday to pick up Elder Jensen's stuff. And then we realized, we had let some sister missionaries in Santee borrow the car, and we neglected to get the apartment keys from them before we gave them the keys! So we went back, taught عدل (Adil) English in National City, did some rearranging and reorganizing in our apartment, and finally got the keys to the North apartment. I about doubled my tie collection because Elder Jackson left a bunch of ties that he didn't want (still not a necktie person). We finally got everything handled and moved in, then we went proselyting.

That evening we had a lesson with the three Chaldean women I mentioned last email. There were a lot of distractions outside (we had to sit outside) and it essentially boiled down to "We're Catholic. We don't want to change. Thanks." So on our way out we saw an open door and decided to try and talk with the residents. One of them came to the door and said, "No. We're Muslim."

We were staring straight at his Virgin Mary statue. And could see the rosaries on the wall.

Anyway, despite the obvious lie we decided it wasn't worth our time to push any further and left.

On Thursday we helped Suhaila move. She'd been having some trouble with the management in her old place and decided it was better to move than deal with all the ridiculousness she was facing. We expected it to be a short move, maybe an hour or so. But since it was the three of us, her, her two teenage sons, and her home teacher, it took about
three. Her new place is a lot smaller than her old one. She said she likes the old one more, but she'll manage.

On Friday I had my first district meeting as district leader. It went alright. Our district is composed of the three of us (me, Elder Greer, and Elder Jensen) and the Hillsdale/Jamul Sisters (Sister Wardinsky and Sister 'Eukaliti). After that, we brought a member of the ward out with us to try a few potentials. As we were walking, another member waved us over and, after asking him who he knew, introduced us to his neighbor. We had a lesson with her on her porch that essentially
consisted of her venting and us reminding her to have faith in Christ. I'm sure she was a little overwhelmed because there were five people standing on her porch wanting to talk about Jesus!

Later on that night we visited Morad, an investigator who's been taught for several months now. We talked a lot about having faith in Jesus Christ and how having faith will lead to baptism. He's got some envy problems that he's working out, but he's got a lot of faith! When we invited him to be baptized he said he'd do it! :D We invited him to be baptized on October 31st and he wasn't as sure. So we invited him to pray about it and he said he would. I really think it can happen if
he just prays and finds out for himself.

On Saturday we had a small meeting you've probably never heard of called General Conference. You'll probably ask me what my favorite talk was and I'd tell you that I don't know because they were all amazing! It was great to see three new Apostles sustained and I congratulate Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund on their new callings.

That evening we taught نائل (Na'il), whom we've been trying to get in the door with for over a month. We reviewed the Restoration with him and he's got it. His problem isn't that he doesn't believe, his problem is that he can't find time to meet with us. Since he lives so close to his workplace he's always on-call and it's hard to nail down a time to meet with him (no pun intended). We'll keep trying him.

On Sunday Morad came to the Sunday Morning session of General Conference, which was awesome. We got a call from one of our members, Bro. Faradjian, between sessions. He said that one of our investigators, حبيب (Habeeb) had showed up to church and, when he saw no one was there, called him up and asked where everyone was. (For the record, we tried calling him but the phone number was wrong, and he wasn't home when we stopped by) So Bro. Faradjian told him it was conference and invited him over. We went by and watched the concluding session with him, which was awesome. He had a great time!

Yesterday we helped the Hillsdale/Jamul Sisters and a less-active lady in La Vida Real (a retirement center in Rancho San Diego) rearrange things and redecorate the main rooms for Halloween and autumn. It mostly consisted of us walking around, placing things here and there, rearranging a wreath or two, and hanging some cloths here and there to make it look "spooky". It was a lot of fun, actually! We also taught Suhaila on her porch (because we had forgotten to bring a member with us) about the Spirit World and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She said she hasn't been reading from the Book of Mormon due to the move, but she said she'd read it this week.

Last thing: Last night we had a lesson with a family. The husband, خليل (Khaleel), was very inviting but a little closed-off. As we were teaching, he and his wife, جنان (Jinan), grew more and more attentive as the lesson went on. The Spirit was very strong there as we taught and discussed our message with them. At the end of it, they said they'd think about it and call us. He wanted to make sure our phone number was right so he could call us, which was a great sign!

And that's it for this week! So in case you didn't catch it at the beginning, I'm in a trio and I'm also district leader. This transfer is going to be fun! Thanks everyone for your emails and letters! I love getting mail, so don't be afraid to write! Have a great week!

-- Elder Hawkes

"Man, our schedule has gone great today. We've been going the right way every time." "I'm sorry, that was supposed to be a right not a left. Oops." - Elder Greer and Hawkes

From 9-29-15

That's the way it goes. You get two people in a car who have no idea where they're going or where they are and it's only a matter of time before someone gets both of them lost. 

Anyway, it's been a big week and it's going to be an even bigger one this week, starting today at 5:45 A.M., so let's talk all about it! 
This week, we...
- Inadvertently get a family upset when we tell them we don't follow the Pope
- Get lost in Chula Vista
- Help finalize everything for, and then participate in, the ward activity
- Teach a man named Lewis
- Meet two of North's investigators at church (who have a really cool story!)
- Accidentally convince a 90-year-old Chaldean lady that Jesus is coming at that instant due to a lunar eclipse
- Have a lesson that starts out with a discussion about whether we should pray to Mary or not
- Get a call from a lady who wants help paying rent
L to R: Elder Hawkes, Elder Greer, Elder Jackson, Elder Jensen
- Teach a group of women we contact on the street
- Wave goodbye to Elder Jackson (and find out the wrong way to get to the airport)
- Find out what's going down tomorrow at transfers....

On Wednesday we started the day off right by contacting a potential investigator and sitting down with him and his family. He said from the beginning that he didn't have enough time to hear our message but that we could come another time. We figured, "Well, we're sitting here and we've been trying this guy for a while, so let's start something up, set an appointment, and then go." So we introduced our message and asked if we could come back later, to which he said okay. And then here's where the fun begins: He asks us if we want coffee or tea. We respond that we don't drink coffee or tea because we don't believe it's good for us. He immediately counters by saying, "Well, the Pope drinks coffee and tea, so it's okay!"

Side note: In Arabic, just like any other language, there's the direct way of saying things and then there's the indirect and in most cases lighter and fluffier way of saying things. Think of it like trying to feed someone rocks versus Jolly Ranchers. Both are pretty solid and easily capable of destroying your teeth, but one at least tastes a little better. Anyway! In this case, I said, "لا نؤمن بالبابا" which means "We don't believe in the Pope." In hindsight, what I should have said is "لا نحفظ البابا" which means "We don't follow the Pope." As you can see, there's a difference between the two. And I discovered just how big of a difference that is just after I said it. Immediately the man got upset. "You don't believe in the Pope?! Are you Christian or Muslim?!" At that point I was in damage control mode, so I told him (or tried to tell him) that one can be a Christian without following the Pope. He wouldn't have any of it. Needless to say, we left and won't be going back anytime soon. 

Also on Wednesday, we had English class down in National City, so we figured we'd try some potentials in that area that we haven't been able to yet due to their distance. Due to the fact that Google Maps doesn't like to work without wi-fi, we had to screenshot the directions before we left and hope for the best. Hence, the email title for this week. We were driving in the Chula Vista area, trying to find this potential, when we wound up going left instead of right and wound up in the completely wrong part of the city. So we tried turning around and it turns out we were trying to go to the person we had just come from. Eventually we found out that the person we were trying to visit wasn't actually in Chula Vista, he was in Spring Valley, which is quite a distance aways (Chula Vista is directly south of San Diego and closest to the border, whereas Spring Valley is just south of El Cajon, which is directly east of San Diego). So that was how we got lost in Chula Vista!

On Friday we had the ward activity, which was a multi-cultural festival called "Around the World in 80 Minutes". It was a lot of fun! The members were really excited about it and invited a bunch of people (there were 23 nonmembers there, and only 3 or 4 were people the missionaries had invited). The food was great, the information was great, and everyone had a fun time! Elder Greer and I got some Middle Eastern garb from some members, which was awesome. With all the work that went into preparing it, we were all really grateful that there was a good turnout and that everyone had a good time. In fact, that's pretty much all anyone could talk about on Sunday during ward council and church! 

On Saturday Elder Greer and I taught a man named Lewis, a former from the days of Elder McCombie and Elder Jackson. Initially he was very closed off and not participating at all, but once we got to talking about the Savior's ministry and the Atonement he really opened up more. He still had the Book of Mormon that the other elders had given him, and it looked like he had read at least some of it. It was really great to see how people who are closed off will open up once they feel the Spirit and understand our message!

On Sunday we didn't have any investigators at church, but Arabic North had some really cool people that I'll tell you all about later. That evening there was a lunar eclipse that had everyone excited. People were out on the streets taking pictures and videos, especially when it turned red. We were inside a complex and asked an older lady (I'd say probably in her 90's at least) if she had seen the eclipse. Excitedly she ran (read: hobbled) over to a spot where she could see it and started jumping and dancing (to the best of her ability). Now, I'm not a big fan of people falling and hurting themselves, so with Elder Greer not too far from me I ran over to her and asked if she needed help. She waved me off and asked me, "Does this mean Jesus is coming?" Not wanting to launch into a big explanation of "Well it might, but it doesn't mean that he's coming at this instant because not all the prophecies have been fulfilled" I just resorted to saying, "Maybe..." And then she got even more excited and jumped up and down even more. "Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!" I asked her again if she needed any help (because it seriously looked like she was going to fall over and break something) and she brushed me aside, saying, "I'm going to pray to Jesus because he's coming! 'Our Father which art in heaven hallowed be they name...'" At that point I left and helped my companion out in talking with some people. She didn't fall over, thankfully. 

After we convinced the old lady that Jesus was coming (that's a phrase I never thought I'd say), we went and had a lesson with another family. From the beginning they had questions about how we were and what we believed. And by "what we believed" I mean "whether or not we prayed to Mary." They were very adamant about it, so after a little back-and-forth we just dropped it. Another lesson where as we went along they got progressively more willing to listen. We didn't get through the whole Restoration lesson, but we were able to get some good starting points in. 

On Monday we got a call from a lady asking for some help. We went over to her house and it turns out she wanted us to help her pay her rent. We talked with her about how we don't give out money to people and she was insistent that we help her with her rent. We were really powerless to do anything and so just encouraged her to pray and have faith and then left. It's tough not being able to help any more than that sometimes. Also on Monday we had a lesson with a group of women who were sitting outside of their apartment. We taught them a little bit of the Restoration and when they said that we could come back another time we got an appointment set up with them. So we'll see what happens there. 

We're getting into the closing chapters of this novel, I promise!

This morning we woke up early to take Elder Jackson to the airport. We picked him and Elder Jensen up from their apartment and immediately started driving towards the airport on CA-54. And then traffic got bad, so we went down to I-8. And traffic was still bad! We made it to the airport though, and after a quick picture with him said our goodbyes and asked about transfers. President told us "There's no one coming in with Arabic experience." *hold breath* "But right now you're slotted to pick someone up." *and exhale* And now here I am, emailing you all! :D 

Transfer calls came in just about an hour ago, and here's what's going down *cue drumroll*:

Elder Greer is going to be training a new missionary and I'm going to be in Arabic North with Elder Jensen! :D :D

This coming-up transfer is going to be a lot of fun! It's so great that Elder Greer gets to train for his last two transfers! I can't wait to find out who the next Arabic missionary will be! 
And that's it for this novel (I don't think I broke any records with this one, though I came close). Thanks everyone for your emails and letters! I love getting mail and hearing from you all about how you're doing, so please keep in touch! Have a great week, and enjoy General Conference this weekend! 

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

Sent from my iPad

"You know you've progressed far in the language when you can quote 'Star Wars' in it." - Elder Hawkes

From 9-22-15

و قال دارث فيدار: "ما قال وبي-وان إليك ابداً عن ماذا حدث إلى أبوك."
قال لوك سكايواكر: "هو قال إليّ عن أنت قتلته!"
قال دارث فيدار: "لا! أنا أبوك!" 
فقال لوك: "لا. هذا ليس صحيح. هذا مستحيل!" 
قال دارث فيدار: "بحث أفكارك. تعرف أن هذا صحيح."
قال لوك: "لا!!!!!"

[I asked Elder Hawkes for a translation of the above and he said it was from the part in Star Wars where Luke finds out his father is Darth Vader....]

This is probably one of my greatest accomplishments in the Arabic language so far, in my opinion. 
Anyway... this week, we...
- Add a man named Rick
- Do some gardening and then rush to get to our English class appointment only to have it get rescheduled
- Go on exchanges and determine that having pizza and Slurpees is not as good an idea as it sounds
- Talk with some Jehovah's Witnesses who want us to flip through our Bibles
- Have a family fly to pieces when we say we want to share a message
- Have great studies while El Cajon turns into Baghdad (in terms of weather)
- Meet some cool and weird people in Rancho San Diego
- Get lost trying to find an address only to realize we don't have the materials we need
- Hear a testimony from a drug dealer

On Tuesday it rained. And that was unrelated to the fact that we added a man named Rick! We brought a member with us to come and visit him for the first time. We sat down and shared the Restoration with Rick in English. We'll probably have to go over some points again to make sure he understands but he was very open and we were able to invite him to baptism. He accepted, but we weren't able to set a date. We've got another appointment scheduled with him tonight, so we'll see how it goes! 

On Wednesday we helped a member of the ward plant some trees and bushes in her yard, which was a lot of fun. Then right after that we had an appointment to teach عدل (Adil) English, so we quickly went home, changed back into our proselyting clothes, and went out the door. On our way there, we called him and he asked if we could reschedule for later that day. So we went back to our apartment, finished our lunch, and went to visit some members and invite them to our ward activity on Friday. When 4:00 rolled around we were able to teach عدل some English and then had to rush back to El Cajon to do language study with our ward mission leader and have some semblance of food. Language study was alright; he had a friend over and that divided his attention, so a lot of the time was spent talking with his wife about the ward activity while Elder Greer and I ate some Little Caesar's that we had picked up on the way. 

On Friday I went on exchanges with Elder Jackson, who goes home next week. Most of the day was going from one potential to another. We got a few appointments scheduled for this week, so we'll see what happens there. Our ward mission leader had scheduled to feed us, but he couldn't do it. He texted us, apologizing and informing us that he'd picked up two pizzas from his pizza place (which I forgot to mention is aptly named "The Pizza Place". Not even kidding) for us. It also happened that 7-Eleven had a "Buy one get one free" event going on for their Slurpees, so Elder Jackson and I thought, "That sounds like a great idea!" So we had pizza and Slurpees, and for anyone curious, it's a terrible combination that I would never recommend. 

On Saturday we exchanged back and Elder Greer and I did some more walking around and talking to people. We ran into a few Jehovah's Witnesses. One politely talked to us about how the Book of Mormon is false because of Revelation 22:19. I didn't ask him if the Bible was written in chronological order, nor did I bring up Deuteronomy 4:2 (I think that's the reference), but I wanted to. Another Jehovah's Witness flipped through her Bible to cherry-pick verses that justified her point. We moved on. That evening we sat down with a family who invited us in, but once we asked if we could share a message they said "We're Catholic! We don't need it! Why are you here?" and a bunch of other similar things. Eventually I just said, plainly, "We're here because we believe that our message will bless you and your family. If you don't want to hear it..." "We don't!" So we thanked them, ended with a prayer, and left. One principle I've learned in Arabic work is if they accept you, teach. If they don't accept you or your message, thank them for their time and move on. 

Sunday was officially the hottest day I've had on my mission. When we got out of church it was 106ºF. By the time we got home and had lunch, the thermometer read 112ºF. So Sunday made El Cajon not only Baghdad in terms of population and language, but also in weather. Fortunately for us, while El Cajon turned into the Imperial Valley we were inside doing studies. The 90ºF weather at 8:30 didn't make it easy to proselyte.

On Monday, we drove around Rancho San Diego inviting members and nonmembers alike to the ward activity. One guy we met was taking his trash out and we asked if he would be interested in hearing a message. He said, in between cussing, "Sure." So we went to his house and met him around back. 90% sure he was either high or drunk, given the beers and the marijuana bong sitting on the table nearest him. Anyway, we shared a little bit of our message and realized that he really wasn't that interested. So after he shared a little bit about how he's a computer guy that's done work for the U.S. government and the Church before, we left. 

That evening we were going to go visit a less-active and give them a flyer to our ward event. We forgot to load up directions before we left, so we drove around trying to find it before we finally wound up at a member's house to use their wi-fi to find the address. When we finally got to where we were going, we realized that we had forgotten flyers for the event! But fortunately Elder Greer remembered that while the husband was less-active, the rest of the family wasn't and so they knew about the event. So we went on our merry way to try other potentials. 

Right before we went in for the night we were walking on the street and ran into a homeless guy. He shared a little bit of his life story. To make a long story short he was a convicted felon released from prison with no food and no money, so he turned to selling drugs to make enough money that he and his girlfriend can live each day without starving to death. As we were talking with him about how Christ loved him and wanted to help him, he started sobbing. In between tears he told us that he isn't sure what else to do because he can't find work and can't provide for himself and his girlfriend. He told us that at the end of the day he has faith in Jesus and even though he does things he doesn't want to do he trusts that the Lord will help him. It was actually a pretty powerful experience. 

That's it for this week! I'm off to Balboa Park for the day so I won't be around to email or write letters, unfortunately. But that definitely shouldn't discourage you from writing or emailing me! I love getting mail! 

Have a great week, everyone!

-- Elder Hawkes

Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 9211-4912

Sent from my iPad

"Why did you hit yourself in the head with a Rice Krispie treat?" "Because I'd never been hit in the head with a Rice Krispie treat before." - Elders Hawkes and Greer

Bro. Dreesen's boat.
From 9-15-15

Fair logic.

This week, we...
- Get mildly disappointed at the news that "hurricane remnants" would
be moving in
- Knock on the wrong door and teach a family
- Meet a Muslim that doesn't like Arabic speakers
- Have district meeting without Arabic North
- Give a church tour at an Emergency Preparedness Fair
- Have a combined Arabic/ASL lesson with the ASL Elders
- Have a great lesson on temple and family history work in Gospel Principles
- Have Zone Conference

First off, on Tuesday night Sis. Dreesen told us that there was a broken-up hurricane that would be making its way into San Diego, which we thought meant rain! :D

There wasn't rain.

Okay, there was some flooding in the mountains, but for the most part it was just suffocatingly humid last week. I should also mention, on a rather unrelated note, that the people we added last week with a date dropped us on Tuesday night.

Anyway... on Wednesday we were wanting to meet with a potential who gave us some rather vague directions to his complex. So we walked into one complex, knocked on the door, and it turns out it was the wrong one. But the family invited us in to share the message anyway! We shared the message of the Restoration and the family was very attentive. And then we invited them to be baptized. After that they kind of flew to pieces. "We've already been baptized!" Elder Greer asked them, "If God told you to get baptized again, would you?" "No! We've already been baptized and God wouldn't say that to us!" So we thanked them, shook their hands, and left. Oh well. Also on Wednesday, we drove to teach English to عدل (Adil, the Muslim man) but realized we had forgotten to ask for the keys to the building. So we had to
frantically call the San Diego Elders and then عدل and then back to the Elders to get things worked out. Thankfully, we got the keys and had a great lesson.

On Thursday we were parking the car and saw a man sitting outside his apartment complex. We introduced ourselves as missionaries and asked if we could share a message with him. He agreed and invited us in to teach him. As we were asking him some questions to get to know him he told us he was Muslim and that he'd be interested in learning more. He
shared with us that he doesn't like other Arabic-speaking people because "All they do is talk and think I'm dangerous." He wants to move to New York and be an American more than anything else. We've got a visit with him on Thursday to see if he can be taught, so we'll see what happens.

A few people told us to be particularly careful on Friday since it was September 11 and Arabic speakers caused that attack. To be honest nothing really happened that day. Elder Jackson did a temple session with President Schmitt and all the departing missionaries (since the temple will be closed for the next month they did it early). We delayed district meeting so that North could come but the session got out late, so they showed up on the tail-end of district meeting.

Also on Friday the Hillsdale/Jamul Sisters were going to be helping out at the Jamul Emergency Preparedness Fair and they needed us to be there to help do church tours and man a booth. Not as many people came as we would have liked (or expected), largely because of the humidity. But we were able to give a church tour to a disenchanted Catholic, so
that was cool.

On Saturday the ASL Elders called us and said they had met a deaf Chaldean on the street who wanted to learn ASL. So we went with the ASL Elders to go contact them and see if they were interested. The deaf lady was very kind and the ASL Elders told us they were surprised how similar her sign language was to ASL. Meanwhile, we talked with her brother to see if they were interested in learning. I'll spare you all the details of the conversation, but it really just boiled down to
"We're Catholic. But if you want to come by sometime, ehh... why not?" So we'll see.

We had an English lesson right after that. We had met a young man named Steven on the street and put him in Area Book Planner, but forgot to send it to the Fuerte Elders. So we put him in our plans for Saturday. When we went by, we remembered who he was and were initially unsure of how to proceed. But he said, "I've got time right now if you want to share something with me." Thankfully we had some English materials with us so we shared the Restoration. We invited him to be baptized and he said he would be if he knew it was true, and then asked if we could pray for him so that he would have the faith necessary to make the changes in his life and be baptized. It was a really powerful lesson! And yes, we did send his information to the Fuerte Elders right after that. :)

On Sunday محمد (Muhammad) came with his non-member wife, Jeni. In Gospel Principles we taught about temples and family history work. Jeni was very attentive and interested in hearing it. When we read 1 Peter 4:3 with her (The Gospel preached unto the dead) she looked at us and Bro. Seba and said, "I've never read this before. What does this mean?" The wheels were definitely turning. I hope this lesson really helped her think a little more about joining the Church.

Yesterday we had Zone Conference. We talked about member-missionary work and how we can work more closely with the members. It was really great and I gained a lot of insights as to how to do better. Aside from that, we helped Bro. Dreesen out with the new boat he bought on Saturday and studied. So that was our day!

That's it for this week! Thank you to all of you for sending me letters and email. I love getting both letters and email, so don't be afraid to write back! My physical address, as always, is in the signature of this email!

-- إلدر هاكْس (Elder Hawkes)
Elder Christian Hawkes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111-4912