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

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