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

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