Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Heavenly Father... Jesus Christ... Book of Mormon... Internet Father..." - Morad, learning church words

"Eternal"... "Internet"... same thing, essentially, right?

So sorry for the late email. We just got back from the temple today.
But this week, we...
- Listen to a former tell us she loves our church and wants to join,
but is too afraid
- Teach a very energetic 80-year-old (twice)
- Drop that family we added a few weeks ago
- Almost break curfew
- Help a man find a place to sleep
- Have a great lesson about the Word of Wisdom with Morad!
- Forget to tell our Zone Leaders we made it home safely on Halloween
- Teach a Mandaean (sp?)

A long time ago (as in, back in February) we taught a lady named Teeba. She was somewhat paranoid and was letting fear get in the way of faith, so we dropped her. I felt that we needed to go visit her last week, so we set up an appointment for Tuesday. And it went okay. We mostly just listened to her talk about her views on religion, life, etc. Through it all, we were able to determine that she still wasn't ready to make the step of faith and join the church. So we told her we'd keep in touch and we plan on visiting once a month or so to make sure she isn't lonely.

On Wednesday we went to visit some potentials in the Arabic North area and ran into a former who had fallen on tough times. Elder Greer, after thinking about the situation and pondering what to do, asked the man if we could give him a blessing. He consented, and so we gave him a blessing. He was very touched by it and was grateful that we were willing to help in whatever way we could. He said that he isn't physically capable of even going to his own church, so he wouldn't be able to act on the message. But he appreciated our willingness to stop by and see how he was doing.

That afternoon we visited an eighty-year-old lady named Mariam. She was one of the most upbeat people I've ever met! Everything she talked about she talked about with a smile. She was happy to listen to our message and was willing to give it a shot. The member we brought with us was also really surprised and touched by her positive attitude despite her difficult circumstances, expressing that sentiment on Sunday during Testimony Meeting. She said she'd read the Book of Mormon once she got glasses and was willing to pray about it. We taught her again yesterday and she wasn't too thrilled about the baptism part, but was happy to hear our message and was very upbeat.

Also on Wednesday, we visited that family we added a few weeks ago after the Zone Leaders tracted their door. The son, Martin, was not interested from the get-go and refused to listen. The dad was a little more open and was trying to get his son to at least give it a shot. We invited both of them to baptism and that's when the traditions started. "We've already been baptized!" "We were baptized as babies so we wouldn't be Muslim!" "I read the Bible every day and go to church and I don't need baptism again!" Needless to say, they weren't really thrilled. So we dropped them and we'll follow-up with them in a little bit.

On Thursday we breezed through Weekly Planning and went out for the night. We had plans to visit Fawzi, but he wasn't home. So then we brought a member out with us to visit Morad, and it turns out Morad was sleeping. Since we had brought the member along and we were going to make the most out of it, we went to a nearby street and tried a
family we'd been wanting to see for a while. The father was home and let us in graciously. They started the lesson off by offering us coffee. We told them "Sorry, we don't drink coffee" just in time, because our member was about to reach for it and drink it! The member asked why we didn't drink it and we explained the Word of Wisdom very briefly. He replied, "Well, I smoke, I drink alcohol, and I drink tea and coffee."

Great way to start a lesson, right?

They were willing to listen to the message but when it came to the baptismal invitation it became the other extreme we see often: "There's no difference between our church and your church. Look, it says 'Jesus' on this pamphlet and we believe in Jesus, so we're the same. There's no difference!" We did our best to use scriptures and testify that there was in fact a difference and that that difference was very much important, but he still wasn't open. Around 9:05 we finally closed it off (the lesson started around 8:15) by saying, "We  have to be home by 9:30. Sorry!" and drove from one end of the city to the other as fast as we could to drop off our member and then rush home. Thankfully, we made it home with about 5 minutes to spare. And we only had to speed twice.

On Friday we had a district meeting wherein we, at the request of President, set a goal for baptisms we wanted by the end of the year. As a district (the Arabic Elders and the Hillsdale/Jamul Sisters) we are working to get 18 baptisms by Christmas. And we feel really good about that goal! After that, we helped a man we had met on the street look on Craigslist to find a room for rent. His family had stolen pretty much everything from him and he was living with friend after
friend after friend trying to find a place to stay. Not a whole lot panned out in our search, but he's still looking and we're doing what we can to help him.

That evening we had a dinner with our ward mission leader wherein he told me I need to take up boxing when I get home and know what it's like to get solidly punched in the face. After that, we had a great lesson with Morad about the Word of Wisdom. We were pretty bold with him and told him that if he wanted to improve his lifestyle, he needs to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to help guide him to find better work. And in order to be baptized, he needs to follow the Word of Wisdom. He said he'd follow it and listen to what we had to say from then on out. It was really cool to see it all click for him. Also that evening, we met an older couple outside of their apartment. We asked if we could share a message and they said, "Have you got time right now?" So we shared a quick Restoration with them. They weren't interested in reading the Book of Mormon or acting on our message, although they said they respect our path and wish us luck.

Saturday was some sort of holiday wherein people dress up. I dressed up like Elder Hawkes this year. Most of the day was spent going to one area; not getting anywhere in terms of teaching but then finding someone who said "Sure you could come"; then feeling like we needed to go to the next plans and repeating the process. It was a really
successful day in that most of the people we talked to told us they'd like missionaries to come visit them. I think we sent off more people that day than we had all week. After that, we had dinner with a member family and then came home at 6. Being very forgetful, I neglected to let the Zone Leaders know we made it home on time and safe and so the next morning when we woke up we had a few texts from the Zone Leaders asking if we were okay.


On Sunday Basim told us he's working until 11 P.M. almost every day now and so he won't be able to meet with us for a little while, but that he'll let us know when we can come back. I'm sure he will. We followed-up on the Word of Wisdom with Morad to make sure he understood it. He did. We almost got him to throw out his pack of cigarettes. Finally we had to settle for him saying, "I've only got three in this pack and then no more." We're going to hold him to it. Pray for him.

Yesterday we taught Mariam again and the results of that lesson have already been discussed above. We met a Mandaean family (Mandaeans are a group of Gnostics that follow John the Baptist. Muslims don't like them, Christians don't like them... needless to say they're kind of dwindling in number) and shared our message with them. From the outset the husband said, "I'm Mandaean. We respect Jesus and we're not looking to change." It was a rough lesson. Towards the end he got kind of argumentative with us when he was asking the question, "If someone dies and they don't repent, what happens to them? Does Jesus save them?" but didn't like the responses we were giving him. We'll see
with him and his family.

Today we went to the temple. And it rained. And we're going to have transfers next week. So that'll be fun!

That's it for this week's novel. Thanks for all your letters and emails and your prayers on my behalf. I really appreciate it!

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

Sent from my iPad

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