Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"We're basically giraffes. We're tall, we're skinny, we eat leaves..." - Elder Belnap

As a random sidenote, my companion is about 6' 4". Whenever he says
his height I always follow it up with the rest of the song: "And full
of muscle. I said do you speak my language? And he just smiled and
gave me a Vegemite sandwich." Unfortunately, he hasn't heard the song
before. Nor does he come from the Land Down Under. Yes, shake your
heads and moan at my attempted humor.

This week, we...
- Drive on I-15 (that's seriously the most exciting thing that
happened on Wednesday)
- Help with a move
- Give Elder Hawkes's Bible to a guy who's convinced we're Protestants
- Move a couch for Suhaila
- Have the Ward Christmas Party
- Listen to محمد (Muhammad) bear his testimony during Elder's Quorum
- Talk with a guy that doesn't even believe in what he believes
- Finally get in contact with Morad!
- Get an email from Basim that I can't understand!

On Wednesday we did exchanges. Elder Jensen came to Arabic North with
me and we went up to Poway and Penasquitos to go contact some
potentials. None of the potentials we went to see were home, which was
sad. But we left a bunch of cards so if they're interested they'll
call us. We had lunch at Panera (thanks for the gift card, Mom and
Dad!) and went on our way.

The nice thing about San Diego is that everything is connected to one
or two main freeways. All we need to do to get from San Diego to El
Cajon, for example, is just take I-8 east. In order to get home, we
take I-8 and CA-67 up to Santee. We wound up driving on I-15 to get to
I-8. Elder Jensen is from Cedar Hills, UT, and so both of us found
driving on I-15 very interesting. There's isn't really a large
difference between I-15 in San Diego and I-15 in Utah. Lots of
hills... people not knowing how to merge... pointless road
construction... more California license plates, though. We rushed to
our dinner appointment, then rushed over to Bro. Seba's to go over the
Word of Wisdom with Morad, and... Morad didn't show up. :( He wasn't
answering his phone either. We were kind of disappointed.

On Thursday we exchanged back after helping a lady in a retirement
center move. We expected to be there for an hour and it turned into
three or four. We got everything packed up in the U-haul truck nicely
but then they needed to get a trailer to fit everything else, so we
wound up having a miniature lunch consisting of cookies and other
snacks while they were retrieving that. Nothing much happened on
Thursday - weekly planning, visiting potentials that weren't home...

On Friday we were out contacting potentials and referrals and we ran
into a guy who was very much Catholic. And he took the time to point
that out to us. Occasionally we run into people that are very
committed to the Catholic Church and are convinced that if the Pope
doesn't say it's good, it's automatically evil. This man was convinced
we were Protestant preachers. He was telling us that he knew
everything about our church and how we were a split-off of the
Catholics. He also said he had read the Book of Mormon, even though he
had no idea what it was, what our church was, etc. Halfway through the
conversation that wasn't really getting anywhere (it did include him
claiming Jesus was a Chaldean) he asked if we had a Bible. I wasn't
entirely sure where he was going with that so I pulled out mine. He
thumbed through it and said, "Can you get me one like this? I've read
the Bible a dozen times in English and Arabic and I have Protestant
Bibles but I want this Bible!" After a brief exchange I wound up just
letting him keep it. That's the second Bible I've gotten on my mission
that I've subsequently given out to someone who isn't interested. I
wonder if he has a Bible collection or something.

On Saturday we helped Suhaila's home teacher get a couch for her. She
was about to order a couch that would have cost her $2,000 she didn't
have. Her visiting teacher mentioned that one of her families had a
couch they were looking to get rid of and he jumped on the
opportunity. We went over to the house of a less-active member to pick
the couch up. It was difficult getting it out of the house (we wound
up having to remove the legs of the couch and the door to the room it
was in), but it was a breeze getting it into her apartment. It fit
perfectly in there! I managed to take a picture, which I'll include in
this email.

Also on Saturday we had the Ward Christmas Party! محمد wasn't able to
make it, but his wife and kids (who are currently investigating the
church) were. They were really involved in the set-up and food
preparation and had a really fun time. We invited Morad, but he didn't
come. It was still a worthwhile activity because we got to meet some
less-actives in the ward that had been invited.

On Sunday Morad didn't come to church. We called him and called him
and he wouldn't answer. محمد came, though, and stayed for Elder's
Quorum! He shared his testimony (in Arabic) and it was really moving.
He said, "People in my complex were telling me not to have the
missionaries over because they weren't Christians. Some even told me
they were Satan worshippers. But my neighbor [who is a member of the
church] kept telling me to let them come over. I still have neighbors
who talk to me about my decision. A neighbor handed me a CD the other
day and said, 'Watch this and you'll never want to go to that church
ever again!' I didn't watch it, and I don't care. I can't deny the
good feeling I have when I come and I can't deny the peace I feel when
I'm here." There was hardly a dry eye in the room by the end of it.
Even though we don't have as many recent converts as other areas in
the mission, the ones we do have like محمد have amazing faith. It gave
me hope, especially since this past week we weren't able to add anyone
as an investigator or even have any lessons other than the one with
Morad last Monday.

Yesterday we stopped by Morad's in the evening and he wasn't home. We
were pretty sad because we felt like if he didn't answer we were going
to have to drop him, and he was our only investigator. We went to
contact some other people and figured we'd circle back to him later.
We met with a former investigator named Malik, a Mandaean (John the
Baptist follower. No one joins their religion, they're born into it).
We were asking some questions to get an understanding of his beliefs,
and he told us, "I don't believe in God. I don't believe in Jesus. I
don't believe in the Mandaean religion."


He told us that he was only doing it because he'd been raised to be a
Mandaean and he said, "You can't change when you're 75." We kept
talking with him to see if there was anything we could do to help him
out, but he just didn't want it. He didn't want to pray about it, or
read the Restoration pamphlet, or do anything. He told us, "I can't
change. I don't believe in this religion. But I'm in it because I was
raised that way and it's no worse than being a Christian or a Muslim."
I honestly think his philosophy of "I don't believe this. I'm only in
it because I was taught that way and I don't think I can change" is a
sentiment shared by a lot of people in the Iraqi community, no matter
what religion they're in. The amount of apathy from some people is
almost shocking to me.

Anyway, we got in touch with Morad last night! He forgot to pay his
phone bill, so they cut off his service. We talked about keeping the
Sabbath Day holy a little bit, asking him why church was important to
him. He told us, "Because I go to pray, it's the house of the Lord,
and I take the sacrament." We then asked him, "Why is the sacrament
important?" And that was the question that got the wheels turning
more. We shared the sacrament prayer from Moroni 4 and talked about
the importance of partaking of it weekly. By the end of it he was
committed to change. Elder Belnap felt inspired to start a new plan
with Morad:
This week, we're going to help him remember and understand what we've
taught him in the past by re-sharing the lessons and having daily
Next week, we're going to help him quit smoking.

And today, as I got to the library, I noticed we had received an email
from Basim. I couldn't understand everything, but if I read it
correctly he asked for more information about the Book of Mormon,
Joseph Smith, and the history of the church. It was a miracle! We're
going to definitely be emailing him some more and getting something
set up.

That's it for this week! Thank you all for your prayers and fasting on
behalf of us and our investigators. Thank you also for the mail you've
been sending. I love you all!

-- إلدر هاكْس
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