Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"Elephants are my reverse Kryptonite." - Elder Belnap

From December 29, 2015

Sometimes context helps understand an email title. Sometimes it
doesn't. This is one of the latter.
I hope you all had a wonderful Boxing Day. Oh yeah, and a good
Christmas. That too.
This week, we...
- Walk all over Santee
- Visit a less-active who kick-starts our caroling run for the night
- Do some more caroling!
- Do even more caroling!
- Celebrate Christmas by eating lots of baked goods, Skyping our
families, opening presents, and doing weekly planning
- Do some after-Christmas caroling that kind of falls flat
- Teach the stake president (and some other people)
- Walk all over Santee... AGAIN!

Brothers and sisters, friends, Romans, countrymen... Don't drive up to
Poway. If you're ever in Arabic North's area, just don't drive up
there. Because if you do that too frequently in an attempt to contact
referrals you'll find yourself low on miles for the month. Which isn't
necessarily a bad thing (you can contact a total of zero people
driving from appointment to appointment, whereas you can easily get
more than that by walking), but it is a mild inconvenience. Such is
the story of Arabic North at the moment. So on Wednesday we walked all
over Santee looking for people and contacting potentials. I know El
Cajon like the back of my hand for the most part, but Santee isn't El
Cajon. Admittedly we got lost while walking and wound up going back to
our apartment rather than going to the potentials on Carlton Oaks
Drive we wanted to go see. But it's okay because we got a lot of
walking in and on the way we talked with a lot of people!

On Wednesday evening we had plans to have dinner with a less-active
member, Bro. Dunlop, then go caroling as a district right afterward.
Bro. Dunlop was a little stressed out (he was going to have an open
house on Christmas Eve and thought he had an extra day that he didn't
to prepare) but the dinner was wonderful and the lesson was good. As
we were leaving he had his player piano play his favorite roll, "The
Barber of Seville", and then we met up with the rest of the
district... On his front porch. I joined the rest of the district in
caroling while Elder Belnap stood in the doorway with Bro. Dunlop and
got sung to. Bro. Dunlop was really happy that we stopped by. He's
really close to coming back to church and just needs a little push.

Thursday was spent caroling (President told us at the Christmas
devotional that Christmas Eve wasn't going to be very effective for
proselyting so we should go caroling), as was Friday evening.
Highlights of our caroling:
- I think caroling is a thing in Iraq. Most people were really
confused about what we were doing but appreciated that we were singing
about Jesus. Only one person cut us off and told us to leave because
he said he was sick.
- We went caroling and found a family for the Sisters to teach. We
were in a parking lot and he said as we were caroling to him, "Stop
for a second. I've got a family that would love this. Come carol to
them." We sang a few songs to his family and invited them to learn
more. They said "Come back after the holidays." Finding through
caroling is a thing, people!
- We knocked on the door of a member family's house and may have rung
the doorbell once or twice. A person opened the door and said, "Sorry,
we're Jewish. But the residents are over there," and pointed to the
garage. Turns out the members rent out their house every Christmas and
live in their (very spacious) garage for a little while. Elder Belnap
tried to salvage the situation by handing them some treats and going,
"Well sorry about that. Have some non-denominational cookies!"
- Silent Night and Far Far Away on Judea's Plains sound pretty good in
Arabic. We typed up a transliterated version of both for the Sisters
and Elder Campbell used it as well since he's still figuring out the
Arabic alphabet. When they start up an Arabic Mormon Choir, the six of
us are going to be right at the front every Christmas, I guarantee it.

On Friday we opened our presents we got from our families and ate lots
of baked goods. There was some miscommunication on timing for Skype
calls but I did get to talk to my family. Sorry everyone, but my
parents are the coolest people on the planet right now. So are my
sisters. And my brother and brother-in-law. I need not say any more.

Saturday we tried a bunch of potentials in the afternoon but nothing
worked out. We got together as a district to do one last round of
caroling to some people we needed to see but hadn't been able to. It
wasn't as impressive, to be honest. Caroling before Christmas is fun
and cool. Caroling after Christmas is really awkward and a little more
uncomfortable and just plain weird. So we called it a night and went
our separate ways. 2015 Caroling ended that night. It was fun while it

On Sunday our Gospel Doctrine teacher was out of town so he gave us
the assignment of teaching his class. He told us, "It's on the
Resurrection." I figured "Oh, easy! It's in the Gospel Doctrine book
and I can talk about the Resurrection fairly easily."

First off, it isn't in the Gospel Doctrine book. So I had to come up
with something from scratch which went okay...

Until I ran out of material in about 10 minutes.

In front of the stake president, who was in the room.

Fortunately, the program talked about how we would be talking about
the Final Judgement and so I pulled a little from that and then got a
good discussion going about exaltation and what steps we need to take
in order to achieve it. The stake president's comments were insightful
as always and he really carried the lesson in my opinion. In essence:
Ordinances prepare us for exaltation. Exaltation is achievable if we
put forth the effort to follow the Gospel and let it change us. Christ
is the way for us to achieve exaltation; without His help, we can't
make it. We tried some potentials and investigators at the end of the
night, but no one was home.

Yesterday we walked all over Santee again and actually didn't get
lost! We left the apartment, bags in hand, and I said to myself, "I
won't need my umbrella today."

About 4:15 the clouds above us started to give us a drizzle. And that
drizzle turned into a downpour. And Elder Belnap and I were still
about 30 minutes away from our apartment. We got into the apartment,
soaked and tired, around 4:45, had some dinner, and went down to El
Cajon for the night. It rained on and off all night. We went to stop
by Morad's, but we felt we shouldn't visit him that night so we went
over to Mollison and did some finding over there. At the end of the
night, my feet were admittedly pretty sore from all the walking, but I
suppose that's a good thing because we didn't walk just to walk, we
walked to find people.

That's it for this week! Shoutout to my trainer, Mason Poffenbarger,
who got married last week in the Laie Hawaii temple. Congratulations!

Thank you all for your prayers and your fasts for the people here and
for my companion. Thank you also for your letters and emails. I hope
you all have a wonderful week!

One last thing before I close up...
When was the last time each of you read the Book of Mormon
cover-to-cover? Last week? Last month? Last year? I know I just
finished it up on Christmas Day and I'm going to be starting it back
up on January 1st. I challenge each and every single one of you to
read it cover-to-cover and to pray about it, whether it's for the
first time or the hundredth, beginning January 1st. I'd also love to
hear your thoughts and feelings as you do so, so email me and tell me
about your experience. I love you all!

-- Elder Hawkes

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