Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I don't think anyone's going to hack your email to steal a bunch of Arabic notes." "That's what the hackers want you to think!" - Elder Hawkes and Elder Belnap

From January 5, 2016

I'm going to switch up the format just for this week, I think. Variety
is the spice of life, after all.

Happy New Year everyone. On behalf of the El Cajon Hillsdale Arabic
North area I want to personally welcome you all to 2016, albeit a few
days late. You made it everyone! And what an exciting year 2016 is
going to be, filled with baptisms and some of my friends leaving their
missions and Elder Hawkes bawling his eyes out at the end of the year
as he himself prepares to leave. But that's not for another 12 months
or so, so I don't have to even worry about that at all. Nor do I
intend to dwell on it; I love being here and I love being in Arabic
work. Every morning I wake up and it hits me once more that I'm
actually 1) On a mission 2) Speaking a language I never thought I'd
ever use again. Words alone cannot describe just how awesome this is.
I wish every one of you could experience just how great it is to be an
Arabic-speaking missionary in El Cajon (four of you have and are
nodding your heads in agreement right about now).

On to the weekly email!

This week saw a few personal milestones:
1. I finished the Book of Mormon in Arabic at 8:13 A.M., January 1st,
2016. I was really happy I did it. In the back of my Book of Mormon I
wrote down the time I finished it and intend to repeat the process in
the future. I spent most of the week working on finishing it and at
about 10:00 on Dec. 31st I finished up the Book of Ether. I proceeded
to do my best to read Moroni as fast as I could, but I got hung up on
Moroni 8 and decided sleep was more important to me. Didn't finish it
before 2016 like I had hoped, but the important thing is that I
finished it. As a result, my reading and speaking skills have improved
a lot. Take note, all you language learners: The best way to learn the
language is 1) Pray for the gift of tongues, 2) Read the Book of
Mormon out loud and get every word correct, no matter how slow you
have to go, and 3) Constantly be on the lookout for unfamiliar words
or phrases and write them down.

2. I started reading the New Testament in Arabic. I'm on Matthew 6.
Ideally I'd like to finish the Standard Works in Arabic by the end of
my mission. I don't know how long the Bible and D&C would take,
though. I'm going to finish the New Testament and see where that
leaves me.

3. I broke my Nazarite vow this week. Yep, for the first time in my
life I actually had to shave. With any luck, I won't need to to that
for another year or so. I could have probably dragged it out for
another few months if I wanted to, but it's better to do it when it's
just starting to get noticeable than to have President Schmitt call
you out in a few months I say. :)

Also, one ward member died. Sister Storrs, the lady we did service for
by bagging her food in her house for fumigation. She had been going
through a lot of pain and a lot of health problems in the past few
years and so it wasn't a matter of if she would pass but when she
would. The family members at the funeral were all talking about how
they were really grateful they got a few more years than expected with
her. She was a really sweet lady. She gave us socks as a Christmas
gift this year. She absolutely adored the missionaries and was really
grateful for our service. It was kind of a shock to me, but at the
same time it wasn't unexpected. If you all could keep the Storrs
family in your prayers that'd be great.

Also, a lady in the Grossmont ward in Santee got murdered by her
inactive husband. I don't know the details for that so don't ask me,
all I know is that they talked about it in PEC on Sunday and announced
that she had passed away over the pulpit. I think she lived in
Hillsdale a few years ago.

Lastly, we have a new Arabic speaker moving into the ward. Bro.
Garvin. He's really cool. He went to Russia on his mission and had an
investigator from Jordan named Muhammad who was golden but couldn't
get baptized because he was Muslim and going back. He got the
prompting to start learning Arabic, which was really weird to him but
he went for it. Majored in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic, went to
Jordan in 2012... He found work down here recently and is moving from
Seattle. Bro. Seba talked with him and shared his opinion that there
are no coincidences, especially in the work of the Lord. Honestly, how
random is that? A guy goes on his mission to Russia and learns Arabic
when he gets home just out-of-the-blue and then just happens to have
family in San Diego and just happens to find work in San Diego and
just happens to move into 1) San Diego, 2) El Cajon, and 3) the
Hillsdale ward, where there just so happen to be Arabic-speaking
missionaries... It gives me the chills just thinking about it. The
Lord's preparing some big stuff to happen here.

Not a whole ton to report this week, honestly. We worked really hard
this week to find new investigators and we didn't get any. The
important thing is that I prayed at the end of each night and felt
that the Lord was pleased with our efforts and our desires. We set
some goals this week of passing out more copies of the Book of Mormon.
In one day we had passed out 3 Arabic copies and 2 English copies,
which was monumental for us (just passing out 1 or 2 Arabic copies is
remarkable). The next day we passed out another two. We're really
working to emphasize the Book of Mormon more in our teaching and in
our finding.

The only investigator we were able to visit this week (Basim didn't
answer, and Basaam said try another week) was Morad. I should really
stop thinking about dropping him because every time that I even make
the attempt something stops me. He's got a lot of desire and he's
willing to listen at least. We're working with him on doing the right
things for the right reasons (coming to church because the Lord wants
him to, not because the missionaries tell him to; quitting smoking
because that's what the Lord wants; etc.). Last night to help him
understand the scriptures a little more we gave him a copy of Book of
Mormon Stories in Arabic. Initially he was a little hesitant, but once
he opened it up and looked through it he fell in love with it. We
shared the story of the Tree of Life and talked about it, and he told
us, "I really like this book. The stories and information stick in my
head a lot better!" Elder Belnap had felt impressed earlier in the
week to give a copy to him, and it's going to help him a lot I think.

That's actually it for this week, everyone. Thanks for your emails and
support. Thank you to all those who are participating in the Book of
Mormon reading challenge with me. I'd love to hear your insights and
thoughts as you read, so feel free to email them to me as you do so.
If you came up with a question before you started reading, great! If
not, you can still come up with one and highlight and mark verses and
words that stick out to you to help answer your question. Have a great

-- Elder Hawkes

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