Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"So next week we've got a lunch appointment, a teaching visit, and we're dumping a dead body!" - Sis. Stewart

From January 19, 2016

To make a long story short, one of their investigators found an urn
amongst a bunch of things, so she invited the sisters to come with her
to lunch while she spreads the ashes at a lake. How one just happens
to have the ashes of some random relative in one's house without
realizing it, I don't know.

Speaking of dead bodies, here's my email for the week!
This week, we...
- Get invited to a lunch appointment we weren't actually invited to
- Teach 3 back-to-back lessons with members present! :D
- Help Morad quit smoking!
- Have an okay district meeting
- Baptize someone!
- Drop the person we added on Wednesday
- Drive up to Penasquitos so Elder Belnap can sing at a Mission
President's Devotional

So on Wednesday, Elder Hawkes started the day by praying for patience.
Because who couldn't use more patience in their life?

Friends, family, elders, sisters, Romans, countrymen... I have a
testimony that the Lord answers prayers like that. For instance, one
time before we left the apartment we prayed for patience and it took
twice as long as normal to get to our ward mission leader's house
because we hit every single red light on the way to his house without

So this time around we finish up our two hours of Companionship Study
and are about to microwave some Star Wars macaroni and cheese (Elder
Hawkes can't resist product placement sometimes) when we get a phone
call from Bro. McCoy. He immediately tells us we're late for our lunch
appointment. "What lunch appointment?" "Didn't you go over and pick
lemons and move firewood for Sis. Sorenson last week?" I immediately
deferred to Elder Belnap because I knew I had been on exchanges, but
he didn't know of any lunch appointment. We figured we might have
neglected to write it down and after a good amount of apologizing left
the apartment to drive to Alpine (15 miles east of El Cajon) to meet
Sis. Sorenson for lunch.

When we got to the restaurant we were more than a little confused when
we saw Arabic South sitting at the table with Sis. Sorenson. Realizing
the downsides of triple-covering a ward we shot Arabic South a look
from the front room of the restaurant that essentially read as, "What
are you doing here?" They shot us back the same look and so we
figured, "Well, we drove all the way out here, might as well have
lunch." Sis. Sorenson laughed about it and said, "Oh isn't that nice!
Bro. McCoy invited all four of you to come!" She willingly paid for
our food as well as Arabic South's and we went away laughing about it.

Our mission has a goal this year of baptizing 1,000 individuals. In
order to do that, President Schmitt has directed to strive to get
members to every lesson, if possible. We brought a member out with us
to visit a former named Nithal. Not much to report on that lesson, her
concerns are the same ("I've read your book and it's essentially the
same as my Bible. I don't see any difference between what you have and
what I have."). We then took him to visit Morad, who is progressing
towards baptism on Jan. 30th. That night we needed to clear a very big
hurdle with him: smoking. We brought the lesson, the materials,
everything we needed. Only problem: We were running late and we had
arranged to bring a different member out with us at 8:00! We wound up
doing splits with the members wherein Elder Belnap stayed and helped
Morad with smoking while I went to visit a man named Abdulilah.

Abdulilah was a very stubborn man but we taught him anyway and he
agreed to read the Book of Mormon. We got to the invitation to be
baptized and his stubbornness came out. As it did when we invited him
to attend church with us. And as it did when we invited him to pray
something other than the Lord's Prayer to close our lesson. He was
very stubborn but we felt we should come back, so we added him and
went back to reunite with Elder Belnap. Turns out that Morad chafed at
the commitment to crush his cigarettes. He promised he would do it the
next day and we made everything happen to hold him to it.

When we went back on Thursday Morad had gotten rid of his remaining
cigarettes. Not entirely sure what to do in the situation we went
forward with the program. We actually had two different members come
teach him with us and it went well for the most part. He committed to
follow the program and allowed us to take his ashtray and throw it
away. We gave him all the necessary materials and told him we would
pray for him and stop by on Saturday.

On Saturday the sisters had a baptism in the Hillsdale Ward. Margaret
requested that I baptize her, which was a great privilege. We filled
up the font and got everything ready well in advance. The program was
great, the Spirit was strong, and... The water was cold. Regardless,
the baptism went really well! Margaret started crying in the font
after she was baptized and all she could say was, "Thank you! Thank
you so much!" It was a really powerful event. Morad couldn't make it
because he had work. I wish he'd been able to attend.

Speaking of Morad, we went by on Saturday and half expected there to
be a new pack of cigarettes on the table. There wasn't! He told us,
"I'm done. No more cigarettes. I used the money I would have spent on
cigarettes to buy food and put gas in my truck." It was so wonderful
to see! We went over some of the Baptismal Interview Questions with
him to help him prepare more for baptism. He's got issues with tea
still, which is worrying given the short time before his baptism.
We're working on that with him. He talked about how he wants to be
able to marry someone and have a family, and the member we brought out
with us testified of the principle of eternal marriage. It was a great

That evening we visited Abdulilah again. We asked if he had read out
of the Book of Mormon at all and he said he had. He said he liked it
and he intended to keep reading. We taught him a little more about the
Restoration to clarify a few things and he told us, "Even if I knew
this was true, I wouldn't come to church. I've got responsibilities at
my church! My priest needs me there! I can't go." So we dropped him,
but not before asking who he knew that we could go teach. He pointed
to his neighbor and said, "They're the only ones in here I know.
They're Christian, but their faith is weaker than it should be." So we
got a referral out of it, which was great!

On Sunday Margaret got confirmed, which was another spiritual
experience. Morad couldn't make it (he got called into work because
some other employees got sick and had to go to the hospital). :( That
evening we had a Mission President's Devotional in Penasquitos. Elder
Belnap and Sister Stewart auditioned for a musical number and were
invited to sing at it, so our Sunday consisted of studies, church,
correlation meeting, lunch, and the Devotional. It was really great,
though. I was really happy that we got to attend.

Last night we visited Morad and one of the first questions was, "Wait,
what's baptism?"


Either we hadn't taught very well, he didn't remember it, or both. So
we went over baptism again with him and he was initially closed off to
the idea but at the end was more open to it. I worry about him. Please
please please keep praying for him!

That's it for this week! Thanks everyone for your prayers of support
and for your letters and emails. Have a great week!

-- Elder Hawkes

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