Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"I want to be a dwarf someday." - Elder Jensen

From March 1, 2016

Happy March 1st everyone! I'm sure something groundbreaking happened today at some point in history.

This week was awesome! We...
- Find out about a dinner appointment 10 minutes after we're supposed to be there
- Have a weeding project turn into a landscaping project
- Inadvertently wake up an old lady but proceed to add her as an investigator!
- Walk around El Cajon
- Help take down the tent we put up two weeks ago

So Wednesday was what I like to call a "patchwork day". We had plans, but curveball after curveball was thrown our way and at the end of the night we evaluate our day and go, "What in the world happened?" In this case, remember that never-ending service project wherein we started tearing up grass at an old lady's house? We had planned to go over there with the district and help out again. So Elder Belnap and I went over and started working on it. 

Then an hour passed. 

Then two hours. 

And no one showed up. 

Turns out the other members of the district had another service project pop up that went longer than they thought it would. So Elder Belnap and I sifted through a giant dirt pile to find some weeds to put in the green waste bin for about two hours and then rushed over to Arabic South's apartment/room to change and get ready for dinner. We assumed we didn't have a dinner appointment that night so we figured, "Well, we'll just have a sandwich or something and then get back out working ASAP." 

About 10 minutes after 5 we get a call from some members asking us if we're coming to dinner. Oh no. None of us checked the dinner calendar and we actually guessed wrong in thinking we weren't going to have anything. We got dressed as fast as we could and hurried over to the member's house. By the time we got there with traffic and red lights, we were about 25 minutes late. The members were very forgiving, thankfully. 

Thursday we did our weekly planning and there really isn't anything to note about that day, so let's move on to Friday! Remember how earlier in this email I mentioned a weeding project at an old lady's house that turned into us uprooting grass? Well, we as a district thought to ourselves, "This is a bigger project than we thought it would be. We should call in her home teachers and then we'll be done with it in an afternoon." 

And now it's turned into a landscaping project. 

Turns out she doesn't have a sprinkler system, so her home teacher talked her out of re-seeding it with grass. We got all of the grass out of the front yard (finally!) but then the home teacher told us, "We're going to need to level this whole thing out," and started having us shovel dirt into a wheelbarrow to put out back so the front yard is level. He staked it out and everything. This week we're getting both the Young Men and the Elder's Quorum involved, but with the way things have gone previously even with all the extra hands it'll still take a few more weeks. Lesson learned: When you tell an old lady you want to help weed her yard and her yard happens to be falling into disarray, it's wise to contact her home teachers, the ward leaders, and possibly a professional landscaping company to come in and help you out. 

On Saturday we started the day off with a baptismal interview for a man the Hillsdale Sisters have been teaching, Rick. It was a huge testimony-builder for me of the importance of opening my mouth and talking with everyone. 

Flashback to October-ish: Elder Greer, Elder Jensen, and I are walking in an apartment complex looking to find someone to teach. We come across this guy sitting outside his apartment smoking a cigarette. Elder Greer immediately approaches him and asks if he'd like to learn more. This man's name is Rick, and in the interview he told me that when we went up and talked with him something inside him told him, "Yes. Listen to them. Let them come back." He had some health problems that made his progression difficult at first, but we gave him a priesthood blessing to help him out health-wise. Ever since, he's been going strong. He told me in the interview, "You were one of the first ones to talk to me. ...Thank you so much." He passed the interview and is good for baptism on Saturday. I'll get pictures for sure! 

That evening we went to follow-up with a lady named Elizabeth we had given a Book of Mormon to previously. We knocked on the door and no one answered. Her neighbor came by and said, "She's sleeping right now." So we left a card and walked away. Right as we rounded the corner, Elizabeth opened her window and said, "Did you just knock on my door?" "Yes," we said, "But if we just woke you up don't worry about it." She motioned for us to come back. After about 5 minutes of explaining why we couldn't enter her apartment (no man present), she asked us about the Book of Mormon and about Joseph Smith. Turns out she had read part of the Book of Mormon (well, someone had read it to her because her reading is not good) and was really interested in it! We taught her a little more about Joseph Smith and about the Book of Mormon and said, "We want to come share more about why all this is important. When could we come?" She made us promise to come Monday at 6. And that's how we added a new investigator! Elder Belnap and I were really really excited about it. 

Church on Sunday was good. Arabic South was able to get three people to attend church, two of which they had invited over the phone the night before. We finished up our studies and spent the night walking around talking with people. 

On Monday we helped take down the tent that we set up for a wedding two weeks ago. It went really fast with all of us there, which was nice. Taking down tents, turns out, is a lot easier than putting them up. 

Our lesson with Elizabeth went well. We spent the day texting and calling members seeing if they were available to come with us. Finally someone said "Yes" and we were able to have a great lesson. She told us right from the start, "I can't see Joseph Smith being a prophet. I've been taught there are no prophets after Jesus." The entire lesson was us explaining the points to her and backing each one of them up with scriptures. By the end of it she was really excited about it and was really happy we came. Our member also shared great testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it testifies of the Bible. The only problem is that she can't read very well. She wants one of our recent converts, Fawzi, to come by and help her understand the Book of Mormon in Chaldean (Fawzi lives just a few doors down from her). We asked her to be baptized when she knew this was true and she accepted the invitation! She then spent 20 minutes essentially telling us why she was ready for this message. "Religion," she said, "Is like an ocean. There's so much more to it than what I've received by going to my church. In Iraq, I was taught to not read the Bible or touch it. It was حرام [haram, "forbidden"] to do so. Then I came here to America and I see everyone has the Bible. I'm tired of just hearing the priests tell us, 'Now here's the story of Moses.' 'Now here's the story of Abraham.' 'Now here's the story of Paul.' I want to read it myself and know about it myself! There's more to Christianity than just saying 'Our Father' and 'Hail Mary'." 

Elder Belnap and I were both wanting to learn more about the culture and the religious traditions of the Chaldeans and I'm pretty sure at one point I looked over at him and he was drooling as she talked about these things. 

So that's it for this week's email! Next week is going to be even more crazy. After that I'm looking forward to a comparatively mild March. Thanks everyone for your prayers on our behalf! I love you all!

-- Elder Hawkes

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