Thursday, December 09, 2004

Moment #129. Chinese at buffet. Dec 9, 2004.

12/9/2004. There's an upscale Chinese buffet restaurant on the East side. The dinner price was $8.99 plus $1.00 for a beverage, but with the variety, including really nice seafood, it was worth it. Good salad and fruit bar, fresh sushi, excellent measts, Mongolian grill (make your own stir fry), and just all around excellent food and friendly service.

I took in a small carrying case containing 2 Traditional Chinese, 2 Simplified Chinese, and 2 English copies of the Book of Mormon. When I was almost finished eating, I asked my waitress if she spoke Chinese. She said yes. I tried to determine where she was from and which version of Chinese she read. She indicated the Simplified Chinese version. I tried to give her a pair of books, but we couldn't communicate, so she brought over her supervisor who was conversant in English.

I explained to the supervisor that the books were the same, just differnet languages. I opened both books to 1 Nephi 1:1, pointed to the verse in the Chinese version for the waitress, and read the English. The supervsior seemed to catch the idea of using them as ESL, but not the waitress. I offered the books to both of them, but only the supervisor accepted them. She was very gracious, and it occurred to me that she may have accepted them merely for customer relations. However, a couple minutes later the supervisor came back with another waitress and asked if this waitress could have a pair too.

That's at least the third time another employee in a Chinese restaurant came over and asked for books after seeing what another employee had received.

I asked the supervisor what languages the other people spoke, thinking there may have been other Asian languages represented among the employees, but she said just Spanish.

After paying, I went out to my car, and brought back in another Chinese/English pair, and a Spanish/English pair, which the hostess accepted. There were enough other Chinese-speakers so I'm sure someone else would catch the vision of using them for ESL study.

I need to remember to take in bigger cases and more books if it's a larger restaurant. I also forgot the bilingual Chinese/English New Testaments that I had in the car.

I'm going to try to make the approach more towards the beginning of the meal, so employees can pass along word of the books before I leave. Having a dinner companion works better too, as one can go back to the car and get more books without it looking like you are skipping out on the tab.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Moment #124. Spanish at Gas station. Dec 7, 2004.

12/7/2004. I felt a faint prompting to stop at this gas station/convenience store. I would have written it off as my imagination had it not been for the results.

As I was leaving the cashier, a gentleman approached the cashier's counter. I couldn't tell his ethnicity, but I felt the desire to approach him. I thought he might be Asian or Hispanic, but I couldn't tell.

I took my purchases outside, and stood for just a few seconds until he came out. From a respectful distance I asked him if he spoke any foreign languages. He muttered something to indicate he didn't understand. Although I couldn't understand what he said, I detected an Hispanic accent. So I asked "Habla Español?" He said "sí." So we spoke in Spanish.

I asked if he had a Spanish Bible at home. He said yes. I asked if he would like one in English. He said okay, and also asked for one for his sister. He said that he needed or wanted to go to a church. I forget what order things were said, but I told him the name of our church and where it was.

I got out English and Spanish Bibles, and English and Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon from the car. I gave him one set of 4 books, and another set of 4 for his sister.

He asked if it were a Spanish speaking church, so I got out one of the "info flyers" and circled the chapel and time, and told him there is an English-speaking congregation (at 9:00am), and a Spanish-speaking congreation (at 10:15am).

I invited him to the Sunday meetings, and the Spanish branch's Christmas dinner this Friday at 6:30pm, and wrote it on the flyer. He saw the Mission Office's phone number at the top, but I told him that was the regional office. He wanted the phone number of the Spanish-speaking congregation, so I pointed out the Spanish-speaking missionaries' phone number on the flyer from the Spanish Book of Mormon.

I guess I now have a good excuse for crashing the Spnaish branch's dinner this Friday.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Moment #110. Shona at store. Dec 2, 2004.

12/2/2004. On my list of things to do before going to Institute class was to eat at the nearby Chinese/Mexican restaurant, and to shop at the Dollar General store down the street.

I wanted to go to the Dollar General store first since I wouldn't have to back-track, but the Spirit clearly indicated I was to go eat first. In fact it seemed as if the Spirit was hustling me out of the house.

So I ate first, and the waitress seemed to recognize me as it was my 4th or 5th time there.

I back-tracked to the Dollar General store and did some shopping. As I walked down one aisle in the direction of the check-out, there was an African-looking family speaking a foreign language in the other aisle, grandma, mom, and little boy. Bingo! Stop shopping, time to do the Book of Mormon thing. We ended up next to each other in separate lines. I asked them what language they spoke. The mom seemed a little taken aback, but she said "Shona, we're from Zimbabwe."

I said I had a book in Shona in my car, called the Book of Mormon. Then she seemed excited, and asked what it's about. Without fear or hesitation I said it's about Jesus Christ. But, I was just a tad discombobulated; I said the Lord's name in public! I said it in front of third-party strangers who could overhear our conversation. The check-out lines were crowded with holiday shoppers, and I was sure that other people heard me say the Lord's name, but I didn't care, and I felt no shame in saying I had a book about him. After all, his name is on the front cover.

I said that I'd go get it after I checked out, and would meet them outside and show it to them. I mentioned the names of a couple other Shona-speaking men from Zimbabwe, Desire and Eddy, who worked at Speedway gas stations, but she didn't know them.

After checking out, I went to the car and got out Shona and English copies of the Book of Mormon. (The African language Books of Mormon were the ones that the Spirit told me to put in the car on June 18th, 2004, Moment #2. Within a couple hours, I had met a man who spoke Zulu. Seeing the pattern I then put other likely languages in the car.)

I went back to the store and waited outside on the sidewalk for them. They came out and the mom seemed to be in charge. I showed her the Shona copy, and her face lit up. She asked how much it was, and I said I'd give it to her free if she could translate something into English. I believed her, that they spoke Shona, but I just wanted to get them started. She translated 1 Nephi 1:1 to English correctly, with no hesitation. I pointed out the info flyer with the chapel addresses and mission office phone #, and my phone number, and that they could call for more. I gave her the English copy too. I suggested she could use them to teach her son Shona.

She seemed extremely happy to have something in her native language. The looks on her and the grandma's faces were worth much more than the price of the books. I must have said Merry Christmas several times.

You could tell by their demeanor and countenance that they were African-African, not African-American. The grandma had the countenance of someone who had been through many tough times, traumas and tragedies, like the faces of refugees that you see on television. The son had discolored eyes indicating current or previous illness, along with a blank stare that was not normal for a child his age.

The Lord blessed them tremendously by bringing them from war-torn Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia) to this country. And I am extremely grateful and awed that I was called upon to give them a key to even greater blessings.

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