09/01/2004. Moments #36 - 39. Road trip to Muncie.
Chinese, Vietnamese, English. Muncie, Indiana.
Muncie is a little more than an hour's drive from the West side of Indianapolis.
I had a strange desire to take some copies of the Book of Mormon in Chinese and try to place them at a Chinese restaurant. I supposed a city the size of Muncie must have Chinese restaurants. I had no apparent need to go to Muncie, other than I felt like it. I couldn't tell if it was a prompting of the Spirit or my own imagination. It persisted for several days, maybe a few weeks. It wasn't a still small voice telling me to go, but an idea or desire welling up from within that I couldn't make go away.
After the trip I realized it may have been an "implanted desire."
I put some copies of regular Chinese, simplified Chinese, and extra English copies of the Book of Mormon in a computer case. Because I've encountered Vietnamese and Koreans working at Chinese restaurants, I stuck in an extra copy in Vietnamese and one in Korean.
I didn't know where I was going to eat, but I figured I could easily find a place or that I might even be prompted where to go.
I prepared some special "info flyers" for Muncie, using 3 x 5 cards, and printed the Muncie chapel's address and meeting times on it (2 wards in Muncie proper), and included the Indianapolis Mission Office phone # since it's in this mission. I thought about putting the Muncie missionaries' phone numbers on it, but didn't have them, and didn't have time to call around and get them. I put an info flyer, a pass-along card in each copy of the Book of Mormon.
I was driving along the highway which connects Muncie to the Interstate. As I approached an intersection in the business district, I was gently prompted to turn, and I did so.
I immediately saw a Chinese restaurant ahead, and felt confident that was the place I was supposed to go. I felt both reassured and awed. I did not know beforehand that there was a Chinese restaurant there.
I pulled in and felt like I should put my business cards in the Books of Mormon and I did so. I bought a USA Today and a copy of the Muncie newspaper and then went in.
I went to the cashier's counter and ordered my standard Moo Goo Gai Pan. The cashier/order-taker was a young adult Asian man. He seemed humble, the kind of person who is receptive to the Gospel. I asked where his family was from, mainland China or Taiwan, but he didn't seem to understand the word "mainland", but he said no to Taiwan, and yes to China.
I sat down with my case, my newspapers, and my soda pop to await my food. I took a Simplified Chinese and an English Book of Mormon out of the case and placed them on the table with the Chinese on top. When the young man brought my food he did not notice the books. The food was good and inexpensive.
After eating I went up to the cashier's counter and the young man came out of the kitchen. Showing him the Chinese Book of Mormon, I asked him if he liked to read in Chinese. When he said yes, I asked if I could give it to him for free, and he agreed. To make sure it was the right style I also showed him the traditional Chinese book, and he obviously preferred the simplified Chinese. I asked him how many people worked there and he said three, so I retrieved two more Simplified Chinese and two more English from my case, and presented them.
He started to decline the English copies, saying he didn't speak English very well, but when I said he could have them to help him learn English, he seemed to understand and accepted all six books.
I left the restaurant and noted the street names for later. I drove towards the Interstate. I still had 3 traditional Chinese, 3 English, 1 Korean, and 1 Vietnamese Book of Mormon in my case, plus a few dozen translations in the trunk.
I wondered if my "assignment" was over, and felt prompted that it was not. This was an urgent prompting to turn around, but I didn't know what I was supposed to do.
I guessed that I was supposed to go to the Chapel and leave the other Chinese books there and leave a note for the missionaries to follow up. I turned around and tried to find the turn-off that goes to the chapel, but I realized that the street that the Chapel is on doesn'the highway, and I didn't know the cross street that would take me there.
Then I felt prompted to get rid of the three traditional Chinese Books of Mormon. So I turned into a commercial area where there are lots of stores, hoping to find more Chinese restaurants. I drove around less than 1 minute and saw a nail salon.
Nail salons in Indianapolis are almost all run by folks from Vietnam. Whether the desire to place the Vietnamese book at the nail salon was purely my own concoction, or whether that desire was connected to the idea to put the Vietnamese Book of Mormon in my case before the trip, I can't honestly say. I just thought "Oh boy! I bet there are some Vietnamese people in there, and I got a Vietnamese Book of Mormon!"
We're not supposed to be commanded in all things, and when you can put 2 and 2 together on your own, why bother the Lord for an answer?
I took the Vietnamese book into the store. All the employees were busy with customers, and the employee at the front station looked up from his work and asked if he can help me. I asked "Can I give you a free book in Vietnamese?" and held up the book. He thought for about 1.5 seconds, and maybe just to get rid of me said "Sure, just leave it on the counter" which I did, and I thanked him and left.
I drove around some more, and ended up driving past the restaurant I was at and about two blocks past it there was a Chinese buffet restaurant. I took in the three remaining traditional Chinese books, which is the version that people from Taiwan and Hong Kong read.
The host was an Asian teenager, and he asked "how many?" I said something like "I didn't want to eat, but I'm curious as to where your family is from." He said China, and I realized I didn't have the right version of Chinese with me. But I somehow forgot that I had more Simplified Chinese copies in my trunk. I asked how many of his family worked there and he said lots. We chatted a little bit, and I asked if anyone in his family liked to read in Chinese, and he said one. I sort of ignored the "one" answer, and I said that I'd like to give them some free books in Chinese along with the English translation. I forget what else was said, but upon leaving I said "Merry Christmas" to emphasize the gift aspect, but he didn't seem to get the joke.
Having given away 13 copies, I was feeling satisfied, but still awed by the whole thing. Every prompting and idea seemed to pan out.
There was a gas station on the highway right before the Interstate. I went in and purchased a cold soda pop for the road. The cashier was a very friendly lady in her 40's or maybe early 50's.
As she spoke I could tell she had spiritual light, and I could tell she was at least a believer in Christ if not already a member. I was prompted to do or say something, but I got flustered because I wasn't prepared, I didn't have a book with me, and didn't have any words ready on how to present a Book of Mormon to an English-only speaker. I had practiced for the immigrants, but not for English-only folks.
I didn't say anything, and went back to my car trying to justify myself thinking I had accomplished my goals for the trip. I thought "I was assigned to give out the Chinese books, and maybe a Vietnamese and/or Korean and that's what I did and that's all that I was told to do."
But after I got into the car, I felt a sense of urgency. It seemed as if the Spirit was saying "Yes, you did what I told you, and now I'm telling you to do more."
Then I had two feelings; I was ashamed for resisting the Spirit, and I was scared about how to make the presentation.
I thought for a minute to come up with a presentation. I opened the trunk and got out a zip-lock baggie that contained both an inexpensive King James Bible and an English Book of Mormon. Offering or at least showing the KJV Bible might make the Book of Mormon easier to place.
I seemed to have temporarily forgotten the principle "whatever God tells you to do is always a good thing, so don't be scared." And since the lady was a nice lady, giving off light, she wasn't going to bite my head off.
I went back in and went up to the checkout and asked the lady if she had ever read the Book of Mormon, and I took it out of the zip-lock bag. She said no but that she did have a Bible. She saw the KJV Bible that was still in the baggie, so I think she got the impression that they go together.
I said I'd like to give her a free copy if she'd like to read it. She graciously accepted it. I forget what else was said. The moment was a little awkward, but her kindness seemed to make things smoother.
I went back to the car, got on the Interstate back to Indy, and started to choke up realizing what happened on that trip and what led up to it. The Lord says "Marvel not" several places in the scriptures. I hope I'm not "marveling," but I was in awe.
As I drove past the city of Anderson on my way back to Indy, I felt like the Spirit indicated an exit where I should go on a future trip and do the same thing.
Labels: Chinese, nail salon, restaurant, Vietnamese