Moment #103. Fijian/Afrikaans to law school dean. Nov 19, 2004.
11/19/2004. Today, I read the following in the Indianapolis star:
"_______, dean of the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, for just over two years, is resigning to become vice chancellor of the University of South ______ in ____. The announcement is being made on the campus of Indianapolis University-Purdue University Indianapolis today, although it was reported days ago in the Pacific Magazine. A South African-born attorney, ____ came to IUPUI in July 2002 after 23 years in Australia and New Zealand."
I had an extra Book of Mormon in Fijian that I was saving for a Chinese family that I thought may have been from Fiji. The son spoke Chinese and English, but kept saying they were from "Fuji". I thought he may have meant "Fiji" because there are ethnic Chinese in Fiji, and "Fuji" is a mountain in Japan.
Anyway, I've had Fiji on my mind, and then I read the above. If I were a cartoon character, there would have been a light bulb over my head.
Generally, my book-slinging has been of the drive-by variety; usually taking no more than 30 seconds wherever the normal course of errands and travels take me. There have been a couple occasions where I've gone out of my way when the desire struck. The desire to go out of my way hit me. I couldn't distinguish what the source was, whether external or my own desire. But because I believe it to be "a good thing" I got excited about it.
I went to www.anywho.com and looked him up and found his residence. Then I went to Google and found his IU School of Law web page.
I called his office and was told he wouldn't be in until Monday. For some reason I wanted to get the books to him before the weekend, so I gambled on delivering them to his home.
Because he's from South Africa, I included an Afrikaans edition of the Book of Mormon.
On the Fijian book's wrapper I wrote something like
I hope this book finds a home with you in Fiji.
And I included my business card.
So I drove over to his house, and rang the door bell. A college-age man answered the door, and I asked if it was ____ ____'s residence. He said yes, and I handed him the three books and my card, and said I'd like to give the Dean a book in Fijian, the Book of Mormon. I asked if Dean ____ spoke Afrikaans, and he said vaguely. I said one of the books was Afrikaans, and also pointed to my card and said that was me. I said it was sort of a going away present, and took my leave.
The moment was a bit awkward. The young man may have been a little confused, and I was not totally smooth in my presentation. But even if they throw the books out, I'm sure the incident will generate conversation about the church at some point in the future. "Some bloomin' idiot read in the newspaper about me going to Fiji, and so he dropped off a Fijian Book of Mormon! Can you imagine that!"
There's a temple in Suva, Fiji, so the church must have a noticeable presence there.
The Dean sent a very nice thank-you note in email, and mentioned the temple in Suva.