Friday, September 30, 2005

Moment #432. Somali at grocery. Fri, Sep 30, 2005.

09/30/2005. This is perhaps another example of "even when it's wrong, it's right." I was on my way back from someone's house, having missed their moving party. It was changed to earlier in the week, and I wasn't informed. No big deal.

I stopped at a supermarket on the way back, one that I rarely go to, and did some grocery shopping. I overheard another customer speaking with an accent as he talked with a store employee.

A few minutes later, I was in a checkout lane wondering if I was going to miss him. But then I saw him come up front and get in another checkout lane. He ended up leaving the store right before me.

In the parking lot I asked if he spoke French, but he didn't. I asked where he was from, and he said Somalia. He spoke the main dialect of Somali, which is the same dialect the church's materials are in. I offered to show him the free church books in Somali that I had in my car, and he was definitely interested. He followed me over, and I got out the Somali Gospel Fundamentals (Gospel Principles Simplified) and the Somali translation of the Joseph Smith Testimony. He was pleasantly surprised. He said he was Muslim, but the fact that the material was our Sunday School manual didn't bother him. I offered him the English versions of the two items, but he declined.

The main dialect of the Somali language is "Af-Maxaa." It's important to know because there are some Somali refugees in the United States (at least three dozen in Central Indiana) who are of the "Bantu" minority who speak "Af-Maay" (aka Maay-Maay).

On a web page I found: "Af-Maay and Af-Maxaa share some similarities in their written form but are different enough in their spoken forms as to be mutually unintelligible."

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Book of Mormon Moment #431. Chinese. Thur, Sep 29, 2005

09/29/2005. I went to a Chinese buffet in Plainfield for lunch today. I put the two kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon on my table, but the one Asian employee who walked by didn't notice. I was reading the Spanish Liahona, and asked one of the bus boys for help translating a word, and he was friendly and helpful. I probably should have offered him the magazine.

After eating, on my way out, I stopped at the front counter to talk to the girl who I thought was the daughter of the owner. She spoke Chinese but hadn't been taught to read it. I gave the two Chinese editions to the father, and he looked through the Simplified Chinese version. They were from China. He was interested, and the daughter did a little translating. He said he couldn't read the English, but I was a little bold and opened them to 1 Nephi 1:1, and read a bit to illustrate they were the same book. The daughter caught on, and explained.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Moment #430. Yoruba at Kroger. Mon, Sep 26, 2005.

09/26/2005. Even when it's wrong, it's right.

I don't know if I should count the first thing as a missed opportunity. Around 10:45pm, I entered an almost deserted 24-hour Kroger store and there was a customer who could have been African leaving a cash register. I started to get some apples on the display near the entrance, hoping to strike up a conversation as he left. But either my timing was wrong, or I blew the opportunity.

I shopped, checked out, and paid. As I was heading for the door, I double-checked my receipt. A 3-pound bag of apples (not the same ones that were near the entrance, but farther back in the produce section) that I thought was marked $1.99 on the display, had rung up as $2.99. I left my cart near the door, and walked over to the display in the produce section, and it was indeed marked $1.99.

Next to the apple display was an obviously African-looking man, even more so than the first. His wife looked African-American. I'm not sure of my feelings at the time, but probably a little more determined having feared I blew the previous opportunity.

I asked the man "Parlez vous francais?" He understood but hestitated in his answer. I forget what we said next, but then I said the reason I asked was that my church has books in French and other African languages like Igbo and Yoruba. I said that they were free, and I had some in my car if he'd like to see some. He said he spoke Yoruba, and agreed to see. It was kind of awkward because I was not smooth, and he was unsure of my intentions. I said I'd bring them back in and show them to him.

I went back to the entrance, got my cart, and took my purchases to the car. I brought back in a Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals (actually Gospel Principles Simplified), an English Gospel Fundamentals, and Yoruba and English copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet.

I don't consider this "soliciting." We were just two guys who struck up a conversation. He agreed to see what I had, and I was not selling anything.

I went back in and they were still in the produce section. When he saw me, he left his cart and approached me, which indicated he was eager. He flipped through the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals. He was aware of the new temple in Aba Nigeria, and at least knew of members of the church. He graciously accepted the material, and I showed him my card and the local info flyer that I had put in it.

I didn't even both to ask Kroger for my $1.00 back on the apples. It was worth it.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Ack. I clicked the wrong button, deleted my blog. I'm trying to rebuild it.

Moment #429. Declined. Fri, Sep 23, 2005.

09/23/2005. On my way back to my car, there was a family sitting in their van with the passenger door open, and one lady sitting there with a beautiful white African-style dress. The driver and front passenger seat were empty so someone was still inside.

The approach was a little awkward, because she was in her own "space" in the vehicle, and not out in the open. From a respectful distance I said her dress was beautiful, and asked if she was from Africa. She said yes. I said my church had books in African languages, and asked if she'd like to see some. She said "no." So I said "ok, thank-you" and took my leave.

Looking back, I should have waited in my car and tried to see if I could have talked to the driver.

Book of Mormon Moment #428. Amharic BoM. Tigrinya Bible. Fri, Sep 23, 2005.

09/23/2005. At the Post Office. An young adult daughter was translating for her mother at the counter when I picked up a package. I took my package back to my car, and made a guess, and brought some books back with me. When I got back, the mother was in their car, but the daughter was still on the sidewalk. From a respectful distance, I struck up a conversation with the daughter. I guessed wrongly about their language, but the daughter was agreeable to see what books I had. They were from Eritrea and spoke Tigrinya, Amharic and English.

I retrieved a Tigrinya Bible, an Amharic New Testament, an Amharic Book of Mormon and an English Book of Mormon from my car. I took them back to their car, and was going to give them to the daughter, but the mother rolled down her window in expectation, so I gave them to her. They were very pleased to receive them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Moment #427. Yoruba at gym. Tues, Sep 20, 2005

09/20/2005. At the gym I saw a group of four men speaking English with a foreign accent while they were using the weights. I went to do my 30 minute routine on a treadmill. After my workout, while I was cleaning up the machine, they started to leave, but didn't all leave in one group. I hurried up and left right behind the third one. The first two had already gone to their car.

Outside, I asked him if he spoke French. He said no. He said he was from Nigeria. I asked if he spoke Igbo or Yoruba, and he said Yoruba. I said my church has books in Yoruba, that I had one in my car, and that it was free, if he'd like to see it. He said he would, and followed me to my car. I got out the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals, gave it to him, and he started flipping through it. I gave him an English and Yoruba Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets too. Then I dug out an English Gospel Fundamentals, which he also eagerly accepted. I said I had more back home if his friends wanted them, and they could call me at my number on my card inside the books.

We exchanged names and shook hands. After he started to go to his car I remembered I had a Yoruba Bible too. So I got it out, and called after him, and presented it to him.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Book of Mormon Moment #426. Twi. Sat, Sep 17, 2005.

09/17/2005. I was on the way home from an LDS Single Adult conference that was put on by the Louisville Stake in Crestwood, KY. I stopped at the Speedway gas station off of exit #50 in Seymour. I had a Speedway gas card. I bought gas and paid at the pump. I thought about approaching the Hispanic man using the pump on the other side of mine, but I didn't approach. I saw a young black man inside the gas station.

I went inside to buy some pop. He again caught my attention. But his clothes were a typical American style. However, I got that antsy feeling like I was supposed to approach him. I obtained some soda from the self-serve fountain, then got to the cashier just as he was leaving. I asked "Monsieur, parlez vous Francais?" He said no. I asked where he was from, and he said Ghana. I asked if he spoke Twi. (Pronounced "chwee".) He said yes. I said "No way! I have a book in Twi from my church in my car." He showed interested. I asked him to wait for me outside while I paid. After paying, I went outside and said it was free, said the name of the church, and that I'd like to show it to him, and he followed me to my car.

I got the Twi Book of Mormon from my trunk and handed it to him. He looked at it like he could read it. I gave him an English copy too. I asked how long he had been in the United States. He said he was born here, but his parents were from Ghana. We chit-chatted a bit, and his brother came over. They live in Chicago, and were going to or from their church's youth conference someplace.

I didn't get their names, but I said there was an 800 number in the books if they wanted more information or to get extra copies for friends or relatives.

The older brother started reading it as they walked away.

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Moment #425. Missed opportunity. Sat, Sep 17, 2005.

09/17/2005. I stopped at the BP gas station on Route 22 just off of I-265 in Louisville, KY, going to the Crestwood chapel. I saw a man who caught my attention. I talked myself out of striking up a conversation, not wanting to delay going to the Single Adult conference. However, I had plenty of time, and got there 10 minutes early anyway. A guilty feeling later on, when I thought about it, let me know that it was a legitimate opportunity and I blew it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Updates #395, #396. French and Vietnamese. Thu, Sep 15, 2005


Update to #395: On August 20, 2005, I visited the sister missionaries in the Zionsville ward to give them a French Book of Mormon and 3 DVD's with French tracks. I also loaned them 2 VHS tapes in French. The sisters called me today, Sept 15th, and said that their French-speaking investigator has committed to baptism, and is working out a baptism date.

Update to #396: On August 20, 2005, when leaving the sisters, I saw an Asian family playing in the yard next door. I went back to the sisters and suggested they go over and introduce themselves and offer them a Book of Mormon in their language. They were Vietnamese, so the sisters went back in their apartment and retrieved the Vietnamese Book of Mormon I had given them. I also retrieved a Vietnamese pamphlet from the car. And the sisters went over and made the presentation. Today, Sept 15th, the sisters said that the family's baby-sitter has since initiated contact with them to request more information, and an appointment has been made for the first discussion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Moment #424. Chinese declined. Wed, Sep 14, 2005

09/14/2005. I met a member at a Chinese buffet for supper at 6:00pm. We put out the two kinds of Chinese Book of Mormon on out table, but the busboy was Hispanic not Chinese. Looking back, we totally spaced the idea of offering him a Spanish Book of Mormon. There were two Asian employees who were extremely busy at the cash register and puting out food on the buffet tables. Neither of them passed by our table. After we finished eating, we were hoping to catch one of them at the cash register, but the one employee was only there when someone came in. They were just always on the move, it being the busy dinner hour.

We finally decided to just go to the cash register on our way out. We stood there for a few moments, and the male employee came up. My friend made the offer but the man politely declined. I let my friend keep the 2 Chinese and an English copy for the next time that he ate at a Chinese restaurant.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Book of Mormon Moment #423. Arabic. Sun, Sep 11, 2005.

09/11/2005. After our church meetings I went home for something to eat, then decided to visit a ward in the Northeast corner of Indianapolis. I got there in time for Sunday School. I found a bulletin for another of the wards in their building, and saw that some of their Single Adults would be carpooling from their chapel at 4pm to attend a fireside in Muncie at 5pm.

I found the sister who was going to Muncie and she allowed me to hitch a ride with her and her group. One of the other riders was a member who is originally from Egypt. I asked if he had an Arabic Book of Mormon. He had seen one in the past, but didn't currently have one.

When we got back from Muncie, I gave him an Arabic Book of Mormon, and an Arabic/English bilingual Bible from the International Bible Society.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Moment #422. Yoruba, again. Wow. Sat, Sep 10, 2005

09/10/2005. Still on my way home from an event, I did some shopping, then took a route home that would take me past an office supply store so that I could photocopy the missing page for the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals, and have it drilled for the spiral binding. I had previously obtained permission from the church's copyright (Intellectual Property) department to make copies of the manual because the Distribution Center had run out and didn't plan on printing more.

The place I went to didn't have a hole making machine for the spiral binding, so I went to the next nearest store. Took in my original, and one of the six photocopied manuals that were missing the page. This store had the right machine, so I made my copies, and the nice employee drilled the holes for free.

I was second in the cash register line. The man ahead of me, currently being attended to by the cashier, had African-style leather sandals. I silently debated a bit, then waited until an appropriate moment and asked him "Parlez vous Francais?". He said no, just English. But he had an accent. I asked where he was from and he said Nigeria. I asked if he spoke Igbo or Yoruba, and he said neither. He spoke Isoko, a minority language. That's the first time I've ever heard of it. I looked it up later, and one web site claims 321,000 speakers of Isoko in Nigeria.

As an explanation, I pointed to the two Gospel Fundamentals manuals in front of me and said my church has books in African languages, and these are Yoruba.

He said his wife, who was in the car, spoke Yoruba.


I explained that the good one was my master copy, and offered him the photocopied one, and he very eagerly accepted. I forget if he brought it up, or if I first told him an English one existed, but he then asked if I had an English one with me. I said I had one in the car and if he would wait outside I'd get it when we were finished here. I quickly shoe-horned a photocopy of the missing page in the book and gave it to him. I made his day. And he made mine.

We saw each other outside, and I took an English Gospel Fundamentals, and Yoruba and English copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet to him.

He was standing outside the passenger side of his van, and his wife was sitting in the van holding a small infant and reading the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals. He accepted the other material, and we chatted some more. He said that one of his coworkers back in Nigeria was a member of our church.

He handed me a flyer about an event next week at his church and invited me. I looked at the address and it was familiar, I asked where it was near and he told me. I then recognized the address and the church from a previous moment where I gave an Igbo Bible to a mildly anti-mormon pastor from Nigeria at the Post Office in Moment #82, in October of 2004, and is posted over at Later on I read it more carefully and found the name of the pastor and it was indeed him.

However, this man was of full joy, and when he wanted me to meet his pastor, I smilingly told him that we had already met and that he didn't like me. (The pastor had been polite during that previous encounter, but had said that he had encountered LDS missionaries back in Nigeria and that he didn't consider us Christian.)

We chit-chatted a bit, and I suggested they now had something to teach Yoruba to their children. We shook hands a couple times and departed very happy.

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Moment #420a. Hausa. Sat, Sep 10, 2005.

09/10/2005. On my way back from an event, I stopped at the Shell station from Moment #420. The cashier said I could leave something for "A.," the man with whom I spoke that Thursday night. So I left for him a large envelope containing Hausa and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals and Joseph Smith Testimony.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Moment #421. Yoruba, just a card. Fri, Sep 9, 2005.

09/09/2005. I was driving home from a social club meeting downtown. I thought of stopping at a certain gas station on the right side of the road, to see if they had pop on sale. But I was in the left lane, and other cars to my right were preventing a smooth lane change, and there were cars behind me. I thought of going to a different place down the street, but then I felt a "tug" to go to this gas station. So after I passed it, I made the next left turn, and circled back.

I was in line to check out, and I thought the second man in front of me might be from Africa, based on his shirt, and his leather sandals. Those things are not sure indications, but generally correlate, especially open heeled leather sandals. He was not right next to me, so it would have been awkward to strike up a conversation. I would need to approach him outside.

When the man checked out, he spoke with an accent and was not fluent in his English. He was my intended contact. Making such a cold approach can be awkward, but I have learned that when there is a discernable "tug" there is someone to be contacted, and it is always a "good thing." This indeed turned out good.

By the time I checked out and went outside, he was still gassing up his taxi. I approached respectfully and found out he was from Nigeria and spoke Yoruba. Unfortunately, I had not stocked my car with the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals. I had some reprinted (with church permission) at Staples, but needed to add a page that got left out. I had been lazy and let it sit around instead of finishing it. Here was an opportunity, and I was not fully prepared.

I gave him my card and asked him to call me, and said I would get one of our Yoruba church books to him. He gave me his name and extended his hand. He was happy to talk to someone who was interested in his language, and it was a pleasant encounter and not awkward at all. He asked the name of the church and where it was. His taxi company name and phone number were on the outside of the taxi, so I can follow up.

Book of Mormon Moment #420. French. Thu, Sep 8, 2005.

09/08/2005. Further along the way home, I had the idea of stopping at another Shell station. It's late as I write this, and now I'm unsure of my reasoning or motivation for stopping. I bought a different newspaper, and the cashier spoke with an accent.

I asked, in French if he spoke French, and he said oui. I practiced some more of my newly acquired French and asked if he was from Senegal. He said no, that he was from Niger. I asked if he spoke Hausa, and his face brightened up, and said yes, that Hausa was the principal language of Niger. I said I had books in French and Hausa from my church, and offered them, and he eagerly agreed to see them. I went to my car, and discovered I didn't have any Hausa Gospel Fundamentals with me (still had some at home, though), so I just gave him French and English copies of the Book of Mormon. He was happy to receive those, and I told him I'd bring the Hausa later. He said he regularly worked there, so I could leave them there if he wasn't there at the time I came by again.

He helped me practice some of the meet-and-greet conversational French from class. It was a neat encounter for both of us.

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