Book of Mormon Moment #452. Shona. Fri, Oct 28, 2005.
10/28/2005. Still at the laundromat. I had put my clothes in some dryers and was organizing some paperwork that I had brought with me at the folding table. There were three teenagers, two girls and boy, who were about to put their laundry in the dryers. I was too far away from them to tell whether they were speaking English or a foreign language. Their clothing and demeanor did not indicate immigrants, but I felt interested in them somehow.
They finally put their laundry in the dryers next to mine, and then I could tell they were speaking a foreign language.
I asked the boy "Parlez vous francais?" but he didn't speak French. I asked what they were speaking and he said it was their first language. I asked what it was and he said Shona. I asked "Are you from Zimbabwe?" He was pleasantly surprised and asked how I knew. I said there were lots of people from Zimbabwe in town, and I've met some before.
I then said my church has books in Shona, and that I had one in my car. I asked all three if they'd like to see it, and they enthusiastically agreed. I retrieved a Shona and an English Book of Mormon from the car, and present them. They all were very interested.
We talked some more, and I gave them Brother Earnest's name and phone number. He's a local member who is originally from South Africa, but lived in Zimbabwe before coming to the United States, and speaks Shona, Zulu, Ndebele and English. They asked where the church was, so I pointed out the list of chapels on the info flyer that I include with the books. I pointed out the chapel where I attend, and the one where Earnest attends.
We shook hands and exchanged names. I then said "Welcome to America." That really pleased one of the girls, and she said "That's the first time anyone has said that to me."
They went back to where they were sitting, and browsed the books for a while.
When our dryers were done, I engaged the boy in some more conversation. The two girls were his cousins. They had been in the country for 2 years, and he and his mother had been here a year and a half, and just moved to Indianapolis a couple months ago. His speech indicated he had picked up an inner-city type of accent. We talked a bit about adjusting to American culture. I gave him the name and phone number of a single sister in our stake who came to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over 30 years ago, and described similar culture and identity confusion during her teen years. I thought she may have some advice for this young man who has been teased and called a "sell-out" for studying and getting good grades instead of hanging out at the mall with his American peers. I tried to give him some uplifting encouragement too.