Thursday, March 30, 2006

Moment #548. Chinese at buffet. Thu, Mar 30, 2006.

03/30/2006. I went to a buffet that I hadn't been to before in the NW part of town. The waitress came to my table to ask what I wanted to drink. I told her, and then asked if she was from China or Taiwan. I already had the 2 types of Chinese and an English Book of Mormon on the table. She said she was from China. I pointed out the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon, and asked if she had seen it before, and said it was The Book of Mormon. She showed interest. I opened both it and the English copy to the first verse in the book and read part of it. She caught on quickly that they are the same thing. She enthusiastically accepted them, and occasionally browsed through them when she had time back at her waitress station.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

San Fran officially condemns Evangelical teen rally. Mar 25, 2006.

This article is scary. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors officially condemned a rally of evangelical teens held in San Francisco, March 25 and 26, 2006.

See this article: from the San Franciso Chronicle.

More than 25,000 evangelical Christian youth landed Friday in San Francisco for a two-day rally at AT&T Park against "the virtue terrorism" of popular culture, and they were greeted by an official city condemnation and a clutch of protesters who said their event amounted to a "fascist mega-pep rally."


Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the "act of provocation" by what it termed an "anti-gay," "anti-choice" organization that aimed to "negatively influence the politics of America's most tolerant and progressive city."

Monday, March 20, 2006

Moment #547. Punjabi G.F. Mon, Mar 20, 2006.

03/20/2006. On the way back from the Chinese restaurant, I was talking, and passed the gas station I had wanted to go to. So I had to turn around. The restaurant didn't have a diet cola, so I needed my caffeine fix, and planned on getting a diet cola here. The ward mission leader and I walked in together, but I lost track of him while getting my cola. I went to pay. Asked the cashier what he spoke, and he said Punjabi and Hindi. I asked which he liked to read in, and he said Punjabi. I said our church has free books in Punjabi, and asked if he'd like to see them. He said sure, without hesitation.

I went out to the car, and got out a Punjabi and English Gospel Fundamentals, and Punjabi and English Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets. While I was getting them out of the car, the WML caught up with me, and we both went back in and presented them to the cashier. He eagerly accepted the Punjabi, and was a bit reluctant about the English. When I explained that they were 2 translations of the same book, and some people like to read them together, he caught the idea, then accepted the English.

Moment #546. Chinese at restaurant. Mon, Mar 20, 2006.

03/20/2006. Yesterday I invited the ward mission leader to go with me to a Chinese buffet restaurant for lunch today. This was the place that I found on March 10th.

I was actually thinking of going there Saturday night for supper, and inviting the ward mission leader, but I procrastinated.

On the way there, we passed a gas station that I must have massed umpteen times before, but didn't know was there. It was set back a ways from the street. And I made a mental note to go there afterwards.

At the restaurant, there was one young man at the cashier counter, who also bussed tables. And there were three people who occasionally made appearances from the kitchen.

When I made a trip to the steam table, I tried to strike up a conversation with Mom and Pop who were heading back towards the kitchen. But their command of English wasn't enough to have a conversation. Or maybe they were just too busy.

Back at the table, the cashier/busboy didn't seem to notice the Chinese Books of Mormon on our table, and I didn't see an opening to get his attention.

So after eating and leaving a tip, we went to the cashier counter. He was with a friend, but there were no other customers in the place, so it seemed cool to talk with him.

I was confused about where his family was from. He ended up accepting both Chinese editions of the Book of Mormon, traditional and Simplified, and an English copy.

He wasn't as enthusiastic as I've seen others, but he was not reluctant or annoyed at our offer.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Amharic and Romanian at church. Sun, Mar 19, 2006.

03/19/2006. I met the two sister missionaries in the hallway. They said they had an Ethiopian investigator and asked for a Book of Mormon in that language. One of the sisters was new today, and I don't remember speaking with the other before, so someone must have pointed me out to them. I said "Sure. It's out in my car, I'll be right back." So I retrieved an Amharic Book of Mormon, and Amharic and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals, and gave them to the sisters.

After all the meetings, a local sister was telling someone about the cruise her family took. The brother she was talking to looked at me and said "Ask him, he's probably got one." The sister said she needed four Romanian copies of the Book of Mormon to send to some people she met on the cruise. I said "I might have one in the car, and another 2 or 3 back home, let me check." I found the Romanian one in my car, and she paid me for it.

Later in the day, I found four more at home, so I took three of them over to her house, and replaced the one I had in my car.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

On Sale at

Nine translations of the Bible, in paperback editions, are on sale at the American Bible Society,, 1-800-32-BIBLE, according to a flyer I got in the mail.

I mention this for a couple of reasons:

1) It's hard to get the LDS missionary edition of the KJV Bible. You can't buy it at the Distribution Center. And the least expensive LDS KJV Bible is $7.00. Yet your missionaries need some inexpensive Bible to give out for media referrals and investigators. You can get the below-mentioned KJV paperback Bible for only $1.99 each in cases of 24, or 10% off if you buy 6 cases, or 20% off if you buy 11 cases.

2) A lot of LDS still don't like the KJV, especially in the Old Testament where it deals with Hebrew idioms. I don't promote the NIV as replacing the KJV, but I think it is excellent to refer to when you don't understand something in the KJV.

3) For young readers, where even the NIV may be a bit too high level, the paraphrase versions of the NLT and the CEV may be good. They call it a "thought-for-thought" translation instead of a paraphrase now.

4) The Spanish Reina-Valera 1960 is the exact same translation the church uses. The least expensive Spanish Bible at the LDS Distribution Center is $8. These are $1.99 each if you buy a case, or even less if you buy multiple cases.

You have to buy in case quantities to get the deals. You MAY mix-and-match to get the discounts!

  1 -   5 cases ... $1.99 each
  6 - 10 cases ... $1.89 each
11 - 25 cases ... $1.79 each
26 + cases     ... call for price.

When you order online, it doesn't show the discount. So I recommend finding what you want online, and then phoning your order in. I've ordered from them many times before, and I've always been satisfied. I've purchased Bibles in case quantities, and individual Bibles, including foreign language Bibles.

There are some extra-Biblical "outreach" messages in these editions, but nothing that really goes against LDS doctrine.

Paperback Bibles on sale are:

118787 Holman Christian Standard Bible. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $1.99/ea. in case qty. Sold in case lots only.

113067 English Standard Version. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $3.19/ea. in case qty. $4.99/ea. single copy.

112852 New Living Translation. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $2.75/ea. in case qty. $3.50/ea. single copy.

111431 Contemporary English Version. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $1.99/ea. in case qty. Sold in case lots only.

111433 Good News Translation, Catholic Edition. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $1.99/ea. in case qty. Sold in case lots only.

113066 Spanish, Reina-Valera 1960. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $1.99/ea. in case qty. Sold in case lots only.

106339 Spanish, Dios Habla Hoy (Version Popular). 20/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $3.15/ea. in case qty. $3.50 ea. single copy.

106333 New International Version. 28/case
. . . . . . Reg price: $3.99/ea. in case qty. $4.99 ea. single copy.
. . . . . . Also available at International Bible Society,
. . . . . . at $1.99/ea in cases of 24.)

113011 King James Version. 24/case.
. . . . . . Reg price: $1.99/each in case qty. Sold in case lots only.

Again, you can mix-and-match to get the best discount.

Article of Faith #8: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;..." So pick your translation!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mock the Mormons, but not Scientology !

Drudge Report links to this story about Comedy Central pulling an episode of South Park that mocks Scientology and Tom Cruise.

Also from the article: "Isaac Hayes, a practicing Scientologist who has long been the voice of the character Chef, quit after objecting to a "South Park" episode called "Trapped in the Closet," which lampooned both the religion and Tom Cruise."

I guess it's okay to mock Mormons and other Christians, but when you mess with Hollywood's own religion, watch out.

Update: 8:25pm, Mar 17.

Here's a follow-up story. And a quote to illustrate the point: "[Matt] Stone told The Associated Press, "This is 100 percent having to do with his [Hayes'] faith in Scientology...He has no problem _and he's cashed plenty of checks_ with our show making fun of Christians."

Update: 11:01 am, Mar 21.

There's even more to the story. It now sounds like a publicity stunt, or other behind-the-scenes machinations. Isaac Hayes appears to have had a stroke in January, so he couldn't have "quit" the show, and the statements attributed to him might not be correct. See story at Fox News.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Moment #545. Amharic at gym. Thu, Mar 16, 2006.

03/16/2006. I was at the gym using an elliptical machine. The man next to me appeared to be Ethiopian and was talking to the guy on the other side of him. I had thought I had already given this man an Amharic Book of Mormon. When the guy on the other side left, I struck up a conversation. I was mistaken, I hadn't given him anything before. He let me practice a little Amharic that I had learned from a CD.

When he was done with his workout on the elliptical, I offered to give him a Book of Mormon in Amharic that I had in my car. He accepted, and asked me to let him know when I left. He then moved to another kind of machine. I finished my elliptical workout, and he was still on the other machine. I didn't want to interrupt his workout, so I got the Amharic and English Books of Mormon in a plastic bag from my car, and stayed longer and did some more exercises until he finished.

When he was done, I approached him again, made sure he really wanted the books, and handed them to him. It's bad form to pester or proselyte fellow customers at a gym, but there's nothing wrong with conversations as long as both parties engage willingly. A couple of the employees may have seen me approach him and give him the books, but I can honestly say he sincerely wanted them, and was glad to receive them.

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Quick summary of day, Mar 15, 2006.

#539. Swahili, Lingala and English BoM's to man after a dinner/talk by someone who has been to Africa.
#540. Lingala declined after talk.
#541. Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba, English Gospel Fundamentals after talk to lady going to Africa.
#542. English Gospel Fundamentals to man after talk. Will call for Tshiluba.
#543. French/English BoM, Wolof/English Gospel Fundamentals/JSTestimony pamphlet to man at BP gas station. (near 71st St.)
03/16/06. Early AM.
#544. English LDS Bible, English BoM to lady (10th St.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Moment #538. Chinese. Tue, Mar 14, 2006.

03/14/2006. Tonight I had supper at a new Chinese restaurant on the NW side of town. I found this place on the night of Feb 27, 2006, on a "scouting detour." That night I was out driving around, and I disobeyed a prompting to give a cashier at a gas station a Book of Mormon in English. I continued on my little trip, and on the way back home, I got off the Interestate to head toward that particular gas station again, thinking I might humble myself and still make a presentation. But as I got to the end of the exit ramp, and was about to turn left, I felt a very strong "tug" towards a strip mall or out-lot towards the right and across the street. I looked quickly, and couldn't see any obvious place to go like a gas station. I made the left turn anyway, and then that guilty feeling and slight sense of panic hit me.

Having disobeyed twice that night, and having twice felt that feeling of disaproval of the Spirit, I quickly decided to turn around, and made a U-turn at the next light. There was no "U turn prohibited" sign and hardly any other traffic, so I hope it was okay.

I went to that strip mall and out-lot wondering what I was supposed to find there. There were a couple of fast food joints, a bank, a Starbucks, a bar/grill, a nail salon, and, when I got close enough to make out a sign, a Chinese restaurant! That was it. Although I drive on the Interstate past that exit quite often, I had never seen or known about that restaurant. It was late, and of course it was closed and the sign was off. I couldn't have seen it from the Interstate nor the cross street.

Anyway, it wasn't until March 2 that I finally went back to the English-speaking cashier at the gas station, and he was actually grateful to receive a Bible and Book of Mormon. And tonight, March 14, I went to that Chinese restaurant to which the Spirit seemed to lead me on Feb 27.

It was clean and modern in a relatively new strip mall. The menu and the back-lit pictures above the counter are like hundreds of other Chinese restaurants. It was very small. Only six 2-person tables, so it must have been mostly carry-out. There is a large office-complex nearby, so it probably serves a busy lunch crowd.

I ordered my standard Moo Goo Gai Pan and paid, set my stuff at a table, put out the two kinds of Chinese books and English, went to wash up, and then came back and sat down to read my newspaper.

When the cashier/waiter brought my food out, he noticed the books. His English was pretty good, and his demeanor was humble. He tooked to be in his mid 20's. I asked where he was from and he said China. I asked if he liked to read in Chinese, and he said yes. I offered the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon, and he eagerly accepted it. He accepted the English version too. I offered more for the other employees, but he said they were all the same family.

He took the books behind the counter and started flipping through them. And then it appeared he took them back into the kitchen.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Moment #537. Chinese. Sat, Mar 11, 2006.

03/11/2006. Tonight I decided to eat at a new Chinese restaurant. I first saw it on the night of Thursday March 2nd. That night I felt that I was "tugged" by the Spirit to a nearby gas station, and when I pulled into a parking spot, I noticed this restaurant across the street at a location that previous had a Chinese buffet restaurant.

There is an elderly lady who lives near this restaurant who regularly goes to our singles Family Home Evening at church. She's a good cook, and regularly brings extra food to our Monday night dinners that we have as part of Family Home Evening. It occurred to me to invite her to be my dinner companion. So I called her and invited her and she accepted.

I took in my small bag with 2 Simplified Chinese, 2 Traditional Chinese, and 2 English Books of Mormon.

The restaurant had been redecorated very nicely. It was no longer a buffet, but an upscale sit-down restaurant. We were seated at a regular 4-person table. But there were two other big round tables with about 10 people sitting at each. Much of the menu was in Chinese, and all the other patrons when we got there were Asian.

Our waitress said she was from Malaysia, and she said the other wait staff was from China.

After we placed our orders I went out to my car and brought in my bigger book bag that had an Indonesian Book of Mormon in it. Malaysian and Indonesian are basically the same written language.

I put the Chinese and Indonesian and English Books of Mormon on our table. When our waitress came back, I offered her the Indonesian Book of Mormon, but she indicated she already had the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon from her uncle who is Mormon. There are two brothers who are members of my ward, who are ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, and who speak Mandarin and Indonesian/Malaysian.

The next time she came to our table, I asked her who her uncle was, and she said his first name. It was one of the brothers I know at church! I then told her his last name, and she confirmed it was indeed him, and she then gave the names of her two other uncles, whom I've also met. Cool!

She declined to receive more books, but I took out an "info flyer" that lists the address of the local chapels, and wrote down the name and number of a local Anglo member who speaks both Mandarin and English and who is a very good friend of her uncles' family. She didn't know him, but he helped teach and baptize her uncles years ago.

When we were done eating, another waitress brought and collected the check. This waitress was from China, and hadn't seen the Book of Mormon before. She accepted a Simplified Chinese version and an English copy. Hopefully, she'll have a conversation about it with the other girl who's the neice of the members I know.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Recon. Fri, Mar 10, 2006.

03/10/2006. I was driving home late at night from a club meeting downtown. I approached a gas station at a corner, and felt a "tug" to pull in there. I did so, and parked. I went to the night window, and asked for a newspaper. They were out of newspapers. The cashier was an Anglo lady. I looked around and didn't see any opportuntities to approach anyone. I got back into my car thinking I had imagined it.

I pulled out of the gas station onto the cross street so that I wouldn't have to make a left hand turn onto the main street. And then I saw it, a Chinese buffet on the other side of the cross street. It was far enough away from the main street that I would not have noticed it driving down the main street. But by coming out of the gas station on that side of the corner, I could see it.

I never would have seen it by stopping at the gas station heading towards downtown. Only leaving downtown, and making the detour into the gas station, did that restaurant come into view. Interesting. The Spirit used the known to direct me to the unknown, or the seen to direct me to the unseen. Sometimes you can't see point B until you first go to point A.

It goes on the "to be visited" list.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Moment #536. Spanish. Thu, Mar 9, 2006.

03/09/2006. I took two of our Spanish speaking missionaries (elders) to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Our plan was for me to initiate the contact or placement.

After we ordered I put Spanish/English Books of Mormon and Spanish/English New Testaments on the table. The waitress noticed them but didn't say anything. I should have said something during the various times she came by, but I didn't.

After paying, I finally asked her if she liked to read Spanish. She admited that she didn't read Spanish, just spoke it. (She was born in the US.) I offered the 4-book set to her suggesting she could read them together and maybe learn, and that if she wanted to learn more about our church, or if anyone else wanted copies of the books, to contact the missionaries whose number was in the books. I asked her if she had seen Mormon missionaries before, and she didn't seem to recognize them as Mormon missionaries.

But, she happily accepted the books without any reluctance or annoyance.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Moment #535. Chinese. Wed, Mar 8, 2006.

03/08/2006. I was on the far side of town to go to a meeting and left a little early so I could do errands and eat right before the meeting. I decided to eat at a Chinese buffet where I hadn't been before. It was near a Vietnamese restaurant that I had previously been to. The Vietnamese restaurant was closed.

The Chinese restaurant was very humid. The cashier was not Asian, but the young lady putting food out appeared to be Asian. They were the only employees visible, but I could hear others in the kitchen.

The two dining areas had large screen TV's. One was on, and the volume was loud. It was tuned to a cable cartoon channel, so I sat where I could watch it.

The price was reasonable for the dinner hour, and the food good. You could hear the water boiling under the food trays and see lots of steam coming out, so the high humidity may have been due to the temperature set too high.

The cashier came by to collect my used plate, and she noticed the Chinese Books of Mormon I had placed on the table but she didn't say anything.

I felt a little guilty because I paid too much attention to the cartoons on the TV than watching to see if the Asian young lady saw the Books of Mormon on my table.

When I had finished, the Asian young lady was saying goodbye to some customers out in front of the cash register, therefore I could walk by her on my way out and offer the books.

She was very sweet and humble. I asked if she were from China or Taiwan. She said China, so I pulled out the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon from my bag and asked if she liked to read in Chinese. She said yes, so I offered her the book, saying it was from my church and it was free. She graciously accepted it. She also accepted the English edition when I offered it to her.

She then went to a display table that had decorative items for sale. She picked out something to hang from your car's rear-view mirror. It was a hollow gourd-like object with a red tassle hanging from it. I thought that was sweet, and said thank-you in Chinese.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Moment #534. Chinese. Tue, Mar 7, 2006.

03/07/2006. Still at the same restaurant as the previous encounter with the Nigerian man.

When we sat down at the Chinese restaurant, I put both kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon on the table, both Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.

Our waitress was from China. She spoke restaurant vocabulary very well, but I think we were unable to convey that the Book of Mormon was not the Bible. I tried to emphasize that they were the same book, with two different translations. Anyway, she turned down our offer of a free pair of books.

After giving out the Yoruba and English Gospel Fundamentals to the man from Nigeria, I went back to our table to finish our meal.

After we finished eating and were about to leave, I offered the hostess/cashier a pair of books. She was from Taiwan, and accepted the Traditional Chinese and the English Book of Mormon.

Moment #533. Yoruba at Chinese Restaurant. Tue, Mar 7, 2006.

03/07/2006. A friend and I were having dinner at an upscale Chinese buffet before going to see a concert of "Blind Boys of Alabama."

While we were getting our first plate of food, an African man, and his African-American companion were also getting their food.

My dinner companion is from Africa. She was able to non-chalantly speak to the man at the steam tables, and she found out that he came here from Nigeria just three months ago, and that he speaks English and Yoruba.

They finished eating shortly before us. We could see him standing in the waiting area up front while his companion was likely in the ladies room.

I got up from our table and went out front and talked to the man. I said my friend told me he was from Nigeria and spoke Yoruba. I said that I was trying to learn a little Yoruba from a CD, and I repeated a phrase.

He understood what I was trying to say, and broke into a smile and shook my hand. We chatted a bit, and I said that my church has a Sunday School manual in Yoruba, and offered him a free copy. He said okay. I said I had it out in my car and would bring it in if he waited. He started to follow me out, but I asked him to wait, as I didn't want his companion to think he had abandoned her.

I brought back in Yoruba and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals. He was delighted to see it, and started flipping through it right away. He also accepted the English copy. I had forgotten to put local info flyers in there, so I wrote the Mission Office number in one.

It was a very upbeat encounter, and he did not indicate that he felt put upon by my approach.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Moment #532. French / Wolof. Sun, Mar 5, 2006.

03/05/2006. I broke the Sabbath and bought gas today. The way I look at it, I committed the sin of omission yesterday, that of not gassing up the car.

Well, maybe I didn't absolutely have to. I had enough to get to church and back. But last night, before I remembered that I hadn't gassed up the car, I told a friend that I'd go to her house (which was beyond the chapel) to pick something up, and I didn't think I'd have enough gas for that extra distance. I was going to wait at the chapel for her call indicating she was home from her church on the other side of town, then go to her place.

After my church meetings, I went to the next sacrament meeting, of the Spanish speaking branch, because they always have wonderful testimony meetings. I hung around a little bit, but she hadn't called yet. I figured she'd call by the time I drove over there so I went ahead and left.

On my way from the chapel to her apartment, I stopped at a certain brand of gas station. I intentionally chose this brand because they employee a lot of African immigrants. I paid at the pump, but went in to see if the cashier spoke any foreign languages. He was from Senegal and spoke French and Wolof. He accepted my offer of books, so I went out to the car and got him French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and Wolof and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals, and a Wolof copy of the Joseph Smith testimony.

He graciously accepted them without any reluctance, annoyance or hesitation.

While I was getting the books from the car, my friend had called and said she was on her way to our chapel anyway. So if I had stayed put, I wouldn't have had to buy extra gas.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Moment #531. French/Hausa. Thu, Mar 2, 2006.

03/02/2006. I had just left placing an English Bible and English Book of Mormon at a gas station. Instead of taking the shortest way home, I retraced my route to stop at a gas station I had noticed on my way there.

But before I got there, there was yet another gas station I hadn't visited.

Sometimes I receive a clear and definite prompting to stop someplace for a book placement, and sometimes I decide entirely on my own to stop someplace and seek out an opportunity. And, sometimes I'm confused, and I don't know whether the idea to stop someplace is my own idea, or a prompting.

This time, I was confused. But I stopped anyway, and bought some pop on sale. The cashier was an upbeat lady. There was no specific prompting to offer her any books. But I did detect some kind of light. Not as bright as the man who accepted the English Bible and Book of Mormon. But enough to make me want to mention it as I write this. I did not make any offer.

There was no guilty feeling afterwards, so I'm not sure what to make of it. Maybe it was optional, or maybe it was my imagination.

Anyway, my next stop was the gas station I hadn't been to before.

I parked my car. The front door to the station was locked, so I went to the night window. The cashier was on the phone, speaking in a foreign language. He indicated he couldn't get off the phone, so I waited. When he got off the phone, I asked for a local newspaper, but they were out. I asked if he spoke French, and he said yes. His other languages were Gurma and Hausa. I offered to give him free church books in French and Hausa, and he enthusastically accepted.

I went back to my car and got out French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and Hausa and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals (or Gospel Principles Simplified), and Hausa and English copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet.

There were two other customers at the night window, so I waited a bit. When it was my turn, and I showed him the books, he got excited and ran to the front door and unlocked it to let me in.

I gave him the Hausa Gospel Fundamentals first, and he quickly flipped through it and started reading. I gave him the English version, and then the French Book of Mormon, and then the English version.

We chit-chatted a bit, and he was very excited and happy about the books. He was neither Christian nor Muslim, but his roommate was Christian, who let him borrow his French Bible. We shook hands, and I said I'd get him his own Bible. I probably should have gotten him a couple of the church DVDs that have a French audio track too, but I didn't.

He let me out, and I got French and English copies of the New Testament from my car, and went back and gave them to him through the night window.

Definitely another wow moment.

On the way home, I stopped at one more gas station for a newspaper and another hot chocolate. I was also confused here about whether it was a prompting or my imagination. I did not see any obvious opportunities, and made no approaches.

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Moment #530. English BoM & Bible placement. Thu, Mar 2, 2006.

03/02/2006. Last Monday the Spirit had sent me on a local delivery trip in which I made placements at one gas station, but chickened out and disobeyed the Spirit at two other gas stations.

I haven't gone to Institute classes for several months. Those classes generally got me in tune with the Spirit to the degree that I could sometimes receive promptings of where to stop along the way home and make a book placement.

I wasn't planning on taking the Institute class that started tonight, but remembering the correspondence of going to class and enjoying the Spirit convinced me to go again.

Tonight, on my way home from class, I decided to repent and go to the one gas station I was at Monday, to see if I could still offer an employee there an English Book of Mormon. The idea that I was supposed to give him a Book of Mormon came in four ways Monday night. One, I was prompted to stop there as I drove past; two, he gave off spiritual light; three, the Spirit told me specifically as I walked away from the counter; and four, when I disobeyed, the Spirit withdrew and I could feel it.

After I agonized over it for the rest of that little trip, and decided to go back that night, the Spirit finally let me know it was okay to go back another night. Sometimes the Spirit seems to let us stew over things so we can feel the consequences of our actions.

So tonight, Thursday, after class I started the drive from church to the gas station in question. But along the way, I was "tugged" into another gas station. There was something I had to do there. As I pulled into a parking space, I saw that a Chinese restaurant across the street had re-opened. I'll have to go back there to eat sometime, I thought. I didn't see any opportunities for a book placement while I purchased some hot chocolate, so maybe the message of the re-opened Chinese restaurant was the purpose of being tugged.

Driving North to my destination station, I noticed a gas station that I hadn't seen before. It might have been new or re-opened. I noticed a stenciled sign indicating that it was part of a local chain that employs a lot of African immigrants. I made a mental note to come back that night.

Still driving North I stopped at another gas station, trying to see if I could make an opportunity, bought some 2-liters that were on sale, but didn't see any opportunities.

I finally got to the gas station where I disobeyed the Spirit Monday night. The same man was on duty. He only spoke English, so I knew this was going to be a little painful on my part since I don't find it easy to make English book placements. But man, I had really stung from the guilt Monday night, and this guy was giving off spiritual light, so I was sure that the Lord wanted this man to have a Book of Mormon, and that he would be receptive. But still, I was scared and had butterflies in my stomach.

I bought a newspaper, but there were some people behind me in line, so talking to him would not have been smooth. After paying, I hung around in the store for a few seconds, saw that they had some 2-liter pop on sale, and bought some more 2-liters. I paid, and there was still some people behind me, so I stepped back, and hung around again.

Finally, there were no other customers in line. I went back up to the counter, and assumed he recognized me from Monday night. I think I started talking about why the reason I ask people where they are from and what languages they speak is that my church has books in many foreign languages, and that I like to give away the books.

And ya know what? Once I started talking, things went smoothly. There were no brilliant flashes of inspiration or grand outpourings of the Spirit, but the Lord's promise came true: I opened my mouth, and it was filled.

I asked if he had heard about the Mormons or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I casually offered a Book of Mormon, and he casually accepted my offer, with no hint of reluctance or annoyance. I asked if he had a Bible, and he indicated no, so I offered a Bible too, and he accepted.

I said I'd get them from my car, and I brought in an LDS softcover English Bible and a hard-cover English Book of Mormon. I took the info flyer out of the Book of Mormon, and showed him the list of 103 languages on the back. He started looking at it. I also pointed out the number of the mission office on the front, and said he could call them if he wanted more information.

He expressed sincere appreciation for the gifts. He was genuinely happy to receive them. Wow. The Lord really does know who is ready to receive the Book of Mormon.

But this wasn't my last moment of awe and wonder this evening.

I miss home teaching. Or the real reasons to home/visit teach.

I just read someone's confession of hating visiting-teaching, and was reminded that I miss home teaching.

I remember a bishop who said years ago, something to the effect that "When home teaching goes right, everying else in the ward falls into place." He placed home teaching second behind the youth programs in importance.

I've always known I'm a bit different from everyone else. Though I didn't realize the magnitude of those differences, or how weird I was until I was in my early 40's. I'm not someone who normally attracts friends. I've always seen hometeaching, both as a home teacher and as a recipient of home teachers, as a way to socialize with others.

At least from the selfish point of view one could use the home teaching or visiting teaching program, whether as teacher/visitor or a recipient of them as a ready-made source of friends. Sort of an "Aha! You have to be my friend!" kind of thing. And that is acceptable within reasonable limits. After all, the church does encourage members to go to their home teacher or visiting teacher for handling needs that are within their purview. And I think socializing is within that purview.

Yes, I usually did the perfunctory visit and lesson, but once I caught a vision of what home teaching could be, I strove for what I thought was the higher goal of being a friend and being involved, or at least offering that opportunity with invitations and regular contact.

I see home/visiting teaching as a way to implement the gospel's (and specifically the priesthood's) requirement to be a friend to all.

And there's the rub. You're an assigned friend. Here's what I wrote over at Millennial Star in November 2005:

If the fellowshipping and nurturing of HT/VT was left up to spontaneous efforts, most people (especially the obnoxious jerks like me) would fall through the cracks and not be fellowshipped.

Organization and planning helps prevent people from falling through the cracks. But the flip side is that you as HT/VT-er, and the [active/inactive/semi-active] person receiving you, both know up front that you wouldn't be there if you hadn't been assigned. The challenge is to overcome that initial premise, develop genuine love for the person you're visiting, and convey it.

Yet spontaneous fellowshipping has it's place too. Sitting next to the person in sacrament/SS/priesthood/RS who is sitting by themself. Making the second phone call or visit during a month. Inviting people into your circle of social friends, or to activities.

Does it really matter to the investigator on the other side of the world whether the missionary teaching him eagerly volunteered for missionary service, or had to have his arm twisted by parents and bishop, and needed to be bribed with the promise of a new car upon his honorable return? His prime impetus when signing on the dotted line may still play a part in what his motives are the day he is teaching the investigator. But more important are his motives that day, and that hour in which he is teaching.

I posit that a home teacher can be like a missionary who goes on his mission grudgingly, but later catches the vision of what it's about.

I also posit that the vision is not implemented by the home teacher, or conveyed to the person receiving the home teachers, until that extra mile is traveled, via a second visit, or second phone call, or inviting the inactive member to the ward dinner, or a singles activity.

When a ward is split or boundaries change, do you drop people like a hot potato, or do you keep in contact, at least by phone, until the new ward picks up the ball?

As an ex-member I can attend Elders' Quorum meetings and events, but I'm essentially a visitor or observer, not a real participant.

However, I have made friends and acquaintances in this ward. And if one of them, or any other ward member is sick or in the hospital, there's nothing that says I can't visit or call them as a friend or acquaintance.

Here's an example of the power of doing something you don't have to.

There was one cheery lady, the non-member mother of an active sister, who regularly attended with her daughter. She seemed to have a permanent but genuine smile on her face. When she stopped attending, I missed that smile and I asked her daughter about her. She had broke her hip or leg and was in a nursing home/rehab center. I asked which one in hopes of visiting her some time.

I got around to visiting her, and her daughter was there that day. The daughter asked why I was there, though not in an accusatory way, and if the bishop had sent me. It took her a while to conceive and accept the idea that someone could do something in the church without being assigned. But the fact that I was there, on my own volition, without being assigned, meant a lot more to that sister (and to her mother) than if I had merely fulfilled a request.

The people you home/visit teach, whether active or inactive, know that you're assigned, and know that you're supposed to visit once a month and present a short lesson. But the magic begins when you do a little more.

I used to wonder why there wasn't a handbook that gave ideas on things to do as a home teacher or visiting teacher besides the perfunctory visit and lesson. I then realized that it's actually easier without a list of suggestions because anything then becomes the "second mile." By lowering the bar to anything, the second mile is easier to achieve.

So I'm not a home teacher at present. But nobody has kicked me out of their hospital room.