Moment #555. Shona, Zulu at grocery. Mon, Apr 17, 2006.
04/17/2006. [Edited version.] Here are a couple of scripture passages that seem to describe what happened tonight. Proverbs 3:6, "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 16:9, A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
I'm not sure at what point I started getting "directions" today. Several things happened before the following which may have also played into the timing factor.
I drove into my apartment complex. I felt a definite impression or prompting that some kind of encounter was yet to happen this evening, and I shouldn't go home yet. My mind became focused on a Subway restaurant futher down the street, and I felt to go there, so before I got to my parking lot I turned around and went there.
I ordered dinner and ate at the Subway. Maybe I missed someone to whom I could have talked, but I didn't see any obvious possibilities. I left and headed towards home, and I started to think that the promptings were just my imagination. But as I approached the stop light, I felt like I needed to turn right, and go to a grocery store about 10 blocks away. I didn't need any groceries, but this wasn't about shopping. So I figured that may be where my "intended contact" would be found, and the trip to the Subway restaurant could have been a "timing factor" to make it work out right.
Sometimes being given directions well in advance of an encounter is just as overwhelming and intimidating to me as are unexpected encounters, or last minute directions.
When I'm on the road, and approaching an intersection, there's a certain feeling that the Spirit can give indicating which way to turn. It's like a spiritual "tug," almost analogous to a dog on a leash.
I went to the grocery, and while in the produce section, which is next to the entrance, an African-looking man came in behind me. I kind of dilly-dallied a bit so that he'd catch up with me. When we were both in talking distance, but still a respectful distance apart, I asked him "Parlez vous francais?" He said no. But he spoke with an accent, so I could tell he was an immigrant. He was tall, kind of gaunt looking, as if he had a hard life, and hadn't been in the states long. His bearing had a humble dignity that I admire.
I asked him what other languages he spoke. At first he said just English, but then added something like "just my regional language that you wouldn't know about." I said my church has books in many African languages, and I asked where he was from. He said Zimbabwe. I then said "Moroi" which is hello, or greetings. And asked if he spoke Shona. He broke into a smile and said yes. I offered him the Book of Mormon in Shona that I had in my car, and he agreed to accept it. I went out to my car and brought back in a Shona and an English Book of Mormon, and Shona and English copies of "Gospel Fundamentals."
I asked him if he knew a certain man to whom I gave a Shona Book of Mormon about 22 months ago. He did know him. We spoke about it for a minute, and I gave him the name and phone # of a member who speaks Shona and Zulu. He said his wife speaks Zulu. We chit-chatted for just another minute, and I took my leave. After I got a few feet away, it occured to me to offer him a Zulu Book of Mormon for his wife. So I went back, offered, and he accepted. I went out to my car again, and brought back in a Zulu and another English Book of Mormon, which he graciously accepted.
There are thousands of African immigrants in Central Indiana, and one is bound to meet them once in a while. I can't prove to anyone that I had those thoughts and feelings that led me to be at the grocery store at that particular moment. From the outside it looked just like a chance encounter. But from my point of view, I know how I came to be there at just the right moment. I believe the man whom I encountered has the humble dignity to be a member of the church. He just had the look and bearing of a good Mormon. I can say with confidence that the Lord wanted him to have those books tonight. What an honor, privilege and blessing to be the delivery boy. Wow. I stand all amazed.