Thursday, April 20, 2006

Moment #558. Chinese at restaurant, Thu, Apr 20, 2006

04/20/2006. I decided to eat supper at a Chinese buffet in a town to the Northeast of Indianapolis. I ate there a few years ago, before I started this book placement project, but haven't been back.

As I was about to leave home, I had a strong impression to pray first. In the past, I've often ignored promptings to pray, telling myself that I already had my morning prayer, or my "before leaving the house" prayer. But I've learned something recently, that the need to pray might not necessarily be because I need to supplicate on my behalf, but because the Spirit has something to say to me. The message this time was a feeling that I needed to pay attention and heed the Spirit in order for this to be a successful outing.

One of the lessons of previous trips, is that the Spirit often leads me in the direction of a place I know in order to get me to a place that I don't know about. So that the "idea" of going to that particular buffet could merely be to get me headed along that path, and doesn't necessarily mean that it is the final destination. Sure, the Spirit can put the addresses or pictures of places we've never been to in our mind, but it's much easier to use memories we already have and make derivations on those themes.

Such was the situation tonight. I was a mile or so from the buffet I had in mind, when my focus was attracted to a strip mall to the right. There was a Shell station on that corner, so I made a mental note to go there afterwards to see if it was the franchise that employed a lot of Africans. However, my focus was pulled to the shops in the strip behind it. And sure enough, right when I was parallel to it, I could see there was a store that had a sign indicating a Chinese restaurant. Later on in the evening, I checked the big sign in front of the strip mall and noticed that the Chinese restaurant didn't have their name on it along with the names of the other businesses.

To be fair, a good portion, maybe about 40 to 50%, of strip malls do have a Chinese restaurant. But there was a "pull factor" or "tug" as I passed it and saw it. There was no turn off other than the intersection I had just passed, so while I drove towards the next intersection I had enough time to ponder if that was where I should really go. There was no clear cut answer, but the "tug" was still there, and the memory of the earlier "follow the Spirit to be successful" message came to mind. It all added up to a confident feeling that that was the place.

At the next intersection I did a U-turn and went back to that restaurant.

I took in my bag of Asian language books, set it on a chair at a table, and placed my order at the counter. After I paid, I asked the lady where they were from, and she said China. I asked, and she said they spoke Mandarin. She asked if I spoke Mandarin, and I said I only knew "nee-how" and "shia-shia" (hello and thank-you).

I took my soft drink back to my table, and went outside and bought a newspaper from a box outside.

When she brought my food, she noticed the books of Mormon I had placed on the table. She pointed to them and said something. There were only two other customers in the dining area, and they could probably hear our conversation, but I didn't worry about that. She said she already had a Bible, but I had the Chinese/English Bilingual New Testamant out too. I find it's good to have it out because you can point to both it and the Book of Mormon and explain that we believe in both, and hopefully correct the assumption that we use the Book of Mormon to replace the Bible. She accepted the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon and the English.

When she got behind the counter, she told the others about it, because I could hear "Mo-men" in whatever it was she said.

I think demonstrating our appreciation of the Bible by having a copy of the New Testament helped. While I ate, I noticed a hand-written sign on the side wall behind the counter. It was a Bible verse, probably from Isaiah, but I couldn't see the chapter and verse.


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