Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Moment #590. Zulu to neighbor for coworker. Wed, May 31, 2006.

05/31/2006. I worked out at the gym right up until closing time. I still had to cool down, so I walked from one end of the strip mall to the other. When I got to a restaurant, my next-door neighbor was there, waiting for the thunderstorm to pass. She asked if she could ride back with me instead of walking in the rain or having to take a taxi. I said sure.

We talked about the gym on the ride back, and I pointed out how bad it looked that I drove my car the 3 blocks to the gym instead of walking. But I said my excuse was that I meet a lot of immigrants at that strip mall, so I keep foreign language copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in the car to give them out to people I meet.

She concurred that there were a lot of immigrants in our neighborhood, especially a lot of Africans. She volunteered that one of her co-workers was from South Africa. I offered her a Book of Mormon in Zulu to give to him as a surprise. She thought that was cool. So when we got back to our parking lot, I got a Zulu Book of Mormon out of the trunk and gave it to her.

Follow-up with Liahona magazines. Wed, May 31, 2006.

05/31/2006. I had lunch at a small strip-mall Chinese restaurant on the West side of town. I've often been here, and I believe I've given the current owners copies of Chinese and English Books of Mormon before. I had given the previous owners some books too.

After eating today, I went back to the counter, and gave the lady a Chinese copy and the corresponding English copy of the Liahona. She was not all that enthusiastic, but she graciously accepted them.

When I got home, I noticed that one of my neighbors, who is from Haiti, went inside his apartment. I went over, knocked, and gave him two French copies and the corresponding English copies of the Liahona.

I had previously given that family French and Haitian copies of the Book of Mormon, and a Haitain Bible.

Powerful feeling while handling Welsh Book of Mormon. Tues, May 30, 2006.

05/30/2006. I didn't think this was worth journaling at the time, but a feeling tonight confirms it worth journaling. A few days ago, Saturday the 27th or before, I got a feeling that I needed to add new languages to the inventory in my car. I browsed the alphabetized books on the three shelves of the bookcase, the languages written in English on the spine of wrappers that I made and placed on the books.

The books that I felt like I should add were Albanian, Dutch, Estonian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Romanian, and Welsh.

Today I got them back out of the car, and started to put my post-it note markers in them. I started with the Albanian, and it was easy to find 2 Nephi 9, Alma 42, 3 Nephi 11, and Moroni 10.

The Welsh was vastly different. It hadn't been updated since the 1852 translation. It was not typeset in a modern fashion, but was a photo-reproduction of the original. It didn't even have the new chapter and verse breakdowns from the 1870's or later. Moroni still had 10 chapters, but the Lord's appearance in 3 Nephi was not in chapter 11. There was still a special heading, so I could locate it in the original chapter 5.

A sense of awe and marvelousness came over me as I held the Welsh book in my hands. I couldn't tell if the feeling applied to the future or the past or both. If it applied to the future, then it felt as if someone would be converted by this actual book. But my mind was also taken to the past, and I thought of Welsh converts of the 19th century leaving their homeland and emigrating to Utah and becoming heads of great dynasties of Latter-day Saints.

I don't know the purpose of the feeling. It may have been a "stroke of an idea" of what will be associated with this particular book in the future. It may have been what I call a "spiritual doggie treat," just some little blessing of the Lord that he gives through his tender mercy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An awkward learning opportunity. Tues, May 30, 2006.

05/30/2006. This was more of a bungled opportunity than a missed opportunity. I need to be more open to spiritual guidance after an encounter starts instead of thinking I have to do things entirely on my own.

I was just about to get into my car after a workout at the gym when a man walked by my car. He was returning to his car, carrying his purchases from a nearby store.

He "stood out." My attention was drawn to him. At the time I thought he might have been an African immigrant. He was wearing a conservative black suit on a hot and humid day. I thought he might be a minister. After I got home, I thought that he might have been a member of the Nation of Islam. I've seen people wear similar suits as they stand on traffic islands near intersections.

I asked if he spoke French, and he said no. He was taken aback slightly that I started a conversation, but he was not angry or afraid. I asked what languages he spoke other than English, and I said that my church has books in many foreign languages. He took a long time to formulate his reply. He was very soft-spoken, when he said he didn't speak anything other than English. He spoke in a low voice, so I couldn't really make out if he was speaking with an accent. He was at a loss for words as was I.

My first thought was that by "no", he really meant "no languages that you would know of." But his hesitancy made me wonder if he was uncomfortable with the enouncter, or if he was just searching for the right response.

I didn't think fast enough to come up with more so our conversation ended. Later, in the car I thought I could have asked where he was from. And if he wasn't an immigrant I could have asked what church he went to, or if he was a minister.

I think I was motivated by the Spirit to speak with him. But the Spirit doesn't always give us conversation starters. We have to start talking, and after we get the ball rolling, then the Spirit fills our mouth. I didn't keep the ball rolling long enough to cross that threshhold where the Spirit provides words. Or else I was not listening to or not seeking for the Spirit.

More ideas of what to say came after I got home. It occurred to me I could have just asked what church he went to. And if he went to a Christian church I could have asked if he believed in the Holy Spirit, and if so, I could have admitted that the Spirit indicated I was to speak to him. And then I could have just offered to be of assistance.

I carry material in English, too. Bibles, Gospel Principles, True to the Faith, Our Heritage, hymn books, DVDs.

This was definitely a learning opportunity. The Spirit was trying to teach me a new approach.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Moment #589. Arabic at ward picnic at park. Mon, May 29, 2006.

05/29/2006. Our ward had a Memorial Day picnic at a local park. It was a great turnout. A majority of the active members were there.

After most of the eating was done, a little girl, about 8 to 10, came by on her bicycle and joined a couple of our children her age. I went by them to put something in my car, and the girl appeared to me to be African. I later went over and asked, and she said her family was from Sudan. I asked what other language besides English they spoke, and she only knew it as "African." I guessed Arabic, and I asked her to translate an Arabic word I know, and she got it right.

I later asked the sister missionaries at the picnic if they'd like to find out where she lived and try to present an Arabic Book of Mormon to her parents. They thought that was okay, so I retrieved Arabic and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a bilingual Arabic-English New Testament from my car, and gave them to the sister missionaries.

The sister missionaries then spoke with the girl, and apparently got her address, to go visit her family at some future time.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Missed opportunity at Post Office, Fri, May 26, 2006.

05/26/2006. I went to check my mail at the post office prior to working out. There was a family in a car in the parking lot who looked like immigrants from either Africa or the Caribbean. They looked like they were busy readying a package to send. I passed by them walking into the post office, and again walking back out to my car. At my car, I agonized over it for a few seconds and decided not to speak to them. I made the mistake of trying to figure it out on my own instead of saying a quick prayer to seek guidance. The guilty feeling that came later indicated I should have spoken with them.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How-to quick-start guide.

05/25/2006. Here's a how-to quide to sharing the fullness of the restored gospel contained in the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, with people who speak languages other than English. Even for those who don't accept the gospel, I believe this is a good way to promote literacy in world-languages and to help people from foreign lands keep their native languages alive. I believe this is both a secular and a spiritual service.

Part of my inspiration/motivation comes from the "How Rare a Possession" movie from the "A Voice From the Dust" church video.

"How Rare a Possession" can also be seen on Youtube: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

1. Research a little about what languages are spoken in your city. Research the web for associations or clubs in your city. Start talking to strangers and ask people where they are from, and what languages they speak. Look up your local ethnic restaurants in the phone book or at Common ones are Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese. Japanese restaurants are often staffed by Koreans, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Korean restaurants are often staffed by Koreans and Japanese. Chinese restaurants often have Indonesian staff. All restaurants often have Spanish-speaking staff. The word "Oriental" is not used anymore. "Asian" is the correct word.

In addition to restaurants, other locations to find immigrants are:
    a. Dry cleaners are sometimes owned and operated by Koreans.
    b. Nail salons are mostly owned and operated by Vietnamese.
    c. Ethnic food markets. Most cities of any size have Asian and Middle-Eastern food markets.

2. Buy Books of Mormon in those languages, and a number in English, in order to pair them. Buy online at Buy hard-cover editions where possible. They are only $3.00 each instead of $2.50 each for soft-cover. They last longer in your car, last longer in use, and give a better impression. Suggested BofM translations to start with: Chinese (traditional script for those from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia), Chinese (simplified script for those from mainland China), Spanish, Amharic (Ethiopia), French (Africa), Korean, Igbo (Nigeria), Shona (Zimbabwe), Swahili (East Africa), Hindi (India), Bengali (India), Arabic, Japanese, Thai, Urdu (Pakistan), Vietnamese.

It is very important understand the differences between Chinese Traditional (suffix -265 in the church's catalog system) and Chinese Simplified (suffix -266). Buy both copies and look, they are easy to tell apart. Some Chinese can read both writing systems, but most cannot.

You might offend or confuse people if you give the wrong Chinese version. If you can't determine where they are from, present both, and let them choose. Some Taiwanese hate the communists, so giving them a book in the communist-invented Simplified Script sometimes offends them. Most (but not all) of those from Mainland China (they say just "China"), can't read the more complicated traditional script. Some young people from mainland China have never seen the traditional script at all.

Suggested multi-lingual DVD's to start if you want to buy case quanities:
  Together Forever.
  Heavenly Father's Plan.
  Finding Faith in Christ.

2a. Optionally, visit, International Bible Society, and get a case of KJV or NIV New Testaments($.99/each) or Bibles($1.19/each).

3. Download 1bom-chinese-traditional.doc and
1bom-chinese-simplified.doc to see how to make labels. (Use MS-Word 2000 or later) Print it out on 8.5" x 14" (legal size) paper, fold in two longways. After putting in the following inserts, wrap around book so language shows on spine and on front, and tape it. Use those two .DOC files as templates to make labels for all languages. Remove label/wrapper when giving out the book, and re-use it.

4. Download indy-lds-info-no-youth.doc and use as a template for your local chapels and church contact info. Be sure to include your mission office phone number. Always include your Mission office phone number , and a church 800 number (from BofM pass-along card) Those stay mostly constant. Remember, these seeds take years to sprout, so you need to include info that will still be useful five or more years in the future. Include your name, phone number and/or email somewhere, or on a separate card. Put a photocopy of this "local info flyer" in every book, both foreign language and English.

5. Mark 3rd Nephi Chapters 11-26 with a post-it note. Mark Moroni's promise, Moroni 10:3-5 with a post-it note. Write on the post-it note, not on the book. It's okay to write in English for the foreign language books. If you can't read Chinese or Thai, remember that 3rd Nephi is the 11th book in the Book of Mormon. Count down 11 books, then count down 11 chapters. There's an extra heading just before Chapter 11 of 3rd Nephi in the foreign translations, just like in English. It's easy to spot.

Moroni chapter 10 is the last chapter of the last book, then count down 3 verses. Some translations have an index after Moroni, some don't. But the formatting is different so you can easily tell where Moroni ends and the index begins.

You'll soon learn to recognize the symbols for "Nephi" "Moroni" "10" and "11". Translations using the Latin alphabet are easy, look for "Nefi" or "Niphae".

Note: Bengali and some other translations do not have the full Book of Mormon translation, only "selections." So it will take a little more detective work to find 3 Nephi 11. Marking the best places to read really helps, but is not absolutely required.

6. Put each book in a clear zip lock freezer bag. Store books in a box in car trunk with spine up, so you can see language name at a glance and grab right one. Note: Traditional Chinese and Arabic are "backward". Failure to store books in zip lock bags will result in them absorbing moisture in car and pages will be wavey.

7. Pray for opportunities for book placements. Make opportunities for book placements by patronizing ethnic restaurants and stores owned or staffed by immigrants. Recognize opportunities when they arise. Then open your mouth. D&C 33:8-10.

8. Trust the Lord and his Spirit. He knows where everyone is. He knows who's ready for a Book of Mormon. Many people who speak only English are also ready for a Book of Mormon. Try offering a Bible or New Testament along with the Book of Mormon, we believe in both don't we? Even if they already have a Bible, it's the offer that speaks volumes.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Some of the overall story.

05/24/2006. This is in response to a comment by danithew to a previous post.

I described the Chinese aspect in this post here.  Here's another post that describes one reason why I do this.

I guess I need to write down the overall story and how it started. Here's a start.

1. My mission president over 20 years ago sent my companion and I to Chinese restaurants with Chinese Books of Mormon. No baptisms, but some "Hmmmm" moments. I forget if we paired them with Spanish copies or not.

2. In 2004, a 70, Elder H. Bryan Richards, told our stake at stake conference to "pray to Heavenly Father and ask him to put people in your path whom the missionaries could teach." I prayed that.

3. A little later, I had a crazy idea to buy 3 copies of all 103 translations of the Book of Mormon at some point after that stake conference, but I didn't connect it with anything. I thought that I would donate them as "sets" to university language departments or libraries for use as a "Rosetta Stone."

3. I ordered extra Chinese copies to resurrect the Chinese restaurant idea from the mission. I ordered extra African language copies for a member friend from Africa.

4. I went to a Chinese restaurant, and boom, it worked. It was actually a Vietnamese-owned Chinese restaurant, so it was a Vietnamese Book of Mormon that was offered and accepted.

5. The very next day, I met an African lady at the gym, I could tell by the Amharic writing on her t-shirt, which looked like the title on the Amharic Book of Mormon, because it is very unique. I had alphabetized, made labels, organized, and shelved the Books of Mormon, so I remembered a few that were in non-latin (non "abc") alphabet. She agreed to see my Amharic Book of Mormon, I ran home, and got it, and she was very happy to received it.

6. Later that month, the Spirit told me to "put the African language books in your car." That message went beyond a "prompting" or "impression" and was well into the "obvious" territory of being commanded by the Spirit. There was no confusion about the message. It was a matter of saluting, saying "yes sir!" and doing it. So I did it. Actually, the idea to put them in the car occurred to me several days before, but I procrastinated until the Spirit made it obvious.

Based on the above, you should see that this project was not my idea. It was a synthesis of what my mission president assigned years ago, what Elder Richards said at our conference, an "implanted desire" (to buy 3 sets of all languages of the BofM), and the Lord then commanding me (through the Holy Ghost) to put some in my car. So once the ducks were all in a row, boom - boom - boom, things started happening. From that point out, it became variations-on-the-theme, and refining techniques.

7. Within a few hours of putting the African language Books of Mormon in my car, I stopped at a gas station to buy some pop on sale, the cashier was a black man who spoke with an accent. You guessed it, he spoke one (later I found out it was two) African languages in which the Book of Mormon is translated. I ran out to the car and got him Zulu and English copies. It was a "WOW!" moment. The Lord knew who I was going to meet that day!

8. I saw the Lord's pattern, so I started buying extra copies. And I started to figure out what languages were spoken in town. I knew there were a lot of people from India, the middle east, Africa, etc. I googled all 103 languages to see what countries they were spoken in. I looked up the Nationalities Council of Indianapolis, to see what countries had associations or clubs in town. German club, Philippines club, Latvian school, Lithuanian school, India Association, etc, etc. And then I stocked my car with all languages spoken in those countries.

9. The next step was buying the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet, and "Gospel Principles (Simplified)" a.k.a. "Gospel Fundamentals" in languages for which there is no Book of Mormon yet, such as Fulani, Pashto, Somali, Wolof.

10. The encounters are of three types of situations:

      a. Where I try to create an opportunity, by intentionally going to Chinese, Mexican, or other ethnic restaurants. Or by stopping at gasoline stations and independently owned convenience stores where there is a good possibility of finding employees who are immigrants. If my business or errand takes me from point A to point B, and I see a gas station that I haven't been to before, I sometimes stop there on my own volition just to see if I can create an opportunity.

      b. Situations where the opportunity just "plops in my lap", wherein I'm doing normal things like shopping, doing laundry, or buying gas (when I really have to) and the person next in line or passing by me just happens to be an immigrant.

      c. About 10% of the situations are where the Spirit either tells me or "tugs" me to go to a certain place, somewhere that is usually along my path of travel (and on rare occasions even out of my way), and an employee there or fellow customer is an immigrant who is willing to receive material. The Spirit has several methods of communication. One is a "spotlight effect", in which a location just "stands out" above all other places and things in view, kind of like Roma Downey having that angel spotlight shined on her in the TV show, "Touched by an Angel." But you see it more with your spiritual eyes, than with your natural eyes. Another is similar, in which my "visual focus" is drawn to it. A third is a "tug" in which I feel a spiritual pull like being a dog on a spiritual leash. A fourth way is that the idea of going to a certain place enters my mind and heart, and does so in a way that I can tell that the source of the communication is external to me, and is not my own idea or desire. A fifth way is that a desire to go to a certain place can well up inside of me, and it is "my" desire; I can't always tell, but if I'm paying attention well enough, I can sometimes tell it was an "implanted" desire. A sixth way is that the still small voice of the Spirit just plain tells me to alter my itinerary, or to just go someplace.

And then there are combinations of b) and c), where I'm someplace just doing what I would normally do, but the spirit points out an individual and says "Him!" or "Her!".

My standard conversation starters are "Where are you from?" or "What languages besides English do you speak?" or "Do you speak any foreign languages?"

For people who are not obviously immigrants, just plain English-only-speaking Americans, my conversations starters are "Would you like a free Bible?" or "I like to give out Bibles. Do you need, or would you like a free Bible?" And regardless of the answer, the follow up is: "Would you like a free Book of Mormon to go along with it? My church believes in the Bible and the Book of Mormon." You can get paperback Bibles for $2.00/each plus shipping from American Bible Society and International Bible Society. I call that "doing an Ezekiel." I carry around copies in Spanish RVR-1960, King James, NIV, and TNIV.

People can easily understand an offer of a Bible, and can grasp where you're coming from. Offering a free Bible says that you believe in it and promote it. And the offer of a free Bible with a Book of Mormon clearly indicates that you believe the Book of Mormon goes with the Bible and does not contradict or replace the Bible. An offer of a Book of Mormon alone begs the question: "Don't you believe the Bible?" The offer of both eliminates the normal and logical (but mistaken) assumption that we're replacing the Bible.

I often, but not always, underline the last phrase of John 21:25, "the books that should be written" and stick a Book of Mormon pass-along card there. I hope to create a link in the mind of the reader between that phrase and the Book of Mormon. In the NIV and other modern translations it's "the books that would be written", which is even better because it is subjunctive tense. Of course, this is not proof of the Book of Mormon, but it is a hint that more books would, could, or should be written.

This way, if someone accepts a Bible, but declines a Book of Mormon, they at least get the pass-along card. I figure, hey, I'm giving it out free, I have the right to stick whatever promotional material I want in there.

I try to put an "info flyer" in every book I give out. It contains one of the church's 800 phone numbers, the local mission office address and phone number, and the web site. It also contains a list of the chapels in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, along with meeting times. It also lists the local Family History Centers (Genealogical libraries), their hours, and phone numbers. On the back it lists the 104 languages translations of the Book of Mormon. My next revision will also have the languages in which other material is available.

I also put a personal "calling card" in all the books, which is a business card, but only has my name, email address, and phone number. About $12 per 1,000 at Office Depot.

I make a point not to write anything in the Bibles or Books of Mormon I give out. Many cultures consider that desecration of the scriptures. So I just use inserts and Post-It type notes. I describe which parts I mark in this post.

Also added to my "car inventory" are the multi-lingual DVD's. There are 8 now.
Finding Faith in Christ, Special Witnesses of Christ, Together Forever, The Restoration (English/Spanish only), Joy to the World (MoTab Choir), Heavenly Father's Plan, To This End Was I Born, and Finding Happiness. They are available at They are usually $4.50, but if you buy them in a case of 50, the price goes down to $1.50/each or less. Add quantity 50 to your shopping cart and see.

Man, what a blessing it is to be the delivery boy of the greatest message on Earth. And there is much more that could be done. I've messed up some these attempts. I believe I've offended a few people. I've confused a few more. There were some where I dropped the ball and didn't do the right follow up. Sometimes there were clues or indications where the person might have wanted to receive the missionaries but I missed them, and merely said "Call this number if you want to learn more" when I should have asked "Would you like representatives to visit you?"

I'm amazed that even in my unworthiness and screw-ups, the Lord still sometimes calls upon me to offer Bibles and Books of Mormon. It appears to me that the Lord can use us to whatever degree we allow him by our striving to be more worthy and better prepared. It looks to me like he wants us to stretch, learn, and progress. And when we make good-faith efforts, he stretches forth his hand and causes miracles to happen.

And after all, it's his message and his program. He's in charge. The best we can hope for is to get in line as much as possible with his will.

Labels: , ,

Moment #588. Chinese at restaurant. Wed, May 24, 2006.

05/24/2006. I was out doing errands and it was time for dinner. I drove past a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall on the NW side of town. I've shopped at an ethnic grocery store at the other end of the same strip mall before. And I've passed this place a zillion times before while driving on the main drag, but I don't recall driving to that end of the strip mall.

I decided to check it out. It's a sit-down place, and they were busy with carry-out and delivery orders. The back-lit pictures above the counter and the standardized menus were like most other small strip-mall Chinese restaurants.

I ordered and sat down, and put out copies of the Book of Mormon in Chinese and English, and put out a couple copies of the Chinese Liahona and an English Liahona that corresponded to the same issue as one of the Chinese issues.

One of the employees did a classic double-take on the magazines as he was leaving to make a delivery. He stopped, turned around, and asked if I read Chinese. I said no, and that I brought them for him. I handed him the Chinese one, and he eagerly took it. I offered the English issue to go along with it, and he accepted it too. He took them both to the counter before leaving for a delivery.

An other employee, probably his wife, brought my food, noticed the Books of Mormon, but didn't say anything. When the man came back, he came back over to my table, and I tried to offer the Chinese Book of Mormon, but he didn't seem interested, but I couldn't figure out why. I didn't have any Chinese or Chinese/English Bibles, and that may have been why.

I finished my meal and went out and retrieved a Bible in Chinese Simplified Script (not a bilingual one) from the car.

I took the Chinese Bible, a Chinese and an English Book of Mormon, and the Finding Happiness DVD to the counter, and presented them to the lady who I thought was his wife. She had been reading the Chinese Liahona while her husband was reading a Chinese newspaper. She gratefully accepted them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Moment #587. Hindi/Bengali/Punjabi/Malayalam at home. Tues, May 23, 2006

05/23/2006. I was going to the gym this afternoon to work out. I took a couple copies of the Book of Mormon with me out to the car to restock it due to the ones I gave out yesterday.

A taxi pulled into the court-yard and let out a passenger on the other side of the parking lot. It was a taxi company that employs many drivers from East Africa. And there I was holding an Amharic Book of Mormon in my hand. "Too easy," I thought, "I'll just wait until he pulls around, because he'll drive right past me and I can flag him down."

He took a few seconds to fill out his log sheet, and pulled around the parking lot, and I flagged him down. He stopped, and I asked what languages he spoke other than English. He spoke Hindi, Bengali, Gujerati, and Arabic. I told him my church has free books in those languages, and he asked for Hindi and Bengali.

I had the wrong one in my hand, but I was standing about 3 feet from the trunk of my car, so I asked him to hold on, and I turned around, and put the Amharic back in and got out Bengali, Hindi and English Books of Mormon, and presented them to him. He thought that was cool. I offered more for any of his friends, and he asked for Punjabi and Malayalam. I said those were in the house, and asked him to hold on again.

There's no book of Mormon in Punjabi yet, but there is Gospel Fundamentals, so I retrieved one of those from inside my apartment, and the English to go along with it.

There is Gospel Fundamentals and the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet in Malayalam, and I had the Joseph Testimony pamphlet, but I had forgotten that I had it. I had the Malayalam Bible handy (from International Bible Society) so I retrieved that too.

I went back out and gave him the Punjabi and English Gospel Fundamentals, and the Malayalam Bible. He was very pleased. I mentioned that the church address and my card was in the books, if he wanted to learn more or visit.

He was pleasantly surprised about the encounter, and did not give any indication that I was troubling him.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 22, 2006

Moment #586. Amharic at grocery store parking lot. Mon, May 22, 2006.

05/22/2006. Two ladies were ahead of me in line at the grocery store. I couldn't tell their ethnicity or what language they were speaking. It didn't occur to me to approach them in the store.

But by the time I got outside, they had put their groceries in their car, and one of them was crossing directly in front of me to put their cart in the cart corral. So by the time I got to my car, we were only like 6 or 8 feet from each other. Which was a perfect distance, close enough to be sort of justified in speaking, but far enough away to be respectful and non-threatening. It worked out perfect, as I did nothing to create the encounter or its timing. It just happened. All I had to do was speak up.

They were from Ethiopia and spoke Amharic. The lady I spoke with gladly accepted an Amharic and English Book of Mormon. She said they already had Amharic and English Bibles.

I probably should have showed her the Amarhic New Testament I had in the car, just to illustrate that we do believe in the Bible. Sometimes I wonder if by offering just the Book of Mormon, we give the impression that we are offering it in competition to the Bible, instead of in conjunction with the Bible.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

This is something I'm hoping for.

From page 12 of the May 13, 2006, edition of Church News.
Article title: "Lives of service for Italian couple."

"Years ago, Brother Conforte gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to a friend while they served in the Italian air force. The friend showed no interest, but accepted the gift and placed it on a book shelf. Ten years later, the friend's daughter found the book, pulled it from the shelves and began reading. She was soon baptized."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Moment #585. Chinese at buffet. Fri, May 19, 2006.

05/19/2006. I had an early supper at a popular buffet on the Northwest side of town. I've been here before, but it was always too busy to engage anyone in conversation.

I put out a Spanish Book of Mormon on my table as I ate because the bus boy was Hispanic. But he didn't give an indication that he noticed it.

On the way out, there were three employees behind the cashier's counter, just talking, and no one was in line, so I approached them. The cashier accepted the bilingual Chinese/English New Testament, and a Chinese Simplified, and an English Book of Mormon. She wasn't enthusiastic about the books. It seemed she was just being nice to a customer, but that's okay. One of the other girls behind the counter said some things to her in Chinese, but from her body english and tone of voice, I gathered that she was uninterested.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Finding Happiness DVD, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, English.

Available through the Distribution Center:

Item #: 00244090. Price: $4.50/each in single quantities.
  --   $75/case of 50. ($1.50/each)
Finding Happiness. DVD multilingual.

This DVD introduces the concept that life on earth was created by a loving God who has a specific plan and purpose for our lives. Following the plan will bring peace and happiness in this life and throughout eternity. Especially appropriate for Asian audiences of non-Christian background.

      * Cantonese
      * English
      * Japanese
      * Korean
      * Mandarin

There is now a new edition of this video. It is in addition to the previous edition, not replacing it. It is item # 06840090 at, under vidoes.

Same price, $4.50 each or $1.50 in a case. But this has the slimline DVD case, so a case is 100 DVDs ($150.00, ouch!)

Languages are:
* English
* Bulgarian
* Cantonese
* Danish
* Dutch
* Finnish
* French
* German
* Hungarian
* Italian
* Japanese
* Korean
* Mandarin
* Norwegian
* Portuguese
* Russian
* Spanish
* Swedish
* Ukranian

The English is British English.
The Spanish is Castillian Spanish, with a Spain accent, where the "c" is pronounced as a "th".

The Korean, Japanese and Chinese still have the old videos associated with them, on location in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong/Taiwan. The other languages have at least 3 vidoes featuring different people/places, the UK, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe.

The disc menu is kind of confusing to figure out at first. You don't select the language at first, you have to select the region of Europe/Asia, and then it lets you select a language.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Moment #584. Hindi at drug store. Wed, May 17, 2006.

05/17/2006. Later, back at the drug store to buy a snack while doing laundry, the cashier was already speaking to other employees behind the counter about what languages she spoke when I came up to the counter to check out. I offered her Hindi and English copies of the Book of Mormon and she accepted.

Missed opportunity at the drug store. Wed, May 17, 2006.

05/17/2006. I got to the laundromat shortly after midnight, and went to the nearby drugstore to get some laundry detergent. There was a man who looked like he was from Africa in line in front of me. There was someone in line behind me. It would have been awkward to leave the line and speak to him, but I was not smooth or fast enough and I let the moment slip away.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Moment #583. Spanish at restaurant. Tues, May 16, 2006.

05/16/2006. My home teacher and I had supper at a local Mexican restaurant. The food was good. I forgot to put the books out after we ordered, but did so at some point after we started eating. I had brought in a Spanish Bible, an English Bible, a Spanish Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon.

After my home teacher paid, I made a quick presentation at the cashier's counter. She already had Spanish and English Bibles, but she accepted the Spanish and English Books of Mormon. I was a bit too quick, and didn't ask if she'd like to learn more, or wait to see if she had any questions. But I did point out the address of the church and the mission office phone # on the flyer inside.

There were two other customers there when we arrived, but we were the only ones there by the time we finished. It was good food. Local friends can email me for the name and address of the restaurant.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Moment #582. French at Post Office. Mon, May 15, 2006.

05/15/2006. I was in the outer lobby, standing in line at the door to pick up a package too big for my box. There were two people in line ahead of me. They were talking. The lady said she was from a country in western Africa, and the man said he just got back from a trip to another country in Africa.

I joined the conversation, found out she spoke french, and after I picked up my box I offered her a French Bible. She accepted the offer. She got in line for the inner lobby, and I went out to my car and retrieved a French New Testament, an English New Testament, and a French Book of Mormon. Perhaps I should have said something about the Book of Mormon up front, instead of waiting to introduce it after I retrieved it.

I came back in, and she was still in the line for the inner lobby, which still extended out to the outer lobby. There were now a couple people behind her, so this would be a presentation with an audience. She accepted the French New Testament, as she didn't have a French Bible. She said she already had an English Bible. She accepted the French Book of Mormon, and started flipping through it.

I felt just a teensy bit guilty talking to her while she was still waiting in line instead of waiting outside for her. So I didn't prolong the conversation. I think it's better to initiate contact when someone is leaving or about to leave so that you're not interfering with a captive audience, and so they don't feel put upon. They can just say no thanks and keep on walking if they're not interested.

But it was a long line, and I thought it better to make a quick presentation while she was in line, than to loiter for 10 to 15 minutes outside waiting for her.

So she likely had the French New Testament and Book of Mormon (Le Livre de Mormon) in her hand while she did her transaction at the counter. I can imagine that the postal clerk said or thought "Looks like _____'s been here."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Moments #578-581. Booth at a Multi-cultural Festival. Sat, May 13, 2006.

05/13/2006. Today I exhibited my collection of 104 translations of the Book of Mormon at a multi-cultural festival at one of the local malls. The deal with the sponsoring organization was that I could exhibit and offer materials, but not actively proselyte.

I applied to be an exhibitor in my own name, and not as a representative of the church.

I believe that a book that has 104 world-language translations fits the concept of multi-cultural very well.

I didn't plan ahead very well, and didn't enlist anyone else with a truck or van to help transport the books. There was another person I could have contacted, but I procrastinated and didn't call him.

I ended up taking two complete sets of 104. Plus several more copies of the more popular translations for which I know there are speakers in town.

I haven't done anything like this since July 2004. It's hard to plan for because you don't know how many people will show up, or what languages will be represented among the attendees. I also took about 15 translations of the Bible. It's better to have extras than not enough, so I basically took almost everything I had in stock. It was about 30 boxes.

I got up early and rented a Uhaul truck, left my car at the Uhaul place, drove home, loaded up the 30 boxes and took them to the mall and set up on my two assigned tables. I had to make about 5 trips with the dolly. I left about 4 boxes in the truck since they were extras. I also enlisted the help of three "mall walkers" to carry a box or two each. I figured they were there to get exercise, and I was offering them a chance to be Good Samaritans while getting their exercise.

There were two basic groups of exhibitors. Public schools and non-school groups. The non-school groups included vendors, social organizations, authors, clubs, associations, fraternities, and some other non-profits.

One thing I needed but didn't have was signage on a tripod or easel to draw attention to the display. I was on the 3rd row of tables in from the mall's main traffic flow, so unless someone actually walked down my aisle, they couldn't tell what I had.

I did get several visitors to the tables, and was also able to strike up conversations with other exhibitors.

Moment #578. An English Book of Mormon to an English-only speaking person.

Moment #579. An Indonesian Book of Mormon, plus 3 multi-lingual DVD's.

Moment #580. Tagalog/English and Hiligaynon/English pairs of the Book of Mormon, plus a Tagalog New Testament, and a Samarenyo Bible.

Moment #581. Thai Book of Mormon, Thai Liahona, and Thai/English bilingual New Testament.

There were also some people who accepted just DVD's.
- 2 DVD's to an English-speaking person (Finding Faith in Christ, and To This End was I born).
- 1 Together Forever DVD to a lady who spoke English and Spanish.
- 3 DVD's to another English-speaking lady (Heavenly Father's Plan, Finding Faith in Christ, and Together Forever).

When the event was over, I packed up and loaded the boxes back in the truck. (I didn't have to unpack all the boxes at the exhibit, but had kept some hidden under the tables in case they were needed.) On my way out with the last trip, I met the Thai lady.

I drove home, unloaded the 30 boxes, drove to the Uhaul, checked out, got my car, and drove home. Took a shower, and went to church for a wedding reception for some friends.

I decided not to load all the "standard" books back into the car as I was tired. They were still separated as my "car boxes" as opposed to "home inventory boxes". But I figured it was just going to be for a few hours and I would risk it.

Then Murphy's law happened. I did need them after all. Twice. After the reception, I stopped at the gas station near the church, and recharged my pre-paid gas card (you get a 4% discount that way, almost 12 cents/gallon now). However, their gas was 10 cents a gallon more expensive than another station of the same brand on my way home. So I didn't buy gas there. But I did see two men who looked like African immigrants. There was an opportunity to say something to one of them outside the gas station, but I didn't take advantage of it. I had some pass-along cards in the car, but that was all, and I didn't think of them at the time.

So I drove home, and stopped at the other station on the way where the gas was 10 cents/gallon cheaper. As I was filling up, an African-looking man with an accent asked me for directions. Argh! I still didn't remember I had pass-along cards, but I gave him one of my business cards, and said I'd get him a New Testament and another book from my church in one of the languages he spoke.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Moment #577. Chinese declined. Thu, May 11, 2006.

05/11/2006. Tonight I had supper at the buffet that I found while returning from an out-of-town trip on May 9th. (#576)

No interest was shown when I had the books out on my table while I was eating. I approached a couple of the employees behind the cashier's counter after I was done eating. I didn't even get to explain the bilingual nature of the books before the younger one politely declined saying they were Buddhist. She explained something in Chinese to the older lady. I didn't detect any curiosity on her part, so I didn't press or even try to explain the bilingual nature and benefit of a Chinese and an English translation. I was the only customer, so I didn't waste anyone else's time.

On Tuesday evening, I had felt I was prompted to this location. So my thoughts are that I either messed up, or went to the wrong restaurant in this strip, or perhaps only the offer itself, though declined, was what was called for. There was another restaurant, an American-style chain store not an ethnic restaurant, nearby. I plan on going to it in the near future and see if that may have been the intended destination.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Moment #576. Spanish at liquor store. Tue, May 9, 2006.

05/09/2006. This one was weird, but at least the prompting rose to the level where it was obvious. It was about 11:00pm. I was on my way back from the other city where I had met the man from Central America and his girlfriend from Russia in a friend's store. I stopped at a couple gas stations hoping to find opportunities for book placements, and didn't see any.

At one point there was a Burger King along the main drag. I felt a tug to go there, and checked it out, but it had just closed. As I write this, I wonder if it meant that I was to go back at a later date, or maybe this was a "timing detour" to set up another appointment along the way.

I continued home, and passed by another little commercial area consisting of some stores, a gas station, and liquor store. The idea occured to me that "there's someone in that liquor store who's ready for a Book of Mormon." In my mental scenario, I made that remark to an imaginary passenger. It didn't occur to me that the person in the liquor store, probably the cashier, would be someone whose main language was other than English.

As I kept driving along, my conscience said "If that's true, why don't you stop there? You could just buy some ice or pop." It was a limited access highway, and it was still a little while to the next intersection, so I started to analyze my feelings. As I debated, I got the "antsy" feeling. I really didn't want to go to a liquor store, but as I pondered ignoring the idea, I got a feeling of guilt. I pondered going back, and I got a feeling of peace. "Okay," I decided, "I'm going back." Yes, that felt good. I got in the left turn lane to do a U-ey, and I saw another commercial zone on the cross street. A liquor store there "stood out." Oh geez, I thought. Was I "ginning up" promptings about liquor stores now? Anyway, I did feel a spiritual "tug" to the commercial zone on that cross street, so it might not necessarily have been that 2nd liquor store, but another store there. I made a mental note to reconnoiter that area on my way back.

I made the U-turn, and headed back to the first liquor store. I was expecting to talk to a regular English speaker there, and I mentally rehearsed offering a Bible and a Book of Mormon. But I first drove around and checked the other stores and gas station in that commerical area. Sometimes the Spirit tugs me to point "A," which I can see, in order to get me to point "B," which I can't see, but going to point "A" puts me in position to see "B". All the other places were closed, so I became confident that the liquor store was the intended destination.

I grabbed a bag of ice from the freezer outside, and took it in to pay for it.

The cashier was from Mexico and spoke Spanish! No one else was there, so I could make a presentation. He owned a Spanish Bible, but not an English one. He was willing to accept an English Bible and Spanish/English Books of Mormon.

Back in my drinking days, I never met an Hispanic cashier at a liquor store. I wouldn't have thunk it. But guess what. The Spirit was right about someone at that store who was ready for a Book of Mormon.

Just to cover the bases, I brought back in a Reina-Valera 1960 full Bible, an NVI (Nueva Version Internacional) Spanish New Testament, an NIV (New International Version) English New Testament, a Spanish Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon. Yeah, it was a bit overwhelming for him, but he didn't have any of those versions of the Bible. He said he attended a Catholic church in Indy. Spanish speaking Catholics generally use a Bible with the Apocrypha, such as Dios Habla Hoy (formerly VersiĆ³n Popular). The Reina Valera and NVI don't have the Apocrypha.

I presented the Bibles, then stepped aside for two other customers. After they paid, I then presented the Spanish and English copies of the Book of Mormon. We chit-chatted for a bit, but it was close to closing time. I invited him to church, and pointed out the Spanish branch on the info flyer in one of the books.

Yeah, it was weird, and out of the ordinary. But the Spirit knew he was there and ready, and the prompting rose to the level of obvious, enough to overcome my reluctance to do something I would not have thought wise.

On my way home I stopped at that commercial area at the next cross street, and drove around it. I couldn't have seen it from the main drag, but there was a Chinese restaurant there. The "tug" was probably for it. That second liquor store on the cross street was just a "go to point A so you can see point B" thing. The Lord can use places that we can see to get us to places that we can't see.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Moment #575. Russian at store. Tue, May 9, 2006.

05/09/2006. Still in the other town outside of Indy. I left the restaurant and headed back for home. I crossed a street that caused me to remember that someone I knew had a store on that street. I doubled back, found his store, and parked. He was sitting out front. We caught up on things.

A young couple came in, and they both spoke with an accent. He was from Central America, and she was from Russia. He lived in Indy, so we chatted a bit, and I told him our church has a Spanish-speaking congregation. I gave him my card, and asked him to email me, but he said he wasn't good at email, and would rather just write it down. I went out to my car to get the Indy "info-flyer" I made up with all the chapels on it, because it indicated the Spanish branch on there. I brought back Russian and English copies of the Book of Mormon for his girlfriend.

I decided not to give him a Spanish copy, hoping that would be incentive for him to come to church. He was positive about visiting, and was not at all reluctant to receive the information.

This encounter cheered me up from having messed up the restaurant "assignment."

Moment #574. Chinese declined, sort of. Tue, May 9, 2006.

05/09/2006. I got to the other town, and the ethnic restaurant that I had in mind, the one I thought I was supposed to go to was not there. Another one was in it's place. I was confused. I drove around the area twice, trying to figure out what to do, but neglected to pray about it. Should I go to the restaurant that was in its place, or should I go to the Chinese restaurant a block away? I neglected to pray about it. I should have just parked somewhere and prayed, but I didn't.

I went to the Chinese restaurant. The order taker was an American guy, and the rest of the staff was Asian. About 1/3 of the customers were Asian. I ordered and sat down, and put out the two kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon, an English Book of Mormon, and a bilingual Chinese/English New Testament.

An Asian employee brought my food out, but he did not appear to understand my offer to give him a book. They were busy, so I looked for an opening to go back to the counter. But since I'd have to go through the American guy to talk to the Asian employees, I chickened out.

I concluded that I should have gone to the other restaurant. I did stop by the other restaurant just to ask to see a menu. It was a nice place, kind of upscale and expensive, but they did have Asian employees.

Moment #573. Hindi & Gujerati at gas station. Tue, May 9, 2006.

05/09/2006. I got a prompting to go to a certain city about 45 minutes away. I was online browsing a dating web site. I saw the profile of someone from that city. It wasn't her, but it was the city. When I saw the city name, I knew I had to go there, this evening. I had previously done research on some ethnic restaurants there, and had printed out a list. So I grabbed the list, looked at it, and one of the restaurants stood out. That's where I was supposed to go, or so I thought.

On the way there, I stopped at a couple gas stations. No promptings, but just to see if I could make an opportunity for a book placement. The 3rd stop was at a brand of gas station that is often owned or operated by people from the Middle-East. I pulled in, and noticed an ethnic-looking man standing outside. Bingo. I buy a newspaper, and ask him where he's from. He was from India and spoke Hindi. I brought in a Hindi and an English copy of Book of Mormon. Then I found out he and his wife speak Gujerati, so I went back out to the car and brought in Gujerati and English copies of the Bible. He eagerly and graciously accepted them. He was truely grateful. He was reluctant about accepting the English copies. He said he didn't read English very well, but when I explained about reading them in parallel to improve English, he caught the idea quickly.

Who is my neighbor? He died, and I didn't know it.

05/09/2006. I knew he was in the hospital a while back. I knew he was house-bound. Today I found out he passed away sometime in April. I was going to stop by to ask if I could visit him. I was going to offer to loan him some DVDS from my movie collection and some church DVDs. I was going to tell him that his kids were the best behaved in this courtyard. I could'a. I would'a. I should'a. I didn't.

In March I thought about telling one of the elderly sisters in the ward how much she meant to me, and how much I admired her. She does a lot of service for others. She's the only member in her family. I wanted to say to her that I wanted to tell her to her face what a good example she was so I wouldn't be at her funeral (some time in the future) telling people how much I regretted not having said it to her face.

Well, she's still living, but one of her sons died. How much more that would have meant to her having heard that before her son died.

I need to write "Christmas in July" (or May) cards and letters, and tell the people I admire that I admire them, and why. I don't want to be at someone's funeral regretting that I didn't tell them, in this life, how much they meant.

Moment #572. Beautiful East-African women at the laundromat. Mon, May 8, 2006.

05/08/2006. East Africa produces some of the most beautiful women in the world. Supermodels Iman and Waris Dirie are from Somalia. Liya Kebede and Esti Mamo are from Ethiopia.

There are many people in Indianapolis from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Eritrea is North of Ethiopia, and used to be part of it at one time.

Tonight was a late-nighter at the all-night laundromat down the street. When I started my wash there was a lady to whom I think I had given material before. But she was busy with her laundry and three highly energetic small children. I didn't talk to her tonight.

After I put my wash in the dryers, two young-adult women came in. They looked like they were from East Africa. They were very busy using different sized washers and running between them. But they ended up using dryers close to mine. That was perfect. I could start a conversation without leaving my space or encroaching on their space.

I spoke to the girl using the dryer near me. They were from Eritrea and spoke Tigrinya as their main language, but they also spoke and read Amharic. I said my church has books in Amharic, that they're free, and I had some in my car. She agreed to see them. I brought in two Amharic and two English copies of the Book of Mormon, and one Amharic and one English copy of Gospel Fundamentals. (I only had one Amharic Gospel Fundamentals in the car, but had more back home.) On seeing the title, she said she was Catholic, but she still accepted them. She accepted the other pair of Books of Mormon for her friend. She liked the idea that you could cross reference them with chapter and verse. Her friend came over, and I got to practice a couple of words in Amharic.

I forgot that I had two copies of the Amharic New Testament in my car.

After I got home, I pondered whether to go back and give the other girl a pair of Amharic and English Gospel Fundamentals. I debated a little bit, and decided to go for it, and also give them the Amharic New Testaments.

I went back and they were still there, and I presented the other books, so they each now had an Amharic New Testament, English and Amharic Books of Mormon, and English and Amharic Gospel Fundamentals.

They asked what the Book of Mormon was about, so I gave the 30 second synopsis using the pictures in the front.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Moment #571. At a restaurant. Sat, May 6, 2006.

05/06/2006. At a restaurant, one person, two books, their native language plus English.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Moment #570. French / Wolof outside bank. Fri, May 5, 2006.

05/05/2006. I was leaving the ATM at the bank heading back to the parking lot. There was an African-looking man walking from the parking lot towards the bank. I wasn't quite quick enough and we passed each other, so I turned and said "excusez-moi". He turned around, and I asked if he spoke French. He was from Senegal and spoke French and Wolof. He agreed to see the books I had in French and Wolof. We went back to my car and I gave him French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and Wolof and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals. He was a young adult going to a local college. He helped me practice a some French and a little Wolof.

Moment #569. Chinese at Restaurant. Fri, May 5, 2006.

Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon
05/05/2006. I had lunch at a Chinese restaurant that I haven't been to for almost two years. I had supper there in June 2004. The staff was completely different, so I figured it had new owners.

The waitress saw the Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon on the table when she brought my food, but I spaced it and didn't say anything.

After eating I took them to the cashier's counter, and presented them. The one lady I spoke with read both Traditional and Simplified Script, so I gave her both copies, plus an English copy, and a multi-lingual "Together Forever" DVD. There were at least 4 adults there, so I probably could have given them more. They were gracious about accepting them, but not overly excited.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Grace and Works. Salvation as a process.

From a comment by Mark Butler (II) on the Millennial Star blog:

Aristolelian logic is the bane of theology. These things come in degrees - one is not in grace one day and out of it the next - the Spirit is the very evidence of grace, and it comes in degrees.

Salvation is a process, not an event. The spirit of grace is evidence that we are moving in the right direction. Surely it would make no sense for God to pour down his choicest blessings on those purposely willing to continue in sin. So instead he withdraws to a degree, waiting for the opportunity to smile on his errant children once again.

We cannot be saved by grace alone - no change in our character would be effected. We cannot be saved by works alone - salvation is a gift. Faith unto repentance is the key that opens the door.

We have to get in the car and drive, and the Lord will provide the fuel like manna from heaven on a day by day basis. It is irrational to expect the Lord to subsidize sordid side trips. It is equally irrational to expect him to do the driving, just because he doubles as navigator from time to time.

As the scripture says, it is by grace we are saved through faith. No mere assent - the Lord will not turn the steering wheel nor force any man to heaven. However, he will provide the fuel as well as navigational assistance, whenever we are inclined to journey in his direction, even if only haltingly at times.
~ Mark Butler (II) | 05/04/06 04:33

Moment #568. French-Haitian Creole at store. Thu, May 4, 2006.

05/04/2006. I went to a nearby store to use a gift card that came as a rebate on a previous item I purchased there. My cashier spoke fluent English, but with an accent. After I paid, I said "I don't recognize your accent. Where are you from?"

He said he was from New York City, but originally from the Caribbean. He was from Haiti, and spoke French and Haitian Creole. I said I had the Book of Mormon in French and Haitian Creole in my car, and asked if I could give them to him. He said sure.

I went out and retrieved them, plus an English copy, and an issue of the French Liahona. He was helping someone else by the time I got back in, but he accepted the books graciously. I'm afraid I did interrupt him and his customers in line for about 6 to 10 seconds.

The store is very close so I hope to go back and follow up. Some of my neighbors are also from Haiti and speak both French and Haitian Creole.

Moment #567. Somali at store. Thu, May 4, 2006.

05/04/2006. After leaving the restaurant we headed for the middle-eastern store, and all three of us went in. It was very small. The cashier was a young African-looking man.

I bought a couple food items for the elders. When I paid, I asked where he was from and he said Somali. I offered him a copy of our Sunday School manual (Gospel Fundamentals) in Somali. I said the book was Christian, and he was okay with that. (Many Somalis are Muslim.)

I retrieved Somali and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals and the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet from the car and presented them to him. He was a little reluctant to accept the English Gospel Fundamentals, but he did. I wrote the elders' phone number and my phone number in the pamphlet.

On the way back to their apartment, one elder told me he had a non-member friend back in Utah who was Samoan, and asked if I had a Samoan book of Mormon. I said yes. I thought it was in my trunk, but when we got to their apartment it wasn't. So I'll get it to him later.

Moment #566. Spanish x2 at restaurant. Thu, May 4, 2006.

05/04/2006. I picked up the two missionaries and took them to lunch. We were going to go to a place where I had taken the previous elders and had placed books before. This was going to be a follow-up. On the way there I noticed a middle-eastern type grocery store that I hadn't seen before, and made a mental note of it.

The place we intended on going to wasn't open for lunch today, so we went to one up the street. I had eaten here before, but not since I started the book-placement project.

The waitress, a warm, friendly, motherly, middle-aged woman, was fluent in English and Spanish. She first spoke English to us, but I said, in Spanish, that we needed to practice Spanish. The two elders had both been in the 9-week MTC Spanish program. They serve both in our English-speaking ward, and in the Spanish-speaking branch that meets in our building.

I had set out a stack of book on our table, English and Spanish New Testaments, English and Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon with the latter on top. When we were done eating, there were no other customers there, so it was a perfect opportunity to engage the waitress and cashier in conversation.

As the waitress walked by, one elder pointed to the Spanish Book of Mormon and asked her a question. The waitress politely said she was Catholic. Her reply was more informative, not contrary to dismissive. It left open further conversation.

So after I paid, the Elders took the 4 books and went up to the cashier and started a conversation with her and our waitress.

I still had another set of the same 4 books in a plastic bag on the chair next to me.

The Elders started out great, so I left them alone and went to the restroom. When I came back, the waitress had accepted the 4 books, and the Elders had also given the other 4 books to the cashier. Coolness.

We then headed to the middle-eastern store.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Moment #565. Swahili at gas station. Mon, May 1, 2006.

Swahili Book of Mormon
05/01/2006. After Singles Family Home Evening at church I felt like taking the long way home. Even now, I'm not sure whether it was inspiration or if it was just my own desires. I stopped at a gas station I hadn't been to before and bought some 12-packs of pop on sale. I didn't see any opportunities until I had left the store, when a man was walking from his car at the pumps towards the door of the store. We made eye contact, and I asked him if he spoke French. He didn't. I didn't continue the conversation. But something about him "stood out." This may have been a missed opportunity. Because I feel the need to blog it, it probably was.

Next stop was some vitamins/minerals on sale at CVS. Nothing happened there.

I stopped at another gas station on the way home. I had been here before, and had given the cashier Arabic and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and an Arabic/English bilingual Bible.

I can't say whether I was inpired to stop, or whether it was my own idea. Maybe I was trying too hard. I bought a newspaper and fountain drink.

I hadn't met this cashier before. He spoke with an accent, but I couldn't tell his ethnicity. His was Hindi (India) but he was from Uganda in East Africa, and spoke Luganda, Swahili, and Hindi. I told him about the other people I met from East Africa (at other locations) who spoke those languages, and he knew them!

Here's the kicker, one of those other guys had given to this man the Hindi Book of Mormon! Cool! The books get circulated!

I asked him if he would like the Swahili and English versions, and he said sure. So I went out to the car and brought them in. I pointed out my card and the info flyer in them. Then we practiced a little Hindi before I left.

Labels: ,

Moment #564. Chinese at Singles Family Home Eve. Mon, May 1, 2006.

05/01/2006. One of the regulars, R, at our Singles Family Home Evening brought a non-member friend who is from China. R knew that I keep Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon in my car, so he had prepared his friend to receive one, and they asked me for a copy. I gave him a Simplified Chinese and an English Book of Mormon, and a bilingual Chinese/English New Testament. I also gave him a couple videos that have Mandarin audio tracks, "Heavenly Father's Plan" and "Together Forever".

Missed opportunity at Post Office. Mon, May 1, 2006.

05/01/2006. There were two ladies in out lobby at the Post Office who looked like they may have been from Africa. We made eye contact. But I chickened out and didn't start a conversation. They entered the inner lobby, and still were waiting in line by the time I was done browsing my mail. I could have loitered, either inside or outside, but that would have been too obvious, and may have appeared too aggressive. I had hesitated and the moment was lost.