Thursday, November 30, 2006

English at gas station. Thu, Nov 30, 2006.

11/30/2006. 763. I was on my way home late at night, and felt a "tug" to stop at a gas station that I haven't been to before. I recently moved, and had just finished cleaning the old apartment. There are lots of places near my new home that I haven't visited yet.

The cashier did not appear to be an immigrant or a speaker of a foreign language. There were no other customers in the store, so I assumed that if what I felt was really a prompting, then she was the person who I was supposed to meet.

After I paid and as she was about to give me back change, I said something like "I like to give out Bibles. Do you need a Bible? They're free." She replied that she did need a Bible. I asked if she'd like a King James Version, or a more modern translation. She said the King James version. I offered her a Book of Mormon to go with it, saying that my church believed in both, and she agreed to accept the Book of Mormon too. I said I'd get them from my car.

I didn't have my paperback bibles with me, as I had taken the boxes of bibles out of the car to make room to bring back stuff from my old apartement. So I got out a large-print LDS King James Version bible that I bought on sale from the Distribution Center for only $6.50, which I had in one of the boxes of Books of Mormon.

I went back in and presented them to her, and showed her the list of local chapels, and the Mission Office number if she'd like more information about the church. She asked if we had a Christmas program, and I mentioned that there was a Christmas musical program coming up December 9th. I suggested she call the Mission Office for more info, but I also gave her my card with my name/number.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Croatian at restaurant. Tue, Nov 28, 2006.

11/28/2006. 762. It was around supper time, and I had the idea to go to one of the suburbs of Indy and look for a Chinese restaurant. I knew the general area where the restaurant was located, and took the road that goes there. Along the way, I passed a certain gas station and felt a spiritual tug to go there.

I bought some bottled water, as I've cut way back on soda. The cashier was an English-speaking lady. So I wondered what the "tug" was for. Sometimes, it's just a "timing loop" so that I arrive at the next stop at the appropriate time to meet someone. There was a restaurant in the same strip mall as the gas station, and it's name denoted a certain area of Europe, so I went there to investigate. The restaurant didn't stand out in my mind as I drove by, so perhaps the Spirit used what was uppermost in my mind at the time, the gas station, to grab my attention. Often in the past, the Spirit has used something I see to direct me to a place that I didn't see.

I went in to read the menu on the wall, and the proprietress spoke with a European accent, but I couldn't tell what language. I asked, and she said she was from Yugoslavia, and spoke Serbo-Croatian. I thought I had a Croatian Book of Mormon in the car, so I decided to eat there. It was a nice mom-and-pop type place, and I was the only customer.

She took my order, and I paid, and then I made my pitch, offering to show her a book from my church in Croatian. She asked what church and I replied. She agreed, so I went out to the car, and I did indeed have a Croatian Book of Mormon so I brought it, and English Book of Mormon, and Croatian and English copies of the Joseph Smith testimony pamphlet.

She was curious, and started flipping through it, and asked where the church was, and I pointed out the nearest chapel on the list of chapels that I include on an 'info flyer' that I put in all my books.

I sat down to wait for my order, and in a few minutes she also came over and sat at my table to ask more questions. I love that casualness in small mom-and-pop restaurants.

She said she wanted to find a Croatian Bible too. She said she was Catholic, but when I asked, she had neither a Croatian nor an English Bible. I pointed out the phone number for the International Bible Society that I had stamped on one of the info flyers. As I write this, I checked and they don't have one, but the American Bible Society does, so I'll have to follow up.

I went out to the car and retrieved an LDS edition King James Bible that I bought on sale, and a paperback New International Version from IBS. I ended up giving her the paperback as she said she didn't read English very well.

Throughout my stay at the restaurant, she was conversing with "Pop" in Croatian.

It was a very pleasant encounter, and the food was good. Friends can email me for the name/location.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Igbo at convenience store. Mon, Nov 27, 2006.

11/27/2006. 761. Still on my way towards home, I felt a "tug" to stop at a certain convience store. I thought I'd buy a paper, but they were out, so I made an impulse buy of something I could use or give away anyway.

The cashier was a dignified black man, wearing a sweater that looked of foreign origen, and he spoke with a dignified accent.

I said I didn't recognize his accent, and I asked where he was from. He said he was from Africa. I asked which country, and he said Nigeria. I asked if he was Igbo or Yoruba, and he said Igbo.

There were other customers behind me in line, so I shortened the conversation, and said I'd get something from my car and be back.

Murphy's Law again, as I didn't have my Book of Mormon inventory in my car. However, I did have an Igbo copy of the Prophet Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet. So I brought in that, plus the English, and got another custom-made pass-along card out of my wallet, along with my personal calling card.

I went back in, and got in line. There were several people ahead of me, and when it was my turn, there were at least a couple people behind me, so I wanted to make it short. He may have wanted to converse more, but I just presented the pamphlets and cards, and encouraged him to call the number on the pass-along card for an Igbo copy of the book. I even wrote "Igbo" in the blank upper-right corner of the card.

It definitely piqued his interested, and he would have chatted more, but I didn't want to tick off the other customers. I suppose I could have waited around until there was a lull in business.

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Chinese x 2 at buffet. Mon, Nov 27, 2006.

11/27/2006. 760. On my way home from the nursing home, I felt "tugged" into a strip mall containing two restaurants that I've been to before. At first I thought it was to the Thai restaurant, since I've recently been to the Chinese buffet there. I parked, and then remembered that I didn't have any Thai copies of the Book of Mormon, nor any Thai Liahonas. I was about to leave, but then I felt a strong tug to the Chinese buffet, even though I've recently been there. It then dawned on me that the evening staff might be different than the day staff, or that I could still have a different waitress even if the staff was the same.

I had taken my boxes of books out of the car, but had left in the Chinese book bag, so that was do-able.

My waitress was indeed someone to whom I had never offered a book, so it worked out. I put them on the table, and while retrieving food, and looking back, I could tell she went by just to read the titles.

On one of her trips to remove my used plate, I made the offer, and I also used the phrase that one of the commenters on this blog taught me, "gay nee," which means "give you." That seemed to help, and she accepted the simplified script copy and an English copy.

On another trip back, I offered her another pair for a friend, and she accepted a traditional scrip Chinese copy and an English copy for a friend from Hong Kong.

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Filipino at nursing home. Mon, Nov 27, 2006.

11/27/2006. 759. I went to visit someone at a nursing home in the next town over. His roommate was receiving some kind of therapy, and while waiting on the therapy machine, the therapist was free to chat. I mentioned something about his name, which was prominently displayed on his name tag, and asked where his family was from. He said the Philippines. I asked, in Tagalog, if he spoke Tagalog, and he did, plus a couple other languages. We chit-chatted about the local Filipino club and other stuff.

Due to moving, I didn't have my Book of Mormon inventory in my car. I normally have all the Filipino language Books of Mormon in my car. Murphy's Law. So I gave him one of my custom-made pass-along cards* and my calling card, that I keep in my wallet. I said I'd bring some copies of the Book of Mormon next time I visited, and leave them for him at the front desk if he wasn't there.

When he had to go back to working on my friend's roommate, I switched back to conversing with my friend.

* The church's pass-along cards are an odd-size, and are not convenient for men to carry in their wallet. So I went online to Office Depot and used one of their online standard templates, and designed one, and bought two boxes of 1000 for $15.99 per box, including shipping. You design it and see a proof online, and they ship directly to you. No need to go to the store.

I chose the template that has a main line, a small line under the main line, and text in the four corners.

The main line says: Free Book of Mormon (use a large point size)
The sub-main line says: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The upper left corner says: From The Church / of Jesus Christ / of Latter-day Saints
The lower left corner says: Available in over / 100 languages.
The upper right corner says:
The lower right corner says: Indianapolis: 317-802-9650 / Toll Free: 888-537-2200
( / = line break )

That's the Indianapolis Mission office, and that 888 number is on the church's official Book of Mormon pass-along card.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Polynesian copies to Tongan elder. Sun, Nov 26. 2006.

11/26/2006. Journal Entry. There's an elder from Tonga serving in the ward that I just moved to. I saw him last week and offered to give him copies of the Book of Mormon in Polynesian languages, with the stipulation that he keep them when he's transfered, and always keep them in their car in order to give them out to anyone who speaks those languages. The books are labeled for quick access and in zip-lock plastic bags to keep them clean.

The Polynesian languages that have a Book of Mormon translation are:
Bislama, Chamorro, Fijian, Hawaiian, Kiribati, Maori, Marshallese, Neomelanesian, Niuean, Palauan, Pohnpeian, Rarotongan, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, Trukese, Yapese.

Hawaiian at church. Sun Nov 26, 2006.

11/26/2006. 758. I met a lady from Hawaii at church who is taking the missionary lessons from the sister missionaries. She speaks Hawaiian, and agreed to receive a Hawaiian copy. I got it out of my car and caught up with her after the meetings and gave it to her in the parking lot.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Spanish at restaurant. Sat, Nov 25, 2006.

11/25/2006. 757. I had supper at a Mexican restaurant with Karaoke in the front dining area. There was a bar in back. I was the only customer in the dining area. There were a few Hispanic men eating supper at the bar. My waitress accepted a Spanish Bible and a Spanish Book of Mormon, but was not interested in the English copies.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chinese at restaurant. Lunch. Fri, Nov 24, 2006.

11/24/2006. 756. I've been to this restauarant before. I went in and put my book bag on a booth seat and my Ensign magazine on the table top. It looks like it's been remodeled, and there are different people working there now, so it might be under new ownership. I placed my order at the counter, and struck up a conversation with the lady right there. She spoke Cantonese, and I offered her a free video. I was intending to give her "Together Forever" but when I went back to my book bag, it wasn't in there, so I had to go back out to my car.

I gave her the multi-lingual "Together Forever" and the "Finding Happiness" DVD's, and a traditional script Chinese Book of Mormon. She enthusiastically accepted them, and started flipping through the Book of Mormon right away. I forgot to offer her an English Book of Mormon, so I hope I remember to go back and follow up in the near future.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chinese x 3 at buffet. Wed, Nov 22, 2006.

11/22/2006. Journal entry. I had lunch at a buffet that I haven't been to in a while. I'm not sure if I had the same waitress as before who declined to receive material. I placed three Books of Mormon on the table (Chinese, Chinese Simplified, and English), and the waitress saw them, but I made no verbal presentation. This place was pretty nice and reasonably priced with the coupon that I used. I thought I was prompted to go there, but either I was mistaken, or I blew an opportunity, or maybe just having the books "on display" may have been okay.

11/22/2006. 755. I had supper at a different buffet. I was on my way home from doing errands, passed by this place, and this seemed like a prompting too. This restaurant was not as upscale as the one I had lunch at. There was only one waitress and she was working pretty hard taking care of the dinner crowd. I placed the same three books on the table. When she came by I made the presentation, and she was interested, or at least curious. I didn't want to engage her too long since she was busy, but I also offered her more pairs for other employees. She was from mainland China, and I only had three copies in Simplified characters (catalog suffix -266), so I offered her two more for the others. She accepted them, and took them back to her waitress station before continuing on with work. She showed them and explained them to one of the other employees.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vietnamese declined at restaurant. Mon, Nov 20, 2006.

11/20/2006. 754. I invited my young friend, who was baptized Saturday night, to lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant. Eating here was mainly because a) I haven't tried this restaurant before, b) it has a good reputation, c) part of my book-placement project, d) Vietnamese noodle soup is similar to the dish my friend served me once when I ate at his home, e) to let my friend experience sharing the Book of Mormon, and f) just spend some time with him.

He's not from Vietnam, but today I learned that he loves Vietnamese cuisine, has some Vietnamese friends with whom he has lost touch since moving here, and used to frequently eat at Vietnamese restaurants when he lived in another state. He knew exactly what to order, how to operate the chopsticks, added the bottled sauces from the table, and attacked his meal with gusto.

After ordering, but before the food arrived, I put a Vietnamese and English Book of Mormon on the table. The hostess/waitress noticed them when she brought our water, but didn't react or say anything. When the waiter/bus-boy brought our food, I offered them to him, but he decined by saying he was Catholic. He didn't verbalize a "no," but his tone of voice and body English when saying he was Catholic was a strong "no thanks," and indicated he already had pre-conceived notions about the Book of Mormon or the church.

The "book in my language" factor definitely did not come into play as it usually does with speakers of other languages.

When the waitress brought me a refill on water, I offered them to her, and her response was a tight-lipped head-shake no, which also caused me to think she had pre-conceived notions too.

Oh well, it was worth a visit. The food was great. And my friend didn't know this restaurant existed, so he was happy too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Hindi at church. Sun, Nov 19, 2006.

11/19/2006. 753. Sitting in the sacrament meeting of the ward where I was visiting, there was a couple who looked like they were from India. They were not sitting with missionaries, so I assumed they were members. I found out later they were not members, but were in town visiting family. They were in-laws of the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School teacher.

Again, I broke one of my own rules by leaving and retreiving books from my car during one of the sacrament talks. I retrieved Hindi, Telugu and Tamil Books of Mormon.

When that couple passed by me (I was sitting by the door), I asked the man what languages he spoke, and he said Hindi. I asked what other languages he spoke, asking about Tamil or Telugu, and he just repeated Hindi. Usually, people from India speak Hindi, English, and one other language that is native to their region or state, such as Punjabi, Gujerati, Telugu, Tamil, Sinhala, Marathi, etc. But some people really only do speak Hindi and English. Or perhaps he didn't mention it thinking I wouldn't know about it.

He enthusiastically accepted the Hindi Book of Mormon. He and his wife sat in the front row in Gospel Doctrine class, as their sister-in-law was teaching. I could see them open the zip-lock plastic bag, and flip through the book.

After announcements, and my introduction as a visitor, the teacher asked who gave them the book, and I piped up "That was me." She asked how I knew to bring a Hindi Book of Mormon. Heh heh.


Navajo at church to member. Sun, Nov 19, 2006.

11/19/2006. 752. I was visiting another ward across town. It was almost 1:00pm and time for the meeting to start, and I scanned the chapel looking for the "right" place to sit. Placing a Book of Mormon was not on my mind, nor was I searching for immigrants. I think I was looking for other singles with whom to congregate. There was a lady sitting by herself on that bench in back near the side door, so I sat between her and the door.

She did happen to be non-caucasian, but I couldn't figure out if she were a Pacific Islander or Hispanic. Eventually I just asked her what languages she spoke other than English. She said Navajo. I asked if she both read and spoke it, and she replied that she only spoke it, and couldn't read it.

I think I told her about the Navajo Book of Mormon, but I forget what her response was. I didn't say I had one with me, or make an actual offer. At some point during the announcements, I retrieved a Navajo Book of Mormon (Selections, not the whole thing), and a set of audio cassette tapes of the Navajo Book of Mormon Selections, from the car.

I kept the audio cassettes of the Navajo translation in the car, because I've already met another Navajo lady who spoke but didn't read Navajo. So I wanted to be prepared for the next time. Well, today was the next time. Perhaps reading/writing Navajo is or wasn't taught in some Navajo schools, or else I just encountered people from families who were not living on a reservation, and only verbally taught the language to their children.

By the time I got back to the chapel, the sacrament hymn had just begun.

I don't like it when other people talk during the sacramental hymn, or during the sacrament, so I contained my excitement and did not offer her the book and tapes until after the sacrament, and then gave them to her. She immediately started flipping through the Navajo Book of Mormon.

I suggested she could listen to the tapes while reading the book, and learn to read that way.

So in addition to breaking the Sabbath by buying gasoline, I broke two of my rules by exiting and returning after the meeting had begun, and by talking to her while a speaker was giving a talk.

Navajo is written in the Roman (a-b-c) alphabet. I believe that the pronunciation rules are simpler for most other languages than for English. So it shouldn't take much time for her to learn the pronunciation of the written words and read by sounding things out.

She asked for my name and phone number, so I gave her one of my cards. I believe she was a member because she was reading a marked-up quad combination scriptures.

Broke the sabbath, but gave out a Hindi copy. Sun, Nov 19, 2006.

11/19/2006. 751. I forgot to put gas in the car last night. I had enough gas to get to church and back this morning, but I needed to cross town to visit another ward in the afternoon, and then go to a fireside at our chapel tonight. So my sin of omission last night led to me buying gas this morning. I wasn't running late, but didn't want to cut it close, so I picked out a gas station that would be on the right hand side of the road, so that making a two left turns on the main thoroughfare wouldn't delay me. I chose one for which I have a pre-paid gas card. Maybe paying at the pump instead of the cashier makes it less of a violation of the sabbath.

Before I got to the intended gas station, someone called me on my cell phone, and I passed up that gas station while on the phone before I realized it. After we hung up, I chose another "right hand side" station, and figured I could use my debit card.

I paid at the pump, bought enough gas, but the pump said to see cashier for the receipt. I thought: okay, so this will be a "good enough excuse" to offer the cashier a Book of Mormon. This station is part of a chain that often employs people from India and Pakistan. I've given out books here before.

After the cashier gave me the receipt, there was no one else in line, so I asked him if I had given him one of my blue books before. He said no. I asked, and he said he spoke Hindi. So I offered him a Hindi Book of Mormon, and he agreed to see it.

I retrieved a Hindi copy and an English copy of the Book of Mormon from the car and went back in and gave them to him. I pointed out the list of languages on the back of a flyer I put in the books, and suggested he could call the phone number listed if he knew anyone who wanted books.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Contact to investigator to convert. A baptism! Sat, Nov 18, 2006.

11/18/2006. Yes! He got baptized tonight! A young man who investigated the church got baptized. (I don't want to give his country of origin or other identifiers in order to respect his privacy.)

He has friends in other cities who are members. I was not his first contact with the church. But I think I was his first contact in Indianapolis when I gave him a pair of Books of Mormon, and he started formally investigating here. While receiving the missionary lessons, he was very accepting and a "golden investigator". He was so golden that I kept thinking something was going to happen and he'd change his mind.

Earlier this week, I made contact with a member in a nearby ward who served a mission in this man's home country. The RM moved into this area just a few weeks ago. He and his wife attended the baptism tonight. He spoke to the new member and his family in their native language.

Wow. Wow. Wow. I am so happy for this man, and for the ward.

The only tinge of sorrow is on my part. As I sat in the baptismal service, I felt about 2 inches tall knowing I was unavailable to perform the ordinance of baptism if he had requested it of me, as I have not been rebaptized myself yet. But such feelings should serve well to remind me not to stray off the path in the future.


Japanese at Kroger. Fri, Nov 17, 2006.

11/17/2006. 750. I was in the Kroger parking lot at the end of the previous encounter. I went back in to do my shopping, and checked out at the U-scan, where the customer scans his purchases at a self-serve checkout. These checkouts have touch-screens, and offer verbal instructions. I generally select the Spanish language, because the female voice used in the English instructions just gets on my nerves after a while. There is one human cashier who supervises 6 U-scan lanes. I was the only customer in the U-scans when I finished up, and the U-scan supervising cashier said something to me, and we started a conversation about the Spanish U-scan, and other languages that the U-scans might use in the future.

I segued the conversation into telling him about my contact with the lady from Africa a few minutes earlier. He had seen her too, so I told him where she was from, and that I gave her a copy of my church's Sunday school manual in her native language. He thought that was cool. He said he was studying Japanese, and wanted to get a Japanese Bible. So I offered him a Japanese Book of Mormon. I thought I had one in my car. He readily and enthusiastically agreed, so I told him I'd go get it.

When I got to my car, I looked and couldn't find it. I gave one out in September, and forgot to replace it in my car. So I went back inside, told him it wasn't in my car after all, and that I'd go home and get it. There would be enough time before he got off work.

I went back home, put away the groceries, and got two Japanese copies, one to give him, and one to re-stock my car inventory. I drove back, handed him the Japanese, and he said something like "awesome!" He accepted the English too. I wrote down the website, for the International Bible Society, where he could get a Japanese Bible. He said he and a friend were studying informally, and going to take a Japanese class at a local university. I told him there was a Japan society in town, and that he could look it up on the web, as I didn't know the URL off the top of my head.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Yoruba at Kroger. Fri, Nov 17, 2006.

11/17/2006. 749. I was heading home after helping someone in the ward load up their moving truck. I needed groceries, and was considering stopping at a Kroger's that was near my path home. However, I felt a slight impression that I should go to the Kroger's that was nearer my home, but on the opposite side of home from where I currently was, slightly out of my way. It also occurred to me that I meet more immigrants at the Kroger nearer home than the one that was near me at the time. I pondered it some, and the "tug" felt like it was to the other Kroger's. So I went there.

My hands were still dirty from helping the sister move. So inside the Kroger's I crossed over to where the customer restrooms were. As I walked past the check-out lanes, there was a black woman in regular United States-style clothing checking out. The only thing that drew my attention to her were some kind of parallel markings on her face, on both cheeks. They were too uniform to be birth marks or injuries from an assault. They appeared to be scars from intentional cuttings. I mentally bet that she was from Africa. I have never seen such marks on African-Americans. Though I haven't seen such marks on Africans in person either, only on people in documentaries on TV, and then, not exactly those. Anyway, it was worth a gamble.

I couldn't approach her while she was paying at the check-out, and it would have been too noticeable and awkward to back up and catch her as she was going out, though maybe I should have. I continued on to the restroom, washed hands, went back, but she had left the store. So I went out to the parking lot, saw her, and fast-walked. Fortunately, she was only 2 parking spaces from my car (coincidence?), so by going to my driver's side door, I could speak to her without invading her space, and without leaving my car's space. Now the approach could be copasetic and non-threatening.

I think my conversation starter was "Are you from Africa?" She said Nigeria. I asked "Do you speak Igbo or Yoruba?" She said Yoruba. I asked if she had a Yoruba Bible (as I think I had one in the car) and she said yes. She approached me a little, so I took that as my permission to approach too, and left my car's space to be at a more normal speaking distance with her.

Then I said our church has a Sunday school manual in Yoruba, and offered it to her, and she was very interested and agreed to see it. I got it out of my car, along with the English edition, and took them back to where she was standing. She was very excited to see it, and very grateful when I gave it to her. I pointed out the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets (in both Yoruba and English) I had with them, and also the list of local chapels. She said she'd visit our church some day, and I asked her to call me or the church office number if she liked what she read and wanted to know more.

It was a very pleasant encounter, and it made her very happy.

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Follow-up (Korean) at dry cleaners. Fri, Nov 17, 2006.

11/17/2006. Follow-up from Wednesday (747). I went to pick up my dry-cleaning. Previously, I had given the lady two issues of the Korean Liahona. Today, I took in a Korean VHS tape of "The Lamb of God,"...

(You can't order it on the web, you have to phone it in. To see what all material is available in Korean, order the "Korean Language Materials Listing". It's a few pages long. For the life of me, I don't know why they don't offer it as a PDF of MS-Word download. English, Spanish, and French, you can order off the web. But for everything else, you have to order a hard-copy printout of the list for that language, then phone in (or mail in) your order. Ack. That's so frustrating for a compu-geek like me. Or they could just go whole-hog and put everything on the web.)

and I took in a multi-lingual "Together Forever" DVD, that has a Korean audio track on it.

For some reason I was too scared to offer the Korean and English copies of the Book of Mormon. Something, I'm not sure what, influenced me to go slower.

She asked what church they were from, and I showed the name of the church on the back of the DVD case, but it was in English. Her English seemed a bit limited, so communication seemed difficult and unsure. Anyway, I probably will go back there in the future, so there are more opportunities for placement. Or, I might get another local member to offer the books.

She did ask if there were Koreans at our church. I said that there were a lot members in Korea, but I didn't know of any locally. I don't know if she understood me to mean there were a lot of American Mormons in Korea, or a lot of Korean Mormons in Korea. There are a lot of Korean members of the church in Korea.

There are a good number of Korean churches and congregations in the greater Indianapolis area. They include Catholic, Baptist, and non-denominational Protestant. A while back I visited the non-denominational Korean church of a friend and client. They had a separate main-service and Sunday School for English speakers though. They had hired an English-only speaking pastor to preach in the English service, and teach the adult English Sunday School. After the meeting they had a lunch with excellent Korean cuisine, and I'm proud to say I ate a serving of all that was offered, including the seaweed soup, which their English-speaking pastor didn't try.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The idea catches on with friends. Thu, Nov 16, 2006.

11/16/2006. Journal entry. I received an email from the wife of a couple I know. She asked for a couple of Vietnamese Books of Mormon to take to a restaurant. They've already been there at least once, and they have already agreed to receive them. I met the couple tonight at church and sold the books to them for them to take to that restaurant on their next trip there.

Chinese at restaurant. Thu, Nov 16, 2006.

11/16/2006. 748. I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that I haven't been to before. It's in a strip mall, but a bit nicer than a typical strip mall Chinese restaurant. I sat down and the waitress took my order. By the time she came back with my water, I had the Chinese Book of Mormon out, and made my presentation. Before she could respond, the phone rang, so she had to go back and answer it.

When she brought my food out, she started talking about polgyamy as if the church currently practiced it, and my hopes sank. I tried to respond, but it's difficult to respond to those concerns with just a sound bite. I wasn't sure if she had preconcieved notions, or someone in the kitchen had just then given her a quick fill-in. She talked about reading the Bible every day, and how she reads both the English and the Chinese Bibles. But she didn't have a parallel bilingual Bible with both translations in one. I had run out of the inexpensive Chinese/English bilingual New Testaments, and didn't have any with me. I gave her the web site for the International Bible Society, and informed her she could get a two-in-one Bible with both translations from them. (They have a $3.50 paperback bilingual New Testament, and a $20 hardcover bilingual full Bible.)

On her next trip back to my table she asked some questions. At this point she was curious, whereas during the previous trip to my table she seemed to have erected a barrier. She politely asked what the Book of Mormon was about and how it differed from the Bible. So I gave the 30 second explanation.

Something happened, because she then said she'd take one, so I gave her the Simplified Script version. I also offered the English, and she accepted that too. I then offered a multilingual DVD, but she just wanted the books.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mormon Glenn Beck, daily on CNN Headline News.

Glen Beck has a daily program on CNN Headline News. He's a convert to the LDS church. It airs at 7pm ET, and repeats at 9pm and Midnight.

Korean at dry cleaners. Wed, Nov 15, 2006.

11/15/2006. 747. My regular dry cleaners were closed so I went to another place nearby. The couple operating this dry cleaners appeared Korean. And I gave them my sport jacket. I offered the Mrs. a magazine from "my church" in Korean, and another book and she agreed. I forget if I said the name of the church.

I went out and retrieved two Korean Liahona magazines, Korean and English Books of Mormon, and a multi-lingual "Together Forever" DVD, and went back in.

She accepted the magazines, but wasn't interested in the rest. I left thinking I could have done better presenting the DVD with the Korean audio track, but then remembered I'd have another chance when I went back to pick up the jacket.

Missed op at Post Office. Wed, Nov 15, 2006.

11/15/2006. Missed opportunity. I left the Post Office, got in my car and started to back out. The driver of the car next to mine then got out of his car to go inside. It appeared to me that he was from Africa, but I was already backing out. We made eye contact. He might have been someone I met before. I could have gone the six feet back into my parking spot and caught up with him, but didn't. I was afraid that going back would have made it look too contrived.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Chinese DVD declined. Mon, Nov 13, 2006.

11/13/2006. 746. I had lunch at one of my favorite nearby buffets. I've placed a couple books in the past here, but don't remember with whom. I placed a "Finding Happiness" DVD in Asian languages on my table. When the employee (the only one visible since I had come in) came by collecting plates, she didn't seem to notice it, so I offered it to her. She didn't verbalize a response, but her facial expression and body English said no, so I didn't press.

It was one of those cases where I couldn't figure out what her reluctance was about, so I didn't know how to respond. Some recent immigrants need glasses to read, and don't know how to obtain them here. So, not being able to read the title, she may have thought the DVD was in English. The title of the DVD is on the cover in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and English, but it is hard to read. So she may not have known it was in Mandarin, and assumed it was in English, and declined because she didn't understand English outside of restaurant vocabulary.

She may have remembered me from a previous visit if I had given a Book of Mormon to her, and was not interested in any more Christian material.

Or, she may already be of Christian faith, and if I had already given her a Book of Mormon, she may have mistakenly thought LDS are not Christian. This is also easy to do since the title of the Book of Mormon in Chinese reads "Mormon Bible" instead of "Mormon Book." The Chinese symbol we use in the title of the Book of Mormon is the same symbol they use for "Bible." So it's difficult to convey the idea that we use the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible, not to replace it. And I had forgotten to place a Chinese Bible on the table.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A favorite blog comment. Spiritual versus intellectual learning.

Over on the Mormanity blog, an anonymous poster, Pops, left the following comment. I think it worthy of being repeated here.

Start quote:

As I see it, there are two paths to truth: the intellectual path, or "reason", and the spiritual path.

Finding truth by either means requires great effort and rigor, given that we human beings have an almost unlimited capacity for self-deception. A casual approach to learning by either method will produce only a casual correspondence between one's "knowledge" and external truth.


One of the most important personal characteristics necessary for the discovery of truth is an awareness that one does not know it all. In addition, I suspect we would (will) be greatly surprised to find out the degree to which our tiny "knowledge" is tainted by its context -- its context being us ourselves, and the social, historical, physical, and spiritual context within which we exist. That is probably more true of our intellectual knowledge, but I suspect also true to some degree with our spiritual knowledge, or that we make distorted intellectual enhancements to our spiritual knowledge.

I believe that the spiritual pursuit of truth has vastly more promise than the intellectual pursuit. Spiritual learning places one's spirit in direct contact with external truth, whereas the intellect will always be separated from the external universe by fallible senses.

The intellectual path, while not as promising, is also very important. Most of our communications with each other reside within the domain of the intellect. We can speak of spiritual learning and spiritual experiences, but we are constrained to do so using intellectual means and in terms of the intellect.

The spiritual pursuit of truth is a difficult enterprise. Many are not aware that it exists, and it is not something that can be directly shared with others. Also, the spirit is a delicate instrument that can easily be drowned out or distorted by other influences.

Those who have not experienced spiritual learning are not likely to "get" what those who have experienced it are talking about. They may view you and your "testimony" as nothing more than irrational gobbledygook. Some believe that it is a false concept -- that it is a form of self-deception. But those who have experienced it know that it is not. Joseph Smith described it as "pure intelligence" flowing into you.

The process of learning to learn spiritually, also known as spiritual conversion, is the re-awakening of the spirit. It cannot occur in an atmopshere of hate, arrogance, fear, or contention, but only in an environment of love, humility, trust, and mutual respsect. It requires circumstances which provide opportunities for the sensing of something beyond the intellect and reason, and is enhanced by the assistance of a guide to point out what is happening, what the process is, what activities will enhance it and which will inhibit it, and, in general, how to embark on the great adventure of spiritual learning and growth.

Those who have experienced spiritual learning have a deep desire to share it with others, to teach them how to find it for themselves. It is not unlike trying to describe sight to those who have had their eyes closed since birth, if you can imagine it.

I marvel at the Savior's response to those who betrayed him, who mocked him, tortured him, and crucified him. He understood they acted out of blindness, and so he did not allow their actions to diminish his love for them. Would that I could be as he is.

End quote.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bloggernacclers take heed.

This doesn't apply to everyone of course, but it seems a good response to some of the excessive navel-gazing occasionally found in the LDS blogosphere.

From a devotional address given Tuesday, November 7, 2006, by Elder Dallin Oaks at BYU Idaho.

Quoting from the news release:

Elder Oaks spoke about the importance of living the simplicity of the gospel, not looking beyond the mark to find answers to deep doctrine questions. "There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand," Elder Oaks said.

I think it's a good reminder that the gospel is not as difficult or convoluted as we sometimes make it out to be. Yes, there is always more to learn about the nature and attributes of God and salvation/exaltation in the eternities. But I think most of our energy needs to be applied daily to the basics. I have so much to learn about the first principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I need to focus more on CTR and WWJD, Choose The Right and What Would Jesus Do, in the here-and-now.

Yet I fall into the trap of reading and commenting at other blogs where people are discussing higher doctrines that are not official doctrines or teachings of the church.

I find enough material in Gospel Principles (or here), plus the weekly Gospel Doctrine Sunday school lesson, plus the weekly Priesthood lesson, plus the monthly Ensign magazines to fill all my study needs. Add to that daily scripture study, and reading the Book of Mormon every year, I don't see how people have much time for other reading.

Before you read the latest "scholarly" and "intellectual" books on church history and doctrine (especially those books not published by the church itslef) ask yourself:

Have I read the Sunday School lesson for this week?
Have I read the Relief Society/Priesthood lesson for this week?
Have I finished reading this month's Ensign?
Have I read the scriptures today?

Maybe if I spent less time cruising and commenting in the bloggernacle, I'd have more time for reading and doing the things I know I need to read and do.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

DVD at Central American restaurant. Thu, Nov 9, 2006.

11/09/2006. 745. A friend from another city (about 2 hrs away) was in town today, being a "band mom" as her teenage daughter's school band participated in a band competition in town. After her daughter's band was done performing, she had some free time to meet me while her daughter and the other band members stayed at the venue to observe the other bands perform.

This friend is a faithful member of the church who, though a couple years younger than me, was my mentor when I first joined the church in 1982. I had joined the church in Indianapolis, but a job transfer took me to her city only a few months after I was baptized. She was the exact kind of friend that President Hinckley says every new member needs. Her apartment was "YSA central" back in those days.

Over the intervening years, she married a man from Central America, had a child, got divorced, and stayed true to the faith through it all.

After I came back to church in 2002 after my 15 year (ahem) "vacation", she was one of the first people I looked up.

So we emailed and phoned to arrange to meet today, and I picked her up near the band venue.

She had lived for a while in her husband's country in Central America, and developed a love for their people and food. There are at least two restaurants in Indianapolis owned and operated by immigrants from that country, so I included those in our eating options, and she wanted to go to one of those.

I forgot to take in books as we entered, but after we started eating, I went back outside and retrieved Spanish and English Bibles, Spanish and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a multi-lingual "Finding Faith in Christ" DVD.

My friend speaks very good Spanish, so she chit-chatted a bit with the waitress, and we ordered in Spanish. On one of her trips to check on us, I offered the books to our waitress, but she politely declined my offer, saying she already had a Bible and didn't have time to read.

After we paid her at the cash register up front, I then offered her the DVD, and she accepted it without hesitation. With so much reading material (books, magazines, and newspapers) available locally in Spanish, and all the Spanish-language channels on satellite, there is not the hunger for reading material among Spanish-speakers that there is for speakers of other languages.

In the clamshells of the DVDs that I give out, I include my card, and an info-flyer listing the local chapel addresses, meeting times, local mission office number, church web site (, and one of the church 800 numbers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Missed opportunities at a library. Wed, Nov 8, 2006.

11/08/2006. Missed opportunities. After leaving the buffet described in the previous post, I stopped at a library on my way home to check email. This was more for exploring possibilities of encounters than it was to actually check email. I checked email, then I browsed the foreign film DVD section, and even checked one out. There were two opportunities of speaking with foreign language-speaking patrons at the DVD shelves, but I blew my chances while struggling to figure out what to say.

Afterwards, as I was walking back towards my car in the parking lot two African women and a small child were heading towards the entrance, speaking French.

In the past, I've had a couple of embarrassing moments encountering people whom I've met before, and started talking to them as if it were the first encounter. So I hesitated a little trying to figure out if I had met them before, and what conversation starter to use if I had. But I delayed too much. As I passed them, the small child waved at me and said something, as if to give me a second chance at starting a conversation, but I blew it.

I need to work on more conversation starters that are comfortable whether it's our first or second meeting.

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Chinese at Buffet. Wed, Nov 8, 2006.

11/08/2006. 744. I'd been to this place before, but it was not a buffet then. I don't know if it changed owners. I put the two kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon, an English Book of Mormon, and a bilingual Chinese/English Bible on my table. The buffet was excellent and was reasonably priced.

The waitress noticed the books as she brought my drink, and cleared away plates, but she didn't say anything, and she moved too fast for me to say anything without being too awkward.

When I was eating my dessert plate, she brought the check, and later came by to collect, again with the same quick efficiency that seemed to leave me without an opening. She seemed busy with other things, and other than one or two kitchen staff, she was the only one visible, so I concluded that she wasn't trying to avoid a conversation, just very busy.

On my way out, she was behind the cashier counter, and I decided to make the approach there. Her English was sort of limited outside of restaurant vocabulary, so that may have been another reason she was not chatty.

Since I had made a book placement at this location before it changed to a buffet, I asked her if she already had the Chinese Book of Mormon as I showed it to her. She said no. I offered it (the simplified script version), and she timidly, but not reluctantly, accepted it. I offered the English edition, and at first she declined to receive it saying she couldn't read English. I suggested that reading them together might help her learn, and that seemed to change her mind, as she then accepted the English edition.

I also gave her a Chinese language newspaper aimed at restaurant owners. I had received a few copies from a lady at another church that has a Chinese outreach mission.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Finding Faith in Christ" and "Together Forever" at the auto repair shop. Tue, Nov 7, 2006.

11/07/2006. 742. This auto-repair shop has a waiting room separate from the front area, which makes it quiet and private. I sat down, and there was one of those "Judge So-and-So" courtroom shows on the TV. Two elderly African-American ladies soon joined me, and we watched two quickie trials of people done wrong by their friends and relatives, presided over by the wise-cracking judge.

I had brought along a book-bag with Books of Mormon in it because there are ethnic restaurants within walking distance of the repair shop, and I expected the repairs to go past lunch.

I was disgusted with the junk on the TV. I noticed there was a VCR player and DVD player built into the TV, and remembered that I had some church DVD's in my book-bag.

The two elderly ladies came across as quintessential "church ladies" in their bearing and demeanor. They were so sweet, just perfect loveable granny types. I decided to "go for it" and instead of changing the channel to search for a less offensive TV show, I got out the "Finding Faith in Christ" DVD and I asked the ladies if they'd like to watch a church video on the life of Christ. I had 3 various DVD titles in clam-shell cases, but also had 4 others just in CD-sleeves to save space in the bag.

I did not plan this! Honest! I was thinking of doing my normal restaurant thing, and this opportunity just presented itself.

So the three of us watched the "Finding Faith in Christ" video in the car repair shop's waiting room! Why not?

And the really cool thing is that the ladies got into it. They started quoting lines in advance of the characters, because they already knew the scriptures. I was right. I just knew they were church ladies!

When it was over, the ladies started a gospel discussion. One lady started telling me her religious history, and wanted to know about my church, so I gave them an info flyer with the local mission office number, one of the central toll-free numbers, and the list of the local chapels. The other lady talked about her travels to the Holy Land, and how that meant so much to her. I offered them the DVD, and they gratefully and enthusiastically accepted it, and I included my card.

Their car was soon ready, and the ladies departed.

11/07/2006. 743. The next group of people in the waiting room was a man, his wife, and his sister. Then an individual man, and another individual lady. The three-some was traveling through Indiana and their car had broken down. I think I was watching one of my other videos, or had just taken it out, when they came in.

I thought "It worked once, let's see if it works again." I forget how I segued into suggesting we all watch a church video, but I chose "Together Forever."

It turned out that the individual man was a pastor at a local church, and the out-of-state man was a retired minister/evangelist, so they had no problem watching a religious-oriented video. The out-of-state group got very interested in this video, especially during the second segment with the African-American couple. The retired pastor made some very confirming comments. Before it was over, he correctly guessed which church had produced it.

I offered them a free copy of the "Together Forever" video we had just watched and they gratefully and enthusiastically accepted it. They were back a little later, and the sister asked for a copy for herself, so I gave her one too. Since we had to wait a little longer, I suggested watching another. So we then started to watch the "Finding Faith in Christ" video, but they had to leave before it was over. I offered them that one too, and the sister gratefully and enthusiastically accepted it.

This whole waiting-room episode was so cool. It made the wait go by fast, and it really softened the sting of the cost of car repairs. The enthusiasm of both groups of people in watching the videos and receiving copies for themselves causes me to think the whole thing may have been arranged by Heavenly Father. It's possible. The Lord surely can turn a tragedy (having to buy a new starter) into something joyful like sharing the gospel and making five other people happy and brightening their day.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

3 investigators from China at church. Sun, Nov 5, 2006.

11/05/2006. The sister missionaries in our ward have had at least six investigators from China in the past few months. Most of them are doing advanced degree study at a local university. Four of them are still actively investigating, and three were at church today; one of them for the third time, one for the second time, and one for the first time.

One of the members in our ward, a LOLITS (little old lady in tennis shoes; hey, a former bishop taught me that acronym), had the four over for dinner, along with the sister missionaries, and an American member from the neighboring ward who speaks fluent Mandarin. That group, and hopefully a couple more, are scheduled for a group lesson Tuesday evening.

None of the above investigators were referred to the sisters by me. My only involvement has been supplying the sisters with Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles. But ya know, you can plant in one area of the garden, and the Lord can cause things to sprout in another area. We don't always see the connection between the efforts and the results. But I have faith that someday, somehow, the dots will be connected, and we'll see the big picture that the Lord sees.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Barley tea. Doctrine and Covenants 89:17

DC 89:17 "Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain."

One of my Korean customers introduced me to barley tea. You can buy it in tea bags at Asian grocery stores. I recently bought a box of 30 bags for $2.75. Each bag is enough to make 3 cups, so it works out to about 3 cents per serving. (Cheaper than herbal tea.) You can also buy roasted whole barley (usually found at Asian grocery stores too) and put it through a mill or coffee grinder and brew it in a coffee maker or one of those tea-pots with a built in strainer.

Click here for a recipe for making barley tea from whole roasted barley or how to roast your own barley from pearled barley.

It does need a sweetener though. I prefer honey or raw (turbinado) sugar.

This was brought to mind after an investigator asked our missionaries about green tea. They checked with the mission president, and said that green tea is to be avoided like black tea per the Word of Wisdom.