Moment #529. French/Swahili. Missed opportunities. Scouting. Mon, Feb 27, 2006.
02/27/2006. Whenever I feel cocky and think I have something down pat, the Lord shows me some of my weaknesses and fears.
The idea of a local road trip occurred to me as I drove home from the singles Family Home Evening at church. The general path I was to take, but not the stops, came to my mind. Not which path to take home, but where to go after I got home. After I got home and was on the computer a bit, it came again as a strong prompting. I then pondered some places to stop, and a particular gas station came to mind. I had placed Amharic material there before, so I assumed it would be Amharic again. That assumption would turn out to be wrong. I had forgotten that lesson which has been repeatedly given before. Don't assume someone's language. But the idea to go to that particular place was strong.
I threw some more books in the car and took off. I bought some hot chocolate at that gas station. When my cashier said "good evening" I replied "good evening" in Amharic. Big mistake on my part. She didn't react. She was from Kenya and spoke several languages including Sawhili. The other cashier was from Benin, and he spoke French and Malinke (for which the church has materials) and several others which the church doesn't have material. He also spoke Kisii, but it was West African Kisii, not Kenyan Kisii.
I brought in French, Swahili, Kisii, and English Books of Mormon. The second cashier was enthusiastic about seeing them. The first cashier was in the process of doing close-out stuff at her register so my conversation was mainly with the 2nd cashier. He confirmed that our Kisii Book of Mormon wasn't his Kisii. He accepted the 2nd pair of Swahili/English books to give the other cashier when she was done working.
I also discovered that I hadn't replaced the Malinke Joseph Smith Testimony in my pamphlet case in the car, so I didn't have one of those to give him.
It was interesting that when I bought the chocolate, there was a long line ahead of me, but when it came to my turn, no one else was behind me.
To get back on the Interstate, I went past another gas station. I felt "the tug" to go there, so I went in and bought a newspaper. The cashier had dreadlocks that looked a bit Caribbean. But he didn't speak any foreign languages. He was a humble man who gave off spiritual light, but I was too chicken to make an "English only" presentation.
As I left and got back in the car, I chickened out and disobeyed a prompting to talk to him more. I didn't have anything prepared to say, and seemed to have forgotten my English-only presentations of the past. I forgot that the Spirit most often doesn't give you something to say until you start talking on your own.
I'll have to go back there and see if it's still proper to make contact.
Another missed opportunity.
As I continued on the general path that had been presented to my mind, the place where I should loop back to go home came to mind. A couple more gas stations along that path then came to mind. So I made the turn-off and found out that the first station was no longer there, but a new one had gone up across the street. I bought a couple gallons of gas there, but did not see any opportunities.
I went to the next gas station on the loop-back, bought a different newspaper, and didn't see any opportunities. But as I was about to leave, I saw a taxi parked at one end of the gas station lot, with the driver inside. The Spirit indicated he was an intended contact, but I feared contacting someone while they were in their vehicle. I wrestled with the Spirit trying to convince myself I was imagining things, but the guilty feeling as I drove away confirmed what I should have done.
A scouting detour.
I got back on the Interstate and headed for home. I contemplated that my lack of humility about the first Swahili/French placement probably had something to do with not having the humility and faith to step outside my comfort zone to make the other two intended contacts.
On the way back home, I got off the Interestate to head toward the gas station where the Caribbean-looking man was working, thinking I might humble myself and still make a presentation. But as I got to the end of the exit ramp, and was about to turn left, I felt a very strong "tug" towards a strip mall or "out-lot" towards the right and across the street. I looked quickly, and couldn't see any obvious place to go like a gas station. I made the left turn anyway, and then that guilty feeling and slight sense of panic hit me.
Having disobeyed twice that night, and having twice felt that feeling of disaproval of the Spirit, I quickly decided to turn around, and made a U-turn at the next light. There was no "U turn prohibited" sign and hardly any other traffic, so I hope it was okay.
I went to that strip mall and out-lot wondering what I was supposed to find there. There were a couple of fast food joints, a bank, a Starbucks, a bar/grill, a nail salon, and, when I got close enough to make out a sign, a Chinese restaurant! That was it. Although I drive on the Interstate past that exit quite often, I had never seen or known about that restaurant. I'll have to go there for lunch soon.
By the time I got to the one gas station again, I felt as if it would be okay to go there another evening. So I went on home.
What a blessing to be able to make deliveries like that, but also what a big lesson that there is so much more to do if only I were more humble, more faithful, and more willing to step out of my comfort zone and trust the Spirit.