Thursday, June 29, 2006

Moment #631. Italian at drug store. Thu, June 29, 2006.

06/29/2006. I planned to eat at a strip-mall Chinese restaurant that I've often been to. I first stopped at a nearby drug store to buy a newspaper to read while eating. While waiting in line, I saw and heard two men at the photo print station, who looked European and who spoke English with an accent. They appeared to be race fans in town for the upcoming Formula 1 race.

One of them went off to buy something, and I asked the other if he was in town for the race. He said yes. I asked "Where are you from?" He said Montreal Canada. I asked "Parlez-vous francais?" He said "oui" and said he spoke Italian too.

When I was done paying for my paper, I went over to him, and offered him some free videos from church that were in Italian, French, and English, that I had in my car. He cheerfully agreed. I said I'd be right back.

I went out and got Together Forever, Finding Faith in Christ, and Heavenly Father's Plan from my car. I also got French, Italian, and English copies of the Book of Mormon.

When I went back in, the two gentlemen were both back at the print station. The second guy wasn't enthusiastic, but the first one was still upbeat.

The French copy of the Book of Mormon wasn't special to them, so they handed that one back, but they wanted the Italian and English copies of the Book of Mormon, along with the videos.

The first man was familiar with the church's TV commercials.

I then went over to the Chinese restaurant. I've placed copies of the Book of Mormon there before, but I took in some more, and a Chinese Liahona magazine.

After eating, I offered the magazine to the cashier/waitre, but he wasn't interested. I forgot to take in videos, but I think I've given them videos before.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Follow-up to 622. Korean. Tue, Jun 27, 2006.

06/27/2006. I went back to the Korean-owned store from last Friday the 23rd. I had given the Asian-language multi-lingual "Finding Happiness" DVD to one of the cashiers that day, and another cashier, who spoke Mongolian was interested.

I went back today with a Mongolian Book of Mormon. I showed it to her, and she thumbed through it, but she said she already had a copy from someone. I wonder if I might have given it to her, as I had been to that store before. (But my log from back then is on a crashed hard drive that I haven't recovered.)

I also remembered that sometimes people decline a book when they can't read the language. Sometimes they only speak their native language, and can't read it. So I try to be sensitive to those who don't want to volunteer that they don't read it.

Anyway, I found out she speaks Korean too, and she asked for a copy of the Korean DVD that I gave the other cashier. I ended up giving her four DVDs, Finding Happiness, Finding Faith in Christ, Heavenly Father's Plan, and Together Forever, which all have Korean audio tracks.

Moment #630. Urdu, Arabic. Tue, Jun 27, 2006.

06/27/2006. I went to try to do a follow-up at a store, and didn't find the man I was looking for. For some reason I ended up trying to drive around the opposite end of that strip mall, and that put me into position to see another strip mall that was hidden behind it. I hadn't been to the hidden one in many years and had forgotten about it.

I found another middle-eastern store there, and bought some snacks and spices. The cashier had come to America when very young, and could only speak his native language, not read it. He said he'd like to see the book I offered and I could leave it at the store in case anyone else wanted it.

Apparently, another customer overheard our conversation, and when I went out to my car to retrieve the books, he approached me, and asked for a copy for him, and one for a friend. I only had one Urdu copy in the car, and since this guy could read it, I gave it to him, and said I'd have to go home for more copies. We agreed that I'd bring the extra copy back to the store so he could pick it up on his next trip there. He spoke Arabic, so I ended up giving him Urdu, Arabic, and English copies.

I went back in and explained to the cashier that I'd have to go home and get more. So I went home, got more books, came back, and left him two Urdu and two English copies.

Who'd 'a thunk that I'd need to carry three Urdu copies in the car.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Moment #629. French - Malinke at Post Office, Mon, Jun 26, 2006.

06/26/2006. I pulled into the post office parking lot, and saw an African-looking man heading to his car in the parking lot. We approached each other naturally, going in opposite directions.

I struck up a conversation. He was from West Africa and spoke French and Malinke. I offered free material in those languages, and he agreed to see them. I got out a Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet in Malinke, French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and the "Together Forever" DVD which has a French audio track.

He didn't have time for chat-chat, but he was courteous and grateful for the encounter and the material.

Moment #628. Amharic on way to gym. Mon, Jun 26, 2006.

06/26/2006. I was driving to the gym and I passed an Ethiopian-looking man who was walking on the sidewalk. I got the feeling that I should talk to him. I tried to convince myself not to, as it would be awkward to approach him, but the feeling didn't go away. I drove to the gym, but turned around, and eventually drove to the other side of the parking lot near the street. The man started to walk through the parking lot, as if taking a shortcut to the side street. Therefore, I could conveniently pull alongside. It was not as awkward as I had thought.

I asked if he spoke Amharic, and he said yes. I asked if he had a minute, and he said okay. I offered him free books from church, and he was interested, so I said I'd park the car and show him. I then pulled ahead a few feet into a lined parking space.

I got out of my car, and first handed him an Amharic New Testament. He was interested, and then I got Amharic and English Books of Mormon from the trunk. We chatted a little bit, and then he went on his way to catch a ride with someone to his workplace.

I was still shaking a bit with excitement as I walked into the gym. The feeling of urgency that I had of the necessity of contacting him weighed upon me.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

We should obey "with exactness." Sun, Jun 25, 2006.

06/26/2006. The previous entry about giving out a lot of material to many people who were interested came about from giving an ailing man a ride to work. And that came about because I had previously met him due to heeding a prompting, even though I didn't obey "with exactness."

For brevity's sake, I didn't tell the whole story about the Spirit telling me to hurry out of Kroger. I should have gotten my frozen vegetables and then checked out, but I spent an extra 30 or 45 seconds getting some pop. Had I not detoured for the pop, I would have met the man in or in front of the Dollar General in a natural fashion, instead of having to jog to catch up with him outside the store on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I was still able to meet him.

If I had dilly-dallied any more at Kroger, perhaps just another 15 seconds, I would have missed him completely, and not had the amazing encounter described in the previous entry.

It also makes me wonder, what would have happened if I had obeyed "with exactness" and not detoured for the pop, and would have met him in a more natural manner, 45 seconds earlier, perhaps in front of other customers or employees at the Dollar General. What did I miss due to my 45 second delay in obedience?

This is a big lesson for me. The scriptural lesson about Helaman's 2000 "Stripling Warriors" and the importance of their obedience "with exactness" came to life.

Moment #627. Amharic/Arabic/Somali. Sun, Jun 25, 2006.

06/26/2006. On the way to church, I saw a man standing on the side of the road at a bus stop. It was the Ethiopian man I met on June 17th. I had given him Amharic material, and given him a ride home from the store.

I turned the corner and pulled around through the shopping center parking lot to meet up with him. He was on his way to work, and was going to take a bus downtown, and then transfer to get to his destination.

I offered to take him directly to his destination, and he agreed. The place he needed to take care of business was more like an open air waiting area. It was not too far out of my way, and there was a direct line of travel from there back to church, so it was not much of a delay at all. I dropped him off and hurried off to church and made it in right before the opening hymn.

After church, I hung around the chapel for about an hour, and decided to check up on him and see if he needed a ride back home. I drove to the waiting area, parked, and took out some more Amharic Books of Mormon. He wasn't there. But, there were many African and middle eastern immigrants there. I asked for him, and most of them knew him. They asked what books I had in my hands. I replied, and they asked if I had any in Somali or Arabic. It started to rain, so we gathered near the shelter, and eventually went in. Many of them were excited about books, even religious books, in their native languages.

It got kind of confusing with many people asking questions and asking to see what I had, and asking for Bibles, etc.

I ended up going back to my car a few times and bringing back as much as I had in their languages. I knew I'd have to go home and get more. It also occurred to me to get the missionaries.

I headed to the chapel, but about 3/4ths of the way there, I called around to see where the missionaries were, and found them at one of their apartments, turned around, went home, got more books, and then picked up the missionaries. It was about 90 minutes before I got back, and some of the men there had to leave before I got back.

We gave out a few more books, but the "magic moment" was gone. One of the World Cup soccer matches came on the TV in the shelter house, so there was a lot of commotion, and no chance to discuss the gospel.

I lost track of what all we gave out. But it included a few Amharic, Arabic, English, and maybe French Books of Mormon. English Bibles. Amharic New Testaments. Somali and English Gospel Fundamentals. English Gospel Principles, and maybe Arabic Gospel Principles.

The missionaries were a bit disappointed we didn't get any solid referrals or appointments. But most of the men who received material should have my card, and the local info-flyer with the mission office phone number on it. And I do have a way of finding the man I originally gave a ride to.

The excitement generated when I first returned to that waiting area by myself after church (before I went there with the missionaries) was almost magical. It's not the same when you go back and try to re-create it or manage it. You just have to let the Spirit do his thing.

Anyway, I will follow up with the man I gave the ride to, my initial contact. And, on a nice day when everyone is outside, I might go back to the waiting area and try to give out more material, or get appointments or referrals for the missionaries.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Moment #626. Amharic. Sat, Jun 24, 2006.

06/24/2006. I gave an Amharic New Testament, an Amharic Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon to an elderly couple from Eritrea. They were out taking an evening walk.

Moments #624-625. Chinese/Spanish at buffet. Sat, Jun 24, 2006.

06/24/2006. I felt a strong prompting to eat supper at the same Chinese buffet I ate at on Thursday. I chatted with the hostess/cashier on my way in. I think she watched the DVD from Thursday and was passing it around with the other employees. I asked if she had read the Chinese Book of Mormon as I had forgotten who I had given it to when I ate there with a member of the church who was friends with the owners. Apparently it was to someone else, so I gave her the Simplified Chinese version and an English edition Book of Mormon, which she gratefully accepted.

At my table, I read my Spanish Liahona magazine while eating. Because some of the employees are Spanish-speaking, I put out a Spanish Bible, Spanish Book of Mormon, and a Together Forever multilingual DVD. Just as I was done eating, an Hispanic lady came around doing her round of clearing plates from tables in the dining room. It was perfect timing, as I didn't have food in my mouth, and she noticed the Spanish books on my table. I figure I'm "renting" that table while eating. So I think it's okay to put whatever I want, within reason, on the table while I'm eating. If little kids can put their toys and coloring books on the table, I can put my books out, right?

I offered her the Spanish Bible first. She said she didn't have any money, but when I said it was free, she started to beam. That little gift made her day. I then offered the Book of Mormon, and then the Together Forever DVD. She was very enthusiastic and grateful.

Have you ever seen an employee someplace who seemed to suffer from the drudgery of their job, but then they brightened up when someone did a small act of kindness, or acknowledged their existence, or did them a little favor? That's how that encounter was.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Moment #623. Chinese at Asian grocery. Fri, Jun 23, 2006.

06/23/2006. On my way home I passed an Asian grocery store that I haven't been to in a while. I forget if I made a placement there before. After a while, it pays to follow up in case they might want to meet the missionaries and know more, but also because of employee turnover, or there might be new owners.

I went in carrying two multi-lingual DVDs, "Together Forever" and "Finding Happiness".

I bought some noodles, some Chinese dates, and some gel-snacks. If you want a unique treat, shop at an Asian grocery store in their snacks aisle for cool stuff.

After paying I offered the cashier the DVD's. He was enthusiastic about them, and he was not turned off when I said they were from my church. The other employee came over and he was interested too.

His enthusiasm led me to offer a Chinese Liahona magazine, and a Book of Mormon, so he followed me out to my car, and I gave him those. The Liahona is in traditional Chinese script, and they were from mainland China, but the Book of Mormon I gave them was in simplified script. He didn't want the English Book of Mormon at first, saying he couldn't read English well, but I went into explanation mode, opened both to 1 Nephi 1:1, and read it while pointing to both, and he seemed to catch the parallel reading idea.

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Moment #622. Korean DVD at store. Fri, Jun 23, 2006.

06/23/2006. I drove down a street that has several Asian stores. I felt a slight tug to a shopping center that has a Korean-owned beauty-supply and wig place. I needed a sweat-band for working out, to keep the sweat off my face, so I stopped in and got some. I carried in a "Finding Happiness" multi-lingual DVD that includes audio/video for Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, and Japanese.

I placed the DVD case on the counter as I reached for my wallet to pay, and the Korean lady cashier noticed it and asked about it. She was enthusiastic about it before I said anything, so I offered it to her, and she gratefully acccepted it.

The other lady cashier, who is Mongolian, came over to see what the excitement was about, but she didn't speak any of the languages on the DVD. However, we do have a Book of Mormon in Mongolian, and I'll have to go back and offer that.

Moment #621. Vietnamese Liahona at restaurant. Fri, Jun 23, 2006.

06/23/2006. More screw-ups on my part. I entered the library, and went to sign up for a computer station, and discovered I had lost my library card. I probably left it at the other branch the previous day. So I fought rush-hour traffic to get to the other branch (the one close to my house) where I was yesterday, and yes, they had found my lost card, and no one else had used it, and they gave me a new card. But now it was closing time, and I hadn't checked my email.

I need to get a lap-top so I can use free wireless access at many places. But for now I had to go to a commercial place that charges by the minute for computer use and internet access.

I checked my email there, and got caught up on blog entries for the week.

It was supper time, and I thought of restaurants, and decided to go to a nearby place owned by a Vietnamese family. I had placed a Vietnamese Book of Mormon there two years ago, so I decided to offer a Vietnamese Liahona.

The food was good, and I offered the waitress/cashier the Vietnamese Liahona. She was not enthusiastic, she said she was Buddhist, but she said I could leave it.

The food really is good. I need to go back there more often.

I decided to take the long way home, and seek out other placement opportunities.

Moment #620. Persian at other library. Fri, Jun 23, 2006.

06/23/2006. After leaving the close-out store, I went to the public library near it. A taxi pulled into the library parking lot immediately before me. It was a taxi company whose drivers are usually immigrants. It was perfect timing. I'd be able to strike up a converstation as we both walked from the parking lot to the front door.

He was from Iran, and spoke Persian, also known as Farsi. I asked if he were Muslim or Christian, and he said Christian. I said our church has a book in Persian, called the Book of Mormon, that we use along with the Bible, and that I had a copy of it, and a copy of a Persian Bible in my car, and offered them to him.

He said he'd like to see it, but wanted to drop off his stuff at the library first, and would catch me on the way out. So I went back to my car, and got out the Persian Bible, the Persian Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon.

I only had to wait a few seconds before he came back, and he was eager to see the books. He said he already had the Persian Bible, but he gratefully accepted the Persian and English Book of Mormon.

Missed opportunity at store. Fri, Jun 23, 2006

06/23/2006. Friday didn't get off to too good a start either. My interet connection had been down since Wednesday evening, and tech support said the earliest they could get a cable repairman out would be Saturday morning. Yesterday, Thursday, I blew two golden opportunities to talk to people who were in my path at the library.

Friday, it was starting to be rush hour, and there would be traffic problems going to the nearer library, so I decided to go to the next nearest library branch, which is close to the Post Office.

I checked my Post Office Box, and headed towards that other branch, and decided to stop at a store known for bargains and close-outs.

I got some stuff on sale, and got in line. Two people ahead of me was a teenager with a box, and by the time it was his turn in line, his father came back to pay for it. The boy and his siblings didn't stand out as immigrants, but the father had a heavy African accent.

I struck up a conversation with the father, and he was from Nigeria and spoke Yoruba. I started to go into my routine of making an offer of books, but he was paying the cashier. I decided to get out of line, leave my stuff in the cart off to the side, and get the books out of my car and meet him outside. But I neglected to ask him to wait for me, thinking I'd have time to catch them outside.

I got the books from the car, but when I looked around in the parking lot, they were nowhere to be found. I stood there for a few seconds scanning the parking lot, wondering where they went. Either they left very quickly or were still back in the store. I went back in the store, and they were gone. And, the clerks thought I had abandoned my items, and put them back in a stack of stuff to be re-shelved, and we couldn't even find them. (And that was the only pair of pants that were on sale that were in my size.)

Ack. I blew it. The pants were nothing. But, I should have asked the man to wait for me, or else I should have accompanied him outside and talked to him after leaving my place in line. It was my fear of making a presentation there in line, right in front of the customers and the clerks. So I never actually offered the books. I had only gotten so far as to say my church had books in Yoruba.

It was not like he was put off. His reaction during the short conversation we were able to have was positive. The bottom line is that I let my fear of what others might think blow the opportunity. And I also learned to not assume I could walk away and come back and find them again without asking them to wait.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Missed opportunities at library. Thu, Jun 22, 2006.

06/22/2006. Yesterday (Wednesday) night when I got home, I found my internet connection not working, and had to call the cable company, as the signal was not even getting in.

The tech support guy said it wouldn't be until Saturday morning when they could send someone out to check it. I've been spending too much time online, so I figured it would be a good vacation, and I could still go to the library or Kinko's and use a public terminal to check email.

So today I went to a library to check email. Just as I was crossing the parking lot, an African family, with the lady in typical Islamic garb, was getting into their car. I could have hustled a bit and still made it over there, but I didn't. Either I was lazy or just in a bad mood over the loss of my internet connection.

While using one of the library's public computers, I noticed an African man browsing videos nearby. We could have conversed from the distance we were at, or I could have gotten out of my chair and walked the eight feet over to him. We actually made eye contact, so it would not have been awkward to speak. But again, I was still in a mood or just too lazy.

I got frustrated at myself because the idea that I used in order to not get angry over the loss of the Internet, was that maybe there would be some encounters that I would not normally have.

Moment #619. Chinese DVD at Chinese buffet. Thu, Jun 22, 2006.

06/22/2006. On the way out, I gave the cashier/hostess a copy of the Asian edition "Finding Happiness" DVD. I had given her other material before on previous trips.

Moment #618. English DVD at Chinese buffet. Thu, Jun 22, 2006.

06/22/2006. I saw an elderly couple at a Chinese buffet. I asked how long they had been married. The wife said 52 years. I had a "Together Forever" DVD with me, and offered it to them, explaining that it was from my church and was about marriage and family. She accepted it.

2:30 pm.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Moment #617. English DVD at Kroger. Wed, Jun 21, 2006.

06/21/2006. I was driving home after Institute class. I wasn't planning on going there, but as I approached a regional chain grocery store, I had the idea of stopping in, so I did.

In the produce department was a cute elderly couple still in their church clothes. They were very sharply dressed and looked very nice. I wasn't intending to give them any material, but I just struck up a conversation with the wife, by asking how long they had been married. They had been married 59 years. It then occurred to give them a "Together Forever" DVD. I think I introduced it as a DVD on marriage and family, said it was free, and from my church. The man said okay, so I went outside and got it from my car, and found them again, and gave it to them.

Moment #616. Spanish at restaurant. Wed, Jun 21, 2006.

06/21/2006. I had supper at a tiny mexican restaurant that I hadn't been to before. On the outside it looked like a real hole-in-the-wall, but inside it was very clean and well organized. Very good food. Email me for the name/address/directions. After paying I gave the waitress/cashier a Spanish Bible, a Spanish Book of Mormon, and
To This End Was I Born, and Together Forever DVDs.

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Moment #615. Shona/Zulu/Ndebele at Post Office. Wed, Jun 21, 2006.

06/21/2006. I picked up some mail from my PO Box. There was an Asian-Pacific lady in the outer lobby, but she was busy readying her package and it didn't seem right to interrupt her. I went outside to read a newspaper, and sat on the low wall in front of the building. While reading, an African-looking man went by me and entered the building. I never saw the Asian-Pacific lady leave, so she might have went the other direction.

Eventually the African-looking man came out and as he walked by I asked him, in French, if he spoke French. He said no. I asked what languages he spoke besides English. He said an African language that I wouldn't know of. So I asked him where he was from. He said Zimbabwe. I extended my hand to shake his, and said "moroi" which is Shona for "hello." He said he did speak Shona, and I explained about how the church has books in African languages, and he agreed to see them. We went to my car, and I got out Shona and English copies of the Book of Mormon. He said he spoke Zulu and Ndebele too, and asked for one in Zulu. I offered an Ndebele copy of Gospel Fundamentals.

I said there was a member of our church in Zionsville that is from Zimbabwe and speaks the same four languages as he does. I said his name, and this man said he was just talking to him on the phone that afternoon.

Small world.

I never saw the Asian-Pacific lady, so I must have missed her.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Moment #614. French at church. Tue, June 20, 2006.

06/20/2006. I took my home teacher back to the chapel after dinner so he could be there for youth night. A sister involved in the Young Women's program had brought her house guest from Belgium. I gave her 2 DVD's with a French audio track (To This End Was I Born and Together Forever), and a French copy of the Liahona magazine.

Moment #613. Spanish declined. Tue, Jun 20, 2006

06/20/2006. I had dinner with my home teacher at a Mexican Restaurant on ___ Street. The employees were too busy to approach. I offered a "To This End Was I Born" DVD to a Spanish speaking man at the next table. He was definitely uninterested, so I didn't press other to say it was free.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Moment #612. English at gas station. Mon, Jun 19, 2006.

06/19/2006. I was in the NW corner of Indianapolis. I had dropped off some foreign langauge Books of Mormon and some info-flyers at the mission office. On my way home I passed this gas station I hadn't been to in a long while. It was not a major brand, and I didn't know if they employed immigrants or not. I went in an bought some pop. I had the idea of offering one of the cashiers an English Bible and Book of Mormon, but I didn't say anything. Out in the car I started to argue with myself about whether I should, and that's one of the signs that I should. So I went back in and bought something else, and offered him a free Bible and a Book of Mormon. He said sure, without any hesitation or indication of annoyance. So I went out and got the books and took them in and got in line. There were two other people in front of me but he held out his hand toward me indicating to cut in front. But it only held up the other people for a mere three seconds, so it was no big deal.

Moment #611. French/Wolof at gas station. Mon, Jun 19, 2006.

06/19/2006. I needed gasoline so I stopped at a gas station on the way to my next destination. This was a brand that I know hires a lot of immigrants. After pumping the gas, I saw the cashier through the window and saw that he might be an immigrant. I went inside and bought a newspaper, which I needed anyway. I didn't remember if I saw this guy at another station or not, so I asked if he used to work at a certain other station. He did, but we hadn't met. His name was familiar because another cashier had mentioned him back then.

He was from Senegal and spoke French and Wolof. He let me practice a few words in Wolof and he could understand me. He was tickled that someone was trying to speak his home language. I offered church books in French and Wolof and he was eager to see them. So I brought in French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and Wolof and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals. I pointed out my business card and the info-flyer in them.

Moment #610. Yoruba at Post Office. Mon, Jun 19, 2006.

06/19/2006. I was in the outer lobby walking towards the door, and another man ahead of me was leaving too. I started a conversation, asked him where he was from, what he spoke. He was from Nigeria, and spoke Yoruba. I said a greeting in Yoruba, and offered him some church books. He accepted copies of Yoruba and English Gospel Fundamentals.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Follow-up to #589. Arabic at park. Sun, Jun 18, 2006.

06/18/2006. On May 29th, at our ward picnic, a little girl on a bike, who lived near the park, came over and joined our group. She was from Sudan, Africa, and spoke Arabic and English. I gave the sister missionaries some Arabic/English material. They got her address, or the directions to her house, before leaving.

Today after church meetings, the sister missionaries told me they went to that family's house, and presented the Arabic Book of Mormon. They didn't leave an English Book of Mormon because the parents said they couldn't read English. I encouraged the sisters to always offer the books paired with English to be used as bilingual ESL (English as a Second Language) material. Oftentimes, even if the recipients don't read English, they'll see it as an opporunity to learn or improve their English.

I don't think there's any wrong reason to read the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon in other languages, paired with English, is also a way for immigrants to keep their native language alive, by having something in writing with which to teach their children. So the bilingual nature works both way.

There's more stuff the church has in Arabic, so I'll follow up with the sisters to see if they do more follow-up with that family. If you believe that "there are no coincidence" then there was a reason that little girl came to the park while we were there having a picnic.

Lesson/story at Elders' Quorum. Sun, Jun 18, 2006.

06/18/2006. I gave the lesson in Elders' Quorum today. I told the short version of the story of how I joined the church, how the scriptures are important to me, and several of these placement stories. I gave out copies of the local info flyer, pass-along cards, and "car kits" consisting of a Bible and Book of Mormon in a plastic zip lock bag, and encouraged others to be open to opportunities to give out the scriptures.

I spent much of the rest of the day (other than napping) agonizing over mistakes I made giving the lesson (more of a lecture, really) and things I didn't explain well enough, and things that I left out.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Moment #609. Amharic at Dollar General. Wow. Sat, Jun 17, 2006.

06/17/2006. After leaving Meijer, I went to Kroger, which was still on my way home from the office supply store. I got some fruit, and intended to take my normal "route" through the store, but the Spirit told me to hustle and go directly to what I had come for, so I got the rest of the stuff I wanted, and then headed for the checkout.

I looked at the various check-out lanes to see if there were any opportunities, and didn't see any immigrants so I chose the shortest line. Since I had received instructions, I was on the look-out.

I took my groceries back home and put them away. I still had one more store to go to, so there was still the chance for a placement opportunity for which that "hurry up" instruction was given.

I drove to the Dollar General near my home, and I saw a frail elderly African man just outside the store walking away with his purchases. Bingo. That was my contact for whom I had to hurry up and get out of Kroger's.

I parked in front of Dollar General, and had to jog to catch up to him. He dropped his receipt, so that gave me a good excuse to approach him. I picked up his receipt, and gave it to him. I forget whether I first asked where he was from or what he spoke, but he was from Ethiopia and spoke Amharic. He had a bloated belly indicating an illness. His slowness of movement indicated illness, but he was fully responsive, and exhibited intelligence and education in his speech.

I offered an Amharic book from my church, and he agreed to see it, so I asked him to wait there while I got it from my car. I retrieved Amharic and English Books of Mormon, and Amharic and English New Testaments. He was excited and curious about the Amharic Book of Mormon. He already had an Amharic Bible, but wanted the English New Testament. He accepted the English Book of Mormon too. As I opened them and explained the bilingual nature, he read 1 Nephi 1:1 aloud in Amharic. It is a beautiful language.

He had just gotten out of the hospital. I asked where he lived, and it was in a complex almost 10 blocks away. He was too frail to walk that much so soon after getting out of the hospital, so I offered to take him home. He agreed, so I went to my car and pulled around to where he was standing, and took him home. I left him at the front door to the complex. He was very appreciative.

That was such a "divine appointment." That meeting was just meant to be, so I invited him to church. He said he had a wedding to go to tomorrow, but the next week he could.

We chatted on the ride, and for a bit after we got there.

Man, he was so humble and meek and he was still suffering from his illness and his hospitalization. I was kind of wondering if he was all there, but I just got the impression he was just slowed down, but not significantly diminished in his mental capacities.

This has been an intense two days. Not just in number of placements, but in "wow" moments, and in meeting important and special people.

Oh, Wednesday night, my elders' quorum president asked me to give a lesson tomorrow on using the scriptures in missionary work.

Moment #608. Yoruba at Meijer. Sat, Jun 17, 2006.

06/17/2006. I went to an office supply store to photocopy fliers for church. On the way back home I decided to shop for groceries. I usually go to Kroger, but as I passed by Meijer, it drew my attention. But Kroger also stood out in my mind. I got confused and wondered which one I was being "tugged" to or to both. Since Meijer "stood out" at first, I decided to go there first.

No sooner had I stepped in, when I saw an African man getting a balloon for his little child. I stopped, waited for him to finish, and as we made eye contact, I asked him where he was from. He said Nigeria. I asked if he spoke Igbo or Yoruba. He said Yoruba. I said "Mo le so Yuruba die'" which means "I only speak a little Yoruba." He stood there wide-eyed for a second, so I extended my hand and said "Kurole" which means "good afternoon." He shook my hand, and I said my name. He understood me the first time, and was genuinely pleased and amazed to meet someone who spoke even a few words of his language. I admitted those where the only Yoruba words I knew.

After greeting, I offered him a free book in Yoruba from my church, I said I'd bring it in from my car, if he wanted. He asked which church, so I told him. His wife came over at that point. He accepted, so I got the Yoruba and English Gospel Fundamentals from my car. He was still waiting when I got back, and eagerly and graciously accepted the material. He said he worked in missionary work for another church, and had lived in the same apartment complex as LDS missionaries in Nigeria. He gave me his card.

We chit-chatted a bit more, and I thanked him for the opportunity to speak Yoruba.

I went to go look for the frozen vegetables that I wanted to use to make stir-fry, and they weren't on sale, so I knew I'd have to go to Kroger to get them.

As I walked back out to the car, not having bought anything, I was hit by the "wow-ness" of the moment. The whole side-trip was just to meet him.

Moment #607. Chinese at restaurant. Wow. Sat, Jun 17, 2006.

06/17/2006. Okay, I had two "Wow" moments, so I really shouldn't be suprised at another. I was still on the far side of town heading back home. I debated eating lunch over there or waiting until I got back home. There were two Chinese restaurants between me and the Interstate, a nice one, and a hole-in-the-wall place. The Spirit definitely said eat before going home, and I tried to figure out which one to go to. I wanted to eat at the nicer one, and looking back, I think my desires to do so over-rode a prompting to eat at the hole-in-the-wall place.

Fortunately, the nicer place wasn't open for lunch on Saturdays. So I turned around, but before heading back, I stopped at a gas station that I hadn't been to before. It was a brand that hires a lot of foreigners, plus I needed a newspaper to read during lunch. I don't know if stopping there was a prompting or not.

I went in, and bought a newspaper. The staff was English-only speaking, so I was disappointed. But I probably should have said something, because the cashier was super friendly and "gave off light." But I wasn't mentally prepared for an English presentation. There were no other customers inside, so it could have worked. I'll have to remember to go back there next time I'm in that neighborhood.

I went back to the other Chinese restaurant, and the inside wasn't as bad as the outside looked. The prices were good.

The cashier at the Chinese restaurant was a humble friendly man. I ordered, sat down, and put out my Chinese books, and the new "Finding Happiness" DVD, and started to read my paper.

The cashier brought my food, but didn't seem to notice the books. I blew a chance to talk to him at that point.

As I ate and read my paper, a weird thing happened. Some people talk about having these kinds of experiences in the temple. People talk about it outside the temple, so I hope I'm safe mentioning it here. I think those readers who aren't friendly towards the LDS church have already written me off as crazy, so, sorry. But those of you who are LDS and who do a lot of genealogy or temple work will recognize this.

I perceived the spirits of this man's dead ancestors standing in the restaurant urging me on to present the Book of Mormon to him.

There, I said it. It's true, and I don't care if people think it's crazy. It happened. I'm stating the truth. If you don't think it's possible, you'll realize it's true at some point in the future after you leave this mortal life, when your soul is still alive and self-aware and in the spirit world. The soul (spirit) of a dead person lives on. And sometimes they are near us.

The man came a second time to ask if everything was okay and leave the check. He caught me reading the newspaper and I didn't see him approach until he asked the question. It caught me off guard and I blew the second chance to speak about the Book of Mormon.

He was the efficient type, so after I gave my answer he didn't waste time, and went about his business.

His ancestors were displeased. They were disappointed. They were very anxious about him getting the Book of Mormon.

I took the check, the books and DVD up to the cashier counter to pay. After paying I asked where he was from, China or Taiwan. He said China, so I held up the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon and offered it. He was definitely un-enthusiastic, but being the humble and nice person he is, and maybe also in the spirit of customer-relations, he accepted it, and the Finding Happiness DVD, and put them off to the side. I offered the English Book of Mormon to go with it, but he said he only read a little English. I went into explanation mode, and stepped over to where he put the books, and opened both to 1 Nephi 1:1, and read the first couple lines. He then caught the idea, and accepted the English.

His ancestors seemed pleased at that point. I'm serious. I had the perception they were rejoicing.

The man definitely had the humility and meekness of the type of person who can recognize the truth of the Book of Mormon, and so his ancestors did have reason to rejoice.

I don't know if I've perceived spirits of deceased people while making placements before. But I have perceived the spirits of the dead in other occasions. In the temple, and once at a hospital when I took an elderly lady there to receive the news from the doctors that her son had died. I had been at a party, where the man collapsed from a heart attack, and I volunteered to get his mother from her home and take her to the hospital. I had never met the man before that party, and had never seen pictures of him.

We accompanied her into a private ER bay after they cleaned him up and took the tubes out of him so she could grieve over him. I perceived the spirit of the deceased man and another spirit, who I took to be his father, standing in the corner. The spirit of the deceased man was making faces trying to get the attention of his mother, and let her know he was okay and out of pain. I thought I was imagining things, and said nothing. The next day his friends put up a web page for him as a tribute and memorial, containing pictures of him at various parties. In all the pictures, he was making faces. It was his trademark.

Moment #606. Hindi/Gujerati at Mall. Sat, Jun 17, 2006.

06/17/2006. After leaving McDonald's I got the shopping bug. I cruised the strip mall behind the McDonald's and stopped at a used CD/DVD store and bought a Clannad CD. Then I remembered a Dollar General store across the street, and needed some stuff from there, so I shopped there.

By then I needed to use a restroom again, so I headed for a large department store attached to a mall where I could use a relatively clean public restroom.

After making a pit stop, I cruised the inside of the mall. I forget if I was looking for a lunch spot, or just browsing.

There were lots of jewelry kiosks in the center hallways of the mall. Most of them were staffed by middle-eastern-looking people.

On my way out, I passed one jewelry kiosk staffed by a mother and daughter who looked like they were from India.

I had decided not to approach any of the kiosk vendors, but the mother daughter pair set off some kind of alarm, and I turned around and did a classic double-take. The intensity of the impression did not cross into "obvious territory" but the feeling was recognizable. I've had that feeling before, and knew from experience what it meant. I also thought I perceived them "giving off light." Yes, they did "shine" more than the other vendors. That usually indicates someone willing to receive material.

I went back to their kiosk, and asked if they were from India. They said yes. I asked what languages they spoke, and they said Gujerati and Hindi.

I offered a free church book in Hindi, and said I might also have a Gujerati Bible in the car, and they agreed to see them. I went out to my car, and brought back in Hindi and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and Gujerati and English New Testaments.

They were excited about seeing them, and enthusiastically received them. We chatted a bit, and they warmly thanked me for the gifts. I remembered to say "you're welcome" in Hindi. I had to pronounce it a couple times before they recognized it, but I got it close enough.

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Moment #605. Amharic x 2 at McDonalds. Sat, Jun 17, 2006.

06/17/2006. I was on the far East side of town on errands, and decided to have a fruit salad at a McDonalds between breakfast and lunch. I was not looking to make a placement opportunity. Honest! After making a pickup, I stopped at a McDonalds but their parking lot seemed too full, so I went to another one further down the street.

I went into the second McDonalds and immediately noticed a family group consisting of teens and pre-teens and two middle-aged men in suits. The adults were definitely East African, either Ethiopian or Eritrean.

I ordered and picked up my food, parked my tray and newspaper at a table near the door, thinking they'd pass me by on their way out, then I went back out to the car and got Amharic and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and two Amharic New Testaments.

I sat back down, and took them out of the bags. A table right next to the African family opened up, so I transfered my stuff there, and sat facing the family. The man closest to me turned 90 degrees, and there was the perfect opportunity to hold up a book and ask if it was his language. I forget if I held up the New Testament or the Book of Mormon first.

It immediately caught his attention, along with the other gentleman. They both turned torwards me and showed definite interest.

They were originally from Eritrea, and Tigrinya is their primary language, but they also spoke and read Amharic. They have been in the US a long time, are professionals, and were in Indianapolis for a family wedding.

I offered the books to the first man I spoke with, and the other man asked for copies too. It was a very friendly encounter, and we continued chatting for a while.

This was definitely a "Wow" moment. I was prepared for it. But looking at it from their end, after driving hundreds of miles to Indianapolis, what are the chances they would run into perhaps the only guy in town with Amharic books in his car?

There were lots of seemingly unconnected and non-inspired minor events that got me to that side of town at that particular time. Now, thinking back on those events, it makes me go "Hmmmmm."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Moment #604. French/Hausa. Fri, Jun 16, 2006.

06/16/2006. After leaving the previous middle-eastern store, I headed to a restuarant not too far away. I hadn't tried it before. I didn't know what kind of food it was, but I supposed middle-eastern. I went in, and saw that it was set up as a buffet, and had food typical of what I've seen at other Indian restaurants.

It looked like the operation was set up more for catering and special events than a restaurant that is open to the public, but it was open, and one employee was on duty. It shared a cross-over door with the middle-eastern store next door.

I was the only customer there. The one employee on duty attended to me, but was super busy in back, so I didn't bother offering him any material. I might go back with a date sometime.

After eating I went to the store next door, and tried to figure out what I wanted to buy to add to my food storage. Two black men came in, and passed in front of me and talked to the butcher in back. They were dressed in urban hip-hop style clothing, but looked African, spoke a foreign language to each other, and spoke English to the middle-eastern butcher.

The one knew the butcher and introduced his friend from Africa. The second man made eye contact with me while his friend was speaking one-on-one with the butcher. It seemed appropriate, so I asked him where he was from, and he said Niger. I asked, in French, if he spoke French, and he did. I then asked, in French, if he spoke Hausa, and he did. He was surprised that I knew about Hausa.

I offered him free books from church in French and Hausa, and he was genuinely interested. I didn't want to disrupt the business, and he agreed for us to go outside for the presentation. I asked him to wait on the sidewalk, while I retrieved the books from my car. He immediately started flipping through them, and was enthusiastic about them.

We chit-chatted a bit more, then we both went back in and finished our shopping.

Moment #603. French x 2. Fri, Jun 16, 2006.

06/16/2006. After the forum I headed to the middle-eastern store where I was at yesterday, to follow up with the Urdu-speaking cashier whose wife speaks Pashto.

Outside the store in the parking lot, about to get into their car, were two ladies in colorful and beautiful African dresses. They spoke French, so I offered them French and English copies of the Book of Mormon and they accepted. They each got their own copies. One also accepted the "To This End Was I Born" DVD that has a French track.

After talking with them, I took the Pashto Gospel Fundamentals into the store, but I didn't see the Pakistani man, so I left.

I decided to have dinner at a restaurant I hadn't tried before, that was located a few blocks away near another middle-eastern store, so I headed there.

Moment #599-602. 7 Slavic languages at immigration forum. Fri, Jun 16, 2006.


Moment #599. After leaving the print shop, I went to a public forum about immigration and immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. There were a couple presentations and panel discussion on Central and Eastern Europe, covering a little history of immigrations from that area, and short overviews of experiences of those immigrants in Central Indiana.

A few groups had displays on tables. One display was by the "Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures" of a university in Indiana. The department coordinator was there, and he accepted my offer of Books of Mormon in Russian, Polish, Czech, Slovenian, Croation, Romanian, Ukrainian, and English. I brought those books in from my car and then presented them to him after the program.

Moment #600. I gave Slovenian and English copies of the Book of Mormon to a young man at the forum.

Moment #601. I gave Russian and English copies of the Book of Mormon to a Russian Jewish lady outside after the forum. She was reluctant at first because it's Christian material, but when I explained the bilingual nature, she thought it would help her to improve reading English, and then she appeared enthusiastic about them. I didn't want to belabor the point about Lehi's family being Jewish, so I didn't even bring that up. But it did occur to me.

Moment #602. I gave Polish and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a Polish New Testament to a professor/scientist from Poland outside after the forum.

Moment #598. English to printer. Fri, Jun 16, 2006.

06/16/2006. Instead of having my local info flyer printed in 500 quantities at the office supply store, I decided to get 2500 copies printed at a real print shop, and save some money. After I paid and picked them up, I asked the cashier, who I think was the printer's wife, if I could give them a free "Mormon Bible" and a Book of Mormon. (Yes, I actually said "Mormon Bible.") She said okay, probably more out of politeness and good customer relations than actual interest. I took my print job out to the car, and brought in a softcover LDS Bible and a hardback missionary Book of Mormon, both in English.

She graciously accepted them.

Her husband, the printer, was very polite about doing a "church job" when he saw the originals the day before, so I figured that was a good enough opening.

Moment #597. Japanese declined. Thu, Jun 15, 2006.

06/15/2006. After the Burmese lady left, and after I had put my clothes in dryers, I noticed an Asian man putting his clothes on hangers. On my way back from putting something in the car, I stopped near him and asked if he spoke any languages other than English. He said Japanese. I asked if he liked to read in Japanese, and he said yes. I said my church had material in Japanese, and asked if he had heard of the Book of Mormon. He said he hadn't. I said we believe in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon, and that I had a Japanese copy of the Book of Mormon in my car. He indicated he wasn't interested. I offered him a free church DVD in Japanese, and he declined that too.

It wasn't until later, as I write this, that I realized that he may have assumed I wanted him to come out to the car, instead of me bringing the material in for him to look at.

I'll have to make a point to remember to emphasize that I'll bring the material inside. I also think that this was a case where he may have changed his mind had he actually seen the book. I think I should have retrieved it anyway, and let him see from a distance that I had it. I don't like to re-approach someone after they say no, but I want to leave the door open for them to re-initiate contact.

Moment #596. Burmese at laundromat. Thu, Jun 15, 2006.

06/15/2006. While doing my wash I noticed a college-age woman waiting over by the dryers. I got that "yeah, I should talk to her" feeling. She appeared Asian-Pacific. She was standing between the folding table and the dryers, so I approached on the other side of the folding table, and asked if she spoke any languages other than English. She said Burmese. I offered her a pamphlet in Burmese from my church, and she agreed to see it. I went out to the car and got English and Burmese copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet. (That's all the church has in Burmese so far.) She graciously accepted them. We chit-chatted a bit, and she said she just moved to town to go to college. She said she was Buddhist, and that there were many Burmese in the city she just moved from, and several Buddhist temples there, but hadn't made contact with any locally.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Moment #595. Urdu at middle-eastern market. Thu, Jun 15, 2006.

06/15/2006. I was in the neighborhood so I decided to stop by a certain middle-eastern grocery store in NW Indy. I've been here before, back in 2004, and gave a Telugu Book of Mormon to another customer who joined in a converstation I was having with the cashier. That cashier was working there today, but not at the cash register. Another man was attending the cash register.

After checking out, and taking a few steps towards the exit, I had the feeling I had better speak to the cashier. I returned, and there were no other customers in line, so I asked him what languages he spoke. He said Urdu. I asked if he spoke Pashto too. He said his wife spoke Urdu and Pashto. I asked if he was Muslim, and he said yes. I offered him a free book from my church in Urdu, and one in Pashto, and that I had the Urdu one in my car. He said okay, so I went out and retrieved Urdu and English copies of the Book of Mormon from the car. I checked and didn't have the Pashto Gospel Fundamentals, but I had them at home.

I went back in and he was talking with some other men, so I stood back, but they apparently weren't customers so he turned his attention to me, and I presented the Urdu and English Books of Mormon.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Follow-up to #584. Drugstore. Sat, Jun 10, 2006.

6/10/2006. The cashier that I met May 17th at the drugstore also spoke Nepali. I eventually looked it up, and the Church does have "The Living Christ Testimony" in Nepali. I ordered it on the 24th, and it came in today, June 10th. I went to the drugstore late in the evening, when I thought her shift would have started, but she wasn't there. I asked the other cashier if she was scheduled to work that evening, and he said she had quit. A lost opportunity.

Things from the Salt Lake Distribution Center take 13 to 16 days to arrive. Maybe if I had ordered it sooner instead of waiting a week.

I asked if there was any way they could forward something to her, and the cashier said no. Maybe I can try to follow up with the manager.

Moment #594. Tagalog at Post Office. Sat, Jun 10, 2006

06/10/2006. I picked up some packages from the SLC Distribution Center at the Post Office. I took them out to the outer lobby and put them on a counter there to open and inspect them. I did this intentionally, instead of taking them directly to my car, to increase my chances of meeting someone.

I kept an eye out, and eventually noticed an Asian-Pacific man in the inner lobby. After a minute he came out to the outer lobby to apply stamps to his envelope. I approached him and asked him what languages he spoke other than English. He said Tagalog. I offered him free church material in Tagalog, and he said okay.

I took two of my three boxes out to the car, and then retrieved Tagalog and English copies of the Book of Mormon, a Tagalog Liahona, and a "Together Forever" DVD with a Tagalog audio track. There were some African immigrants in the car next to mine, and we nodded a greeting. I wondered if I should talk to them, but decided to go back in so as not to lose the other man.

I went back in and waited a few seconds until he was done, and handed him the Tagalog Book of Mormon. He immediately started flipping through it. He recognized it as Tagalog, but he probably needed better glasses.

While we chatted, the manager of the branch came out to restock things on the counters, and she must have overheard us talking. She's seen and heard me making approaches in the Post Office at least once before. I'm sure she heard me say "from my church", but those were the only "religous" words or proselyting phrase I used, so I think it was kosher.

By the time I got out to my car, the people in the car next to mine were getting ready to leave. I started a conversation, and said I had a Sunday school manual in their language, Yoruba, but they said they had an appointment, so I just gave them my card, and asked them to call me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

2 year anniversary. Jun 7, 2006.

Today is the two-year anniversary of this project.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Catching up from March 2005.

Per request, I've posted some stories from March 2005. These were during a trip to Fort Collins Colorado.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Moment #593. French x2 at gas station. Sat, Jun 3, 2006.

06/03/2006. Late at night. Two men who were already friends met each other at a gas station while I was walking in. I couldn't tell what they were speaking, but I asked, and it was French. I ended up giving them 2 copies of a French New Testament and a French Book of Mormon. (It's late, more later.)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Moment #592. Spanish x2 at restaurant. Sat, Jun 3, 2006.

06/03/2006. Our ward helped a member move today, loading up his truck, filling a dumpster with stuff to be thrown out. Afterwards, I joined the brother and his two sons (who had come from out of town) at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. After we ate, I gave two Spanish Books of Mormon and two English Bibles to the employees.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Moment #591. Lunch with missionaries. Spanish. Thu, Jun 1, 2006.

06/01/2006. I wanted to go work out before having lunch, but I was prompted to take one of the sets of elders in our ward to a certain Mexican restaurant. I called the elders, and asked if they had plans for lunch. They didn't. So we set a time for me to pick them up.

When we got there, we unexpectedly met an active member and an inactive member of the church having lunch with a couple of their non-member friends/coworkers. The missionaries had planned on contacting the inactive member and talking with him anyway. It worked out much better that the contact was fortuitous instead of intentionally seeking him out, (even if the contact was merely for attempting to set up an appointment for later.)

The restaurant is in their proselyting area, but it's not a place that the elders would have sought out to have lunch on their own.

That alone would have been enough of a "wow" moment for me. But our waitress also accepted a Spanish Book of Mormon, and a couple DVD's (Heavenly Father's Plan, and Together Forever) that have Spanish audio tracks. She also agreed to be contacted by the missionaries and gave them her name, address and phone number. She lives in an area covered by the other set of elders, so these guys wrote the other elders' phone number in her Book of Mormon, and will give her contact info to them.

The third fortuitous event was when the elders asked for a "Special Witnesses of Christ" DVD. They were scheduled to make a presentation using it later in the day, but the other elders had borrowed their copy and not returned it. I had it in my car inventory, so I gave them a copy.