Saturday, July 29, 2006

Moment #679. Arabic at ATM. Sat, July 29, 2006.

07/29/2006. I was the only one waiting in line at the ATM machine. The man ahead of me finished up, and as he came by I asked him where he was from. I think he said Sudan, and he spoke Arabic and English. I offered him an Arabic Book of Mormon, and he enthusiastically received it and the English copy too. I said it was Christian and asked if he were Muslim, and he replied that he was Christian. He asked where our church was, so I showed him the address on the info flyer.

When we finished talking I was so excited that I forgot about going to the ATM and got in the car and drove off. On the way home I remembered, and went back to the ATM.

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Road Trip. 30 encounters. Tue-Fri, July 25-28, 2006.

This is an overview. See previous entries for more details.

I took a trip south to visit family. I packed my suitcase, and then reviewed what languages of Books of Mormon and other material I should take. I ended up giving out some of the material that I felt inspired to take. I actually ran out of Hindi copies on the trip and needed more.

Languages given out included Hindi, Punjabi (Gospel Fundamentals), English, Russian, Kurdish (New Testament), Turkish, Arabic, Urdu, Ilokano, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Swahili, Amharic, French, and Hausa (Gospel Fundamentals).

I took a bunch of Korean video tapes, and Thursday I was wondering where I was going to meet Koreans, when the idea came to me that I was going to meet missionaries. There was no direct prompting at that time that the Korean stuff was for the missionaries. It was just that the missionaries popped into my mind while pondering about the Korean stuff. Within the hour, I felt inspired to get off the highway, a gas station was pointed out on the other side of the street, I was prompted further down the road as a "timing loop" and then went to the indicated gas station. The cashier was from Cameroon, and spoke French. When I went back outside to get the material, three missionaries were gassing up their car. They worked in the mission office. I asked if they had any Korean investigators. They said no. I hope I didn't go too far out on a limb by foisting the Korean material on them, and telling them that someone in their mission would have Korean investigators within the next 30 days.

I also gave them some Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon. I didn't get the full story, but they said that they normally didn't go to that gas station. From my viewpoint, that meeting was arranged. I was led by the Spirit to believe I was going to meet missionaries, just not at what place or time. Afterwards I was led to that exact gas station, and there they were.

There were a couple times when I disobeyed the "tugs". And sometimes when I got tugged off the Interstate, I had to go looking for my contact by stopping at several places. But sometimes when I got tugged to take a certain exit, I was also tugged or led to the exact location where someone would eagerly accept material, at either a restaurant, or a gas station.

In one situation, a man accepted a book in his language, Hindi, and asked for a Russian copy for one of his employees. In another, I offered person-A books, and person-B overheard and asked for a copy. In one restaurant, I saw the owner reading the Book of Mormon behind the counter when I left after I finished eating. In one gas station, the cashier was reading the Book of Mormon when I went back a few minutes later to follow up with a Bible. At another gas station, I offered the English-only-speaking cashier a Bible and Book of Mormon, and three more employees asked for English Bibles and Books of Mormon.

I usually file my entries by the date and the approximate time they occur, not when I write them, so see below for journal entries of the encounters on this trip.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Moments #677-678. Road trip day 4. Fri, Jul 28, 2006.

07/28/2006. Day 4 of trip.

I checked out of the motel and headed through the Appalachian mountains. I wasn't feeling too well from something I caught earlier in the trip. It would still be several hours of driving before I had to decide whether to take the route that would take me through Louisville, stay the night, and stop at a church singles conference in that area on Saturday, or whether to take a slight shorter route home and arrive home Friday night.

At my first stop I missed an opportunity. I should have said something to an English-only speaking cashier. I just had a small feeling about it. I chickened out, and if it was a spritual prompting, I disobeyed it.

There was another exit later on that I think I was supposed to take, but didn't, and kept on driving.

07/28/2006. Day 4. Moment #677. Portuguese.

I forgot to write in my notes why I stopped at this exit in Northern Tennessee. I first stopped at one or two places on the cross-road on one side of the Interstate,. I was probably going to get back on the Interstate, but then I felt strongly tugged to the other side of the Interstate, so I stayed on the cross-road as it passed under the highway. There were only two gas stations on that side, so it had to be one of them. I bought something at the first, but nothing happened there.

At the second gas station, I bought something, and the cashier looked like he was from India. He spoke Hindi, Portuguese and English, but did not read Hindi. He was from the part of India that was colonized by Portugal, so that is why he spoke Portuguese. I offered and he agreed to receive Portuguese and English Books of Mormon, so I retrieved them from the car. I forget the exact conversation, but I got the impression from what he said that he was Christian, not Hindu or Muslim.

For some reason I asked if there were any Korean restaurants in the area. He said the one down the road used to be Korean but it was Mexican now. It was about supper time, so I decided to eat there.

I drove down to the Mexican restaurant, parked, and started to get a Spanish Bible and Book of Mormon from the car. As I perused my box of Bibles, I found a Portuguese Bible that I had forgotten about. I had a very strong feeling to take it back to the man at the gas station, and not eat at that restaurant.

So I got back in the car, drove back to the previous gas station, and entered. There was no one in line. The cashier was away from the cash register, and he was reading the Portuguese Book of Mormon! I approached the cash register, he came forward. I held out the Portuguese Bible, asked if he needed one, and said it was free. His eyes got wide, and he very gratefully accepted it.

I didn't want to take up any more of his time, as there were other customers in the store. But his attitude made me think that my gift was an answer to his prayers. If we had continued to talk, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had said that. I got the idea that his unspoken thoughts were "How did he know I needed Portuguese scriptures?"

07/28/2006. Day 4. Moment #678. Traditional Chinese.

I stopped at an exit somewhere in Kentucky. I went to one or two gas stations, and then saw a Chinese restaurant. The cashier at one gas station said she heard it was good, so I decided to eat supper there.

At some point during the meal I offered the waitress a Chinese and English pair of the Book of Mormon, but she declined.

After paying at the cash register up front, I offered them to the cashier/hostess and she accepted them. She was not reluctant to accept them, but had an "okay, whatever" attitude.


I finally decided to take the shorter route home and skip the church singles conference, and arrived home late at night.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Moments #671-676 Road trip day 3. Thu, Jul 27, 2006.

07/27/2006. Day 3. Moment #671. Ilokano/English plus English.

I checked out of the motel, and headed down the main drag towards the town where my sister lives.

I was on the look-out for a tire store to replace the flat tire I had last night. It was a side puncture. I stopped at a gas station, and asked a man, and he knew where a tire store was, and it was even the brand I was looking for. It was just one more mile down the road, one turn, and then another mile. Easy to find.

My sister called while I was waiting at the store, and she'd get off work and come by the tire store right about the time I would be ready to go. So I ended up following her to her house.

On the way to her house we passed an Asian grocery store. I made note of where it was and how to get back to it. Had I not been given incorrect directions the previous day, I would not have discovered this particular store.

After having lunch and visiting, I wanted to go shopping at that store to get some unusual food items for my sister and her kids. My neice was busy playing, but my nephew agreed to go.

We got to the store, and it was run by Filipinos. I got to practice a little Tagalog. My nephew picked out some stuff he thought he'd like, and I picked out some stuff for him and his sister and some staples for my sister and BIL that they probably hadn't tried before.

I was out of Tagalog Books of Mormon, or at least I thought so. So I asked the cashier what else she spoke. She said Ilokano. I offered and she accepted the Book of Mormon in Ilokano, so I went out and got Ilokano and English copies from my car while she was ringing up my purchases.

She was surprised and grateful. At first I thought she was scared, but I soon found out it was awe. She had seen the Book of Mormon before, and knew what it was about.

She said that when she was a little girl in the Philippines, that a man from the Mormon church would regularly visit her village once a week (later once a month) and read to them from the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon in her native language brought back cherished childhood memories for her.

This lady spoke Ilokano, Tagalog and English. The other lady spoke Tagalog and English. I thought I was out of Tagalog, so I just gave the other lady an English Book of Mormon.

07/27/2006. Day 3. Moment #672. Swahili and Amharic.

I had only scheduled one overnight in my sister's town, so I needed to hit the road that evening to keep my schedule. In the next major city on the trip, I was inspired to take a certain exit. Directly in front of me was a Shell gas station, and that caught my attention, but I felt drawn further up the road to a convenience store that did not sell gas, so I went there first. The cashier's dress suggested that he was from Jamaica. I bought something, and asked where he was from, and he said Kenya. I asked if he spoke Kisii, and he said no, but that he spoke Swahili. I offered him a Book of Mormon in Swahili, and he accepted. As I left to retrieve Swahili and English copies from the car, I saw a sticker on the wall that had the Ethiopian flag and a picture of Haile Selassie. So I asked him if he knew any Ethiopians. He said yes. I asked if he'd like to give them a book in Amharic to read, and he said sure. So I retrieved a Swahili, an Amharic, and two English copies of the Book of Mormon. He gratefully accepted them.

I went to the Shell station and bought gas but didn't see any opportunities, so I got back on the Interstate and continued on.

07/27/2006. Day 3.
Moment #673. French to cashier.
Moment #674. Korean and Chinese to office missionaries.

Flashback: The background to this stop is that at some earlier point on this travel segment, I forget if it was before or after the previous placement, I was wondering what I was going to do with the Korean material I had put in my car. I had really felt like I was instructed by the Spirit to put one each of my Korean video tapes in the car for the trip. It was while I was pondering this that the thought of meeting missionaries popped into my head. It was not a direct command like "give them to the missionaries", but the thoughts were sequential. IE, "What do I do with the Korean stuff?", then the next mental image I had was of meeting some full-time missionaries, the white shirt and black name-tag type.

I was still in the same city as the previous encounter, and I was inspired to get off the Interstate at this particular exit, and while driving on the exit ramp I was then inspired to turn to the left. Those directions seemed clear. After crossing back over the Interstate, there was a gas station on the left that the Spirit clearly indicated I was to go to, but not before going further down the road. Again, it was very clear, "that's the place, but catch it on your way back."

I went further down the road, and checked out another gas station, but didn't see any opportunities. Sometimes, the little extra side trips are "timing loops." I headed back towards the Interstate and stopped at the indicated gas station, which was now on the right.

I bought an ice cream, and the cashier spoke with an accent. As he handed me my change I asked "parlez vous francais?" He beamed and said yes. I asked where he was from, and he said Cameroon. His other language was Basa, but I don't think the church has anything in that. I offered him a free book from church in French, and he readily and happily agreed.

I went out to get it the books. And there were three missionaries. One was gassing up their car, and two others were talking to other customers. Wow. Wow. Wow.

I talked to them, but I was pretty much a blathering idiot, because I was so overwhelmed by how the Spirit had apparently set up this encounter, and prepared me for it. I was trembling. I said something to them, and asked them to pull over to the side after gassing their car so I could talk to them. I didn't want them to occupy a pump space since the station was so busy.

I went to the car and got French and English Books of Mormon, a "To This End Was I Born" DVD that has a French track, and a French Liahona magazine, and took them inside. There were several people in line, and the clerk was very busy, so I just laid them down on an empty space at the end of the counter, and got his attention just enough to let him know that I put them there.

I went back out and continued to talk to the three missionaries. They worked in the mission office which was just around the corner. I forget everything I said, but I asked if they had any Korean investigators. They said no. I may have gone out on a limb telling them that there would be some within 30 days. I don't know if I said that by inspiration, or whether I was just blathering. Anyway, by getting those Korean video tapes, a Korean Gospel Principles, and a couple extra Korean Books of Mormon into the mission office, any missionaries in their whole mission will have access to them. They said they already had at least one Korean Book of Mormon in the office.

I also asked if they liked to eat at Chinese restaurants. They said yes, so I gave them some Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese Books of Mormon and explained the difference. I gave them some copies of my info flyer, and blathered on a bit about my book placement project, and giving out books along the way while traveling.

They probably thought I was crazy. But one of them did say "We don't normally come to this gas station."

07/27/2006. Day 3. Moment #675. English Bibles and Books of Mormon.

This was a ways after the previous stop. I forgot to write down the reason for this stop, but I think it was by being "tugged" by the Spirit to take that exit. I stopped at a gas station, bought something, and offered the English speaking cashier a Bible. I said something like "I like to give out free Bibles. Would you like one?" I didn't write down good notes on this one, so I forget if the cashier accepted just a Bible or just a Book of Mormon. I think it was just a Bible.

Anyway, as I retrieved the material for her, she told three other employees of my offer. The three others wanted both Bibles and Books of Mormon, a pair each. So I got out three Books of Mormon, and also showed them the Bibles I had. I still had one more nice bonded leather LDS edition KJV Bible, so I also showed them the KJV and NIV versions that I had in paperback style, and let them choose the translation they wanted.

They were all eager and pleased to receive the material.

07/27/2006. Day 3. Moment #676. Urdu.

I finally got off the Interstate to get a motel room. Before checking in, I went to a gas station and bought something, and started a conversation with the cashier. He was from Pakistan, but had come here when he was seven years old, after only two years of school there, and could only barely read at that time. Now he could speak Urdu, but not read it. I offered him the Book of Mormon in Urdu for his parents, along with the English edition. He thought that was a good idea and he cheerfully accepted it.

---- end of Day 3 ----

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Moments #658-670. Road trip day 2. Wed, Jul 26, 2006.

07/26/2006. This is going to be a quick summary. Hopefully I'll come back and fill it in.

Moment #658. Housekeepers at motel. Hindi/English Book of Mormon, and Marathi JS Testimony pamphlet.

Moment #659. Stop #1. Urdu/Punjabi declined at shopping mall, but gave him a pass-along card.

Moment #660. Still at Stop #1. Gas station/convenience store. Hindi owner, and Hindi customer. I had run out of Hindi Books of Mormon, so I gave them pass-along cards and the Indianapolis "info flyers". They were interested and seemed like they would have accepted the books had I had them.

Moment #661. Stop #2. Chinese buffet. Waitress politely declined Chinese Book of Mormon, but I left a Chinese "Purpose of Life" pamphlet on table anway, with 800 # written inside back cover. Cashier graciously accepted an Indonesian and English pair of Books of Mormon.

Moment #662. Stop #2. Man speaking Portuguese on cell phone outside of restaurant as I was leaving. I waited around, and after he got off phone, I offered, and he eagerly and politely accepted Portuguese and English Books of Mormon.

Moment #663. Stop #2. Decided to explore the strip-mall shopping center. Swahili declined at Dry Cleaners. Forgot to offer a pass-along card.

Moment #664. Stop #2. Vietnamese Liahona magazine and Vietnamese Book of Mormon accepted by man outside of nail salon. English BofM declined. At first he turned down Book of Mormon but agreed to accept Vietnamese Liahona magazine. I brought back both a magazine and a Book of Mormon from car. He changed his mind when he saw the Vietnamese Book of Mormon and asked for it. I made a definite point of not being pushy about the book. He read the title and sub-title and changed his mind.

Moment #665. Stop #2. Tugged to gas station across street. Cashier was from Nigeria. Gave him Hausa/English Gospel Fundamentals, Hausa/English JS Testimony pamphlets, English Book of Mormon, and Heavenly Father's Plan DVD.

Moment #666. Stop #2. Looking for a gas station with cheaper gas, but tugged to drug store. Cashier was from India. She gratefully and eagerly accepted Punjabi and English Gospel Fundamentals.

Moment #667. Stop #3. Stopped at a gas station. A sign showed that the manager had an African name. A cashier called her on phone to see what languages she spoke. The cashier relayed the offer, and then the cashier told me the manager didn't speak any Nigerian languages, so she declined. But there was some special feeling about the place and the name. So even though the offer was declined, I hope the offer meant something.

Moment #668. Stop #4. Still in Georgia. Definite tug to exit the Interstate here for supper. Definite tug, rising to the level of being constrained, that led me directly to a specific restaurant. Made presentation and gave Vietnamese/English Books of Mormon when I placed order. Saw owner reading it as I left.

Moment #669. Stop #4. Tugged to explore a shopping-center plaza. Stopped at a Caribbean restaurant, but the owner just spoke English, and I made no presentation. Then I went to a store next door. After leaving that store, I saw the restaurant owner and a man talking outside. Gave Haitian Creole/English pair to the man to give to one of his Haitian friends. Then the restaurant owner asked me for an English Book of Mormon. So I gave him a copy and bore testimony to him, and felt the Spirit.

Missed Opportunity. Felt tugged to another store to buy something, but check out line was too long, and I disobeyed prompting. Felt guilty afterward.

Moment #670. Late at night, was in another state now (not Georgia), and stopped for gas. Don't know if it was a tug or not. Didn't see any opportunities. Heading back to Interstate, I was definitely tugged to another gas station. Parked, and went inside and bought something. Cashiers appeared to speak English only. Offered to give a free Bible to the cashier, and she said thanks, but she already had one. She then accepted my offer of a Book of Mormon. Second cashier, same thing. An alcoholic woman in line, buying a bottle of cheap wine, overheard, and asked for a Bible. Went out to car to get a Bible and three Books of Mormon. Saw that a tire was going flat and would have to be changed. Gave the Bible/Book of Mormon combo to the alcoholic woman outside, and the two Books of Mormon to the two cashiers inside.

Finished driving to my sister's town. But mom had given me wrong directions that sent me 45 minutes in wrong directions. Due to changing flat tire and bad directions, it was too late to wake sister and BIL to get correct directions, so I stayed at a motel near the interstate.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Moments #649-657. Road trip down south. Tue, Jul 25, 2006.


Mom has been staying at my sister and brother-in-law's, babysitting my niece and nephew while sis and BIL were on a trip. She was going to stay there a few days after they got back before continuing her trip north to visit more relatives.

I've had a Book-of-Mormon-trip to Atlanta on my mind for months. It was more or less a prompting to go there. Sort of a mini-vacaction and giving out copies of the Book of Mormon at restaurants and gas stations along the way. There is a certain Chinese restaurant just North of Atlanta that I've been to on previous driving trips down south, but that was before I started the book placement project. The thought of that restaurant has also pressed itself on my mind along with the Atlanta "book run," so that was a definite stop on the itinerary.

So I decided to combine the two trips into one. I told Mom I'd swing by sis's house (in another state) after going through Atlanta "to meet some people." But as it got down to the wire, I wanted to chicken out and cancel the trip. The car needed work, and I hadn't had time to get it tuned up. And I wasn't feeling up to dealing with family issues.

I was planning on canceling, but the Spirit said do it. It was a rather strong prompting.

So I could pass through Atlanta, hit that restaurant, make any other prompted stops along the way, keep on driving to visit the relatives in another state, stop at a LDS singles conference/dance on the way back, and be home Saturday night.

There would be at least three days of driving, one and half down, the visit, and one and a half days back, plus the singles conference.

I keep one copy of all languages which I give out in the car, but the question was what extras should I take so I didn't run out of any language during the four or five days? Theoretically, I could hit two restaurants and four or five gas stations per day.

I planned on leaving Tuesday, and should have packed Monday, but didn't start packing until Tuesday morning. After I packed my clothes, I started to peruse my book inventory. Basically I glanced at each translation and pondered whether I should take extras of it. Although I think I misunderstood some of the promptings, some of them were clear, including extra Hindi, Punjabi and Korean. I felt I should take one each of all my Korean videos. That was a strong "do it" direction.

The idea to take even more Hindi Books of Mormon from another stack occurred to me, but I dismissed it thinking I'd never give out that many. It turned out that I shouldn't have dismissed that thought, as I ran out of Hindi on the second day.

Some of the "assignments" of what books to take were so clear that I trembled. Then the portent of this trip hit me. When I was told to "go" I was not told why. It wasn't until after I actually started packing that the "why" started to unfold. There were specific people, who spoke specific languages that I was to prepare for. The Lord knew in advance what lay ahead, and was preparing me for it.

This was something new. Previously, for just running around town doing business and errands, my modus-operandi has been to keep one book in the car for all languages I know are spoken in Indianapolis. Experience has taught me which languages might be given out more than once a day, or to multiple recipients in any given encounter (French, Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Amharic, Hindi, Bengali.) It occurred to me, but I never dared consider actually praying "Okay, what languages should I put in the car today?" for just around-town encounters. The thought of asking for revelation for my mere convenience seemed wrong. I thought I should prepare as best I could.

But now, I was being told what specific languages to prepare for. Well, of course the Lord knew which languages I would need. And with limited space in the car, and the weight of the books, I had to use available space wisely. Since I couldn't just "run back home" to get a needed book as with local encounters, it was logical to pack specific translations for the people I'd meet.

Pass-along cards are fine. But there's some sort of magical something in actually seeing the Book of Mormon in your own language. Most people don't catch the vision or have a desire engendered in them until they actually see it. I firmly believe that many people accept the actual books who wouldn't have called the 800 number had I merely given them a pass-along card. I believe the Spirit has more to work with and can do more with the Book of Mormon than with a pass-along card.

Anyway, while boxing up the books and videos and putting them in the car, it really hit me that there were certain individuals I was going to or needed to meet.

Before hitting the highway I stopped by the Post Office and a shipment of books from the SL Distribution Center was there, so that was nice, as I needed the English books in that shipment.

Moment #649, 07/25/2006. Hindi, Punjabi, English.

My first stop was for gas in a little burg outside Indy. I first stopped for a chicken sandwhich at McDonalds, then went to the gas station across the street. I only filled up the gas tank half way so that I could make more stops, and also so as not to carry so much weight in the car. The cashier was from India, and he enthusiastically accepted Punjabi and English Gospel Fundamentals, a Punjabi Jospeh Smith Testimony pamphlet, and Hindi and English copies of the Book of Mormon. Wow. The Spirit told me to take extra Punjabi, and my first stop I met someone who spoke Punjabi.

Moment #650, 07/25/2006. English.

Another customer at the gas station was a frinedly chatty type and asked the cashier for directions. He didn't have his glasses and couldn't read his map. Outside I approached him after he got in his vehicle, and since he was a friendly and chatty type, I asked if I could help him read his map. He said okay, so I gave him more complete directions according to his map. We continued chit-chatting, and I eventually said I liked to give out free copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon. He already had a Bible, and said one of the owners of his company was Mormon. I asked if the owner had ever given him a Book of Mormon. He said no, so I offered him one, and he said sure. We chit-chatted some more before travelling on.

Moment #651, 07/25/2006. Punjabi, English.

Further down the Interstate, still in Indiana, I stopped at another small town. I'm not sure why I pulled over, whether it was to look for an opportunity, or due to a prompting. I do jot some notes down after each encounter, but I need to get more of the details down. If I have several encounters in a row, they start to blend together in my mind by the end of the day.

Anyway I stopped at a gas station for a newspaper, and the cashier there spoke Hindi and Punjabi. He could read Punjabi, but not Hindi. He gratefully accepted Punjabi and English Gospel Fundamentals, and the Punjabi Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet.

While on this stop, I felt "tugged" to a shopping center with one of those large national-chain department stores. As I drove through that strip-mall, I saw a Chinese buffet facing away from the road, that couldn't be seen from the road or from the interstate. Hmmm. Will have to put that on the "to be visited" list, as it was still close enough to Indy for a lunch or dinner run.

Moment #652. 07/25/2006. Hindi, Russian, English.

Still in Indiana, but near Ohio. This one felt weird while it was happening, but in hindsight was more understandable. I felt "tugged" to take a certain exit. However, once I got off the interstate, I went to four places and found no opportunities. I thought I was "tugged" to each of those four places, and wondered if I was imagining things, or whether those were "timing loops." I ended up being "tugged" at least a mile from the Interstate exit. A "timing loop" is something to keep me busy so that I arrive at a future destination at the same time as a contact person. Perhaps that's because it's not cool to just hang out and wait for someone to show up. Another problem with having to wait around too long is that I might get impatient and give up too soon.

Anyway, at the fifth place, a gas station back near the exit, as I was walking towards the front door, a man who looked like he was from India was walking towards the door at the same time. The Spirit more or less whacked me upside the head with a strong "That's him!" In a flash I understood that the previous four places on that exit were indeed timing loops to put me at that gas station at the same time as him.

I offered, and he eagerly and gratefully accepted a Hindi Book of Mormon. He didn't want an English copy, but he then asked me for a Russian copy for someone he worked with, and I gave him an English copy for the Russian guy. Double wow. That's rather special when they ask for extras like that.

Moment #653. 07/25/2006. English declined.

I was in Kentucky, a few miles North of my intended dinner stop. I needed to make a pit stop, so I exited the Interstate and used the restroom at a combo gas station/restaurant/convenience store. I felt tugged down a side street, and into a small mom-and-pop type grocery store, and I made a small purchase. The two young adult employees were very friendly. I offered them Bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon, but they very politely declined. Since it was definitely a "tug" that took me to that grocery store, I figure even the mere offer of a Book of Mormon can sometimes serve the Lord's purposes to put things into someone's mind.

Moment #654. 07/25/2006. Thai, English.

Still in Kentucky, I took the exit in a small burg where I planned to have my evening meal. Fortunately, I found an Asian restaurant right off the exit. They served Thai and Chinese cuisine. According to the waitress, the owner and cook were Thai. They were brother and sister, and the sister was married to an American man. I ended up giving them two Thai copies of the Book of Mormon, one English Book of Mormon, two issues of the Thai Liahona, and a "Finding Faith in Christ" multi-lingual DVD that has a Thai audio track.

Moment #655. 07/25/2006. Chinese.

I left the Thai restaurant, and while heading for the Interstate I felt tugged down a side street. I turned down that street and found a Chinese buffet. I had intentionally not eaten much at the Thai restaurant, but I'm not sure why. I wondered what that tug was for, whether I was to eat two dinners, or whether it was to come back here on a future trip. I decided to go for it, and eat two suppers.

I put out the two kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon, and a Chinese Liahona on the table as I ate. The Liahona was the May 2006 conference issue with the picture of President Hinckley on the cover. The waitress declined the Book of Mormon but volunteered to take the magazine. If I understood correctly, she was already a Christian believer, and may have been a little confused that the Book of Mormon is a substitute for the Bible.

When I later paid up front, she was already reading the Liahona magazine. I chatted with her a bit more. She said she liked to read stories in Chinese to her son. When she said that, I knew it was important to get her the Chinese Book of Mormon. I offered the Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon again. She reluctantly accepted it, but again declined the English.

Moment #656. 07/25/2006. English LDS Bible.

After eating I went back toward the Interstate and stopped at a gas station to get some fuel. I'm not sure if it was a tug or not. The man using the other side of the pump had the rear driver side door of his car open, and I could see a Bible sitting on the back seat. Too much of a coincidence I thought, so I struck up a conversation, said I noticed his Bible, and offered him an LDS edition Bible, as he might like to see our footnotes and concordance (we call it the "Topical Guide").

The SL Distribution Center,, had a sale on these "bonded leather" Bibles for only $2.50, so I had bought some and took some extras with me. Perfect for an opportunity to show/demonstrate that Mormons believe in the Bible. The inexpensive paperback Bibles printed on newsprint from International Bible Society, and American Bible Society are $2.00 plus shipping, so this nice LDS Bible at $2.50 (including shipping) was a real deal, and cheap enough to give out.

He graciously accepted it.

Missed opportunity. 07/25/2006.

After finishing at that gas station, I had the idea to check out the gas station across the street. I'm not sure if it was a tug or not. I stopped there and bought a paper, and struck up a conversation with the cashier. She was a friendly middle-aged, 50-ish or late 40's woman, spoke only English, with a uniquely spelled name. It occurred to me to offer her something, but I chickened out. The guilty feeling later confirmed it. I wonder if I should get the phone number of that gas station and try to look her up again, or whether the opportunity was totally lost.

Moment #657. Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic, English.

I was someplace in Tennessee, North of Knoxville, and urgently needed to use a restroom. I exited the Interstate and went to turn right to the nearest gas station, but I felt a strong "tug" to the left. I kept going to the right anyway, and made a pit stop at the nearest gas station. I then headed toward the other side of the Interstate to follow the original tug. There were no more clear directions, so I drove down to the end of the little group of businesses. I pulled into a convenience store, and while still in the car, looked in through the front window and saw no obvious immigrants, so I turned around. There were only two other gas stations on the way back to the Interstate, and I thought of checking them out, but I didn't perceive any directions so I kept on going to the Interstate.

However, when I got to the Interstate, but before I got on the on-ramp, the memory of that original tug at that exit came back to me, and it was clear that there was still an opportunity, and that I just had to find it. So I did a U-turn, and went back to the one gas station, bought a newspaper, and didn't see any opportunities. I then went to the second gas station, which was open, but the doors were locked, and you had to transact through a night window with drawer. I was going to give up, but when I saw the cashier inside through the window, I could tell he was an immigrant, and realized "he's my guy."

I bought a diet soda, then asked what languages he spoke. He was from Iraq and spoke Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and English. He was a Christian from northern Iraq. I gave him a Kurdish New Testament, and Arabic, Turkish, and English copies of the Book of Mormon. He was a bit astonished and amazed, but very grateful to receive the material.

At my next stop, I checked into a motel for the night.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Moment #648. Chinese Book declined, but DVD accepted. Sat, Jul 22, 2006.

07/22/2006. After leaving the Lafayette Stake Center I headed away from the Interstate to look for a book placement opportunity before going home.

As I came upon a typical shopping center, of the kind which usually has a Chinese restaurant, I felt drawn to it. I didn't know if I felt drawn to it because I recognized it as the type of shopping center that usually has a Chinese restaurant, or whether it was a spiritual motivation. Either way, pulling in was a good decision, because I found a Chinese restuarant that was open late. Usually they close at 9pm, but this still had a while to go until closing.

It had been several hours since I had supper at the singles dinner/game night, so I decided to get something. I took in my small case with 6 Books of Mormon (2 regular Chinese, 2 Simpflied Chinese, and 2 English). I probably should have just gotten an egg roll and something to drink, but I went for a full combination dinner to go.

After ordering and paying I asked the cashier where she was from and she said China, so I offered her the Simplified Chinese version. She flipped through it, but politely declined. I didn't go into explanation mode about reading it in parallel with the English. I probably should have because she was not fluent in English, and reading them in parallel as ESL material may have been a good thing for her. But it was late, and there were other customers in the dining room off to the side.

Thinking back, I feel like I probably should have gone into explanation mode. There are times when you don't want to waste an extra second of someone else's time, and there are times when the Spirit does want you to be bold and intrude just a little. Even if she had still declined after the ESL explanation, the other Chinese customers in the dining area, or the other employees may have asked her what I said just out of curiosity, and she would have relayed the factoid that the Book of Mormon is in both Chinese and English, and they may have "caught the vision" quickly and asked me for a pair before I left. That has happened other places before. Even when an offer is declined, the "chain reaction" can still turn out good.

While waiting I decided to try another approach, so I went back out to the car and retrieved a "Finding Happiness" DVD that is intended for Asian audiences, and I presented that to her. She opened it and looked at it, and graciously accepted it, not with enthusiasm, but not reluctantly either.

So the little side trip did have a good result, and I found two more Asian restaurants on the way to try in the future.

Moment #647. Chinese to missionaries & members. Sat, Jul 22, 2006.

07/22/2006. I went to West Lafayette Indiana to attend the Lafayette Stake Single Adults dinner and game night. I hoped to make some book placements on the trip, so before leaving I made up a new "info flyer" that listed the two chapels in West Lafayette and the one in nearby Lafayette. I also included the Indianapolis mission office address and phone number, one of the church 800 phone numbers (for free material) and the church website

Before the dinner was over two full-time missionaries showed up (surprise, surprise) and naturally they were invited to partake of the food that was still sitting out. One said that they had recently eaten supper, but they'd appreciate some fruit for dessert (surprise, surprise).

I used the opportunity to ask if they ever ate at Chinese restuarants. They said yes, so I offered to give them the two kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon to take with them the next time. They agreed, so I retrieved the two kinds of Chinese plus an extra English Book of Mormon from the car for them, and explained the difference.

One of the single members at the dinner overheard the presentation and asked me if I had any extra. She wanted one to give to someone she knew who spoke Chinese. She didn't know where her friend was from so I went back to the car and retrieved one more of each kind for her, and she paid for them.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Moment # 646. French-Malinke outside drug store. Sat, Jul 15, 2006.

07/15/2006. Early AM. I was on my way home from a Single Adult church function in another city. We had a game night. I had ridden there with a friend, and was driving back home from his house. I stopped at a 24-hour pharmacy to get something, and was given some coupons I'll never use along with the cash register receipt. I exited and took a few steps away to throw away the coupons in a trash bin, and when I turned around, a taxi had pulled in front of the drug store.

The taxi company is one that employs almost all Africans, and the driver looked African. After taxis stop at the destination, the drivers turn off the meter, so I figured I wouldn't be costing the passenger anything, and he was still getting money out of his wallet anyway.

The driver was from Guinea and spoke French and Malinke. I said I had some church books in those languages and would give them to him if he waited for me. He agreed, so I trotted off to where my car was parked. After his passenger paid and got out, the taxi-driver ended up driving over near to where I was parked anyway.

I first gave him the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet in Malinke (aka Mandinka). I then offered him a French Bible and he accepted, so I went back to my car and dug out a French copy and an English copy of paperpack New Testaments, and French and English copies of the Book of Mormon.

He graciously and happily accepted those books, and we chatted a bit more about where the church is located.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chickened out while riding with friend. Fri, Jul 14, 2006.

07/14/2006. Late PM. I don't recall having this situation before, and I reacted incorrectly. I took some foreign language material with me, "just in case," while riding with a friend in his car to a Single Adult game night in a nearby city. I took my small Chinese case with 4 Chinese and 2 English Books of Mormon, and a few foreign language issues of the Liahona, and a couple DVDs. We had no intention of eating at a restaurant, but you never know what will happen.

There was a single guy at the activity from Peru (South America, not Peru Indiana) who has been in the country two years, and is a recent convert. I ended up giving him a To This End Was I Born DVD that has a Spanish sound track, and a Spanish Liahona.

After leaving the activity we drove past a certain gas station, and I had a classic "tug" moment. It started before we got there, and had I reacted immediately and said something, my friend would have had time to pull over into the left-turn lane and go there with no problem.

But I hestitated, and we missed the turn-off because I didn't say anything. From that point until we got onto the Interstate I debated with myself. It was late, he was driving, I didn't want to delay him getting home, I didn't want to appear stupid by asking him to turn around, bla bla bla.

But the guilty feeling afterward let me know that I should have said something. I later had to remind myself where those little promptings come from and recognize He is the ultimate authority and just do it.

A clerk or a fellow customer at that gas station may have been someone who spoke Chinese or one of the other languages in which I had the Liahonas with me. It could even have been someone who spoke only English who needed to have a Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

DVDs to Hispanic guys. Wed, Jul 12, 2006

07/12/2006. I dropped the elders off at their apartment after dinner. I gave them a used quad for one of their recent converts, 3 different English Bibles plus an English hardback Book of Mormon for a referral, and an English NIV paperback for one of the Elders.

There were three spanish-speaking guys sitting in a van a few feet from where I was parked as one of them worked on a car part. I offered some free DVDs from church, but one said no, and the others shook their head. I said they were free, and then they said okay. I gave them four DVDs with Spanish tracks: Together Forever, Heavenly Father's Plan, Finding Faith in Christ, and I think the fourth was either The Restoration or To This End Was I Born.

I pointed out the missionaries' apartment, the one with a painting of Christ taped to the window, and said if they wanted to know more they could get in touch with them.

Moment #645. Gujerati-English w/missionaries. Wed, Jul 12, 2006.

07/12/2006. I called the full-time missionaries to see if they had scheduled a dinner meal that evening. They said they were free for dinner, and didn't have anything until a 6:30 pm appointment. I offered to take them to a restaurant near their apartment on the condition that they attempt to give the restaurant people a Book of Mormon. They agreed.

I hadn't eaten there in a while even though it's the best restaurant of its type on the West side of Indy. (Friends can email me for the name and address.)

We got there and ordered, and while ordering found out they were from India and spoke Gujerati. While waiting for the food to arrive, I went out to the car and brought back in a Gujerati Bible an English Bible, and an English Book of Mormon. (The Gujerati Bible had arrived just yesterday.)

When we finished eating, I told the elders they had to "sing for their supper" and gave them the three books and asked them to make the presentation. They went to the counter, and had a friendly discussion with one of the owners. They later said the owners were very pleased to receive the material, especially the Gujerati Bible.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

2 missed opportunities, Tue, Jul 11, 2006.

07/11/2006. I went to do the rest of the laundry that I didn't do last Saturday. This time it was earlier in the evening, so I wanted to go to the nicer laundromat a little farther down the street. It's a bit cleaner and less crowded but it's not open 24 hours like the closer one. However, as I approached the closer one, I had a definite impression I should go there instead.

At first, I didn't see anyone who obviously stood out as approachable. At the folding table next to the one I was using there were two Spanish-speaking men. I could have approached them, but I didn't. It wasn't until afterwards that I felt guilty about letting that opportunity slip by.

After they left, the next man to use that table found a disposable butane lighter in a dryer. He pointed it out to me, that it could have started a fire. Again, I was too slow to continue the conversation. He spoke English, but I couldn't tell by his accent what his native language was. I felt bad about letting that opportunity slip by.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Missed opportunity, Mon, Jul 10, 2006.

07/10/2006. I was at the Post Office, and as I was tearing up some junk mail to throw away, a man who appeared to be from India started filling out a form at the counter next to me in the outer lobby. I could have waited until he was finished and started a conversation, but I chickened out and left. I didn't think fast enough to figure out what to do while I would have been waiting for him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moment #644. Tagalog-Ilokano at laundromat parking lot. Sat, Jul 8, 2006.

07/08/2006. As described in the previous entry, I was at the laundromat. I made a trip out to my car to put some stuff away, and a young couple exited about the same time I did and headed towards their car which was parked right next to mine. At an appropriate moment, I struck up a conversation by asking them if they spoke any foreign languages. The man said yes, so I asked where they were from. He said the Philippines. I asked if they spoke Tagalog and they said yes. I asked if they spoke any other languages, and he said Ilokano.

They were boyfriend and girlfriend, a cute young couple that looked like they would fit in well at our YSA branch. I ended up giving them Tagalog, Ilokano and English Books of Mormon, and a "Together Forever" DVD that has a Tagalog track. I also gave them wwo issues of the Tagalog Liahona, and I invited to YSA the branch.

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Moment #643. French-Fon at laundry. Sat, Jul 8, 2006.

07/08/2006. Saturday night. I had previously been thinking about doing laundry but it was late, perhaps 10:00 pm or so, and I could easily wait until Monday. I was tired. I had spent several hours outdoors in the hot sun walking around at a ham-fest (amateur radio). I had taken a late nap, and still felt a tad groggy from that.

But the prompting to go do laundry tonight had reached the obvious level, and furthermore I was not to dilly-dally on the Internet before hand, but to get going. I took a quick shower and changed clothes to be presentable.

I realized I didn't have to do everything and make a full production, that I could do a small trip. I had a coupon to use two top-loaders free, so I just took that much, and didn't even unmake the bed. If I can buy gas a couple times a week in order to make placements, then occasionally doing two trips to the laundromat seemed reasonable.

When I got at the all-night laundromat, there was an African-looking lady folding some clothes. Later, her brightly colored dresses in African patterns caught my eye. So it seemed she was my intended contact.

While coming back from the snack machine, I stopped across the folding table from her and asked if I had already given her any of my blue books. She said no. I asked "parlez-vous francais?" She said "oui." She was from Benin in West Africa. She agreed to receive some church material in French, so I retrieved French and English copies of the Book of Mormon and a VHS tape of "Finding Faith in Christ" in French.

She happily and gratefully accepted the material. I asked what other languages she spoke, and she mentioned a several others, but the only one of those that have Church material is Fon. I said I had a Sunday school book (Gospel Fundamentals) in Fon, and she agreed to see that too, so I went out to my car again. I discovered I didn't have it in the car, so I drove the few blocks home and obtained it, and took it back to her along with the English.

You should have seen her face light up when she read the title on the front cover! She said books in Fon in her home country are rare, and not all children who speak Fon at home are taught to read and write Fon, but she was. I was surprised too, because of the three or four people to whom I had offered the Fon Gospel Fundamentals, she was the first who could read it right off the bat. Some of my previous Fon-speaking contacts either couldn't read the language, or it was a different enough dialect of Fon that it was not discernible to them. It is not strictly in a Latin (A through Z) alphabet. There are special characters and special pronunciation rules when reading it. Therefore, even if you already speak it fluently, it takes practice to learn how to read it if you weren't already taught it in school.

With the coupon, it didn't cost me any extra to do this extra trip. And the look of joy on that lady's face when she saw the Gospel Fundamentals manual in Fon was worth the whole trip. But there's even more coming. Read the next blog entry to find out what else happened at the laundromat that night.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Moment #641-642. French-Yoruba and Amharic at gas station. Fri, Jul 7, 2006.

07/07/2006. I left a singles activity at church and headed home. I felt prompted to stop at a certain convenience store. I bought some 2-liters and a paper, but didn't see any opportunities. I thought perhaps this may have been a "timing loop" for an encounter later on.

#641. Further along my route home, I was prompted to stop in at a major chain gas station and convenience store. I bought a couple of 12-packs of soda on sale.

My cashier spoke with an accent, so I asked if he spoke French. He did, and he also spoke Yoruba. I asked if I could give him free books in French and Yoruba from my church. He said sure. I brought back in French and English Books of Mormon, Yoruba and English Gospel Fundamentals, and a Yoruba Bible. He enthusiastically and gratefully accepted them.

#642. I went over to speak with the second cashier, but before I could talk with him, a customer who spoke with an accent was leaving that check-out station. I could easily come back and talk with the cashier, so I spoke with this customer before he left. He was from Ethiopia, so I offered him an Amharic and English Book of Mormon. He eagerly followed me out to my car, and enthusiastically and gratefully accepted them.

The "timing loop" side-trip at the first convenience store must have been for this guy. Had I not stopped there first, I would have missed him.

I went back in to speak with the second cashier. He remembered me, but I did not remember him from a previous encounter at the Post Office. I gave him my card and encouraged him to call me or the numbers I had put in the books if he wanted to learn more or visit our church.

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Moment #640. Tamil declined. Fri, Jul 7, 2006.

07/07/2006. I was in line at the post office. A lady in line appeared to be from India. I asked if she spoke Telugu. She said she spoke Tamil. It was my turn up next, so I didn't get to continue our conversation.

I took my package out to my car, and got out Tamil and English copies of the Book of Mormon. I waited outside for a while, but the lady didn't come out. After a while I went in, and apparently she had obtained forms the first time through the line, filled them out in the outer lobby, and had finished and was about to go back to the inner lobby when I popped back in.

Without costing her her place in line, I was able to offer the Tamil and English books. I could tell she was a very humble and meek person, so I tried my best to offer the books as meekly as I could. She read the title and I suppose the sub-title too, because her facial expression indicated she was not interested even before she declined by saying she was Hindu. So I thanked her and withdrew.

Moment #639.5 Spanish DVD at gym. Fri, Jul 7, 2006.

07/07/2006. I forgot to log this one, hence the fractional #.

An hispanic lady in her 20's was using the elliptical machine next to mine. I started a conversation by asking "Habla espaƱol?" She did. She's been in the country for a year, and works as a bus-boy at a Mexican restaurant that I like but haven't been to in a while.

She barely spoke any English. So, I volunteered that our church has English lessons for Spanish-speakers Thursdays at 7pm at our church building. She said Thursday is her day off. Cool.

She asked for the address, so when my 30 minutes was up I went out to the car and got an info-flyer and a "Heavenly Father's Plan" multi-lingual DVD that has a Spanish audio track. I pointed out the address on the flyer to her and also presented the DVD.

We also chit-chatted for quite a bit.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Moment #639. Chinese at dept store. Tue, Jul 4, 2006.

07/04/2006. To recap how I got there: I was driving home from an out-of-town restaurant. I saw a certain gas station to the left, but when it was too late to turn, I felt a spiritual "tug" that indicated I needed to visit that gas station. I went to the next light, turned left, drove back through the shopping center's parking lot, and felt an additional "tug" to that group of stores. I went to the gas station first, bought a newspaper, and was blessed to find a really cool guy from Senegal who was excited to receive two copies of the Book of Mormon in French and English, and two copies of the Sunday school manual in Wolof and English.

After leaving the gas station, I drove back to the group of stores to which I had felt drawn. The "tug" towards those stores was as strong as it had been for the gas station.

I parked and went into the department store to shop for pants which I needed anyway. I found a couple in my size and headed towards the checkout area. I hadn't seen any obvious opportunities, so I sat down on a bench to figure out what to do.

Then it hit me, and I started to feel overwhelmed and in awe of this little road-trip, because I ended up in an area that I don't normally go to. Even though the experience at the Chinese restaurant didn't feel right, finding the man from Senegal who was excited to meet me and receive material was worth the whole trip.

I sat for a few seconds, and wondered where my "intended contact" was. I eventually checked out, and took my purchases out to the car. I still felt like there was an opportunity somewhere due to the obviousness of the prompting I had when I first drove by this group of stores. So I walked down the sidewalk in front of the stores, and still didn't see any opportunities.

After coming back to the car, I had to go to the restroom so I went back in to the department store where I had just shopped. And there standing in between me and the restroom area were two Asian ladies.

Doubters may say that this was pure coincidence, and that of course one will randomly encounter immigrants. But I knew I was supposed to be there, that I was led there, and that someone I would encounter would be ready for a Book of Mormon.

I asked the two ladies if they spoke any foreign languages. They said Chinese. They were from China, so they read the simplified script version of Chinese. I asked if I could give them books and a video in Chinese from my church, and they said okay. I asked them to wait and said I'd bring them in from my car.

I went out to my car and retrieved a Simplified script Chinese copy and and English copy of the Book of Mormon, and the multi-lingual "Finding Happiness" DVD that has Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean tracks on it.

They didn't show enthusiasm, but were definitely curious about the material.

I pointed out the phone numbers they could call if they had family or friends who wanted additional copies.

Afterwards, I realized that I assumed the two ladies were family and resided in the same household. I had enough copies with me, I could have asked if they wanted a pair of books each.

You may wonder if it's kosher to proselyte in stores. Well, this wasn't proselyting. It was one customer striking up a casual conversation with other customers, and offering bilingual material that has another purpose in addition to just religion: it's also about languages. Is the language aspect a "pretext?" Well, if it is, it's a legitimate pretext.

There are certain rules I follow at stores which seem to keep it acceptable. First, I am there as a customer, with the purpose of making a purchase, something the store wants me to do. Second, I keep moving along as a customer. I don't park myself in one location, though I may occasionally linger or alter my path to facilitate a contact. And I leave after I've made my purchases. Third, I don't take material in with me, I leave it in the car, and only retrieve it if the person agrees to receive it. Fourth, unless prompted I don't seek additional contacts after the first. Fifth, I don't ask people for their names, addresses or phone numbers. I just give them my name/number and a flyer with several ways to contact the church.

Therefore, I am a customer engaged in what the store wants me to do, buying their goods. And I'm not doing anything beyond socializing with other customers in an acceptable manner. When I bring printed material into the store, it is only after the other person has agreed to receive it. And often, if our conversation is while we are going through the check-out lane, the transfer of the material takes place outside, which is even better.

On the rest of the trip home that evening, I kept my eyes open, and found a Japanese restaurant and two more Chinese restaurants, but didn't have any more encounters.

Moment #638. French, Wolof at gas station. Tue, Jul 4, 2006.

07/04/2006. I left the Chinese restaurant and felt a definite "tug" to take the long way home instead of the main road by which I came. That usually means that opportunities lie ahead. I ended up stopping at four gas stations on the East/West road before turning South. None of them had any obvious opportunities, and I merely bought a few two-liters of pop that I'd end up using, and some newspapers. I also made note of three more Chinese restaurants for future trips.

I then headed South towards Indianapolis, and came to a large commercial area. I saw a gas station of a brand that is known to employ a lot of immigrants. But by the time I received the "tug" towards it, it was too late to turn. So I went to the next light and turned into that shopping center, and drove through that shopping center's parking lot towards the gas station.

As I drove through the shopping center, I felt a definite tug towards those stores, but not to any store in particular. The only store among that group where I could do some needed shopping was a national department store, so I made a mental note to return there, as I needed to buy some new pants.

I pulled into the gas station, and went inside. The clerk was a black man speaking a foreign language on the phone, so this was the place. I bought a newspaper, asked him "parlez-vous francais?" "Oui," he replied. "D'ou ette vous?" (Where are you from) "Senegal." "Ahh. Parlez-vous Wolof." "Oui, parlez-vous Wolof?" "Tuuti Wolof rek laa deg," I replied. (I only speak a little Wolof.)

He was genuinely surprised and happy. We alternated between French and English, as my French is very limited. I asked him to wait a minute, and that I had something in my car I'd bring in to show him. His excitement was so great I didn't want to spoil it with any more questions. I went out and retrieved French and English Books of Mormon. He was very pleased to receive them. We chit-chatted a bit, and he said he'd call some time.

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Moment #637. Chinese at restaurant. Tue, Jul 4, 2006.

07/04/2006. I went to a nice buffet restaurant in a town Northeast of Indianapolis.

The busboys were hispanic, so I had a Spanish Book of Mormon on the table in addition to the Chinese material, but they might not have noticed.

I don't know if I was out of sorts, or I sat in the wrong place, or the moment just wasn't right. Towards the end of my meal, I just felt awkward.

After eating I approached the cashier, and offered her a Simplified Chinese and an English Book of Mormon. She accepted the Chinese, though she was not enthusiastic, and she reluctantly accepted the English.

Although I did feel like it was the right thing to eat there, I did learn something new. Sometimes it's just not the right time to place a Book of Mormon. Maybe the purpose was just to show them by placing them on the table. Maybe that restaurant was just to be a "way point" and I didn't even need to eat there.

But going there put me on a path to find other people that evening, so that was one reason why I needed to be there, whether it was to actually eat there, or to be a way-point. While on that little trip I also discovered five other restaurants for future visits.

After eating, I felt a definite "tug" to take the long way home by heading West instead of getting back on the main highway. So more adventure was in store.

There were three more Chinese restaurants on that East/West road that I didn't know about. And indeed, there was excitement to come.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Moment #636. Swahili at ATM. Mon, Jul 3, 2006.

07/03/2006. This is where the "timing factor" instructions from Moment #634 come into play. This illustrates that in some things the Lord can influence us (or "maneuver us into position") without our knowing it, but sometimes he wants us to follow promptings and impressions to get us to certain places.

After lunch, I came back via the Interstate to the exit near the Post Office, checked mail, and picked up a package at the counter. Before leaving I decided to give one of the postal clerks my card to give to some acquaintances of hers from Ghana. I wrote on the card that I had Sunday school manuals and hymns in her friends' language.

I then needed to deposit a check I received in the mail. Now that I was at the Post office, I would be going to the ATM nearest the Post Office. However, if I had picked up my mail first before eating (and had followed my personal preference to get off the Interstate and buy gas near the Post Office), I would have ended up using my bank's ATM that was only one block from the Chinese restaurant, as that would have been less driving. But I had followed the Spirit's prompting or "tug" to stay on the Interstate and check mail after eating.

So after getting my mail and package at the Post Office, I headed to the bank with the ATM that was four blocks away (away from the Interstate) to deposit the check.

As I pulled into the bank's parking lot, I noticed an African-looking man walking from the bank to the parking lot. He set off my immigrant radar. I noticed which car he got in, and fortunately I would be able to walk right past him and his car when heading for the ATM.

I walked right past his car and turned my head around to look and make sure, and yes, I felt a sense of urgency about contacting him. Approaching him, even after he was in his car felt right. He had rolled down his window, so it would not be too awkward.

Yes, it is normally awkward approaching someone after they've already gotten into their car, but the confluence of events leading up to it, and the obvious feeling that I should contact him made it right.

I asked if he spoke any foreign languages. He said yes. I asked where he was from. He said Tanzania. I asked if he spoke Swahili, and he broke into a smile and said yes.

I asked if he wanted some free books in Swahili from my church and he enthusiastically said yes. He said he was Muslim, but he still would like to see them. I asked him to wait while I got them from my car, and brought back a Swahili and an English Book of Mormon.

He was thrilled with them. I said the address of the church was inside, and he could call me or the other numbers in there if he wanted more copies for friends. After I got back in my car, I looked and could tell he was still reading it.

I don't know how to sufficiently or properly express thanks to the Lord for the privilege of being his delivery-boy. Had I done only what I had planned, and stopped at only the gas station I wanted to, I would have missed the Cambodian woman. Had I done my errands in the sequence I wanted to, in what I thought would have been the safest and most efficient manner, I would have totally missed the man from Tanzania.

I stand all amazed. The Lord knew exactly where those two people were, and he arranged those encounters. They must have been ready to receive the Book of Mormon.

Moment #635. Chinese DVD at restaurant. Mon, Jul 3, 2006.

07/03/2006. I went to the Chinese restaurant I had in mind. It's new and the dining area was clean. I ordered, paid, sat down, and put Chinese material on the table. A few minutes later the teenage cashier brought out my food and noticed the Books of Mormon in Chinese.

I offered them, and he flipped through one, but he wasn't interested, and handed it back. His English wasn't that good, so he wasn't very Americanized. His disinterest was strong enough that I don't think I even tried to explain the bilingual ESL nature.

After eating, I approached the counter, and offered the "Finding Happiness" DVD, with Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, and English tracks. He reluctantly accepted it.

Moment #634. Cambodian at gas station. Mon, Jul 3, 2006.

07/03/2006. On the agenda was to pick up mail, buy gasoline, have lunch at a new Chinese restaurant I found Saturday.

Knowing that the "moments" that happen at the Post Office and at gas stations are time-sensitive, I sought guidance, trying to feel if I should go eat first, or pick up mail first. With the low-fuel light showing, my natural inclination was to get off the Interstate and go to the Post Office and get fuel near there, as that was the closer exit. But the "tug" was to stay on the Interstate and get off later at the exit nearest the Chinese Restaurant I had in mind.

I don't like gambling with the low-fuel light, but the tug was definitive, and it indicated to stay on the Interstate. There would be a gas station immediately after getting off at my intended exit, and I'd pass right by it on the way to the restaurant. I've placed books at that gas station on at least two occasions, so it would be good follow-up. Besides, if the Lord wanted me to run out of gas, there must be a purpose in it.

As I write this, my conscience convicts me that I didn't properly formalize a mental or vocal prayer in that instance. I was neither humble enough in my supplication, nor did I properly express gratitude after receiving the obvious "tug". I should not have waited to see the result before expressing gratitude.

I made it to that gas station without running out of gas. There was a van-load of hispanic landscaping workers using the other side of my pump, but I didn't communicate other than a polite nod and a "Muy buenas" to one man with whom I made eye-contact. I probably could have made an approach, but I was not confident enough.

After fueling the car, I went in to buy a newspaper to read during lunch, but none of the employees were immigrants at this time.

I continued down the street to the Chinese restaurant, and as soon as I entered the next intersection, I received a definite impression to go into the gas station/convenience store on that corner. I've made two placements there before, one just a few months ago.

I had to buy something, so I got a different newspaper this time. I got in line, and one of the cashiers was a college age woman who appeared Southeast Asian.

There may have been someone behind me, but after paying I asked quickly "Do you speak any foreign languages?" "Yes." "Where are you from?" "Cambodia." "Can I show you a free book in Cambodian from my church?" She couldn't read Cambodian, only speak it, but I offered them for her to give to her parents or relatives, and she was genuinely interested. If I held up anyone behind me, it was less than 10 seconds.

I went out to my car and got two issues of the Liahona in Cambodian, and a Cambodian and an English Book of Mormon.

I went back in, got in line, and let a couple people in front of me so as not to delay anyone. I told the other customer something like "This isn't business, it's just a personal thing" pointing to the books, as an indication I didn't want to delay them for non-business chit-chat.

The cashier was rather excited about the material. I asked her if she knew another Cambodian lady who worked at an Asian market down the street. She didn't know her, so I gave her the other lady's name, the name of the store, and the location, thinking she'd enjoy meeting another Cambodian who worked just a few blocks away.

I don't know when this lady's shift ended, so going to the Post Office later may not have affected this encounter, but it did affect an enounter later on.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Moment #633. Chinese x 3 at buffet. Sat, Jul 1, 2006.

07/01/2006. I went to another nearby town to have dinner at a buffet with a single sister. We went to a nice Chinese buffet there.

After getting our first plates from the buffet tables and sitting down, I put out the two kinds of Chinese editions of the Book of Mormon, an English edition, a Chinese Liahona, a multi-lingual "Finding Happiness" and a bilingual Chinese/English Bible. At $20, the latter is too expensive to give away like I do the copies of the Book of Mormon. The $3.50 Chinese/English New Testaments were out of stock. But I wanted something on hand to illustrate that we use both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Our waitress very soon came over and started a conversation about the simplified script Chinese Book of Mormon. She made it very easy to present it to her. She politely declined the English, even after I tried to explain the bilingual ESL aspect. I'm not sure if I did a poor job explaining, or if she just didn't catch the idea. The hostess soon came over and asked about the books. She accepted both a simplified script Chinese and English, and the Finding Happiness DVD. We also gave the Chinese Liahona to one of them.

Our waitress started reading her copy back at the waitress station when she wasn't busy.

Another waitress who frequently passed by our table kept looking at the books so I initiated a conversation with her, and she gladly accepted a Chinese/English pair.

After paying, we gave the hostess/cashier another Finding Happiness DVD to give to one of the waitresses.

Missed opportunity at store. Sat, Jul 1, 2006.

07/01/2006. I stopped at a major department store to buy something, and ended up in a check-out line behind a family that appeared to be from India. The next line over was shorter, so I went over to that line hoping we'd leave at the same itme and I could strike up a conversation. But my line ended up taking longer, and by the time I was through the check-out the other family was long gone. The high shelves between the lanes prevent talking across them.

Apparently, I haven't learned the lesson from the last missed opportunity, and just strike up a conversation and make a book offer as soon as possible.

Follow-up to #595. Pashto. Sat, Jul 1, 2006.

07/01/2006. I was in the neighborhood so I stopped by one of the middle-eastern stores. I had given an Urdu Book of Mormon to a cashier there on June 15th. He had told me then that his wife spoke Pashto, but I didn't have any Pashto material in the car.

I've been back a couple times since then, but was never able to catch him there.

So today I stopped in, and he was there so I gave him Pashto and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals. It was just a quick in-and-out.

Moment #632. Chinese at restaurant. Sat, Jul 1, 2006.

07/01/2006. I had lunch at a Northwest side restaurant that I haven't been to before. It was a standard strip-mall Chinese restaurant. I ordered, sat down, and put a Traditional Chinese, a Simplified Chinese, and an English Chinese Book of Mormon on the table. I also put out a Chinese Liahona magazine, and a "Finding Happiness" multi-lingual DVD.

The cashier/waiter was a young-adult man. In the back was a woman who appeared to be his wife, and an older couple who were probably his parents.

He noticed the books when he brought my food. I asked "Have you seen this book before? The Book of Mormon?" He hadn't, but he said "It's some kind of Bible, right?"

That's a problem with the symbols they originally used to translate the phrase "Book of Mormon" into Chinese. The symbol the translators used for "book" is more accurately translated "holy book" and is also the second symbol used to denote the Bible in Chinese. So if you take the Chinese title of the Book of Mormon and translate it back to English, it comes out "Mormon Holy Book" or as most bilingual Chinese people would say: "Mormon Bible".

So this would have been a good time for me to have had a bilingual Chinese/English Bible handy, and illustrate that we believe in both. But, the International Bible Society is currently out of stock.

He was genuinely curious. I asked if he were from China or Taiwan, and he said China. I offered the Simplified Chinese and the English and he enthusiastically accepted them.

A little later, he and the other employees sat at the next table over for their lunch, and he asked me some more questions. We chit-chatted a bit, and I gave them the Together Forever and Finding Happiness DVD. The DVD case for Finding Happiness has an explanation on it in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English. They were reading it and passing it around.

He asked an excellent question for someone from a non-Christian background about how I would describe Jesus, and how is he different from God. I thought for a moment and said "Jesus takes us back to God."