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, www.ldscatalog.com
, 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.