10/16/2006. 733. On the way to the Singles family home evening, Swahili and English copies to a fellow customer at a gas station. We made good eye contact when he entered the store, and when he spoke to the cashier with an accent, I could tell he was from Africa. He was rather enthusiastic about receiving the books, and said he was on his way to his church. Several promptings on the way there likely aided in the timing of this encounter.
10/16/2006. 734. On the way home from Singles family home evening, English Bibles and English Book of Mormon to cashier at another gas station. I thought I was inspired to go to a certain grocery store before going home, which put me on a slightly different path than what I would normally take when going home from church. I was then tugged into the parking lot of a different store on the way, and once in that parking lot, I was tugged towards the gas station next door. I went in and bought a caffeine-free soda from the fountain. The cashier was an English-speaking man, and I was going to chicken out of approaching him, but the Spirit indicated he was my intended contact. And no one else was waiting in line at that time. After paying, I turned and took a step towards the door, and tried to chicken out, but the Spirit cranked up the volume. I stood there a few seconds before I turned around, and offered him a free Bible.
He said okay, but only slightly on the positive side in terms of enthusiasm. Not reluctant, but barely lukewarm. I asked which translation he'd like, the King James, or a newer translation. He said he had a King James Bible, and asked what the newer translations were. I said the New International Version is written at a 12th grade level, and the Today's New International Version is written at about an 8th grade level, and I asked if he had any children. He had a teenager and a pre-teen, so I intended to give him one of each.
Then I said that my church believes in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and offered him a Book of Mormon. That was when he perked up, and became enthusiastic and expressed a very positive desire for a Book of Mormon. So I excused myself to get the books from the car, and brought in a NIV Bible, a TNIV Bible, and an English Book of Mormon. Right after I gave him the books, there were other people in line, so I had to let him get back to work, so it was basically a "hit and run" delivery.
The Lord knew he really wanted a Book of Mormon, and I was going to chicken out because he "only" spoke English. I need to be braver about making English-only approaches.
10/16/2006. 735. When I went out to get the books, there was a Mexican/Hispanic man loitering outside who drew my attention. After giving the books to the cashier, then instead of leaving, I pulled around to a pump, bought a couple dollars worth of gas, and observed to make sure nothing was amiss. It was raining, so it seemed like he was just getting shelter from the rain, either waiting on someone, or else taking a respite from the rain while walking. He went inside and appeared to buy something, then came out and waited around some more.
When I finally concluded he had no ill intent at the gas station, I approached him and asked him if he needed a ride somewhere. He did. He was going to have to walk 30 blocks in the rain after having an argument with his girlfriend. I offered to give him a ride, and figured I could offer him a Spanish Bible and Book of Mormon.
I had the two local Spanish radio stations pre-programmed on my car radio, and asked which one he preferred, and punched the preset for the one he liked. We chit-chatted during the ride. And before we got to his destination, I offered him a Spanish Bible and Spanish Book of Mormon. He accepted. And when we got there, I offered, and he accepted the English copies too. He may have been a little taken aback at the book offers, but he was not at all hesitant or reluctant.
I'm both grateful and amazed at the series of promptings that got me to this gas station. I want to think that it's appropriate to maintain a sense of awe and wonder over it. But I'm also starting to see that I shouldn't let that awe and wonder overwhelm me, because there are even more awesome things that can come of such encounters, especially with one who was as eager for a Book of Mormon as was the cashier. Contacts and book placements are merely steps along the path towards people's conversion.
Labels: English, gas station, Spanish, Swahili