Monday, April 30, 2007

English declined at store. Mon, Apr 30, 2007.

04/30/2007. 817. I was shopping at a store, and overheard two employees talking while they worked. One was telling the other how she had recently switched churches, and mentioned some of the reasons. I was browsing some products, figuring out which to buy, and was within casual conversation distance. At what I felt was an appropriate time, I spoke up, asking "Uh, would you like a free Book of Mormon?" The employee politely declined. But we continued to chit-chat just a few seconds more. I said something about doing "comparison shopping" in regards to churches.

Some readers of this blog think segueing conversations into religious discussions is creepy. But I think this encounter was rather natural. The one employee was already talking churches, about switching from one to another, and they were speaking within earshot of the public. It seemed just as natural to speak up at that moment as if they had been talking about the weather or a sports game.

What I had in mind when offering a free Book of Mormon, was to go out to the car and get one, but I didn't actually say that I had one with me. I suppose I could have been more bold and offered a pass-along card just in case she wanted the phone number for future reference. The more I think about it, the more I believe I should have at least offered a card after she declined to receive the book.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Movie Review: Suits on the Loose.

I just watched the "Suits on the Loose" DVD.

It's one of the better Mormon movies. There are four big names playing in the Movie. Character actors Robert Prosky as a bishop, Charles Napier, and Reginald VelJohnson. Also appearing is actor Fred Dryer as a senator.

Also features character actor Shaun Weiss, known for his role as the goalie in Mighty Ducks (Hat tip to Brett) as one of the hapless missionaries who gets their car stolen by the boot-camp escapees. His interpretation of a missionary is a bit over-the-top, but he and Jason Winer, the other "real" missionary, must have had some good coaching from the director.

There's some corny parts, some maudlin parts, and some good "trading places" kind of humor. There's no church-bashing. Some of the funniest parts are where the two "boot camp" escapees are trying to pretend to be Mormon missionaries. It does borrow the theme of mistaken identity from other movies. The writers/director did a good job of melding that theme into a Mormon missionary setting.

Seeing the one escapee whose character had a Southern Baptist background try to adapt what he thinks about church people into the Mormon paradigm provided some good belly laughs.

You don't have to be LDS to appreciate this movie. Fred Dryer had some really good praise for the movie in one of the DVD extras. But LDS members, especially pre-raise-the-bar returned missionares, will get the full humor effects and some of the inside humor.

The movie can be appreciated on several levels. It's rated PG, but I'd think it would be suitable for all but the smallest children. There is a bar scene with pool playing and drinking, and one fist-fight scene. As is predictable, the good guys win, and the "bad guys" get converted.

See it with your non-member friends and explain the inside humor.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yoruba Bible at laundromat. Tue, Apr 24, 2007.

04/24/2007. 816. I was at a laundromat relatively close to home. Not the 24-hour one, so I had to get there early.

I noticed a lady who appeared that she might be from Africa, but I couldn't tell. Eventually another younger lady, who turned out to be her daughter, joined her; and as they were speaking a foreign language, I decided to strike up a conversation.

They were really nice people. They are from Nigeria and speak Yoruba. I said I speak only a little Yoruba, in Yoruba. I learned it from a computer multi-media CD, and they seemed pleased and impressed. Well, at least it caught their attention.

I offered them a free copy of the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals manual. The mother asked which church it was from, and when I told her, she politely declined. She said they were missionaries in Nigeria, and she started reciting some commonly held but mistaken beliefs about what the LDS church believes. They go to a nearby church.

I eventually went out to my car to see what I had, and I had run out of the Yoruba Gospel Fundamentals anyway, though I thought I still had some back home. But I did have both a Yoruba Bible, and an Igbo Bible in the car, so I brought those in to show. They don't speak Igbo, but it's another common language of Nigeria. They were very impressed to see a Yoruba Bible, and the mother wanted it because her son had her Yoruba Bible, so I gave it to her.

The mother was firm in thinking that Mormons don't believe the Bible, or at least don't believe all of it. Both the mother and daughter asked me some basic questions, so I tried to answer the best I could. The daughter was a bit more curious, so I had to tread carefully to answer her questions without offending the mother.

I feel very honored to have been able to give someone a Bible in her native language. She looked up one of her favorite verses and read it in Yoruba.

I also showed them a copy of the LDS King James Bible, and pointed out that it was indeed the King James version, published by the LDS church, with LDS footnotes, and Topical Guide (what other churches call a "concordance.") I showed the daughter how some of the footnotes refer to passages in the Book of Mormon.

It was a really cool encounter because the daughter asked some golden questions, and I felt the Spirit while answering. And I hope that, eventually, the fact that a Mormon gave out a Yoruba Bible sinks in as a testimony with the mother that maybe Mormons do believe the Bible. I have a picture in my mind of her telling the people at her church that a Mormon at the laundromat gave her a Yoruba Bible.

We chit-chatted a bit more, and eventually we all went back to our laundry chores. I have a feeling that the daughter is going to have further contact with the restored gospel.

What a meeting. A missionary lady travels 6,000 miles from home and finds the Bible in her native language at a laundromat. God is great.

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Vietnamese at restaurant. Tue, Apr 24, 2007.

04/24/2007. 815. I had supper at a local Vietnamese restaurant that I hadn't been to before. I went in with a newspaper, a Vietnamese Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon. I sat down, placed the books face down on the table. The waitress came and took my order. Before the food came, I turned over the books face up on the table, but had them between me and the wall.

When the waitress returned with my food, she noticed the title, and asked if I read Vietnamese. I said no, that I had brought it for her if she wanted it, and that it was a free Book from my church. She seemed eager, and gratefully accepted it, along with the English. I suggested she could call any of the numbers on the material inside the book if she like it and wanted to know more, or to get more copies for friends. We chit-chatted very briefly, and then she had to get back to work.

When she took them back to the kitchen, I could hear them talk about it in both Vietnamese and English.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Follow-up at Chinese restaurant. Mon, Apr 23, 2007.

04/23/2007. Follow-up. I had supper at a humble Chinese strip mall restaurant that I haven't been to for maybe 18 months. I had left a Chinese/English pair of copies of the Book of Mormon back then. Tonight, after finishing eating in the dining area, I went back to the counter and gave them a "Finding Happiness" DVD and a "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" DVD, both of which have Cantonese and Mandarin audio tracks.

They didn't have time to chat, so I didn't ask them if they had read the Book of Mormon or had any questions or wanted to learn more. There were pass-along cards, and lists of the local chapels in both DVD cases.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Spanish declined at Chinese restaurant. Fri, Apr 20, 2007

04/20/2007. 814. I had supper at a Chinese buffet restaurant in a suburb of Indianapolis. This was right after I chickened out of an opportunity to talk to two Asian men in front of the nail salon further down the strip mall.

I put out the two kinds of Chinese editions of the Book of Mormon on my table while I ate and read the newspaper. But the bus-boy was Hispanic, not Chinese, so I eventually put out a Spanish Book of Mormon too. On one of his trips collecting the used plates, I asked if he spoke Spanish and liked to read in Spanish, and he said yes. I offered him the Book of Mormon in Spanish and English. He didn't say "no thanks," but he was showing reluctance, and was hesitating while he thought of a response, so I didn't press. I should have offered a Spanish pass-along card though.

When I was ready to leave, the Asian cashier/hostess was on the phone. She had spoken what sounded like Chinese to another Asian family who was eating there. I could have waited until she was off the phone before passing by the cashier counter on my way out, but I was feeling discouraged from having chickened out in front of the nail salon, and the bus-boy declining.

On my way out I noticed a bulletin board in the entrance foyer for people to post their business cards. So I put up a business-card sized pass-along card.

I'll have to go back during lunch, or soon after the lunch-rush to eat there again and make another try.


Missed Opportunity, Vietnamese. Fri, Apr 20, 2007.

04/20/2007. Missed opportunity. I was going to eat at a Chinese buffet restaurant, but first I walked down the sidewalk of the strip mall to a newspaper vending machine to buy a local newspaper. I walked past a nail salon (which are almost always owned by people from Vietnam), and two Asian men were conversing in front it.

I was carrying my large satchel of Asian language copies of the Book of Mormon, and there was a Vietnamese copy in it. But I was afraid that if I whipped out the Vietnamese book right there, it would be appear to strongly that I was targeting them. It's so much easier for me when meetings are just happenstance. In this case, it really was happenstance, but I let fear and lack of confidence override a perfect opportunity. I chickened out, and didn't say anything to the two men, neither on my trip down to the newspaper box or on the way back.

It didn't occur to me until later that I still could have gone back to my car and retrieved a different Vietnamese Book of Mormon from the car if either of them had been interested in one. I also had at least one Vietnamese Liahona in the car.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

DVD at Chinese restuarant. Tue, Apr 17, 2007.

04/17/2007. 813. I was in the NW quadrant of Indy for a late appointment, and had decided to have a late supper over there before the appointment. I scouted around a bit and found a Chinese restaurant that I hadn't been to before.

I ordered, paid, and sat down. But I didn't put any material on the table until after the waitress/cashier brought my food. On her return, she was a little too fast for me to say anything.

A little later, she was back in the kitchen, and a man I took to be her husband and the co-owner came out to the dining area and sat a couple tables over and read a Chinese newspaper. I eventually struck up a conversation with him, asking where they were from and whether they spoke Cantonese or Mandarin, and brought up the "Together Forever" DVD which has a Cantonese audio track. I was awkward in segueing to the Book of Mormon, and he seemed reluctant to accept it so I didn't press. But he was interested in the DVD, and took it back to the kitchen where it sounded like they were talking about it. He didn't come back for a while, so I left while they both were still in the kitchen. I probably should have stayed longer, but I didn't want to miss my appointment.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

DVD at Chinese restaurant. Mon Apr 16, 2007.

04/16/2007. Journal entry. A follow-up. I had supper at a restuarant I've been to before, but it's been a while. I couldn't catch the waitress on her way past my table, so I stopped at the cashier counter on the way out, and gave a "Finding Happiness" DVD to the employee. He said he thought he had that one or a similar one already, but he accepted it anyway. I had left a Simplified Script Chinese Book of Mormon here over a year ago, and a "Together Forever" DVD either at that time or later.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Twi, Ewe at grocery store. Thu, Apr 12, 2007.

04/12/2007. 812. I was at the grocery store late in the evening. The man behind me had only two items, and I had at least a dozen. There was only one check-out lane open. I suggested to the man that he go ahead of me. He deferred to me, but I insisted he go ahead. It wasn't until he paid the cashier and said something that I detected the accent in his voice. I should have picked up earlier on his dress that he was from Afria, and was not African-American.

As the cashier started to ring up my purchases, I engaged him in conversation, asking where he was from, and what languages he spoke. He said he was from Ghana and Togo. When I asked if he spoke Twi, he was surprised and asked how I knew about Twi. I said there were many Ghanaians in Indianapolis. He spoke Engish, French, Twi, Ewe, and one or two others that I didn't recognize. I offered him books from church in those languages if he would wait for me, and he agreed.

We went out to my car, and I gave him Twi and English copies of the Book of Mormon, a Twi Bible, and Ewe and English copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony.

I forgot to give him a French Book of Mormon. I searched the car for a French New Testament, but I didn't have any in the car, though I knew I had some more at home. I showed him my phone number in the material with the books, and asked him to call me, and I'd arrange to get him a French New Testament.

He could have been in his 50's or 60's. When I talked to him face-to-face, I could see the ravages of a hard life in his face and eyes. He was a dignified and humble man. It is hard to be dignified and humble at the same time, but this man was one of the few whom I've met that are both. It was a real honor to meet someone like him, and to be able to give him material in the languages of his homeland. We spoke a little in French. I look forward to his phone call, and getting him a French New Testament and a French Book of Mormon.

He lives close enough, and is in my ward, that I could pick him up and take him to church if he doesn't already have a church to go to. But I didn't think of inviting him until I got home. I hope he calls and that I remember to invite him.

I haven't had as many of these serendipitous meetings with immigrants since moving, so meeting him was all the more special. In addition to that warm glow of humility, kindness, gentleness, and dignity that he radiated, traces of past hardships and horror were written on his face and eyes. God has blessed him by bringing him to this land of peace and freedom. What an honor if I am permitted to introduce him to more of God's blessings.

Follow up here.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Chinese at restaurant. Fri, Apr 6, 2007.

04/06/2007. 811. Errands took me back to the East side of Indy. While driving past a Chinese restaurant that I've noticed before, but never ate at, I felt the familiar "tug." But not being hungry yet due to a late breakfast and snacking, I decided to pass it up. While continuing on to other errands, and more than half-way home from there, I finally fell there was room for lunch, and a slight sense of urgency about that restaurant. It was enough of an impression that I went back there for lunch.

I sat down, ordered and place some material out on the table, both kinds of Chinese Books of Mormon, a "Finding Happiness" video, and a bilingual Chinese/English New Testament. The young waitress noticed them when she brought my food, but it was now well into the lunch hour rush, and she didn't have time for small talk.

Eventually I paid the cashier, who looked to be "papa-san" or the owner, but he was moving quickly too. Fortunately, just as I was picking up and packing up to leave, he walked by my table, and was not too busy, so I struck up a conversation with him. He read traditional script Chinese, but he accepted the bilingual simplified script Chinese/English New Testament anyway, and the traditional script Chinese Book of Mormon, along with the English Book of Mormon.

He picked up on the idea of using them to improve his English, and mentioned it before I even brought up that aspect. Cool.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

(Redacted) language at restaurant. Thu, Apr 5, 2007.

04/05/2007. 810. After dropping off the Chinese books with the sister missionaries' land-lady, I stopped by the chapel on that side of town to sit in on the stake single adult committee meeting. I'm not a member of the committee, but they let me sit in on occasion. One of the female single adult reps for a ward had previously told me she'd like to go to a restaurant with me when I attempt a book placement, so I asked her out to dinner after the meeting.

We went to an ethnic restaurant near where she lives. I don't want to say the name of the language since that may identify the restaurant. One of my goals in this blog is to maintain the privacy of the recipients.

The food was excellent. (By the way, if I know you, and you want to get a list of my recommended Indy area restaurants, send me a feedback email here.)

I had brought in 5 items with me, and had placed them on the empty chair next to me, a Liahona magazine, two foreign language copies of the Book of Mormon, an English Book of Mormon, and a copy of the newly released multi-lingual DVD "The Testaments".

When the waitress came by to collect payment for the check, I offered her a Liahona magazine in her language. She didn't say "no," or "no thanks," but that seemed her intent. She may have been more confused by what I was offering, than actually wanting to decline.

After a few more minutes of conversation with my dinner date, we headed for the door, and at that point the waitress came back into the dining room. I decided to make one more offer, this time with the DVD. Sometimes the video material is an easier "sell" than printed material. She did positively accept the DVD, so I decided to then offer her the Book of Mormon in her language and in English. By that time, I think she understood, or at least caught the bilingual nature of the material, as her English was not very good outside of restaurant vocabulary.


Chinese and French to Sister Missionaries. Thu, Apr 5, 2007.

04/05/2007. Journal entry. The sister missionaries on the West side of Indianapolis called me to get some more simplified script Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon for some more investigators. They may have asked me for a French copy too, but if they did, I forgot about it. So after shopping at that Asian grocery store in the previous entry, I swung by the West side of Indy to run an errand, and drop off the Simplified Chinese Books of Mormon, and a bilingual simplified script Chinese/English New Testament. I left them with the landlord/home-owner where the sisters rent a basement apartment in her house.

Later in the evening (still Thursday) the sisters called back and asked (or asked again) for a French Book of Mormon, and some more English copies of the Book of Mormon since they had run out of English.

04/06/2007. Journal entry. So Friday (the 6th), in the AM, I stopped by their apartment before they left for the day, after another errand on the West side, and dropped off a French Book of Mormon, a French issue of the Liahona magazine, along with the corresponding English edition of the same issue, a French Gospel Principles, and French "Teachings of Presidents of the Church, David O. McKay."

I don't expect the sisters to give out all those items to their French-speaking investigators at once. I would imagine they'll give out the Book of Mormon first, and then other items at subsequent discussions.

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Chinese at Asian grocery store. Thu, Apr 5, 2007.

04/05/2007. 809. On my way back from a client's office I saw an Asian grocery store that I haven't been to before, so I stopped in to do some shopping. Nice selection of stuff. The family is from Taiwan, so they read the traditional style Chinese script, not the simplified style of the mainland.

After I paid, there was no one in line behind me, so I struck up a conversation. The cashier lady and her son agreed to see the material, so I took my purchases out to the car, and brought back in a Together Forever multi-lingual DVD, a traditional script Chinese Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon. There still weren't any other customers in line, so we chatted some more. They were Buddhist, as evidenced by the large Buddha shrine in the store, but they were rather enthusiastic about receiving the material, and made me feel nice with their compliments on my attempts to say a few words in Mandarin.

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