Saturday, June 28, 2008

Follow-up at grocery. Chinese. Sat, Jun 28, 2008

06/28/2008. Journal entry. On my way home from the laundromat, I felt impressed to go slightly out of my way to stop at a 24/7 grocery store.

In front of me at the check-out line was a young Chinese couple. The man's shirt bore the name of a local Chinese restaurant, but there are several restaurants with that name, so I didn't know the exact one. But I had been to all three that I was thinking of with that name.

I struck up a conversation with him as he was waiting on the cashier, and he told me which was his restaurant, and he remembered some of the material I had given him, though I had forgotten exactly what all I had given them.

They were parked near me in the parking lot, so I retrieved a couple DVDs from my car and met him half-way between our cars. He was eager to talk, so it was not an imposition on him. He already had one of the DVD's, but not the other, so I gave him the one he didn't have.

Their restaurant is in our ward boundaries, so I ought to take our full-time missionaries there for lunch soon.

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Laotian at laundromat. Sat, Jun 28, 2008

06/28/2008. 1036. I was at a laundromat. My favorite all-night laundromat is closed to due storm damage, so I went to one that's near it and is open until midnight.

Right when I was going in, I noticed a Southeast-Asian family. I couldn't tell exactly what country they were from, but they looked like they were from one of the countries near Vietnam. There was a man about my age, and at least a couple of his young adult children, and their children.

After I got my laundry loaded in a washer, I went over to the older man and asked him where his family was originally from. He said Laos. He said he's been in the United States for 28 years. I asked if he like to read Laotian, but he shook his head, and said he'd forgotton most of it. I mentioned that my church has free books in Laotian but he didn't seem interested.

I had a Laotian Book of Mormon in my car, and felt like I needed to at least just show it to him.

This is where I need to mention that just the sight of the Book of Mormon conveys some kind of message, and it's even possible for some kind of testimony to be received. Most people reading the preceeding sentence don't understand how that is true. But in literary terms, it's called an "objective correlative" a physical object that provides explicit access to traditionally inexplicable concepts.

The take-away lesson is this: If someone merely speaks a language, but doesn't read it, it is a "good thing" to show them the Book of Mormon in that language anyway. If someone doesn't want (any language) of the Book of Mormon, it's still okay to show them a Book of Mormon.

I'm not saying to shove it in their face. I'm not saying to force it on them. I'm just saying to hold it in your hands and let them see the title. Let them know that it exists. Let there be a direct line of sight from them to the book.

It's one thing to say that there is (or that there exists) a Book of Mormon, or a Book of Mormon in their language. But to actually have it in your hands and show them a Book of Mormon makes it tangible, and the concept of the existence of the Book of Mormon enters their mind through their eyes in addition to their ears. Most people are more visually oriented than auditory oriented. They don't conceptualize something until they see it.

Therefore I knew that there would be some benefit, even if intangible, if I could show the man the Laotian Book of Mormon.

I eventually went out to my car and retrieved the Laotian Book of Mormon, but by the time I got around to looking for the man again he wasn't there. But they weren't done with their laundry, so I knew they'd be back.

I kept the book with me, and when they came back, I approached the man again, and being very careful not to get too close, respectfully held the Laotian Book of Mormon in my hands. I tried very hard for my body English to say "You can see this if you want, but I'm not going to force it on you."

However, the man immediately extended his hand towards me indicating he wanted to see the book. This has happened before, and is why I believe it's important to show as well as say.

He changed his mind, and did want the book. He flipped through it, and one of his sons asked about it. He asked about where the church was, and I pointed out the one I go to which wasn't far from the laundromat. I offered an English copy, but he declined. I tried to explain the bi-lingual nature of having both copies, and that it could help him re-learn to read Laotian, or help him with English vocabulary (he did not seem fluent in English), but either I didn't make the point, or he just wasn't interested in the English.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chinese at Restaurant. Wed, Jun 25, 2008.

06/25/2008. 1035. I was on my way back home from another city where I had supper at a Thai restaurant.

I went by a shopping center in another town. This shopping center had caught my attention on my way to the other city going the other direction. I decided to explore this shopping center, and turned off the highway.

There was a Chinese restaurant there. I had just eaten, but I figured I could get some carry-out and eat it later. I went in an ordered a meal to go. I didn't take any material with me, but struck up a conversation with the young man taking customer orders at the cashier counter.

He agreed to see some of the material I had, so I brought in a Chinese and English Book of Mormon, a Chinese Liahona, and a couple DVD's, Together Forever and Finding Happiness. He ended up accepting the "Finding Happiness" DVD.

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Thai at restaurant. Wed, Jun 25, 2008.

06/25/2008. 1034. Yesterday (Tuesday) I felt I should go today (Wednesday) to a certain city within driving distance of Indianapolis for supper. It wasn't until shortly before I left that I planned out which restaurant. Thai restaurants came to mind, and I went to to get the address and directions for one. (Just type in the type of restaurant, and the city/state.)

I had taken in a Thai copy and an English copy of the Book of Mormon, a Thai Liahona, and a copy of "The Restoration" DVD that has a Thai audio track.

As I paid I offered the material to the waitress, asking her if she thought the owners or chef would like them. She thought at least one of them might, so she graciously accepted the material.

I had put an index card in the Thai Book of Mormon that listed the chapels in that city, along with the normal stuff I put in there (a list of Indianapolis chapels, a couple pass-along cards, a post-it note at 3rd Nephi chapter 11, asking that they read it through chapter 26, and a post-it note marking the promise at Moroni 10:3-5.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Videos at gas station. Mon, Jun 23, 2008.

06/23/2008. 1033. I pulled up to the pump at the gas station, and the next pump over, and the one next to that, had some Spanish-speaking men who appeard to just get off work. The way the men from both vehicles spoke to each other, I assumed they were part of the same crew. The thought occurred to me to offer them something.

I went inside, paid in advance, and came out and put gas in the car. I felt like chickening out, but decided to approach the man in the passenger seat of the car next to mine, since he was only a couple feet away from my driver side door.

I retrieved a couple of DVDs, Together Forever and Our Heavenly Father's plan from the back seat. I tried to be as low-key, polite and non-threatening as possible. He was just a teensy bit uneasy about being approached by a stranger. But I was standing immediately next to my car, so it wasn't like I was invading his space, or being where I wasn't supposed to be. The only thing "different" was actually talking to the person you're standing next to.

I spoke in Spanish, and asked if he'd like a couple of free DVDs from my church. I explained that they had Spanish audio on them. I asked if he had a DVD player, and he said yes. So I presented them, and he accepted them. I assumed he'd share them with the others in his group, but I didn't specifically say anything about that.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Internet addiction: Geeks and SAHMs.

From the British "Telegraph",

Internet addiction is a "clinical disorder."

By Andy Bloxham, Last Updated: 5:23PM BST 19/06/2008, REUTERS

Obsessive internet use is a public health problem which is so serious it should be officially recognised as a clinical disorder, according to a leading psychiatrist.

Sufferers spend unhealthy amounts of time playing online games, viewing pornography or emailing.

They suffer four symptoms: They forget to eat and sleep; they need more advanced technology or more hours online as they develop 'resistance' to the pleasure given by their current system; if they are deprived of their computer, they experience genuine withdrawal symptoms. And in common with other addictions, the victims also begin to have more arguments, to suffer fatigue, to get lower marks in tests and to feel isolated from society.

Early research into the subject found highly educated, socially awkward men were the most likely sufferers but more recent work suggests it is now more of a problem for middle-aged women who are spending hours at home on their computers.

Psychiatrist Dr. Jerald Block said some sufferers were so addicted to the Internet that they required medication or even hospital treatment to curb the time they spent on the web.

He said: "The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them. They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn."

He added: "It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games."

Dr. Block, of the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, in the USA, first made the claims in an editorial for the American Journal of Psychiatry.

British psychiatrists have previously reported that between five and 10 per cent of online users are internet addicts.


Friday, June 13, 2008

LDS stakes mobilize to help out flood victims in Indiana.

I've heard from a full-time church employee that the LDS church is organizing relief efforts to help victims of flooding in Indiana (and I presume the rest of the Midwest too) recover from the flood.

If you'd like to donate your labor, talk to your bishop or your stake leaders to join your stake's efforts in helping out.

If you'd like to contribute financially, include your donation on the "Humanitarian Aid" line of the church's donation slip (same form as used for tithing).

Update: Indiana is not the hardest hit area. Iowa has it much worse. I'm confident the church will be organizing volunteers in all the major disaster areas to help people recover from the floods and tornados.

Update: June 17th. Members have already started to help out cleaning up homes in Terre Haute in the western part of the state. The church has sent several truckloads of supplies and food to areas south of Indianapolis, but as of Sunday June 15th, work crews haven't actually gone in to south central Indiana as local civil authorities told church leaders that the situation isn't quite organized and assessed so as to receive volunteer clean-up labor yet. But they expect the needs to be assessed and recovery plans made and ready for volunteer labor by this weekend.

Note: LDS work crews can usually be identified by the yellow "LDS Helping Hands" vests that they wear.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

English at restaurant. Wed, Jun 11, 2008.

06/11/2008. 1032. I had lunch at an ethnic restaurant. The waiter didn't want any material in either of his two native languages, but he did express a desire for an English Book of Mormon, so I gave him the one I took in with me. I didn't write down the event soon enough, so I forget what else I offered or that he accepted. He may have accepted a Book of Mormon in their native language for one of the other employees.

Sometimes, when people from other countries come here as children, and grow up here, they learn to speak their native language from their parents, but they never learn to read it.

It's a nice and inexpensive restaurant, not far from where I go several times a month, so I'll have opportunity to stop by again.

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Twi at home improvement store. Wed, Jun 11, 2008.

06/11/2008. 1031. I was volunteering at the storehouse, and my supervisor and I went to a nearby home improvement store to buy some parts for our project. We took his car, so we didn't have the Book-of-Mormon-Mobile and its inventory handy.

Right inside the entrance, there was a lady and her children at the service desk. While the clerk was doing something to serve them, there was an opportunity to strike up a conversation, so I asked her where her family is originally from. She said Ghana. I asked if she spoke Twi, and she did. I offered her a free book from church in Twi and she agreed to receive one. We were both just starting our shopping, so I gave her the address of the storehouse and asked her to meet us there. I drew a little map for her, and gave her my cell phone number.

There is a bookcase at the storehouse front office with all the translations of the Book of Mormon on display, including Twi. I called the storehouse manager and told him of the encounter, and epxlained which book he should give her if she should get there before we did.

After we bought the stuff we needed, my boss and I went back to the storehouse, and a few minutes later she showed up, and I presented the books to her, along with a Bible, and she gratefully accepted them. I told her about an African grocery store near where she lives, and looked it up in a phone book and wrote down the address and phone number for her.

It was a very nice encounter.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Thai to member. Jun 6, 2008.

06/06/2008. Journal entry. I finished up at the storehouse and did some errands on that part of town. While shopping, I came across a part that I needed for a project at the storehouse, so I bought it, and decided to go back and install it while I was on that side of town.

When I got back to the storehouse, a group from a neighboring stake was gathering to use the dry pack cannery. One of the group was a sister whom I've met several times before at church singles events. She had already heard me tell some placement stories, so after I installed the part, I asked her if I could tell her and her friend what happened at lunch.

They said okay. So I told what happened, and explained to the other sister some of the overall picture. The first sister then asked if I had ever been to such-and-such Thai restaurant near where she lives. I said I had not. Since she had already eaten there several times, I suggested to her that she go there and offer them a Thai Book of Mormon and Thai Liahona magazine.

She liked the idea, so I sold her a Thai copy and an English copy of the Book of Mormon, and threw in a Thai Liahona magazine for free.

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Amharic at store. Fri, Jun 6, 2008.

06/06/2008. 1030. Due to all the activity at the local storehouse I took a late lunch. My first and second choice restaurants were past their lunch hour and lunch prices. So I went to my third choice restaurant, which still had lunch prices.

Due to an oil burn on a finger sustained while cooking earlier in the week, and the grimey work, I was going to need a fresh bandage after washing my hands and before eating, and I didn't have any in the car. So I went to the dollar-store next to the restaurant.

I got my bandages (one to use and then put the rest in my car to keep for first aid) and got in line.

The lady in front of me in line looked like she was from Ethiopia or Eritrea.

When the cashier was ringing her up, and it seemed appropriate to strike up a conversation, I asked her if she was from Eritrea. She said she was from Ethiopia (which is next door, and Eritrea used to be part of Ethiopia). We started a conversation and I learned she has been in the US for a few years, but only in Indianapolis for a few weeks.

I asked if she knew about the local Ethiopian restaurant and the local Ethiopian grocery store. She didn't. I said that if she'd wait for me to check out, I'd give her directions to those places.

She seemed excited to be able to get in contact with other local Ethiopians. The cashier overheard all this and was excited for the lady, and handed me a piece of paper to write them down.

I asked if she spoke the "Amharic" language, and she did. I told her our church has free books in Amharic, that it's a Christian religious book, and asked if she wanted a free one. She agreed.

I told her that I had a copy of one in my car. I asked her to wait for me at the front door of the store and I'd get one for her.

After I checked out, I wrote down the names and directions to the Ethiopian restaurant and grocery store for her. Then she waited at the entrance while I went to my car and got out an Amharic Book of Mormon and an English Book of Mormon to go with it.

I went back to the store's entrance and presented them to her.

She was very grateful to have something to read in Amharic. I explained that we believe in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Both copies that I gave her contained a pass-along card, and an information flyer that listed all the local LDS chapels along with meeting times.

It was worth putting in a full day at the storehoue, and it was even worth burning my finger if that's what was needed to get me at the right place at the right time.

President Benson said: "The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact." in his First Presidency message in the January 1988 Ensign. "The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God."

I don't know if that lady is a golden contact. But that Amharic Book of Mormon certainly found her. I didn't place the order, but just got to be the delivery-boy.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Serbian Book of Mormon is here! Thu, Jun 5, 2008.

06/05/08. Journal entry. I just received a shipment of Serbian copies of the Book of Mormon.

That makes 106 printed translations of the Book of Mormon. (Plus English Braille, Spanish Braille, and American Sign Language.)


Monday, June 02, 2008

French, Fulani at laundromat. Mon, Jun 2, 2008.

06/02/2008. 1029. I was on the way to my regular laundromat, and took a detour in order to miss some street construction. This path took me past another smaller laundromat that I've been to only once before.

The thought of going to this one crossed my mind, but my regular laundromat is bigger, only four more blocks down the street, and a little less expensive, so my preference was to go to my regular one.

But the Spirit told me plainly that I should go here. Sometimes I go through an internal decision-making process to figure out if such an impression or prompting is real, or whether I'm imagining something. But there were two immediate factors that helped me decide. One was that the prompting was clear and forceful. The second was that I was being told something against my conscious desire. When we "gin up" a prompting, it's usually to justify something we want to do anyway. So both of those factors made it immediately obvious I needed to go here.

After I loaded up my clothes in one of the big washers, two gentlemen came in to remove their clothing from a washer and put it in a dryer. They appeared to be African, not African-American. The dryer they chose was within ear-shot, and though I couldn't make out what language they were speaking, it wasn't English.

When one of them walked by me, I asked what country they were from. They were from Niger, and spoke French and Fulani. I offered them some Church material in Fulani, and made sure to mention it was Christian, because they were Muslim. One of them spoke better English, so he appeared to be the senior partner, and I conversed with him.

I went out to the car and brought back in Fulani and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals, and a Fulani copy of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet. They were very interested and browsed through them. But the one said that the pamphlet wasn't really in Fulani. The pamphlet did indicate on the back, and on the copyright page that it was "Fula" which is another name for "Fulani." But I have previously discovered printing errors before with other African language pamphlets, so it is possible that the cover and copyright page are one language, but the internal pages are another language.

Anyway, they accepted the Gospel Fundamentals, and I went back out to the car and brought back in some other French and English material, French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, French and English copies of "Our Heritage", French and English copies of the New Testament, and DVD videos of "Together Forever" and "Introduction to the Church."

He wasn't interested in the New Testaments, or the "Our Heritage", but he did accept both the French and English copy of the Book of Mormon, and the one "Together Forever" DVD.

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