Saturday, August 30, 2008

Missed opportunity. Sat, Aug 30, 2008.

08/30/2008. Journal entry. While driving down a street I received what I thought was a clear prompting to stop at a certain store. It wasn't the kind of store I normally go to, and I didn't want to go there. There was a sense of urgency, but I decided to stop there on my way back. I did stop there later on, and bought something, but no opportunities for placing gospel material were obvious. I then realized I blew it by not stopping there earlier.

I had forgotten one of the important rules of thumb: in the absence of being told otherwise, when the Spirit says to do something, the default is to do it now.

I believe that had I obeyed, I would have encountered someone in line, or a difference cashier, who would have been receptive to gospel material.


Friday, August 29, 2008

LDS pass-along cards on PostSecret.

On their entry for 8/24/2008,, or here

Update 8/31/2008: The former link no longer has the LDS pass-along card, but the second link still shows the image.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

BoM seeds carried on the wind.

08/28/2008. Journal Entry.

The metaphor would be more fitting if they had flown instead of taking the bus. But the three Telugu-speaking men (from here and here) have moved on in search of work, one to one Southern state and two to another state.

I'm pretty sure they took their books with them. One of the men had at least one missionary discussion. They all have the toll free number from the Book of Mormon pass-along card, so I hope that if they are still interested, they'll contact the church when they reach their destinations.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How to handle beggars. It works! English. Tue, Aug 26, 2008.

08/26/2008. 1060. Wow! This was a whole new feeling. I've done similar things, but this event really changed my attitude and how I feel about giving money to people on the street or who beg at intersections.

I was getting off the Interstate on my way to an appointment. At the end of the ramp, there was a scruffy man holding up a sign that said he was a homeless veteran. From my experience, and going by what real vetetans tell me, this guy probably wasn't. His face also told me he was likely a hard-core alcoholic.

The light turned red just as I got there, and I avoided eye contact with him, so he actually stood slightly behind my car, off to the side. I had time to reach into the back seat and grab some DVDs, and I chose "The Testaments" out of the bunch. I got out a dollar bill and held it against the DVD case with one hand, rolled down the window and called him over, holding it so that he could plainly see the dollar bill on top.

He politely took the dollar and the DVD. I said that if he didn't have a DVD player he could give it or sell it to someone else. He took it back to his standing spot, and put the DVD case down on the ground with his other stuff. By then the light changed, and I took off and he went back to holding his sign up.

As I drove away, I realized I felt better about this encounter than I have with almost any other beggar. Even if the $1.00 goes to booze, it was a cheap price for me to pay in order to create an opportunity to get some kind of gospel material in his hand. So realizing that, I have no stress or indecision or worry about whether this guy was truly needy or deserving or worthy in any way. It just doesn't matter any more. The $1.00 was just the opportunity cost to me. I've spent plenty more buying meals at restaurants or making trips just to place gospel material. In fact, spending $1.00 to create an opportunity is cheap compared to the $800/month cost of supporting a full-time missionary companionship. Do missionaries make 800 contacts per month? What is the cost-per-contact of two full-time missionaries? I think I got off cheap. It's not a waste, no matter what he does with the dollar, as long as he watches, or someone else watches that DVD. And if he sells the DVD to someone instead of giving it away or keeping it, it still doesn't matter, because another person is exposed to gospel material.

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Telugu x 2 at gas station. Tue, Aug 26, 2008.

08/26/2008. 1059. I stopped by a nearby gas station to speak with one of the men to whom I had previously given a Telugu Book of Mormon. He had two new Telugu-speaking people with him visiting today, but they were not employees there.

The other station employee to whom I had given Telugu, Hindi and English copies on that first visit, only spoke Telugu, he didn't read it, though he did read Hindi. That guy had given the Telugu Book of Mormon to the first guy, and today, during this visit, we gave that extra Telugu Book of Mormon, and an English one to one of the new Telugu guys. And I gave a third Telugu and English Book of Mormon to the other new Telugu guy.

We were talking about how they could get some decent jobs, and the possibility of them going to Louisiana came up. The third guy lived there a while back, and wanted to take a bus back there, but didn't know how to get to the bus station in Indianapolis or how to purchase a ticket.

Since I was going to the South side of Indy today, it wouldn't be too much trouble for me to stop at the bus station downtown, and help this guy. So I told him I would be back in half an hour and would take him. The first man had mentioned the possibility of this, so I had looked up the fare and schedule on the Internet, and he could catch a bus this evening, and make it there in 19 hours.

So I went back and he was ready, and we went downtown. I wrote a note and signed his Telugu Book of Mormon for him. He offered me $2 for my trouble in taking him, and I tried to refuse it, but he insisted. I learned as a missionary to not refuse such things from people, so as not to deny them their blessing, or their dignity in paying for something. After I politely declined his $2 a couple times, he kept insisting, so I finally accepted it.

During the drive, we listened to my CD of flute music by Hariprasad Chaurasia.

I didn't know how long it was going to take, and most street parking is limited to 20 or 30 minutes, so I parked in a parking garage a couple blocks away.

I helped him purchase his ticket, and the counter agent patiently explained at what cities he would have to change buses, and that he had to get his own luggage off the old bus and get it onto the new bus.

I tried to buy him some food at the bus station, but he refused. He was very grateful for the help.

So by 4:00pm tomorrow, there will be an additional Telugu Book of Mormon in Louisiana.

While helping him, I remembered the many kindnesses that Ecuadorians showed my companions and I when I was a missionary, and a stanger in a strange land.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

English declined. Sat, Aug 23, 2008.

08/23/2008. 1058. I had a car problem after starting on a trip. Fortunately, I wasn't too far from home, and I could call an Indianapolis-based tow truck. I had just done some work on it, so I figured I screwed up. But, I also thought it might be be something I could fix, or have a friend help with, so I had it towed back to where I live instead of to a repair shop.

After paying the tow-truck operator, I said I had a load of Bibles and copies of the Book of Mormon in the car, and asked if he wanted any free ones. He smiled and politely declined. He said he had a Bible, but didn't say whether he had a Book of Mormon. And I forget to ask, or offer one "to go with" his Bible.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chinese at restaurant. Wed, Aug 20, 2008.

08/20/2008. 1057. I stopped for supper at a Chinese restaurant on my way to an appointment with a client. I don't remember eating here before, but if I did, it's been a long time. I ordered, paid, sat down, and put some material on the table. When the cashier/waitress/owner brought my food, she didn't seem to notice the material.

When I finished eating, I was the only customer in the restaurant, so I stopped by the cashier counter and struck up a converstation with her. She accepted a Chinese and English Liahona, a Simplified Chinese copy and an English copy of the Book of Mormon, and the "Finding Happiness" DVD, which is only about 5 minutes long, and has a Chinese Audio and Video track. Their small children immediately started flipping through pictures in the magazines and in the book of Mormon.

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Missed opportunity, Spanish Liahona at laundromat. Wed, Aug 20, 2008.

08/20/2008. Missed opportunity. I normally do laundry at night, but ended up doing a daytime trip, around lunch-time. I chose a laundromat that I hadn't been to before, but is within driving distance. There was only one other customer there, an Hispanic man, and I probably could have given him something, but I chickened out.

1056. The laundromat had a magazine rack, and all the magazines in it were in English. However, all the signs at the laundromat were bi-lingual (English/Spanish), and many of the flyers posted on the bulletin board were in Spanish.

I got a couple Spanish language Liahona magazines from the car, and went over to the attendent and asked if I could put a couple of Spanish magazines from my church in their magazine rack. She said ok. I asked if it was okay that they were religious, and she said no problem.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pass-along card at store. Tue, Aug 19, 2008.

08/19/2008. 1055. After lunch I went to a dollar store in the same shopping center as the restaurant. While checking out it occurred to me to offer the cashier a pass-along card. I dismissed the idea, but after leaving the store the idea impressed upon me again, and I found myself futilely arguing against the idea. That told me I should do it. I took my purchases out to the car, and went back in to buy some more stuff that I could use. This time, as I paid, I asked the cashier if he wanted any free information about the Mormon church. As he was thinking about it, I held out one of my custom-made business-card-sized pass-along cards. He then reached out to accept the card, and put it aside behind the counter.

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Tamil at restaurant. Tue, Aug 19, 2008.

08/19/2008. 1054. I had lunch at an Indian restaurant. I took in several Indian translations of the Liahona magazine, but no copies of the Book of Mormon. I put them on the table while I ate, and at one point when the waiter came around, they caught his attention. I asked what languages he spoke, and he said Tamil. I had a Tamil Liahona with me, so I offered him that and he enthusiastically and gratefully accepted it. I made sure he knew it was Christian material from my church, and he said that was okay.

As I went back to the buffet, I could see that another member of the staff was reading it.

I also offered my waiter a free church book in Tamil, though I don't think I specifically said it was the Book of Mormon. He agreed to receive that too. And I said I'd get it from the car afterwards. After paying I went to the car and got Tamil and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and the English edition Liahona that corresponded to the Tamil issue I gave them. I went back in and presented them. Both my waiter, and another employee came up front. They were enthusiastic and grateful to have bilingual material to read. I pointed out to the other employee that it was Christian material from church, and that did not bother them. They just seemed very eager to have any bilingual Tamil/English material.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Urdu at nursing home. Sun, Aug 17, 2008.

08/17/2008. 1053. I went to a nursing home that is located within ward boundaries to pick up someone I know and take her to Stake Conference. She was eating breakfast in the dining room when one of the employees came over to talk to her. He was from Pakistan and spoke Urdu. I offered him an Urdu Book of Mormon and he said okay. While my friend ate, I went and got one out of the car and brought it back and presented it. He flipped through it quickly, and thanked me. I didn't offer an English copy, as he said he had one.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Twi at grocery store. Sat, Aug 16, 2008.

08/16/2008. 1052. It was late night at the grocery store. As I was in the check-out line, the security guard looked like he might be from Africa. After paying, and on my way out, I asked if he was from a certain country, but I guessed wrong. He was from Ghana. I offered him a free book from church in Twi, and he agreed to receive one. I took my groceries out to the car and brought back in a Twi copy and an English copy of the Book of Mormon, and he eagerly accepted them.

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Spanish, Chinese at restaurant. Sat, Aug 16, 2008.

08/16/2008. 1050. I had supper at a Chinese buffet restaurant. The bus-boy appeared to be Hispanic, so I asked him in Spanish if he liked to read in Spanish. He said yes, so I offered to give him a free copy of the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I asked if he had seen it before. He said no, and agreed to received one. I offered an English copy too, and he gratefully accepted both.

1051. The cashier earlier had declined my offer of "a free Chinese book from my church", as I spoke to her on a trip to the buffet. But on my way out, I thought I'd see if she wanted a free DVD. She did accept my offer of the "Together Forever" DVD.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Punabi, at gas station. Fri, Aug 15, 2008.

08/15/2008. 1049. Again, it was a late night at a client's, and I was on my way home on the Interstate highway. I felt inspired to take an exit I don't normally take, and then take city streets the rest of the way. I was trying to think of all-night gas stations along the main road I was going to go on, but couldn't think of any. It had been a while since I had driven down that road, but I used to do so regularly when I lived at a previous residence.

After driving along that road, my attention was caught by a shopping center and a gas station about a block way along a cross-street. It was too late to turn, so I had to double back. The gas station was open, so I went in and bought some stuff. As I paid, I talked to the cashier and found out he spoke Punjabi. I offered a free copy of the Punjabi Sunday school manual from church, and he was very enthusiastic about it. I made sure he knew it was Christian religious material.

After paying, I took my purchases out to the car, got out a Punjabi copy and an English copy of Gospel Fundamentals, and went in, and stood at the end of the line. When it was my turn, I gave them to him, and he seemed very happy and grateful to receive them.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Punjabi, at gas station. Missed op. Thu, Aug 14, 2008.

08/14/2008. 1048. After leaving a client's, I felt prompted to drive home via a way that I normally don't go. As I passed a certain gas station, I felt prompted to stop there, and I bought something. The cashier was from India and spoke Punjabi. He accepted my offer of a Punjabi Gospel Fundamentals (the Sunday School manual) but didn't want the English edition. I had a copy in my car, so I gave it to him there.

When I got back in after getting the book from my car, there was another man being served at the counter, so I waited for him. He joined our conversation. I think I could have offered him something, but I didn't.

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Arabic at gas station. French declined. Thu, Aug 14, 2008

08/14/2008. 1047. After eating I stopped at a gas station for a newspaper. The two employees were from the Middle East. One spoke Arabic, and he accepted my offer of Arabic and English copies of the Book of Mormon. The other spoke Arabic and French, and he politely declined to receive material. I had the Arabic and English copies in my car, so I gave them to him there.

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Chinese at Asian restaurant. Thu, Aug 14, 2008.

08/14/2008. 1046. On my way to an appointment, I had supper at a restaurant that I hadn't been to before. It turned out that all the employees there were from China, and some spoke Mandarin and some spoke Cantonese.

I didn't put any material on the table other than the Church News newspaper I was reading. When the waiter came to refill my drink, I asked where he was originally from. I first offered him a Chinese Liahona magazine, and pulled one out of my book bag. He accepted it and flagged down the hostess, probably because he wasn't very fluent in English.

He gave it to her, and she accepted the Chinese Liahona and the corresponding English edition, and then I presented both editions of the Chinese Book of Mormon to her, the Traditional Script version, and the Simplified Script version. She accepted one of each, plus an English Book of Mormon. I think she understood the benefit of the bilingual nature.

I forget if it was then, or on another trip she made to my table, but I also presented two DVD's, Together Forever, and Finding Happiness. The Together Forever has a Cantonese sound-track, but not a Mandarin sound-track, and she spoke Cantonese, so I especially wanted her to have that one. (It does have sub-titles in Traditional Chinese script, so a Mandarin-speaker could understand it if they turn on sub-titles.) I asked if she was married, and when she said yes, I pointed out it had good advice for couples.

She may have accepted the material just mainly out of politeness, but she was very friendly about it. They weren't too busy, and I didn't take much of their time, so I'm confident that our conversations didn't affect their service to any other customers.

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The LDS church's argument against same-sex marriage.

Here is a press release with official church pronouncements on its stance against same-sex marriage.

It looks like the document, "The Divine Institution of Marriage" contained in this press release may become an official proclamation of the church.

It seems to ably present the major arguments against same-sex marriage, not just from a religious standpoint, but also from a societal and cultural standpoint.

There are some issues in it that I have not read before. And there are some more controversial issues left out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chinese, at restaurant. Tue, Aug 12, 2008

08/12/2008. 1045. I had supper at a Chinese buffet restaurant on my way to a client appointment. I hadn't been to this restaurant before, but saw it after eating at another restuarant during a previous trip in the area. After I got my first plate I put out a Chinese and an English Book of Mormon, a couple Chinese Liahona magazines and their corresponding English editions. I usually read an English Liahona or a newspaper while eating.

When the waiter refilled my soda he looked at the material, and I asked if he liked to read in Chinese. He said yes, and showed interest. As I was explaining that the books were free, and from my church, the cashier/hostess came over and joined the conversation. She had been in the states longer and was more fluent in English than the waiter. I demonstrated the bilingual nature to her, reading 1st Nephi 1:1, while running the index finger of one hand along the Chinese passage, and the index finger of the other hand along the English passage.

(It would be really great if the church would publish actual bilingual, or "diglot", editions, with the foreign language in one column, and the English in the other column, and have them lined up verse-by-verse for easy comparison.)

She didn't want one, but said something to the waiter which seemed to encourage him. At first he eagerly accepted the Chinese edition, and I was a little bold in encouraging him to take the English edition, which he did.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Engluish DVD at laundromat. Mon, Aug 11, 2008.

08/11/2008. 1044. While at the laundromat, a lady asked me for some change for a phone call, so I gave her 50 cents. A few minutes later I asked her if she'd like a free DVD from my church. She said okay, so I retrieved a copy of "The Restoration" DVD from my car and offered it to her, and she accepted it. She was in the TV/game-room area, and my clothes were ready to be folded, so we didn't have time to chat.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Korean Liahonas at meeting. Fri, Aug 8, 2008.

08/08/2008. 1043. I went to a meeting of a social club that I belong to. One of the other attendees is from Korea, and he goes to a nearby University. He's not totally fluent in English yet, but can get by. I met him a couple months ago at a previous meeting.

Tonight, as we were chatting during the social hour prior to the formal meeting, I decided to offer him some Korean copies of the Liahona magazine. I described them as free magazines in Korean from my church. I haven't given out very many Korean ones, so I had several copies in my car and back home. He was definitely interested, so I went out to the car and found three Korean copies, and two of the corresponding English Liahonas. One set was the March 2008 issue focusing on LDS beliefs about Christ.

When I brought them back in and showed them to him, he was definitely excited and gratefully accepted them. He's already a Christian, and I think a regular church-goer too, so them being Christian material did not turn him off. He was also grateful for the bilingual aspect.

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