Friday, July 31, 2009

Google gives preference to Blogger/Blogspot.

Over the years, I've noticed that blogs (and blog posts) on Blogger ( not only get listed quicker on Google than on Yahoo (which is natural since Google owns Blogger/Blogspot, but also get listed higher on Google than other search engines.

I've also noticed that when you post to your blog, its ranking in Google's search results goes higher for a couple days, even the older posts. It's as if Google factors in "time since last post" in their ranking algorythm.

Wordpress seems to be the better blogging platform from a technical perspective, but it sure appears to me that Google plays favorites with Blogger/Blogspot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spanish at laundromat. Thu, Jul 30, 2009.

07/30/2009. 1174. Late night at the 24-hour laundry. Not many people. There was a young Mexican couple doing their laundry there who were seated near the folding table I was using. They had a newborn infant, and appeared humble and approachable. On my first trip to take my clothes out to the car, I brought back in a copy of the "Together Forever" and a copy of "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" DVDs. I wrote the nearby Spanish-speaking missionaries' phone number on the list of chapels that I had put inside the clamshell. I presented the DVDs to them on my way back in. I explained a little of what they were about, and mentioned the name of the church, and pointed out the missionaries' phone number. They accepted them, but didn't seem enthusiastic.

As I write this, I realize there is more Spanish language material from church that I could give out at this laundromat, such as the "3 Simple Ways to Become a Happier Family", which itself contains 3 other pamphlets.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hindi, English @ restaurant. Korean @ grocery. Tue, Jul 28, 2009.

07/28/2009. 1171. I took a dinner break while volunteering at the storehouse, I went to a restaurant where two of the employees were from India, and they accepted Hindi and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a Hindi edition of the Liahona magazine.

1172. Seated in the table next to mine, was a lady reading a Bible. As she left, I offered her some free paperback Bibles in case she knew anyone who needed or wanted any. She said she was a minister on her way to teach a Bible-study class, and would love to have some.

I went to the car and pulled out some paperback King James Bibles from the American Bible Society and the International Bible Society. (They were only about $2.15/each in case lots. The cheapest LDS KJV Bible is $8.20). I threw in a Chinese/English bilingual Bible as well.

I didn't bother to take them out of the zip-lock bags, and take out the LDS promotional materials such as pass-along cards and the list of local chapels that I had put in them. But I made sure she knew there was stuff from our church in there, and I suggested a couple times she take that stuff out before giving out the Bibles, since I didn't expect her to promote our church. I forgot to tell her the name of the church, and I felt a little guilty of that later.

1173. Later on in the evening, on my way home, I stopped at a grocery, and as soon as I walked in, I saw an Asian man bagging his purchases prior to leaving. He gave off a lot of spiritual light, enough that I stopped in my tracks, and it seemed obvious to me that I was supposed to talk to him.

I asked him where his family was from, and he said Korea. I offered him a free DVD in Korean from church. I described it as being about husbands who work too much (Together Forever) and he agreed to receive it. He asked which church and I told him. He followed me out as I went to retrieve it from my car. I also presented "The Testaments" DVD, which he accepted. He asked where the church was, and I showed him the list of chapels that I had put in the DVD clamshell, and pointed out the closest one and the one I go to. It was a very pleasant encounter.

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The Chipmans are blogging from Piura Peru.

Mission President John Chipman and his wife Karen are blogging from the Piura Peru Mission. He was formerly the Indianapolis North Stake President, and then our Area Authority.

Their blog is open only to invited readers, so you have to write or call the mission office to get on the list of invitees:

- Peru Piura Mission
- Calle Los Naranjos, Manzana H, Lote 4
- Urb. Los Geranios
- Piura
- Peru, South America.

Phone # (from the US): 011-51-73-310-172

"011" gets you international long distance. "51" is Peru's country code. "73" is the area code, "310-172" is their local phone number.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Chinese at restaurant. Mon, Jul 27, 2009.

07/27/2009. 1170. I went a bit out of my way to a Chinese restaurant. I found it a couple weeks ago while scouting for restaurants, but haven't actually eaten there before. It's one of those walk-up-to-the-counter-and-order kind of places. After I finished eating, I went back to the counter and offered the employee a Simplified Chinese Book of Mormon and a Chinese Liahona magazine, and she reluctantly accepted them. She declined the English Book of Mormon. Since she wasn't enthusiastic about the Chinese edition, I didn't push the bilingual aspect of reading the Chinese and English copies together.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All the lonely people. Where do they all come from? Wed, Jul 22, 2009.

"All the lonely people, where do they all come from?
All the lonely people, where do they all belong? "

See here for full lyrics of the Beatles song. (Music/video here.)

There's a related article called "The Invisible Visitor" in the July 2009 issue of the Friend magazine, which also appears in the July 2009 Liahona.

07/22/2009. 1169. Spanish DVD at laundromat.

Last night I had an epiphany.

As I was leaving the laundromat an Hispanic young adult or teenager was standing near the door saying to no one in particular how cold it was outside. He wasn't talking directly at me, but I was the only one in earshot, so I engaged him in conversation on my way to my car. He ended up following me and asked things about my car, and so we talked about it while I was rearranging the boxes of books on the back seat so as to get all my laundry inside.

He was the same guy who had sat upon my folding table while I was taking clothes out of the dryer. I was kind of annoyed that he did that, but politely addressed him saying "Amigo.... that's my table that I'm using" and he apologized and quickly got down. His family was kind of boisterous, acting as typical teenagers, as the mom was doing laundry.

Outside, I got the definite impression that my earlier gentleness in response to his social faux paus at the folding table had influenced him in a way that he could somewhat trust me. And he also seemed eager or hungry for social interaction outside of his family. I thought of how one's family is supposed to be nice to you, but it is also important to receive kindness from others who don't "have to" be nice to you.

Some readers of this blog think that my interactions with people are impositions, when in fact it is the opposite. For many, a gift of a video, magazine or book is just the icing on the cake of the kindness of taking time to acknowledge someone's existence and treat them with a little human kindness. Again, a cynic may think I'm taking advantage of such people's loneliness.

But I've been on the other side. I was once a stranger in a strange land, sticking out like a sore thumb, during my mission in Ecuador. Common courtesies, people even just acknowledging our existence, even when they weren't interested in the missionary message, meant a lot.

I didn't want to get preachy there in the parking lot, and reading material in Spanish is not as in demand as other languages, since so many Spanish language cable and satellite channels are avaialble, and books and magazines are available at the many Mexican grocery stores in town.

So I asked if he had a DVD player, and he said he did. I then offered him a free DVD from church, and he agreed to receive it, so I grabbed a copy of the "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" DVD from one of the boxes in the back seat, and presented it to him. He asked which church, and I told him the name of the church, and pointed out the list of local chapels that I put in the clamshell.

Now back to the epiphany. This is one of the reasons why offering immigrants material has been successful. I'm not focused on converting people, or trying to get a committment out of them to investigate or visit church. I'm taking time to acknowledge people's existence by interacting with them. Then, giving them the opportunity to agree or decline to receive material before actually handing it to them, is a continuance of that respect.

I've very likely missed many opportunities where further invitations could have been made to visit church or receive the missionaries. But the counter-balance is that this method of interaction ends up planting many more seeds with people who will be ready later on.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hallo Henderson, Nevada! We has ur mishunary.

07/19/2009. Journal entry. On Thursday I went to pick up the ward's two full-time missionaries to take them to the home of the couple who just got baptized. The senior companion, who had been in the ward for at least 6 months was just transfered out the day before. I made small talk with the new guy, where you from, etc, where's your family originally from, etc, Phillipines, do you speak Tagalog, no, but I can understand Ilokano. He was born in the states, but his older siblings and parents were born in the Phillipines, and his home ward is in Henderson Nevada.

When we're in the car, he starts asking me questions, asking if I blog etc. And it turns out he heard of me before he went on his mission. When he received his mission call to the Indiana Indianapolis mission, one of his ward members told him about me and this blog. Small world!

So a shout-out to the reader(s) in Henderson who "warned" their outgoing elder about me. We's got 'im!

(I just got back from, so dat's why the LOLspeak.)

Also a shout-out to the regular readers in Denver Colorado, Dayton Ohio, and Swedish American Hospital in Rockford Illinois.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Korean at restaurant. Thu, Jul 16, 2009.

07/16/2009. 1168. I went to an Asian restaurant for supper. The waitress/hostess was from Korea, so I put a Korean Book of Mormon and a Korean Liahona on the table. When she brought the check she commented on them, so after paying I offered them to her. She declined the Book of Mormon because it wasn't the Bible, and she was afraid of it. But she did seem to accept the Liahona and the "Together Forever" DVD. At least I think she did, because she showed interest in them. She had to go wait on other customers, so I left the DVD and the Liahona at the cashier counter. It's pretty good food, so I'll be back for a follow-up in the future.

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Bengali in parking lot. Thu, Jul 16, 2009.

07/16/2009. 1167. I went to the missionaries' apartment to pick them up to take them to a lesson. As I was walking from my car to their apartment, a man drove by whose car stereo was blasting what sounded like Indian music in Hindi. He parked just a few feet away, so I paused a few seconds while he parked. He saw me standing there, so I motioned with my hand (index finger pointing up) indicating I wanted a minute of his time. When he got out of his car and approached me, I asked him if that was Hindi music he was playing. He said yes. I said that the reason I asked was that I had some free books in Hindi from my church, and would give him one if he wanted. He didn't seem interested. I mentioned we had other languages of India too, like Telugu, Sinhala and Bengali. When I said Bengali, he got very interested, and he said that he'd like to see one, since that was his main language. I said I had them in my car, and as I went to get one, he followed me. I made sure he knew they were religious and Christian in nature, and he said that was okay. I retrieved a Bengali copy and an English copy and presented them to him, and he eagerly accepted them. I pointed out my card inside, and that he could call if he wanted any more. "And I went on my way rejoicing."

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two baptisms. Sat, Jul 11, 2009.

07/11/2009. Journal entry. A man and his wife were baptized tonight. I met the man back in April of 2007. It's interesting to read what I wrote about him from my first impression over two years ago. He called me back in December 2008, and started investigating that month.

That makes three so far (that I know of), out of about 1200 encounters. Not very efficient, a baptism per 400 encounters.

Update, July 12, 2009: Another way of looking at it is that he was about my 812th encounter, making a baptism every 270 encounters. They were confirmed today in Sacrament meeting.

Next installment in the story here.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Like Wayne and Garth, I'm Not Worthy.

07/10/2009. Journal entry. My last post about a road trip, especially the part about how I felt spiritually directed to those two gas stations, got me thinking on this.

Why am I mentioning how I was directed (or how I believe I was directed) to find people who were enthusiastic about receiving a Book of Mormon in their native language?

Three reasons:

One, is to give credit where credit is due, to the Lord. I firmly believe that those encounters were His idea, not mine. He knew they were there, I didn't. I'm just a delivery boy.

Two, as described in the mast-head (at the top of this blog), "to make known the wonderful deeds of the Lord" as it says in Psalms 105:1. What I hope is implied, and I guess I should state it more often: "Ain't the Lord great?"

Three, to encourage others to try this. After all, since the Lord is no respecter of persons, whatever He's willing to do with me, or for me, He should be willing to do with and for others. If He can bless and use an unworthy guy like me, imagine the marvelous things He could do with a faithful Latter-day saint who makes himself or herself available.

I certainly don't have any lock or claim of exclusivity to this. I'm not the first to offer people foreign language copies of the Book of Mormon, Bill Cortelyou, a taxi driver in Boston, did this long ago.

What I don't want to do is brag or claim any worthiness for these things. This whole thing was not my idea. 20-some years ago my mission president gave a companion and I some Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon to take to restaurants, and I just tried it out again back in 2004. At the time, I had also purchased three copies of all the translations of the Book of Mormon, but that was more for a personal collection, and to give out two "sets" to university libraries or language departments to use as a "Rosetta Stone."

But once I realized that I could talk to strangers and offer a free book, the Lord started putting people in my path the very next day. And within a few months, I was getting promptings about where to go, literally getting driving directions; not all the time, but occasionally.

So why is the Lord using an unworthy person like me? I've prayed about it, and I think I've received three answers:

1. First answer has been: "So get yourself worthy!" Ahem, yeah, repentance. Always need to work on that.

2. Second answer: "You're the one with the books in your car."

3. Third answer: "I can't get enough other people to open their mouths and talk to strangers. The need is there, and you're available."

I think the bottom line is that the Lord uses whoever is available, or makes themselves available, and He doesn't wait for us to achieve perfection, or even get close to it.

Anyway, here's a clip showing Wayne and Garth (the characters from Saturday Night Live) doing their genuflecting "we're not worthy" routine in the Wayne's World movie. Um, yeah, that's sort of how I feel, like unworthy scum.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Chinese. Road trip. Wed, Jul 8, 2009.

07/08/2009. 1162. I took a day trip to visit relatives. Around lunch-time I came across an Interstate exit where I had noticed an Indian restaurant during a nearby fuel stop on a previous trip, so I decided to eat there. The cashier spoke Punjabi, and accepted my offer of Punjabi and English copies of the Gospel Fundamentals manual, and Punjabi and English copies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlets.

1163. Later, that evening, after visiting with relatives I was on my way home, but still in the metropolitan area where they lived. As I was about to pass a certain exit, I felt a spiritual prompting to take that exit, but I was in the wrong lane to quickly act upon it. I was pretty sure it was a spiritual prompting, as opposed to my own thought, because I was not looking for opportunities or thinking about stopping anywhere at the time, but I had planned to look for a Chinese restaurant later on.

The next exit was only a mile away, so I took it, got back on the Interstate and took the previous exit. As I observed the sign containing the logos of the gas stations at that exit, I felt prompted to visit a certain one. However, when I reached the stop-light at the end of the exit ramp, I received a prompting to turn in the opposite direction from that gas station. I figured there must be another opportunity or "assignment" in that direction too, and could then come back and get that other gas station on the way back.

So I turned in that direction, looking for an opportunity, and hoping for further directions. It was about time for a late dinner anyway, so I thought there might be an opportunity at a restaurant. (My relatives eat late, so waiting around to eat with them would have caused me to arrive home too late at night.) Within a couple blocks there was a gas station, and I felt an impression that that was where the assignment was.

I went in and bought something, and as I paid I asked the cashier where he was from. India. And what languages he spoke. Punjabi and Hindi. I was out of Punjabi Gospel Fundamentals, but he also read Hindi. Many Punjabis who speak both Punjabi and Hindi, read Punjabi, but don't read Hindi; as Hindi is their second language, and is not taught in many of their schools. But this guy did read Hindi, so I offered him a Hindi Book of Mormon, and he accepted. After paying I went to the car and brought back Hindi and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a Hindi Liahona. He gratefully and enthusiastically accepted them. Yup, it was worth the side-trip, and very convenient to the Interstate, to boot.

1164. I headed to the other side of the Interstate to one of the other gas stations, the one that I thought was my "assignment", and bought something there. Based on the cashier's accent, I asked him if he spoke Arabic, which he did. I offered him a free book in Arabic from church, and he heartily agreed to receive it. So after paying, I retrieved an Arabic and an English Book of Mormon from the car, went back in and presented them. He was also grateful and enthusiastic in accepting them. In both cases I made sure they realized it was Christian material before I retrieved the items from the car.

And I went on my way rejoicing, as missionaries used to say. Defintely worth the stop, and even backtracking the mile. The Lord knew they were there.

1165. Further towards home, just outside of that metro area, was another town that seemed like a good spot to look for a Chinese restaurant. It didn't feel like an assignment this time, but as I drove, I prayed if I should take that exit, and the answer seemed to be "you can if you want." So I took the exit, and headed towards the town. I went about three blocks without seeing a shopping center or strip mall, and then took the turn indicated by the "Business District" sign, and within that next block was a strip mall type shopping plaza. I turned in there and at the other end was a Chinese restaurant.

It was a typical mom-and-pop place, mainly carry-out, but also with tables for dining in. I ordered, paid, sat down, put the Chinese Simplified and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and the Asian "Finding Happiness" DVD on my table, and read the paper that I had bought at the last gas station.

Their son noticed the material when he brought out my food, but he didn't read Chinese, he just spoke it. As I ate, I needed another can of soda, so I went back to the counter to buy another, and there made the offer of material. The cashier agreed to see it, so I went back to my table and brought both copies back to the counter. The cashier accepted the Chinese copy, but declined the English, and declined the "Finding Happiness" DVD.

Later on, as I left, their son was outside on the sidewalk talking to another teen who looked like he could have been the son of the Indian couple who owned the sandwich shop next door. I struck up a conversation with the young man, and he ended up accepting the English Book of Mormon that his mom turned down.

1166. I also offered the other young man a Book of Mormon in Hindi for his parents, but he politely declined. I thought of going in to offer it to them directly, but I had already eaten. Maybe I can remember to stop at the sandwich shop on the next trip.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Indonesian at restaurant. Thu, Jul 2, 2009.

07/02/2009. 1161. I went to lunch at an Asian restaurant that I discovered on a previous errand. I thought that the staff was from the same country as the cuisine, but I wasn't sure. Anyway, I took in my Asian book bag with me. They were busy to start out, but after I was served there was a lull, and the cashier came out to clean off a table. As she was heading back to the counter, I asked where she was from, and she said Indonesia. I didn't have that one already out, but I reached in my bag and got one and presented it to her.

Her English wasn't very good outside of restaurant vocabulary, but I think she understood it to be free, and she accepted both the Indonesian and an English copy. Just then another customer went up to the counter, so she had to get back to work, and I didn't have opportunity to further explain.

I've encountered Indonesians at Asian restaurants before, but not many.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Got missionaries in trouble. Vietnamese. Wed, Jul 1, 2009.

07/01/2009. 1160. I picked up the ward's full-time missionaries and took them to an investigator's apartment for a short lesson. This was the neighborhood where I met a Vietnamese man June 4th, and told the missionaries about it, and gave them a Vietnamese Book of Mormon for him. They hadn't been able to find or contact the man. They had gone there, but no one answered the door.

Since they didn't have another appointment immediately after this one today, we walked over to the Vietnamese man's building, and walked past some people who looked like they might be employees of the apartment complex. The Vietnamese man was outside his building, so it was easy to strike up a conversation with him. He accepted the Vietnamese and English Book of Mormon. The missionaries offered to come visit and offer service, and he invited them over in a few days, and they actually made an appointment.

As we walked back to my car, one of the people we had passed, and who had witnessed our interaction with the man, said there was "no soliciting allowed" on the property and asked us to leave. We were leaving anyway. I mentioned that we had a book in the man's language for him. And we left.

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