Wednesday, August 26, 2009

French, Wolof at store. Wed, Aug 26, 2009.

08/26/2009. 1184. I went to a store for some photo-processing. The machine that reads your storage media was out of order, but the employee who helped me spoke with an accent, and seemed like he was from Africa. So I asked him if he spoke French. He said yes, so I asked where he was from, and he said Senegal. So I asked him if he also spoke Wolof, which he did.

I said that my church has free material in Wolof if he'd like to see it, and he was interested. He wanted to teach his American wife some Wolof. So I went to the car and got Wolof and English copies of Gospel Fundamentals, Wolof and English copies of the Joseph Smith testimony pamphlet, French and English copies of the Book of Mormon, and a multi-lingual DVD of "Together Forever" which has a French audio track.

He wasn't all that excited about them, but he thought his wife would be interested.

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Chinese at restaurant w/missionaries. Wed, Aug 26, 2009.

08/26/2009. 1183. I took our ward's two full-time missionaries (elders) out to dinner. The senior companion got transferred in right after the last baptism. The junior companion, a greenie, just arrived in the mission this morning. So this was his first dinner (supper) in the mission.

I took them to an Asian restaurant that is within the ward's boundaries, but I wasn't sure which language the employees speak. The senior companion asked our waitress what languages she spoke, and she said Mandarin, so I got out some Chinese material from my book-bag that I had taken in.

On one of her later trips to the table, we asked if she still liked to read Chinese, and she said yes, so we offered her the Simplified script Chinese (she's from China) Book of Mormon, and a Chinese Liahona, and the "Finding Happiness" DVD. She accepted all of them, but wasn't very enthusiastic about it. I forgot to offer her an English copy. (The restaurant is real good, so I hope to follow up in the future, and maybe talk to other employees.)

Another waitress who refilled our glasses looked Chinese too, but she was so quick we couldn't get a word in with her.

The greenie elder was impressed for his first day in the field. Both elders knew how to use chopsticks, and both ate what I ordered for them, so I was impressed with them too.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

French to missionaries. Tue, Aug 25, 2009.

08/25/2009. Journal Entry. This morning, the ward's full-time missionaries called to request a French Book of Mormon to give another set of elders in their zone during their transfer meeting tomorrow. Later in the evening, I took them a copy after they had returned for the evening. I had forgotten about it, and they called to remind me. Fortunately, I was close by and could easily go over before their lights-out time.

The senior companion is a district leader. His junior companion is getting transferred tomorrow and will be replaced by a "greenie" fresh from the Missionary Training Center.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two languages to two families at gathering. Sat, Aug 15, 2009.

08/15/2009. 1182. A local social organization for people from a certain country had an event. I've gone to some of their events before, and really like them, so I joined their organization a while back. I let my membership lapse, but then renewed it.

The family of one of our ward's missionaries is from that country, so I invited the missionaries to go. We had some good conversations and the food was excellent. I loved it.

As we talked with the other people at our table, we found out what languages they spoke, and told them about the Book of Mormon in those languages, and offered them free copies. The moms in the two families accepted the offer, and really wanted the books, so I went back to the car to get the material.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slate asks: The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America?

Wow. It amazes me that this question would even be asked, especially by Slate magazine.

The Catholic Church helped preserve Roman civilization. Can Mormonism do the same for America? - By Josh Levin - Slate Magazine

There's a stronger case to be made that the Christians kept Rome from being erased from our collective memory—that the Catholic Church was the one entity that maintained Roman hierarchies, Roman thought, and the Latin language as the rest of the continent descended into illiteracy.

A religion is also a good candidate to keep America alive. The history of Catholicism shows that religious movements can outlast the political systems in which they arose. Our idealized conception of what America stands for has its origins in religious belief as well: the Puritans' values of industry and self-reliance, and their desire for the nation to be a "city upon a hill."

What religion might serve as America's preservationist? In the 1960 novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr. imagines a group of monks playing the same role as their European forebears, preserving knowledge in a post-apocalyptic America. Considering this country's microscopic monk supply, it's hard to imagine monasteries banding together to combat data rot. Evangelical Christians seem like a more logical contender: Around 100 million Americans identify as evangelicals, and the idea of the United States as a promised land is pervasive in evangelical thought. But while they're often thought of as a homogeneous bloc, evangelicals are really a diverse and fragmented lot. That makes the movement resilient and adaptable but not exactly the best vessel for preserving a culture. The early Catholic Church, in contrast, was more disciplined and hierarchical, a far better candidate both to survive a collapse and to carry forward societal traditions.

A better candidate to serve as America's time capsule: the Mormons. In an aside in 2007's Are We Rome?, Cullen Murphy posits that Salt Lake City could become "the Vatican of the third millennium," with the Mormon Church "propagating a particular, canonical version of America."

Sunday, August 09, 2009

French DVDs and Liahona at store. Sun, Aug 9, 2009.

08/09/2009. 1181. I was taking the recent convert couple back home after church. The wife had lost an important item, so we went to the store near where she thought she lost it while getting into a car. She ended up having a conversation with someone she knew, and I was just standing around, so I started talking to a family member of the other lady. We talked about languages, so I offered her some church material in French, one of her languages. She agreed to receive them, so I went out to the car and retrieved a "Together Forever" DVD and an "Introduction to the Church" DVD, and a French Liahona magazine, which she gratefully accepted.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Jump-start a car, English DVD. Thu, Aug 6, 2009.

08/06/2009. 1180. I still hadn't purchased a newspaper, so on the way home from the shopping center (where I distributed the two "job wanted" cards for a previous contact), I stopped at a drugstore. They still had the day's paper, so I bought it there, and stopped again at the newspaper rack to read some headlines on the other newspapers. (Okay, so I read tabloid headlines, but just the ones on the cover.)

On my way to the car, I noticed someone was having trouble starting their car. It was turning over, but too slowly, like the battery was weak. It sounded like they needed a jump-start. I have jumper cables, so I asked if they needed a jump, and they said yes. I drove my car over to where they were parked. One of the people was the cashier from the drug-store

We successfully got the car started, and the car owner was very appreciative, and introduced himself as the drugstore manager.

I took advantage of the conversation to just flat out offer him a DVD from church, and he readily agreed to receive it. I took a copy of "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" out from the back seat and presented to him, and he asked where the church was, and I told him. But I forgot to point out the flyer inside the DVD clamshell.


"X", then Czech declined at shopping center. Thu, Aug 6, 2009.

08/06/2009. 1178. "X." One of my contacts from last year texted me on my cell phone. He had received at least one of the missionary discussions, came to church once or twice, but moved to away to take a better job. We've kept in contact since then. His text message said he was laid off, and he asked me to help him find a job here. He has a high-paying skill, but is also willing to take a minimum wage job. I took two 3 x 5" index cards and wrote his name and number and what jobs he could do on them. I took them to a store run by people who speak his language, and the owner agreed to put one on his bulletin board. (That family had already received a Book of Mormon and a magazine in their language.)

I walked down the shopping center looking for a newspaper vending machine, and passed a beauty salon where the people looked like they were from the same country. So I stopped in and asked if they had a bulletin board to post a note from a man who spoke "X" who was looking for a job. They said okay, so I gave them the second 3x5 card. They spoke "X" too. So I offered them a free magazine in "X" from church and they agreed to receive it. I went back to my car and got out a couple Liahonas and a Book of Mormon, and took them back to the beauty salon. They enthusiastically accepted the magazines. I made sure to point out it was Christian material before presenting the magazines, and they were fine with that.

1179. Czech declined. The newspaper vending machine I was looking for was empty, so I walked around to the other end of the shopping center. As I got there, a woman was looking for a lost item in the parking lot, so I helped her look a bit. She spoke with an accent, so I asked her what other languages she spoke, and she spoke Czech. I offered her a Czech Book of Mormon, but she declined, saying she already had a Czech Bible. We didn't find her lost item. The newspaper vending machine at that end of the shopping center was empty too.

But see the next post for the conclusion of the story about looking for a newspaper.

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Chinese declined at restaurant. Thu, Aug 6, 2009.

08/06/2009. 1177. After finishing laundry, I got back on the Interstate highway to head home. Before I came to a certain exit, a Chinese restaurant not far from there came to mind. I had gone past it on my way to or from a club meeting a while back. I hadn't been there before, but it was on my "to do list." I'm not sure if it was a prompting or not, but I was still up for adventure, so I got off the Interstate at that exit and went there.

The food was much better than what the appearance of the restaurant might lead one to believe. On one of her trips past my table, the waitress noticed the Chinese Liahona and Chinese Book of Mormon I had put out. I offered them to her, saying they were free. But she declined, saying she didn't believe. I'm not sure if she meant they were Buddhist, or another Christian religion, or were agnostic.

I'll probably be back in that area next week, and might be able to follow up with a DVD, such as Together Forever.

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Burmese & Spanish at laundromat. Thu, Aug 6, 2009.

08/06/2009. 1175. Burmese. This was an encounter such that if you believe the Holy Spirit can guide us, you'll understand it, but if you don't believe, you'll think I'm crazy or making up stories.

I had just dropped off some Spanish copies of the Book of Mormon with the ward's full-time missionaries at their apartment. I spent a few minutes talking with them. I did another errand and then headed towards one of my favorite laundromats to do the week's laundry. However, on the way there, the idea of a certain laundromat I had seen on the South side of town came to mind. I had spotted it while on another errand in that part of town months ago. Then it became an impression that I should go there. It was going to be at least 15 minutes more out of my way, beyond the 15 minutes to the closer one. But I wasn't in a hurry, so I decided to follow the impression, and thought "Let's have an adventure."

When I got there, there weren't any people who looked foreign-born. However, after I started my wash (I put everything in one of those big front-loaders), a man walked in who looked to be from Southeast Asia. A few minutes later, I took some stuff out to my car, and as I was heading back towards the front door, he came out and headed towards his car. It was a perfect opportunity to say something.

I asked him if he spoke Vietnamese, but he was from Burma. So I offered him a free booklet from church in Burmese. He had only been in the US two years, so he wasn't too fluent in speaking, but he seemed to understand. He agreed to see the booklet, so I asked him to wait by his car, and I went to mine and got out a Burmese and an English Joseph Smith Testimony Pamphlet. I took it back to his car, wrote my name and number on it, and wrote the mission office number on it, and he enthusiastically received it.

After I went back in, he stayed in his car. It looked like he was reading it.

(I just checked, to get the above link, and noticed that "Gospel Fundamentals" is now available in Burmese. Woo-hoo! I'll have to order some.)

1176. Spanish. After I finished doing laundry, and as I was putting the clothes back in the car, I noticed an Hispanic lady folding her laundry. I felt prompted to offer her something, so I went back in an offered her a recent Spanish Liahona, which she accepted. I wrote the mission office number and my phone number on the back.

On the way back home, I stopped for dinner at a Chinese restaurant hoping for another opportunity.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tear-jerker in the Aug Liahona & New Era, not in the Ensign.

The August 2009 Liahona and New Era have an article that's not in the Ensign, entitled Better Than an A.   PDF version here.   Worth reading.