Amharic x 2 in parking lot. Sun, Oct 18, 2009.
Lesson #1: Be kind to those who despitefully use you.
Lesson #2: EVERYONE is a potential investigator.
10/18/2009. 1196. I had just finished putting air in a car tire that had a slow leak. I was parked in my parking spot in the apartment complex's carport. An Ethiopian-looking man came over to talk to me, and asked me if I had been in Ethiopia because on the front of my car I had a license plate that has the Ethiopian flag on it. (I did that because I like the Lion of Judah that's on it. It's actually the previous flag of Ethiopia, and it remains popular with the Rastafari movement and people loyal to Haile Selassie.)
I thought that he might be the owner of the taxi-cab that had parked in my reserved carport spot the previous week. And he was. It turned out that he just didn't know that the carport spots were reserved, and people had to pay extra for them. (I'm so glad I didn't get angry when I called the phone number painted on the side of his cab. No one answered, and I left a message, very politely asking him to park elsewhere, and let him know it was a reserved and paid-for spot. It was probably the taxi-cab company phone number, not his personal number anyway.)
Anyways, he was actually from Eritrea, and spoke Tigrinya as his main language, but Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) was his secondary language. I offered to him, and he accepted, a Book of Mormon in Amharic and in English. So I reached into the trunk and got a couple out. He was genuinely interested and grateful.
A little later, I was back out at the car for something, and again saw him, this time, a couple ladies were also approaching, and he asked if I would give a copy of the Book of Mormon in Amharic to them. They were his relatives and were visiting him. Woo hoo! A two-fer.
So I got a second copy out of the trunk. (I always keep two or three Amharic copies in the car since there are so many Ethiopians in town.) The ladies accepted both an Amharic and an English copy too. When they got in their vehicle, I realized their vehicle was the other one that had parked in my reserved and paid-for carport spot the night before the taxi had trespassed.
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. That night when they had parked in my spot, I was so frustrated, and angry, and had such a sense of violation. But, the scripture about blessing those who despitefully use you came to mind, and all I did was leave a Bible pass-along card under their windshield wiper.
Anyway, it turned out to be a nice encounter, and he told me his address and asked me to stop by some time. I really LOVE Ethiopian/Eritrean food, and I'm thinking of how to wangle a dinner invitation. I'd even PAY them to have me over for dinner. That's actually a good idea, I think. I'll ask if, for $30, if his wife will prepare a typical Eritrean meal for me and "two of my young friends from church."
Hey! The $30 is for the FOOD, not payment for listening to a missionary discussion. But, if he asks what my "two young friends from church" do, then hey, they'll just have to answer the question. :-)