Saturday, May 30, 2009

Larry King and I share a similar opinion of Provo.

Larry King and I share a similar opinion of Provo (and maybe Utah in general). I was there for 8 weeks at the MTC back in 1984.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Punjabi at gas station. Fri, May 29, 2009.

05/29/2009. 1152. I stopped at a gas station to buy a newspaper on my way home. The cashier was someone I had met at another gas station (same brand) in another part of town. I had given him some Punjabi material before. I followed up by asking what he thought. He said he read part of it, and seemed to want another copy. I'm not sure if he left the previous one at the other gas station, or wanted one to share with another Punjabi-speaking employee. Anyway, I didn't have the material in my car, since I had to remove some of the containers, so I went home (it wasn't too far) and retrieved some material, and went back. He accepted another Punjabi Gospel Fundamentals and Punjabi Joseph Smith testimony pamphlet.

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Spanish at restaurant. Fri, May 29, 2009.

05/29/2009. 1151. I had supper at a Mexican restaurant I hadn't been to before. On one of his trips to my table, I asked the Hispanic waiter if he liked to read in Spanish, and he said yes. I showed him a copy of the Spanish Book of Mormon, and asked if he'd seen it before. He had heard or seen it a couple times before, but didn't own a copy. I offered it to him, and he accepted it. He also accepted an English copy, and a Spanish Liahona magazine.

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English at fitness center. Fri, May 29, 2009.

05/29/2009. 1150. I had gone to check something at my apartment's fitness center, not working out. I was in street clothes, not workout clothes. A 60-ish lady who I didn't recognize came in to exercise. She was a smiley person, and gave off a good vibe, kind of like a halo. I struck up a conversation with her, not with a placement in mind, but just to be chatty, and maybe give encouragement and be upbeat about exercising.

I helped her with some exercise and cardio-vascular tips. The conversation gravitated to the book she was reading, and then religion. She's a minister in a protestant church. Then we started talking about the LDS church, and some of the history. At some point she said she'd like to read the Book of Mormon, so I offered to get her one. Since she's a serious Bible student, I also offered her an LDS edition KJV Bible, because it has our footnotes and Topical Guide, which everyone else calls a "concordance." I also offered her the Sunday School manual, Gospel Principles. She agreed to receive all three, so I went to the car and my apartment and got them for her, and we exchanged calling cards.

[Follow-up to this story here.]

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Hindi at restaurant. Declined at gas station. Fri, May 29, 2009.

05/29/2009. 1148. For lunch, I went to an Indian restaurant that I hadn't been to before. Pretty good food and service. On one of her trips to my table, I offered the waitress/hostess a Hindi Book of Mormon and a Hindi Liahona, which she accepted. But she declined to receive an English Book of Mormon. (I had forgot to bring in an English copy with me.)

1149. On my way home, I stopped at a gas station for some soda for the drive back, and just to see if there might be an opportunity. The cashier seemed Hispanic, so I asked, in Spanish, if he spoke Spanish. He smiled and said no. He was from India and spoke Punjabi and Hindi. I didn't have any Punjabi material with me, so I offered a Hindi book from church, without saying it was the Book of Mormon. He politely declined. I'll have to stop back there in the future and see if he might be interested in a Punjabi Gospel Fundamentals.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spanish at restaurant. Tue, May 26, 2009.

05/26.2009. 1147. After volunteering at the storehouse I had supper at a Mexican restaurant that I hadn't been to before. I'll likely eat at that restaurant again, so I decided to just take in a Spanish and English Liahona, and offer the Book of Mormon on a future trip.

After the meal, as I paid, I offered the waitress the Spanish Liahona, and she enthusiastically accepted it. She also accepted the corresponding English issue. A little bit later, as I walked out, I saw her reading it at the cashier stand.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Book-slinging tips, pt 2. New paradigms, goals, attitudes.

In Part 1, I wrote about the foreign language (non-English) angle of making encounters, and gave tips on how to initiate an encounter that leads to you offering someone a Book of Mormon (or other church material) in their native language, plus an optional copy in English for use as bilingual material.

In Part 3 I'll discuss possible scenarios for offering material to English-only speaking people. However, this post should mostly apply to both foreign-language and English-only speakers.

I briefly touched upon the idea of considering the goal of an encounter to be a verbal offer of a Book of Mormon (or Sunday School manual, or Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet) to the people you meet. And, by considering your success to be overcoming your fears by making the offer, you are "divorcing yourself from the outcome" and not attaching your attitudes to the decision of the other person to accept or reject your offer. By doing this you are respecting the agency of the other person. This attitude of respect will then be conveyed to, and have a positive effect on, the other person, whether they are consciously aware of it or not. People just naturally want to be treated with respect. People are more comfortable and open when they are treated with respect and their agency is honored.

The February 2005 Ensign article "Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel" by Clayton M. Christensen and Christine Quinn Christensen, pgs 36-41, has a paragraph titled "What Is Success?" Elder Christensen pointed out that success is in making the invitation.

So I want to re-emphasize "the offer." It's not a case of physically imposing a book on someone, it's not "Here! Take this!" but rather a verbal offer of "Would you like...?" usually before the object being offered is brought into view. (There are rare exceptions when boldness or a mild imposition is prompted of the Spirit. And some situations do call for putting books in the open such as at an ethnic restaurant or a cultural festival where foreign languages are spoken, where you can allow others to initiate the conversation when they see the material.)

Other points:

1. Unless you feel so inspired, you don't necessarily need to directly invite them to listen to the missionaries. If you include a pass-along card, or an info-flyer, you can indirectly invite them to initiate the next step. You could say "If you like what you read, there's a number in there that you can call for more information, or to have missionaries visit you." My info flyer includes a list of local chapels, because a common question I'm asked is "Where is your church?" I also include the nearest mission office phone number on the info flyer.

2. You can also put your name and number on the material, or put a personal calling card (not necessarily a business card, but it would work) in the material. Since some cultures consider marking scriptures to be sacrilege, I put in cards and flyers and use sticky-notes instead of actually writing directly on the Book of Mormon. Hopefully, you'll bear more fruit than I have, because only 4 people have ever called me out of over 1100 encounters. Although, a few more than that have investigated, usually due to arrangements made on the spot at their initiative.

3. Therefore you're giving them four possible contact points, for whatever they feel comfortable with: 1) the number on the church's professionally printed full-color pass-along card (usually goes to the MTC phone center in Provo), 2) local mission office phone number, 3) local chapel addresses, 4) your name and phone number.

4. My ability to read other people is limited. It's very likely that you're better at reading other people than I am. If you are, you might be able to tell whether the other person is fishing for, or open to, a direct invitation to visit church, or have the missionaries visit. Not everyone, actually few, are going to take the active approach. Most people "wait for the ball to bounce their way." I think my project would bear more fruit if I could tell who those people are, and make a direct and active invitation if they show signs they are open to it. But I haven't progressed to that level yet.

5. This "offering books" is a whole different paradigm (model or framework) than what most members (even RMs) normally think of as missionary work. If this idea intrigues you, then do not consider it as traditional missionary work! Church members need to get rid of the fear of drudgery and rejection, because this has been very exciting, and results in people actually receiving the material the vast majority of the time.

This model allows the Book of Mormon (or other material) to do the "work." After all, that's its job, its purpose, its reason for being. You are not doing any "work"! My common refrain is "I don't do missionary work, I just offer people books."

And it's nothing new. This model of offering material to almost anyone during casual contacts in public places is not new! This concept is fully included within President Benson's vision of "flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon." He didn't say "sprinkle" or "spritz." He said "FLOOD!"

This model I'm describing is not to replace the other "sharing the gospel" models of introducing your friends and associates to the gospel through your normal interactions with them. This is an additional thing that can be used to expand your circle of influence to those who are not already your friends, neighbors, and associates.

6. Forget the "committment pattern!" Avoid it entirely for this type of contacting. Leave it to the missionaries. If you are so inspired of the Spirit to initiate (whatever you consider to be) the "committment pattern" in getting the person to commit to reading the material, then fine. But, people can be like cats; the harder you try to "get them" to do something, the more they will resist. So leave it up to them. They've already given you a positive answer in agreeing to accept the material, so they already have shown that they will likely browse it at least. And even if they don't read the material, as long as they keep it, or give it away, or sell it for $.10 at a yard sale, it can eventually filter out to someone who the Lord has in mind.

7. You don't necessarily have to bear testimony. If you feel so inspired/prompted, then by all means do. But in the hustle-and-bustle of public places, that calmness of spirit may or may not be able to fit in. However, be open to what I call "the miracle moment." Sometimes, topics that we normally would feel out of place due to our cultural conventions, can be the right thing to do/say in the right moment. God's ways are not our ways. So just be open to it, but don't feel like it's always a required ingredient.

8. Be open to the Spirit. Not all directions/promptings/impressions will contain the notice "this is going to be a book-placment". I was offering books for a little less than three months when I received inspiration to go someplace out of my way. And in that inspiration, I wasn't told what would happen. It wasn't even a direct order. It was more of an impression, like an implanted desire.

In writing about spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul mentions "differences of administrations" and "diversities of operations". In this project, I've learned about five different ways that the Spirit can guide me to placement opportunities. It's hard to describe personal spiritual experiences, but I want to say that the Lord can use the Spirit to reveal amazing information and give simple little instructions that end up having enormous effects.

The Lord knows who is ready for a seed to be planted, and the Lord knows exactly where they are. If you're driving nearby, and are willing to plant that seed, the Lord is perfectly capable of directing you to that person. If you're willing to follow simple instructions such as "take this exit,", "turn left," "turn right," "keep going," "stop here," then you are able to "find" anyone in public places where casual conversation can be initiated. In terms that full-time missionaries use, it's called "spiritual tracting."

Maybe the reason most full-time missionaries don't often get such spiritual "driving directions" is that they are under charge to talk to everyone. My guess is that once a full-time missionary is willing to talk to literally anyone and everyone, and starts to actually do it, taking that active leap of faith, then the Lord opens the faucet and revelation (of where to go, and who to talk to) flows to those missionaries.

However, you and I, as "civilians," don't have time to talk to everyone. But, we have to be willing to talk to anyone. And that's the crux. Willingness to talk to anyone is our "leap of faith" which the Lord will then reward by turning on the revelation faucet.

It's a progression that I touched on in Part 1.
  1. Go out and create an opportunity on your own. Such an action shows faith. The Lord can reward that faith by/when...

  2. He dumps an opportunity in your lap, without you having to go out of your way. If you take advantage of that opportunity, and make the contact and make the offer, your actions (active faith, not just a mental belief) both show more faith and grow more faith and confidence within you. Then the Lord can reward that faith by/when...

  3. He directs/guides you to a new opportunity with promptings/impressions of the Spirit.
What comes after step 3, I'm not sure. I've been stuck there for a few years. I'm sure there's more. There has to be more. But at the least, I've learned that I have to constantly repeat step 1 in order to have type 2 opportunities. And I have to repeat step 2 to have type 3 opportunities. And I have to be obedient in following type 3 directions, or else the Spirit withdraws for a while.

9. The Spirit may guide you to point A as a waypoint to point B. Or to person A in order to get to person B. On several occasions I've been prompted to talk to person A, but it was person B who overhead the conversation, joined in on their own, and requested material. If the Lord wants to get us to someplace that we aren't aware of, He may direct us to someplace we know about, and from there we can see or discover the ultimate destination. Look at the step-by-step directions that Philip received in Acts 8:26-29. First was "head south." Only after he did that was he told "join thyself to this chariot". Then after he did that, he heard the eunuch reading, and Philip recognized an opportunity, then he opened his mouth and initiated a conversation.

Note that the Spirit did not say "Hey, there's an Ethiopian in a chariot heading south who's ready to be baptized."

10. The prompting "Talk to that person!" does not necessarily have to be preceeded by driving directions. You could be doing something you ordinarily do, at a place you ordinarily would be at. This is a "dumped in your lap" type 2 opportunity, because you didn't actively create it, and you didn't have to go out of your way. Remember, you likely only have a few moments to initiate something. It may be with the clerk/employee/cashier of a business, or it may be another patron.

Also keep in mind that when the Spirit tells you to initiate a conversation with a specific person, they, like the Ethiopian eunuch, are ready for some kind of contact. The Lord wouldn't tell you to talk unless they were indeed ready for some kind of seed. And even if they turn down the offer, the offer (as long as you mention the church or the book's name) will create a memory that the Holy Ghost can use later.

You'll be amazed! So many times I've tried to weasel my way out of having to talk to someone, coming up with excuses, and often I've disobeyed those promptings. But when I do talk to someone like that, it sometimes turns out they actually did want something! I'll start out with a Bible, and sometimes they look surprised, almost like a Twilight Zone moment, and say that they were thinking of buying a Bible. You could be the answer to that person's secret prayer! They might look at you like "How did you know?"

Like on the TV show "Touched by an Angel," you're the angel that the Lord sends to help that person.

Also remember that these promptings, impressions, and whisperings are not mere suggestions. When the Spirit communicates to us to do something, it is literally the will of Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost will never tell us something that is contrary to the will of Heavenly Father.

11. The Lord's ways are not our ways. The Lord's instructions don't always seem efficient or make sense from our viewpoint. Nephi and his brothers had to go back twice to Jerusalem, once for the brass plates, and once for Ishmael's family. Why didn't they do those things before they left, or do it all on one trip? We don't know. Likewise, spiritual promptings don't always make sense to us. The Lord is not required to tell us ahead of time why he does things. He likely does it that way so we can exercise and grow our faith.

One thing I've noticed about promptings that don't seem to have a result: sometimes they are merely "timing loops" that keep me busy until the real situation comes along. If I hadn't made that little side trip, the "coincidence" of meeting someone who was eager for material wouldn't have happened at just the right second. And if I had arrived there early and just waited, it would have looked contrived. (Plus I haven't learned the trick to wait like a dog with a treat on its nose until the command is given.) I remember one such event, immediately after a "timing loop" where my contact spoke a certain language, but then he asked me for an additional pair of books in another language and English so he could give them to someone else. Would you be willing to drive around for an extra minute or two for the opportunity of meeting someone who would literally ask you for additional material?

A few times, the Spirit sent me back (on different days) to a certain store or restaurant several times. Each time there was either a new opportunity with a new person, or a meaningful follow-up. But the Spirit just said "go there", and I had to fight the temptation to brush it off with the excuse "but I've already been there."

The corollary is: The Spirit is always always right.

12. So what if you're wrong? What if you haven't learned how to listen/follow the Spirit yet, and you end up just imagining a prompting, and you offer someone a Book of Mormon anyway? Would you need to repent? "Oh Lord! Forgive me! I offered that person a Book of Mormon." Ummm, no, not a problem.

However, just because someone turns you down, or snaps at you, doesn't mean it wasn't a legitimate prompting. None of the prophets in the scriptures had 100% success with 100% of the people they talked to. Sometimes, the Lord still wants us to make a contact or an offer when He knows they will reject the offer. And I've only had four people snap at me out of over 1100 contacts. Pretty good ratio, I think. And over 90% of the contacts accepted some material. So those 10% percent who declined and the few who snapped back were a small price to pay. It's nothing.


Related posts: Tips, part 1. Tips, part 3. Tips, part 4. How this started, some of the overall-story. A quick-start quide. How-to at Chinese restaurants.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tips to book-slinging success.

1. Your idea of what success is. In this context, success is not when someone agrees to receive material. Success is when I overcome my fears and make an offer of material.

The February 2005 Ensign article "Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel" by Clayton M. Christensen and Christine Quinn Christensen, pgs 36-41, has a paragraph titled "What Is Success?" Elder Christensen pointed out that success is in making the invitation.

The immediate goal that I concentrate on during an encounter and a conversation is not the delivery of material. It's not about getting the other person to agree to something. My goal doesn't require anyone else to do anything, believe anything or say anything. My goal is merely to make the offer of material. My goal is entirely dependent on me, and not at all on the other person.

So even when the other person declines my offer, I was still successful at making the offer.

This is called "divorcing yourself from the outcome." This leads to confidence, and you'll avoid coming across as desperate, manipulative or pushy. And by avoiding those negative things the other person will be more open to considering your offer. I don't "give out books," I "offer books." And only if they accept the offer do I then give them the material.

2.People are hungry for material in their non-English native-language. This really is the sizzle that attracts people's attention. There is nothing wrong in promoting this aspect. Many people are also hungry for bilingual material, so mention that they can get the material in both their native language and in English.

Aside from an attitude of "just making an offer", this is the next key ingredient. There is no wrong reason to read the scriptures. This "hey, a free book in your language" is not manipulation. This foreign/native language aspect is the key to reaching many more people than you could with just an English Book of Mormon. This allows the Book of Mormon to reach people who aren't ready for a spiritual investigation at the moment, but might be in the future. As long as they keep the book, even if they don't read it right away, the book can call to them from their bookshelf at some point in the future when they are ready to spiritually investigate.

And so what if they never investigate? If reading a book in their native language brings them joy, and they never spiritually investigate, it's still worth it. You've brought a few moments of joy to someone's life.

It can be very difficult to obtain reading material in foreign languages other than Spanish. Not everyone knows about Amazon, or can order stuff on the Internet. And even on the Internet, it's hard to find books in arcane African tribal languages.

I just can't sufficiently describe how ecstatic many people are that there are books in their rare language. The fact that it's a religious book just pales in comparison.

3. Say it's free. Many people will naturally assume you're selling something, so use the word "free" several times. It's a free book, or free magazine, or free video.

4. Mention up front that it's Christian/church/religious material. You don't have to mention the name of the church, but if you conceal that it's religious until later, they will likely feel manipulated. Our fear of religious conversation is mainly a Western cultural habit. People from other lands don't have this fear of mentioning or casually talking about religion. The only immigrants who generally turn down my offers are Western Europeans. (Eastern Europeans have generally been open to receive material.)

If you're afraid of proselyting, then don't proselyte. Just offer "a free book from my church." The sub-title on the cover says what it's about, right? Mentioning that "It's religious material" or "It's Christian material" is sufficient to inform people so as to be up-front and honest. But after a while, you'll realize that that fact is not a turn-off to most people. For instance, most Muslims will accept the material just to have something to read in their native language.

And chances are that some will ask you "What church?" Well, there's your opening. If they ask you "What church?" then you have the right, even the duty, to say the name of the church. And if they ask, you will feel comfortable in saying the name of the church.

5.Get as much as you can in the first sound-bite. "Would you like a free book in Swahili from my church?" "My church has free books in Swahili." Both of those sound-bites convey the previous four points: A) an offer, not an imposition, B) their language, C) free, D) religion.

6. Types of opportunities. I've observed three categories of opportunities:
  1. Opportunities that you seek out and create by going someplace where you are likely to encounter someone who speaks another language, such as an ethnic restaurant, or an independent convenience store.

  2. Opportunities that just happen. There are many immigrants in the US, and just by being out and about, and being observant, you'll notice when people speak with an accent or are dressed in a style from their native land. Be on the look-out for accents and foreign or ethnic clothing.

  3. Opportunities created or directed by the Spirit. In addition to the people you're normally going to run into by doing normal things, there are those who you could meet if you altered your path or itinerary just a little. Are you open to buying gas at a different gas station than you normally do? Would you drive a block out of your way to shop at a different place in order to have an opportunity? Would you stop someplace you normally wouldn't stop at, and buy a $.75 newspaper that you don't need in exchange for an opportunity? Would you alter your itinerary and do things in a different sequence than you planned? All these things can lead to meeting people you otherwise wouldn't have met. Heavenly Father knows who is ready to receive material, and He knows where they are. And if you believe in personal revelation, then Heavenly Father can tell you where and who they are.

    Be aware that the general rules of personal revelation apply. Generally speaking, you only get one step or direction at a time. If you don't obey/follow the first step, you won't be told the 2nd step. You generally are not told the reason why you should do something, only that you should do it. The Spirit will use what you know and can see in order to lead you to places you can't see or reveal things that you didn't know; it's a step by step process, building in layers.

The general mix of these categories is 45% type 1, 45% type 2, and 10% type 3. My opinion is that you have to put forth some effort to create opportunities in order for the Lord to bless you with more opportunities, like the parable of the talents. It's as if the Lord sees you go out and create an opportunity, and then He says "Oh, you want to give out the Book of Mormon, eh? Well, here you go." And "boom" more opportunities just crop up on their own, as if they're just dumped in your lap. And once the Lord can trust you to respond, you'll get the third type, where the Spirit will actively direct you.

7. Open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth. Look at how often the command "Open your mouth" is repeated in Doctrine and Covenants.

8. Conversation starters.
  1. "Excuse me, where is your family originally from?"

  2. "Excuse me, I don't recognize your accent" or "that's a cool accent" or "that's a pretty dress/outfit." Then: "Where are you originally from?" or "Where is your family originally from?"

  3. "Cool. What other languages do you speak?"

  4. "The reason I ask is that my church has free books in ________. They're free, would you like to see one?"

9. It doesn't have to be a Book of Mormon. It can also be Gospel Fundamentals, the "Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith" pamphlet, or a multi-lingual video. By downloading the various "Language Material Listings" you can find out what languages have something available. There are over 160 now.

It's also best to describe the material in terms that a non-member can understand:

Book of Mormon: "is a book that we use along with the Bible." (They'll see the "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" on the cover. And you've already said "religious/Christian" in step 4, so you're covered.)

Gospel Fundamentals/Principles: "is our Sunday School manual." (Investigators and new members class, which would apply to the contact person if they were to visit."

"Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith" pamphlet: "is a booklet on how our church started."

The "Together Forever" video: "is a video about families, and husbands who work too much." It's in the languages of: English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Tagalog.

10. Memorize this number 888-537-2200. And program it into your cell phone. That's the number from the Book of Mormon pass-along card. Once you have it memorized, anything you write it on becomes a pass-along card. The missionaries who answer the phone are oriented to giving out the Book of Mormon, so if you know that your contact speaks one of the "Gospel Fundamentals" or "Joseph Smith Testimony" languages, be sure to note that on whatever you write down for your contact. (I realize not everyone is going to keep a miniature bookstore in their car like I do.) So if it's not a Book of Mormon language, but one of the others, your contact will have to remind the missionaries and specifically state during their phone call that they are looking for "Gospel Fundamentals" or "Gospel Principles (simplified)" or the "Joseph Smith Testimony" pamphlet.

Or, if you and your contact have time, you can call the toll free number right there from your cell phone, and help the person request the appropriate material in their language.

For instance, if they speak Bambara, they can get a Gospel Principles, stock number 31110-514, and a "Joseph Smith Testimony" pamphlet, 32667-514, but there's no Book of Mormon for that language yet.

If they speak Burmese, then the only thing available is the "Joseph Smith Testimony" pamphlet, stock-number 32667-256.

But if they speak Bengali, they can get the Book of Mormon.

And whether you call, or they call, emphasize that they can get two copies of the material, one in their language and one in English. The missionaries who answer the phone are not used to such requests, but they can check with their supervisor to confirm that the church will send out one copy in each language that the person speaks.

11. The scripture about being a witness at all times and in all places is literal.   It can be at a laundry, gas station, grocery store, gym, etc.


Related posts: Tips part 2. TIps part 3. Tips part 4. How this started, some of the overall-story. A quick-start quide. How-to at Chinese restaurants.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

French at restaurant. Fri, May 22, 2009.

05/22/2009. 1146. I hadn't planned on making this lunch into a placement opportunity. I was out doing an errand and I just wanted to have lunch at a place where I liked the food. It's a Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean kind of place. I didn't take anything in with me except a Spanish Liahona to read myself.

During our conversation I learned that the lady who took my order was from a country that speaks Arabic and French. I didn't feel up to offering an Arabic and English Book of Mormon. But I did feel comfortable offering some French issues of the Liahona magazine. I subscribed to the French Liahona for a few years, but I haven't given many out, so they've been accumulating.

I assumed her family was Muslim, so I made sure she knew it was Christian religious material, and she didn't have a problem with that, and was still willing to receive the material. So while I waited on my order, I went out to the car and brought back in a couple French Liahona magazines. She was very polite and grateful in accepting them.

The food was very good, so I left a good tip; and I plan on going back.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Korean, Spanish at Japanese restaurant. Wed, May 20, 2009.

05/20/2009. 1145. I had supper at a Japanese restaurant that I have been to several times already over the past two years. The Korean owner had already accepted various material before on previous trips. I still had plenty of past issues of the Korean Liahona, so I thought I'd offer the owner a couple more. The owner graciously accepted them.

I also took in a Spanish Liahona and an English Liahona for me to read while eating. One of the employees looked Hispanic, and I didn't remember seeing him before, so I went out to the car and brought back in a Spanish and an English Book of Mormon. I eventually offered him the Spanish Liahona and the two copies of the Book of Mormon, and he graciously accepted both. He had heard of the Book of Mormon, but didn't have one already.

Earlier in the evening as I decided what to do for supper, the thought of going there occurred to me, but I didn't want to, as Japanese restaurants can get pricey. (It's worth it, for good food, but still it's more than eating at home or a less-expensive place.) However, the impression persisted in spite of my desire for something else, so I followed it through and it turned out well.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Take out the trash = Book of Mormon placement. Sat, May 16, 2009.

05/16/2009. 1144. When it rains, it pours. I was already blown away today. I already had three encounters, giving out material to 5 people in 5 languages. But the day wasn't over. Late in the evening, I took some trash out to the dumpster. And there was a taxi waiting in the driveway of the apartment complex. There's only one taxi company in town that has almost entirely caucasian-American drivers. But this taxi wasn't that company. All the other companies employ or contract mainly African immigrant drivers. So chances were that the driver was from Africa.

I saw the taxi on the way to the dumpster, and at first I was going to blow the opportunity off, thinking it's late (almost 11:00pm), his fare will be here too quick. But on the way back to my apartment, I got that antsy feeling that this would indeed be a missed opportunity. I could feel myself struggling against the Spirit. So I decided to back up and go for it.

I turned around, and walked back to the driver's side of the taxi. He rolled down the window, and I asked where he was originally from. Guinea. 2nd guy from Guinea today. So I asked if he spoke Fulani. Bingo! And French too. So I offered him material from church, and made sure he knew it was Christian material, because he's Muslim. He agreed to receive it, so I hurried back home, retrieved a Fulani Gospel Fundamentals, Fulani JS Testimony pamphlet, French Book of Mormon, an English Book of Mormon, and a multi-lingual Together Forever DVD. I got there just as his fares were getting into his van. He accepted all but the JST pamphlet and the English Book of Mormon. And we finished our transaction just as the last passenger got in and closed the door. Perfect timing.

Maybe the fares got a spillover of the story from him. I'm not sure what all they heard. But I hope they asked him what I gave him, and he can say "a French Book of Mormon, and some book in my tribal language, Fulani."

I have to believe that the Lord set that one up, and His timing was perfect, down to the second.

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Chinese x 2 at restaurant. Sat, May 16, 2009.

05/16/2009. 1143. There's a Chinese buffet that recently opened, so I went there for supper. I put out a simplified script Chinese Book of Mormon and a Chinese Liahona magazine on my table while I ate. My waitress glanced at them, and I tried to strike up a conversation with her, and offer them to her, but her English skills weren't good enough. She called over her supervisor for help. My waitress accepted a Chinese (simplified) and an English Book of Mormon, along with a Chinese and English Liahona. Her supervisor also accepted a Chinese and an English Book of Mormon.

The owner who was running the cash register got curious and he came over, but he approved, so it was all okay. He politely declined a copy.

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Wolof, Hausa, Fulani, Bambara. Sat, May 16, 2009.


1141. Wolof and English Gospel Fundamentals. Wolof and English Josepth Smith Testimony pamphlet.

1142. Hausa, Fulani, English Gospel Fundamentals; Hausa, Fulani, English Joseph Smith Testimony; French Liahona to first man. Bambara and English Gospel Fundamentals; Bambara and English Joseph Smith Testimony; Together Forever DVD to second man.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Punjabi at gas station.

05/13/2009. 1140. I was on my way home from the chapel, and decided to stop at a gas station/convenience store for a soda. The two employees behind the counter looked South Asian (from India). I asked my cashier what language they were speaking, and he said Punjabi. I offered him a free Sunday School book in Punjabi from church (Gospel Fundamentals). I wasn't sure I had one in the car, so I said I'd come back on another day if I didn't have one in the car. He was rather enthusiastic about it, saying he liked to read in Punjabi, and hadn't had anything to read in a long time. I made sure he knew it was Christian material, and he said that was okay.

I did have a set in the car, and I brought back in both the Punjabi and the English Gospel Fundamentals, and Punjabi and English ocpies of the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet. He accepted them all very enthusiastically, and asked where the church was, so I showed him on the list of chapels that I put inside it.

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Korean declined. Wed, May 13, 2009.

05/13/2009. 1139. I was driving the missionaries back to their apartment after a lesson with an investigator. We stopped at an Asian grocery store along the way. I had been there a couple years ago, and one of the employees accepted a Korean Book of Mormon. We could follow-up to see if they still had it or had read it. The missionaries went in with me to buy some snacks. The cashier today didn't look like the same person, so I offered her a book or magazine in Korean from church as we checked out.

She politely declined. Seeing the missionaries may have made her a little nervous, as she kept glancing at their name-tags.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Chinese, Spanish at restaurant. Sat, May 9, 2009.

05/09/2009. 1137. I was on my way home from the baptism and decided to stop at a Chinese buffet. I've been there before, but I think the waitress was new. I thought I had given out all my Chinese copies to the missionaries, so I only took in a Chinese Liahona and the corresponding English issue, along with a couple Spanish Liahonas to read. I had a second smaller bag with Chinese copies of the Book of Mormon in the car, but I had forgotten about it.

The waitress was busy, but eventually she noticed the Chinese Liahona on my table. She did a couple of double-takes on it. So I tried to strike up a conversation. She didn't seem to understand my offer to give it to her, so I used the limited Chinese I know "gay knee" (give you) and "mien fay" (free, or no money). She accepted the Chinese copy, and initially turned down the English, but I tried to convey the idea she could learn a little by using both. She eventually did accept the English.

1138. After eating, on my way out of the restaurant, I passed an Hispanic family and offered them one of the Spanish Liahonas, which they accepted.

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Chinese, Tagalog, Ilokano at baptism. Sat, May 9, 2009

05/09/2009. Books to Missionaries. Our ward had a baptism of a young married couple. Three sister missionaries from a neighboring ward attended. While the new members were getting dressed two of the visiting sister missionaries bore their testimonies. One of them said she was from China. The other didn't say where she was from, but by her accent I guessed the Philippines.

After the baptism service, I went out to my car and got some Chinese material to give to the one from China, three copies of the simplfied script Chinese Book of Mormon, and one traditional script, two issues of the Chinese Liahona, a Chinese/English bilingual New Testament, a "Finding Happiness" DVD, and a couple English copies of the Book of Mormon. I gave them to her, and told them about my success in placing material at Chinese restaurants. I asked the other sister missionary if she spoke Tagalog and she said yes. She also spoke Ilokano. So I went out to the car and brought back in two copies of the Tagalog Book of Mormon, an Ilokano copy, and two copies of Tagalog Liahonas, and another English Book of Mormon or two.

I told her about the Filipino restaurant in town, and she was excited about that, but it's pretty far from her ward.

Anyway, I told the sisters that I was pretty confident that now that they are "armed" with language matierial, they'll meet people who speak their languages.

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Follow-up, X declined, Scouting: Wolof, Bambara. Sat May 9, 2009.

05/09/2009. Follow-up. I had lunch with a single sister from the neighboring stake. We ate at a restaurant that I've been to before, and I wanted to do a follow-up there. After we paid, I asked the owner if he had read any of the book that I had given his wife on my previous trip. I don't think he had, but they still had it on a shelf under the cashier stand. They had given the English copy away to another employee or friend, and kept the one in their language. The man agreed to receive another English copy.

We went out to my car and I obtained an English Book of Mormon and another one in their language. There was another man at the restaurant, who I think was either a vendor or a friend of the owner who had been talking to him, and I thought of offering the other one to him.

The owner accepted the English language one (follow-up). But the other man declined (1136) the one in his language.

On the way home, I saw a new place kind of like a flea market mall. (Scouting.) I stopped in and it was where vendors rent lockable booths. I wandered around and met a family from Senegal who spoke Wolof, and a man from Mali who spoke Bambara. I only had copies of the Book of Mormon in the car. But there's no Book of Mormon in those lanaguages. There are translations of "Gospel Fundamentals"; but I had taken the copies of "Gospel Fundamentals" out of the car to make room for passengers. So I'll have to go back next week.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How to Keep From Getting Hurt in a Church.

This article by Dr. Dale A. Robbins (who is not LDS) seems pretty good to me, How to Keep From Getting Hurt in a Church. It's a copyrighted article, but the notice at the bottom says you can download the article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author.

His point #10 quotes Matthew 18:15-17 on how to resolve a conflict with someone: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church [elders or church leadership]. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15-17).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:88-89 repeats the idea.

12 of his 13 points start off with a scripture to illustrate and back up the point. And all points seem applicable to an LDS setting. His article is great. It shows that the answers to our challenges really are in the scriptures. Something I like about the author is that he believes that the Holy Ghost still inspires people, and even when they don't realize they're being inspired.