Wednesday, March 09, 2011

HO LEE MACKERAL! Pohnpeian! At gas station.



03/09/2011. 1276. More amazing than this being a new language placement, is how it came about. Yes, the Lord does micro-manage sometimes. This situation was what I call a "double set up" which has been very rare in my experience. I was prompted to alter my itinerary to make an extra stop, which was a "timing loop" in order to put me at the right spot at the right time.

And, it's not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see how the Lord made the other party get "lost" to put them in my back yard.

So I met this family at the gas station that's literally a stone's throw from my apartment. I was there to just buy a newspaper, but they were sold out. And then I dilly-dallied over the DVD rack, looking for a cheap movie, and chit-chatting with the cashier. Looking back, I don't know why I dilly-dallied.

But, I wouldn't have met this family if I hadn't followed the prompting to make the side trip to a grocery store on my way home from a previous errand.

And, get this: this family was lost. They were driving from somewhere in Michigan to Knoxville Tennessee, trying to find I-75. I figure they might have driven here on I-69. But we're over 100 miles from I-75 here. I-75 runs from Detroit Michigan, through Toledo Ohio, Dayton Ohio, Cincinnati Ohio, through Kentucky, then on down to Knoxville, TN.

Anyway, since I'm Mr. Friendly, I tried to help them out, but they didn't speak English very well. The person who spoke English the best in their group wasn't the one driving. They needed a map, but I couldn't find my maps in my car, and the gas station didn't have any state or regional maps, just a city map.

On a piece of paper the cashier gave us, I wrote some simple directions to get them back on I-75 via Cincinnati. They could take I-74 from Indianapolis to Cincinnati. But I forgot what the loop around Cincinnati is called.

I offered to speak in Spanish, but when I asked if they spoke Spanish, they said no, they're from Micronesia, and speak Micronesian.

While I was digging around my car, I queried them further, and told them the church has free books in several Micronesian dialects, and I rattled off a couple names. Finally the lady told me they speak Pohnpeian, and they're from Pohnpei. Gulp.

I then realized this was a "double set up". The Lord got them lost on purpose, took them 100 miles out of their way, so they could get a Book of Mormon in their language, and my copy was probably the closest one to I-75 along their route.

Would you drive 100 miles out of your way to get a Book of Mormon, if you realized it's importance? Would you drive 100 miles to deliver one? The Lord sends missionaries clear across the world to deliver the Book of Mormon, so why not send a family 100 miles?

I don't keep a Pohnpeian copy in the car, because it's so rare.

But, remember, we're a stone's throw from my apartment, where I did have one. And that's probably why this "divine appointment" happened right next to where I live.

Anyways, what these people needed at the moment was a map, and I had some fresh meat and frozen vegetables from the grocery that I had to get to my fridge/freezer quickly.

I asked them to wait for me, and I'd run home real quick and get them a map and the free Pohnpeian book. I gave the lady my card and said she could call me if I took too long.

I also realized they were going to need help getting back to the I-465 loop, which would not be the way they came. Due to the unfamiliar surroundings, their lack of English, it would be best for them to have me lead them to the Interstate.

So first I went home and put the food in the fridge/freezer, and I still couldn't find my state and regional road maps at home. (Note to self: need to buy new ones.) I went to my "ready" shelf and looked for the Pohnpeian Book of Mormon. Hoo-boy, it was there.

So I high-tailed back to the gas station, and they were still waiting for me. Everyone was back in their car, and the lady I spoke with was in back, and two men were in the front seats. The passenger side guy rolled down his window, so I talked to him. I got the impression that the men didn't speak English very well. He pulled out an Ohio road map. I found Cincinnati. If they could get from here to Cincinnati, they could then get on I-75, and once on I-75 they would have a straight shot to Knoxville.

I added Indianapolis to the side of the map, and used my pen to mark the route taking them from I-74 to I-275 (the loop around Cincinnati), then to I-75, then I-75 south. I asked the lady for the paper I wrote on earlier, and I make a small correction to include the I-275 loop in Cincinnati.

I told them I'd lead them to Interstate 465 in my car, and they could follow me. I said that when we got there, I'd pull over to the side of the entrance and wave them on. They understood, and followed me there, and that's what we did.

It's been over three and a half hours between the time that all happened and when I now type this in, and I'm still trembling.

As I write this, I realize there are at least four other open gas stations between the nearest interestate and "my" gas station here on my corner. They didn't stop at those other gas stations after they got off the interstate, they stopped at mine. ("Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine." -Humphrey Bogart.)

In fact, think of how many other Interstate exits and gas stations there are between here and I-75 (100 miles away in Ohio) where they could have stopped for directions. And they stopped at the one next door to the guy who had the Pohnpeian Book of Mormon, and he just happened to be at that gas station getting ready to walk out the door. (Oh, Lord, I'm not worthy of any of this. "I know, I know. So get yourself worthy.")

Pohnpeian, at the gas station on the corner..., a family driving from Michigan to Tennessee, who should have been in Ohio, gets lost in Indiana, gets off the Interstate in Indianapolis, bypasses four other gas stations, and finally decides to ask directions at the gas station next door to me, and I happen to be there at that particular time soley because the Holy Ghost told me to make a side trip to a grocery store on my way home.

And I thought I failed because I didn't meet anyone at the grocery store.

I don't know whether to break down in tears or jump for joy.

How marvelous are the ways of the Lord.

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12 Comments:

At 3/10/2011 09:45:00 AM, Blogger SilverRain said...

I absolutely love this account. When things like this happen, it is so humbling and exalting at the same time.

 
At 3/10/2011 09:55:00 AM, Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve said...

This is awesome in all senses of the word! Thank you, Bookslinger.

 
At 3/10/2011 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Coffinberry said...

wow. Just wow. Thank you for your testimony.

Dear Moroni, Yes, there are still miracles in the world today.

 
At 3/10/2011 12:05:00 PM, Anonymous DCL said...

Wow, what a way to start my morning.
Thanks.

 
At 3/10/2011 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

It took me hours to compose that. And I was still so hyped and overwhelmed I didn't get to bed for another couple hours.

Later on, I wondered if the word I heard as "Knoxville" was their mispronunciation of "Nashville".

Some languages pronounce "a" as "ah". And if they don't have the "sh" sound in their language, it could have come out as "ks".

Now I'm fretting that they were looking for Nash/Naks-ville, and I should have sent them down I-65 instead of I-75.

However, the lady definitely said 75, not 65. Unless that was another error that cropped up somewhere.

I should have asked them to show me something in writing that had their destination address on it.

 
At 3/10/2011 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Middle-aged Mormon Man said...

That is a sweet experience. Thanks for sharing it with us.

(While you were doing this, I was busy being proud of myself for not cussing at the drive-thru lady at Del Taco. Gotta lot of work yet to do.)

 
At 3/11/2011 07:41:00 PM, Blogger Leigh said...

Cool Story. My wife and I have been serving on the Island of Yap in Micronesia for the past 17 months. You have given us a great idea. We need to make sure we hang on to a copy of our Yapese translation of the Book of Mormon. One of our finest members here in Yap was instrumental in doing the translation. This is a language that is spoken by less than 10,000 people in the entire world. It is amazing the amount of $$$ that the church dedicates to this geographically huge (covers the area of the United States), culturally diverse, (more than a half-dozen languages) and yet tiny (There are probably people on this Island that know the people you ran into from Pohnpei... actually, probably related!) area of the world. "Fare Babyor Ku Mormon"

 
At 3/12/2011 01:38:00 AM, Anonymous Spud said...

I also love this account! And, thanks for being a true missionary. I (Elder Merrill) served as a missionary for 21 months there on Pohnpei back in 1979. I was involved in helping form a committee to do translation work, and did some translating myself (president Losee had given me permission to do translation work for up to 3 hours/day). I prayed earnestly every day that the way would be opened for the Book of Mormon to be translated. The translation of selections of the Book of Mormon was accomplished about two years after my mission, mainly by a man named Herlino Makaia (now deceased). He did the translation work at great personal expense as his health was very poor. His life had taken a course prepared of the Lord where he was able to learn, in depth, the english language.

Yes, the 'a' is pronounced as 'ah' in father. There is no "sh" spelling in the language, but many of the islanders would pronounce their 's' sound as something in between our 's' and 'sh' sounds. But don't fret in any case, I run into Pohnpeians in various diverse places -- His eye is upon them.

 
At 3/12/2011 05:20:00 AM, Blogger drrhoward said...

My heart was pounding as I read your story because we have a very dear friend from Pohnpei who moved away from Wichita, Kansas about a year ago and we have lost contact. My husband taught the ESL Sunday School class which she attended regularly. How I wish I knew how to get in touch with her! Have any ideas? The Lord puts us where He needs us at the time He needs us. My husband and I are currently Temple Missionaries in Guayaquil, Ecuador. It is 5am here and my husband just left with another church member to go trout fishing in the high mountains. I thought I would try to find out about the temple in Tokyo after the earthquake and happened upon your story. It was a wonderful way to start my day! Keep following the spirit.

 
At 3/13/2011 07:02:00 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

Wow... "Spud" might be an old a lost friend of mine. He was a first missionary in Truk, Yap, and Pohnpei. I know he did some preliminary translating, back when it was a part of the Hawaiian mission!

My ward in Minnesota has a Pohnpeian, and used to have 2 families. the guy still here was also in my ward in Richland, WA many years ago. I know nothing of the language, but it has been special to me since my old friend Don/Dim Spud was sent to micronesia.

I have a testimony of being prepared with BoMs of various languages. I was Bishop of a diverse ward, and we had a policy of buying, with each year's annual order, BoMs in Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Tagalog, and Thai, as well as local favorites Spanish, Hmong and Lao. Every year we had people come into the meeting house looking for a BoM (or information about the Church) in each of those languages, and we even had missionaries who spoke the languages "incidentally" assigned to our ward. Our ward also lead the mission in baptisms and retention. Go figure!

 
At 3/23/2011 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Alex T. Valencic said...

Awesome story, as all of your stories are! I think this would definitely get filed under the "tender mercies" category.

Incidentally, Bookslinger, unless there is someone else with the exact same blog as this (but with a different name), you were cited by a guy in my Elders Quorum two weeks ago as a great example of being ready to share the Gospel. (It was when we were discussing what our quorum could do to contribute to the ward mission plan.) I was like, "Hey, I know that guy! Well, kinda..."

 
At 3/31/2011 08:44:00 PM, Anonymous momrifle said...

There are NO coincidences!! What a wonderful, inspiring story. I love it! Hey, we miss you. come by and see us.

 

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