Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Moment #521. Amharic at laundromat. Wed, Feb 1, 2006.

02/01/2006. Have you ever received promptings in the form of driving directions, or heard others tell such stories? They obey the prompting and barely miss having an accident, or they disobey the prompting and get in an accident?

I was at the chapel on an errand and could take one of several streets home, "over and up," or "up and over." I thought I received a clear prompting to take a certain street. That route would take me past an ATM and I needed some cash anyway. At the time, I didn't firmly connect it with possible book placements.

Before I got to the ATM, there's a laundromat that I've been to before, but not one of my regular places. I received what I thought was a clear prompting to go in there. I was able to obey in time and pull over without having to turn around and backtrack. I knew they had snack machines, so I planned to get an ice cream bar. I was now on the look-out to see if this would turn into a book placement. Near the front was an African-American lady and her daughter talking to the attendant. They were wearing totally American clothing, and did not seem to speak with an accent.

I went towards the back to a vending machine and got an ice cream bar. I started to eat the ice cream bar, dawdled a bit, looked around, saw some hispanic individuals, but I did not see anyone who stood out as an intended contact. I wondered if I had imagined or ginned-up the prompting.

I started to leave, but when I got near the front door I detected an accent in the speech of the lady as she talked to her daughter. I turned back and it was as if my eyes and ears were opened and I now perceived or discerned her as an African immigrant.

I took a step towards her, but still at a respectful distanced asked "Parlez vous francais?" She didn't understand, so I asked in English if she spoke French. She said no. I took another step towards her, and asked her where she was from. She said East Africa. I asked which country, and she said Eritrea. I asked if she spoke Tigrinya, and she said yes. I asked if she could read Amharic, and she said a little.

I said I had a book in Amharic from my church, it was free, and offered to show it to her. She agreed with no indication of reluctance. So I went to my car and brought in Amharic and English copies of the Book of Mormon.

We chit-chatted a bit, and I practiced some Amharic words with her, and fortunately her Amharic matched up with the language CD I have. She showed some interest in the church, so I pointed out the address on the info flyer I put in the books, and pointed out the number of the local mission office. I asked her to call them or me if she'd like to talk to our lady missionaries.

It was a very friendly encounter.


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