Saturday, June 28, 2008

Laotian at laundromat. Sat, Jun 28, 2008

06/28/2008. 1036. I was at a laundromat. My favorite all-night laundromat is closed to due storm damage, so I went to one that's near it and is open until midnight.

Right when I was going in, I noticed a Southeast-Asian family. I couldn't tell exactly what country they were from, but they looked like they were from one of the countries near Vietnam. There was a man about my age, and at least a couple of his young adult children, and their children.

After I got my laundry loaded in a washer, I went over to the older man and asked him where his family was originally from. He said Laos. He said he's been in the United States for 28 years. I asked if he like to read Laotian, but he shook his head, and said he'd forgotton most of it. I mentioned that my church has free books in Laotian but he didn't seem interested.

I had a Laotian Book of Mormon in my car, and felt like I needed to at least just show it to him.

This is where I need to mention that just the sight of the Book of Mormon conveys some kind of message, and it's even possible for some kind of testimony to be received. Most people reading the preceeding sentence don't understand how that is true. But in literary terms, it's called an "objective correlative" a physical object that provides explicit access to traditionally inexplicable concepts.

The take-away lesson is this: If someone merely speaks a language, but doesn't read it, it is a "good thing" to show them the Book of Mormon in that language anyway. If someone doesn't want (any language) of the Book of Mormon, it's still okay to show them a Book of Mormon.

I'm not saying to shove it in their face. I'm not saying to force it on them. I'm just saying to hold it in your hands and let them see the title. Let them know that it exists. Let there be a direct line of sight from them to the book.

It's one thing to say that there is (or that there exists) a Book of Mormon, or a Book of Mormon in their language. But to actually have it in your hands and show them a Book of Mormon makes it tangible, and the concept of the existence of the Book of Mormon enters their mind through their eyes in addition to their ears. Most people are more visually oriented than auditory oriented. They don't conceptualize something until they see it.

Therefore I knew that there would be some benefit, even if intangible, if I could show the man the Laotian Book of Mormon.

I eventually went out to my car and retrieved the Laotian Book of Mormon, but by the time I got around to looking for the man again he wasn't there. But they weren't done with their laundry, so I knew they'd be back.

I kept the book with me, and when they came back, I approached the man again, and being very careful not to get too close, respectfully held the Laotian Book of Mormon in my hands. I tried very hard for my body English to say "You can see this if you want, but I'm not going to force it on you."

However, the man immediately extended his hand towards me indicating he wanted to see the book. This has happened before, and is why I believe it's important to show as well as say.

He changed his mind, and did want the book. He flipped through it, and one of his sons asked about it. He asked about where the church was, and I pointed out the one I go to which wasn't far from the laundromat. I offered an English copy, but he declined. I tried to explain the bi-lingual nature of having both copies, and that it could help him re-learn to read Laotian, or help him with English vocabulary (he did not seem fluent in English), but either I didn't make the point, or he just wasn't interested in the English.

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