Stories: Chinese Book of Mormon
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|President Berge gave Elder Kirk Duffin and I some copies of the Chinese Book of Mormon to take to Chinese restaurants and see what would happen. We'd eat at a Chinese restaurant ("Chifa") and present the book (or books) during the meal.
Elder Duffin taught himself basic numbers using the page numbers and chapter numbers from the Chinese Book of Mormon. And he figured out how to find 3 Nephi 11-26 and Moroni 10:3-5 so as to mark them.
No baptisms, but some "Hmmmm" moments. I forget if we paired them with Spanish copies or not.
Flash forward 19 years to Indiana: In 2004, a 70, Elder H. Bryan Richards, told our stake at stake conference to "pray to Heavenly Father and ask him to put people in your path whom the missionaries could teach." I prayed that.
A little later, I had a crazy idea to buy 3 copies of all 103 translations of the Book of Mormon at some point after that stake conference, but I didn't connect it with anything. I thought that I would donate them as "sets" to university language departments or libraries for use as a "Rosetta Stone."
I ordered extra Chinese copies to resurrect the Chinese restaurant idea from the mission. I ordered extra African language copies for a member friend from Africa.
I went to a Chinese restaurant, and boom, it worked. It was actually a Vietnamese-owned Chinese restaurant, so it was a Vietnamese Book of Mormon that was offered and accepted.
The very next day, I met an African lady at the gym, I could tell by the Amharic writing on her t-shirt, which looked like the title on the Amharic Book of Mormon, because it is very unique. I had alphabetized, made labels, organized, and shelved the Books of Mormon, so I remembered a few that were in non-latin (non "abc") alphabet. She agreed to see my Amharic Book of Mormon, I ran home, and got it, and she was very happy to receive it.
Later that month, the Spirit told me to "put the African language books in your car." That message went beyond a "prompting" or "impression" and was well into the "obvious" territory of being commanded by the Spirit. There was no confusion about the message. It was a matter of saluting, saying "yes sir!" and doing it. So I did it. Actually, the idea to put them in the car occurred to me several days before, but I procrastinated until the Spirit made it obvious.
So once the ducks were all in a row, boom - boom - boom, things started happening.
Within a few hours of putting the African language Books of Mormon in my car, I stopped at a gas station to buy some pop on sale, the cashier was a black man who spoke with an accent. You guessed it, he spoke one (later I found out it was two) African languages in which the Book of Mormon is translated. I ran out to the car and got him Zulu and English copies. It was a "WOW!" moment. The Lord knew who I was going to meet that day!
I saw the Lord's pattern, so I started buying extra copies. And I started to figure out what languages were spoken in town. I knew there were a lot of people from India, the middle east, Africa, etc. I googled all 103 languages to see what countries they were spoken in. I looked up the Nationalities Council of Indianapolis, to see what countries had associations or clubs in town. German club, Philippines club, Latvian school, Lithuanian school, India Association, etc, etc. And then I stocked my car with all languages spoken in those countries.
The next step was buying the Joseph Smith Testimony pamphlet, and "Gospel Principles (Simplified)" a.k.a. "Gospel Fundamentals" in languages for which there is no Book of Mormon yet, such as Fulani, Pashto, Somali, Wolof.
So, I'm on the look-out for people who are dressed in foreign clothing, or speak with a foreign accent.
I basically ask three questions. "Excuse me, where is your family originally from?" "What languages to you speak?" "Would you like a free book in [language] from my church?"
It's amazing how many people are willing to accept the Book of Mormon or other church material that way. About 85 to 90% of the people I encounter agree to receive the material. So I retrieve it from my car and present it right there.
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