Since we lived in Florida, I did not have the opportunity to have a traditional MTC experience. However, the MTC arranged for me to have Spanish lessons via Skype three times a week for one hour. In between those three times a week, my teacher gave me a mountain of homework. It normally took me 3-4 hours a day to complete my assignments. I started the first week in February and had my last lesson the first week in June. My husband, a fluent Spanish speaker since his mission to Peru, had a different teacher, that he met with once a week. He was often surprised by my assignments and would laugh and tell me that my teacher was “hard core.” I had the sense then, that I would be grateful for every tiny bit that I was able to learn before I arrived in the mission. And that is true! As it turns out, we are Over our complement of native Spanish-speaking missionaries, And we have more coming, And we have 11 waiters, who are actually Argentineans that have not yet received their visa for whatever country they were called to serve in. I have tried to learn Spanish before in my life, without success. Sister Alencar promised me that this time it would be different.
Dear Sister Alencar,
On Friday, we had a zone leader/district leader meeting. I was asked to speak about charity. I used the PMG section on charity, and, in particular, the scripture in Moroni 7:48. I taught the doctrine and used a personal example. And at the very end of my talk, I told the missionaries that I had prayed "with all the energy of my heart" that I would be able to speak to them, in Spanish, from my heart. Lastly, I bore witness to them that it was possible only because of the blessings of Heavenly Father.
All of the missionaries were in the center pews, except my husband who was sitting on a side pew, and when I finished my ten minute segment, I joined him. As the missionaries carried on watching a PMG clip, I silently wept and wept and wept. I know that I had been prompted very specifically as I had prepared the message a couple of days earlier. It was truly terrifying to know that I did not have the language skills or ability to deliver it in the way that it was supposed to be delivered. But, the words you said to me over and over again, "you must always speak from your heart" would not give me peace. And so, I took a giant leap of faith. It is the most incredibility humbling experience to really and truly know, that you have been an instrument in the hands of the Lord...that He has taken the very little bit that I had to offer and magnified it many, many times.
I have been the personal recipient of numerous miracles in my life, but this leap of faith seems, by far, the longest. To me, it is one thing to chat with the missionaries in a private setting, one-on-one, and another, quite different thing, to teach. The first time that the missionaries reached for and turned to a reference I was quoting in their scriptures, it almost scared me. And then, they laughed when I made a funny little side comment. They really were listening and understanding!
Later in the day, when various missionaries spoke to me about that message, I wept, but not sooo much, again. Their words of love were sincere and heartfelt. It was a situation that in a normal ward, there would have been someone available to offer a hug; but, without even appearing to think about it, the missionary or missionaries would come toward me saying, "Hermana, you need a handshake!" Let's just say that those handshakes were different than any I have ever had. Those handshakes truly touched my heart.
Even now, two days later, I keep thinking, "How was that possible?" I have never felt so personally and powerfully the answer to that question: Mark 10:27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
Today I sat by Sister Hollingsworth. Her husband is the area medical advisor. As I was doing my best to translate the Relief Society lesson, she said, "Tell me again, how did you learn Spanish?"
I think about you as I often do, the part you played and how you followed the Spirit to meet my needs. I think about how the Lord has increased my capacity to learn and understand. Then I give her the insufficient, but complete answer,
"It is only possible because of His help!"