Learning to speak the language is such an important part of adjusting to this new mission experience! It is exciting and stressful all at the same time. I have asked Hermana Crowley, one of our wonderful Hermana's that has returned home, to share her experience of learning the language!
Thank you Hermana Crowley!
When I arrived Argentine MTC I didn’t speak Spanish. I came in faith that God would bless me to quickly learn the language. I the MTC I learned some of the basics I felt ready to go out and fill the world with the message of the Gospel. Then I arrived in the field and I realized that though I could say a few things I couldn’t understand a thing anyone said. However I trusted that in a matter of days I would be blessed with the gift of tongues and would be able to understand what people were saying and would continue to rapidly become fluent.
However God had other plans for me, plans that didn’t include miraculous language skills. Each days as I studied Spanish I prayed that God would bless me with the gift of tongues, but I continued in a world of gibberish to my ears. It was during this time of great frustration, and even greater disappointment, that I learned the true meaning of Charity. Never in my life had I experienced unconditional love from people who didn’t know me.
During the time I couldn’t express even a complete thought I was shown the love of God, love that he shared with the sweet wonderful members of my ward who took the time to talk with me, to listen to me and try to carry on a conversation with me never judging me for what I still had to learn rather being loving for all that I had learned. I knew that I was important to the work of the Lord because I was important to these people who probably didn’t know if I was asking for cheese or asking what something was, or who laughed when her husband taught me to say that the food was garbage without telling me that that’s what it meant.
These were the people who knew that an American girl probably couldn’t manage to find where to buy Tylenol for a head ache, or how to stay warm in an argentine winter. They were the ones who fed and prayed and went with us to our appointments. I knew that they wanted to be a part of the Lord’s work and wanted to love those who were dedicated to this special work. I learned that God prepares those who will be in our paths to help us accomplish the work that we have been given.
Half way through my mission I could finally communicate with those that the Lord had sent me to teach, though I still struggled at times to share some thoughts. But I had learned that I didn’t need to worry about what I would say, because God knew what I needed to say and I could always count on that blessing. I saw it day by day as I was given words to say that I didn’t know that I knew, and then later forgot again.
Now I have finished my time as a missionary in Argentina and I can testify that I was indeed given the Gift of Tongues, though not in the moment or way that I imagined when I left my home. Granted I still have so much I can still learn but I know that God will help me because he has done it once. More important that learning Spanish was learning the language of love. I learned that where word can’t reach love finds a way. In fact God’s love never fails to reach, even if people later choose to reject it.
There is a primary song that says “I’ll walk with you, I’ll talk with you. That’s how I’ll show my love for you.” I can testify that this is true. God walks with each missionary and He talks with each missionary as we go about his work. It isn’t easy but it is so worth it. Learning a language is a small price to pay to come to know God that much better.