My wonderful mother sent me a package full of missionary materials in English, Spanish, and French. I may not know where my call is to yet, but I can still be doubly productive by studying the gospel and practicing my language skills at the same time.
I took four years of Spanish in high school, plus a class over the summer. I’m pretty good at understanding spoken word, reading, and writing, but it’s been almost two years now since I’ve had a formal Spanish lesson and a lot has been lost. Whether or not I speak Spanish on my full-time mission, I don’t want to lose my ability to speak the language. And I know almost no vocabulary related to church or religion, which for me is essential for travel in Spanish speaking countries. Besides, I want to be prepared to bear testimony should the need arise. So this will definitely not be a waste of time if I speak a different language.
Anyway, the first book I picked up was one I’ve been meaning to read anyway – Our Search for Happiness, part of the missionary library. I LOVE THIS BOOK.
I don’t own it in English, so it’s challenged me to read and comprehend entirely in Spanish. But it’s been much easier to do than I thought it might be! I love reading in Spanish! Some sentences feel like decoding a puzzle – even though I know the meaning of individual words, I might have to think about it in a couple of different ways before I get what the sentences sounds like as a whole. It’s a really fun and interesting way to focus and think about what you read. I’ve never finished a literary work in Spanish before, but I’m making it my goal to read this one all the way through. I’ve started stuff before, but it hasn’t held my interest, and here’s why: as much as I love Inkheart, Harry Potter, or the Tale of Despereaux (which, being French, makes no sense to own in Spanish), I’ve read them all before! There’s no suspense, and I need that motivation to make myself work out the next phrase. Besides, I think I end up cheating too much by relying on my memory when I come across a word I don’t know. But not so with this book! It’s been much faster to read than expected – I read the first three chapters in two days (although that may have been because I was so fascinated and excited).
I’m hoping that this will get me re-immersed in the world of Spanish so I can study with my mom when I get home. I’ve read random portions of El Libro de Mormón (The Book of Mormon), but it would be fun and interesting to read it all the way through. Or at least read it in a consistent manner.
I figure the more I learn how to combine language and gospel study now, the more I will be prepared to learn any language later. Also, knowing Spanish will allow me to go teach with the Sister Missionaries when I get home (excuse me, las misioneras hermanas) since we only have Spanish-speaking sisters in our ward.
Now, the content of this book: I’m in the middle of the fifth chapter. I’d love to go through and post a bit more on my feelings on each subject, but here I’d just like to encourage everyone everywhere to read it. It doesn’t matter if you’re preparing to serve a full-time mission or not, this book eloquently explains the gospel and will help you understand how to share it with those not of our faith.
In fact, the entire book is written to and for those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is an invitation to understand our church and our beliefs, not an effort to convert others to our way of thinking. Because of this, it has a unique clarity and simplicity that I think isn’t readily found in Mormon literature. It’s easy for me to see why this is included in the Missionary Library – if we all could teach like Elder Ballard, there would be far fewer misconceptions about the Church. I have been a member for most of my life, and yet I still learned many important things. The book teaches a lot about how we as members relate to other churches, which I found intruiging. I encourage nonmembers who are curious about our belief systems to pick up a copy. It’s short, simple, and straightforward, yet packed with information, and can address a lot of common questions.
I hope to post a bit more about my testimony of this wonderful book.