I have always marvelled at how the Articles of Faith (AoF) were created and how a young man was able to encapsulate the principles of a religion in 13 simple statements. Each one capturing the essence of it's subject and although they build on each other, they have enough content to survive as a stand alone testament to that subject.
The one that I am most intrigued by and the most relevant to my life at this time is the 7th article of faith which reads:
"We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth"
You see, never in my wildest imagination as a child, having grown up with the AoF - did I think how important it was going to be when I grew up. I believe every word - but I had no idea that it really worked - I had never had any experience with this.... It turns out that my sons who have also learnt these AoF as children are now 'real-life' recipients of them.
English didn't come easy to either of the boys, in fact both of them dropped it from their suite of examable subjects in high school as soon as they could. So to say they have a demand of english is a stretch but it is their native tongue. So it when they recieved their mission calls to serve in a spanish speaking country - our prayers really started.
Once the boys recieved the gift of the Holy Ghost, our prayers always asked for each of us to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. So, it made sense that when they left they were encouraged to rely on the spirit as it was through that they would be able to communicate with anyone. We talked about how the spirit would fill their mouths in time when they were unsure what the word was and how it was the role of the spirit to testify of the truth....
THE MTC: For the first six weeks they learnt how to speak Spanish in a controlled environment with tutors who had served in a Spanish speaking mission and lead by people who were from a range of Spanish Speaking countries. They were paired with people who knew just as much as them or less and grouped with others who ranged from beginners to those who had some Spanish on board. The boys wrote home often frustrated that they weren't progressing....: 5 FEB "I'm horrible at Spanish and everytime I feel like that I think I should just go home, but I always know that you two (Mum & Dad) would think I was doing amazing and then I try and be happy again, but yeah it's going well at the MTC. I'm trying my hardest I promise...." 9 FEB "Well the language isn't getting any easier it's still really slow coming but I'm still trying to improve every day...."
We taught the boys to try and relax and not to push too hard (being competitive is in the nature of being a twin which is great in sports but a bit of a challenge with things like this), and we promised them that with the spirit, the language would come naturally and not by force. We didn't want them to be pressured because that's not a good environment to learn......
So the boys tried to let it come naturally and as they left the MTC - they were reporting: 23 FEB "I was to give the closing prayer, I can't rememebr what I said but I remember being nervous, because my district being the oldest group in the zone and me being the leader (district leader) I felt as if I had to give this good prayer and show the new people the [level of ] expectation. I can't even remember what I said in the prayer specifically but I know I said some words I had no idea I even knew, and I must have done pretty good because the new people thought I was a native speaker hahaha,... so the gift of tongues must be coming". As his mother, I find my heart full of wonder and joy that they have lived good lives to be able to recieve these beautiful gifts of the spirit.
In preparation for arriving in their new country of residence for the next two years, we shared with the boys the experience of others before them, that the language in the country was totally different than in the MTC. We had heard from friends that people arrived feeling confident in a language only to be left speechless...
IN THE FIELD: As expected, and on cue - the boys first emails report: 4 MAR " I met the ward and everything. It was super hard to stay awake because I have to pay so much attention trying to figure out what they're saying, and it makes me tired but hey I survivied it too, and the people are super super cool, they just speak really fast and I can't understand their accent haha!!" and 4 MAR "It's true about how fast these people can speak. I can't understand anything"....
The boys were counselled by their mission prep leaders and other RMs (returned missionaries) that their command of the language will eventually come along. They understood very clearly the need to be have the companionship of the spirit so they could be recipients of the gift or tongues and the interpretation of tongues - which means basically they would be able to speak and understand others speaking Spanish.
ONE MONTH SINCE ARRIVING IN THE FIELD: We gave the boys 6 months so I set the goal with them that by August, and definitely by the time they call me for Christmas they would be totally immersed ;-) The problem is that I think it is going to be their phonecall on Mother's Day that will see them struggling to speak in English ;-) One report: 1 APR "So I decided to take the opportunity to teach in English lesson one, and I can tell you now when I come home I'm not going to be speaking much English, as I was struggling to teach lesson one in English and I've only been here for a month.... But it's cool. I like teaching him. I had to say the prayer in English too, which was really really hard, I didn't know what to say, hahaha so I think this is a good sign my English is finally dropping off and my Spanish is picking up chin a chin, little by little". And from his brother: 3 APR "I can understand people now usually it sounds like they would say one big word but now it sounds like Spanish".
So that's it - the gift of tongues kicking in such a short amount of time. We are so grateful for the help they have been getting by those around them and especially for both of the boys being worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost and as such recipients of the gift of tongues.
As for me and Mr - we better get cracking and learn us some Spanish....!!