I would say that I am doing alright learning the language of Spanish. Of course I already knew much about the grammar and I’ve always been pretty good at understanding the gist of what people saying, but it’s truly remarkable how quickly one progresses when they are fully immersed in something. At that point it becomes a matter of not only survival but defiance as you struggle to express yourself and be understood by others. Unfortunately I have had many obstacles in my practice of the language, and admittedly, I have often been my own stumbling block. The longer I am here (today marks three weeks!) the more I have begun to realize that language learning is much like any other thing in life: anything worth having requires hard work, and a lot of it.
Some of my most meaningful learning has been in the opportunities I have had to go to church on Sunday. I’ve been astounded at how much the Spirit makes up for my insufficiencies with the language as I have listened to the talks and lessons presented in my second language. Even as I listen to natives whom talk much too fast for my understanding, I can feel the Spirit testifying of truth and sometimes my ears are opened to the language that I so desperately want to speak.
This past Sunday after Sacrament meeting I was mingling with some of my fellow study abroad students when an extremely excited sister approached me and proclaimed “Tocas el piano!”. The only thing I managed was a simple yes before I was enveloped in an excited embrace. It turns out that this ward has been without a primary pianist for a long time and they were thrilled that I was willing to help out. I was led to the primary room and was met with applause and cheers from the kids after my first prelude song. To say that was very fulfilling would be an enormous understatement. As we went through singing time, sharing time, and finally the closing song, I couldn’t help but sit in awe of what I was witnessing. I admit that I love Primary. Children have a beautiful ability to see things without biases and have the added bonus of being able to state things in simple language that I can understand. But more than that, it’s astounding to see the universal language of love that the Spirit brings. As I watched these children who are growing up in a complete different culture; learning a different language; and experiencing things that I never have and never will, I appreciated just how alike we really are. Children will always be rowdy, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam will always make kids bounce in their seats, and we will always be tied to each other in one eternal family trying to get through the craziness of mortality. Let’s make it a crazy good ride, yes?