I was talking to a few of the members of my ward that served in South America and they gave me GREAT pointers on what to do to prepare. They told me to be ready to just not understand anything. I knew that it would be pretty difficult to learn Spanish; any new language is hard. I was disheartened a little bit when every single person I talked to who knew anything about Spanish said that Chilean Spanish is BY FAR the most difficult to learn and understand. These people seemed to sense my distress because they followed it up with a quick, "Hey, every single missionary goes through that. It's way better to anticipate the difficulty and then meet it with a willingness to work." It is definitely comforting to know that Heavenly Father is totally on my side and will help me.
There is a sweet sister in my ward that speaks no English. When my call was announced in church today, she looked over at me and I could see so much joy in her eyes. I didn't really notice her for the rest of our meetings, but she came up after Relief Society and handed me a card with the Articles of Faith in Spanish and congratulated me on my mission call. Like I said, she doesn't speak much English, so I really tried to listen to her to understand what she was saying. I didn't know exactly how to respond to what she was saying but I gleaned that she was going to give me a Book of Mormon next Sunday. I couldn't understand or say anything in return, but I am so glad that she made an effort to talk to me. I can only imagine how she feels in an area where everyone speaks English. I just hope that, when I get to Chile, the people will be forgiving of my faults and recognize that I just want to learn and serve and grow with them.
I am so willing and SO EAGER to learn.
For example, today I got home from church and I went down to National Headquarters (my dad's office) and downloaded the Book of Mormon read aloud in Spanish. I listened to mis himnos favoritos (my favorite hymns) in Spanish a few times. It was so fun to sing Called to Serve in Spanish, even though I have no idea what the lyrics in the extra two verses mean. I SO want to learn this language. I want to study like crazy. I've just been praying that my brain will be receptive to the language and that I'll be able to start learning with more speed.
A while back I wrote about my weird obsessions. I don't know if you can tell, but very very quickly I have become obsessed about all things Spanish and Chilean. I just am in love with the country and the people and the language already. Like before I got my call, I am not really that anxious to leave yet. I have plenty of things I need to do to prepare, but I am just beginning to see the potential for good that I have yet to realize.
As I was examining the little card that the sister handed me in church, I read at the end a simple note: "bueno-mision. alma 37:37." When I got home, I flipped open my scriptures and felt so comforted. The scripture read:
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
I really, really believe that. One of my favorite quotes is, "Those who are on the Lord's errand are entitled to the Lord's help." I am not worried about my mission. I am only a little concerned about my capacity to learn to speak the language. I am not worried about loving the people. I am worried a tad about my inadequacies. Even with these little worries, I know that if I rely on the Lord, he will help me to be so much more than I actually am. And out of all of the comfort and advice that I have received in the past 24 hours, that knowledge takes the cake.
This is an area in my mission called Dichato. It is such a beautiful place with ocean and mountains all in the same place. (MY PARADISE). It's really sad to look at pictures from the areas in my mission because they were all hit super hard by the Chilean earthquake in 2010. This was really the only picture I saw in the top part of my Google search that wasn't littered with rubble and debris.