Dear family and friends,
First of all, thanks for your letters. I love being reminded that I have a fan club, even if it is only one letter a week :).
Secondly, since I took so long to tell my funny story last week, I won’t have one this week (don’t worry, I am still bruised from the fall last Monday—I got a bruise bigger than my hand on my leg and it is still a beautiful color of purple—I think I only burst about 3 blood vessels…). This is because I have an excellent story to tell about a miracle that happened involving a real investigator from China in a teaching situation. But first I want to tell you about the gift of tongues.
Before I had come to the MTC I had heard about the gift of tongues. Of course I knew that the Spirit assisted the work at the MTC, especially the work of learning another language. And when I was set apart, I was told that I would be able to speak to and understand people even when I first got to Taiwan, which I thought would be miraculous since I am learning Mandarin. Well, it is miraculous, but it is a miracle that every missionary leaving the MTC is expected to have. What I mean by this is that teachers, mission presidents, everyone fully expects missionaries to leave the MTC able to give the first and second lessons in their mission language—and to perform many other tasks as well.
To keep it short, I will tell you what I have learned about the gift of tongues. When you are called as a missionary, as you exercise 100% faith in Jesus Christ, work with 100% of your heart, might, mind and strength (on everything, but especially your language), and are 100% obedient, the Lord will give you the language ability that He needs you to have. Let me tell you what I can do in Chinese: this past Saturday I, along with my companions, taught the first lesson in Mandarin—to native Chinese speakers—and they understood us. This was the second time of speaking in Chinese. Most of the day we speak mostly Chinese (if you ever wonder why the grammar in my letters is weird) and I have held conversations with native Chinese speakers for at least five minutes.
After seven weeks.
Really, it is so incredible that it is humbling—that the Lord would give me the ability to speak MANDARIN and teach the gospel in seven short weeks is incredible. Just as a side note, though, this gift does not come without some (or many) frustrations. The other day one of the elders in my district was teaching me and, instead of saying “You bless me with your spirit,” as he had intended, he said, “You bless me with your body.”
Awkward. But we work hard every day and definitely are seeing miracles as we do the work of the Lord.
And finally for the miracle story. I see miracles often but this one blew me away. Many of you have picked up from my letters that I sometimes get discouraged because I am not teaching real investigators. Call me impatient (but really, does my impatience surprise anyone?) but I am more than excited to leave for Taiwan--in less than a month. Anyway, we teach at the "TA" every Saturday, where volunteers come in and we teach them a lesson--since 2 Saturdays ago, we have been teaching entirely in Chinese. This Saturday we had 3 investigators--one from China, one from Taiwan, and a returned missionary. We rarely have so many people, so the lesson was somewhat awkward, but I felt the Spirit testify to me strongly throughout the lesson of certain truths and experiences shared. The sister from China shared with us that she had gone to General Conference, and we asked her to share her experience with us.
Thus commenced 4 minutes of Chinese--and I understood about 8 words! One of my companions understood about that much as well (and I could tell) so I started praying that I couldn't understand what she was saying and I needed help! The Spirit let me know that what she was saying was true so I could nod and smile (I am always afraid that people will say something like "Oh, so you mean Christ is like Budda?" and I won't understand so I will smile and nod!) and then afterward I testified to her that I felt the Spirit testifying to me that she knew what she was saying was true--that she really had seen a prophet of God. Well, we taught about God as our loving Heavenly Father, how to pray, and told the story of Joseph Smith (by the way, through much study and another miracle, I memorized Joseph Smith's first vision in Chinese and quoted it in the lesson--yeah!) and committed them to pray.
Later that evening, during our planning session, I ran into one of the other teachers in my zone. She asked me if I had taught Jane in the TA, and when I responded in the affirmative, she told me that she was a "real" investigator--that she was from China and went to SUU and we were the first missionaries to have ever taught her!
And I thought she was just coming up with good "investigator" questions but faking it!
So there you go. The Lord answered my prayers to allow me to teach a "real" investigator--the very one who had shared with us her story of General Conference. So I guess I should stop complaining, eh?
And finally the committment--but this time it will be a follow up. How many of you checked out the new Mormon.org and prayed about how it can help your missionary efforts? I would love to hear thoughts/stories about it. You can even send me a blank email with the subject line "I did it" if you don't have time to write a whole email. :)
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Thank you for your prayers and your emails and letters.