You may have noticed that I don’t really complain and talk about the wonderful and difficult Korean language anymore. I think as I’ve progressed and developed as a missionary and as a person, I’ve had less and less time to think about myself and all my “problems,” Korean being one of them. Our new mission president has given everyone in our mission not just 30 minutes of language study every day and 60 minutes for the brand new missionaries every day, but 60 minutes for everyone! Even the Koreans so they can study English. Since I’m with Sister Stradling, we already had 60 minutes every day, and it’s been a total blessing! I’ve had time every day to really practice what I want to say in lessons and make great strides in our mission’s language program.
Recently though, I’ve noticed a problem. As I improve and am called upon to do so much and am able to accomplish so much, I forget why I’m able to be successful and to whom I owe everything. One day in a lesson last week I was sufficiently humbled to remember that my language ability is entirely due to the miracle of missionary work, the Lord’s work. Sister Stradling and I were teaching the Plan of Salvation and we were discussing the resurrection and judgment with Sister Seo and a member. All of a sudden, my mind went entirely blank. I had NO idea what to say next. That morning we’d gone through the lesson, talking about what we wanted to say and how, but in that moment there was nothing in my mind, not Korean, not English, just this image and feeling and no words to put with it. I felt like I sat there for ages unable to say anything – but Sister Stradling assured me it was only a few seconds. Even the member was helpless to aid me. He asked what word I wanted in English, but I didn’t know. That night I opened my scriptures looking for answers and in my reading of the Book of Mormon I found words to describe what had been in my heart. But I felt so stupid that I hadn’t been able to think of scriptures or words or anything. I recovered the lesson, and it was totally fine, but I just felt as though I had failed.
A few days later after teaching a lesson with another investigator, a different member reminded me that as missionaries we have special power and authority to teach and invite the Spirit, but in the end, it’s always the Spirit that does the teaching. We may feel the Spirit testifying that what we teach is true, but if our friends and family don’t feel that or recognize it, it doesn’t matter. If all they hear are our words and feel nothing, it doesn’t matter. I took that to heart and all week have been trying to help others have spiritual experiences instead of being perfect at Korean and caring about how I sound. The change has been amazing!
As I have tried to meet the needs of those I’m with and have paid extra attention to the thoughts and impressions that come to me, people understand everything I say, and they progress in their understanding! Later, when I go back and review what I’ve said, I can’t remember or it doesn’t make any sense. I can’t even remember what I’ve promised them, but I know that there was power in the room and a change in their countenance. Always I have to remember that this is the Lord’s work and I have to do it the way he would do it, and that everything I’m able to accomplish is only because he is there helping us along the way. If our message of the Restoration weren’t true, if The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wasn’t truly Christ’s church restored in our day, I wouldn’t be successful. Even with Korean, I study hard and talk to everyone, but it’s only because of Heavenly Father’s blessing that I, after only one year, can be at a member’s house and carry on a conversation for an hour, or understand people’s personal stories and testimonies at church, teach someone about the love of God and how this knowledge can bless their life, or open up the scriptures and learn something I never had when I read them in English. Mormon missionaries like me all over the world are learning crazy languages and successfully teaching people how to improve their lives, how to be happy from now through eternity. It’s amazing!! It’s a miracle!!
싱기하다 (shing gee ha da) – to have one’s mind blown. That’s how I feel every day!