“The Spirit Spoke through Me,” Liahona, Sept. 2011, 39
When I received my call to serve in the France Toulouse Mission, I was excited to serve in a foreign country and learn a new language. Despite not having studied French before, I was confident I would be able to learn to speak the language easily.
My stake president blessed me with the gift of tongues when he set me apart as a missionary. This blessing added to my confidence that I would be able to learn French quickly.
When I arrived at the missionary training center in Provo, Utah, I was eager to begin, but my time at the MTC was humbling. I was overwhelmed and struggled every day. When I left the MTC, I felt I had made few advances with French. I wondered when the gift of tongues would come.
My first assignment in the mission field was in a small town in southern France. One afternoon, just days after I had arrived, my companion and I were street contacting. I didn’t say much when we spoke with people—I could hardly understand them, and they could hardly understand me.
We approached a woman, and my companion began telling her about the Church. The woman listened for a few minutes and then suddenly turned to me and said, “What do you have to say?”
I anxiously and desperately tried to remember something I had learned. In a trembling voice, I bore a simple testimony about Heavenly Father and the Book of Mormon. As I did so, the Spirit bore witness to me that what I had said was true. I don’t know if the woman felt anything, but she smiled, turned back to my companion, and asked her to continue with her message.
This experience taught me an important lesson. I learned that even though I couldn’t speak French well, the Spirit could speak through me. I learned that perhaps the blessing I had received from my stake president was actually a blessing to be able to speak the language of the Spirit.
President Thomas S. Monson taught: “There is one language … that is common to each missionary—the language of the Spirit. It is not learned from textbooks written by men of letters, nor is it acquired through reading and memorization. The language of the Spirit comes to him who seeks with all his heart to know God and keep His divine commandments. Proficiency in this language permits one to breach barriers, overcome obstacles, and touch the human heart” (“The Spirit Giveth Life,” Liahona, June 1997, 4; Ensign, June 1997, 2).
Years later, this experience still influences me. I am not required to preach the gospel in French anymore, but I need the help of the Spirit when I am asked to teach a lesson or give a talk in church. When I feel that I am struggling to express myself, I find comfort in remembering that the Spirit is able to speak to the hearts of all of God’s children.