Monday, October 22, 2012

Stumble

Yesterday, I substituted as a visiting teacher for my new friend in my ward, who happens to be Japanese.  Last time, we visited her, she prayed in Japanese and so this time I asked her if she could teach me to pray in Japanese.  She brought me a sheet of phrases already printed out that she had previously used in some Japanese lessons for a church activity.  We quickly reviewed the grammar associated with the basic phrases.

Then...

VT companion: So, you're going to give the prayer in Japanese right?
Me: Wait, what?
VT companion: Sure!  Why not?
Me: <gulp>  I, uh, wanted to practice.  What if I did it next time?
Friend: That's ok too.
Me: <deep breath> Ok, I'll do it now.

Everyone bowed their heads and I started in on my first prayer in Japanese.  It was painfully slow and extremely hard (which thinking back, is pretty funny, considering that I was practically just reading from the paper in front of me) A number of times, I had to stop and ask my friend how to say something in Japanese.  At the end, everyone raised their heads.  My Japanese friend smiled at me and reached for a tissue and then wiped away tears that started streaming down her cheeks.  "Thank you," she said between her tears.  "That was a very powerful prayer."

When I took Welsh in college, I learned that even though Welsh people all spoke English (so much so that Welsh became a dead language although it is now reviving), when it came to religion, they preferred to hear and learn things in native Welsh.  They called it their "heart language".

I think things strike us deeper in our heart language than in other languages. Somehow, my stumbled little halting attempt in her language was enough to touch her heart in ways that fluent eloquence in mine never will.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in France, I had the missionaries teach me to pray in French. We wrote out my little prayer, just like I did when I was teaching the missionaries. It was really quite humbling, since I finally knew a little how awkward my investigators felt when we wrote out their prayers and tried to get them to pray after first discussions.

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