On a certain occasion, a temple worker came into the lobby of an LDS temple in Utah and asked if anyone spoke Spanish. It seems that a sister who understood no English, had just arrived from Mexico to go through the temple for the first time. Someone was needed to help prepare her and escort her through the session. A shy young American sister who was in the lobby, at first said nothing. She felt that her ability in Spanish was so inadequate that she would be of no help; but when she saw that no one stepped forward, she offered her services.
As she was introduced to the quiet little Mexican sister, whose eyes were bright with anticipation, an immediate bond was formed. Although the American sister's Spanish was limited, especially her religious vocabulary, she was able to make herself understood and that day began a friendship that has deepened and continued over a number of years. The American sister still refers to that temple session as one of the greatest spiritual experiences she has ever had.
Perhaps you have had an experience of a nature similar to the one recounted here. Or perhaps you could have had one, but lost the opportunity because you were not prepared or felt you couldn't handle it. It may be you've had the chance to tell someone about the Church, but couldn't do it because your religious vocabulary was inadequate. Perhaps you've gone to Church in a Spanish-speaking meeting, and said nothing because you were too inhibited. It is our hope that these materials will be of help in preparing yourself for the next time opportunity knocks.
We are assuming that you know some Spanish, or are actively learning it, so you already know that the best way to become proficient in the language is to use it. If you are fortunate enough to be in situations where Spanish is used in church settings, take advantage of them as much as possible. Use these materials to prepare yourself. Go to meetings early and find members of the Church to talk to. Often there are older, lonely people waiting for the meeting to start whose life you can brighten as you practice the language. Spanish-speaking members and investigators of the Church are open, tolerant and understanding and will not make fun of your errors or lack of eloquence. You cannot find a more appropriate environment for learning Spanish.
Volunteer to say prayers and give talks. Participate in classes and join in any kinds of activities being carried out. You may have to memorize some things such as prayers, testimony, the Joseph Smith story, etc., but what you make part of your vocabulary becomes a base that you can use over and over again.
Whenever you can, read the scriptures in Spanish, and read other materials such as the Liahona, lesson manuals, tracts and other church writings that are available in Spanish. There are myriads of written, oral and visual materials on the church sites on the Internet (lds.org, mormon.org, saladeprensamormona.org, etc.) that can provide a never-ending source of practice; just select the Spanish language option. Always carry your dictionary and a notebook with you and write down new words and expressions. Then make it a point to use those new words. Find ways to insert them into your conversations, even though they don't entirely fit the topic. You have to use them in meaningful communication for them to become active vocabulary.
Make the language active in your own personal life. Use it with blessings on the food and in family prayers. Find friends and family members who know the language and practice with them. It may well be that the Lord has a special task waiting for you that will require you to use Spanish. Get ready now for that time.