The title of this email is the Tagalog word for disturbing, but the reason it is up there is because of the fact that it is a Tagalog tongue twister. There are people that have been speaking Tagalog their entire lives that can’t pronounce that word with consistency. I mention this because a lot of times it feels like my tongue is tied. The language will probably be my primary obstacle for a good while.
Then again, I know that there is a lot of hope. Last night I had a great experience after fasting and praying for the gift of tongues (and for several of my investigators). After struggling almost that entire day to teach and speak in Tagalog, at the very end of the day on our last lesson, I was able to teach – not just speak, but I was able to say words with a manner of conviction and explain the life of Jesus Christ and the importance of prophets to a family without using almost any English at all. I know that the gifts of the spirit exist and that we can receive them. I know that you need to ask in order to receive, and that faith takes action first. Sometimes you will try hundreds of times with seemingly no progress, but that next time stepping forward with faith your mouth opens and the perfect words come out.
The people here, by and large, are amazingly receptive. About 85% of the country is Catholic, and so they know about Jesus. They will gladly invite us in if we say that we have a message about Jesus and his true gospel on the Earth. Our ward helps a lot with that too. They are very supportive of missionary work, and we almost always have someone coming with us and being our member present for lessons.
I have already learned a lot about teaching and that is my second obstacle that I know I must overcome. Not only do I have to be able to speak in Tagalog – in a way that people understand (it helps that people here generally understand a lot of English, so they can help me out when I am a bit lost.) – but I have to teach in a way that people understand and teach in a way that brings in the spirit at the same time. Sometimes it is a lot to juggle, and other times you don't even have to think about it – it all flows.
I am learning more and more every day, and I know it is worth it to struggle all day – even if I make the smallest amount of progress. One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27 (Which gains a little bit of more meaning when read in Tagalog because of focus. But I will talk about that in another email.) Basically in Ether 12:27 it is explained to us that, we all have weakness (that is something we should all know already) but it is only after we humble ourselves because of that weakness that God's grace empowers us. We then present ourselves to God with our weakness in one hand and our humility in the other. It is at that moment that he takes the weakness away from us and replaces it with strength. He does, however, let us keep the humility. For without it, we cannot do hard things.
My Tagalesson for this week is on “na” and “pa” because that is what I studied to increase my comprehension this week. I have struggled a lot with comprehension ever since I got here, but the last couple days I have seen crazy improvement. One thing about Tagalog is that the smallest sounds added can make a huge difference in a sentence. For example if you put "na" in a sentence (it usually comes out as the second word, but there are exceptions) it puts a closeness between the action and the present time. For example "He is sleeping" but when you add "Na" the sentence becomes "He is already sleeping." It can mean many different things; including, but not limited to:
Already, now, even, just now, it can make a sentence a command, or show spatial closeness.
"Pa" is the exact same principles except it adds distance "He is sleeping" with "Pa" added becomes "He is still sleeping." It can mean, but is not limited to:
Still, another, even, later, any more, or showing spatial distance.
These small words change meanings of things very quickly.
Just like how the spirit can be hard to hear sometimes, but our understanding is blessed in great ways when we look for it – I have increased in language understanding by looking for words like these and looking for meaning based on what I am hearing.
This is a good work. Every week I focus on becoming a better me. Sometimes I realize I write these emails for myself as a kind of weekly journal to see that I have changed. I am sorry if I get too rambly in them, but that is kind of how I am.
I love you all and the gospel is a huge blessing in my life. Every day I learn that lesson again and again.