The Voice Spoke Spanish
Although I kept a journal before I joined the Church, a special experience of mine in 1968 firmly convinced me of the power of a journal as a means of preserving sacred experiences for the teaching and motivation of my family.
I had joined the Church six years earlier in Chile, then moved to Utah where I married Cleria. In 1968 I was a student, and our son Luis was three years old.
In a way, we were a family looking for a better way of living—and somewhat confused about our goals, about how to work out problems of today’s world. We had fasted and prayed, and I was thinking about our problems while shaving one morning when I found myself longing for some guidance from the Spirit. I guess my mind must have been in tune just then, because I heard a voice speaking to me in Spanish. It told me exactly, what I should do about our difficulties, and it made clear to me several gospel principles that we needed to understand and apply to make these solutions work in our lives.
Along with the instruction came the clear feeling that I should share this new light with my wife. I came out of the bathroom, my face still covered with lather, and exclaimed, “I have something to tell you that can’t wait!” I’m sure that part of the blessing of that morning was that I could explain to her very clearly those principles about which we had been unclear—principles involving our family and the counsel we had just received in the Church concerning family home evening. This has had a great impact on our lives and has been an inspiration up to this very time, not only in family matters but also as a reminder that our Heavenly Father is watching over us and listening to our prayers.
When we read the account in my journal now, it brings back almost the same feeling that was there when it happened. Elder Hugh B. Brown said:
“Sometimes during solitude I hear truth spoken with clarity and freshness; uncolored and untranslated it speaks from within myself in a language original but inarticulate, heard only with the soul, and I realize I brought it with me, was never taught it nor can I effectively teach it to another.” (Eternal Quest, Bookcraft, 1956, p. 435.)
That is what my experience was like for me. I felt that the voice of truth was speaking to me; I felt comfortable with it; and I felt at ease. I knew it was true, and I feel so again whenever I read over my own account of it.
The fact that this inspiration came in my native Spanish language even though I speak English was in itself an inspiration to me. Obviously the Spirit has command of all language.
Perhaps because the answer to prayer had come so powerfully and clearly, it seemed too sacred and personal for me to commit to words, and months passed without my recording it in the journal I was keeping at the time.
Then I remembered another spiritual experience I had had years earlier, just before my baptism. I hadn’t written that in my journal, either, and now I couldn’t remember enough details’ of the story to retell it. I wanted to share that event with my son—and because I hadn’t recorded it, I could not.
I decided not to let that happen with this recent answer to prayer. And, as I wrote the story into my journal, I realized that without my knowing it a few details had slipped from my memory—after just a few months it was hard to remember several things. What if I had waited any longer! But now my family has a record of the Lord’s love for us. We have read it several times together, and members of my family have referred to it for their own guidance.
My eleven-year-old son has been keeping a journal of his own for five years—a good start on having a lifetime of memories always within reach, where his own past can be a strength for the present and a guide for the future.
She Was the Mother I’d Never Known
My mother died when I was only six, and the longing to know her left an emptiness in my heart, especially during my teen years. I wanted, to know about her activities, her dates, her clothes, if she had ever taught Sunday School (that was my job at the time). So when I was eighteen, I made a book and dedicated it to my own future eighteen-year-old daughters, so that they would know about my life.
Then, several years after my marriage, my mother’s father gave me a small notebook he’d found. It was a five-month diary of my mother’s, beginning with her high school graduation in 1917. How thrilled I was to read her own thoughts and feelings at last, rather than getting secondhand reports. I found out what her daily activities were: washing and scrubbing and cooking for her family since her own mother had died two years before.
But she found time for other things: in five months she saw twenty-four movies. I found out about her dates, the excitement of traveling to the old Saltair resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, of strolling through Liberty Park on Sunday afternoon, and of faithfully, every week, teaching her Sunday School class.
Then, in the fall of 1975, a cousin brought from California a photo album that had belonged to my mother’s sister, containing several dozen photos of my mother. My heart’s desire was fulfilled. She was always smiling—sparkling. And her clothes! Velveteen skirts, beribboned blouses, large-brimmed hats loaded with flowers.
Seeing these pictures and rereading the words she wrote, I feel very close to my mother. When I meet her again, she won’t be a stranger.