22947_000_014She spoke no English. But as we tried to communicate, we discovered that we had a third language in common.
It was late in the evening, and I had just begun to work on homework due the next day. The phone rang while I was in the middle of a particularly difficult calculus problem. The call was for my dad, as most of our calls have been since he was called as our ward bishop. I handed the phone to him and sat down again. I was so engrossed in my work that I was not aware of his conversation.
“Shallin,” my dad said, bringing me out of my deep concentration, “do you know anyone in the ward who speaks Spanish?”
“Nope,” I answered.
“Well, someone from the temple just called and asked if a Venezuelan girl who speaks only Spanish could do baptisms for the dead with our ward tomorrow night. They want me to find someone to translate for her,” he continued.
“I can’t think of anyone,” I said.
“Neither can I. Do you think you could help her?”
Immediately I started to explain that taking Spanish in high school did not exactly make me a fluent speaker. But before I could think of any more excuses, I remembered some of the wonderful experiences I have had at the temple. I did not even know the girl, but I imagined how anxious she must be to come to the temple and I knew I could not let her down.
“I’ll try,” I responded.
As we left for the temple the following day, I became really nervous. I could hardly remember any Spanish at all. I wanted so badly for this young woman to have a wonderful experience, and to feel the spirit of the House of the Lord. I said a silent prayer that she and I would be able to understand what was necessary and that her expectations would be met.
At the temple, a beautiful young woman waited for us, already dressed in white. She was calm and glowed with happiness. I explained to her in broken Spanish that I was a sorry excuse for a translator. She smiled and expressed her gratitude for my efforts. I offered one more silent prayer, and I immediately began to feel the powerful Spirit of the Lord.
In the baptismal chapel waiting for the rest of the group, I opened a set of scriptures. Not looking for anything particular I turned to Doctrine and Covenants 6:32 [D&C 6:32]: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you.”
Throughout the next hour, I felt the Spirit help us communicate. We laughed at my many mistakes, and she was patient with me as I tried to understand and answer her questions. When the temple trip was over, it was hard to say good-bye. We knew we had shared a small miracle.
Later that night, I began my daily scripture study, as always, with a prayer. After I prayed to understand what I would read, the words meant more to me than ever before. I realized the same miracle that happened in the temple takes place in my bedroom each night. I thought of the words of Moroni as he prayed for the ability to write, and I sympathized with his “stumbl[ing] because of the placing of [his] words” (Ether 12:25). He feared the Gentiles would mock his weakness in writing and that the power of the Lord would be lost. This was similar to the way I felt about being a Spanish translator at the temple.
But just as the Lord helped me communicate with someone from a distant land, I know He will help me understand His words recorded in distant times. The prophets of old and I are also “gathered together in [His] name.” And though I have little in common with the valiant men of the scriptures, I am better able to understand the words of God because He is, as He promised, “in the midst of [us].”