Friday, November 9, 2007

French Lessons

The Lord takes care of his children. That's the only way I can explain it.

I was in the temple this morning, doing my normal thing. Two weeks ago, I had been asked if I was interested in learning the Spanish version of the temple ordinance with which I help, so I could help people who speak Spanish. At the time, I ended up doing something else, so I didn't have time. Today, however, I did have a little extra time, so I decided to get the paperwork that showed English on the left side and Spanish on the right. I also had the fleeting thought that I should get the French version, too, so I could compare the two.

Now, I don't speak Spanish, but I do live in Southern California where a lot of people do. Learning Spanish would be a good thing to do, but I just haven't gotten around to doing that, yet. Regarding French, when I was in high school (over 15 years ago!), I took four years of French and I also took one quarter of it in college. (Having done this, I thought I was assured the opportunity to serve a mission for my church in a French-speaking place, but it wasn't to be -- I ended up going to Texas speaking Texan.)

Needless to say, I haven't exactly pursued my French studies, but I still remember a lot about the structure of the language and can read simple text. As for Spanish, I knew that the two languages were similar in structure and can't have helped being exposed to it, living where I do; so I figured that it might be useful for me to compare the French to the Spanish in order to better derive some meaning.

Well, when I went to get the French translation, the woman who keeps them discovered that the French version was not where it was supposed to be -- I walked away only with the Spanish version. About five minutes later, after puzzling over the Spanish version for about five excruciating minutes, I went to return it and discovered another man talking with the woman, also asking for the French translation. While I was gone, the woman had looked for it, and found two copies.

As it turned out, there was a couple from French Polynesia attending the temple today. Suddenly, I was being asked not only to learn the French version, but to help one of these two people during the ordinance! I had about an hour to figure it out. Well, I didn't memorize it, but I can honestly tell you that my mind was quickened and my understanding made clear as I studied it in that hour. When it was time to help the good woman who spoke only French, I took my translation with me and did my best -- which apparently was good enough. She came through, gave me a grateful smile, and said, "Merci beaucoups."

For the life of me, I couldn't remember the French version of "you're welcome", and was about to sputter out "de nada" when I decided just to smile and nod towards her. (For the record, it's "de rien".) She was content with that, and I was grateful for the opportunity to serve.

We often think that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Back when I was a youth, I figured I'd find a way to put my French to good use, and the balance of my adult life, that hasn't been the case. However, today, I had the opportunity to help somebody with what little I remember from all of that experience. Interestingly enough, the way I feel today, if all those years of studying French were only for the purpose of helping this good woman today, then it was worth it.


Megan said...

Great experience Roy! I took some German in highschool and I can remember how to say "What do you do in your free time?" Tears are coming as I'm laughing so hard because you'd think I'd get more out of my German many someday I'll use some of it at the temple too! Ha ha! Oh yeah, a lady BJ met at a LDS entreprenuer fair has a friend that from Boise moving to Canyon Country and just became employed at JPL...Rance ?. So, there you go! I'm giving her your blog address in case she wants to connect you two.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful experience you and Angel had Saturday . It is so neat that you had the experience of helping some French at the veil. The Lord works in a mysterious way. I have alot of friends who learn the ordinances in Spanish and have very little experience in learning. They are great sisiters and dedicated as you are.

Love Mom G

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