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.
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