"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Gift of Tongues, Senior Style

 좋은 아침! ¡Buenos días! Доброе утро! Chào buổi sáng! Good morning!

Morning is well under way at the Amanda Knight Hall in Provo, Utah. Senior missionaries and language tutors fill little classrooms lining the hall of the aged, but comfortable, building.  The Missionary Language Training immersion program for senior missionaries is in full swing.

This week it is Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese being taught. Next week it might be Swedish or Japanese.  Whatever the need, senior missionaries going all over the world can receive language training for their respective mission, either here in person or via Skype with tutors and native speakers.

Elder Coffey and I struggle to sound out the phonetic difference between “tập” and “đọc”, when both sound like dop to untrained, Western ears. Young but completely fluent tutors, all returned missionaries, mentor us in pronunciation, grammar patterns, and scenarios. Patiently they answer a seemingly endless stream of questions. They are all absolutely excellent.


Our schedule includes a variety of tutors, personal study time, and plenty of breaks when we need them.  And need them we do! Though the pace is slower than what the young missionaries get, it is plenty fast for us seniors.

The senior sister missionary next door pops her head in to introduce herself. She and her husband are preparing to serve a Spanish speaking temple mission in Bolivia.  This is their second mission. Another couple down the hall is studying Korean for a Military Relations Mission.  This is their third mission.  The first two were in Russia.

Come 5:00 pm our eyes glaze over, our heads spin, and it is time to end for the day. It is hard to teach old dogs new tricks.  But swelling up inside, a ray of optimism surfaces.  His voice whispers, “You got this. You can do this.  Open your mouths and they shall be filled.  This is not your work.  It is mine. You are on my errand.”

Flickr.com courtesy of  Harry and Rowena Kennedy

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Of Light and Heat

I am intrigued by the words of Jesus Christ when He said, "I am the Light of the world." (John 8:12). The symbolism in Light is awe-inspiring. My mind is filled with wonder as I ponder the words that describe Christ as, 

...the light of truth;  Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;  As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand. 

And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes...                                                                              Doctrine and Covenants 88: 6-12
The light from the sun brings both radiant light and burning heat. Both are essential to our progression toward Him.

Of Light and Heat

The sky, they say, is black at night,
When in truth it's filled with light,
Enough to see the path to keep –
Enough to trust while others sleep.

Lord, here’s my hand. I cannot see  
Unless I put my trust in Thee.
Flickr.com - courtesy of George Thomas

The graying of the dawn awakes
The greater view which road to take.
The shadows bow and take their seat
As cool gives way to fervent heat.

      Lord, here’s my heart.  I cannot see
      Unless I put my trust in Thee.
Flickr.com - courtesy of Rania Hatzi

Unfettered day with rays unfurled
Brings burning heat upon the world.
Faint, seeking Balm to soothe the brow –
The dross is cleansed in me somehow.

Lord, here’s my will. I cannot see
Unless I put my trust in Thee.
Flickr.com - courtesy of Luca Castellazzi

The sunset warm begins to glow,
Another time and place to show.
The path now clear with radiant light,
I take my place within His sight.

Lord, I am thine, for now I see
Both light and heat bring us to Thee.
Flickr.com - courtesy of Magic Foundry

Deborah L. Coffey

Thursday, August 11, 2016

15 Days 'Till Mission Start Date

Our training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah is fast approaching! Our official start date is August 29th, but we have opted to go a week early and do language training. Learning Vietnamese is not a required part of our mission,  but we are encouraged to learn what we can. 

Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah
The Church has wonderful language learning resources for seniors. Once a week we each enjoy an hour-long Skype session with our language tutor,  a Vietnamese speaking returned missionary.  He is excellent!  The Church has many on-line resources to help, including scenarios, dialogues, study tips, and recordings by native speakers.

The MTC also provides a native speaker to Skype with us once a week, as well as a language coach who helps us with goal setting and progress measurements. 

The language program is available before senior missionaries enter the country and for 6 months after they are in the country. 

This week we were given our Vietnamese names.  I am Ánh (like "Ann"), and Greg is Thế, (pronounced "Tay"). We will serve in the Tân Sơn Nhất Branch in Ho Chi Minh City.

We also have an apartment waiting for us in Ho Chi Minh City, thanks to President Hassell and others who helped find it for us.  It is about a 23 minute walk to the church building. There we will be working with members of the branch and the local branch builders, volunteering teaching English, and offering support and encouragement to branch leaders and members.

With our newly acquired language in mind,  I will share my first testimony in Vietnamese:

Tôi biết rằng Thượng Đế là Cha Thiên 
Thượng của chúng ta. Tôi biết rằng Đấng Ky Tô là Đấng Cữu Rỗi của chúng ta. Tôi làm chứng rằng Thượng Đế yêu thương chúng ta và biết chúng ta là ai.

I know that God is our Heavenly Father.  I know that Christ is our Savior. I testify that God loves us and knows who we are. 

We anticipate leaving the MTC for Vietnam on September 5th.  If this mission is anything like our previous one to Hong Kong, it will be incredible and life-changing.  We are looking forward to the culture, the humidity, and the good food.  We are excited about helping people learn English and teaching sound principles which will lead to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

We are extremely humbled by this opportunity and blessing to serve in Vietnam. We are grateful. We look forward to serving the Lord in whatever way He directs us. We expect hard work.  We expect sacrifice.  We expect miracles.