Maybe I've been to Portugal once, but that was when I was 5 and I mainly remember making sand castles, lazing by the pool and hiding from the rain in telephone boxes (I think people used to use them for something else before mobile phones, but I''m just not sure- maybe it was for time travel!) The one conversation I do remember about language was when I came home. One of the teaching assistants at my primary school asked me if I had learnt any words when I went on holiday. I explained I only knew the word for 'thank you' and I have a suspicion now I even got that wrong. Her reply was 'well that isn't very much for 2 weeks'. Those were different times, when encouragement was clearly severely rationed in schools! Anyway, I'd even forgotten that word by now.
So the slate was clear for me to get a head start and try to pick some Portuguese up before I enter the MTC (Missionary Training Centre). I've decided to take a many sided approach as a sort of battle with the language on as many fronts as possible. The first thing I did when everyone had left after opening the call was to listen to primary songs and the Book of Mormon Reader in Portuguese. Seriously, how lucky are we that technology allows us to have that instantly at our finger tips- FOR FREE! I didn't understand much, but I already love the sound of the language- especially in the slow songs, when the singer gives you time to catch up.
Then I started a Portuguese word of the day, which I will create a separate page for here. At least I will arrive at the MTC with at least 60 Portuguese words (maybe even pronounced vaguely correctly). I've made a start at learning the Articles of Faith. I'm so pleased that we are encouraged to memorise quite a bit throughout church in our own language because having recited these 13 beliefs since I was 8, I can work out so many Portuguese words for myself, which feels amazing.
The elders in my ward were wonderful enough to turn up on Sunday with a Portuguese Book of Mormon, because that is what mission flats are stuffed with!I have avidly, if slowly, been starting that with the English one open as well and this is where I start to question whether I really did have no knowledge of Portuguese at all. You see, everyone was astounded when I read out my call to Portugal as it seemed so completely un-me. Never in a million years had I thought I was destined for the lovely country. Yet, already it is starting to feel 'right'. With the limited vocabulary I have forced myself to pick up and a fairly good grasp on the opening plot in the Book of Mormon, I have been translating some phrases perfectly before even glancing at the English. Without even thinking I am blessed with all these links to languages I did study- mainly French and Latin, but I'm sure the German and Russian will come in useful eventually. It all just makes sense in a way that German never did (even though I stuck it to A-Level). I know I have a long way to go, but I feel completely confident in the Lord that I will be able to get there, because without my knowing it, he has already been preparing me for this mission call, my whole life. That realisation makes you feel special, Heavenly Father has designed my whole life to help me now. AWESOME!
And so, not only will I learn Portuguese, but 'praise the Lord' as the title of the post would have read in the original hymn. For whether it is 4 sisters supporting you in your music calling by singing 'Come, all ye saints of Zion' as prelude music on Sunday, or whether it is discovering links throughout your life, Heavenly Father is watching over us and helping us out.
'Since He who is eternal has said you shall obtain!'