Learning a language on your mission can be a great blessing to your life. As of April 2016, there are 418 missions in the world, and the Provo Missionary Training Center teaches approximately 50 different languages. It truly has become an international church! To my fortunate friends who will be diving into a new language when they become sister missionaries, I’d like to talk to you specifically. I want to show you how dedicating yourself to this new language can bless you in the mission field, in your career, and in your future service in the church.
Your goal as a missionary is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear and simple way. This is only possible when you have the necessary skills of speaking and understanding. At the beginning of your mission, it will be important to stay motivated with your language study because teaching will be difficult. However, even within six months, you will begin to feel more familiar with the language. My advice to you would be to not become complacent with your language abilities but to study with the same diligence on your first day in the field as your last.
When you return home, you will be working toward securing a vocation. The workplace is competitive, which is why knowing a second language will look good for you on a resume. Obviously, not every language is ideal for the business world. For example, my brother served in the Philippines and learned Cebuano. Not exactly a language you use regularly in the United States. But even the fact that you know a second language shows that you are an intelligent, hardworking individual with good communication skills.
You never know how your service may be used within the church. For example, my grandfather served his mission in Finland. Due to his dedication to learning the Finnish language, he was able to help translate the Book of Mormon. Then, in his early 30s, he was called to be a mission president in Finland and replaced his own mission president! This is an extreme example of what can happen when you dedicate yourself to learning a language. Most of us will not have these kinds of responsibilities, but we may use our language skills for a senior couple mission or other service opportunities in the church. Improving your language skills will also be beneficial as you maintain contact with those you taught as a missionary.
When you are called, and given an assignment, the church is investing time into you. It’s easy to learn just the missionary vocabulary, but instead of knowing the minimum, go above and beyond what is expected for your language skills. It will prove to be a blessing to you and to your family. Additional knowledge is always a blessing and never a burden. I invite you to study diligently in preparation for your mission and during your mission, and continue using your language skills when you return home. By learning this new language, you will be representing Christ to the best of your ability. You’ll be able to teach others about Him, which is the most important duty of a missionary.
Worried about learning your mission language? Check out these other articles on the She Traveled blog:
- “I’m Speaking What?!” What to Do When the Mission Language is Daunting
- Tips for Teaching: Overcoming the Obstacle of Illiteracy
- The Ultimate Sister Missionary Packing List