Thirty-two years ago I had the opportunity to learn Spanish. I was called to serve a proselyting mission for the LDS church in Chile, South America. Before going, I went to an intensive language training center for two months where I was also able to brush up on Christian doctrine.
Although I had taken two years of Spanish in middle school, I had forgotten it all by the time I was 19 – except maybe the numbers and introductory dialogues.
I remember how excited I was to leave the language training center and go preach the gospel in Spanish in Chile. Although the program was intense – fully immersing us in the language and culture, I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was when I left. I remember thinking, when I heard my first Chilean speak, “That’s not Spanish! I know how to speak Spanish!” Sadly it was Spanish and it was another 3-4 months before I felt comfortable with the language and people I learned to love for the next two years.