Speaking Words I Didn't Understand

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by Blaine L. Gale, Utah - USA

Unmistakable spiritual promptings attended me as a new missionary in Fitiuta, Manua, American Samoa, when I had to conduct a sacrament meeting in a room filled with curious villagers not of our faith.

Aviu, the only Samoan priesthood holder in the village, was bedridden with an illness and couldn’t conduct the meeting. I fasted and prayed fervently, deeply concerned because I could not understand the Samoan language well enough to converse with the people.

When Sunday came, my companion and I blessed the sacrament in English and passed it. I then stood and looked at the congregation. I knew what I wanted to communicate. I tried to open with traditional, polite greetings in Samoan, but the words didn’t come out right. I stopped and closed my eyes, feeling I’d have to speak in English. As I began speaking again, I had a sensation that my mouth was several inches in front of me, speaking in Samoan. The animated expressions on the faces in the congregation showed they understood my words.

After the meeting my companion told me that our Church members said they were happy to hear my talk and that I was speaking perfect Samoan.

I acknowledged the gift in my prayers that night. As the following Sunday approached, Aviu was still unable to leave his sickbed. I again fasted and prayed and had the same experience as the previous Sunday. I was humbled, recognizing again the feeling of being a tool in the Lord’s hands.

The third Sunday approached with Aviu still sick. This time I felt confident the Spirit would prompt me. I wasn’t anxious. I didn’t fast or pray with the same urgency as before. I felt proud to have received the gift of tongues. But this time I failed. The congregation was puzzled when I couldn’t speak Samoan clearly.

Pride stopped me from being receptive to the Spirit that time. This experience helped me learn that promptings will come to me only if I pray humbly and rely on the Spirit.