I spoke in church on Sunday. The urge to prepare a talk half as long and get a translator was there the whole time I was writing out exactly what to say. But I wanted to try in Italian. Plus, my teacher offered to translate, so I really didn't have an excuse.
Here's the thing about giving a talk in a language that you only sort-of speak: it takes you a long time to get through it. I thought I'd be on the lean side of 8 minutes. I'm pretty sure it went over 12.
I learned a few things as I gave it though.
First, is that people are grateful when you put forth an honest effort. I approached in gratitude by several people who sincerely appreciated my speaking their language (or at least trying). Talks have been given with translators even since I've been in the ward, and I never thought much of it. But I think the Italian ward members are grateful that I am trying to be as much a part of their community as I can be.
Next I learned that I faked some people out. After the meeting people came up and starting talking to me in fast, no-holds-barred Italian. It was way over my head. I had to sheepishly tell them that while I am a fairly apt reader of Italian, my actual speaking has a long (oh so painfully long!) way to go.
Third, I had a personal experience with how the Spirit transcends language barriers. Though I knew what I was saying as I bore my testimony, the words didn't make the familiar feeling my mouth that comes when I speak of Christ in English. However, the feeling in my heart was the same.
Finally, I learned how important it is to bear our testimonies. It had been way too long since I had gotten up and shared what I believe. I didn't say anything different from the testimonies we heard just a few weeks ago. Strains of a love for our Savior, the belief in eternal families, belief that we can be made like God were both in my testimony and the testimonies I hear every week, but there is power in hearing yourself testify that something is true.
And I needed to hear myself last week. Which I guess makes one more thing that I learned: Bishops give us assignments that seem scarey and sometimes laughable, but I am learning again and again that their assignments to us are wise, inspired, and stretching opportunities. And I learned again that it's so important to stretch.