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Forget yourself and go to work by teaching English to missionaries

By Emily Johnson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 29 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

We begin and close each class with prayer, which gives the missionaries yet another opportunity to practice English. Most of them are nervous, but I’ll never forget Sister Auccapuma — the first missionary that said a prayer in English — who brought such a spirit with her halting, soft-spoken prayer.

Some of the most profound and choice spiritual experiences in our classes, but also in my life, have been through music.

Several weeks ago, I found an English hymnal in the meeting room where I hold classes. I felt prompted to show it to Sister Condori and Sister Maldonado, the sisters I was having class with at the time.

I asked Sister Maldonado what her favorite hymn was. She turned to “Love One Another.” I was surprised that she wanted to actually sing it in English. I don’t know how to lead music and we didn’t have a keyboard or piano, but we three sisters sang it with gusto. The Spirit was like a fire burning in my heart, washing over me like a warm bath of peace. I felt enveloped, as if the sun were directly beaming on me. I felt physically and spiritually embraced by the love of God. It was one of the most powerful witnesses of the Spirit I had ever had.

Though we are all from different countries and speak different languages, through music, we become united as brothers and sisters in the gospel.

These are great missionaries. Their spirits are strong and their hearts are pure. I am truly blessed to work with them.

How good it is for me to be with the servants of the Lord and fellow saints as we serve, learn and build up the kingdom of God. I may help the missionaries improve their English, but they are helping me improve, too — this experience has truly been a lifesaver.

When I forget myself and get to work, the Spirit can work within me. I can’t speak fluent Spanish, lead music, or play the piano, but the Lord answered my sincere and humble prayer to be of service with the gifts I do have.

Emily Johnson has been teaching English at the University of Piura for nearly a year. Read about her Peruvian adventures at peruvianpony.blogspot.com. She earned a Master's in professional communication from Westminster College.

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