I was a little nervous about the Immersion experience, not knowing what to expect ... only speaking Spanish for 3 whole days. My coach and my tutor both informed me that I would love it. However, they also told me that I would be in charge of what we would do during immersion. It's hard to know what you want to learn when you need to learn everything.
So Sunday night I sat down and I wrote some goals of what I would like to accomplish or work on during Immersion. Here they are:
1. Bear my testimony in Spanish.
2. Meet, converse and share the gospel with a non-member
3. Give a lesson or talk.
4. Give and get directions
From 8:00-8:50 I was in a little room in a chapel in Provo. I had personal study, which was great so I could prepare for my next hour when I would meet with a Spanish speaking volunteer. During that hour I decided the goal I wanted to work on was bearing my testimony. I studied vocabulary etc and started to write my testimony in English and translate it into Spanish. I didn't like that method and decided to just write it in Spanish. I ended up just speaking from my heart.
From 8:50-9:00 we had Prayer Meeting. There was another couple getting immersed in Spanish, a young man who was "in charge" and a Senior Couple who were also "in charge". I think the couple took care of scheduling the volunteers and the young man was in charge of everything else. We sang a hymn in Spanish, said a prayer and the Sister gave us a sweet spiritual thought.
9:00-10:00 I spent with a darling young returned sister missionary named Olimpia. I told her my goal and she asked me to bear my testimony about serving my mission. It was such a sweet experience to share these tender feelings with her in Spanish. Then she bore her testimony and I got to listen. She gave me some pointers with grammar and words I was using incorrectly and said to keep practicing.
Olimpia with us
Wow! I'm liking this and it isn't even scary, and I'm learning already!
10:00-11:00 I was visited by Sister Cox who had just spent the previous hour with my companion. She learned Spanish when she and her husband were called to serve a mission in South America. She had some specific things she wanted to share with me that worked for her when she was learning the language, such as, use variety in studying, flash cards, children's books, listen to the radio etc. Then she drilled me on my vocabulary and conjugations by giving me a simple sentence in English to translate, then she added to it and added to it again changing things up so I had to think. It was fast and fun.
At 11:00 my learning coach Brother Gerber came. I had been Skyping with Brother Gerber every week for the past 6 weeks. It was fun to meet him in person. I told him my goals and what we had done so far and he wrote out my schedule for the rest of the week on the board:
Picture of schedule on board
We didn't always stick to the schedule, but I feel like I met my goals and a whole lot more.
I got to meet my tutor, Hermano Rodriguez. I really have enjoyed Hno. Rodriguez from the start. We have been Skyping every week for the past 6 or so weeks. He was a lot taller in real life. He came all three days. One day, to help me with my goal to learn to give and receive directions, he told me we were going to walk to the library. I didn't know how to get there from where we were so he gave me the directions in Spanish and said when we walked out the door he would forget them and it was up to me to get us there. We made it. If I ever said anything to him in English, he would look at me as though he didn't understand a word. We had a good time in the library discussing the art and reading all the signs etc. We walked home a different way under my Spanish directions. We made it.
On a different day he helped me with my goal to meet and introduce someone to the gospel. He went outside and knocked on the door and we went on a tour of the chapel discussing rooms, pamphlets, pictures etc. It's amazing the doctrinal topics that come up as you walk about the chapel. I wanted to bear my testimony to him and I did as we were touring the building.
He had me listen to "I am a Mormon" on the church website, only it was "Soy Mormon". I had to answer certain questions about the video.
Everyone was so helpful in a different way. Brother Jarman came one day to help me. He had been a BYU professor in Spanish for 40 years. He was very helpful in giving me grammar tips. He also taught me to open my mouth when I talk because Spanish is an open vowel language.
The last day Brother Jarman met with Charlie while I had personal study time. They had me come in and join their session, which ended up being mostly for me. I learned so much from him.
One of my goals was to give a lesson. I changed it to give a talk. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by writing my farewell talk and translating it. It was good to write the talk, but the translating took way more time than I had. However, I did get the first part of it translated and shared it with one of my Spanish volunteers who listened and helped me to use words that would fit better. I tend to make sentences too complicated. I am learning to say things in a more simple way. It was a very good exercise for me.
One volunteer was a young woman from Argentina. She was harder to understand at first. Her accent is very different from the others I have listened to. My experience with her was mostly listening and asking her questions.
Another interesting accent was Zack who learned to speak Spanish on his mission in Spain. They talk with a lisp. All their Ss are pronounced "th". It was funny at first, but he was dead serious.
It was so good to hear different accents and to meet these dear people who give of their time. I learned something from each one and felt their love for this work.
All in all I felt very spoiled to have so many people helping me to learn Spanish. I loved this experience and feel better prepared to serve the sweet people of Bolivia.