As the first Sunday month, LDS church members are asked to participate in Fast Sunday. We are asked to participate in a fast by abstaining from food or drink for two meals and then to donate what we would spend on those meals to help members in our congregation. It is also a time to commune and draw closer to God through spiritual study and prayer. As part of Fast Sunday, we also have the opportunity to share our testimonies about our faith to our congregation. It is edifying and uplifting to be spiritually fed by other's thoughts and feelings.
I was excited for this Fast Sunday. In my old ward in Utah, I was one of 650 members. It was so big, that the bishop would call people to bear their testimony as an attempt at crowd and time management. I hadn't had the real opportunity to bear my testimony since 2010.
While we are encouraged to let the spirit guide what we say, the spirit doesn't speak to me in Spanish, so I thought I'd prepare a few thoughts so I could share them in church today. I wrote out carefully what I thought I wanted to say in English and used Google Translate to get the Spanish version. Google Translate is pretty accurate but before I read anything, I hoped to have somebody read through it.
Sunday came and as I sat in church this morning, during the worship (or sacrament) portion, I realized I didn't want to say what I really had prepared. I knew what I wanted to say in English, yet I had no way to figure out how to say it in Spanish. I thought, do I just say what I can say in Spanish? Do I just say it in English? Do I read what I prepared? Should I go up or wait another month?
The inner dialogue continued. Should I? Shouldn't I? I kept looking at the clock. I'd feel a stir in my heart and then it quickly faded as my self-preservation (i.e., fear) kicked in. Each person that stood up and than sat down was another reminder that I'd been looking forward to this. Then I worried about my pronunciation, I needed to practice speaking first. I didn't want to look like a fool.
The clock struck 10 a.m., and my chances faded as the bishop stood up and closed the meeting. How I did want to be able to express my deepest gratitude, faith and knowledge to the congregation, but I hate being a prison of my own lack of language. I feel caged, smothered and mute but I have no one to blame but me.
However, this being the 21st century, I can have a chance to bear my testimony. So, it is not exactly the same as sharing my thoughts in person, but here is my testimony.
I am grateful for the kindness, support and friendship I have felt in my ward here. Being here is one of the hardest things I think I have ever done in my life and every bit of friendship and kindness means so much to me. I am grateful for the knowledge that God lives, His Son Jesus Christ is my Savior. Together, they have helped me overcome challenges I could never face alone. I believe in Christ. I know God is real. He knows us, each of us personally. His blessings are abundant. I am grateful for His Atonement. He lives. Prayer works wonders. I have been at rock bottom in the pit of despair, looking up for any hope or any reason to keep living, and it was only through the healing power of Christ and God that I made it out. Stay faithful, stay true. God is always here. I love the temple and the peace and comfort I feel there. I love reading the scriptures and finding answers to my questions in the words. I am grateful that when I am weak, God makes up the difference and blesses me in ways I could never imagine.