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15 November 2018

It's the Same (but different) in Japanese

President Nelson asked us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, and I was a touch sad, thinking, "There is no way that I'm going to be able to do that in Japanese. Not that fast."

I've been studying Japanese for years, and 2 or 3 years ago, I started reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese. It was hard, much harder than reading the Spanish I did ages ago: there are no cognates. And while everyday Japanese is full of English loan words, the Book of Mormon just is not. So progress was slow: in the beginning I often read less than a single verse in a sitting. I'd worked up to where, on a good day, I could read around 10 verses. I think that my personal best, prior to Conference, was somewhere around 12 verses in a day.

...but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands...

They do not stop their eyes on the works of the Lord's hand.
-2 Nephi 15:12 (Compare Isaiah 5:12)

So President Nelson asks us to read, and I figure I'm going to have to take a break and go back to English for a while. This is disappointing: I've worked so hard, and I'm afraid that if I break my streak I'll lose ground.

"There is no way that I'm going to be able to do that in Japanese. Not that fast."
Then, the Little Voice:

"Well, actually...."

That's all he said.
I took the plunge.
That day, I read 1 Nephi 1, the whole chapter.
I was so happy with myself. Personal best!

[Him] who should come to redeem His people from their sins.

that Honorable One who will certainly come to redeem His own people from
(away from) their sins.

-Alma 5:21

The next day I looked at a schedule and realized how inadequate a pace 1 chapter a day is. Most days, my list calls for about three chapters. Some days I did it, but I started to fall behind. That's a lot of reading, and the fact is, I'm not that good at Japanese. So many words! A new language just has an unbelievable number of words and phrases that you need to recognize in order to be able to read. I know more than I used to, but...

I kept trying. Slogging along. Losing a little bit of ground every day.
I figured I could catch up with whatever I miss in English in the last week or two of the year.

For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance...

The devil's kingdom will certainly shake. To certainly repent, they must be pressed/urged.
-2 Nephi 28:19

Eventually, I was about 15 days behind, which means somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-45 chapters behind. Last week, I decided to take a day off of school, to try to catch up. I asked the kids for help, and they were amazing. They did all kinds of things independently and for each other, so that I could read. It was so hard. I was tired. My brain was full. And I would take a break, and then come back to it. I read 5 days' worth. It was amazing! I'd never read so much Japanese in a month, prior to the challenge, as what I read that day! And I was also a little bit disappointed: 5 days wasn't enough to really catch up. The date moved too, so I only gained 4 of those 5 days.

The next morning, I woke up with a sore throat and no voice.

Thou shalt go before this people, and I will go with thee and deliver this people out of bondage.

You shall stand at the front/vanguard of this people. I will be with you [this word is often  how they describe friends being with each other] when you go, and rescue out this people from slavery.
-Mosiah 24:17

No voice meant no school. This was frustrating, because it's so important to keep school going, but there it was: I can't do much with no voice and no energy. Turns out, it was a blessing.

So I sat on the couch and read. We didn't even pretend to do school that day: the kids had a free day, and I read on the couch. I fell asleep, and they did quiet things so I could rest. I made up another 2 days: I was now less than 10 days behind. It was invigorating!

...and having peace of conscience...

"conscience" is a compound of "good" and "heart":
...having gained tranquility in their good heart...
-Mosiah 4:3

The next several days, I made up more.
Not much, just one or two extras each day. But it added up.
I began to hope I would make it all the way, in Japanese.

It's a miracle; there's no way that I could do it on my own.
It's too big. Too hard. Too much.

But I really can do all things, even crazy things like read the whole Book of Mormon in another language, in three months, through Christ: the strength to do it is His.

Every day I find little gems. As many times as I have read the Book of Mormon, this is almost like having a whole new book of scripture. (What a blessing that would be, if He gave us more of His words again!) I'm building up quite a collection of things to put in my scripture journal when the reading is done; I'm not even trying to do that right now, just putting in a little tag, since I'm reading on my phone: this lets me listen and read at the same time, and it turns out that I know some words by sight, and others by sound, but when I follow along as the phone reads, then the Holy Ghost helps me remember things, and I am spending less and less time in the dictionary.

It was crazy to try.
I think it's going to actually happen.

I'm so glad I took the leap.
What a blessing this has turned out to be.

And it's not even done, yet.


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