We have 30 missionaries assigned to teach Spanish-speaking people. They receive three months of Spanish lessons in the Missionary Training Center. But upon arriving in the mission field most are shocked and initially discouraged at the difficulty of living and breathing Spanish all the time. When paired up with an experienced, older missionary who has mastered the language, the fear factor diminishes and the language skills quickly improve.
All of our Spanish-speaking missionaries belong to a "Spanish only" zone called Si Se Puede. Typically half the missionaries in a zone will have been on their mission for at least a year. This provides lots of "big brothers" to help the younger missionaries.
Due to a quirk in timing, only 5 of our 30 Spanish-speaking missionaries have been on their missions for more than a year. The majority have been here only 6-7 months. And of the 5 experienced Spanish-speaking missionaries, 2 go home next week and 1 goes home in March. Yikes!! We are quickly running out of experienced Spanish-speaking missionaries
So today we held an all day "Boot Camp" for Si Se Puede missionaries. They received training in language, culture, teaching skills and essential communication skills. They were also asked to think of Spanish as their native language. They are requested to live an "all-Spanish" life while in the mission field.
I was greatly impressed with the quality of the training and the effort of all the missionaries. Habla Espanol? Si!!