Taking the Word to the World

If translation of materials into new languages is any indication of progress, the Church is making great headway in its efforts to take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.

A goal of the Translation Division, according to Eb Davis, manager of emerging languages, is to translate materials into fifteen new languages every year. A superhuman task? Yes, if they were trying to take the whole Church program to every language area. But with a basic, simplified curriculum for “emerging” languages, the job is a little easier.

There are currently seventeen “established” languages, including English, into which the full Church program is translated. And as of now there are forty-two “emerging” languages that have only certain materials available.

Since it isn’t feasible or advisable to translate every manual for every age group in every organization into every language, certain basic materials are designated as essential. The phase I package of materials for emerging languages includes the following items: selections from the Book of Mormon, missionary discussions and flipcharts, the Joseph Smith pamphlet, the Gospel Principles manual, and guidebooks for family, branch, and priesthood leaders.

Why include only selections from the Book of Mormon instead of the whole book? According to Wayne B. Lynn, director of Curriculum Planning and Development, the Scriptures Committee of the Church determined that the alternative would be even less desirable: Because of the number of new languages and the limitations involved in translating, the choice is either making the selections available to several new languages each year, or slowly going language by language with the whole book—causing the majority of the people to wait longer. “Some language areas have been waiting too long as it is for the Book of Mormon,” says Brother Lynn.

Of course, providing the shorter version of the Book of Mormon (about one-third the regular length) is just an intermediate step to making the whole Book of Mormon available in every language.

The Gospel Principles manual contains lessons on nearly all the basic doctrines of the Church (see Ensign, Dec. 1978, pp. 48–49).

The Family Guidebook (stock no. PBMP0087) describes how a family can function as an ecclesiastical unit of the Church if geographically isolated from a regular branch or ward and if permission to do so has been given by proper priesthood leaders.

The Branch Guidebook (stock no. PBMP0076), explains how branches function under the direction of the district, mission, or stake presidency.

The Priesthood Leader’s Guidebook (stock no. PBMP0054) also gives instructions on ordinances, Church meetings, and other functional matters.

When families and branches have increased in number and activity, or when the missionary work continues to progress in developing areas, phase II materials are also provided: basic manuals for priesthood holders, women, and children.

These basic manuals supplement the curriculum material in the Gospel Principles manual, making it possible for men, women, and children to study in separate groups and receive instruction written specifically for them. A “part A” manual has been written for each of the three groups; “part B” manuals, to be used every other year, are still being prepared.

Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, Part A (stock no. PBIC0256, $2.00), written for both Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood holders, has lessons on priesthood responsibilities as well as other basic doctrinal topics.

The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part A (stock no. PBIC0278, $2.00) includes lessons in four major areas: “Gospel Principles and Doctrines,” “Women in the Church,” “Homemaking,” and “Personal and Family Development.”

Walk in His Ways, Part A (stock no. PBIC029A, $3.00) includes lessons, songs, and visual aids for teachers of children.

These three manuals, together with the Gospel Principles manual—and, of course, the scriptures—make up the total curriculum for individuals and families in the developing areas. (They would also make a good, concise gospel library for Church members anywhere; they are primarily designed for self-study.)

And what is the effect of this basic program for these areas? Do members in these areas receive too few materials to study and know the gospel as well as members in the established areas?

Brother Davis answers with an emphatic no! Phase I and II materials “contain all that people need to prepare them for the celestial kingdom,” he says. “They’re just not getting any extra pages.”

This basic program makes it possible for the Church to move more quickly into many new areas, he says.

The Translation Division is lengthening its stride in its attempts to keep up with President Kimball’s missionary vision. Another goal they have, says Eb Davis, is to get everything ready—translated, typeset, proofread, etc.—even before the Church officially moves into a new country. “Then when we’re allowed to enter, we’re ready!”