Mention reaching a milestone of 100 in the year 2000, and most Latter-day Saints think of temples. The dedication of the Church’s 100th operating temple last October was heralded with much rejoicing and publicity.
What may be a surprise for many is that another historic landmark of 100 was also reached in 2000, an event that occurred quietly. On 29 December 2000, translations of the Book of Mormon in Eastern Armenian, Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea), Latvian, Lithuanian, and Xhosa (spoken in South Africa), rolled off the press, bringing to 100 the number of language translations ever completed. Sixty-one of these are full translations of the Book of Mormon; 39 are translations of selected chapters.
The translation of the Book of Mormon into 100 languages, like the availability of 100 temples, is blessing the lives of people throughout the world.
“I’ll never forget the tears of joy shed by the faithful members here upon receiving this wonderful book in their mother tongue,” said Elder Josh White, speaking of the arrival early in 2000 of the translated Book of Mormon in Estonia, where he is serving a mission.
“I’ll never take this book of such great worth for granted again.”
Mari Timakov of the Tartu Branch, Tallinn Estonia District, a convert of seven years, explained her feelings about reading the book for the first time in her native language, “I have been waiting for the day I could read the Book of Mormon in Estonian. Holding it in your hand, its pages covered with divine counsel, all in your mother tongue—that is something else!”
From Estonia to Ethiopia, the joy of receiving the Book of Mormon in one’s own language is the same. “Today I became the first Ethiopian member to receive the Book of Mormon in Amharic, and I am very, very happy,” said Gemechu Wariyo Goja, Addis Ababa Branch president, speaking in January 2001. “When I distributed the first copies to members who I worked with in translating the book, everyone cheered and jumped up and down. I just brought my own copy home, and my family is anxiously gathered around the book, reading it to each other in Amharic. It is wonderful.”
Dominique Andriamanantoa, president of the newly created Antananarivo Madagascar Stake—the first stake to be created in the island nation of Madagascar—says he has already seen a difference in the local membership since the release of the Malagasy Book of Mormon in February 2000.
“We had retention problems before, but now more people are better converted because their testimonies can be grounded in the Book of Mormon,” says President Andriamanantoa. He also says that local leadership has become stronger and more members are participating in Church meetings because people are reading and understanding the doctrine of the Book of Mormon.
Sister Timakov says it’s the same in Estonia: “Now, we can just open the book and read or use verses in our talks. We can enjoy the sound of the teachings when it is read out loud in Sunday School. We can hand it to people who years ago would have just said, ‘Sorry, I don’t understand any language but Estonian.’ It is a blessing to cherish.”
And in Tanzania, where the full Book of Mormon translation in Swahili was released last fall, President William Gideme of the Chang’ombe Branch says, “Finally I can read the Book of Mormon to my whole family with complete understanding. I am so grateful.”
The translation of the Book of Mormon into so many languages also promises to increase missionary success in areas where the book was not available to investigators before. “I can’t believe I can read the Book of Mormon now! I am very happy about that,” says Hilda Charles, an investigator who has been attending the Chang’ombe Branch.
One missionary serving in Ethiopia told President Gemechu, “We are going to be much busier now.”