Monday, May 28, 2018
Monday, April 16, 2018
Thursday, March 8, 2018
George was born in a log cabin in Oklahoma in 1931 to Charles and OLola (Clark) Knotts. George loved his family, KU Jayhawks, cheering for the Graceland University Women's Soccer team and most importantly serving Jesus Christ.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Beth; his five children, Dan (& Susan) Knotts, Stretch Knotts, and Deb (& Shane) Skinner of Lamoni, Iowa; John Knotts of Spavinaw, Oklahoma, and Ruth (& Michael) Seagraves of Sacramento, California; his grandchildren: Caleb Knotts of Eugene, Oregon; Jordan Knotts and Samantha Skinner of Lamoni; Georgia, Maya, and Kendra Seagraves of Sacramento; and niece, Leah Anderson of Vinita, Oklahoma.
Monday, December 26, 2016
The last few days have been filled with activities that I was largely unaware of. A small group of Saints had come from the Salem Oregon Restoration Branch led by Brian Herren. I had been anticipating meeting them, but they were not to arrive here until Christmas day—today. Four youth (older) and four adults. Today being Christmas day and Sunday, the Kisumu Restoration Branch came to our center where the translation is going on. Of course we did not do anything but enjoy a special meal, preaching ministry and fellowship all day. There were about fifty people in all.
Now it is time for me to send out my special Christmas greetings. I have placed it at the end of an article that I've been working on in my spare minutes from day to day until I finished it last night. I had extra time last night after everyone went to bed. The article is about the Brass Plates and their purpose. I've named it "The Language of Our Fathers." It it is the only Christmas present that have to send to all of you on this Christmas day.
So, may you all have a blessed day and may God continue to bless His work through out the world.
Blessings to all,
"The Language of Our Fathers"
by Frank Evan Frye
In 1960 (?) the American nation was challenged to send a man to the moon and return him again alive, no one knew all of the good things that would be discovered in the process. In a similar manner, when it was decided to translate the Book of Mormon into the Swahili language, the resultant blessings that it would cause were also unknown.
Most Saints have heard of the promises in the Book of Mormon regarding the Plates of Brass (Brass Plates). There are two well known prophecies-one in the First Book of Nephi which was reported by Nephi when he and his brothers had just returned from Jerusalem (c. 600 B. C.) after their father Lehi had first examined the Brass Plates. He spoke under the inspiration of the Spirit of God and
1 Nephi 1:169-170 "these Plates of Brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, who were of his seed. Wherefore he said that these plates of brass should never perish, neither should they be dimmed any more by time."
The other is in Alma chapter 17 and is very similar-but much longer:
Alma 17:32-34 (and much more) "these Plates of Brass which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning. And behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they . . . should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue and people, that . . . they will retain their brightness . . . that by small and simple things, are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances, doth confound the wise.
We should ask ourselves, "What is the importance of the Brass Plates? Why have they been preserved and why will God see that the message on these plates goes to every nation in the last days? I believe that the answer lies in their origin and what they contain, and perhaps even where they will be found.
One clue is found in 1 Nephi 1:167-168: "And thus my father Lehi did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records." As Lehi began to read the Brass Plates, he found that he was a descendant of Joseph the son of Jacob (Israel). Lehi also found that he was related to Laban who had kept these records until that time. The wording of the next phrase gives us the clue: "wherefore" Laban "and his fathers had kept the records." In other words, Laban and his ancestors had kept the records because they were descendants of Joseph that was sold into Egypt.
Another clue is found in 2 Nephi 3:1-5: "And now I, Nephi, speak concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt: For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; And they are written upon the plates of brass."
Even though we have a significant amount of information about Joseph in the Bible, we have nothing like what is described above. The Brass Plates contain a number of wonderful prophecies by Joseph about his descendants. Were those very ancient prophecies written by the hand of Joseph, or copied down by someone else as he dictated them? It is apparent from his responsibilities that Joseph had learned to read and write as he worked in Egypt.
Joseph was sold by his brothers to Ishmaelites who carried him into Egypt as a very young man, perhaps in his mid to late teens. When Potiphar purchased him, he eventually gave Joseph charge of his personal affairs until Potiphar's wife caused him to be sent to prison. However, even in prison, Joseph continued to excel in the area of management. He had to have learned very well the reading and writing of the Egyptian language. Later the Pharaoh placed him second in command of the entire country of Egypt. Joseph could not have been given this responsibility unless he was well educated in the written language of that country. If Joseph had written his prophecies on anything-papyrus or metal plates-what written language would he have used? Obviously the Egyptian language that he had learned.
Centuries later, Moses was raised in the Pharaoh's court and became a prince of Egypt. No one would question the fact that he received the best possible education in reading and writing the Egyptian language. Herein lies another clue:
1 Nephi 1:158b-161 "my father Lehi took the records which were engraven upon the Plates of Brass, and he did search them from the beginning. And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world; And also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah."
The Brass Plates contain the five books of Moses. When Moses wrote his five books, what written language did he know? It is possible that he could have learned some other written language from his father-in- law Jethro after Moses fled Egypt, but his first language was certainly Egyptian.
Without doubt the history of the world, the history of the House of Israel since Joseph, and the history of the Jews down until King Zedekiah were written in the Egyptian language. Is this just a theory? No. The Book of Mormon clearly teaches the same:
Mosiah 1:4-6 "And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the Plates of Brass . . . For he [Mosiah] having been taught in the language of the Egyptians, therefore he could read these engravings."
Here we are told that because King Mosiah had been taught the Egyptian language- "therefore" he could read the writings on the Brass Plates. Can this be any plainer? The Brass Plates are written in Egyptian! We are not told who first wrote on the Brass Plates or who started this precious record, however there is a possibility that Joseph of Egypt was that man. It could have been someone before or after him, but suffice it to say that his prophecies are on those plates.
Did they exist before Moses? Probably. Could these plates be the original records of Moses? Possibly-or Moses' records were copied directly from their originals onto the Brass Plates. Moses was a Levite and not of the house of Joseph. We saw above that the Brass Plates had been entrusted to the descendants of Joseph. Laban, a descendant of Joseph lived in Jerusalem along with Lehi. The Bible states that a portion of the house of Joseph lived in or near Jerusalem. So this Israelite record was kept by the tribe of Joseph. The Brass Plates could have been the official record of the entire nation of Israel, since within its leaves were: "the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah"- -including the prophet Jeremiah. The Lord chose to preserve them in a strange way, and perhaps for a strange purpose. If they had stayed in Jerusalem, they probably would have been destroyed with the people and the city by the armies of Babylon. Instead the Lord commanded
Lehi to take them with him to the "promised land." They were used to teach multitudes of people in New World for centuries until close to the time of the Nephite final battle when they were hidden up in the Hill Cumorah along with many other records. The promise is that they will come forth at some future time for "a wise purpose."
Most serious Book of Mormon students are aware of the statements made by Nephi and Mormon regarding the inclusion of the Small Plates of Nephi in with the final group of plates that were eventually given to Joseph Smith, Jr. to translate into the Book of Mormon. Both Nephi and Mormon state that this was done for a "wise purpose." Both were unaware of the purpose. Today we know that the translation of the Small Plates took the place of the 116 pages of manuscript that
were lost by Martin Harris. That was important-those plates may eventually be returned to someone in the last days for the great revelation which is contained in the "Sealed Portion" that was originally written by Ether on 24 gold plates and later summarized by Moroni to be revealed at some future date. It is similar to the sealed records kept by the Nephite spiritual leaders that Jesus commanded to be read when he came to the Land Bountiful in the end of the year that he
was crucified and resurrected. That sealed portion along with the plates that Joseph Smith translated will most likely be returned to the Lord's people in the time that the Lord chooses.
However, there is a greater set of promises regarding the Brass Plates. As Alma taught his son Helaman, he told him of the promise which is quoted above in Alma 17:32-34. Until recently I had regarded that prophecy and Lehi's prophecy (1 Nephi 1:169-170) to be the only two important prophecies about the Brass Plates. As I was re-reading the Book of Mormon earlier this year in preparation for several projects, I discovered that Alma did not stop speaking about the Brass
Plates in verse 34. In fact, he continued prophesying about them for nearly two more pages (verses 35-51).
Perhaps others have found this many years ago, but I've never heard anyone else speak or write about it. I had always assumed that those following verses referred to the Small Plates of Nephi because of the use of the phrase "wise purpose." However, Alma never stopped speaking about the Brass Plates and states that they also have been preserved for "a purpose" and that they will witness to future generations. The phrase "wise purpose" is mentioned four times in the context of
speaking about the Brass Plates.
Lehi explains that one of the reasons that his sons should return to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass Plates is so that "we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers." Another reason that their language should be preserved is that they may be able to read God's word and teach their children God's laws as seen below:
1 Nephi 1:82-83
"And behold it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time."
The importance of using metal plates to write upon cannot be over emphasized, because their records were to last thousands of years. Jacob, the brother of Nephi explained this clearly when he said: "We know that the things which we write upon plates must remain; But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates, must perish and vanish away" (Jacob 3:1-2).
Some climates have preserved things as fragile as cotton cloth and papyrus-Peru and Egypt respectively have extremely dry climates and have preserved such things for thousands of years. However, the climate in which the Nephites lived would have destroyed most things except gold, silver, brass and copper. Jacob knew that where he lived only metal plates like he was writing upon would have survived the ravages of time. The records that Nephi and Jacob wrote have
lasted over 2500 years. A thousand years later, as Mormon was concluding his abridgment of the Large Plates of Nephi, he said that even the way they wrote Egyptian had changed according to their "manner of speech" (Mormon 4:98).
By the time of Christ, the Egyptian language had become a lost language. The meaning of the engravings and writings on temple walls and elsewhere in Egypt had become forgotten and seemingly impossible to understand. For over two thousand years, there seemed to be no hope of reading it again. Then in 1799 a large stone with inscriptions in three languages was discovered near the mouth of the Nile River in Egypt. In the mid 1820s a French Egyptologist named Champollion discovered the key to its translation. The bottom third of the Rosetta stone was written in Greek. Champollion speculated that the same message was written in all three languages. The other two being Egyptian hieroglyphics (top third) and Egyptian demotic (middle third). He is credited with deciphering the Egyptian language, however serious studies did not get underway until the mid 1860s. Today Egyptian can be read again.
The importance of this is great, because the language used to write the scriptures on the Brass Plates is an original form of Egyptian. When the Brass Plates come to light again, their language is no longer a lost and undecipherable text, but will be able to be read. It is for this reason that the Brass Plates will most likely be discovered by someone who is not connected with the Book of Mormon. The Lord provided a miraculous appearance of the Book of Mormon through angelic
ministry for those people who would believe and seek the Spirit of the Lord. This time, the world will be faced with an irrefutable artifact that will be found in the New World. It will be identified as a record of much of the Old Testament, but written in a language which will astonish the nations of the world. The text will not require a miracle to be translated. The fact that other ancient documents have already been found in Israel-the Dead Sea Scrolls-have already set the stage
for this ancient record. The Dead Sea Scrolls were, shall we say, captured by a tiny group of supposedly elite "scholars" who literally held them in secrecy for forty years while they individually did their own research and planned to publish their own books about this great archaeological find. The world is no better because of them. Later the scholars of the world made an agreement that we all hope will be firmly held to. That when other ancient documents or records are discovered, no one group of people will be allowed to "capture" them and hold them in secrecy for any significant amount of time again. They must be published to the world. So when the Brass Plates are discovered and made public, there will be many responses from people around the world. Questions that will be asked are: "How did this record arrive in the New World?", "Who brought it here, why and hen?", and "Why would a Hebrew record be written in ancient Egyptian?"
Many of the prophecies on the Brass Plates clearly witness of the Hebrew Messiah. They contain the Five Books of Moses, the story of Creation, the Flood of Noah's day, and many other prophets of the Old Testament. These things, found in such a manner, will challenge Bible scholars around the world. The Brass Plates will challenge the faith of people of many diverse and non-christian religions. Atheists will be put on notice. The Jews will learn of their Messiah from an original text of their own book that will be much clearer and complete than what they have. The Arab nations,
including many Muslims will be confronted with an original text of the Hebrew Old Testament that is written in Egyptian. Liberal Christians will be challenged by an uncorrupted text of the Old Testament that refutes liberal theology. The nation of Israel, where the Brass Plates came from, will find a new identity with their native American brothers of the New World. In short, these plates
and the library with which they are found will turn the world upside down.
During the month of December this year, I've been working with several teams of men here in Kenya to do a final review of the Swahili Book of Mormon. During that time, we have reviewed and analyzed every verse of what Nephi calls "these plates." We have come to call these first six books of the Book of Mormon the record of the Small Plates of Nephi. His "other plates" we now call the Large Plates of Nephi, and they contain a more complete history that Mormon used to
make his abridgment of the entire book. The Small Plates are written in first person and are not an abridgment, but are the actual writings of Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, etc. As we struggled to find the meaning of each word and put it in its proper place, it became very clear to me that these words were not written by anyone who speaks English, but they really are a faithful translation from another language. A number of the above ideas have been the direct result of the review of this translation.
Previously when I had worked with the translation teams, I was only a facilitator and teacher about how to translate and preserve the original text. This time, as part of the final review team, I am learning a great deal of Swahili, but most of all, as we review each verse, each phrase, each word, and especially as we feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, new ideas have appeared and new ways of thinking of the words become apparent. It is a wonderful experience to work together like this!
Tomorrow will be Sunday and Christmas day, and the Kisumu branch will be meeting at the location where we are working. Additionally, a group of young people led by Brian Herren from Oregon will be meeting with us. A special meal is being planned and with all of the activities, we probably will not get very much done with the translation. We will enjoy the break as we have been working very long hours every day since we arrived here at the facility about three weeks
ago. We are approaching 25% of the text completed and my time runs out at the end of February, so please keep us all in your prayers.
Merry Christmas to all, and even though our Messiah's birthday is still several months away, may you all have a blessed day with your families.
"The Language of Our Fathers" by Frank Evan Frye
December 25, 2016
Trip report to Kenya to finish the Swahili Book of Mormon translation, 2006 Frank Frye
Left MCI in Kansas City Nov. 25 at 9:05 a.m. and had a six hour lay-over in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis to Paris flight was nearly 8 1/2 hours long, most of which took place at night at an altitude of about 39,000 feet.
There was cloud cover over most of the North Atlantic. As we flew over England just before dawn, we came in over the northern part near Scotland and down over Manchester. Could see the lights—some very clearly as distinct orangish lines—roads lit by the sodium vapor lights, and some areas as an orangish glow through the thin clouds.
While deplaning this morning at Paris, I met a young man and asked him if he was returning to Kenya. He said no, and that he was from Somalia, which is north of Kenya on the Indian Ocean. I felt an immediate repulsion, as the only thing I've ever heard about Somalia is that it's people are vicious and brutal pirates who capture merchant ships and hold their crews for ransom and even murder some of them. Then I felt ashamed for judging him based on such limited information. The people of that nation also deserve to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The airport at Paris was the most inconvenient airport I've ever experienced, perhaps due to the fact that I had less than two hours as a layover and perhaps due to my inability to speak French. There must have been at least a thousand people in a huge area, all being funneled into a half dozen check points where luggage was X-Rayed and every one was required to empty pockets and carry-on baggage, remove belts, etc. I could find no one at first to answer questions, and when I finally found someone how to reach terminal C2, they just said go out that exit in the far corner of the huge room that I had just crossed to get to them. I went back in that direction retracing my steps only to find that there was a kind of line about four people deep that apparently started back near where I spoke to the lady who told me to "go over there." There was no way to get out of that far exit except to retrace my steps again and search for the beginning of the so-called "line" of four people deep.
I finally just blended in to the group way back near the beginning and stood in that "line" for another hour, wondering how far it was to terminal C2. It was unusually hot and people were fanning themselves and looking for a place to sit from heat exhaustion. I had already taken off my jacket and sweater. Finally I saw a man in a uniform who had come to check on our "line" and asked him if I was in the right line and showed him my ticket. He said yes and turned away. About fifteen minutes later and about the same number of feet forward in the line, I got his attention and asked him again if I had enough time to get to terminal C2. He looked again at my ticket and looked a little flushed, and told me to follow him. We cut across several of those airport barriers that funnel people in zig zag fashion toward the X- Ray machines and across a couple of the doubled back "lines." He took me to the front of the line and told me to remove everything electronic from my carryon bags (hard drives, electronics, etc.), empty my pockets and take off my belt. In the hurry, I had missed something in my computer case, so I had to return through the check point to take care of that. When I finally got my things back and my belt back on, he said to "run through that door."
There was a long corridor that snaked around to the terminal where we then had to wait for a bus that arrives about every ten minutes. Terminal C2 was not close. When we finally arrived, signs were scarce and I finally discovered that my gate—C87 was about a quarter of a mile—up an escalator and way "over there." I ran as fast as I could for between five and ten minutes dragging my computer case behind me and when I finally arrived—totally out of breath at C87, the boarding area was completely empty as the departure time had come and gone. Seemingly all the passengers had boarded. When I finally found my seat and got my carryon bags stowed, we waited another fifteen minutes for "some other passengers who have arrived on another flight that was late." After the door was closed we waited another fifteen minutes while someone was working on the "brakes." All of this caused me to rethink my future plans about riding on Air France or going through the Paris airport ever again.
The brakes situation made me remember the last flight that I left Nairobi on at about 1:30 a.m. in 2014. As we finally boarded the jumbo jet walking out to it on the tarmac, I saw an opportunity to take a quick photo of the stairway and the tail fins of the giant airplane with my iPhone. Weeks later when I downloaded and analyzed the photos, I discovered that there was a huge corroded crack surrounding the tail fin on the left side of the plane near the stairway up to the door. It was too late for terror, but not too late to thank the Lord for a safe trip.
On this flight, I had asked the travel agency to book me a window seat on the left side of the plane, hoping that I might see the coast of Italy on the way south as I did on a previous trip coming back from Kenya northward. An hour or so later, I looked out of the window and was instantly dazzled by a range of completely snow covered, very jagged mountain peaks and glaciers. It was the Swiss Alps. I'm sure I saw the Matterhorn. It was just an awesome sight! Like a thin spire of pure white ice sticking up among the mountains. I hope that the pictures turned out. Looking out of the window and then back and forth at the map on the seat in front of me, taught me a lot about the geographical layout of Switzerland and later Italy. As the Alps were left behind the snow disappeared. Our flight path took us right down the middle of Italy. Much of the land was mountainous like I've seen in Oaxaca, Mexico from the air.
The passenger to my right was a very pleasant young lady—I mentally assessed her age at 25 and it turned out to be right. She spoke very good English unlike the gentleman to her right—he only spoke French and remained silent the whole trip. Her name is Chiara Dallarosa. She explained that she is from Vicenza, Italy, which is near Venice. I shared with her the purpose of my trip and how in 1992 Pam Agwanda had written me a letter inquiring about the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ and that she was in Nairobi awaiting my arrival. I asked her if she had ever heard of the Book of Mormon, but she answered in the negative. She is a Roman Catholic who lives in Italy, and knows nothing about other Christian churches. I explained that it is a book similar to the Bible, but is the history of God's dealings with His people in the Western Hemisphere and how Jesus Christ had visited and taught them shortly after he left his disciples in Jerusalem. She seemed to show an interest in that. So I asked her if she would be willing to do me a favor and learn something at the same time. She asked what it was. I told her that I knew of two manuscript copies of the Book of Mormon that had been translated into Italian but had never been proofread by anyone else that I knew of. I then asked if she would be willing to take a look at part of the manuscript and perhaps help us to proofread it in the process of
publishing it for the first time in Italian. She said that she would do that, so we exchanged email addresses. Who knows what will come of that discussion? She was going to Kenya to do some social work in some small villages. I told her that I would write her when I got back home to Missouri.
Saw the northern edge of northern Africa as we finished crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The land was a sandy tan stark, barren emptiness. No trees, no crops, just a vast, barren desert. During the next hour and more I could see some waves of dunes. Then a thin cloudiness veiled all that was below.
Looking down over the great desert of northern Africa shortly after flying over Khartoum. The main feature below is a great river that we seem to be following. According to the map in front of me, it is the Nile River that flows out of Lake Victoria which lies between Kenya on its north and east, Tanzania on the south, and Uganda on the west.
It is 4:30 p.m. Central European Time, but our flight plan sends us eastward as we go mostly southward. It must be closer to 6:30 p.m. at this location because the sky is darkening and the reddish golden sun is going down on the other side of the plane. The air is hazy, but it is obvious that there is a patchwork of agricultural fields below. They probably depend on water that is pumped from the Nile which is still visible toward the eastern horizon.
The screen on the back of the seat in front of me says that we are traveling at 39,000 feet and just on the other side of the window the outside temperature is -67° F. Our speed is 560 miles per hour. We have already traveled over 3,100 miles from Paris in 5 1/2 hours. It is still about an hour and 45 minutes until we land in Nairobi where I will be met by Brother James Yogo at the airport. He and some other brothers took me to the airport from his home in 2014 when I last left Kenya. I will probably spend the night with his family and be met by Pamela Agwanda tomorrow.
It is nearly dark outside now and I can see lights below that seem to be following the edge of a river or a lake for short distances and then stop. Another in the shape of a spear. The map does show some lakes down there. They must provide the water to survive in this parched land. The map also says that Addis Ababa is nearly straight east of here, but too far away to see. It is the capital city of Ethiopia, the country that borders Kenya on the north. My laptop dictionary tells me that it has an altitude of 8,000 feet—something I had never expected.
The pilot just announced that we are flying over Nakuru and that we will land in about fifteen minutes. Nakuru is a small town between Nairobi and Kisumu. It is famous for the beautiful game preserve that I got to briefly see in 2010. He also announced that we are crossing over the equator and that it will be rather chilly at Nairobi upon arrival. The jacket and sweater have been very helpful so far on this trip, as airplanes can get pretty cold, especially at the window seats.
After arriving at Nairobi, going through customs, I met a young man his small son who are from Grandview, Missouri. Imagine the "coincidence" of that! We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to get together when we both get home.
Paid $50 USD in cash for the Kenya visa. It is for three months only, but can be extended. The visa application required me to swear that I would not seek to find a job while here. Hmmmm, strange that the US government does not do the same for the myriads of people who come across our borders every day.
Found my luggage without any problem. James Yogo, an Elder from Nairobi met me outside the terminal and took me to put the luggage in his car. Then he took me to exchange some dollars into Kenya shillings (98 to one there). He then took me home where his wife had a supper meal for us. It was close to midnight.
Sunday morning, instead of going directly to Nairobi to start working on the translation as I had expected, I was taken to church where I was asked to teach the adult class and preach. I knew some of the people from 2014 and Pamela Agwanda (Eric Odida's wife) was there also. It was decided to go on to Nairobi tomorrow (Monday), in a car that they had instead of on the bus. That afternoon, after church and lunch, James took me where I could get a haircut and to look for a King James version (KJV) of the Bible.
While speaking with James and Ruth's 15 year-old daughter Grace earlier after church, I discovered that her school required her to purchase a Bible for one of her classes. Kenya, being a Christian nation, still teaches the Bible in their public schools. However, the only Bible she was allowed to purchase was a Revised Standard Version (RSV). The RSV is one of the older corrupt bibles that was published first in the USA in 1952. Many of the translators of that bible were not even Christians. It has mostly been abandoned in the USA in favor of other more "modern" versions, however they are all based on similar if not the same corrupt Greek manuscripts such as the Vatican Manuscript. Only the King James and the Inspired Version are not based on those corrupt manuscripts.
I showed Grace and two of her cousins some of the more obvious flaws in the RSV and suggested that she look them up in a KJV. Then when James took me to town, I discovered that KJVs were nearly impossible to find. Apparently the publishing company had made some kind of a deal with the Kenyan government. I'll bet that they got a new copyright for that outdated version and someone is making the money off of their sales that would not be possible with the KJV. KJVs have no copyright and cost less, so there is less profit. Now the children are growing up being forced to use a Bible that is of a seriously inferior quality. I finally found a tiny pocket KJV in Kisumu the next week and bought it for her. I will give it to her at the youth retreat next week.
Monday Nov. 28th we made the seven hour trip from Nairobi to Kisumu by car. We previously shipped our heavy suit cases by bus to Kisumu in order to save the springs and shocks on the car because of the rough roads. We only saw one small herd of zebras on the south side of the road.
Since the five of us started working on the review of the Swahili translation over a week ago, we have been working on an average of 14.2 hours each day. We take an average of about two hours off for meals each day. Once in a while we take thirty minutes to rest after lunch. We are working in a two story house in the town of Kisumu. Each of us has a small bedroom and there is a patio and a very small kitchen and a dining area that also doubles for a second work area for one of the committees that is doing a preliminary review on certain chapters that need more work than others. There is a security guard at night in the patio.
The work is proceeding slowly as we begin and are quickly learning ways to save time. More men will be arriving next week. It is a real joy to read and analyze each verse of the Book of Mormon with these brethren. Today we reviewed 2 Nephi chapter 9 which includes —among many other wonderful prophecies about the Messiah, His virgin birth and coming kingdom—the quote from Isaiah 9:10–11 that is explained in the book "The Harbinger." I am keeping careful notes in a clean copy of the Book of Mormon as we work. One of the parts of the work is, after reviewing each chapter, we carefully paste the final text into the publishing layout of the final material that will be used to print the Book of Mormon in Kiswahili.
The men who are currently working together here are Eli Okecha, the pastor (a Priest) of the Kisumu Restoration Branch. Eli is a construction contractor here in Kisumu. Mishael Onyiego (an Elder) who lives in Kisii, which is about a two and a half hour drive from Kisumu toward the south in the direction of Tanzania. Duke Nyakweba who is a business associate (and cousin) of Mishael. Duke is currently the pastor (a Priest) of their branch in Kisii. They have a shop where they make and sell artisanry that they create from soapstone. Bernard (Ben) Ogolla (a member and a Teacher) came from Nairobi several days ago to help us at the request of Eric Odida. Ben is a teacher in middle school in Nairobi. He teaches Swahili, the sciences and English. We anticipate that several other men will arrive within the next week to expand our help in getting the Swahili review finished sooner. I will keep you posted regularly now how the work is proceeding. Mishael just today helped me set up a hotspot with his cell phone so that I will be able to send and receive emails on a regular basis. That will save me from having to leave the work here to go downtown to look for an internet cafe.
Each morning and evening we pray for our families, the work we are doing and the welfare of the church in Missouri and around the world. I have had almost no time to write anything since we started the review here at the guest house. We are up at 7:00 AM every day and usually do not get to bed before 11:30 to 12:00 pm at night. Tonight we stopped an hour early at 10:00 pm because it was Eli Okecha's birthday. His wife Trufena serves as our cook and another young lady (Pauline) helps her every day.
It looks as if this will take longer than I had originally planned, but we believe that our translation will be better than any of the other Kiswahili translations that have been previously done (LDS, Temple Lot & Bickertonite). We have felt God's Spirit each day in our work. We pray for you all each day and ask for your prayers.
Today is Thursday September 4th and we are progressing very rapidly in the translation work on the Book of Mormon. We do not have easy access to the Internet or email, but to some extent that is an advantage because there are fewer distractions. I will include photos of the facilities and of the teams in my final report.
Twelve Swahili/English speakers (all members of the Church) have been invited to assist in this project. We have divided them into six teams, five of which are doing the direct translations and the sixth team is doing some review work as it proceeds. We felt it important to analyze which teams would be doing the best work, but surprisingly, after their training and about ten days of translating, all of the teams are producing very good translations. As of last night we had finished about 85% of the text with only seven chapters that are yet to be assigned. Each team is assigned a few chapters at a time and they return the documents to me continually so that their work can be backed up (by several different methods) and then reassigned to the revision team.
In preparation for this task I originally prepared the documents into the separate books of the Book of Mormon for translation, however during the past four years since I was here last, it became apparent that those were mostly too big for a team to deal with. If a document were lost or damaged, it would be catastrophic and the men became discouraged. Smaller documents were necessary. So I divided the text into a separate document for every chapter in the Book of Mormon. Each group of chapters were kept in a separate folder for its respective book.
In translating materials from English to Spanish over the years in Mexico, we discovered that word processors just won't do the job, because two, three or more columns of text are sometimes necessary and they must all be independent of each other. So a page layout program must be used. Most have been quite expensive in the past. One or two are now available at fairly reasonable costs. So I began with page templates that had three columns that I had developed for the Spanish translations. We now have the entire Book of Mormon divided into separate documents for each chapter. The English is in the left hand column, the second column is used for the new translation and the third column can be used either for a different translation or for a blank column for comments.
Next I developed a spreadsheet to keep track of the chapter assignments and their progress. Since all of the chapters are obviously of differing lengths—some dozens of pages long and others less than a page, it became a challenge to keep track of the progress as the work proceeded. The length of verses also complicated the tracking. Then I found that if we counted the number of pages in our page layout program, they would give us a fairly accurate way to track the progress. While one of the men helped in counting the pages in each documents, I set up the spreadsheet and designed a few simple calculations to make a graph of our progress and project a finishing time. What we could not project is that the team members improved both in the quality of their translations and in their speed as the weeks passed by. So we now expect to be finished with the initial translations from the five teams by this weekend. Everyone here is so excited! The people here in Eastern Africa have been waiting to be able to read the Book of Mormon in Swahili for many years, and now the end is in sight.
It is very easy to see the growth of the team members as the weeks have passed. Their knowledge of the Scriptures, their own Swahili language and of the English language has been greatly increased. The fact that they now have this experience behind them and they all have a sound knowledge of how to use this page layout program as well as the laptop computers, they will be able to easily repeat the process to translate other materials into Swahili or even into Luo—a more localized language on the eastern side of Lake Victoria in Kenya. Many classes have been taught about the gospel and before we part, each team member will be given a packet of DVDs and CDs with an enormous amount of information on them. We will be giving out several books and other materials as gifts for those who were especially helpful, or who showed the most improvement or for whatever other reason—to be selected by the teams themselves. Team members are already excited about sharing what they have learned and done with friends at home and with friends in other countries of Africa—such as the Congo where we already have a small mission, in South Africa and in Malawi which is south of Tanzania.
It has been an exciting time to be a part of this project. It has been such a blessing to me to see a renewed cooperation between the Saints in the Center Place. I believe that the Lord is moving to reunite the Lord's work all over the world.
Funding through the ARM board has made it possible for this group of twelve men to assemble in a reasonably sized facility that is very secure and quiet enough to do the work without interruptions. My plane ticket and a small amount for personal expenses were provided by the Joint Conference of Branches, and MMSG continues to take care of my wife, Patti at home so that these kind of activities can continue.
Since I don't have easy access to the Internet, it has been several days since the above was written. These last paragraphs are to announce that we have finally finished the first draft of the translation. 100% of the chapters of the Book of Mormon have been turned in to me for editing and to prepare them for the final review which begins tomorrow after church services here in Kisumu.
Today was set aside as the first break we've had in the weeks-long task of this first draft. The average work day here has been between 16 and 18 hours. Some of the men worked very late into the night and others began getting up as early as 3:30 a.m. to see the work accomplished on time. A special meal was prepared and visitors were invited for a meeting that lasted about two hours where each team was invited to share some of their testimonies. I was asked to give a sermon and chose to speak about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Before the day was over, three new people asked for copies of the Book of Mormon.
I've been asked to extend my stay for one more week to assist in the final review process. It has been very exciting to be a part of this historic effort. I want to thank all of you for your prayers and also for the cooperation of all of the various groups that have made this possible.
I'll keep you updated as things progress. There will be many things to share when I get back to Missouri.
In gospel bonds,
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Thursday, March 31, 2016
As we set out to enter the mission field in England, we had memories of the efforts of the Brethren that arrived on these shores in 1837. The first missionaries of the Latter-day gospel sent to the British Isles in June of 1837 proved equal to the task. Remarkable indeed, was the success they found. By April of 1838, twenty-four branches were reported with a membership of approximately 1,500. These brethren enjoyed a fair amount of success especially among the working class of the United Kingdom. They appealed to this particular social group in large measure due to their own social background. They frequently found themselves preaching to the British citizenry directly in the streets, not respecting the social distinctions often found in the larger; more established denominations, particularly the Church of England. Perhaps the most attractive part of the Latter-day message was that it offered to its hearers a concrete and pragmatic approach with temporal as well as spiritual benefits of obeying the gospel, and then having the opportunity of immigrating to America and assisting in the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Over a period about 9 months an amazing harvest of souls was had as approximately 2000 entered the waters of baptism. Orson Hyde was evidently personally responsible for about 1500 of those baptisms. No other religious sect of the 1840's matched the rapid growth of Mormonism among a working class populace such as that of early Victorian Britain. Beginning with this initial success of the first missionaries in the late 1830's, the church grew by the addition of 51,000 converts in the British Isles by 1851. Many meetings were held in homes for those interested who had gathered. The message and hope of Zion touched the hearts of the pure in heart and eventually there were thousands that asked for and came to American and the hope of assisting in the building up of Zion. Yet by the late 1850's the group was in precipitous decline, due in part to its public announcement that adherents were practicing plural marriage in America.
We came with the goal to baptize at least 5, adding to the February baptism by Brother Vick, and to receive direction from above about a call to the ministry that we might organize a branch. Our heart’s desire fell short of that goal. We were still blessed as we added 3 more souls to this little fledgling group, two brothers and one sister. This group is comprised of what could only be describe as “the weak and simple” of the earth and as promised that it would be the 'weak things of the world that should come forth and break down the mighty and strong' (D&C 1:4c). What they lack in experience and a knowledge of the Restoration distinctives they are desirous to learn and eager to share the love of Christ towards others. The sister came out of the LDS church after being greatly disturbed with what goes on in the temple endowments. The three brothers have spent the better part of 15 years in the LDS Church, The Community of Christ Church and a group that we have become acquainted with called the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. In each of these organizations they held priesthood. All were priests and elders in the LDS Church, one was a deacon in the COC and all three were apostles, with one being a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. Some concepts in understanding the ministry of priesthood have not yet been shared with them. We have begun and will continue to give instruction helping them reach a more complete understanding.
We have constantly made it a matter of prayer and supplication to our God for direction relating to a potential call[s]. We believe in time God will raise up local ministry to fashion the work, but presently more preparation and understanding will have to manifest itself prior to that happening. There was found in the sister a good mind and a desire help keep the group on task with weekly study in one of the homes and once a month gathering is an affordable building which we have identified that they will rent to give greater exposure to the community.
We have offered extensive instruction to the one that is outwardly the most capable. Time and patience, with continued contact after we return to the states will be required on our part. We have study materials that we believe will assist this little group in learning and growing in a proper understanding of the restored gospel. They will be using Facebook to invite others, especially among the disenfranchised LDS members that have separated themselves over three primary issues, the unfair application of the tithing law, the stringent application of the Word of Wisdom and temple works.
They have been left with the assignment to not only strengthen and grow in their knowledge of the scriptures, but to identify individuals that at a future date can be taught and enter the waters of baptism when we return.
We believe that we should make a follow up trip, perhaps before the year is out, but we have let them know there needs to be people for us to teach that would cause that to happen.