YEREVAN, Armenia This year, as Armenia commemorates 1,700 years of Christianity, the first complete translation of the Book of Mormon in Eastern Armenian was presented in a series of open houses. This translation marks the 97th language into which the Book of Mormon has been translated. The 100th translation of the book was recently published in Xhosa, an African language.
"I was one of the first to receive the new translation," said Ruben Gasparyan, who serves as a district president and works in the mission office. "A package containing a few copies of the Eastern Armenian translation of the Book of Mormon came from Salt Lake to President Sangster. It happened to be my birthday and I asked President Sangster for a special birthday present. He generously gave me his copy, explaining it would be far more valuable to me than to him as he could not read it. What a wonderful gift. I now had this book that teaches about Jesus Christ and His Gospel in my own language. I could read it and reading it in my own language makes His teachings much clearer. Everyone in my country needs to learn about Jesus Christ and now they, too, can have the Book of Mormon."
"Although I can understand Russian," said Anahit Poghosyan of the edition previously available in Armenia, "sometimes I don't fully understand the thought. It's so much nicer to have the Book of Mormon in Armenian because I can understand the truths of the book as they were meant to be understood."
"After I was given the Book of Mormon from the missionaries, I started to read it," said Avetik Hovhannisyan, who was recently baptized. "The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was not just an ordinary book but that it contained God's words."
"The first time I read the Book of Mormon was out of pure interest. I just wanted to become acquainted with it," said Suzanna Hovhannisyan, who was baptized the same day as her brother, Avetik. "I really liked it, because it teaches people to become pure, kind and to do good works. I am certain that I need to read this book over and over because every time I read it, each verse becomes more profound to me. I am convinced it is true."
"It's amazing to be able to share the Book of Mormon with the people here in Armenia in their own language," said Elder Marcus Draper of Alamo 2nd Ward, Danville California Stake. "Many doors were opened when we received the Book of Mormon in Armenian."
"I have felt an unexplainable change in the atmosphere of this country" since the translation of the Book of Mormon, said Elder Luke Petersen, Mount Shadows 1st Ward, Herriman Utah Stake.
Open houses were held in Yerevan on March 3, the capital city of Armenia, and in Gyumri on March 16, the country's second largest city. Approximately 400 visitors attended the open houses at which they received an explanation of the Book of Mormon and viewed displays created by missionaries that required many hours of preparation.
A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia struggles with some of the social and economic issues of employment and politics common to many developing countries. Armenians contend that Christianity was first preached in Armenia 1,700 years ago, giving rise to their perspective as the elder nation among the world's Christian countries.
The Armenian Yerevan Mission was created on March 16, 1999, where 18 full-time missionaries now serve. There are 991 members of the Church in Armenia.
Shaun D. Stahle
E-mail: [email protected]