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March, 10, 2014

Alma O. Taylor

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At the young age of 19, Alma O. Taylor was called to serve a nine-year mission to Japan for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was one of the first LDS missionaries to serve in Japan because the country had previously been closed off to countries from the Western hemisphere. As any missionary past or present can attest, learning a new language brings its fair share of frustration. Alma was no exception, and he struggled to master the Japanese language.

In 1902, Elder Heber J. Grant—who also struggled with the Japanese language—prophesied that Alma “would be the main instrument in the hands of the Lord in translating the Book of Mormon into the Japanese language.” Despite his shortcomings, Alma accepted the assignment. After years of hard work, the first Japanese Book of Mormon was finally printed in 1909.[1]

The translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese helped fulfill the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 90:11: “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

And the translation work continues to progress into the twenty-first century. As of 2011 “the Book of Mormon has been published in its entirety in 82 languages, with selections of the book available in an additional 25 languages.”[2] Alma O Taylor played a critical role in fulfilling the promise made in Doctrine and Covenants. As a result of his faith and diligence in the early part of the twentieth century, the people of Japan had the opportunity to hear the fullness of the gospel in their native language.

 


[1] Larry Richards, “Translations of the Book of Mormon,” LDS Media Talk (forum), July 30, 2010,  http://ldsmediatalk.com/2010/07/30/translations-of-the-book-of-mormon/

[2] “Book of Mormon Reaches 150 Million Copies,” LDS Church News, April 20, 2011, http://www.lds.org/church/news/book-of-mormon-reaches-150-million-copies?lang=eng

*For further reading, see Reid L. Neilson, “The Japanese Missionary Journals of Elder Alma O. Taylor, 1901-10” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2001).

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