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Members attended endowment sessions in foreign language. They could not understand…


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Ok what the heck is this about? Conference talk posted below for reference.  Here is a quote:

”The other challenge for members was that the temple presentation was not available in Japanese. Church leaders called a Japanese brother to travel to the Hawaiian temple to translate the endowment ceremony. He was the first Japanese convert after the war, having been taught and baptized by faithful American soldiers.

When the endowed Japanese members living in Hawaii first heard the translation, they wept. One member recorded: “We’ve been to the temple many, many times. We’ve heard the ceremonies in English. [But] we have never felt the spirit of … temple work as we feel it now [hearing it] in our own native tongue.”

What the flippin fetch?! So the church had Japanese people attending the temple and making covenants and in a foreign language. So they had no clue what was going on or what they were covenanting to do I assume. I recall how lost I was during my first time through I had no idea what was going on. Can’t imagine what it would have been like if it was in Japanese. 
 

what a mess. I cannot believe our church let this happen to people. It isn’t like Japanese was some obscure language back then. If the church wanted, those sessions could have been in Japanese long before Pearl Harbor was attacked much less long after the war was over. 
 

this is disgusting. How can it be justified to do this to people? Oh the first language it was translated into was Spanish in 1945?? 
 

how long had Mexican converts been around?  Long before that. We had polygamist colonies in Mexico in the 1800s. 
 

whole thing sounds a bit racist and I’m usually very reluctant to throw that out there, but there is no other explanation. There is no way the church didn’t have the resources to translate. Lack of desire?? More than likely. Talk amongst yourselves. 

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2023/10/55esplin?lang=eng

 

https://www.deseret.com/2013/6/26/20521654/history-behind-the-first-non-english-temple-ceremony-translation#:~:text='” And in 1944%2C the,in the Salt Lake Temple.

 

Edited by Diamondhands69
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7 hours ago, Diamondhands69 said:

What the flippin fetch?! So the church had Japanese people attending the temple and making covenants and in a foreign language. So they had no clue what was going on or what they were covenanting to do I assume.

I highly doubt that.  My guess is any Japanese at the time that was willing to join the Church was relatively proAmerican and likely knew some English, at least enough to follow along and the missionaries****, servicemen, and civilians that lived in Japan and other Japanese who had experienced the temple probably taught the basics before they came over since they had to pass the interviews.  Japanese converts were mainly younger for one thing.  There is also a very good chance they had meetings in the temple beforehand with the groups that came over to answer questions and such.

As to why they didn’t have the ceremonies in Japanese, maybe they had too few Japanese fluent temple workers.  Japan was not that productive of a missionary field till likely after this story happened, as its growth didn’t really start till early 60s and it is still less than .1%.  It might even have still been live endowment sessions when the Japanese Saints started coming over depending on how long after the war this occurred (also added: in 1965).  Added:  Audiotapes were used in the Hawaiian temple starting in 1964, but got to wonder if that was only what was used or if it was for the nonEnglish sessions at that time.  Assuming the live actors followed along based on cues in what they were hearing, if they were English speaking, it would be difficult to do it with a Japanese tape.  As I suggested above, the lack of consistently available Japanese speaking temple workers could have been the reason for the delay.  It sounds from the description of the building of the Hawaiian temple, success among the Japanese speaking residents of Hawaii was quite low originally; if that trend continued, that would explain the lack.

If I still lived in Canada, I could have asked my born and raised in Hawaii friend what it was like where she lived at least, whether Japanese speaking saints were that common in Hawaii in the late 50s, early 60s.  If anyone knows someone who lived in Hawaii at that time, please ask (they would have to be older than 65 to have a chance of remembering).  I wonder if there was any lingering prejudice against the Japanese culture in Hawaii at that time.   Speaking Japanese was strongly discouraged during the war as Japanese Americans wanted to show their loyalty and that they were American.  If they hadn’t spoken it much at home when young or were at least pushed by parents to speak English, when older perhaps fluency was low enough among Hawaiian Japanese-American Saints that there were not enough to call for a regular session.  And I don’t know how an occasional session would work for live endowments, even audiotapes for sound ones (I have never participated in one, but from what I hear they took quite a bit longer.) It would also be interesting to know if there were high numbers of Japanese Americans in the Church in Hawaii.  There were not any in any of the wards I lived in or visited when I lived in California in the early 60s, though we had a number of Samoan and Tongan families.

****wonder how many missionaries knew enough Japanese to teach in that language at that time as the Language training center for Japanese and other Asian languages wasn’t built until 1969.  Maybe a lot of missionary lessons were given in English.  It would also explain why there were so few missionaries to begin with, around 20 in the late 50s, iirc.

***https://research.cgu.edu/mormonism-migration-project/study-resources/mormonism-in-japan/#:~:text=The prewar Japan Mission operated,24 years of official absence.

**https://templeendowment.wordpress.com/2021/03/18/a-very-brief-history-of-the-presentation-of-the-endowment/

Edited by Calm
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Found out that it might have been audiotapes for live endowments as the temple wasn’t built for film or slides and they had been using audiotapes for 7 years in 1971 and the first temple trip was reported to occur in 1965 according to wiki.  Japanese Saints might have traveled on their own, of course, before that, but probably not that many and not as groups, so that may be why it hadn’t been translated into Japanese before that.

https://rsc.byu.edu/laie-hawaii-temple-century-aloha/major-remodel-rededication-1970s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_in_Japan

In 1942, the majority of Japanese American Saints (around 300) in Hawaii) were American born and so must have known English.  Until Japanese Saints started coming to the Hawaiian temple there would have been little, if any need for a Japanese version of the endowment.  Given the small numbers of Japanese saints prior to the beginning of the yearly temple trips that visited Hawaii and the temple (my guess is a handful each year given there were not that many Japanese Saints before 1960s), the majority of Japanese native speakers were the ones living in the US and to expect them to be clueless about English comes across as bigoted to be honest unless one didn’t really think that through (maybe it was missed the article was referring to the Japanese American Saints as having been through the temple many times, not the Japanese Saints:  “When the endowed Japanese members living in Hawaii first heard the translation, they wept”).  The translation into Japanese occurred before the first group came over from Japan if I understood the article correctly.  They had time because it took awhile to raise the funds, again if I understood the articles I have read correctly.

 

Quote

A few years following her husband’s untimely death, the mission president of Japan felt inspired to encourage the Japanese members to work toward attending the temple. …

Upon hearing the mission president’s message, the widowed sister desired to be sealed to her family in the temple someday. However, it was impossible for her, due to financial constraints and language barriers.

Then several innovative solutions emerged. The cost could be reduced by half if members in Japan chartered an entire plane to fly to Hawaii in the offseason.6 Members also recorded and sold vinyl records entitled Japanese Saints Sing. Some members even sold homes. Others quit their jobs to make the trip.7

The other challenge for members was that the temple presentation was not available in Japanese. Church leaders called a Japanese brother to travel to the Hawaiian temple to translate the endowment ceremony.8 He was the first Japanese convert after the war, having been taught and baptized by faithful American soldiers.9

That it would require quite a bit of training and having enough Japanese speaking temple workers for each session, it makes sense to me why there was a delay when they were comfortable enough with English most likely.

https://discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2019/1/30/mormons-1/

Edited by Calm
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6 hours ago, Rain said:

I'm not a big temple person and my first time was not good, but where does that say they had no clue what was going on due to language differences?  They were taught by american missionaries so it's obvious they knew at least some English. Perhaps they knew it well, but hearing it in their native language meant more to them.

Since Japanese was their native tongue, obviously they were born in Japan, but according to the article were then living in the Hawaii.  Likelihood is they were converted after moving to the US (because not that many conversions in Japan), which means probably at least some interaction with English speaking missionaries as no Japanese language training at the time, though apparently there were Japanese Americans spread throughout Idaho and Utah even before WW Ii.  Not many converted, so likely those communities didn’t provide many Japanese speaking missionaries.  There was a small Japanese mission in Hawaii for a time, but it got combined with the Hawaiian mission and likely some Japanese American members were active missionaries in their communities, so it is feasible that some had limited or no English skills when converting….but if they had gone to the temple many times, they had probably been living in Hawaii for years at least.  If they could manage to understand enough English to immigrate and survive living in the US, chances are they understood enough English to survive the temple.  

There were lots of Asian immigrants in Canada, my daughter’s elementary school English speaking class (she was in a mainly French immersion school) was 1/3 to 1/2 immigrants, the majority from East Asia.  I got to meet some of their parents as I was room mother a couple of years and some asked me to tutor their kids after school as I was always volunteering to help them read, etc.  The only ones that weren’t speaking any English at all were the grannies.  The kids were fluent in at least 6 months, if not less.  It boggled my mind.  The parents were doing great though some of the mothers were rather quiet as they weren’t as confident in their skills as the dads were.  The dads were mostly entrepreneurs and real gogetters and it was usually a family affair, so very motivated to learn English. (Of course not all Asian immigrants follow the same pattern, the ones I knew were generally higher educated and better off financially.)

It was so embarrassing that I only picked up a few phrases when living in Russia.  I consoled myself by saying little motivation since we were only going to be there for a semester, but I couldn’t even get all of the alphabet memorized.

Edited by Calm
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As far as the delay in a Spanish endowment, I would not be surprised if racism played into that.

But it would not be difficult to teach those attending the temple the meaning of the covenants beforehand in general (much of the language is in scripture and it is more tradition we don’t speak of temple ceremonies much outside the temple, it might have been less restrictive in the past) and if there was reluctance to get into specifics, teaching them in the temple chapels would have been easy, so even if they were lost during the sessions, to say they had no clue what was going on seems like jumping to conclusions big time.

It sounds more like nonEnglish speakers just didn’t get endowments done though…since no Spanish was an obstacle towards it being a gathering place.  Doesn’t sound like there were large numbers of Saints in Mexico before 1940s as there was only one stake until the 1960s.  (This is just an observation, not a justification.) (added:  there were around 4,000 Saints in Mexico in 1940, up from 1000 in 1910 according to wiki, I wonder how many of these were English speakers, part of the colonies)

Wouldn’t have been much of a problem for any Mormon colonist since they were originally from the US and any second or third generation were likely bilingual.
 

Quote

Tamez said that when President Heber J. Grant dedicated the Mesa Temple in 1927, he laid out a vision of it as “a place of gathering” for the Spanish-speaking Saints. But, Tamez explained, “the absences of temple services in Spanish seemed an obstacle to realizing this vision.”

The Mesa temple became a place of pilgrimage because it was the only temple that had Spanish services for several years and after that because it had day long conferences.  Does not sound like it got much attendance of Spanish speakers prior to that, at least not in comparison to what came later.

Quote

For years afterwards, Spanish-speaking Mormons would attend days-long conferences in Mesa “at which many reported an outpouring of the power of the Holy Ghost and during which hundreds of Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints performed thousands of LDS temple ordinances,” Tamez said.

He concluded, “The establishment of temples in Latin American countries in the 1980s effectively brought this era of (temple) excursions to an end, though the Mesa Arizona Temple remained a traditional point of pilgrimage for many Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saints. My own parents were married there in 1980.”

It would be very interesting to find out more details on this.

Edited by Calm
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7 hours ago, Diamondhands69 said:

Ok what the heck is this about? Conference talk posted below for reference.  Here is a quote:

”The other challenge for members was that the temple presentation was not available in Japanese. Church leaders called a Japanese brother to travel to the Hawaiian temple to translate the endowment ceremony. He was the first Japanese convert after the war, having been taught and baptized by faithful American soldiers.

When the endowed Japanese members living in Hawaii first heard the translation, they wept. One member recorded: “We’ve been to the temple many, many times. We’ve heard the ceremonies in English. [But] we have never felt the spirit of … temple work as we feel it now [hearing it] in our own native tongue.”

What the flippin fetch?! So the church had Japanese people attending the temple and making covenants and in a foreign language. So they had no clue what was going on or what they were covenanting to do I assume. I recall how lost I was during my first time through I had no idea what was going on. Can’t imagine what it would have been like if it was in Japanese. 
 

what a mess. I cannot believe our church let this happen to people. It isn’t like Japanese was some obscure language back then. If the church wanted, those sessions could have been in Japanese long before Pearl Harbor was attacked much less long after the war was over. 
 

this is disgusting. How can it be justified to do this to people? Oh the first language it was translated into was Spanish in 1945?? 
 

how long had Mexican converts been around?  Long before that. We had polygamist colonies in Mexico in the 1800s. 
 

whole thing sounds a bit racist and I’m usually very reluctant to throw that out there, but there is no other explanation. There is no way the church didn’t have the resources to translate. Lack of desire?? More than likely. Talk amongst yourselves. 

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2023/10/55esplin?lang=eng

 

https://www.deseret.com/2013/6/26/20521654/history-behind-the-first-non-english-temple-ceremony-translation#:~:text='” And in 1944%2C the,in the Salt Lake Temple.

 

I’m assuming that the temple ceremonies were live endowment ceremonies back then. So it wasn’t an issue of just translating their ceremony into another language. You had to have endowment workers who spoke that language, or audio tapes, but it sounds like it took a few decades for temples to be able to use audio tapes and that way.

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I think many members went through the temple with a limited understanding of English in the early days.  Many of my ancestors are from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.  They didn't know English when they converted and they had minimal understanding of English by the time they reached Utah.  Many of them lived in communities with similar nationality and so didn't use English on a day to day basis.  Yet, they went through the temple.

Live sessions in more recent times are similar to the movies, you sit and watch with little interaction.  But I believe the original live sessions were a bit more interactive.  I could see some of the workers having knowledge of the languages of those participating and helping them understand the parts.  Even with no official translation, the workers could still do partial translations in parts that are harder to understand.

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Not racist - my reason for thinking so is that it happened to my mom too - she is from France, and came to Utah in the late 60's.  She did not understand any English and there was no French translation for the temple - so she had all ordinances in English - not understanding at all.  Imagine washing and anointing, especially done the old way with less clothing and more touching without knowing why or what was being said!  A sister in her endowment tried to translate on the spot (A returned missionary) but 1. she didn't;t have the vocabulary for the endowment, and 2. people kept sushing her and giving her nasty looks for 'disrupting' the session. 

Needless to say, my mom almost never returned - only for weddings and my endowment etc. and since has left the church completely. Really a sad side effect of the church not being prepared for the growth it faced.

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I’m assuming that the temple ceremonies were live endowment ceremonies back then. So it wasn’t an issue of just translating their ceremony into another language. You had to have endowment workers who spoke that language, or audio tapes, but it sounds like it took a few decades for temples to be able to use audio tapes and that way.

Actually you don’t have to have actors who speak the language. All that needs to be done is do the live part in English. Stop and have the translator recite the message in the appropriate language. Anyone who uses a translator or interacts with one understands this and it is very doable. Sounds like the church just chose not to. I mean we wouldn’t want to take away from the experience of the white attendees. 

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8 hours ago, Rain said:

I'm not a big temple person and my first time was not good, but where does that say they had no clue what was going on due to language differences?  They were taught by american missionaries so it's obvious they knew at least some English. Perhaps they knew it well, but hearing it in their native language meant more to them.

Here’s the quote from the conference talk:

 One member recorded: “We’ve been to the temple many, many times. We’ve heard the ceremonies in English. [But] we have never felt the spirit of … temple work as we feel it now [hearing it] in our own native tongue.”

if they were not feeling the spirit of temple work then obviously they did not understand it. 
 

I was accused by my parents of not paying attention when I returned from my first temple trip and I was like “ what the heck was all that?”

 

I suppose they could have accused me of the same thing if it was in Spanish even though I didn’t speak it well at all at the time right? 

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

Not being fluent is not the same as "no clue what was going on or what they were covenanting." Take a chill pill! :D 

Uh yea it does. Most native English speakers leave the temple their first time wondering what just happened. The look on my kids’ faces in the celestial room after their first endowment confirmed to me I wasn’t crazy all those many years ago after my first time running the gauntlet. I was very confused esp since my temple prep class mentioned s total of zero things about how the endowment goes. Was just a bunch of testimony. 
 

take a chill pill??? Ha yessir mr truman lol. Naa I’ll chill on my own orders not yours. 

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4 minutes ago, Diamondhands69 said:

Here’s the quote from the conference talk:

 One member recorded: “We’ve been to the temple many, many times. We’ve heard the ceremonies in English. [But] we have never felt the spirit of … temple work as we feel it now [hearing it] in our own native tongue.”

if they were not feeling the spirit of temple work then obviously they did not understand it. 
 

I was accused by my parents of not paying attention when I returned from my first temple trip and I was like “ what the heck was all that?”

 

I suppose they could have accused me of the same thing if it was in Spanish even though I didn’t speak it well at all at the time right? 

It doesn't say they never felt the spirit.  Only that they never felt the spirit as much as they can now.  I've been through the temple for other languages.  On my mission, the few times I could attend the temple, it was usually in the native language (Portuguese).  Once, I had barely any knowledge of the language.  It was probably my 5th time I had ever gone through the temple so I didn't know the ceremony all that well.  But I could feel a small portion of the spirit.

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34 minutes ago, Diamondhands69 said:

Here’s the quote from the conference talk:

 One member recorded: “We’ve been to the temple many, many times. We’ve heard the ceremonies in English. [But] we have never felt the spirit of … temple work as we feel it now [hearing it] in our own native tongue.”

if they were not feeling the spirit of temple work then obviously they did not understand it. 
 

I was accused by my parents of not paying attention when I returned from my first temple trip and I was like “ what the heck was all that?”

 

I suppose they could have accused me of the same thing if it was in Spanish even though I didn’t speak it well at all at the time right? 

"As" is possibly a key word there.  It could possibly mean they didn't feel the Spirit at all or that they could feel it much more after.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't feel the Spirit at all my first time. I went in 1989 and was shocked and that feeling has always stayed with me about the temple despite some good experiences there. I could not have told you what I covenanted to when I came out. No one gave me any instruction other than "read the Pearl of Great Price". In fact, I no longer attend the temple in part because of those first few experiences.

I also know that languages can be a problem.  I was just talking to friends about communication problems with one of my refugee friends. 

The thing is that when hearing and reading that part in the talk I just don't see it as language being a "no clue" thing. I could be wrong and I can see why it would bother you. But the context as the story goes on with the translation tells me that language was just a part of the story. That somehow their experience was better than mine. 

Edited by Rain
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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

It is very difficult to translate something like the temple ceremony on the fly. A lot of the words used are not conversational English. You would want some kind of “official” translation or the temple ceremony could be very different each time.

This isn’t nearly as easy as you are trying to make it sound.

Declutch your pearls a little.

Here’s a novel concept… use a recording. Recording devices existed even before WW2 so there is no excuse. 

love it how many like to make it seem an impossible task for the church to do. They even have some of the membership conditioned to make excuses for everything. bottom line-no one cared if the brown or yellow people got the right message or any message at all. Eventually they did, but they slow rolled it. 

Edited by Diamondhands69
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2 hours ago, Maestrophil said:

Not racist - my reason for thinking so is that it happened to my mom too - she is from France, and came to Utah in the late 60's.  She did not understand any English and there was no French translation for the temple - so she had all ordinances in English - not understanding at all.  Imagine washing and anointing, especially done the old way with less clothing and more touching without knowing why or what was being said!  A sister in her endowment tried to translate on the spot (A returned missionary) but 1. she didn't;t have the vocabulary for the endowment, and 2. people kept sushing her and giving her nasty looks for 'disrupting' the session. 

Needless to say, my mom almost never returned - only for weddings and my endowment etc. and since has left the church completely. Really a sad side effect of the church not being prepared for the growth it faced.

No one knows your mother like you do, but did she attribute her leaving the Church to this one experience? I ask because it only takes one personal experience to justify staying in the Church as well.

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3 hours ago, Diamondhands69 said:

Uh yea it does. Most native English speakers leave the temple their first time wondering what just happened. The look on my kids’ faces in the celestial room after their first endowment confirmed to me I wasn’t crazy all those many years ago after my first time running the gauntlet. I was very confused esp since my temple prep class mentioned s total of zero things about how the endowment goes. Was just a bunch of testimony. 
 

take a chill pill??? Ha yessir mr truman lol. Naa I’ll chill on my own orders not yours. 

Funny, I went in 1978 as a fairly new covert, no temple preparation class, and found it a wonderful, familiar-feeling experience. I suppose there's a bell-curve of favorable and unfavorable initiate experiences, unlike, say, a curve for the use of "fetch" [slang] as a malaprop.

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20 minutes ago, Duncan said:

Why are you worried about people you don't know and situations you weren't involved in? The Church is different now, live in 2023 for $%&&* sakes

I think it's from reading this book: "You Too Can Leverage a Gambler Fallacy for Polemics and Rhetoric," by Norman Vincent Peale.

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