Translators assist new ward members

The Gainesville Ward of the Sugar Hill Georgia Stake has experienced growth not only in membership but in cultural diversity as well. So many members and gospel investigators of Hispanic origin now reside in the area due to shifts in employment trends that the Gainesville Ward is considered a Spanish-speaking mission, although it is located near the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.

The ward includes about a dozen Spanish-speaking members, and about half that many Spanish-speaking investigators attend services.Returned missionaries residing in the ward suggested to the bishopric the idea of providing simultaneous translation for Hispanic people at ward meetings, seeing an opportunity to make continued use of their language skills while helping to build the Kingdom of God.

Under the bishopric's direction, Charles Miller started the effort in 1990 as a new member of the ward. He soon received help from Ken and Christina Seay, who provide spoken translation over transmitters while Hispanic members of the congregation listen through headsets, similar to the practice at Church general conferences.

Missionaries such as Mariam Faira of Puerto Rico and Tracy Lorenski of Grand Rapids, Mich., give full-time service in Spanish for the Gainesville area.

Ward member Deena Day translates Relief Society meetings, while Brannon Smith does so for priesthood.

Unlike the Atlanta area, which has a completely Spanish-speaking ward, Gainesville members had only to welcome new Spanish-speaking investigators as they gradually moved into the area. Brother Seay, who served in the Chile Conception Mission from 1987-89, said he and Sister Seay have found an on-going mission right in their own backyard, assisting many new members into the Church through their weekly translation service.

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