Episode 132: Church News Spanish translation coordinator Nadia Gavarret on the universal blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ
Church News podcast features Nadia Gavarret sharing how translation can break down barriers in a worldwide Church
Episode 132: Church News Spanish translation coordinator Nadia Gavarret on the universal blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ
Church News podcast features Nadia Gavarret sharing how translation can break down barriers in a worldwide Church
Members of the Church News staff strive each day to create a record of the Restoration. In the process, they witness how members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the globe connect to one another through their belief in the Savior Jesus Christ.
This episode of the Church News podcast features Church News Spanish Translation Coordinator Nadia Gavarret, who has seen the joy of the spreading gospel. Raised in South America and fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, Gavarret brings unique perspective and global experience to the Church News. She shares the universal blessings of accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ and the journey that led her to the Church News.
Nadia Gavarret: So, that is one thing that I love doing every day. We read all the articles that the reporters write in English, and we translate them into Spanish so everyone can have it. And one of my things, working as a translator — when my grandma was alive, I always thought of her because she didn’t understand English. And she would love, like she loved everything that she could get her hands on that was Church related. And always, in my mind, was my grandma — and all the people that cannot understand English — that they can feel the Spirit. Because I think it’s so different to receive the gospel in your own language. And I love that because when that happens, it’s fulfilling the prophecy that the gospel is going to be spreading all nation, kindred tongues. And I love it. I love what I do.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the greatest blessings of the work of the Church News, where we strive each day to create a record of the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is witnessing and experiencing how Church members across the globe connect to one another through their belief in the Savior. This episode of the Church News podcast features Nadia Gavarret, the Church New Spanish translation coordinator. Born in South America, Nadia brings a unique perspective and global experience to the Church News. Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English, she joins this episode to talk about the Church in South America, the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the journey that led her to the Church News. Nadia, welcome so much to the Church News podcast
Nadia Gavarret: Thank you so much for having me, Sarah.
Sarah Jane Weaver
Well, it’s great to have you here. I’m hoping you can just start and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Nadia Gavarret: So, my story begins with my parents. My mom, she joined the Church when she was 14. She was Catholic. And her story is kind of interesting how she started, because a friend of hers ... actually met the missionaries. And the missionaries were going to go to her house. So, she invited my mom to say, “Hey, you always know all the answers for the questions. So come and join us so you can answer some of them.” So, when she when the missionaries taught the Word of Wisdom that time. And after that meeting with the missionaries, my mom went home and she told her parents, “No more.” Like, “I’m not going to drink any more coffee, just milk for me.” It was interesting how the conversion started happening very rapidly in her life. My mom has always been such a beacon of light in my life. So, after she got baptized, her parents got baptized. And, well, my parents knew each other since they were young, you know, they were in the same ward. And so, they started dating. And then they got married. So, my dad’s story: he got baptized when he was 8, but my grandma, she [found] the Church, when my dad was 6. He just joined the Church when he was 8. My grandpa never got baptized. But he was always such a strong supporter of going to Church and paying tithing and all of that. So, I think that was always something that inspire my dad, even though [his father] didn’t want to maybe commit to the Church. He always fulfills his responsibilities and always encouraged them to go to Church.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And your dad is a general authority for the Church. Tell us who your parents are?
Nadia Gavarret: So, my dad is [Elder] Eduardo Gavarret, and my mom is Norma [Beatriz Gorgoroso Martirena] Gavarret. So, my dad was called to be a General Authority [Seventy] in 2008.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And so much of your life has been defined by their journey and their commitment to covenants in the Church because they moved for employment for the Church, correct?
Nadia Gavarret: Yes. My dad used to work as a general manager in the pharmaceutical company. So we moved all over South America. We lived in Bolivia. We lived in Peru. Then we moved to Brazil. So, in every country, he was always serving and having leadership experiences. And so, to me, it was always, so amazing to see his devotion for Heavenly Father.
Sarah Jane Weaver: So, you are born in Paraguay, and then you have this journey that takes you all across South America?
Nadia Gavarret: Yes.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Where were some of the places that you lived?
Nadia Gavarret: So, I was born in Paraguay, in Asuncion. Then we moved to La Paz, Bolivia. We lived there for seven years and then we moved to Lima, Peru. I think it was three years that we were living there. And then I moved to Brazil. And we were there for, I believe, seven years.
Sarah Jane Weaver: What I want to talk to you about that move to Brazil. Because in those first three countries, you were speaking Spanish. You were a little younger. But you end up in Brazil, as a teenager, who doesn’t speak Portuguese.
Nadia Gavarret: Correct. Yes. I was almost 12 when we moved to Brazil. And it was a shock. Like you arrive to a country, and you have no idea what they are saying. So it was humbling, for sure. But one thing that I remember from those years. I remember the first weekend that we arrived in Brazil, we went to Church. And we sat there, we didn’t understand a thing. But, you could feel the Spirit. You know, you could feel that familiarity that comes with Church meetings, with the Church members. Even though you did not know what they were saying, they just embrace you and you could feel that you belong. Which I love because it recalls from Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk about the “Doctrine of Belonging.” And we all want to belong, and the Church makes it possible for all of us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I have seen the Church and things that occur within Church settings, transcend language on multiple occasions. One of my favorite times was at the rededication of the Tahiti temple. And in that temple dedication, there was a moment at the end where everyone is singing. And some of those who were visiting from Salt Lake [City] were singing in English. And then you had Tahitian Latter-day Saints who were singing in both Tahitian and French. And those languages sort of wove together. And there was this moment where the Church felt very small, very united, with very few barriers. Now, I know that doesn’t happen all the time. One of the reasons we brought you to Church News is because we want to break down barriers that would prevent those who don’t speak English from connecting with our content. Talk about what you do every day.
Nadia Gavarret: So, I love translating. I think that has been a thing that I’ve always done since I was a teenager. I taught myself English when I was a teenager. So, I am self-taught. And the reason why I did is because my dad would always get some books from the Church. And I wanted to read them. You know, I wanted to read what the Apostles were saying. What they had to share. But they had never been translated. So, we could never find them in Spanish. So, I started teaching myself English, so I could read those. So, you know, I was a little bit odd in the sense that instead of reading, I don’t know, fantasy books. I wanted to read the books of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, or what he had to say. So, that is one thing that I loved when I was a teenager. And then, as my English started improving, I would help my dad translate stuff — whatever he had — articles for Church, or for stake conference and stuff like that. So, one thing that I love doing: So, when my parents were serving as mission presidents, one funny thing happened in one of the meetings. Elder M. Russell Ballard was visiting the Paraguay Asuncion Mission. And for some reason, the interpreter did not show up. And, so, my dad volunteered me to help to translate the meeting. And it was the best experience of my life. But it was super nerve wracking to because I was 18 and speaking in front of all these people, and my English was not that great. But he was just so awesome. I think that was my first experience that I felt, to translate and to share the gospel, you have to have the Spirit. If you don’t have the Spirit, it does not work. The Spirit has to be there you in order to touch people’s lives. And I remember Elder Ballard and he was just so sweet. You know, he put his hand around me. He’s like, “OK, you can do it. You’re doing great.” So sweet. So, I have very fond memories of that time. And that was like one of my first experiences with translation. And I think that was the moment I said, “I wanted to do this. I want to help to share the gospel everywhere.”
Sarah Jane Weaver: And I can’t imagine the pressure of being 18 and doing side-by-side translation. I can just imagine this huge gathering of Latter-day Saints who want to hear the words of now President Ballard. He would have been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time. And so there is Elder Ballard and the one thing that stands between them receiving the message and Elder Ballard giving the message is you.
Nadia Gavarret: Yeah, it was super intense. So that is one thing that I love doing every day. That is part of my job every day. We read all the articles that the reporters write in English. And, you know, we translate them into Spanish so everyone can have them. And one of my things working as a translator — I am right now a coordinator — and with all my years of experience with translation was: When my grandma was alive, I always thought of her because she didn’t understand English. And she would love — she was the kind of person that she would read the Liahona from the cover to the end. She loved everything that she could get her hands on, that was Church related. And I think, always in my mind, was my grandma. And all the people that cannot understand English, that they can feel the Spirit. Because I think it is so different to receive, the gospel, your own language. It is so different. Sometimes people, they just want, that is why they love when President [Russell M.] Nelson, you know, he speaks in Spanish. Because they are craving that. They want to hear the words of the gospel in their own language. And I love that because when that happens, it is fulfilling the prophecy, that we read in Alma. That the gospel is going to be spread in all nation, kindred, tongues. And so, I love it. I love what I do.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I’m so glad you brought up President Russell M. Nelson, because he embarked on these global ministry tours after he became President of the Church. And then when he was in South America, and in the Caribbean, he would stand up, and he would do a few things with the translator. And then he dismissed the translator. And then he would say, in Spanish, you know, “Is it OK if I give the rest of my talk in Spanish?” And you could just feel the energy in the room change. Because a prophet had gone to those people in their country and addressed them in their language. He had broken down the barriers between them and hearing the counsel that the Lord has for them.
Nadia Gavarret: Yeah, it is something, like you said, you can feel the energy. And people thrive with it. They want to hear the gospel, they want to share it, and they can feel the Spirit. And he they can feel that he cares. And when we can see these all these articles, and see all the goodness that is happening in the world, sometimes, the darkness that we can see right now in the world goes dim. Because the light of the Church is spreading is higher, is brighter.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I want to talk to you about when you first knew the Church is true. You are raised in a family of very, very faithful parents, second-generation members of the Church in South America. And yet there has to be a moment when you said, “I think this is what I am going to commit my life to.” And I love the fact that it was such a strong commitment that then you sought out the words of Church leaders in English.
Nadia Gavarret: Yeah, so I remember my baptism, like it was yesterday, like the Spirit was very strong the day I got baptized. For being so young, like I felt it. I felt that this was something good. And I think growing up, you know, you start looking at your parents, like, my parents are my biggest example, of service and of kindness, and of living a Christlike life. But then you start growing up and you see what good the Church leaders are doing. And they just want to help you go back to Heavenly Father. And I think it was not just one instance, that I received that confirmation that the Church is true. But it has been all through my life. So, to me, the Church is the most precious gift in my life, and I love the gospel.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I want to talk to you a little bit about the path that you came on that led you here to the Church News. Because it is a path where the Lord has prepared you to do the work that you are doing now. You studied linguistics at Brigham Young University, and then ultimately worked for the Church as a translator, where you were exposed to a lot of amazing Church content. Talk about that process of being a Church employee and translating things that matter to people.
Nadia Gavarret: It was amazing. We did a lot of content. We will translate the Liahona, general conference, the manuals, “Saints,” the manual “At the Pulpit,” all the manuals that you use for Church teaching. So, to me was amazing, because I think that it was a different confirmation of the Spirit and the work that he does. That is when I knew that I needed to start every translation that I do with a prayer. I need to start with a prayer because, otherwise, is not the same. So, when you have a company of the Spirit, when you’re doing a translation, the Spirit is just going to flow. It is interesting how it happens. Sometimes you’re writing, you are translating, and you think that is the word that you need to use, but the Spirit tells you “Use this one.” And sometimes that is the word, or a sentence, [that] can reach people in a different way. So, to me, it is amazing how, as members of the Church, we count, and we are able to pray and to have the company constantly. And if we choose to do it and because it is a choice. You know, we need to choose that we want His company and seek for it. It just doesn’t happen. But it is an invitation for action to follow. So, throughout my years of doing translation and helping with coordination or supervision, one of my main goals was always that. You know, start with a prayer, start your workday with a prayer. And ask “Who can you bless today? How can I bless someone today?” How can the Spirit guide you to to inspire someone. You know, either is by communications, like an article or translation, [there are] many ways you can do that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And I’m so glad that you brought up that you translated both general conference and saints. We have done previous podcasts on “Saints.” “Saints” is this amazing collection of narrative history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The version you would have translated would have been the early Church, as Joseph Smith was restoring the gospel to the earth. And then the Saints were moving from city to city, ultimately being a Nauvoo. And yet, the next volumes of that narrative history include the internationalization of the Church, the spread of the Church. It is beautiful to me, that you had this great experience with President Ballard because his grandfather, Melvin J. Ballard, is the person who actually dedicates South America for the preaching of the gospel in 1924. He is in Argentina, and he’s not having much success. And he offers a prayer on all of those countries. And then just before he leaves, he makes a prophecy. He says that the work in South America will start like a little seed, like an acorn, but it’ll grow to a strong oak tree. Now you have seen the oak tree. When you think about the work in South America, and how the Church is blessing the lives of our members, what comes to your mind?
Nadia Gavarret: I think that every time I see how the Church is growing, and how many temples are being built, it is another confirmation that the Church is true. Because everything that we have been taught, that we learned the scriptures, that the gospel is going to be spread through all the world. It is happening. And it is just exciting to see how it’s happening, how fast is happening, how people are eager to know, to come back to Jesus Christ, and to follow Him. You know, to follow the prophets and to heed His words and obey and follow. So, to me, is just amazing the growth that it has been. I just love that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: Isn’t it amazing that as part of a symbol of growth of the Church in South America, and for that matter across the globe, is this building of temples. We have had numerous eras where we have engaged in accelerated temple building. One of those was the early 2000s with President Gordon B Hinckley. And at that time, both Paraguay and Uruguay and so many other places in South America got temples. What did the temples mean to the Saints there?
Nadia Gavarret: The temples, I think, they are a beacon of light. And they are a beacon of hope and peace. And I think a promise from Heavenly Father of better days ahead. You can go inside the temple and forget about the problems of the world, at least for a little bit — especially in the world that we live in nowadays, when we see so much, commotion going on. I think, like President Nelson is saying, we need to go more often to the temples. I was actually in the dedication of the temple in Paraguay in 2002. So, we were there, which was funny, because it was a few months before my parents were called as mission presidents to Paraguay. And it was just amazing to be there, to be in the dedication. You can see how the energy of the people, the happiness that they have to have a temple in their country. Because sometimes, for a lot of a lot of the members, you had to travel. So, the first temple in South America was Brazil, was São Paulo. And a lot of people had to travel to go to the temple. My parents, when they got married, they had to save for a year so they could travel. They had gotten married in Uruguay. Then they moved to Paraguay. So, my oldest brother had been born. So they went to the temple, like a year later — it was 1979 or 1980 — I do not remember exactly. But they went to the São Paulo temple to get sealed. And it is a sacrifice for many members. It was a big sacrifice. And people do it with joy because they wanted to go to temple. So, when I see that new temples are being built in all South America, to me it brings so much joy because it makes the access of the covenants and of the temple closer to them. And to experience those blessings that everyone needs.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And I love that as your parents are starting their marriage in 1979, 1980, in those early, early years, that the São Paulo temple had just been dedicated. The São Paulo temple is dedicated in 1978. And it is this historic temple that would be a gathering place for Latter-day Saints across the whole continent. And look what it did for your parents. It is much easier, I am assuming, to go from Paraguay to São Paulo than it is to try and go to Mesa, [Arizona], or Washington, D.C., or even Salt Lake City.
Nadia Gavarret: Yeah, exactly. So, I live in Bountiful, and I have my temple five minutes away. So to me, those are the blessings of the gospel. You know, there is a temple in Uruguay, there is a temple Paraguay, there are several temples in Brazil, in Peru, in Bolivia. So, it is amazing to see that the blessings are coming and they are spreading and people can enjoy that.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I covered the dedication of the Church’s temple in Manaus, Brazil. And Manaus is this isolated city. It is surrounded by water. It is mostly accessible by boat or by plane. And the members there have this legacy of sacrifice. Where starting in the early 1990s, they got on a boat and went down the Amazon River and then rode a bus to get to the São Paulo temple. And, finally, they had grown and the Church was stable enough that they could support a temple in their city. And one was dedicated. And after the dedication, I had gone to family home evening with this family. There was this little boy who was 8 or 9 and we were having a conversation and he was talking about the Amazon River Basin and how amazing it was going to be for them to have a temple there. And he asked if I had temples in my basin. And I said, “Oh yes, I have Salt Lake and Bountiful and Jordan River. And you know, at this time, we could just name temples going all the way from Logan down to St. George, that would all be accessible within several hours wherever you lived on the Wasatch Front.” And he interrupted me as I started naming all these temples, he said, “Oh, sister, how do you sacrifice?” And so it is a hard thing for us to think about the blessings of temples and then the ability to use the temples and be in the temple.
Nadia Gavarret: I think that is correct. And sometimes I think about that — the sacrifice. Because, when you have a temple so close, sometimes we take it for granted. Most of the times we do. And, to me, it has been a goal to follow what President Nelson said and to go to the temple as often as we can. And sometimes maybe the sacrifice is not in hours or in miles that you went to the temple. But it is leaving something that is not as important for something that matter most. And I think that is what has changed my perspective. I try to take my son to do baptisms at least once a month. And it is kind of interesting to schedule appointments for proxy baptisms, because they are always so full. But we do, and sometimes we have to be there at 6 a.m. And, you know, probably for my son that is a sacrifice on his sleep. So, there are other types of sacrifices. But, I think, when we make the goal and the effort to go to the temple, our lives change. And I think our perspective on life changes and also how we treat others. I think we become more Christlike, because we are filled with that goodness that comes from going to the temple.
Sarah Jane Weaver: President Nelson has said it’s easier to build temples — and he is building a lot of temples — ... than it is to build a people that are prepared to enter the temple. And I want to talk about the thing that is really beautiful to me about the temple because anyone can go into any temple anywhere in the Church and receive those covenants in their own language. The translation of the temple ceremony is such a beautiful manifestation of God’s love for His children.
Nadia Gavarret: Yes, I have experienced that love and I think people all over the world experience that because it is just so different. It is so different to receive and do those covenants in your own language. And you can feel that Heavenly Father cares for all of us. It does not matter if you speak Chinese or — I don’t know — Spanish. It is all translated for you because he wants you to, individually, learn about those covenants, make those covenants, go to the temple, [and] feel the Spirit to receive those blessings. It is available for all of us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: And I am so grateful that you are making greater blessings available through your translation of Church News content and other important Latter-day Saint content to Latter-day Saints across the globe. We have a tradition at the podcast where we ask people to answer the same question. And the question is “What do you know now?” And so, Nadia, as we close today: What do you know now, after making content about leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints available to others through translation?
Nadia Gavarret: What I know is that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us, and because of Church News and the translations that we are doing and what we are sharing and the goodness that He wants to be spread all over the world, He knows us. He is showing His love for all of us through that. If we listen to the words of the Apostles, of the leaders in this Church, if we go to the temple, we can feel the love of Heavenly Father for us. He is there. He is always there for us.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer KellieAnn Halvorsen and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.