Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Testimony of the Truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from an Unlikely Witness

I am reading the late John Pontius' book, Journey to the Veil, and very much enjoying it. I was a fan of his blog before he passed away in 2012. I was reminded of this blog post that he shared about an experience he had while on his mission in South Africa. I LOVE this experience and wanted to share!

Die Boek van Mormon

I was searching through my books in storage a few days ago and came across a first edition of the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans. I served a mission in South African from 1971 to 1973. I had interesting and challenging experiences. But this was one of the most riveting.

I attended the special conference in Johannesburg on May 14, 1972, when the new translation of the Book of Mormon into Afrikaans (Die Boek van Mormon) was presented. It was an electric moment. People wept. Some had waited all of their lifetimes to read the Book of Mormon in Afrikaans. Many people had learned English for the sole purpose of reading this scripture. The Spirit was strong among us as we rejoiced.

Remembering back more than forty years, I can still remember Professor Felix Mijnhardt as he spoke of his experience in translating that sacred book. We also had a special zone conference a few days prior where our mission president, Harlan Clark, recounted his involvement with and experience of the translation of the Book of Mormon. I had a good friend who was an assistant to President Clark, who later shared with me his experiences of being in meetings with Professor Mijnhardt and Elder Clark several times. I can no longer remember who said what exactly, but I remember what I felt, and how it affected my newly-minted testimony as a young missionary. I will retell it as best as I can recall.

Professor Mijnhardt was invited to come to the stand and speak about his experience in translating the Book of Mormon. He recounted how he had been given a gift of languages from God from his youth. He said that he was fluent in over sixty languages. He was presently employed at Pretoria University as a language professor. He said he had been praying that the Lord would give him some task, some divinely important task, that would justify his having this gift of language from God.

He said that in about 1970 he had visited a group of Mormon leaders, including a Bishop Brummer, Mission President Harlan Clark, and others, who sought to commission him to translate the Book of Mormon from English into Afrikaans. He said that he knew of the Book of Mormon from his religions studies, and his initial reaction was that he did not want to be involved in translating it.

However, that evening as he prayed upon his knees, as was his habit, the Spirit of the Lord convicted him. The message was something on the order of, “You asked me for a great, divinely inspired task of translation, I sent it to you in the form of translating the Book of Mormon, and you declined.” Professor Mijnhardt said he could not sleep through the night because he knew that translating the Book of Mormon would get him into trouble with his university, which was owned and operated by the Dutch Reformed Church. When morning came he agreed to begin the translation immediately.

Standing at the pulpit, he described the experience. He said something like, “I never begin translating a book at the beginning. Writing style usually changes throughout a book and becomes more consistent toward the middle. Accordingly, I opened to a random place in the middle of the Book of Mormon, and began translating.”

He said, “I was startled by the obvious fact that the Book of Mormon was not authored in English. It became immediately apparent that what I was reading was a translation into English from some other language. The sentence structure was wrong for native English. The word choices were wrong, as were many phrases.”

He asked, “How many times has an Englishman said or written, ‘And it came to pass’?” We all laughed, and knew he was right, of course.

He explained that when he realized this, he knew that he had to find either the original language or a median language, and then proceed to translate it into Afrikaans. He listed a half-dozen languages he tried, all of which did not accommodate the strange sentence structure found in the Book of Mormon. He said he finally tried Egyptian, and to his complete surprise, he found that the Book of Mormon translated flawlessly into Egyptian—not modern, but ancient Egyptian. He found that some nouns were missing from Egyptian, so he used Hebrew nouns where Egyptian did not provide the word or phrase. He chose Hebrew because both languages existed in the same place anciently.

He said he had no idea at that time why the Book of Mormon was once written in Egyptian, but he said that without any doubt, the Book of Mormon had been authored in Egyptian or a language with very similar syntax. I heard him say this over and over. Then, he said, “Imagine my utter astonishment when I turned to chapter one, verse one, and began my actual translation, and came to verse two, where Nephi explains that he was writing in the language of the Egyptians, with the learning of the Jews!”

He said, “I knew by the second verse that this was no ordinary book, that it was not the writings of Joseph Smith, but that it was of ancient origin. I could have saved myself months of work if I had just begun at the beginning. Nobody but God—working through a prophet of God, in this case Nephi—would have included a statement of the language he was writing in. Consider how many documents written in English include the phrase, ‘I am writing in English’! It is unthinkable and absolute proof of the inspired origins of this book.”

He noted that he was one of the few people in the world with any knowledge of old Egyptian writing. He was certainly the only person who was also fluent in Afrikaans and English. He indicated that when a verse would not translate directly into English, he used Egyptian as a tool to arrive at a correct translation into Afrikaans.

Professor Mijnhardt spoke of many other things regarding the translation of this book and then said, “I do not know what Joseph Smith was before he translated this book, and I do not know what he was afterward, but while he translated this book, he was a prophet of God! I know he was a prophet! I testify to you that he was a prophet while he brought forth this book! He could have been nothing else! No person in 1827 could have done what he did. The science did not exist. The knowledge of ancient Egyptian did not exist. The knowledge of these ancient times and ancient peoples did not exist. The Book of Mormon is scripture. I hope you realize this.”

“I have since been asked to translate the book you call the Doctrine and Covenants. I got part way through and set it down. It is not like the Book of Mormon. Anyone could translate it into Afrikaans. It is not scripture in the same sense that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I declare that the Book of Mormon is of ancient origin, and is scripture of the same caliber as the Old Testament, or for that matter, the New Testament.”

“I have taken this book of scripture, this Book of Mormon, and presented it to my Board of Regents, and urged them to embrace it as scripture. They declined, of course. I took it to the head of our Dutch Reformed Church and demonstrated why the Book of Mormon is scripture, and urged them to at least study it, even if they did not canonize it or even share it with the people of the church. I urged them to just think what having a new and profound book of scripture could mean to the church–to my church, the Dutch Reformed Church. I pointed out that they need not become Mormons, in the same way that they did not need to become Jews to embrace the Old Testament. They considered my presentation for a very few seconds and then rejected it. They next threatened me regarding my belief in the Book of Mormon, threatened my employment, and ejected me from their presence. I am deeply disappointed, but I am not deterred. I will keep promoting this book as scripture for the remainder of my life–simply because it is scripture, and I know it.”

He paused, then added, “I am not a member of your church, and do not expect to become one. I have been asked many times why I have not joined your church, and my answer is because God has not directed me to join you. If He had, I would be standing here as a fellow Mormon. Perhaps my mission in life is better served outside of your church. I haven’t studied your doctrine or your history since Joseph Smith. The only thing I know about you is that you have authentic, ancient scripture in the Book of Mormon, and that all of the world should embrace the Book of Mormon as scripture. It simply can’t be denied. I believe every religion could embrace the Book of Mormon without becoming a Mormon. You probably disagree with that, but it is my present belief, and my message to anyone who will listen.”

I have pondered that experience for half of a century now. I do not know whether Professor Mijnhardt ever joined the Church. I know my memory of his exact words is wanting, but my memory of what I felt and what I knew and how potent it was to hear his testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon is one of those things that I will never forget.

–Brother John

For more accounts from John Pontius’ life, please read “Journey to the Veil”, located here.

* Terri’s note: For anyone interested, the current location of the transcript for the May 14, 1972 Transvaal Stake meeting in Johannesburg is in the Church History Library, call number LR 9256 24, Folder 1.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Interesting Discovery that Resemble Moroni's People

I have been prompted to ponder and learn about blood types. I am Rh Negative and there is so much mystery behind it. I know there is something I am to learn about it that will be very important to me, however most information that exists is plagued with conspiracy theories and ideas that just feel a bit off the beaten path. I truly feel that what I am to learn about it, cannot be found online and will be provided through personal revelation, and that most information currently given is inaccurate.

While sorting through information online, I found a blog that contained this article below. I was able to verify this information and found it very interesting. After reading it, I couldn't help but think about Moroni 9. If you have read the Book of Moroni then you are familiar Moroni's account of the demise of his people. the Nephites (on the American continent). As described earlier by the prophet Nephi, the Nephites were a "fair and delightsome people". 4 Nephi 1:10

Moroni describes their destruction as his people choose wickedness and are no longer protected by the hand of the Lord. Moroni (a righteous prophet) becomes the last surviving Nephite on the run, and dies alone. His people are killed off by the Lamanites.

Here are Moroni's words:

7 And now I write somewhat concerning the sufferings of this people. For according to the knowledge which I have received from Amoron, behold, the Lamanites have many prisoners, which they took from the tower of Sherrizah; and there were men, women, and children.

 8 And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.

 9 And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—

 10 And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.

 11 O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization—

 12 (And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people)

 13 But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination—

 14 How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?

A discovery made in 1911 in Nevada is interestingly similar in description to the description of Moroni's people. Red-headed, fair skinned people who were killed off by Native American coalitions. According to Paiute oral history, the Si-Te-Cah or Sai'i are a legendary tribe of red-haired cannibalistic giants (

Here is the article I pasted:

A cave near Lovelock, Nevada, (about 80 miles north east of the city of Reno in that state) has produced several sets of mummies, bones, and artifacts buried under several layers of bat excrement - the desiccated bodies belonged to a very tall people - with red hair. Once again, only White Nordics fit the bill with regard to stature and hair color.

In fact, red-haired enemies feature in local Indian legends - or what were thought legends until the discovery of the Lovelock mummies. (The locals Indians are the Paiutes, the same ones who object to the scientific investigation of the Spirit Cave Mummy). According to these legends, the red haired enemies centered on these tall troublemakers whom they called the "Si-Te-Cah."

Significantly, the name Si-Te-Cah means "tule eaters" - tule being the fibrous reed which is the base material of the mats in which the Spirit Cave Mummy was buried. Tule is no longer found in the region and was likely imported along with the people who used it.

According to the Paiute, the red-haired peoples were warlike, and a number of the Indian tribes joined together in a long war against them. According to the Indian legend, after a long struggle, a coalition of Indian tribes trapped the remaining Si-Te-Cah in what is now called Lovelock Cave. When they refused to come out, the Indians piled brush before the cave mouth and set it aflame. The Si-Te-Cah were incinerated.

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, daughter of Paiute Chief Winnemucca, related many stories about the Si-Te-Cah in her book "Life Among the Paiutes."

On page 75, she relates: "My people say that the tribe we exterminated had reddish hair. I have some of their hair, which has been handed down from father to son. I have a dress which has been in our family a great many years, trimmed with the reddish hair. I am going to wear it some time when I lecture. It is called a mourning dress, and no one has such a dress but my family."

In 1931, further skeletons were discovered in the Humboldt Lake bed. Eight years later, a mystery skeleton was unearthed on a ranch in the region. In each case, the skeletons were exceptionally tall - much taller than the surrounding Amerinds.

There is a small display on the Si-Te-Cah in the Lovelock museum today, but it ignores the evidence which indicates that the Si-Te-Cah were not Amerinds. The Nevada State Historical Society also displays some artifacts from the cave.


Very interesting indeed! Would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Dream I Just Had

I've made an effort over the last couple of weeks to try to remember my dreams right when I wake up. I then write them down in my phone and search the meanings. I've been finding that the more I do this, the more I am starting to remember, and the more I am noticing answers in my dreams to waking questions.

I've also been experiencing people playing key roles in my dreams whom I believe are my ancestors and angels. They have been teaching me so much and guiding me in clear directions.

The other night I had a dream that really cleared up a situation going on in my present life. I was so grateful for it. The night before I had "gone with my gut" on something that my head told me to leave alone. I wondered later if that was the right choice even though it felt right and I know that going with your feelings always trumps your logic (that's what I teach). Well, my dream confirmed that to me. In fact what was so interesting is that I typed in the word "flower" into the dream dictionary and instead of "flower" coming up, a very specific species of flower came up that I had only heard of a few times in my life. I googled the flower and looked at the image and it was the exact flower in my dream! Someone sure wanted me to find that. As I read the meaning of that flower in the dream dictionary it was spot on to what had just happened the night before.

At the end of the dream, something very interesting happened. I was shown a necklace with something on it that looked like a compass or meter of some sort. I was told that it was a spiritual tool I had been given in Heaven but for some reason, mine hadn't been activated for use on Earth. I was told I needed to activate it.

When I woke up I began to google different kinds of meters and when the image of a barometer came up - that was the one! I had never seen one before until now. It was amazing because a week prior I had been feeling as though there was a storm cloud looming over me for a short while. I couldn't figure out why. I then had a dream that told me exactly why. It was some negative feelings I was harboring about someone in my life that I thought I had let go, but I hadn't. I was able to use the atonement and give those feelings to the Savior. I even made a video about it because it was so profound.

So, the barometer measures pressure. It can show us when storm clouds are moving in or when sunshine is on the way. Mine hadn't been working and I wasn't able to detect the change in pressure (spiritually speaking). I was taken by complete surprise. It got me thinking that we all have a spiritual barometer that tells us when we are in God's presence and when we have left it. Is there someone or something in your life that you are not at peace with? Your indication will be the peace that you do or do not feel in ALL areas of your life.

The barometer is only a tool for measuring, it's up to you to make the changes in your spiritual weather system by going to the Lord and asking for His help. Only He can remove the clouds and shine His light upon you. Only He can save you from your own spiritual turbulents.

I googled "spiritual barometer" and found many blogs where people have made the same analogy and connection. I am amazed! So, today I prayed to the Lord asking Him to activate my spiritual barometer and you know what? I think He did. :)