On June 7–9, a group of refugees from Myanmar's Karen and Karenni tribes will reenact moments from the Book of Mormon in "Mormon Speaks." With no Church materials translated into their native language, the experience of creating this production has shaped their faith and understanding of God's power and love.
Despite language challenges and cast members living around the Salt Lake Valley with limited transportation, pageant director Susan Roylance called the program "an amazing experience" for the positive impact it's having on cast members.
"We have already seen literal changes in some of their lives — for the good," Roylance said.
Many of the refugees and their families came to Utah in 2007. While the children learned basic English, adults still struggle to speak the language. The Book of Mormon has not yet been translated into their native Karen or Karenni languages, although the LDS Church is in the process of translating the Book of Mormon into Burmese. The church has not published any literature in the Karen or Karenni languages, yet the "high energy" youth are learning the stories through acting, she said.
"While they do not 'know' the Book of Mormon characters they represent, they are anxious to learn and act in the best way," Roylance said.