“A Sunday at Laginha” by César Augusto Medina Fortes

Read the original Portuguese version here. To discuss this and other finalists, visit Mormon Lit Lab.

A Sunday at Laginha

by César Augusto Medina Fortes
translated by Katherine Cowley

As we did every Sunday, my siblings and I rose early and attended church. After church, after eating, we started making our plans, because the afternoon was always reserved for us, the children of the Ribeira Bote and the Ilha de Madeira, to visit Laginha Beach. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do on the Lord’s day, so I would hide from my mother, because if she knew what I planned we would fight about it.

I left to find my friends. There were no boundaries and no rules. We entered the front door of missus Maria of Valentim and left through her back gate, passing through her home to reach Ilha de Madeira—the neighborhood called Island of Timber—where we invited our friends Johny de Carola, Aristides, Tino, Djoy and others. Jair of Fátima always wanted to go with us, but his mother rarely let him. Ivone of missus Ciza was always willing to come and would join the front of our line.

After informing our friends in Ilha de Madeira, it was time to head over to 10th Street. For a shortcut, we would enter the back gate of missus Sabina’s house and leave by the front door, which put us directly on 10th Street. Our families were all friends and we could enter one house or another without problems, as long as we greeted everyone with civility. Civility was something we never lacked, for if we were lacking the adults had permission from our parents to chide us and then we would immediately follow their orders.

On 10th Street we called for them—Paulo of Mr. Jon Bloco, Rogério, Chimaz, Papai, Livramente, Nelsa d’Ya, Valdemar of madame Alice, my brother Joselito, my cousins, the twins Paulo and Jorge, Sílvio, as well as Renato and Dixa of Poia, Djão of madame Linda, Jair, Gui and Paulo of missus Mari of Lurdes, Nelson, Zé and Didi of madame Montinha, Zé of madame Rosário, Ligim of madame Eduina, Ligim of madame Polina, Johny of madame Teresinha, Didi of madame Olívia and many others, the group large and increasing in size as we passed, whistling, by the doors of different families. We had a whistle as a code and when one of us gave the tune, the person inside would return it and quickly open the door. We would all gather together on the street and make sure no one was missing so that we could head to Laginha Beach. Our route took us through the Alto de Sentina, Alto de Mira-mar, Praça Nova, and then to Laginha itself.

On the way we would play games, as all children do, and one of those games was to push. Near the restaurant called Sodade, someone remembered to give a push to Jorge of Mana and he went down with such force that he fell against a gate. The gate opened, and as the house had a few steps, Jorge tumbled down the stairs until he stopped in the middle of the backyard. The lady of the house was startled by the noise and went at once to help Jorge get up, and she asked him if he was alright. Jorge of Mana, as he was clever, said that he might soon faint. The poor lady went quickly and brought him a sweet bread and a cup of juice. Jorge ate and licked his lips. Once we were out of there Zé of missus Montinha said, “Caramba. Jorge is lucky even in a fall. Seriously.”

And so we continued on our path to Laginha. We passed the Superinha factory where they make a soda that, for us, was the best in the world. Near the technical school, we discovered a date tree bursting with dates, yellow and sweet, ready for us to eat. It was time for our fruit shooters, Valdemar and Tchitchi. They picked up stones and threw them into the bunches, and then those that were youngest of our group picked up the dates that fell on the ground and distributed them to everyone. From there, we caught sight of the beautiful sea of the Laginha. But the walk from there to the beach was a torment. The tar seemed to melt in the hot sun, and we, with our bare feet, would always skip across because of how it burned us. There were times when some of us ended up with blisters on the soles of our feet.

Finally, we would arrive at the much desired Laginha beach. Everyone ran for the water. We competed, diving and jumping in the waves. After, we went to our “diving board”—the jumping point at the Stone Pier. We would make a line and all of us would jump and when we dove into the water, it was mandatory to swim through the tunnel under the dock. João was almost always the first to pass through it and the others would follow him. When we reached the other side, we arrived almost out of breath, but happy. I remember there was one time when we all traversed the tunnel, but when we rose out of the water we were missing someone, Nelsa d’Ya. Valdemar quickly dove down and went to find him. He had been stuck in a narrow part of the tunnel, for Nelsa d’Ya was a big guy.

Once we had gotten over our scare and we had Nelsa d’Ya on dry land, we began to laugh until we fell onto the sand. As children, we found it a great joke. Funny things always happened to Nelsa d’Ya. After spitting up some water, he soon began to do somersaults, something he was very good at.

In the meantime, Kunhanha had the crazy idea of scaling the Electra sea water abstraction plant to the top of the tower, where we could jump into the water. Climbing up wasn’t difficult. The older ones helped the younger ones until we’d all succeeded at reaching the roof of the building, which must have been around ten meters high. From that summit, we could take in the whole of Laginha beach, which was full of people. They looked like a group of little ants stretched out across the beach. We could see the entire Bay of Mindelo and some ships unloading winter corn, coming from the United States and going directly to the silos of MOAVE, where it would later be distributed to the population fleeing famine. The sun was strong as it hit our skin, but we could not remove our feet from that rooftop, with a view that would please any tourist and for us was free.

After all the good parts, now came the bad part. Climbing down the side of the building was impossible. The only way off was to jump into the water. From the top, we could see the water down below and I was engulfed in terror. We all regretted accepting the challenge. And I kept asking God to help us in this difficult moment. No one took the first jump. We were all afraid. And suddenly we heard a noise in the water: “Tchiluf.” We went to see; it was João who had taken the leap. And Zé of madame Montinha yelled out, “What a rogue!” And João yelled from below, “The water is good and warm. You can jump.”

And from that moment, they began jumping, one after another, like dolphins. Only Sílvio and I stayed there, too afraid to jump. Our fear was if there was any iron in the water we would be impaled, for we had dived there earlier and we knew that in this section there were many iron plates and scraps on the sea floor. We didn’t want to risk it. We stayed there, watching our friends, down below, playing in the water, and we, trapped by fear on top of the Laginha water plant. The sun began to set behind Monte Cara and night covered Laginha beach. Now we could see almost nothing, from there at the top.

It was then that we heard a voice, it was Didi of madame Montinha shouting, “César of madame Mari D’Vinha and Sílvio of madame Rosa, set aside your fear. You have to jump. If you don’t, you will be left here alone on the beach of Laginha.”

In that moment, we realized it was “now or never.” We took each other’s hands, we closed our eyes, we said a prayer to God that he would protect us, and, screaming, we leapt out, cannonball style. We abode in the air for an eternity before we reached the water. We hit our “tails” with great force on the water. You see, it was literally a leap in the dark. It was a lonely affliction. We swam and reached our friends, who had already been waiting for us for quite some time. And we, full of pain in our butts, were still to be ridiculed. They rolled on the sand with so much laughter, every single time they saw us walking with our hands on our behinds, rubbing at the pain from the cannonball jump.

And we set off towards Ribeira Bote, our beloved neighborhood. We entered our home quietly, afraid to take a beating from our mother. She must have been very worried with all of life’s problems, for she did not even notice us. Which was just as well, for we didn’t have any more space for any more smacks, with the size of the pain we already felt. We took saltpeter, we ate our dinner, and we went to sleep dreaming of Laginha.

“Um Domingo na Laginha” por César Augusto Medina Fortes

Read the English translation here.

Um Domingo na Laginha

César Augusto Medina Fortes

Como todos os domingos fazíamos, eu e os meus irmãos, levantamos cedo e fomos à igreja. Depois da igreja, almoçamos e começamos logo a preparar porque a tarde era sempre reservada para nós, as crianças de Ribeira Bote e ilha de Madeira, para irmos á praia da Laginha. Eu sabia que não era a coisa certa a fazer no dia do Senhor, por isso, ia escondido da minha mãe, por que se soubesse iria brigar comigo.

Saí a procura dos meus amigos. Não havia fronteiras e nem proibições. Entrávamos na porta da frente de nhá Maria de Valentim e saíamos no portão, passando assim para Ilha de Madeira para convidar os nossos colegas Johny de Carola, Aristides, Tino, Djoy e outros. Jair de Fátima sempre ficava com vontade de ir connosco, mas a mãe raramente o deixava. Ivone de Nhá Ciza, estava sempre disposta e ia na linha da frente.

Depois de avisar os amigos na Ilha da Madeira, era hora de passar para a rua 10. Nós, para encurtar o caminho entrávamos logo no portão da casa de Nhá Sabina e saíamos na porta de frente, que dava direto na rua 10. As nossas famílias eram todas amigas e podíamos entrar na casa uns dos outros sem problemas, desde que cumprimentássemos com educação. Educação, era coisa que não nos faltava, porque se faltasse, também os adultos tinham autorização dos nossos pais, de nos repreender e nós logo acatávamos as suas ordens.

Na rua 10, chamávamos, o Paulo do senhor Jon Bloco, o Rogério, Chimaz, Papai, Livramente, Nelsa d’Ya, Valdemar de dona Alice, o meu irmão Joselito, os meus primos, os gémeos Paulo e Jorge, Sílvio, também o Renato e Dixa de Poia, Djão de dona Linda, Jair, Gui e Paulo de Nhá Mari de Lurdes, Nelson, Zé e Didi de dona Montinha, Zé de dona Rosário, Ligim de dona Eduina, Ligim de dona Polina, Johny de dona Teresinha, Didi de dona Olívia e muitos outros, pois, o grupo era grande e aumentava a medida que passávamos na porta de uma família e íamos assobiando. Nós tínhamos um assobio como código e bastava um de nós dar o assobio, que o outro respondia de lá dentro de casa e rapidamente abria a porta. Todos nós juntávamos na rua e víamos se alguém estava a faltar, para podermos rumar a praia da Laginha. O nosso trajeto era Alto de Sentina, Alto de Mira-mar, Praça Nova, Laginha direto.

No caminho fazíamos as brincadeiras que todas as crianças fazem e empurrar era uma delas. Perto do restaurante Sodade, alguém se lembrou de dar um empurrão no Jorge de Mana e ele foi com tanta força que bateu num portão. O portão abriu-se e como a casa tinha alguns degraus, o Jorge continuou a rolar escada abaixo até parar no meio do quintal da casa. A dona da casa assustou-se com o barulho e foi logo ajudar o Jorge a se levantar, perguntando-lhe se estava tudo bem. Jorge de Mana, como era esperto, ele disse logo que estava a sentir que iria desmaiar-se em breve. A coitada da senhora foi rapidamente e trouxe-lhe um pão com doce e um copo de sumo. O Jorge comeu e lambeu os lábios. E de lá de fora o Zé de nhá Montinha retorquiu logo: – “Caramba. O Jorge tem sorte até numa queda. Sinceramente”.

E lá continuamos a nossa caminhada para a Laginha. Passamos na fábrica de Supirinha, onde tinha um refrigerante, que para nós, era o melhor do mundo. Perto da Escola Técnica, encontramos um tamareira carregadinha com tâmaras amarelinhas, doces, prontas para serem consumidas por nós. E aí entrava os nossos atiradores de serviço, Valdemar e Tchitchi. Apanhavam pedras e atiravam para os cachos e nós os mais novos, apanhávamos o que caia no chão e distribuíamos para todos. Dali, avistávamos o lindo mar da Laginha. Mas andar de ali até chegar a praia, era um calvário. O alcatrão parecia que derretia-se com o sol quente e nós com os pés descalços íamos sempre a saltar, porque queimava muito. Tinha vez, que alguns de nós ficávamos com bolhas na sola dos pés.

Por fim, chegávamos à tão desejada praia da Laginha. Todos corriam para a água. Fazíamos concurso de mergulho e de salto nas ondas. Depois íamos até o trampolim na Pedra de Doca. Fazíamos filas e todos saltavam e quando mergulhávamos, era obrigatório passar no túnel por debaixo do trampolim. O João quase sempre era o primeiro a passar e os outros o seguiam. E quando saíamos do outro lado, chegávamos quase sem fôlego, mas felizes. Lembro-me, que certa vez, todos nós atravessámos o túnel, mas quando subimos, estava a faltar alguém, o Nelsa d’Ya. Valdemar rapidamente mergulhou e foi buscá-lo. Ele tinha ficado entalado numa parte estreita do túnel, pois, Nelsa d’Ya era corpulento.

Depois de termos ultrapassado o susto e com o Nelsa d’Ya em terra firme, começamos a rir até cair na areia. Como crianças, achamos aquilo com muita piada. Sempre as coisas engraçadas aconteciam era com o Nelsa d’Ya. Depois de ter cuspido alguma água, ele logo começou a dar saltos mortais, coisa que ele era muito bom a fazer.

Nesse meio tempo, Kunhanha teve a maluca ideia de subirmos na casinha de captação de água do mar da Electra e dali de cima de uma torre, fazermos saltos para a água. Subir não foi difícil. Os mais velhos foram ajudando os mais novos até que todos conseguiram atingir o terraço do edifício, que deve ter por aí, os seus dez metros de altura. De lá de cima, contemplamos toda a praia da Laginha, cheia de gente. Pareciam formiguinhas estendidas na praia. Pudemos ver toda a baia do Mindelo com o seu Porto Grande e alguns navios descarregando milho de segunda, vindo dos Estados Unidos e que iam diretamente para os silos da MOAVE que depois era distribuída para a população para escapar da fome. Sentíamos o sol forte na nossa pele, mas não arredávamos pé daquela esplanada que qualquer turista gostaria de ter e para nós era de graça.

Depois de toda a parte boa, agora vinha a parte má. Descer do edifício era impossível. A única forma era saltar para água. De lá de cima, víamos a água lá em baixo e metia muito medo. Todos arrependemos de ter aceite o desafio. E eu sempre pedindo à Deus que nos ajudasse naquele momento difícil. Ninguém dava o primeiro salto. Todos nós estávamos com medo. E de repente, eis que ouvimos um barulho na água: – “Tchiluf”. Fomos ver, era o João que tinha saltado. E o Zé de dona Montinha gritou logo: “ah infame?!”. E o João gritou de lá de baixo:-“Água está muito boa e quentinha. Podem saltar”.

E a partir daquele momento, começaram a saltar um atrás do outro como golfinhos. Somente eu e o Sílvio ficamos lá, com muito medo de saltar. O nosso medo, era se tivesse algum ferro e nos espetasse, pois tínhamos mergulhado antes e sabíamos que naquela zona tinha muitas chapas e pedaços de ferro no fundo do mar. Não quisemos arriscar. Ficamos lá, vendo os nossos amigos, lá em baixo, brincando na água e nós presos de medo, em cima da casa d’água na Laginha. O sol começou a pôr-se atrás do Monte Cara e a noite cobriu a praia da Laginha. Já não dava para ver quase nada, de lá de cima.

Foi então que ouvimos uma voz, era Didi de dona Montinha gritando:- “Ó César de dona Mari D’Vinha e Sílvio de dona Rosa, deixem de medo. Vocês têm que saltar. Se não, vão ficar aqui sozinhos na praia da Laginha”.

Naquele momento, percebemos que era “agora ou nunca”. Seguramos as mãos um do outro, fechamos os olhos, fizemos uma oração à Deus que nos protegesse e gritando, lá fomos nós num salto no estilo “bomba”. Demoramos uma eternidade no ar até chegarmos na água. Na queda batemos com o “rabo” com muita força na água. Pois, foi literalmente um salto no escuro. Foi uma dor só. Nadamos e fomos ter com os nossos amigos, que já estavam à nossa espera por muito tempo. E nós, cheios de dor no rabo, ainda fomos troçados. Rolaram na areia de tanto rir, cada vez que nos viam a andar com a mão na parte de trás, esfregando a dor do salto “bomba”.

E partimos em direção á Ribeira Bote, a nossa querida zona. Chegamos de mansinho em casa, com medo de levar uma surra da nossa mãe. Talvez preocupada com os problemas da vida, ela nem deu por nós. Ainda bem, porque já não tínhamos mais espaço para levar umas latadas, tamanho era a dor que ainda sentíamos. Tirámos a salitre, jantámos e lá fomos dormir sonhando com a Laginha.

“The Wall of Time” by Camila Andrea Fernández

Read the original Spanish version here. To discuss this and other finalists, visit Mormon Lit Lab.

The Wall of Time

by Camila Andrea Fernández
translated by Vilo Westwood

“Children, what is the significance of your name?  Does it come from some ancestor, like a grandfather or grandmother?” the primary teacher asked the children.  Yuan did not know why he was named, which made him curious. That Sunday afternoon, he asked his grandfather.

“One of our ancestors was named Chu Yuan-Chang.  He was an emperor, founder of the Ming dynasty,” said his grandfather. When he saw Yuan’s excitment, he continued. “The Ming, in the 15th and 16th centuries, were those who erected the Wall of Ten Thousand Li.”

“Why did they decide to build the Wall?” asked Yuan.  The story had captured his attention so much that his noodles were getting cold.

“Well, at that time, battles were so common and different states built walls to defend themselves.  When the empire unified, the Ming dynasty made all the little walls into one, and thus they created the Great Wall.”

“Today in Primary they told us that we had to get to know our ancestors, that we needed to make a family tree,” said the boy with a distracted air while he ate his noodles.

His grandfather sat thinking a moment and then continued eating.

That night, Yuan got ready to go to bed and his grandfather went to see him in his room.

“Have you heard the legend of the Wall of Time?” the grandfather asked with the same tone of mystery he used when he was going to tell a story.  Yuan immediately raised his eyes with the sparkle of a child full of curiosity.

Tian, his grandfather, started the tale: “A long time ago, when people still wrote their genealogies in enormous leather books, one man hid his genealogy between the rocks of the Great Wall with the intention of erasing his name from history and starting over.  Nevertheless, his ancestors saw his actions and did not want to permit this, such that the Creators, the Gods, decided that from that moment, the Wall would be a place where they would keep records of all the ancestors of all people, including the man who had hidden his name there.  Although the legend also says that you can’t see the change in the Wall of Time—as it had been called from that time forward—except when there is a planetary conjunction. Only then can the names of the ancestors of those who are present be seen, since it was on just such an occasion that the man hid his genealogy.”

“What’s a planetary conjunction?” Yuan asked.

“It’s when the planets align, so that they seem to be in a straight line in the sky.”

“And when do you think this will happen again?”

“According to some astronomers, the conjunction will happen within 30 days from tomorrow,” said Tian with the same sparkling eyes as his grandson.  “We do not have a Book of Memory for our family, because it has been lost with time, so that I don’t know the complete genealogy of our family . . .   but in the Wall of Time surely you will see it.”

“And how is it that we can see our ancestors?”

“Some say that they appear to us as spirits. Others say they are projected, like a movie, over the stones of the wall. But no one has ever told what they saw, and the rumors are stronger than the true stories.”

“We could go, right? For Christmas?” Yuan said excitedly.

“Of course we’re going to go!  And on the way we’ll visit your aunt,” answered his grandfather.

For Yuan, the month flew past, and the trip to Peking was the longest he could have experienced:  he slept, ate, and slept again, until at last they arrived.  The city was larger than Yuan had imagined, although it seemed a little like the city where he lived.  The buildings he could see were gigantic.  With his aunt they went to visit the most famous places of Peking:  The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, until it got dark and they returned to their house.

“We’re going to spend Christmas with Aunt and then go to see the wall, all right?” Tian said to his grandson, who smiled in response.

The aunt made all kinds of foods for Christmas dinner and they ate happily.  After the food, they sang “Silent Night” next to the window, and afterward they went outside to see the artificial lights.  They watched the stars until Yuan went to sleep, then Tian picked him up and took him to his room.  The following morning, they ate breakfast and Tian expained to his grandson when they were going to the Great Wall.

“So, tomorrow morning we will go to the Wall of Ten Thousand Li, and at night we will wait to see what happens.”  Yuan got very excited: all that day he was preparing things, packing and unpacking the bag he was going to take.

The day they were going to leave, they said goodbye to Yuan’s aunt and took the bus to the Wall of a Ten Thousand Li.  When they arrived, both were surprised by how big it was.  The staircase they were supposed to go up seemed to have no end, but still, they climbed.  When they arrived at one of the towers, they looked and couldn’t see an end to the left or the right.  They spent the whole day long exploring the Great Wall, until night fell, and then they sat in one of the towers to wait.

Tian had already been asleep for some time when Yuan heard a noise outside the tower.  He stayed quiet, waiting, listening to the whispering of a breeze, when, through the shadows, an animal appeared:  it had the body of a lion, skin of a fish, and horns of a stag.  Yuan recognized him as the Qilin, one of the mythological beings of Chinese culture.  The being came slowly closer and after smelling it, licked his hand.  Suddenly everything was very confused: the stars began to whirl and the Wall moved along its length like a serpent.  Yuan fell on his back, and with his sight fixed on the heavens, he saw the planets aligned, the conjunction, and then he fainted.  When he woke he saw the same being, the Qilin, at his side, observing him fixedly.

“What are you doing here, child?” said a nearby voice.  Yuan looked over and recognized a soldier.  The man extended his hand and got up with a jump.  “Get to the tower right now!” he said and pushed him toward the tower.

Yuan looked around right away and saw that he was surrounded by soldiers. A torrential rain was soaking his skin and he felt disoriented, which got worse when he arrived at the tower and didn’t see his grandfather laying there.  He saw a rock extending over his head, which gave protection from the enemy army’s catapults, and saw various soldiers crouching on the wall shooting arrows.  He snuggled into one of the corners of the tower and observed the same scene for hours until a man approached, bent down and gave him a plate of food.

“Hello, little one.  I am Dalai.  What’s your name?” he asked in a sweet voice.

“I am Yuan, sir.”

“I’m going to take you to the house,” the man—Dalai—responded. Dalai went away and, a few moments later, came back with a bag and signaled to Yuan to follow him.  The Qilin was no longer there.

Yuan followed him through underground passageways, until they arrived at a street surrounded by pastures.  They did not talk on the way, and when they had spent several hours and Yuan wanted to fall defeated onto the field, the man stopped.  They slept a little and then continued the journey through another day.  Then they arrived at an enormous complex, the Forbidden City—but were not stopped. Soon they entered a grand palace, called the Palace of Supreme Harmony.  Dalai took Yuan through different hallways toward a big room.

“This is your room.  You will stay here until I come to get you.  You can bathe and sleep a little,” said Dalai, then he went away.  Yuan bathed and fell exhausted on his bed.

The next day he was brought to a gigantic room, where there was a throne and, sitting on it, a man with a long, white mustache and beard.  Dalai knelt down and bowed.  Yuan copied the gesture and then was introduced.

“Emperor Hongwu, I present to you someone who appeared after the rain: Yuan.”  The emperor, with the dignified posture of a king, was not disturbed during the presentation.

“How did you come to the Wall?” the Emperor asked Yuan.

“I arrived with the Qilin, Emperor.”  The Emperor was surprised at this answer and asked him to tell more.  Yuan told the story, and when he had finished, the Emperor sat stunned.

“You realize you have traveled through time, right, boy?” Dalai asked him when he took him back to his room.  Yuan kept his gaze on the floor, absorbing what had happened.

“How am I going to get back?” he asked, confused.

“I know how you will go,” said a trembling voice from the door.  It was an ancient woman next to the door. “You came with a purpose—to get to know your ancestors, right?  Then what you will do is come to know them.  You will start tomorrow morning in the library.”

“But we don’t have a book of genealogy,” said Yuan.

“You do here,” responded the old woman.

The next morning Yuan went to the library and found the old woman seated with an old, thick book in front of her.  They began to read name by name, from the parents of the emperor and his forefathers, until they found blank pages.

“What are these pages?” asked Yuan.

“These pages are those that have not yet been written, they are the ones our descendants will write.  They are those you will write.”

“But if we don’t have this book, who will remain to do it?”

“Don’t you wonder why you came to this time period?” asked the old woman. But when Yuan turned to look at her, she had vanished.

At lunch Yuan got to know the son of the Emperor, a serious and cold man.  They spoke little and later the man got up and left.  Afterward they saw him riding toward the Wall.  Dalai took Yuan to the Wall and when they were about to arrive, the boy saw a man hiding a book in the tower where he had been with his grandfather.  It was the man of the legend.  Yuan called to him from afar, and the man turned, startled, and let the book drop.  The man tried to find it, but it was in vain—in the darkness of the night he couldn’t see, so he got down from the wall and fled without Yuan being able to stop him.

When Yuan got to the tower, he looked until he found the book and saw it—without doubt, this was the book of his family.  He took it between his hands with the intention of returning it, but then he said, “How will I go back to my house if not today?” He thought for some minutes, and at last decided that he thought it would be better to return to the palace to return the book of genealogies, although it would stay there forever.

When they returned, the old woman was waiting for them in the doorway, and with open arms and a smile, took the book and replaced it in the library.  Later, they were in the interior garden of the palace, where they found the Qilin, who walked beside the old woman.

“Can you take me home?” Yuan asked the woman.

“I can’t, but he can,” said the woman, pointing to the animal.

“Thank you.”

“Thank you, for bringing us the Book of Memory.  Don’t forget me.  My name is Chen, and I am the mother of the Emperor.”

Then, the animal approached and licked the boy’s hand.  The stars started to whirl and Yuan fainted.  When he woke up he found himself in his house—as his grandfather was telling the legend.

“And thanks to this boy, who brought back the book, the Gods decided that since this time, the Wall would be a place where all the genealogies of all people would be recorded,” said Tian, finishing his tale.

“What was the boy called?”

“The legend names him He-who-appeared-after-the-rain,” but some call him “the angel of the Wall.” 

Yuan laughed and went to sleep.

“La Muralla del Tiempo” de Camila Andrea Fernández

Read the English translation here.

La Muralla del Tiempo

Camila Andrea Fernández

—Niños, ¿qué significado tiene su nombre?, ¿proviene de algún antepasado, como un abuelo o abuela? —Preguntó la maestra de primaria a los niños. Yuan no sabía por qué se llamaba así, lo que le dio curiosidad y le preguntó a su abuelo ese mismo domingo al mediodía.

—Uno de nuestros antepasados se llamó Chu Yuan-Chang. Fue un emperador, fundador de la dinastía Ming. —Dijo su abuelo, que, viendo el rostro apasionado del niño, prosiguió— Los Ming, en los siglos XV y XVI, fueron los que erigieron el Muro de los Diez Mil Li.

— ¿Por qué decidieron construir el Muro? —Preguntó Yuan. La historia había captado su atención a tal punto que se le enfriaban los tallarines.

—Bueno, en esa época, las batallas eran algo común, y los diferentes estados construyeron murallas para defenderse. Cuando el imperio se unificó, la dinastía Ming hizo que todas las pequeñas murallas constituyeran una sola, y así se creó el Muro.

—Hoy en la Primaria nos dijeron que teníamos que conocer a nuestros antepasados; que teníamos que hacer el árbol familiar. —Dijo el niño con aire distraído mientras comía los fideos. Su abuelo se quedó pensando un momento, y siguió comiendo.

En la noche, Yuan se preparó para dormir, y su abuelo fue a verlo a su habitación.

— ¿Alguna vez escuchaste la leyenda de la Muralla del Tiempo? —Dijo su abuelo con el mismo tono de misterio que usaba cuando estaba por contar alguna historia. Yuan enseguida levantó los ojos con el brillo típico de un niño lleno de curiosidad. Tian, su abuelo, comenzó el relato: —Hace mucho tiempo, cuando las personas aún escribían sus líneas genealógicas en enormes libros de cuero, un hombre, escondió su genealogía entre las rocas del Gran Muro con la intención de borrar su nombre de la historia y comenzar de nuevo. Sin embargo, sus ancestros vieron sus actos y no quisieron permitirlo, por lo que los Creadores, los Dioses, decidieron que desde ese momento, esa Muralla sería un lugar donde quedaran grabados todos los antepasados de todas las personas, incluyendo al hombre que había escondido su nombre allí. Aunque hay un punto clave en esta leyenda, porque no todas las noches se puede observar este cambio en la Muralla del Tiempo, como se le había llamado desde allí en adelante; sólo cuando ocurre la conjunción planetaria se puede observar a los antepasados de quien esté presente allí, ya que fue justo en una ocasión como esa cuando aquel hombre escondió su genealogía.

— ¿Qué es una conjunción planetaria? —Preguntó interesado su nieto.

—Es cuando los planetas se alinean, de modo que se ven todos en una línea recta en el cielo.

— ¿Y cuándo crees que pase eso de nuevo?

—Según algunos astrónomos, la conjunción pasará dentro de treinta días a partir de mañana. —Dijo Tian con los mismos ojos brillantes que su nieto. —Nosotros no tenemos el Libro de Memorias de nuestra familia, porque se perdió hace tiempo, así que no conozco la genealogía completa de nuestra familia… pero en la Muralla del Tiempo seguramente puedas verla.

—Y, ¿cómo es que podemos ver a nuestros antepasados?

—Algunos dicen que se nos aparecen como espíritus, otros dicen que se proyectan como una película sobre las piedras de la muralla, pero nunca logran contarlo, y los rumores son más fuertes que las historias verídicas.

— ¿Podríamos ir, no? Para navidad. —Dijo emocionado Yuan.

— ¡Vamos a ir! Además, así visitamos a tu tía. —Respondió su abuelo.

Para Yuan, el mes pasó volando; y el viaje hasta Pekín fue lo más largo que podría haber experimentado: durmió, comió, y volvió a dormir, hasta que al fin llegaron. La ciudad era más grande de lo que Yuan había imaginado; aunque se parecía bastante a la ciudad donde vivía él. Los edificios eran a su vista gigantescos. Con su tía fueron a visitar los lugares más famosos de Pekín: La Ciudad Prohibida, el Templo del Cielo, hasta que oscureció y volvieron a la casa.

—Vamos a pasar la navidad con la tía y luego vamos a ir al Muro, ¿está bien? —Le dijo Tian a su nieto, quien sonrió como respuesta.

La tía hizo cantidad de comidas para la cena de Navidad, por lo que cenaron felices. Luego de la comida, cantaron “noche de luz” junto a la ventana, y después fueron afuera a ver los fuegos artificiales. Miraron las estrellas hasta que Yuan se durmió; entonces Tian lo alzó y lo llevó a su habitación. A la mañana siguiente desayunaron y Tian le explicó a su nieto cuándo iban a ir al gran Muro.

—Entonces, pasado mañana vamos a irnos al Muro de los Diez Mil Li, y a la noche esperaremos a ver qué pasa. —Yuan se emocionó y todo aquel día estuvo preparando cosas, armando y desarmando el bolso que iba a llevar.

El día en que iban a partir, se despidieron de la tía de Yuan y tomaron el colectivo hasta el Muro de los Diez Mil Li. Cuando llegaron, ambos se sorprendieron de cuán grande era: La escalera que debían subir parecía no tener fin, pero aun así la subieron. Llegaron a una de las torres y observaron: no tenía fin ni a la izquierda ni a la derecha. Pasaron el día entero recorriendo la gran muralla, hasta que llegó la noche, entonces se sentaron en una de las torres a esperar.

Tian ya se había dormido hacía tiempo cuando Yuan escuchó un ruido afuera de la torre. Se quedó quieto, esperando, escuchando cualquier susurro del viento, cuando por el umbral apareció un animal: tenía cuerpo de león, piel de pez y cuernos de ciervo. Yuan lo reconoció como el Qilin, uno de los seres mitológicos de la cultura China. El ser se le acercó lentamente y luego de olerlo, lamió su mano. De pronto todo el entorno se volvió confuso, las estrellas empezaron a girar, y la Muralla a lo largo se movía como una serpiente. Yuan cayó de espaldas y, con la vista fija en el cielo, vio los planetas alineados, la conjunción; entonces se desmayó. Cuando despertó vio al mismo ser, el Qilin, a su lado observándolo fijamente.

— ¿Qué haces aquí, niño? —Dijo una voz cercana. Yuan observó y reconoció a un soldado. Éste extendió un brazo y lo incorporó de un salto. — ¡Vete a la torre ahora mismo! — Dijo y lo empujó hacia la torre.

Yuan de pronto se vio rodeado de soldados, con una lluvia torrencial mojándolo y una confusión que empeoró cuando llegó a la torre y no vio a su abuelo acostado. Vio una roca pasando sobre su cabeza que provenía de una de las catapultas del ejército enemigo y a varios soldados agazapados en la muralla tirando flechas. Se acurrucó en una de las esquinas de la torre y observó la misma escena durante horas hasta que un hombre se acercó, se agachó, y le dio un plato de comida.

—Hola pequeño, soy Dalai. ¿Cómo te llamas? —Preguntó con voz dulce.

—Me llamo Yuan, señor.

—Te voy a llevar a casa. —Respondió y se fue. Al poco tiempo volvió con una bolsa e hizo que lo siguiera. El Qilin ya no estaba.

Yuan lo siguió por pasadizos bajo tierra, hasta que llegaron a un camino rodeado de pastizales. No hablaron durante todo el camino, y cuando ya habían pasado algunas horas y Yuan quería caer rendido en el pasto, el hombre paró. Durmieron un poco y luego prosiguieron el viaje durante otro día. Entonces llegaron a un complejo enorme, la Ciudad Prohibida; aunque no se detuvieron y entraron a un gran palacio, llamado el Palacio de la Suprema Armonía. Lo llevó por distintos corredores hasta una gran habitación.

—Ésta es tu habitación. Te quedarás aquí hasta que venga a buscarte. Puedes bañarte y dormir un poco. —Dijo el hombre y se retiró. Yuan se bañó y cayó rendido en su lecho.

Al día siguiente lo llevaron a un salón gigante, donde había un trono y sentado en él, un hombre con barba y bigote largo y blanco. Dalai se inclinó y lo reverenció, Yuan lo copió y luego fue presentado.

—Emperador Hongwu, le presento a aquél que apareció desde la lluvia, Yuan. —El emperador, con un porte digno de un rey, no se inmutó ante tal presentación.

— ¿Cómo llegaste al Muro? —Le preguntó el emperador a Yuan.

—Llegué con el Qilin, emperador. —El emperador se asombró con tal respuesta, y pidió que le cuente más. Yuan le contó toda la historia, y cuando hubo terminado, el emperador se quedó anonadado.

—Te das cuenta que has viajado en el tiempo, ¿verdad, muchacho? — Le preguntó Dalai cuando lo llevó de nuevo a la habitación. Yuan se quedó mirado el suelo, asimilando todo lo que había pasado.

— ¿Cómo voy a volver? —Le preguntó, confundido.

—Yo sé cómo volverás. —Dijo una voz temblorosa que venía desde la puerta. Era una anciana que estaba junto a la puerta. —Viniste con un propósito: conocer a tus antepasados, ¿cierto? Entonces lo que debes hacer es conocerlos. Empezarás mañana por la mañana en la biblioteca.

—Pero no tenemos un libro de genealogía. —Dijo Yuan.

—Aquí sí. —Respondió la anciana.

A la mañana siguiente Yuan fue a la biblioteca y encontró a la anciana sentada con un libro grueso y viejo ante ella. Comenzaron a leer nombre por nombre, desde los padres del emperador y sus ascendientes, hasta que encontraron páginas en blanco.

— ¿Qué pasa con estas páginas? —Preguntó Yuan.

—Estas páginas son las que todavía no se escriben, son las que nuestros sucesores escribirán. Son las que tú escribirás.

—Pero si nosotros no tenemos este libro, ¿quién se lo quedó?

—No te preguntaste ¿por qué volviste a esta época? —Inquirió la anciana. Cuando Yuan volteó para mirarla, se había esfumado.

En el almuerzo, Yuan conoció al hijo del emperador, un hombre serio y frío. Hablaron poco y luego el hombre se levantó y se retiró. Después se lo vio cabalgando hacia el Muro. Dalai llevó a Yuan a la gran muralla, y cuando estaban por llegar, el niño vio a un hombre que estaba escondiendo un libro, en la torre donde él había estado con su abuelo. Era el hombre de la leyenda. Yuan le gritó de lejos y el hombre se dio vuelta, pero se asustó y dejo caer el libro. Intentó buscarlo pero fue en vano, porque en la oscuridad de la noche no pudo ver, por lo que se descolgó de la muralla y huyó sin que Yuan pudiera detenerlo. Cuando llegó a la torre, buscó hasta que encontró el libro y lo vio: sin dudas, era el libro de su familia. Lo tomó entre sus manos con la intención de devolverlo, pero luego pensó: “¿Cómo volveré a casa si no es hoy?”. Pensó durante unos minutos, y al fin tomo la decisión que creyó mejor: regresaría al palacio a devolver el libro de genealogías, aunque él tuviera que quedarse allí para siempre.

Cuando volvieron, la anciana estaba esperándolo en la puerta, y con brazos abiertos y una sonrisa, tomó y guardó nuevamente el libro en la biblioteca. Luego fueron al jardín interior del palacio, donde encontraron al Qilin, quien corrió al lado de la anciana.

— ¿Puedes llevarme a casa?

—Yo no, pero él sí. —Dijo señalando al animal.

—Gracias.

—Gracias a ti, por traer a nosotros el Libro de Memorias. No me olvides. Mi nombre es Chen, y soy la madre del emperador.

Entonces, el animal se acercó y lamió la mano del niño. Las estrellas comenzaron a girar y Yuan se desmayó. Cuando despertó se encontraba en su casa, y su abuelo le estaba contando la leyenda.

—Y gracias a este niño, que devolvió el libro, los Dioses decidieron que desde ese momento, esa Muralla sería un lugar donde quedarían grabadas las genealogías de todas las personas. —Dijo Tian, terminando el relato.

— ¿Cómo se llamaba el niño?

—La leyenda lo nombra como “aquél que apareció desde la lluvia”, pero algunos le dicen “el ángel del Muro”.

Yuan se rio y se durmió.

“TIME a particle” by Citlalli H. Xochitiotzin

Read the original Spanish version here. To discuss this and other finalists, visit Mormon Lit Lab.

TIME a particle

by Citlalli H. Xochitiotzin
translated by Elayne Petterson

A thirty-three-year-old man, in extreme weather, deserted, fasting, scarce water, scant food, he has a perfect body, it doesn’t matter if he understood the signs beforehand, the pain he feels overwhelms his whole imagination, it is immense, it started in the first hours of the day. Still bewildered in his prayer he asks, without losing consciousness, he looks at the scarlet color of a drop of blood on the palm of his hand, it is the picture of the shadow of suffering. The trunks of the olive trees shudder, the leaves of the trees cry with him. Sky and silence are held in a breath. In the distance the stars plead, sparkle, the light accompanies him with expectation. They sense desecration, it fills the bowels of the earth with trembling and he watches the blood fall from his eyes, he observes drop by drop; a kaleidoscope of horror, yells, hunger, anxiety, unrest, thousands of years under the scarlet shadow on Cain’s doorstep; siege. He stops twenty-one centuries later, broken voices in two giant trucks, shrouded with screams they burst, tens of bodies wrapped in black plastic, boys, men, women, the shouting hurts his stomach, he cries, they cry together. The jasmines around them shake, the sky moans, there is no time it’s all the same.

The wind is perfumed when he awakens, the ritual will begin, his atonement. The men sleep through the longest night. Beyond this time the trailers reek, it is the stench of the hyenas, the corpses are multiplying: Africa, Palestine, Syria, Greece, Turkey, the beaches of Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, inside the window of time, no pain will be distant to him.

He looks at his disciples – wake up – wake up, wake up, he utters three times, he continues his walk. The men will awaken, the stars bristling in the darkest night announce the dawn. The prayers intonate piety, it comes to the awareness of every single mountain, rock, river, flower, animal, to every one of the disciples in the coming centuries. A prayer is heard: As you have been faithful…  so the blood of this age will not touch you…

The leaves fall slowly, the sky and the stars have rhythm, the pain shakes everything. It has begun. The men are still sleeping, they will wake up, HE knows, they will wake up.

The blood falls drop by drop to the earth, the birds shiver, the sea murmurs, beyond in another time; The lion next to the lamb, the bear next to the horse, the asp by the child. All pain, hate, impiety would burn the offender, petrify their faces, only the one who listened has his name. However, everyone heard, not everyone listened.

Tonight carries centuries and centuries in every one of his steps. Only the one who sharpened his ear has his name. He walks step by step through the garden, he waits for a kiss on the cheek.

“TIEMPO una partícula” de Citlalli H. Xochitiotzin

Read the English translation here.

TIEMPO una partícula

Citlalli H. Xochitiotzin

Un varón con treinta y tres años, en clima extremo, desierto, ayuno, escasa agua, parco alimento, tiene un cuerpo perfecto, no importa si comprendió con antelación las indicaciones, rebaza toda su imaginación el dolor sentido, es inmenso, inició desde las primeras horas del día. Aún aturdido en su oración se pregunta, sin perder su conciencia, mira sobre la palma de su mano el color purpura de la gota de sangre, es la imagen de la sombra del sufrimiento. Los  troncos de los olivos se estremecen, las hojas de los árboles lloran con él. Cielo y silencio se contienen en un suspiro. En la lejanía las estrellas imploran, tintinean, a la expectativa la luz le acompaña. Perciben la profanación, cubre de temblor las entrañas de la tierra y él mira la sangre caer de sus ojos, gota a gota observa; calidoscopio de horror, gritos, hambre, zozobra, desasosiego, miles de años bajo la sombra purpura en el umbral de Caín; el asedio. Se detiene veintiún siglos más adelante,  quebrantadas voces en dos camiones gigantes, amortajados de gritos irrumpen, decenas de cuerpos envueltos en plásticos negros, niños, hombres, mujeres, el vocerío hiere su ombligo, llora, lloran juntos. Los jazmines de su entorno se sacuden, el cielo gime, no hay tiempo todo es igual.

El viento se perfuma cuando se levanta, iniciará el ritual, su expiación. Los hombres duermen la noche más larga. Más allá de este tiempo los tráileres apestan, es el hedor de las hienas, se multiplican los cadáveres: África, Palestina, Siria, Grecia, Turquía, las playas de Italia, España, Brasil, México, El Salvador, entre el ventanal del tiempo, ningún dolor le será ajeno.

Mira a sus discípulos – despierten- despierten, despierten, pronuncia tres veces, continua su camino. Los hombres despertarán, las estrellas erizadas en la noche más obscura anuncian el amanecer. Las oraciones entonan piedad, llega a la conciencia de cada una de las montañas, rocas, ríos, flores, animales, de cada uno de los discípulos por los siglos por seguir. Se escucha una oración: En vista de que has sido fiel…para que la sangre de esta época no te toque…

Las hojas caen lentas, el cielo y los astros tienen un ritmo, sacude todo dolor. Ha comenzado, aún los hombres están adormilados, despertarán, sabe EL, despertarán.

Cae la sangre gota a gota sobre la tierra, se estremecen las aves, el mar murmura, más allá en otro tiempo; El León junto al cordero, el oso junto al caballo, la áspid junto al niño. Todo dolor, odio, impiedad calcinara a su transgresor, petrificarán sus frentes, sólo el que escuchó tiene su nombre. Más sin embargo todos oyeron, no todos escucharon.

Esta noche tiene siglos y siglos en cada uno de sus pasos… Sólo el que aguzó el oído tiene su nombre. Camina paso a paso por el huerto, espera un beso en la mejilla.

“DOCUMENTARY APPENDIX 1” by Gabriel González Núñez

Read the original Spanish version here. To discuss this and other finalists, visit Mormon Lit Lab.

“DOCUMENTARY APPENDIX 1”

written and translated by Gabriel González Núñez

Omar Ibayú was born at an unknown date before 1800, probably in San Francisco de Borja. The lack of documentary evidence about this early period in his life has created a number of mysteries. This has resulted in several unfounded legends about his youth, e.g., that he often spoke with the deer and birds that lived in the town he grew up in. Fortunately, the period of his life in which he carried out his ministry is well documented. He kept many records himself through letters, journals, reports, and so forth—always in his elegant handwriting, which he probably developed in the years when he is believed to have lived in Purificación. Below, we transcribe a fragment from the very first known account of the Glorious Vision. This text comes from a letter he wrote in 1823 to Father Damian, a Franciscan priest in San Miguel Arcángel with whom Ibayú had, up to that point, a close relationship. The letter clearly shows the profound difference in worldviews that would eventually lead to the Flight of 1825:

“I have always trusted you very much. It is because of it that I am now pointing out to you, with all the brotherly love found in my heart, that the time has come for the people to open their eyes and see all that the Lord wishes to show them. God has always shown kindness to the natives of this land. If, in his infinite wisdom, he has suffered us for a season to be in bondage, it is because he desires to cleanse us so that as his people we can take his sweet gospel to every corner of the earth, in the manner in which he himself commanded his disciples in former days. Wickedness shall not triumph, for the Heavens protect us, and this the natives of Paraná and of other lands will soon know. I myself was once ignorant, having no knowledge of these and many other things, until my kind God in his infinite mercy sent to me three Indians from Colombia. They came to this San Borja reduction after crossing all of Tawantinsuyu.  I cannot reveal their names, but let it suffice to say they were disciples of the Lamb of God.

“On a Monday evening after mass, I was making a harp out cedar when three men of short stature entered the workshop. I could tell they were American Indians, like myself, but their appearance was different from the Spanish or other American natives. They wore long blue ponchos and blue hats. Their espadrilles had no upper so that their soles were held to the foot by means of rope only. Instead of wearing their hair loose, they tied it behind their back in a long and curious braid. They communicated with each other in a language they indicated was the language of the Kichwa. Because they had no knowledge of most languages spoken here, for they knew no Guarani or Portuguese, we spoke in Spanish. They earnestly asked for water, so I took them home and gave them to drink. We conversed for many an hour in a manner such that, had it been heard by others, it would have been considered nonsense. They explained in all manner of details the error in the superstitions of the natives in these lands, who refuse to follow our Lord Jesus Christ and instead worship other gods and fear the spirits. They explained many other things which I have laid before you above, things regarding how the hour of deliverance for the natives of this land is near. Moreover, they invited me to pray in seclusion that I might know the will of the Lord God.

“That same evening they took leave and headed down to the river without revealing their final destination. Many of their words penetrated deep into my heart, affecting my mood for several days. It became difficult for me to give all my might to my duties. I so deeply pondered the words of the three foreigners that I even failed to show for the harvest of lettuce and beets. It was in this manner of circumstances that I decided to retreat into the jungle to pray as commanded. After having walked about a league, I bent my knees and made the sign of the holy cross. Straightway I heard some noises around me, as if a troop of bandeirantes was circling about, and a great fear took hold of my thoughts. I wished to stand but a dark mist came down upon me, and I felt as if bound by heavy chains.

»In terror, I cried out to my dear God that he would have mercy on me. It was then that a marvelous miracle occurred as thousands of white butterflies descended all about me, on the soil, on the shrubs, on the treetops, and with the flapping of their wings, they dispelled the evil mist. I looked up, and I saw two beautiful, glowing men standing in a gigantic burning flame in front of me. One of them, who had flowing black hair and beard, pointed to the other, and speaking in my beautiful Guarani tongue, said to hear his Beloved and Holy Son. The other took a step forward and raised the palms of his hands, showing me the bleeding wounds of his crucifixion. I looked down at his feet, and there too were found the infamous injuries. When I looked at his eyes I noticed his face, his weary face, under the cruel crown of thorns, all of which was greatly moving. In his eyes, I saw pure love as he tenderly told me to renounce my religion and the Mother Church, for her sole purpose was to prepare the hearts of men to receive the true gospel, which would be revealed to me by the mouth of my forefathers. He expounded to me many other things, after which both of them walked away among the tree until I could no longer see them, and all the beautiful butterflies, who had silently witnessed this glorious vision, flew after them. As I write all of this that has happened to me, the recollection of it makes my hand tremble, but not my heart, for it overflows with infinite gratitude due to the greatness and kindness of my dear God and his tender Son, who loved me so much that they appointed me to be their prophet in these Americas!

“The reason I had not yet revealed any of this is because they commanded me to say nothing until divine Providence would make it clear that the time had come to do it. That time is now, as was manifested to me last night, next to my own bed, by another pious and beloved apparition. With your permission, I shall now recount this second vision, and all that in it transpired…”

“ANEXO DOCUMENTAL I” de Gabriel González Núñez

Read the English translation here.

“Anexo Documental I”

Gabriel González Núñez

Omar Ibayú nació en una fecha no determinada anterior a 1800, probablemente en San Francisco de Borja. La escasez documental sobre esta etapa temprana de su vida crea una serie de misterios, que se ve reflejada en las muchas leyendas infundadas sobre su infancia, como aquella que sostiene que solía conversar con los venados y las aves que rondaban el pueblo en que se crio. Por fortuna, la porción de su vida dedicada al ministerio está bien documentada. Él mismo llevó copiosos registros —siempre con su elegante caligrafía, posiblemente adquirida durante los años en que se cree que vivió en Purificación— en forma de cartas, diarios, memorias, etc. A continuación presentamos un fragmento del primer relato de la Aparición Gloriosa del que se tiene constancia. Hemos recogido este material de una carta que envió en enero de 1823 al padre Damián, un franciscano de San Miguel Arcángel con quien hasta ese momento Ibayú llevaba una estrecha relación. Queda de manifiesto en la carta la profunda diferencia de cosmovisiones que desencadenará en la llamada Huida del Año XXV:

«Vmd. me ha inspirado siempre la mayor de las confianzas y es por ello que le señalo con todo el amor fraternal que en mi seno se anida que es tiempo de que los pueblos abran los ojos y conozcan todo cuanto Jehová anhela comunicarles. Dios siempre ha demostrado sus bondades a los naturales de esta tierra, y si por unos tiempos ha permitido en su infinita sabiduría que seamos víctimas del yugo del cautiverio, es porque procura nuestra purificación para que como su pueblo llevemos el dulce evangelio a los confines de la tierra como él mismo mandó a sus discípulos en los días primeros. No ha de triunfar la iniquidad pues el Cielo nos protege y de aquí a poco todos los naturales del Paraná lo sabrán, así como del resto de estas tierras. Yo mismo pecaba de ignorancia sin conocer todas estas y muchas otras cosas, hasta que Diosito en su infinita piedad envió en pos de mí a tres indios de Colombia llegados a esta reducción de San Borja tras atravesar todo el Tahuantinsuyo. Sus nombres no los puedo revelar, pero básteme con decir que eran discípulos del Agnus Dei.

»Un lunes al salir yo de la misa de la tarde me encontraba tornando un cedro en harpa cuando entraron en el taller tres varones de escasa estatura. Me daba cuenta que eran indígenas de América como yo, pero su apariencia era diferente a la de españoles y americanos. Vestían unos largos ponchos azules y sombreros del mismo color y por alpargatas portaban una suela con atadura que les resguardaba sólo la planta del pie. En lugar de llevar el cabello suelto lo tenían atado en una larga y curiosa trenza. Entre sí hablaban una lengua que me dijeron era la de los quichuas pero, como ellos ignoraban casi todas las lenguas de estos lugares, no sabiendo hablar ni guaraní ni portugués, nos comunicábamos en castellano. Solícitamente me pidieron agua por lo cual los llevé a mi casa y les di de beber. Por varias horas nos dedicamos a una tertulia que quien la escuchase la hubiese considerado un desperdicio de tiempo, ya que me explicaban con detenimiento lo errado de las supersticiones de los naturales de todas estas tierras, que no deseando seguir a nuestro Señor Jesucristo adoraban dioses ajenos y temían a los espíritus. De igual modo me explicaron muchas cosas que a Vmd. he expresado más arriba, sobre que se aproxima la hora de la liberación de los naturales de estas tierras y me invitaron a rezar en recogimiento buscando la voluntad de Jehová Dios.

»Partieron esa misma tarde rumbo al río, sin darme explicaciones sobre su destino, pero muchas de sus palabras calaron en mis entrañas, perturbándome el ánimo por varios días. Ya me resultaba difícil dedicar mis fuerzas a mis obligaciones, faltando incluso a las cosechas de las lechugas y las remolachas por meditar profundamente las palabras de los tres forasteros. Decidí en este género de circunstancias apartarme a la selva para rezar como me habían mandado y estando como a una legua del pueblo me hinqué de hinojos y me persigné. En un momento sentí un ruido en torno a mí, como si una tropa de bandeirantes rondase el sitio y un grande temor se apoderó de mis pensamientos. Quise ponerme de pie pero una niebla oscura ascendió hacia mí y me sentí como impedido por unas fuertes cadenas.

»Aterrado clamé a Diosito que se apiadase de mí y fue entonces que ocurrió el prodigioso milagro en que miles de mariposas blancas descendieron en torno a mí, posándose en el suelo, en la maleza, en las copas de los árboles y con su aleteo disiparon la siniestra niebla. Levanté la mirada y vi de pie frente a mí en el interior de una gigantesca llama ardiente a dos varones bellos y luminosos. Uno de ellos, de enormes barbas y larga cabellera negra, apuntó al otro y hablándome en mi hermosa lengua guaraní me mandó dar oído a éste, su Bienamado y Santo Hijo. El otro dio un paso hacia adelante y levantó las palmas de las manos, mostrándome las heridas sangrantes de su crucifixión. Dirigí la mirada a los pies y allí también estaban las infames marcas. Y cuando lo miré a los ojos vi su rostro, su demacrado rostro, bajo la cruel corona de espinas, lo cual me movió de sobremanera. En sus ojos vi puro amor cuando dulcemente me decía que yo renunciase a mi religión a la Madre Iglesia ya que el solo propósito de ésta era preparar el corazón de los hombres para recibir el evangelio verdadero, el cual me será restablecido por boca de mis antepasados. Me explicó muchas cosas más tras lo cual los dos se internaron entre los árboles hasta desaparecer de mi vista, partiendo en pos de ellos todas las bellas mariposas que inmóviles fueron dulces testigos de esta gloriosa aparición. ¡Al poner por escrito para Vmd. todo esto que me sucedió, el recuerdo me hace temblar el puño pero no el corazón, el cual me reboza de infinita gratitud por la grandeza y bondad de Diosito y su tierno Hijo, que amándome tanto me escogieron para ser su profeta en estas tierras americanas!

»Si nada de esto he revelado antes es porque me mandaron no decir nada hasta que la divina Providencia dejase en claro que era el momento de hacerlo. El momento ha llegado, como anoche me lo manifestó otro piadoso y amado aparecido que vi junto a mi propio lecho. Con licencia de Vmd. le contaré de esta segunda aparición y todo lo que en ella me sucedió…»

Introductory Essay: Around the World in Mormon Lit

We are about to launch a journey that we feel confident stating is unlike one that has ever been seen before in Mormon literature. Over the next two weeks, we will publish twelve LDS-themed short stories, essays, and poems—set all over the world and written by authors living around the world. These finalists will be published in six languages (as well as with English translations).

Last year, when we started our planning process, we were a little nervous about whether we’d be able to reach writers around the world on our first attempt. It seems, though, that many Latter-day Saints have been hoping for a chance to share stories and only been waiting to learn where they could find it. From when we announced the contest in August until the contest deadline, December 31st, we had people visit our website to read about the contest from ninety-three countries around the world. This was made possible through a combination of word of mouth and a worldwide Facebook advertising campaign.

In the end, writers from twenty-two different countries submitted almost one hundred entries. Our greatest number of entries came from Argentina, followed closely by Mexico; other entries hailed from Cape Verde, Ghana, Moldova, Papau New Guinea, India, and others. We had people enter the contest from each (inhabited) continent/region of the world—North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Oceania—and over the next two weeks we are publishing stories representative of each of these regions.

Why this contest?

This contest grew out of desire—from both readers and writers of our previous contests—to experience stories from Latter-day Saints all over the world. Of the sixteen million members of the church, only six million live in the United States, and yet a large majority of our past contest entrants were from the United States. Our goal of this contest was to find and publish amazing storytellers whose voices, and even languages, might be new to our readers.

In doing so, we think we are taking steps to follow the Savior’s directive, which He gave time and time again, to “be one”—“one fold” with “one shepherd.” We are expected, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have unity. And unity is something you have to reach for.

But what does this unity look like in Mormon Literature?

The first step in building greater unity in literature is simply sharing an imaginative space. Unity does not mean, however, that we should simplify or erase our differences to put on a single face. We are not attempting to choose one representative story for all of us.

We can only be one if we listen to and celebrate all of our stories, stories that grow from different places, cultures, struggles, and strengths. We look across the campfire, we sit quietly, and we listen. Sometimes the stories will be told in ways that are familiar to us; other stories will use different storytelling traditions that diverge from our own.

One of Jules Verne’s most celebrated books is Around the World in Eighty Days. In order to win a wager, the main character, Phineas Fogg, attempts to circumnavigate the entire world in eighty days. So intent is he in trying to achieve his goal that often he does not even look outside the window to experience the world as he travels around it. Sometimes we do the same as church members and readers—we travel, to be sure, but may not take the effort to look out the window, or else look too shallowly, too briefly, without allowing ourselves to be impacted by what is on the other side.

I’ve often heard Latter-day Saints come back after time outside their native countries and exclaim, “You can feel the Spirit at church anywhere in the world!” I have personally attended LDS churches in Brazil, Finland, Iceland, Germany, Egypt, and the United States, and it is true that I felt the Spirit of God in each place. And yet I also saw God through what was distinct in each place. In each place I had markedly different experiences that went beyond whether the church building had a basketball court or a fútbol field, or whether people in that place are baptized in a font, a river, or a hot tub. In different places I was able to learn different things about myself, my Savior, and my relationship to Him.

Perhaps we only truly come to unity in the faith by honoring what is unique in each manifestation of faith.

Two Approaches

There are insights to be gained from people writing things outside their own experiences, insights that require a writer imagining someone else’s experience. This, at its core, is the task of the fiction writer. In this contest we have a wide array of fiction, including fiction in which writers explore characters from other cultures, for example, a female Brazilian writing a Portuguese-language story about a Japanese man in “Two Missions.”

The second approach is to write out of your own experience. This, at its core, is the task of the nonfiction writer. It also applies, in this contest, to fiction writers telling fictional stories which represent their own place and time, drawing more directly on their own experience.

In the next two weeks we will publish a prose poem on the Savior and a poetic monologue from the devil’s point of view. We will publish essays about life on an island in Cape Verde, family complications caused by conversion, and serving in old age. We will publish a young adult romance, a story of despair and connection, a tale of tattoos, two stories involving time travel, a creation story, and an alternate history of the Restoration.

As we sit around this campfire and truly listen to each other’s stories, we are better equipped to follow the Savior’s directive to love one another. So we hope you’ll join us for the coming two weeks for Around the World in Mormon Lit. We hope the stories will challenge and inspire you, that together we can hear a multitude of voices, and that we may be one. We also hope, when the two weeks are over, that you’ll take the time to vote for your favorites and to help recognize these writers from around the world.

-Katherine Cowley, Contest Lead Editor

-Nicole and James Goldberg, Mormon Lit Lab Supervising Editors

Additional Notes

Stories will be published daily at 9 a.m. MDT.

If you’d like to see daily updates on the contest, please visit our Facebook page.

For a discussion of the entries, visit our open discussion on our Patreon.

If you have a story, essay, or poem that would like to share, please consider submitting to the 8th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz by 31 May 2019.

This contest and our other contests are made possible through the generosity of readers and writers. If you would like to support this and other Mormon Lit Blitz contests, please visit our Patreon.

8th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz: Call for Submissions

Tomorrow, we’ll kick off the Around the World in Mormon Lit contest. We hope you’ll join us in reading and discussing twelve pieces–in six different languages–that explore and imagine Latter-day Saint experience in different parts of the world.

We also hope you’ll consider submitting to our next contest: the 8th Annual Mormon Lit Blitz.

Details: 

Submissions for the Eighth Annual Mormon Lit Blitz Writing Contest are due by 31 May 2019 to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com. Submitted works may be in any genre so long as they are under 1,000 words and designed to resonate in some way with an Latter-day Saint audience. Previously published material and simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Up to three submissions are allowed per author.

Finalists will be posted on the Mormon Artist magazine website (lit.mormonartist.net) starting in July. At the conclusion of the Lit Blitz, readers will vote for their favorite pieces, and a $100 prize will be given to the audience choice winner.

For updates about the 2019 contest, follow the Mormon Lit Blitz Facebook page.

To facilitate the judging process, we prefer to receive submissions as .doc, .docx, or .pdf attachments with the author’s name and contact information in the body of the email but not included in the attached text. Please email submissions and any questions you may have to everydaymormonwriter@gmail.com.

By submitting, authors give us the one-time rights to publish their work electronically. As stated above, previously published work is fine if you still have the rights to the piece and if it meets the above contest requirements.

Past Finalists: 

Interested in this contest? Take a look at past years’ finalists to get a taste of what we’ve featured:

We look forward to reading your entries!