“My First Book in Italian,” Tambuli, Mar. 1995, 8
I was born to a good Catholic family in 1949 on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. There, I was given a Christian education and attended church regularly.
The people of Sardinia have always been quite independent, so it is not surprising that, despite being governed by Italy, they have kept their native tongue as their only language. Consequently, as I grew up, I spoke only Sardic, a language similar to Latin, until I started school at age six.
At school, however, all of our communication was in Italian. This new language fascinated me, and I tried hard to learn it. I was disadvantaged, however, because no one in my family had any books in Italian. All I had were my school books.
Other than having this unusual interest in Italian, I was a typical boy. After school, my five friends and I would play in town. One day we went to the city dump to look for bicycle parts. When we left the dump, we showed each other our “treasures.” I had found a steering wheel, and my friend Franziskeddo wanted it. He offered me in exchange an Italian book he had found. I immediately agreed, although the book was missing the cover and some of the first pages. I was very excited. Finally I had my first book in Italian—in fact my first book ever!
When I started to read it, I discovered religious stories of men I had never heard of—Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Helaman, Moroni. Though I knew nothing of the book’s origin, I had a good and safe feeling whenever I read it. By my 16th year, I had read the book at least 10 times, still without knowing its name. Then, about this time, I left Sardinia and settled in Italy. I eventually lost the book, but the stories and teachings stayed in my memory.
Years later, sometime in the 1970s, I moved to Germany and found a job in Hagen at a sugar-machine factory. One day an engineer with the company returned from a business trip to the United States. He brought with him a book in German titled Das Buch Mormon. Knowing I was interested in religion, he loaned it to me. Unfortunately, my language skills in German were not very good, and I understood very little of what I read—though somehow it seemed familiar.
A few years later, two young men came to my door in Hagen. They introduced themselves as missionaries and asked for a little time to introduce their church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I listened as they told the story of Joseph Smith. At the end of the hour, they gave me a book and asked me to read it. It was a copy of the Book of Mormon.
I immediately liked what I read, beginning with the first verse: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents … “I felt that the book was speaking to me, for I, too, had goodly parents.
As I continued to read, memories flooded into my mind. This was something I had read before! I marvelled at the miracle that had brought into my hands the book I had read so eagerly as a child. With the memories also came the same good, comfortable feeling I had always had while reading the book in my youth. The Lord’s hand in this situation was clear to me, and I found it easy to accept that this book was truly holy scripture and that the church of God was again on the earth. I soon became a member of his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I wonder who it was who threw that torn copy of the Book of Mormon on a trash dump in Sardinia in 1955. I would like to thank that person for introducing me to the treasures of Christ’s gospel.