The Lithuanian Translation Springs to Life!
Urantia Foundation is delighted that the personal efforts of Algimantas Jokubėnas to pass along the teachings to fellow Lithuanians have now led to a complete translation of The Urantia Book. As you will soon read in his own words, Algimantas started the process in 1994 by giving lectures that summarized selected aspects of the revelation. He soon became dissatisfied with that and began reading page after page of his own handwritten manuscript. At first he had no idea of translating the entire book, but when he neared page 1500 he realized he really could.
Mr. Jokubėnas did most of his work with pen and paper, but in 1998 the Foundation provided a computer — and, from May 1999 to April 2003, a modest monthly stipend. His ten-year journey has been intense and inspiring, and he is clearly delighted that he served God’s purposes. You will sense his enthusiasm as soon as we hand him the microphone. All right, Algimantas, over to you!
The Lithuanian Translation
by Algimantas Jokubėnas
In the early 1990s, I was working for Lithuanian radio and TV as the managing director of its Foreign Relations and Commercial Program Department, and also as a political analyst. While Soviet troops occupied radio and TV headquarters on January 13, 1991, thousands of people stood vigil around the parliament building to defend it from the Soviet tanks. Since I had been actively involved in a political movement that advocated Lithuania’s independence from the former Soviet Union, my family and I were on the list of journalists who would be interned once the Soviet side seized full control.
During this period I was searching very deeply for the causes of everything that was happening in my country, and that led to reflections about spiritual matters instead of just material thoughts. Every year on January 13, people came to the parliament building and assembled around big bonfires to commemorate the 1991 events. On that occasion in 1994, some of the journalists from our TV company were discussing events of the recent past, and I pointed out that there was no use for anyone to occupy TV headquarters or the parliament because these were just material objects. There must be higher things that nobody can destroy, something spiritual. One woman told me that she had a book in English about those things and would be glad to give it to me.
Just a couple of months later I was holding in my hands a copy of The Urantia Book. When I read the very first page I believed every word, for all these statements seemed so obvious and clear. But the next page was a complete confusion: I could not understand anything. I picked out all the unknown words and still could not understand what was meant. After wondering what I should do, I decided to go on reading.
The more I read, the more I came to understand a systematic way to look at reality, and this drove me forward to continue exploring The Urantia Book. Eventually I began to feel that the information it contained was answering the questions I had been posing to different people and that they had not resolved.
When I was almost finished reading the entire book, I began feeling a bit sad that soon there would be no more left to read. I wished there were much more, but I also realized that I had no right to keep all this important information only within me. I visited the editor-in-chief of one journal, showed him The Urantia Book, and offered him a series of articles on it. But he said no. Finally I thought of going to the people themselves and decided to visit the so-called Teachers’ House that was sponsoring cultural functions and a variety of lectures.
I talked with the head of this institution and described my idea of enlightening people. He supported that and provided me a room, but told me I had to find my own audience. As a form of advertising I visited different lectures that others were giving and made brief presentations on The Urantia Book, then invited people to attend my lectures.
I gave my first lecture in mid-February 1995, and in general two or three hundred people were attending my classes. When I was preparing my lectures, I realized that by paraphrasing ideas in my own words I might mislead the audience because I had misunderstood the text. So I decided to take notes and use them during class, but that was not perfect either: My notes might include misinterpretations or mistakes. This reasoning led me to translate some of the passages and read them in the lecture-room.
For the first three or four months, I developed the following work routine: Each week I translated as many passages as I could read within two hours. I had no idea of translating the book as a whole, but after a while I realized that the passages I omitted were just as important as the ones I had read aloud. Thus I decided to translate pages of the text without skipping any paragraphs, and to do just as much as I would need for a two-hour reading. I still had no any idea of translating the whole book, and it would have frightened me even to think of that. I had but a single thought: translate as much each week as I could read in two hours on Friday.
I did not have a computer, so I went through quite a few pens and pencils. After doing about one thousand pages, I started thinking, “It would be good to have the entire Urantia Book in Lithuanian, so that many people could read it in their mother tongue instead of just listening to me read it out loud.” When I came close to fifteen hundred pages, I realized that this work of mine might turn into a full translation. The ocean no longer seemed so wide, and I began to see the other side.
From that point on, I began to feel a very strong leading and assistance from within. This made me remember high school lessons in English when I was balancing between satisfactory and unsatisfactory marks, followed by my own personal efforts during summer vacations. Eventually I enrolled in the university to study English, then joined a newly formed translators’ group that included not only professional training in the theory and practice of translation, but also close study of Lithuanian grammar, syntax, and style.
Looking back on all this, I had no idea what I was doing at the University, for my original plan had been to become a Soviet army officer. But God had other plans for me. Ultimately I became convinced that it was God who was translating The Urantia Book into Lithuanian, and that I was simply his tool, a pen in his hands. And I am delighted to have served him in this way, as in any other. Praise be to God and peace be upon you, with brotherly love from Algimantas.
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