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Brian Nicholson
Omar Canales, who oversaw the Spanish translation of "To The Rescue," the biography of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson by Heidi S. Swinton, poses at Deseret Book in Salt Lake City Thursday, June 21, 2012.

Editor's note: "To the Rescue," the biography of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, is now available in Spanish at Deseret Book.

This article, which ran last October, details the process in which Omar Canals and others translated the biography into Spanish.

SALT LAKE CITY — It took Omar Canals, Héctor Grillone and others about seven grueling months of intense reading, examining, inspecting, editing and reviewing to produce a polished Spanish translation of the 608-page biography of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson.

When it was finished, Canals rejoiced.

“I was reunited with my family again,” he said with a wide smile.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Canals has worked in the translation department for the LDS Church as a conference interpreter for more than 20 years. During that time, he has translated a vast amount of material for the church and interpreted for several church leaders, beginning with Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve in the October 1972 general conference.

“He was in his late 80s, he took off, rarely paused for a breath and most of the time he quoted Isaiah. If he was in the middle of a sentence and the light went off, he would end and sit down. Interpreting for him was an unbelievable experience,” Canals said. “Over the years, I have interpreted for six prophets, including presidents Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley and many times for Thomas S. Monson, as well as most of the other senior brethren.”

From 2000 to 2003, Canals and his wife, Beatriz, presided over the Colombia Bogota North Mission. Before his mission, he translated President Hunter’s biography and several other books written by general authorities over the years.

The Spanish version of President Monson’s biography, titled “Al Rescate” (Deseret Book, $22.99), is now in stores.

The original English version, “To the Rescue,” by Heidi S. Swinton, was released in 2010. The book chronicles the life of a man who has spent more than six decades serving others. Its pages are filled with stories from his childhood to his ministry as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Canals was grateful to be part of such a worthwhile project.

“It was a feeling of great accomplishment, more than a professional satisfaction, having contributed to something that will bless many lives the way it blessed mine,” Canals said. “Readers will have the opportunity to see President Monson from a new, less-ecclesiastical perspective and more from a day-to-day light. ...

"It will be enlightening for them to read about this man of God.”

The project started in the fall of 2011 with Grillone, 82, a translator/interpreter from Argentina, but health problems led him to involve Canals, a colleague and friend.

Diana Tucker, of Mexico, assisted as a language reviewer. Fernando and Maricarmen Dealba, associates from Spain, read the manuscript to review terminology, give editorial feedback and offer a European-Spanish perspective.

Canals' primary method of translation involved formatting the text into two columns — English and Spanish — on his computer screen. Then, while reading the English text, he would craft a Spanish version that was not only grammatically and technically correct, but that also captured the overall context and spirit of the story.

Canals said the translation process is more of an art than a science. He strived to interpret President Monson’s story in a way that would successfully impact native Spanish speakers as it did those who have read it in English.

The experience not only strengthened his testimony of President Monson’s prophetic mantle, but Canals takes pleasure in knowing more people will be able appreciate the life of a prophet.

“To me, a translator is nothing more than a bridge builder, you build bridges between cultures,” Canals said. “As a result, people’s lives will change by the experiences that they read.”

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