Top of Utah Mormons to serve 'music mission' to Guatemala

Jul 20 2012 - 5:24pm

OGDEN -- Last spring, when 18-year-old Lauren Zabriskie was asked to take a musical mission of sorts to Guatemala, it took her all of about one second to say yes.

She and her father, Noel Zabriskie, and about 28 other Top of Utahns will travel to Guatemala next week to spend two weeks delivering LDS hymn books and Triple Combinations made up of the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants that have been freshly translated into the native language of Kekchi, the main dialect spoken in Guatemala and parts of Belize.

Hear how to count to 10 in Kekchi.

Not only will they deliver the books, they will perform small concerts at 10 different areas, where they will sing many of the beloved LDS hymns to the people and teach them some things about music.

Mike Peck, a Salt Lake City resident and returned missionary from the area, started organizing the trip in January once the translation of the hymn books and Triple Combinations was complete. He was involved with the translation team.

"I always dreamed of taking the Mormon Tabernacle Choir down there, and this is pretty close to that," Peck said of the group that is going. He is thrilled at the prospect of taking the music there, because the hymns have never been presented in a deep way in the people's native language. He said, "It's been a long time in coming."

Once he got the idea to take a choir there, he got approval from his Area Authorities to also take the hymn books, do small concerts and present the books in a way that would be spiritually uplifting.

Then Peck started recruiting a choir. He had a contact with one member of the Tabernacle Choir, and she helped get the ball rolling.

Noel and Lauren learned about the trip when they were working on a show at Terrace Plaza Playhouse in Washington Terrace in April. They started attending practices every other week in Salt Lake City, along with about five other Ogden residents.

Noel said those first practices were difficult, as they were learning to sing in the Kekchi language, but he had his fluent-Spanish-speaking background to fall back on. He served an LDS mission to Paraguay/Uruguay and taught Spanish as well.

He thinks all the practice will definitely pay off.

"The choir has to sound well together for the music message to get through," Noel said.

Music has always been a big part of Lauren's life, so combining music, service and visiting a new culture is exciting for her.

"It sounded like a good experience to see the culture of Guatemalan people and be acquainted with the Saints there," she said.

During the day, the group will visit schools and teach students some basic music skills.

Lauren and Noel have been very impressed with Peck's ambition and ability to bring the group together for such a big undertaking.

"I think he's done a great job. This has pretty much become his life," Lauren said of Peck.

A big part of the undertaking has entailed raising the funds to buy the hymn books and Triple Combinations.

So far, $1,900 has been raised, but $2,530 is needed to buy the 904 hymn books and 852 Triple Combinations.

A large Guatemalan dinner/fundraiser will be held this evening from 6 p.m. to

8 p.m. in the Emigration Stake Cultural Hall, 680 E. 2nd Avenue, Salt Lake City. The choir will also do a trial run of songs at the dinner. The suggested donation is $10.

To donate or for any questions about the special music mission, email Peck at mike.peck40@gmail.com.

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