Thursday, November 15, 2007

11/15/07 Salt Lake City

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There was no way to get lost getting to Temple Square – the buildings create Salt Lake City’s skyline, the signage was easy to follow, and we found a close well-lit parking lot.

Our first stop was to the North Visitor Center to see a film on Mormon history called “Legacy: A Mormon Journey.” The movie made history come alive by telling early church member’s stories of their Western march, how they left their homes and trekked across the prairies, their conflicts with the U.S. government, and their hardships to build their new communities. We were lucky to see the film which started showing in 1990, because they were about to superseded it with a new film “Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration.” I think “Legacy” spoke to us because the early LDS member’s struggles and expulsions seemed to echo Jewish history.

We then took a tour of the building hosted by female missionaries. Only female missionaries work at the Temple Square – they come from around the world and wear name badges with their country’s flag. The visitor’s center can give the tour in 40 different languages. Our first two tour guides were from Guatemala and Germany. All the guides were very sweet and extremely anxious to answer questions about the grounds, buildings and their faith.

I shared with two of the sister missionaries our story when Mel was injured and I was struggling with his heavy wheelchair one afternoon in Corona del Mar. During the many months Mel was wheeled around, I never had any stranger offer to help get him up a curb, open a door or wrestle the wheel chair into the trunk. The day the two young male missionaries stopped to help Mel move into the car and put the chair in the trunk, I was physically and emotionally drained. I’ll never forget their kindness on that afternoon. My remembering led to a longer discussion with the sister missionaries of their personal stories about their calling and how it feels for them to serve.

On the upper level we were awed by a statue of Jesus Christ called “The Christus.” The statue is 11’ tall and is located in a room with large windows overlooking Temple Square. The walls and domed ceiling are painted with clouds, stars, planets and comets. On the lower levels there was a scale model of Jerusalem as it was during the time of Christ with areas that could light up to correspond with New Testament locations. There was an exhibit on ancient and modern prophets downstairs based around the commandment to “love thy neighbor.”

We went to the Family History Library and looked up relatives in their famous genealogical resources. (There were special tabs for Jewish families – relating to Holocaust records which I found interesting… ) The kids really got involved and where my initial search failed, Dave found Abe Malkoff’s death certificate (Mel’s father), Sarah found Edith Malkoff’s recent death certificate, and I found Patricia McCloud’s (my mother). I couldn’t find any death certificate listings in the United States for anyone with the name of “Powel,” but it isn’t the first time I’ve had problems with the spelling of our family name. They were plenty of listings in England and Australia. I wish I’d had more information for the kids to research; they would have dug through records for hours.

The 10 acre grounds were beautifully landscaped -- crews were working decorating with a giant nativity scene and tens of thousands of Christmas lights. As the sun went down, it started to look magical.

The Salt Lake Temple with its six granite spires and the golden angel Moroni is a beautiful piece of architecture -- my pictures don’t do it justice. Brigham Young laid the cornerstone for the giant granite Temple four days after early church members entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. It took 40 years to build the Temple. The granite was quarried twenty miles away and was transported to the site by teams of oxen which took four days to make the trip. Since non-church members can’t enter the temple, they have examples of furniture and interiors on exhibit.

We decided to have dinner in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building on the tenth floor at “The Garden Restaurant.” During warm weather the glass roof gets retracted (not on this cold evening) and the view of downtown Salt Lake City and the Temple Square is spectacular. (Because the windows are double paned, none of the pictures turned out…) After dinner we still had an hour to wait before we needed to be at the Tabernacle, so we sat in the beautiful lobby, read books and listened to an accomplished pianist play a black grand piano.

At 8:00 pm we went to the Salt Lake Tabernacle to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir practice with a full orchestra and their unbelievable organ with 11,623 pipes, one of largest in the world. We saw a demonstration of the amazing acoustics – the building was constructed so that you can hear a pin dropped in the front of the building in the pews at the back. The choir has 360 men and women and the music made was delightful.

All in all, it was the perfect homeschooling day. We learned, we experienced, we met new people with different ideas, we dined and listened to music.

When we got back to the RV repair lot, our RV was parked and waiting for us. We ran the generator all night for heat, but since there was no one nearby, we didn’t have to worry about noise. We were glad to sleep in our own beds.

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