Tuesday, February 25, 2014

# 30: Welfare Square

In the summer of 2007, my wife and I took a week-long pilgrimage to Salt Lake City, the Mecca of Mormonism. Sometimes we refer that trip as our honeymoon, even though it was a year after our wedding. But we never had a honeymoon honeymoon, so we like to refer to it is as our belated honeymoon. 

On our honeymoon, my wife and I did all the Mormon touristy things. We loved it. We went to a handful of temples in the area, Brigham Young's House, Temple Square, the Relief Society building, Joseph Smith Memorial Building (where my Dad proposed marriage to my Mom a long time ago when it was the Hotel Utah), the Tabernacle, the new Conference Center (where we saw Music and the Spoken Word, and by chance we sat by Senator Orrin Hatch, and we also saw an organ recital there) the Church Office Building, we watched a church-produced movie called Legacy about the Mormon pioneers in a theater at the Visitor's Center, and we attended a sacrament meeting with President Gordon B. Hinckley!

One day on our trip we drove to the Ogden Temple, but it was closed for renovation or something, but there was a pioneer museum across the street, so we spent some time there, looking at interesting artifacts of the Mormon pioneers. I remember they had a ton of early church publications, and I spent an hour or so reading early Mormon newspapers.

We also went into the most iconic Mormon Temple there is, the Salt Lake City Temple. I really enjoyed going into the Salt Lake City Temple. They do live endowment sessions there.

I really enjoyed it, and so did my wife, but she did say that the live session felt a little weird. Also, she said that there were some ladies in the temple who frustrated her. One temple worker lady told my wife that she needed to take off her necklace. My wife's necklace was all white and pretty small, and actually she had made it herself with white beads for the purpose of going to temples. But still, one lady working in the temple told her she needed to take it off, and through her body language and facial expressions suggested that my wife was less spiritual or less righteous for even trying to go through the temple with that necklace on. Then another lady told my wife to adjust some of her clothing in another way.

Now, I love the temple. The temple is wonderful. The Salt Lake City Temple is a monument to the faith of the pioneer Saints in the Great Salt Lake Valley. It's a great place to be taught about the things of God, to ponder, to make personal covenants with God. Little things like being asked to adjust clothing shouldn't bug me or my wife. Or should they? I don't know.

My wife and I also took the Welfare Square tour. It was amazing. It turned out to be our favorite part of the trip. It had a extremely spiritual effect on our souls. We both cried. We both felt the Spirit. It's amazing to see what the church is doing to alleviate suffering throughout the world. When a disaster strikes, the Church is there. When people are hungry and thirsty, the Church often offers free bread, meat, and water. The Church also offers free job training for folks who have fallen on hard times. 

And the size of Welfare Square! It's huge! They produce tons of bread, they have these giant grain silos, and every day they produce food and supplies to give away to those in need. It's staggering to walk around the warehouse and the factories at Welfare Square and hear the senior missionary tour guide talk about the Welfare mission of the Church. And to think of all those needy people who receive help from the Church- it pulls at my heartstrings, and it makes me feel the Spirit. Taking the tour made me want to do without a little more so that I could give a little more to those who really need it. The tour also made my wife and I decide that we wanted to serve as senior missionaries, later in life, at the Welfare Square, or maybe at a cannery somewhere.

Members of the LDS Church sing and believe the hymn "Because I Have Been Given Much." They preach and believe the parable of the Good Samaritan. They try to fulfill the Christian principle to help the poor and downtrodden found in Matthew 25: 31 - 46.

Lately I've been thinking about how our experience at the Salt Lake City Temple differed from our experience at Welfare Square.

If you’re thinking about leaving the Church because you don’t believe in it anymore, and you live in the Salt Lake City area, do me a favor.  Go on the Welfare Square tour.  See what you think.  See how you feel.

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