We went to the Open House at the new Draper temple last night. We aren't Mormon and have no interest in becoming so but once the temple is consecrated it's closed to the public for ever. Since people travel from all over the world to see these things and the best of everything goes into the structure we thought it would be an interesting learning experience.
Over 900,000 people have already trekked through in the weeks it's been open and our turn came up at 6:00 PM last night. We arrived at the church and were directed to the gymnasium where we waited for half an hour. I regaled the boys with tales of floor hockey games, school gym class and broken bones; the time passed quickly and then were ushered into a sunday school room to watch a twelve minute film about the significance of the temple and the eternal family. What was most interesting was the history of Draper itself. I didn't know much about the Draper family or how the area looked before it was developed. It was fascinating to see the familiar contours of our mountain in it's natural state.
Next we boarded a bus - one of those luxury travel schooners - and headed back up the hill to the temple. This was the highlight of our trip. The boys were fascinated with the personal reading lights, fan and the bathroom on the bus. Much laughter erupted as we discussed how cool it is to pee on the bus - and how perhaps "peeing in a bathroom on a bus" painted a more accurate picture. Boys are so funny.
We were instructed to remain silent inside the temple as an act of reverence for the sacred place we were entering. The boys were totally on board until one of the first ushers we saw leant forward and asked Brayden how his evening was. He looked at her in full horror and walked away quickly. Poor kid, all that "house of God" talk was something he took seriously and he thought it was a trap.
We were lead through many waiting rooms and ordinance rooms. I mean no disrespect but it had a very Parade of Homes feel to it and a lot of the areas reminded me of well-appointed lawyers offices, not particularly special or holy. The changing rooms and laundry were pretty cool but it was odd being on a tour through them. The baptismal for the dead was neat - it's held up by twelve oxen carved from rock. When we got to the brides waiting room I was enchanted by the crystal sconces and chandeliers. A huge tri-fold mirror graced one side of the room and a twenty-foot bank of mission style stained glass filled the other wall. I must have been looking impressed as the usher leaned over to me and said very passionately, " I *SO* want to get married here." She was cute.
The celestial room was equally impressive and I stood looking up at the decorative ceiling long enough to get a crick in my neck. I like the idea of having a room that turns your mind to God. I'm not sure that one did it for me, but the idea was a good one. The boys were most impressed with the ordinance rooms that had murals covering three walls. They depicted the local scenery, complete with mountain lions and deer.
There are a lot of stairs in the temple and Chris and I got into a disagreement about whether I should take the stairs or go in the elevator with the wheel chair crowd. I adamantly refused as I want to use stairs as long as I can. After the third flight I was starting to fall and I asked an usher to get me some water so I could take some medicine. He was so nice and utterly compassionate to my plight. Quickly several folks sprung into service and a small bottle of water appeared in minutes. It reminded me of a friend who has recently gone through a difficult divorce and the LDS church was an amazing support system to her. Everyone we dealt with last night was as helpful and caring as her stories implied. The stark contrast between last night and our neighbors who won't let our kids play with their kids and won't even talk to me was a lot to process. But then I decided that how folks act in church and how they act at home can be two very different things. And that is just as much a Protestant problem as it is any other religion.
We wandered through several more administrative rooms and then headed to a church for cookies and water before getting back on the bus. Again, the bus ride home was the highlight of the evening.
Last night was a good opportunity for me to challenge my tolerance for religions I don't agree with and to model respecting others to my kids. It was so odd to be treated well by people who have been for the most part incredibly rude to us for the last three years. I wish the goodwill so evident at the temple extended to the post office and the grocery store.
I'm excited for the LDS in our area to have such a lovely place that is so meaningful to them to worship in and I am really glad we went. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.