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Snapshot of Temple Square – This beautiful, historic area has belonged to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 150 years. Pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, under the direction of President Brigham Young, and the temple was commenced in 1853. The finished pioneer buildings (the Salt Lake Temple, Tabernacle, and Assembly Hall) still stand today.
While English is the official language of missionaries on Temple Square, there are sometimes over 40 languages spoken by missionaries from all over the world. Visitors come to see the beautiful grounds and pioneer heritage; Temple Square is the top tourist attraction in Utah and is ranked as high as the fifteenth highest attraction in the United States (“Top Tourist Attractions,” travelerzone.com). Three to five million visitors enter the gates at this beautiful historic site each year, including over a million between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see the 700,000+ lights that are put up beginning each August (see this video for some missionaries’ perspective or Temple Square Lights with Lindsey Stirling). In addition, general conference weekends garner record crowds: a reported 100,000 flock to Temple Square the first weekends in April and October.
Perhaps the world’s most unique mission, nearly 200 sisters fill “The Square” and positions of mission leadership as well (district leader, zone leader, assistants, etc.); only young sisters and senior couples serve on Temple Square. Often, these sisters hail from over sixty countries with sometimes over two-thirds called from international countries as varied as Kiribati (“Kiri-bis”), Angola, Armenia, Cambodia, Guadelupe, and Canada. During their eighteen months of service, many (but not necessarily all) of these sisters serve stints of 3-4 months in another US stateside mission.
Along with the ten acres that house the stunning historical buildings, two visitors’ centers, and many monuments to Restoration principles, sisters may also serve in Brigham Young’s Beehive House, Welfare Square, or the Humanitarian Center. The Mormon Tabernacle choir performs twice weekly (a Thursday evening rehearsal and a Sunday morning rendition of “Music and the Spoken Word”), often accompanied by the Orchestra on Temple Square and, at holiday seasons, the Bells on Temple Square. The Church History Library and Church History Museum often feature special collections; the Family History Library holds regular conferences for genealogists; and concerts are held in Temple Square venues as well as nearby parks throughout the year.
Temple Square is the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; both the Church Administration Building and the Church Office Building can be found right outside the original walls. The grounds are owned and operated by the Church. In fact, the Church is everywhere and in everything on Temple Square!
This video shows the grounds beautifully and explains different aspects of Temple Square.
Missionaries should expect to cook for themselves daily with their missionary allowance and are generally not permitted to eat with either local members or guests. Several restaurants and grocery stores are located in the area and missionaries can travel in mission-owned vans on preparation days to shop for needed food. There are also ethnic food stores (Asian, Indian/Pakistani, African, etc.) and health food stores for those with dietary needs. Sisters often cook together on preparation days.
Sisters live within walking distance and commute by foot to Temple Square each day. Senior couples may live further away and drive. Mission cars are available for preparation day activities (grocery shopping, errands, zone activities, etc.) as well as TRAX, the public rail line that runs just on the south side of Temple Square.
Temple Square security monitors the area and trains sisters on safety at regular intervals, usually every 3-4 months. There are emergency preparation plans in place, including fire extinguishers and escape routes in case of natural disaster or other emergencies.
Temple Square is affectionately referred to as “T2” or “The Square” by missionaries. Other common abbreviations include the COB (Church Office Building) and the JSMB (Joseph Smith Memorial Building) and, of course, the NVC and SVC for the North and South Visitors’ Center.
As well, “*143” is a common way to express “I love you” and “999” means “urgent” from the roughly twenty years Temple Square sisters used pagers to communicate!
Good shoes for standing (Temple Square sisters stand for periods of sometimes over 4 hours without taking breaks).
A long winter coat (wool preferred) and warm gloves recommended for contacting outside during the winter season. Boots are also helpful for rain and snow.
Exercise clothing, jeans for preparation day activities.
Typically, family and friends are encouraged not to visit sisters on Temple Square, even if they reside in the local area. Call the mission office for more details. Standards for missionary work found in the White Handbook apply, even though sisters may be easier to find. Packages can not be hand-delivered to sisters; they must go through the mail, for safety reasons.
50 North West Temple St
Salt Lake City UT 84150-1891
The Temple Square blog can be accessed here: http://slctemplesquaremission.blogspot.com/
Straight from the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission field:
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Dinner appointments, tracting, and almost everything, including our own apartments, were outside of our proselytizing mission boundaries.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Food from the US.”
“Other sister’s cooking, which meant things from all over the world prepared by those that knew those foods best.”
“For a while, peanut butter (there wasn’t enough time to make anything most days!). Once Elder Perry came down and visited the kitchen area and accused us of having entirely too much peanut butter.”
-Emma & Amandine
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Chicken feet, cooked by my companion.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“The simplicity and elegance of temple functions.”
“All the brides.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission?
“Your mission is what you make it.”
“Savor every minute because it went by as a dream. You are being watched by the world but remember you are there to serve Heavenly Father, do not lose sight of that and love serving in Heavenly Father’s backyard, you are truly on holy ground.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“The high traffic of the temple.”
“No matter how intensely hard you think it will be, you will not come close to imagining it with any kind of accuracy, but no matter how great you could imagine it, God can give you much more amazing blessings than you could have tried to imagine. ‘Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ And, the sister missionaries that you served with are very much human and though they really are cream of the crop, you are not any less than them.”
**Did you serve in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.**