Missionaries serving on Temple Square feel great satisfaction in meeting and serving people from throughout the world, said Lenona E. Hawkes, who with her husband, Grant, is serving a full-time mission on Temple Square.
The couple has had many experiences since last October when they began their daily journey to Temple Square six days a week from their home in Ogden. They will complete their mission this fall."One of the most fascinating activities on Temple Square involves public relations efforts, which are currently assigned to Elder and Sister Hawkes," said Joseph M. McPhie, director of the Temple Square Visitors Center.
Elder Hawkes is a retired principal of Ogden's Lincoln Elementary School and former president of the Ogden Utah Canyon View Stake Mission. Sister Hawkes is a retired public school secretary and a former secretary to the stake mission presidency.
"We are regular, full-time missionaries and our assignment includes public relations," explained Elder Hawkes. "My wife has responsibility for arranging tours and helping to distribute literature about the Church through the mail.
"I distributed more than 111,000 brochures during April, about 140,000 in May, about 180,000 in June and approximately 246,000 in July," he said, explaining that his distribution area extends between Brigham City and Provo and from Park City to the Salt Lake International Airport.
"I was not here last summer, but I've been told that more than 1 million pieces of literature were distributed on Temple Square as well as other locations," Elder Hawkes said. From April 1993 to April 1994, more than 1.5 million pieces of literature were distributed at or mailed from Temple Square.
Elder Hawkes distributes literature in a Church van. He does the work himself or with the assistance of others.
While he is delivering Church literature and supervising showings one day a week of the film, "Legacy" in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Sister Hawkes is busy arranging tours and making contacts with visitors and other missionaries. Through July 31 this year, "Legacy" had been shown approximately 1,700 times.
Approximately 145 sister missionaries and 24 senior couples have served during the summer on Temple Square. The sister missionaries have an opportunity to serve four months in a proselyting mission. Some go into the field a few months after they arrive at Temple Square and all return there during the summer when the number of tourists increases.
"I had a tour operator call May 25 from Boston to set up a tour, asking that a particular film be shown during the visit," explained Sister Hawkes. "She (the tour operator) said she had brought several tours to Temple Square. `I love coming. When we come to the West, we spend one or two weeks. And my people always tell me that their visit to Temple Square is the highlight of their trip,' " Sister Hawkes quoted the woman as saying.
Sister Hawkes arranged for more than 100 motor coach tours during the first 25 days of May alone. As of July 31, approximately 15,000 tours had been conducted by missionaries on Temple Square. The figure includes main tours of the buildings and grounds and presentations on the Book of Mormon and the temple and on basic beliefs of the Church.
"Just a few minutes ago I had a phone call from a Dutch- and German-speaking group that was in Jackson, Wyo. We also have a number of unscheduled tours that show up unannounced and want to take a tour," Elder Hawkes said.
Missionaries with a wide range of language skills and experience in working with people from different cultures are able to converse with Temple Square visitors in 25 different languages.
In addition to English, the languages include American sign language, Russian, Finnish, Estonian, Afrikaans, Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Samoan, Spanish, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Tahitian, Taiwanese, Tongan and Vietnamese.
In addition to tour groups, Temple Square guides greet thousands of other individuals and groups. During April and May, some 40,000 bowlers visited Salt Lake City for the Women's International Bowling Congress and tournament.
"It seemed like every every one of them visited on Temple Square. We were delighted to have them," Elder Hawkes said.
Numerous service, medical, religious, computer manufacturing and sales groups and other organizations also visit Temple Square, the most-visited place in Utah. Visitors include many government officials and dignitaries from throughout the world.
Most of the discussions on Temple Square are of a serious, spiritual nature, but the Hawkes and other missionaries are also asked amusing questions.
Elder Hawkes said missionaries have no problem identifying people who have never visited Temple Square before. "They are awed in being here. They have heard about it. What is this walled area in the middle of a metropolitan city? How long has it been here? They are curious about that and many other things."
Referring to Temple Square and the messages conveyed there, a visitor from Sweden said: "I think you have a very powerful tool here to meet people and to show them the love of God."
Another visitor commented that he and his wife discovered that Temple Square was a wonderful place where they were able to resolve some serious concerns in their marriage.
Still another visitor commented: Temple Square is a "great place to learn how to worship, to follow the teachings of Christ and to be more Christ-like."
The Hawkes and other missionaries are excited about the type of work they do.
Elder Hawkes said: "Having a chance to rub shoulders with all these international missionary sisters and couples makes Temple Square an interesting place to work. Some of the missionaries are the only members of their family who are members of the Church and came on their mission despite heavy opposition from family members."
Sister Lana Robinson of Okemos, Mich., a suburb of Lansing, is among the missionaries who come from strong LDS families. She coordinates tours and the work of other missionaries.
A missionary for a little over a year and a former BYU student in English and anthropology, Sister Robinson says her biggest challenge in working at Temple Square is in not being able to get to know people for a longer period of time.
"You have to get to know visitors very quickly because we don't get to see them very long," she said. She said her greatest satisfaction is in working with people who have "felt the spirit. I can tell when they have been touched and want to learn more."