They came by chartered bus to the Washington Temple Visitors Center to take part in, as one exclaimed, "Something new that I have never experienced."
Twenty-one women and five men from the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., recently spent an afternoon learning, in their native language, about the Church and temples."Do they have temples in Russia?" "What do you believe about Christ - where was He born and where did He live?" Those and other questions were asked of Elder Don L. Christensen, visitors center director, as the guests sat in the center and looked through a window at the majestic temple. One Russian woman asked, "Does it take a special person to join the Church?" Elder Christensen replied: "Yes. It takes a person with a kind heart and a love for Christ."
As they heard in Russian a recorded message about the Christus and of the Joseph Smith story, the visitors leaned forward and listened intently. One outside observer commented: "They seem impressed that the Church's audio presentations were available in Russian. How important it is for the Church to be able to communicate its beliefs into other languages."
Darelyn Peterson, a member of the International Affairs Group for the International Affairs Office of the Church, coordinated the visit.
"A few weeks earlier I met Olga Chkhikvishvili, wife of the Russian deputy ambassador, at a luncheon hosted by the International Affairs Office. As we talked about our families and cultures, Mrs. Chkhikvishvili told me of her visit to the visitors center at Christmastime and asked if a group from the embassy could visit. Seeing today the outcome of that brief conversation with Olga has been a real testimony of how easy it is to share the gospel."
As the visitors exchanged goodbyes, clasping their gift copies of the Book of Mormon in Russian and Mormon Tabernacle Choir compact discs, many remarked: "I can't believe that you people are so nice."
Daks McQuivey, a recently returned missionary from Russia, explained, "It is a part of our lives because the gospel teaches us from childhood to be kind and loving to everyone."