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Latter-Day APAs

AsianWeek, Andrew Chow And Evan Kelley Posted: Mar 27, 2002


The openness in accepting new ideas resonated last month in Salt Lake City, where the church was preparing to welcome the world.

Though the church officially banned all forms of proselytizing during the Winter Games, their media center was staffed by smiling squadrons of uniformly dressed young women of various nationalities, prepared to give tours of Temple Square in any language.

Tour guides Sister Lee of South Korea and Sister Li of Taiwan guided visitors around various buildings on the sprawling grounds, which boasts many monuments to the churchs storied past: the temple itself, the hall of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the Beehive House, where Brigham Young lived with his first wife and seven children. (No tours are given of the house next-door to Beehive, where Youngs six other wives and 70 other children lived.)

By rote, Sisters Lee and Li launched into alternating bilingual spiels about the history of the Mormon pioneers: their trials and tribulations as they crossed the American plains and their eventual settlement in Utah, where they were harassed routinely by the U.S. Army.

The sisters presence in Salt Lake City is part of their 18-month mission. Both have another eight months to go. Though they dont know where theyll be called to next, they consider themselves extremely lucky to have been selected for the Olympic detail. It is an honor for any Mormon to be allowed to give tours of the square and to enter the temple itself. Only Mormons judged worthy of the honor are allowed inside the temple, and no non-Mormons are allowed in. But non-Mormons are more than welcome at any of the churches in the Chinese-language 39th University Ward in Salt Lake City. Church member Norman Tong explained how Mormon missionaries brought the teachings of the Latter-day Saints to his Chinese family in Hawaii.

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