Temple Visit

Every year, the LDS DC Temple has a “Winter Lights Festival”, where they set up a bajillion lights outside, decorate a bunch of Christmas trees inside the visitor’s center, and post about a hundred sister missionaries all around to guide you, answer any questions, and basically get in the way.

Since this is likely going to be our last year in the DC area at Christmastime, I wanted to go and take photos of the lights.

Now, first, I should say that my pictures turned out horribly (which a skeptic might be able to say is due to my total inactivity in the church–perhaps God is punishing me?). As I don’t buy into the God’s punishment theory, I’ll go with the fact that I didn’t set my ISO to a higher speed, and I was trying to take pictures while wearing Hazel, which is way trickier now that she has mobility and a mind of her own and stuff.

Also, I’ve always found it weird that the lights are set up as flowers and spring-y looking things. At a winter lights festival, I want to see something winter-y—show me skis or mountains or something. Anyway…

So. Here’s the story:
We drove to the visitor’s center (where the festival was), and pulled into the parking lot. There were four missionaries with lightsticks to guide us along, and they stopped us and said they were reserving that parking lot for handicapped people, and could we please park at the temple next door. Not a huge deal except that it was way below freezing outside and we had the two small children with us. Also, a bit baffling–did they really expect 100+ handicapped people to drive to see the lights that night?

Obligingly, we drove to the temple, pulled in, and were directed by another missionary with a light stick to a row of parking spots. We pulled in to the one that was closest to the vistor’s center, and proceeded to get the kids out of the car. I noticed that there was a darkened sign that said that the spot was reserved–but at 6:30 at night, does it really matter if you park in someone’s reserved spot? I generally feel like the answer is no. Someone pulling out of another spot stopped, though, and told us that we needed to move the car, because it was the temple president’s spot. Conner, in poor judgment, swore at him. (And then moved the car.)

We walked into the visitor’s center, and were immediately swarmed. Two children! They’re beautiful! How old are they? Have you been here before? You have a beautiful family!

Oliver’s fear of strangers (“No! Don’t talk to me!”), which I usually try to socialize out of him (“Oliver, say ‘I don’t feel like talking right now’) came in handy, and he, Hazel, and I were able to make a hasty retreat, followed only by the missionary who I think wanted to touch Hazel. (She’s cute–who doesn’t want to touch her? :))

Ahhh… gratuitous photo…

We made our way over to the circle of the Books of Mormon in all the languages that it is printed in, which is admittedly kind of awesome. Conner and I have always wanted to spend some time looking at them, looking at the languages, etc. Conner is a language geek, and I like seeing the non-Roman alphabets. Another sister missionary approached us to ask us if we spoke any of the languages. We demurred. (Which is my euphemistic way of saying that Conner became slightly rude and I walked away while she was talking to him.)

We went to look at the Christmas trees they had set up, which I found incredibly boring, but Conner and Oliver enjoyed it. They have nativity sets from all different countries set up in a room, but Oliver didn’t really get the whole ‘look but don’t touch’ decree, so we didn’t hang out in there for long. There was also a room full of photos of Jesus, where we were approached by an older missionary. In there, Conner just acted Mormon because it was easier.

Then we walked around the rest of the grounds, took a lot of photos (which mostly look terrible), and got really cold, and went home.

My lessons from the evening were:
1. ISO matters.
2. If you are a part of a male/female couple and Mormon missionaries approach you, if you are the male, you’re stuck. If you’re the female, you can walk away because they will ALWAYS talk to the male before the female. (This works in my favor.)
3. Camera batteries do not last very long in the freezing cold. Buy a backup.
4. Don’t park in the temple president’s parking spot. If he shows up at 7:30 on a weeknight, he will not be okay with parking a bit further away, even when there is a huge festival going on next door and nobody is allowed to park in that parking lot.


8 responses to “Temple Visit

  1. The thing at the Book of Mormon display happened last time we went, two years ago, as well. There is this huge table with a map and Books of Mormon in like a hundred different languages. Seeing all the alphabets alone is awesome. But here’s the thing–a sister missionary pounces on you instantly if you so much as pause by the display. She will ask you if you have read the book of Mormon before, if you speak another language, etc. If you say you are a member she will harangue you until you agree to take a pass-along card (a little card to give away that has a picture and a number you can call to get a free Book of Mormon and a never-ending series of visits from the missionaries), and if you are not a member, I assume she will bother you until you agree to get baptized or whatever. I don;t actually know because I was rude, because I just wanted to be left alone to lok at the display.

    But seriously, they pounce on you if you even slow down by the Book of Mormon exhibit. I don;t even know why they bother with the exhibit. They could just have a big picture of the Book of Mormon on the floor and an X to mark the spot where if you come within 20′ of it, a sister missionary will come bother you.

    But I guess then the whole visitor’s center would be covered with X’s. There are at least 4 sister missionaries for every visitor during the Christmas season, and they’re evenly spaced over the whole interior. It is like a minefield of good-intentioned annoyance.

  2. I started the Book of Mormon as suggested by my good Mormon friends but had to put it down when I realized that the church actually taught that God turned the Native Americans skin red as a punishment. I was horrified at such a thought, and I still am…I still love my Mormon friends though.

  3. Why were you horrified?

    I mean, I think it’s hogwash, but what if it’s true? It is offensive to our society’s values, sure, but who says our society’s values are the right ones, or the ones God should be subject to?

  4. Hi, I was horrified and felt I had been punched in the stomach because of the blatant racism. When I further asked about black skin the same friend said that was because of the sin of Ham and so that in fact if it had not been for sin we’d all be white and that in fact God himself IS a white male and further more in heaven all people will be white. I asked about melanin and the fact that skin color has to do with simple genetics and she roller her eyes and suggested that we change the subject. Does that explain my horror?

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