My Easter Break in Utah, Part 2
During Azusa Pacific University’s Easter Vacation, a unique "summer" mission team ventured two states over to serve God in Utah. The following is part two of three day-by-day encounters of Utah mission team members Heidi Lynn '05 and Sean Fitzpatrick '04.
Tuesday, April 15
Today is our day in Salt Lake City and we have a busy schedule. We are on our way to Temple Square to watch a movie, take a temple tour, and meet with Cecil O. Samuelson, a member of the quorum of the 70 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and newly appointed president of Brigham Young University (BYU). We just left Welfare Square, the church’s headquarters for their intricate welfare system. It’s here that they help people get back on their feet during financial difficulties. The center is run almost entirely by volunteers who produce and package their own food, including spaghetti and sauce, peanut butter, jelly, bread, butter, milk, and more. This food is either packaged for individuals’ personal use for a year’s-worth of emergency food or it is put on the shelves of the center’s store for those in need to procure. In this complex there is also a thrift store with items donated by members of the church and an employment center in which staff help the unemployed find work. I am amazed at the efficiency and unified organization of Welfare Square.
My time at Temple Square was amazing. After a tour of Welfare Square, our team went to lunch at a local mall, and then headed off to the temple for a tour. In the visitors’ center, we were greeted by four friendly missionary sisters serving there. We then split into two groups and were given tours. I was most excited about meeting with a General Authority, one of the top 75 leaders in the LDS organization. He answered our questions, told us about his new position as the president of BYU, and even asked if he could meet us all personally and shake our hands! I am so glad that we had the opportunity to be a part of such a groundbreaking event, and that the bridge between the LDS church and the evangelical church is being gapped. Open communication and a good relationship between these two faiths is so important.
Wednesday, April 16
Our time today was spent at BYU in scheduled discussions with faculty and students. First, we spent a couple hours in open theological discussion with two professors in the religion department, which was set up by Pastor Greg Johnson, director of Standing Together, a ministry that’s purpose is to build bridges in relationships between the LDS and evangelical Christian churches. Following lunch, we met with BYU's ASB president and a group of students and shared testimonies. It was an invaluable opportunity to get a range of perspectives on what Mormons believe and have experienced.
Today our team went to BYU. We got to talk with some professors, and later we participated in an open discussion with a student panel. Three students from our team shared their testimonies, and three students from BYU shared their testimonies. We then had an opportunity to share about our beliefs. Although we didn’t see eye to eye most of the time, the open discussion we had really helped build a strong relationship.
Thursday, April 17
Daniel Rogers, a student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and I just walked in the door at Calvary Fellowship of American Fork to greet several other team members after ministering door-to-door. We are sharing our stories as we wait for the rest of our team to arrive. I am so excited because today God answered one of my prayers/goals for the trip: to make friends with someone and bring home their email address so I can keep in contact and turn this short-term mission trip into a long-term relationship. Well, after walking and knocking around six blocks, Daniel and I were finally invited into Kelly’s house. Kelly and her husband are non-practicing Mormons and interested in trying out different churches. We spent an hour chatting with her about why we are here, what we are doing, what we believe, and just about everyday stuff. We had a great time. I think this will be my favorite part of the trip.
I had such great conversations today! We went door-to-door witnessing in a town called American Fork. My witnessing partner, Stephanie, and I talked to an older LDS couple whose ancestors founded the town. We chatted for over an hour-and-a-half! A young couple with kids lived in the next house we visited. At first the man we talked to was resistant to talk to us, but after a few minutes, we were chatting away like old friends. I really feel that we are making a big difference here. Now this man’s view of our faith will be forever changed because of a conversation that Stephanie and I had with him. I loved hanging out at Calvary Fellowship afterward too. We played a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit, and my team won! The church gave us prizes and I won a stuffed beaver. It was really fun!
Posted: May 30, 2003