Yesterday during a particularly quiet period at the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center early in our shift, a fellow in a suit and tie came up to me and said, “For me, it all started here thirty-five years ago. I’m sure the missionaries never knew.”
Well, that definitely piqued my interest, so I invited him to tell me the story.
Thirty-five years ago, in 1981 about this time of the year, he and a buddy had come to Hawaii and were driving around Oahu. They saw the Temple from the highway, wondered what it was, and stopped. “The Visitors’ Center was a whole lot different then than it looks today,” he said.
They took a tour conducted by an older man who was a missionary at the Center. In the back corner where we now have the FamilySearch exhibit at that time was a talking mannequin … a kind of an automatron. After the mannequin give its spiel, the senior missionary bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon. “That really spoke to me,” he said. He bought two copies of the Book of Mormon (in those days people had to buy the book in the belief that if someone paid money for the book, they would think it had more value) for fifty cents each, one for him and one for his friend. He started to read it a few days later, quickly became bored with the book, but took it with him when returned home to California the following week. Then two young men missionaries knocked on his door. He recognized the name tags as similar to the one the senior missionary at the Visitors’ Center had worn and invited them in. “Two and a half weeks later,” he said, “I was baptized.”
This was his first time back to Hawaii since then. He had done a session at the Laie Temple earlier that morning and walked through the Visitors’ Center to see what it looked like now. “I’m sure that missionary never had an inkling that I had any interest in Mormanism. I don’t even remember his name. I just remember how I felt when he bore his testimony.”
Every day people tell me how beautiful and peaceful it is on the Temple grounds and in the Center. “There is a special feeling here…” I hear very often. It certainly is sacred ground and when people just stop and listen with their heart for a few seconds, the spirit of the place manifests itself. Through the Church’s computer systems we learn each week that some five to ten people that the sister missionaries have referred to local missionaries have been baptized. We will all be shocked in the next period of our lives when we meet the hundreds of people who were touched by our testimonies of the Book of Mormon or just by the spirit they feel when they are on the Temple grounds and later acted on that feeling and come to say, “For me, it all started when I stopped by the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center … and you never knew.”
It’s been a good week! Ta ta for now!