One of the primary missions of our cross-country trip was to experience places unlike home. For this reason, we were really looking forward to our stay in Salt Lake City. We were excited to see some incredible landscapes and learn more about the Mormon lifestyle. We found everything that we were looking for, but we won’t be converting any time soon.
If you’re in Salt Lake City, you’ve got to experience this. The Tabernacle Choir is a 360-member chorus of men and women, all volunteers. We learned that it isn’t easy to become a member. They have a really intense audition process and once you've been "accepted," you enter into a 4-month training program that you have to pass. After you've completed that, then you are in the chorus. They practice every Thursday, and they perform on Sundays. You arrive at 8:30 AM and they practice for 30 min, before the live 30-min taping of “Music and the Spoken Word.” It was awesome! Their voices are amazing and the building that it’s hosted in also has one of the largest and finest organs in the world (11,623 pipes!)
After watching the Tabernacle Choir, we spent the day touring Temple Square, talking with missionaries and visiting local exhibits. Mormonism was started by Joseph Smith, who claims to be the latest in a long string of prophets that were able to converse directly with God. He asserts that the Book of Mormon was written with divine assistance on a series of golden plates, that only a few other founders apparently saw. We watched a dramatization of Joseph Smith and the founding of the LDS Church in a grand movie theater. The video itself was very artfully done. There were only 4 other people in the theater, which could have held at least 300. The missionaries that we met were very nice, but Annie noticed that there weren’t any men among the bunch – they were all female. She asked them about this. While none of them seemed to know exactly why Temple Square was a center that only had female missionaries, they speculated that at some point, someone had probably requested this since “women are often viewed as more approachable.” In order to obtain a free copy of the Book of Mormon, Annie had to sign herself up for a mailing list. She gave her real name and email because lying didn’t seem appropriate in this environment. Adam declined to hand over his personal information.
Beehive House Tour
We went on an official tour of the home and residence of Brigham Young, an early leader of the Latter Day Saints movement and a Mormon settler in Salt Lake City. Two American missionaries gave the tour (one was from Maine and the other was from New Mexico). We also had two other Mormons on our tour – one was a recovering addict that now serves others in overcoming addiction through a 12-step program; the other was from Hawaii. We were chatting with them and the recovering addict broke down into tears when he started talking about how the church saved his life. It gave him strength at a time when he was incredibly weak.