Originally we planned to take the entire family, but we decided against that, and I went solo instead. It's a good thing I did, as I spent a good hour waiting in various lines (which would have been oh-so-fun with two toddlers), and guests were asked to leave strollers outside (ack!).
|About to turn left to reach the temple.|
Quick note: Please forgive the picture quality here. Though I admit to a penchant for taking somewhat-sideways pictures, I don't take them this sideways - at least not on purpose! These pictures are the result of trying to juggle many things in my arms while clicking blindly with my phone - due to the bright sunlight, I could see nothing of what I was photographing. My cousin said, "Just call them 'art shots' and people will be really impressed." My husband begs to differ - he says they're too embarrassing to show in public. However, they're all I have - so here goes!
Introducing... "An article with really skewed pictures!"
|Taken on the way from the far-away overflow parking lot. The sidewalk to the right was a constant flow of visitors coming and going. It was quite a walk!|
The question will probably arise - "Why are you interested in Mormon temples if you're not Mormon?"
It's true. I'm not Mormon. However, I am fascinated by the study of comparative religions, and I love finding out more about different religions - especially the religions that lay claim to a relation to Christianity.
Additionally, the Lord has given me a great love for the Mormon people, and I have carried that love with me through adulthood. I have always had many Mormon friends, acquaintances, and neighbors, and learning more about their religion has always been an abiding interest. It's especially applicable now that we live in an area that has a per capita Mormon population that rivals (and in some areas exceeds) Salt Lake City, Utah.
I also have a deep respect for the Mormon church on a practical level - the way they organize their churches, meet the needs of their people, and plan for the future has always seemed very praise-worthy to me, and I think that we Protestants have a lot that we can learn from the practicality of the LDS church.
The tour went smoothly and was staffed by tens (hundreds?) of very dedicated volunteers - though one could tell that they were rather overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of visitors.
|Most of my time was spent waiting in lines like this one...|
|.... and this one...|
|... and this one!|
The first part of the tour consisted of watching a short video on the subject of Mormon temples in the visitor center, followed by a non-guided tour through the temple itself. We saw many aspects of the temple, including the entrance area, the marriage room, the marriage waiting area, the baptistry, and the Celestial Room.
Though we were asked not to take pictures inside the temple itself, you can see the rooms that we saw here:
Pictures Inside the Gilbert Mormon Temple
It was fascinating to see the room-types that I have read about for so many years. I was disappointed that the tour was not guided and narrated - I had anticipated tour guides taking small groups through the temple and narrating each part - but wandering through at one's leisure was fun too. When I saw the sheer number of people there, too, I realized that narrated tours would have been almost impossible to carry out logistically - there were just too many people.
The tour confirmed what I have long noticed and appreciated about Mormon architecture - an emphasis on solid quality and flawless beauty, without the least gaudiness, excess, or ostentatious display. Beauty with nothing showy - I loved it. I've always been a huge fan of Mormon architecture.
It is not my intention to turn this post into a discussion of religion or a theology debate. I will simply say, therefore, that I enjoyed my temple tour very much. The staff was friendly and helpful, and the building was of excellent quality. Though I didn't learn anything new (being in a very Mormon-heavy area, I've always been fairly well-informed on the basics of Mormonism), it was great to experience in person the highest expression of the Mormon religion. I very much appreciate the kindness of the LDS people in opening their temple free of charge to non-Mormons during this pre-dedication time.
Did any other local friends take time to tour the temple? Let me know what you thought!