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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

Thousands volunteer at LDS Ogden Temple during open house

By Trent Toone, Deseret News

Published: Sun, Aug. 24 4:04 p.m. MDT

 Volunteers walk to their posts during the Ogden Utah Temple open house Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Volunteers walk to their posts during the Ogden Utah Temple open house Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

OGDEN — Usher Christina Myers was at her post near the stairs of the Ogden Tabernacle on Friday, smiling and greeting crowds of people walking by, when an older couple approached and asked if she wouldn't mind snapping a photo.

As Myers took their photo, she learned the man had proposed to his wife on the very spot 41 years earlier. They had come to celebrate that memory and tour the newly renovated Ogden LDS Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

For Myers it was another precious moment among many she has had while serving as a volunteer during the Ogden Temple Open House. She is one of more than 27,000 volunteers who have or will serve at the open house before it concludes Sept. 6, prior to the temple rededication on Sept. 21.

"It's been absolutely fantastic," said Myers, who has volunteered each day during the open house. "To see the positive enthusiasm of all the volunteers who give of their time has been great. … Having a temple in our midst has lifted everyone's spirits."

Mike and Bonnie King train and oversee the ushers during the open house. Each day, approximately 800 volunteers show up from four stakes in the temple district. Those from each stake (about 180 people from each) work a five-hour shift. They are divided into groups and assigned various tasks: parking, translation, shoe covers, on-site ticketing, disabled assistance, safety and security, the tabernacle, the temple grounds and the temple.

In additon to the daily volunteers, there are more than 350 supervising ushers who each work a minimum of eight hours a week, Mike King said.

Each stake volunteer comes for a short meeting/training session prior to standing at a post. They are enouraged to smile and be happy, represent the church well and make visitors feel comfortable. They are told to turn off their cellphones and not leave their posts until the next usher comes to replace them.

Mike King said he and his wife were terrified when given the assignment, but realized the Lord would send people to help them. Along the way, they have realized the importance of making daily small adjustments.

"We have had leaders working in this group that are so impressive, including physicians, lawyers, college professors, and former college presidents," Mike King said. "So there was no fear knowing the Lord is not going to let us fail if we give every bit of effort we have, and we have very capable people at the helm."

Although it's felt a little like the movie "Groundhog Day," it's been fulfilling, Bonnie King said.

"It took a lot of organization in the beginning, a lot more work than we thought it would be, but it has been rewarding work," Bonnie King said. "We joke that every four hours, six days a week, is 'Groundhog Day' here because we start all over again, and train a new set of ushers. For the most part, they all come wanting to do their very best, and they do."

Friday's volunteers came from LDS stakes in Evanston, Wyoming, and Coalville. Travis Olson, of Evanston, enjoyed assisting people with wheelchairs at the handicapped entrance of the Tabernacle. Visitors from several large nursing homes arrived, and wheelchairs were in high demand, he said.

"It's a little overwhelming, but it's rewarding to help these people," Olson said.

Another Evanston resident, Nils Piiparinen, assisted with the wheelchairs in the temple. The 18-year-old, recently called as a missionary in Tallahassee, Florida, felt the experience would serve as mission preparation.

Jana Cooke, of Hooper, has been coming to the temple for an hour each week to play relaxing, worshipful music on the piano as visitors walk through the reception tent.

"I have had multiple people come and say thank you or ask if I'm enjoying myself," Cook said. "I tell them I love it, that I am having a blast."

Lindsey Kennedy and her husband got up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to Ogden. She spent her shift smiling and placing shoe covers on visitors' feet while her husband pushed wheelchairs through the temple.

"It's not bad. It's been fun to meet people. Some kids cry because they don't want the shoe covers," Kennedy said. "But I've learned it's good to serve even if you don't know who you are serving."

John Lowe, of Liberty, helps supervise ushers at the Tabernacle each Friday.

“It’s been a wonderful experience," Lowe said. "It's amazing how devoted people are to serve. The enthusiasm has been great. People are excited about the beautiful new temple."

Email: ttoone@deseretnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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1. Rikitikitavi
Cardston, Alberta,
Aug. 22, 2014

What a truly inspiring experience to tour this sacred edifice. Thank-you to the thousands of volunteers. Returning to Alberta from our summer trip which included Sixth Crossing in Wyoming, then all the way to North Tahoe, Ca for a family wedding, this tour was clearly a highlight of our summer.

2. Gildas
LOGAN, UT,
Aug. 23, 2014

The brothers directing us to our parking spot were very helpful and friendly. After that we met more welcoming people, even one sister humbly putting covers on the visitors' footwear and smiling all the while.

3. water rocket
Magna, UT,
Aug. 24, 2014

My wife and I took the tour on Saturday. We even endured the long lines for those who didn't have tickets (you get them on line at LDS.ORG). It (the temple) was absolutely fantastic. For those who sacrifice their time to volunteer at the temple, THANK YOU!