Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Classy Lady

You may or may not know that I served a Church Service Mission at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I started in April of 2006 and ended in April of 2009. Yes, three years. And no, I had no idea it would be that long… the website said 3-6 months not 36 months! At the beginning I had no intentions of ever staying the full three years, but time flies and I ended up finishing it out. It was on Saturday morning from 8 to 1. At the beginning it was a good thing because I needed something to keep me bizzay, but as time went on I realized that not having a Saturday morning was a bit of a bummer! Needless to say I definitely haven’t missed going yet. :)

What I did was sit at desks and tell people where the restroom was. No, seriously, that was the biggest part of the calling! Other than that I took people on tours, hosted people into the Joseph Smith movie, and stood on the temple grounds and accosted all tourists... well at least most of them seemed to think that was what we were doing! Occasionally they would listen and we would show them pictures of inside the temple and explain what temples are about. (Sister Missionaries are not allowed on the actual temple grounds, just hostesses.)

Did I enjoy my time there? I did enjoy watching zillions of wedding parties; I can’t lie. I definitely planned my own wedding for a couple years watching what I liked and didn’t like. I also saw some pretty classy moments like the bride who had a fluffy headdress about a foot tall and round and looked RIDICULOUS.... And laffed pretty hard when a photographer asked a groom to carry his bride down the steps and when he went to pick her up she yelled, “NO WAY. I don’t trust you.” She was dead serious too.... And to hear the old women come in and tell me about the dances they had gone to and how they'd spent their wedding night there.... Etc. Good times! And for the most part I LOVED all the old people I served with and made some fabulous friendships with them. …But there were also many weeks of sitting there doing nothing. For example one hour of one week this is what I did…

That’s right, I wrote as much gibberish I could think of on the paper that I could and then began ripping half into shreds and half into confetti. I’m pathetic; I’ll admit it! But sometimes you’ve gotta do anything to keep your mind off the fact that you’re sitting in an uncomfortable chair for an HOUR by yourself because it’s freaking early on Saturday morning and no one is awake, let alone at the JSMB!

Was it a spiritual experience? Ummmm… maybe? I did have some cool experiences meeting people and being able to talk to them about the church and temple and I took some fun people on tours, but I’d say the good experience came once every six months. :)

My favorite thing to do was take people on tours… probably because I got to move around and talk. :) So, please allow me to take you on personal tour!

Welcome to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building! My name is Becky.

Where are you from? That's nice.

The JSMB was built 99 years ago. It was originally the Hotel Utah and served as a hotel for many years. In the 80’s a change needed to be made. 1. Do they continue in the hotel business? (The hotel had done well and was nicknamed 'The Classy Lady' but the hotel industry really wasn’t something the church really wanted to stay in.) 2. Should it be ripped down? (Cheapest option, but it’s a loved building.) or 3. Do they use the building for a different function? This was the choice that was made. The building was remodeled and the 3rd to 9th floors opened up as church offices. Almost nothing is original to the building but the lobby areas and 10th floor.

This is Joseph Smith. He is the founder of our church and is who the building is named after. He is X feet tall and weighs X pounds. (I’ve already forgot. :) But he is big and heavy.) :)

The lobby has been designed with period pieces. The sofas were designed by Josef Hoffman, the carpet is resembling a William Morris pattern; both popular designs at the at time.

The green pillars are original, but come and knock on them and feel them… they aren’t cold, they aren’t stone! It’s a technique the pioneers used called Scagiola that very closely resembles real stone. They aren’t real because 1. finding a single piece of stone that big is quite impossible and 2. can you imagine trying to transport it? The gray on the walls is Tennessee marble and is real. Feel it, yup it’s cold.

There are a couple of chairs in the lobby that are original to the building, but of course have been reupholstered. Notice the detailed carving on the leg.

Look up. That is the original stained glass roof. It was cleaned for the reopening about 20 years ago. The chandelier is not original.

Off the lobby are three rooms. Today they are mainly used for receptions. One is called the Bonneville Room and has this buffet in it. It is said to be from a Scottish Castle and is over 500 years old.

Another room off the lobby is the Nauvoo Room. (Somehow I forgot to upload that picture. Do forgive me.) It is now the Nauvoo CafĂ©. It opened a couple years ago and has been quite a success. It is my favorite restaurant on Temple Square so I’d suggest it if you’re hungry. Take a look at the pillars. See the egg and dart detail? When they remodeled, they took down a false ceiling and found out that was there! This room was used originally as the train ticket office and later as a an airline ticket office.

This is the Empire Room. (Somehow I forgot to take pictures in here. The top picture is from a friend in my ward named Trina--www.trinaknudsen.net and the second one is from ldschurchness.com.)

This room is very unique… notice all the dark wood. It is definitely the most popular for wedding meals and receptions.

Look closely at the wall tapestries. When they were cleaned they shredded so new ones were made.

Let’s go up to the Mezzanine Level. This room used to be the main ballroom. Now it’s a chapel and some people who live nearby come to church here. (Picture from the internet because you're not supposed to take pics in there... but if someone else does, I'll use it!)

Look at the detail around the doors.

These chairs are also originals, reupholstered.

That's real gold up there!

Let’s take a ride up the elevators. These panels on the inside of the elevators were the original doors of the elevators.

Here we are on the 10th floor, the only other part of the building that is similar to the Hotel Utah. There is an area on each side with really great views… you can look out to the east or the west. Please keep your children out of the fountain.

Looking out the window you can see the tracks for the old window washing system. And funny-necked birds.

And a cool reflection of the building!

And as our final view, look at this glorious view of the temple! Yes, I will take your picture next to it. Smile!

Also on this floor are two restaurants. The Garden and The Roof. The Garden used to be an outdoor ballroom. The roof still retracts and on pleasant days they’ll open it!

(Here’s me and my peeps in the Garden as my little farewell. I think the Nauvoo Cafe is WAY better...)

Well that's the end of our tour. Do you have any questions? No? Okay, nice to meet you. If you have time, I’d highly suggest that you go see the movie “Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration”. (Turn me down. They always do. Again, it’s like I’m asking them to be baptized.) But anyway, YOU should go see it if you haven’t. Heck I watched it probably over 100 times and I STILL love it! Probably because of how much I love the Prophet and Nauvoo. Plus that there is some really great carpet in the waiting area… yeah, call me pathetic, but I spent a lot of time looking it. :) Also, there are some fab statues.

I’d say a huge perk of this mission was that I didn’t have a companion and that I could get married during the service! And I even received a “Welcome Home” sign!

All-in-all, I’m really glad I served. I do think that these service missions are best for the older peeps who don’t have full-time jobs though! But it was so important for me to meet the people I did; they helped me through some of my toughest, saddest, and happiest parts of my life (thus far). During my time there I learned a lot. I always try to keep bizzay to keep my mind off other things but the forced hours of down-time helped me realize what some of my hugest weaknesses are and also learn some lessons on patience and sacrifice!

P.S. Sorry about the ridiculous font changes... I've tried to change it but when I post it, it just goes straight back to the weirdness. Gotta love weird blogger. :)


*Liese said...

LOVE this! I've totally never taken a tour of the JSMB so I enjoyed this and learned stuff too!

The Ivie's said...

I also had never taken a tour of the JSMB until tonight. Thanks Becky!

Jessie said...

This is really great! I had no idea you'd served a service mission. I especially like the pic of you and your peeps... who are all significantly older than you. :) Anyway, thanks for the tour--I very much enjoyed it.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I didn't know you did a service mission. That was VERY interesting to read. Thanks for sharing. :) I can see how it would be tedious though.....

You know, it's pathetic really, but I've never seen the JS movie and I've wanted to so many times. :(

Thanks for noticing my anniversary before anyone else really did (and wishing me happy anniversary again on the offical date) - I was quite impressed with that.

Lisa and Mike said...

Holy hannah, small world but I used to work with Trina at the U of U Housing office. She was part time, while I was full time, so we didn't see a lot of each other, (and she wasn't there very long I think) but I worked with her bro in law, Bob Knudsen every day. Boy he was a hoot. Anyways, just thought I'd tell ya! Thanks for the tour!

Matthew and Hillary said...

Wow, I didn't know you could get married while serving a service mission. Pretty crazy. Matthew served at DI for a year since he couldn't go on a full-time mission. It was a good substitute for him and he loved his time there. I've only seen the Joseph Smith movie once! I can't believe it...I need to go again. The closest place is Oakland, though, so I don't get out there...maybe I'll go while I'm waiting for Matthew to recover in the hospital for a week in August. :) Thanks for sharing!

Lisa and Mike said...

Oh and PS.. I went to the JSMB today and thought about your blog post the entire time! So, perfect timing to post a tour! My sis is getting married and having her reception there next week. I even had lunch at the Nauvoo Cafe! Oh man...it was gooood.

Josh and Megs said...

When you said he was X feet tall I thought to my self hey who really uses roman numerals anymore? I bet becky would and then you said he was X pounds and I was thinking no way. He has to be way more then that. Of course like anyone else I had to keep reading to find out what really was going on. Then I saw these words "I’ve already forgot". Of course I didn't want to judge you, but I had to I mean three years becky three years!


Christiansen's said...

That is just what I needed to read, I got a great laugh out of it all! The best part for sure though was the picture of you and all of your "peeps" who are like 4 times your age. I LOVE IT! Thanks for the good laugh that I was in need of :)

Emily said...

OMGosh I was freaking out during part of this post, then I was cracking up! I love this story and your mission!How awesome are you?

Emily said...

Love it! I've never had a tour of the JSMB... but now I can no longer say that. I especially like that your name is spelled wrong on your nametag. :)

Angie said...

Loved this. Except that I couldn't actually touch the original stuff! I miss historical church sites. There's not much of it in Portland :(