To commemorate the Laie Hawaii Temple dedication’s 100th anniversary later this year, a scale model of the temple was placed in the Visitors’ Center. Built by Schaffer Studios, a movie special-effects studio based in Spanish Fork, Utah, the model boasts a high level of detail despite its small size.
The missionaries serving in the Visitors’ Center remarked how the cross-sectioned model assisted in teaching visitors the purpose of the temple and alleviating visitors’ misinformed ideas about temples in the Church.
Director of the Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center Elder Stephen B. Allen, a senior missionary from Utah, said having a model of the temple with the interior clearly presented on display helps as a teaching tool for visitors who were curious about the nature of temples. “We’re happy to have this exhibit because so many guests who come here are attracted by the beauty of the building. Some of them drive down the highway and see it as they pass by.”
Visitors from all countries and faiths are now able to get a look inside the temple without stepping foot inside, as temples of the Church are not open to the public after their dedication. The bas-relief statuary on the upper parts of the actual temple was exquisitely recreated by a team of artists at Schaffer Studios.
Additionally, guests were able to look straight into the baptismal font, with the same paintings found in the actual temple recreated in accurate detail. Other rooms shown include the Instruction Room, Chapel, Sealing Room, and Celestial Room.
Allen shared Laie was only the fifth temple to have a cross-section model in its Visitors’ Center. “The other four are Salt Lake, Washington, D.C., Paris, and most recently, Rome. It’s also nice to point out that the Laie Temple was the fifth temple to be dedicated, and now it’s the fifth one to get a model in its Visitors’ Center.”
Allen shared an instance where the model helped visitors answer their questions. “This couple from Santorini, Greece began walking toward my wife and I and asked us what the temple was. My wife and I had been to Santorini, and the experience really showed me how far away some visitors come. Now we have the model so curious people can see what’s inside. More important than the model is the purpose of the temple.
“At the center, we’re striving to make sure our sisters know how to talk about the temple and to explain what goes on there in non-member language.”
He explained how members of the Church tend to speak in what he jokingly called “member-ese,” which included words such as covenant, endowment, and ordinance, words which may have a different connotation or context outside of the Church.
Sacred, Not Secret
“I don’t want to be [dwelling] about the past,” Allen said assuredly, “but in the past, the average member may have been more focused on the fact that what goes on in the temple is ‘sacred,’ which translates to a non-member as ‘secret.’
“Soon, the Visitors’ Center will receive the film of Elder Bednar and Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles giving a tour of the recently dedicated temple in Rome. “The film was very transparent about the purpose of the temple, and the model is a literal representation of the transparency. Guests can look inside and see the Church has nothing to hide.
“Of course, members should remember the covenants they have made and not reveal what they have covenanted not to talk about. But there is more they can talk about than they cannot. The average member might be so concerned about crossing a line, they don’t realize how much they can actually talk about.
“I think the model opens a conversation about what happens in the temple, and why it’s sacred. It’s a great opportunity for missionary work at the Visitors’ Center.”
Two sister missionaries serving at the Visitors’ Center shared the importance the model played in sharing the gospel with visitors. Sister Smith, from Utah, recalled an experience she had a few days ago when a visiting woman of another faith wanted to go into the temple very badly. “We said it was closed off to the public, but that we had a model in the Visitors’ Center she could look at.
“We took a moment to explain the purpose of temples in our faith to her, and she said, ‘Oh my goodness, this makes me so happy looking at this.’ We told her when you look inside the temple, it makes you feel the Spirit. She then told us all about her religious background and how church was her favorite thing. I was able to testify to her that what she was feeling was the Spirit and it was true.”
Sister Chi, a missionary from Hong Kong serving in the Visitors’ Center, said, “It’s important the Church be open about the temple with this model. To a lot of people, the temple is just a picture. With this replica, it is in three dimensions, and it allows people to see what’s really inside and might prompt them to ask questions.
“Although they cannot go inside, they can see and understand why the temple is so sacred to the members of the Church. The temple is really for everybody, not just those who can go inside it. Every guest from anywhere in the world can receive the joy the temple is supposed to bring.”
Sister Smith added how the model “shows the temple is sacred, not secret. Elder Ballard actually once said ‘misunderstanding is where contention starts.’ When there is understanding, we can have peace. With this temple model, visitors can have a greater understanding.”