Stats to Date:
Total Miles:4210
Total States:6
Total Oceans Touched:1
Car Problems:1
Total Times Lost:4
Day: 10 Location: Salt Lake City, UT
In forty hours I shall be in battle, with little information; and on the spur of the moment will have to make the most momentous decisions. But I believe that one's spirit enlarges with responsibility and that, with God's help, I shall make them and make them right.
-- General George S. Patton, before invading Africa in WWII


It's freakin' cold! The low last night was about 4 degrees -- so cold, in fact, that my cellphone (which also serves as my alarm clock) stopped working! It just wouldn't turn on... the battery was still good, I know this because after I put it next to the heater in my truck for about five minutes, it randomly turned on again! So I guess from now on the cell phone will be sleeping under the covers with me on cold nights. But by far the most painful part of the day was when I had to force myself out from under the warm covers, face the freezing cold and slide on my nearly frozen jeans. I was very grateful for the hot cup of tea and the heater that decided to work this morning (the heat/AC in my truck works whenever it pleases...).

I then made the icy 3 hour drive to Salt Lake City, checked into my room at the Hilton (which my roommates graciously bought for me as a Christmas gift) and immediately headed to my second hot shower of the trip. It felt so good -- I think I may do a better job of plotting out the truck stops with showers along the rest of my trip... it's definately good for the morale.

After I had finished scrubbin' down my stank self, I put on my warmest clothes and headed for the Mormon Temple. Salt Lake City is basically the Mecca for the Church of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons, though they prefer not to be called this). I walked into the visitor center and started reading the writings on the walls (literally) -- many verses from scripture in the New and Old Testament, alongside verses from the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I knew a little about their beliefs from a sunday school class I had taken on other religions as well as speaking with Mormons who had become Christians. So, I was ready to talk with anyone who was willing to engage... or so I thought.

As I walked through the building, two Mormon missionary ladies walked up to me and politely introduced themselves. We made small-talk for about two minutes but the conversation quickly turned towards God. We began to talk and I listened carefully, asking questions and responding to their questions. Our conversation lasted nearly two and a half hours, covering topics such as the divinity of Christ, works vs. faith, importance of family, church history, church hierarchy, eternal life, salvation, origins of the latter day saints, Joseph Smith, prophets, old testament law and customs... it was intense. We quoted scripture back and forth and reasoned with each other patiently while other missionaries and bystanders came and went. These ladies knew their stuff and we seemed to agree in most areas... until I began to probe a little bit further. It was then that I realized they were agreeing with me based on word definitions that were entirely different from mine. We both agreed Jesus died on the cross for our sins. However, "Son of God" to them did not mean, as Christians and those who crucified Christ believed, equality with God -- or God himself. It meant something less... harder to define, but more along the lines of a high prophet... nearly God, "begotten of God," but not quite God. In essence, they did not believe in the Trinity. Additionally, they view the bible as a revelation of God -- but they almost take it with a grain of salt compared to the Book of Mormon, which is the "corrected" scripture (much in the same way the Koran is the "corrected/perfect" scripture for Muslims)... so, no matter what scripture I responded with, they had a response. Sometimes they used scripture in the correct context, other times not. I honestly have never been so challenged in my life -- I really had to listen carefully to what they were telling me in order to gently respond to them with the truth. At various points in the conversation, we all three had to admit we simply did not have the answer. The conversation was mostly a friendly exchange -- we were all having a good time -- except for a few intense moments. One such moment was when they asked me point-blank if I thought the Church of Latter Day Saints was a Christian church. At the beginning of the conversation, we had agreed to be brutally honest with each other for the mutual good. "No," I replied. That hurt. Not only them, but me too. After all, who am I anyway? But I could not deny the truth for the sake of getting along. Latter Day Saints see their church as the "corrected" Christian church on earth... so for me to deny them as a true faith was a turning point in our conversation. There are many reasons why I believe this is true, too many to discuss in this journal, but it was hard to say that to two genuine and well-meaning women who profess they love Jesus Christ. They just have the wrong Jesus Christ in mind. One chapter comes to mind in this instance, 2 Corinthians, Chapter 11 (specifically verses 14 and 15). Read it if you get a chance. The conversation ended on a good note with handshakes, smiles and an agreement to disagree. All three of us admitted we were mentally worn out -- but appreciated the chance to share our beliefs.

By this point, my brain felt like mush -- but I decided to take a tour of the temple grounds anyway. Non-Latter Day Saints are not allowed to enter the temple itself, however we were allowed to go into the chapel nearby. They took us through some various areas, gave us some basic history, showed us a video and we listened to a talking Jesus statue. In the chapel, they pointed out that the marble pillars and oak pews were actually pine, painted to look as such. The artistry was very convincing and I thought it was an interesting parallel.

It was now about dinner time, so I grabbed a bite to eat at a local Gyro place and headed back to the hotel. I have a very long and dangerous drive through the Rocky Mountains ahead of me tomorrow... which is Christmas Eve and the beginning of a 5 day rest! Whoop!
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