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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 30Jan02
By Marc Schindler
Download to My Handheld!

Canada Press Reporter Looks at Mormons and Olympics

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA -- In a spectacular 3-page spread in the middle of our weekly commentary section, the Sunday issue of the Edmonton Journal carries a report by CP (Canadian Press) reporter Gary Mason, who I believe is from Vancouver. He starts and ends with somewhat tongue-in-cheeks forecasts that the biggest problems the games will have is a lack of taxis. As the Edmonton Journal is a Southam chain paper, presumably this same article appeared in major metropolitan papers across the whole country.

Mason is very impressed with the venue, the spectacular scenery, and a city filled with helpful, friendly people -- always willing to help out a stranger. He found out that many homeless people come here from L.A. because Mormons are more generous.

He mentioned that the volunteers were being well-trained, and missionaries were told, for once, no to proselytize. but the LDS nature of the town is bound to come through, and if the "Mo-lympics" are a success, it can't help but reflect positively on the Church.

The highlight of Mason's trip was a visit to the weekly broadcast of the Spoken Word, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose recordings had been a favourite of his mother's, especially around Christmas, and when the Choir suddenly started into "Joy to the World," the reporter was taken back to comforting memories of childhood Christmases. He also toured welfare square, calls the new conference centre "jaw-droppingly" immense. and intermingles with the missionaries, searching out Canadian elders being assigned overseas. His hosts were a married couple from Canada and it turns out that the author and the wife attended the same university (probably, from clues he gives, Waterloo Lutheran University, now known as Sir Wilfrid Laurier University.

Mason interviews one Elder Arcus, from Fort St.John, BC, who was bound for Romania. Two of his lunchmates are going to Russia: St. Petersburg and Vladivostok. He's amazed at how global the missionary program is.

He spent a lot of time at Welfare Square, truly impressed with the charitable activities of the Church, some of which he enumerated. The biggest destination is the U.S., the 2nd biggest is Russia, and the 3rd India. At the time he was there he watched 55 bundles of 45 kg clothing bundles which were being prepared to be sent to Afghanistan. Statistic after statistic rolls forth: 190,000 quilts since Kosovo, crocheted dolls for leper patients in Africa, and soon and so on..

He also felt, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to reassure his fellow journalists that he was able to get a drink. In Utah one needs to purchase an inexpensive "membership" in an establishment, and he found this a bit baffling but in other respects actually more liberal than many other states. The one problem with this system is that each membership is only good for one bar. However, the first bar he encountered, which had been recommended to him, was the Goat's Head.

Clean-cut, nice people, combing charity and industriousness, but somehow managing not to lose wealth in the process.

"Unlike almost every big city in the U.S., you can walk down any street here at midnight without feeling the least bit concerned about your safety. In that sense, it feels like a Canadian city."

Infrastructure development, such as LRT (light rain transit as we would call it in Calgary, where it's been in operation for more than 20 years), public spaces, and of course the unique challenge of security which overshadows these games.

Summary: 3 whole pages occupying about half the entire section. Fantastic montage of pictures as an illustration, and very favourable impression. A mark on the wall for the Public Affairs folks!


From the divine to the dives
Edmonton AB Canada Journal (CP) 27Jan02 S1
By Gary Mason


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