General Conference offers unique opportunities for Temple Square missionaries to interact with members and reach a larger audience that would usually be outside the mission boundaries.
Temple Square is the only LDS mission in which there are only female, or sister missionaries, as they are referred to in the church.
The mission has just under 200 sisters, although not all of them are in the mission at the same time. At different points during their 18-month missionary service, the sisters leave to spend three months in different missions in the United States. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles decide which stateside mission the Temple Square sisters go to.
Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission President Craig Fisher said people who can’t get into a session spread blankets across the lawn to listen over the speakers outside the Conference Center and around Temple Square.
“It’s packed. I mean, literally, you walk out onto Temple Square and it’s just elbow-to-elbow,” he added.
Sister Louise Boutoille, from France, and Sister Rachel Sneddon, from Germany, are currently serving as zone leaders in the Temple Square Mission. They have both been on their missions for just over 16 months.
Both sisters said they love conference time in the mission. They attend one session of General Conference and spend the time during the remaining sessions outside on Temple Square, listening and talking to visitors.
“The whole feel of Temple Square changes, because you have so many people coming to hear the word of God,” Sister Sneddon said. “I think one of the coolest parts is when tourists still come, because they come every day. They come and ask, ‘What’s going on? What is this big event?’ And you can just tell them, ‘Hey, we’re hearing from the prophets and apostles of the Lord right now.'”
Sister Boutoille also loves talking with members after General Conference and helping them apply what they learned. She tries to prompt them so they won’t forget the feelings they had and act on the promptings they received. She asks them, “What are you going to do with this now?”
“I love when we can hear the conference in the square over the speakers,” Sister Boutoille said.
President Fisher said the sisters have the opportunity to talk to many members during conference and end up getting many referrals.
“They talk to lots of people, mostly LDS-folk who come, and they have great discussions,” President Fisher said. “Families come, and we show them around, seeing the sights on Temple Square. We get a lot of referrals over conference weekend from members.”
President Fisher said local stake members also come during conference weekend and set up food for the sisters.
“It’s nice because they don’t get to go, as other missionaries do, into the homes of the members,” President Fisher said. “To have the members come here is really nice.”
President Fisher said one of the reasons there are only sisters in this mission is their ability to communicate.
“Sisters have the innate ability to communicate in a natural way,” President Fisher said. “It’s a gift from God to women to be able to speak in a natural way, so they get into the hearts of people much quicker.”
President Fisher said the missionaries at Temple Square are “wonderful.”
“They can do so much,” President Fisher said. “They have this light in their eyes.”
President Fisher said the Temple Square Mission has had a lot of success in his time as mission president.
Sisters serve at teaching centers at the Temple Square Mission for about three hours per day, and according to President Fisher, people from all over the world call in to these centers.
“We can’t keep up with the number of people who call. We’re trying,” President Fisher said. “So we have more people who are interested than we can keep up with.”
The missionaries usually teach the people who call a lesson or two online through Skype. They also teach people on Temple Square.
“We try to tell them about the history, but we also try to tell them about Christ, families, the restoration,” President Fisher said. “You’d be surprised how many people join the church.”