A great story is making the rounds on social media about a missionary couple and the Provo City Center Temple. The following was posted by the Provo City Center Temple Open House and Dedication Facebook page:
When Jay and Sylvia Newitt go to work every morning, they put on work clothes, orange vests, hard hats, and — missionary name tags.
Elder and Sister Newitt were called in 2013 to be Construction Service Missionaries at the Provo City Center Temple. Elder Newitt was a professor of Construction Management at BYU until his retirement in 2012, so this assignment seemed like a natural fit for them.
Most people have never heard of Construction Service Missionaries. As Elder Newitt explains, their responsibility is to ensure that the building progresses according to the plans and specifications from the Church. In addition they keep a comprehensive history of the project, complete with pictures, and they minister to the needs of the many construction workers on site.
The Newitts are enthusiastic about all their duties but they enjoy most their service to the construction workers. Elder Newitt says of his wife, “She knows the names of just about every worker. She talks to them often. And they just love her.” That is easy to believe as Sister Newitt describes how talented the workers are, how difficult their tasks can be when every detail in temple construction is expected to be flawless. The pressure on the workers is intense, to do their very best and then do just a little bit better. Sister Newitt says, “We need to value people who can work with their hands. They have educated hands.” Those educated hands create beauty and stability as complex designs are translated from blueprint to reality in stone, wood, marble, steel and glass.
Elder Newitt goes on to explain that every company, every contractor and subcontractor “has sent their A team.” This particular temple has provided special challenges as the original structure on and around which the construction has occurred was built in the 1880s. “The walls are not plumb,” he says. “No two window frames are the same. Every rafter had to be cut specifically for its section, every window had to be custom made.”
The Newitts are familiar faces throughout Utah Valley as they are scheduled for frequent firesides, at which they speak, according to Elder Newitt, on how the construction of this temple relates to gospel principles. Sister Newitt adds that they include in their presentation a brief history of the Tabernacle and what the area was like at the time. They are asked not to publish their schedule of firesides, but it isn’t difficult to find out when one is happening because word travels fast, and announcements are made in individual stakes and organizations.
Elder and Sister Newitt both say they are certain the construction workers will consider their work on the Provo City Center Temple to be a highlight in both their careers and their lives because the workers often tell the Newitts as much. “They feel the Spirit of the place.” The Newitts clearly feel the same way as they relate that no matter how often they walk through the new temple, their reverence and awe for the beauty they see, and for what it represents, only increases. Elder Newitt feels sure that many people who go to the Open House will want to come back. “One look will not be enough.”
You can read more about the open house and dedication of the Provo City Center Temple here. Also, check out our beautiful spring gallery of the temple here.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.