In the past, popular LDS artist Chad Hawkins wrote a book on the first 100 temples of the Church. Knowing that people loved it, and seeing that the church was hitting a milestone with 150 temples, he decided to update his first book by re-writing the early chapters with updates and adding on 50 new chapters for each new temple. He researched and interviewed many people in the effort to find and share the unique story of each temple. His book is called Temples of the New Millennium.
This is part 2 of 2 of an interview with Chad Hawkins. In Part 1, Chad describes his background, opinions, and favorite temples.
In this section, part 2, Chad tells stories and describes details of the book.
Q: Who is the book written for?
This book honestly is for everyone. But it really is for everyone because the youngest of children will enjoy my drawings with the hidden pictures. The grandpa who’s been to the temple hundreds or thousands of times will enjoy this book. People who are even casually interested will enjoy this book because of the histories. It’s a great way to introduce the temple to your families. The facts in the back are really fun. You can make games out of them. I have 150 facts…I list all of the different languages and what it looks like to say House of the Lord, Holiness to the Lord, everything from Chinese to Spanish to Portuguese to German. So you can visually see what does it look like around the world? This book helps you look at temples in ways you’ve never thought of before. It’s good for talks and lessons. You can pick it up, blindly open, and start reading from there. I’m so pleased to finally be able to share all of this… I’ve had a lot of people tell me they read this in family home evenings… It’s testimony building and it’s from so many different perspectives. What I hope comes out of this is I hope people will not take temples for granted because so much work goes into it in the temporal side. I hope people don’t think, “Oh, another temple.”
Q: What is the book like?
It was important to me to make this book as affordable as possible and as nice as possible. This book is amazing because of the stories and facts that are in it. When I designed this book and I actually did design the whole book, I wanted to make it affordable and so I did that by a couple means. One, the entire book is black and white. And the other thing is the size. We made it as large as possible, while considering the parent sheet large paper press. We fill up every inch. There’s nothing wasted. If you go any larger, you lose a spread on a sheet. We just maximized the efficiencies. From the book cover to the printing page to the trim… All of that was taken into consideration. It’s a 320 page book, hardcover, very nice paper, black and white throughout…It retails for 32.99. To get all of this book which is a significant product…is a very good value.
Q: What do you think about the significance of the Provo City Center Temple?
I knew that for the church, the 150th temple would be a landmark temple. A lot of people thought it would be the Rome temple. It’s not a coincidence. It was planned to be a significant marking opportunity.
Q: What does it take to build a temple at such high quality?
They’ll fly the contractors out and even the artisans out to sites of construction. People have to see what temple quality means… They’ll fly you and your team to a temple under construction to talk to their local architects to get a tour of what it means to build with temple quality. They have to see it. It’s not just written down. They have to say, are you okay with this? They also do it with a timeline. We did this in six months. You have to do this in six months. You have to know what we mean. There’s problems if they don’t. They can’t use any excuse that we’re being picky. It’s all up front.
I’ve met so many people who have built temples and they put their care into parts of the building that no one will ever see but they’re still consistent with temple quality. But it’s in a mechanical room, it’s behind the sheet rock. It’s got to be temple quality behind the sheet rock. It’s happened.
One person told me, Chad we didn’t build this temple once. We built it three times because they didn’t do it right the first time or the second time. Well the people going there today, they won’t know that. They’ll never see it. I hope by reading these stories they’ll maybe just get a glimmer of appreciation for the blessing it is. I hope it just makes us all raise our bar a little bit.
Q: What are some facts that fascinates you?
San Antonio Texas Temple:
I interviewed the construction missionary of the San Antonio Texas Temple and I knew him well because he helped build a few different temples. But that temple was built on a hill, and as they were carving the bedrock beneath, they discovered a cave. The way the geology is in that area near San Antonio, they often have caves that drip water. They have these stalactites, stalagmites. And he said, we found a cave that was large enough for us to walk in. He said you have to build the caves with concrete before you can build a large structure on top. And so they dug up some small, some large caves. He took a tool, a rock saw, and he cut off the stalagmite and stalactites from top and bottom and made a collection of them. And then they filled it up with concrete. But then they took these geologic formations and they took a laser and cut them into small lasers and gave them to the artist who created the windows and all of the glass all around the temples, the theme is wheat. And all of the wheat…is the stalagmites that were found underneath the temple. People look at it and they say, “Oh glass,” but really it was rock.
I interviewed a temple president who told me of a faithful sister who works in the Taipei temple. She’s been a temple worker ever since it opened. She comes like once a month because she lives out of town. She takes a train. She‘s blind. She takes the train and she works for a week. She’s done like 5,000 plus endowment sessions and things. I asked him, how does she get around the temple? He says she knows every piece of furniture, all the handrails, how many steps are in the room.
I interviewed her through the temple president…She said I go to the temple because in the temple, I can see…because I see with the light of Christ.
On the flight, (to Kona) the guy next to me says, what are you going to Kona for, and I said oh there’s a Mormon Temple being built and there’s the dedication. We’re gonna dedicate it. He looks at me and he says, I’m the architect. I looked at him and I told him, I thought I was being a missionary. Boom. We shake hands. We started talking. We ended up staying in the same hotel… We rented the same taxi. And then I’m standing in line with him, I check in first, they overbooked the hotel. The architect didn’t have a room so I invited him to stay with me. I had two queens. So for three days, I’m hanging, beings boys, with the architect. And so he would talk and tell me these wonderful stories. We got there the very next day, so now, I’m kind of with him. He let me paint some of the benches and he put me to work on the final day. It was really cool. He shared so much with me.
The story with that temple that is one of the many many stories that are in this book, that people have shared with me, this happened to be in a construction trailer. The construction missionary, he said, Chad it came time for us to place the spire in position. And he said we had to build the spire on the ground, assemble it, and then lift it up and put it in position. But he said, we didn’t have a tall enough crane on that island to lift it. He said, the one was cutting it too close and he said, but we decided to try it anyways. It was under capacity, it wasn’t going to hold the weight. He said most of the guys on the crew were Mormons, so we all gathered around.
He showed me a picture, and I can remember it well where all these workers are standing around on the roof of the temple with their hard hats bowed, and they have a picture of them and they’re saying a prayer as they were going to hoist it up.
Anyway, they lifted it up,and this is what he said, this is exactly how he said it. He goes Chad, it made it to the roof and that whole crane, when it lifted up the boom on that crane started to bow and bend like this and he says the back two legs lifted off the ground like this. And he said and we positioned it over the temple and he goes, it cleared the roof by this much… and he goes we placed it into position. Everything was okay. We all cheered. We went running over to the crane operator to congratulate him. He got off the crane and he was dripping with sweat. We congratulated him and he stopped us. He said it wasn’t me. It was the power of the Priesthood that got the spire on the temple today. And that’s when his eyes were all moist and he was feeling that sacred sweet thing. That story’s in my book. And that’s one of the many many stories that were shared to me by people who witnessed miracles and there’s hundreds of stories like that in this book. Can you imagine being me? Being told that story and I’m like who I am I to hear that story? What a blessing, what a privilege and then my desire is: I want to share this.
I’ve worn hard hats. I have been all over the world. I’ve met with people who have done things and who have shared these sweet things with me and I feel like they’ve entrusted them with me. That story in Kona took place in like 97. It’s been so many years but yet I still have the privilege of telling their event, this story. That’s why I care so much about this book because there’s hundreds of them like that in my book and these stories haven’t been published anywhere else. That’s why I feel like this story is amazing but whenever I say this book is amazing, it sounds like the author is just excited about his book but it’s not about that at all.
It’s like, do you know what’s in this book? There are so many amazing stories in this book. You need to read them. And it’s all testifying that the church is true. This is not our work, it’s the Lord’s work… It’s an inspired work from when they break ground to when they build to when it’s dedicated. From start to finish, it’s not our work, and this book testifies of that.
You can get Temples of the New Millennium here.
Lauren is studying Journalism at Brigham Young University and considers the East Coast home. She has a passion for writing, photography, skiing, hiking, and traveling. She enjoys studying German and is married to her best friend.