Harold and Mary Dunn
     Feb 1986 - Sept 1987

by Michael Smith Staff Writer

ST. GEORGE "Our mission has been some of the most productive ears of our lives," Elder Howard Dunn said.

Elder Dunn and his wife, Mary, have just completed an 18 month mission with a one month extension where they served as directors of the St. George LDS Temple Visitors Center and Historic Sites. Retired, the Dunn came here from Salt Lake City in February 1986.

Elder Dunn says the visitor center handles an average of 10,000 tourist a month, averaging 15,400 per month during the summer. He said said he was surprised at the large number of foreigners, especially from Europe, who visit the temple.

According to Dunn the most asked questions (outside of "When does the tour for the big white building start?") are inquiries about the principles of the Mormon religion.

"People, especially Europeans, have been subjected to rumors and stories about our religion," Elder Dunn says. "They*re interested in finding out the facts."

Elder Dunn says their position as directors of the visitor center has given them the opportunity to explain the principles and history of the Mormon religion.

Sister Dunn says as many as 2,000 tourist from both France and Germany will visit the center during a summer month. One month they had 44 tour buses carrying French tourists, who, of course, spoke French.

Sister Dunn says it was her husband who had to speak with them. He had gone to France on a mission, but that was fifty years ago, so Elder Dunn*s French was a tad rusty. However, conducting tours for 2000 French speakers every month can help speed up one*s memory. He*s now able to think in the language, which Elder Dunn points out is the only way one can hope to be fluent in a language.

The most unusual tourist group the Dunns played host to was four Buddhist monks from Thailand.

"They were shaved and wore the official robes," Sister Dunn says. "I was surprised at how eager they were to learn about the history of The Book of Mormon ."

Elder Dunn says they seemed to thoroughly enjoy their tour and afterwards wanted to be photographed with Sister Dunn, "which is very unusual because they normally don*t like to be photographed."

At the end of their tour, Sister Dunn presented the leader of the group with a Thai translation of "The Book of, Mormon," which, she says, was enthusiastically accepted. In fact, the other three monks looked so curious and anxious to read the book that she gave everyone a copy on the promise he would read it. She says all eagerly agreed to comply.

"The leader of the group," Sister Dunn says, "said The Book of Mormon would be placed at the alter in the Buddhist temple in Bangkok." The Dunn plan to return to Salt Lake City and get their home back into order, visit their four children and 19 grandchildren and do some traveling.

"We*ll miss the red hills," Sister Dunn says. "St. George is full of friendly, good people."

However, they won*t miss it for too long. The Dunns rented a condominium and plan to spend some of the winter months down here in warm St. George.

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27 Oct 2004