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Each week the workers are given home-baked cookies
Construction workers on the Tallahassee Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, rising on Thomasville Road in northwest Tallahassee, are developing somewhat of a sweet tooth.
Every Wednesday, temple construction missionaries Bruce and Christine Hale distribute cookies to the workers along with a personal note from area members of the Church.
Early in their mission, the Hales sought ways to establish a supportive connection with the construction site workers toiling in the Florida sun. So, acting on a suggestion received during their mission training, they began to provide weekly treats for each worker, along with an individual note of appreciation.
“The first week we gave them Twinkies,” Sister Hale said with a reminiscent chuckle. “Then we started baking cookies. Soon, word got out about what we were doing, and Church members … started baking cookies.”
Sister Hale noted that members outside the Tallahassee Stake and even friends who are not Latter-day Saints have contributed homemade cookies. Now it is an organized effort which ward and branch Church members within the temple district (nine stakes) join by calling the Hales to offer their help.
By Tuesday each week, participants bake, individually wrap, and deliver or mail cookies (with attached thank-you notes) to the Temple Visitors’ Center, a modular building in the parking lot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse at 2440 Papillion Road. The new temple site is adjacent to the meetinghouse.
“We currently distribute around 100 cookies each Wednesday,” Sister Hale said, “but the totals change as crews come and go … The workers look forward to Wednesdays.”
And not only for the sweet treat, Elder Hale added. “It’s more than just a cookie. To some workers, the notes are special, and they keep them. It really came home to me about two weeks ago. I saw a worker who didn’t get a cookie, and he said, ‘I just want them for the notes.’ I think these notes become very personal to the people.”
This is partly because, Sister Hale pointed out, there is a different note on each cookie each week. Her hus
band went on to describe a memorable experience with one of the crane operators involving the notes.
“He received his cookie every Wednesday, and he was so gracious and grateful,” Elder Hale recalled. “He took pictures of all the notes and sent them to his social media group of crane operators. He got a surprising number of responses—over 200 in a 24-hour period. He told us that people asked, ‘What kind of job IS this that you get a cookie?’”
But welcome as they are, cookies and notes are not the only means of outreach at this unusual job site.
“The combination of cookie and note is a powerful missionary tool,” Elder Hale said, “but we also have many materials available to workers that will answer their questions.”
The missionary couple have created an inviting atmosphere in the Visitors’ Center, establishing a theme around the Savior and the family.
“On the walls, we have a picture of the Savior,” Elder Hale said, “a copy of ‘The Living Christ,’ and family-history-related things, like pictures of our family displayed with the “Proclamation on the Family.”
They also have weekly optional devotionals, which some workers elect to attend.
“Several people who have come to devotionals have left saying, ‘I needed that,’” Sister Hale noted.
At times, the visitors’ center can be quite busy. “The missionaries teach lessons here, and many Church grou
ps come,” Elder Hale said.
It is even a destination venue for some, according to Sister Hale, mentioning two different women who wanted a trip to the temple site for their birthday present. “And a couple wanted to celebrate their first anniversary here,” she said.
The Hales’ mission will end when the temple is completed. Meanwhile, they greatly—and gratefully—enjoy nurturing and teaching construction workers.
“It’s our hope,” said Elder Hale, “that, through sharing a cookie, a note, scriptures, videos, and short devotionals, a seed is planted in the hearts of these wonderful people—so their next encounter with the Church will be a very positive one.”
Anyone in the temple district is welcome to join the cookie-and-note project. For more information on that or the Visitors’ Center, please contact Elder Hale at 801-243-0642.