Ten Soviet inspectors got a close-up look at an LDS fast and testimony meeting May 7 when they visited the Copper City 1st Ward in the Kearns Utah West Stake.
The special guests responded to a standing invitation from Bishop Christian M. Feinauer to attend any of the ward's meetings whenever they would like. Bishop Feinauer sent a letter to the Soviet group, which is stationed in Utah to monitor compliance to the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty between the Soviet Union and United States. The inspectors live in West Jordan, Utah, and monitor production activity at the Hercules Inc. Bacchus Works facility in west Salt Lake County.
The idea to invite the Soviets originated with Lorin D. Welker, a Russian linguist for the On-Site Inspection Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, who is a welfare clerk in the Copper City 1st Ward. Welker and three others - one LDS - have served as translators, interpreters and escorts for the Soviet inspectors since last July.
The Soviet inspectors filled a central row in the chapel and watched intently as two babies were blessed, a confirmation performed and testimonies borne. They smiled at the comments of several children who stood to express their love for their families, the gospel and their Heavenly Father. The visitors scrutinized the words of the hymns and whispered questions to each other during the meeting, and to Welker and his wife, Sharon.
There are 27 Soviets presently stationed in Utah. The inspectors are rotated in and out of the state approximately every two months.
"I escort them all of the time," explained Welker, "and one of the places they always request to see is Temple Square. Whenever we get a new group, that is one of the first places they want to go. Almost all of them who visit have left with a Russian copy of the Book of Mormon."