Catching Up with Olene Walker, Now an LDS Missionary

Catching Up with Olene Walker, Now an LDS Missionary

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Carole Mikita ReportingThe last time we saw former Governor Olene Walker and husband, Myron, they were selling their Salt Lake home and off on what they called another adventure across the country, having nothing to do with politics. What the Walkers acquired during all those years in politics is the art of diplomacy, which is coming in very handy in New York City.

A short stroll down Broadway from their apartment to their new office takes Olene and Myron Walker to work. For Elder and Sister Walker, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this modest space is a far cry from the Governor's Office.

It's often a place for internet research about customs and cultures of different countries, their mission is to make friends with United Nations ambassadors and other diplomats.

Sister Olene Walker, Public Affairs Missionary to U.N.: "Where we could better the image of the church and build a relationship. So if issues came up, such as visas or property to build chapels or allowing the missionaries in, at least we'd have a voice that we could call and talk to about the problem."

They have participated in meetings for NGOs or non-government agencies, but admit the wheels of the U. N. move slowly.

Elder Myron Walker, Public Affairs Missionary to the U. N.: "We've focused more on individual countries rather than going through the United Nations, and I think we've made some friends and some contacts."

Once they learn she's a former governor, she has invitations to speak, recently on a panel at Fordham University.

Sister Olene Walker: "I just kind of sat there in amazement that I was there with all of these learned scholars from the Middle East and Central Asia, but it was an opportunity."

Dr. Ravan Farhadi is Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Nations; he was also on that panel.

Dr. Ravan Farhadi, Afghani Ambassador to the United Nations: "She was talking exactly as someone who knew the subject and who can teach on the subject. And I was very much impressed by it because otherwise I was thinking she was just a prominent lady, just, but no, she was more than that."

The Walkers say recognition of their church has risen even in this city of millions, but there are 190 countries and they've only just begun to make those contacts. The Walkers began serving an 18-month mission in New York City last June.

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