The model of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple includes more than 13,500 Lego blocks.
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — When Amy Bergner, the Primary president of the University Park Ward in the Newport Beach California Stake, asked Samuel Mirejovsky to build her a temple out of Legos for sharing time, she was expecting a structure that would fit inside a shoebox.
What she got was a 4-foot-by-4-foot Bountiful Utah Temple that takes several men to lift. The model of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple includes more than 13,500 Lego blocks.
It's a model built with skill and testimony.
Mirejovsky warned her at the start that it might turn out bigger than she planned. It would also take him a bit of time — from early June to September, it turns out — with Mirejovsky working an average of two hours a day on the project.
He presented the temple to the LDS ward's Primary children in September.
"This is the biggest thing I've built thus far," said Mirejovsky, who spends much of his spare time "playing" with Legos.
He welcomes a challenge and for the temple, he scavenged Legos from across the world, buying a few here and there from collectors and garage sale treasure hunters.
He found some critical blocks in Norway from a guy who had four pieces he needed from a discontinued Star Wars Lego set. He ordered many online from friends who know he's a Lego nut.
"I have a very corporate job, and every week or so, the secretary would come in shaking another package saying 'Legos!’ ” Mirejovsky said. "I go to school. I'm a first-year law student, and this hobby is probably the best thing I could do for stress release."
He built the temple with his 4-year-old son so it didn't cut into daddy and son time, although he often had to adjust some of the work Daniel did on his own.
"We kind of build side by side," Mirejovsky said. "He really works at it during the day, using his imagination. He knows it's a temple."
Mirejovsky didn't have a pattern for the temple. He just looked at pictures and worked out what he would do on his own. His grandfather was an architect so he thinks maybe some of the genes were passed down to him so the work comes easily to him.
"Making it believable is the fun part," he said. "It isn't perfect but it's close."
Mirejovsky chose to use light bluish-gray blocks because he already had a number of pieces that color and he thought Bergner wanted the temple built quickly. He really didn't plan for it to take all summer.
The 31-year-old Mormon dad has long been a Lego hobbyist, though he doesn't compete in contests or seek publicity.
He just builds what he wants. To do so, he has boxes and boxes of little plastic bags with Legos sorted by size, color and shape. His parent's home is a repository for the Legos that don't fit inside his small family home.
He doesn't glue the blocks together. He considers that "cheating" when it comes to Lego construction, and he doesn't mix mediums. Every part of his temple is Lego.
"I'm an absolute purist, but I'm not insane. I'm in the middle," he said. "There really is no limit to what you can do with these things, though sometimes you have to run things upside down. You can actually built a curved arch using some of the Technic blocks that add flex. I want to try that."
For the Bountiful Utah Temple, Mirejovsky wanted to build his support inside a skin exterior that left the temple smooth like granite. "That's the tricky part. That's how you cheat gravity," he said.
"The hallmark of a really good Lego piece is that people can't immediately figure out how you did it."
His next project is a working train station and beyond that, maybe more temples.
"The Salt Lake Temple is very buildable," he said. "It comes down to pieces that are hard to get."
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with 30 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.