Tonight I was driving by the Gilbert Temple, and it seemed to shine a little more brightly. I promise - it really seemed to have an extra glow. Just across the street from the temple today, thousands of youth from our temple district were practicing for the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration--ALL DAY LONG. They have been working for months, and I am so proud of them as they're bringing all their hard work from their respective regions together!
The music for the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration is so inspired, and I'm telling you, every single youth who has participated has their testimonies shining a little more brightly, too. Rosanne Tidwell is the leader of it all, and she is definitely the woman for the job - she has written the script & most of the music, she has motivated large numbers of people, she has shared love with everyone from the get-go, and she has helped be an instrument in the Lord's hands for enacting a miracle. Never before in the church has there been a temple cultural celebration this large, with this many youth. She and the executive committee are doing an excellent job with this once-in-a-life-time opportunity to turn the hearts of the youth in this temple district towards the Lord & to truly help them understand what building temples is all about.
I was fortunate to be given the assignment to teach the music to the youth in our ward in preparation for the Cultural Celebration. It has been a time commitment, but more rewarding than anything. I already loved these kids, but boy do I love them more, and I pray they will internalize these messages and be stalwart, faithful, and true members of the church for the rest of their lives. I hope they will always remember who they are and know that they are the children of Abraham, that they are of the house of Israel, and that the Lord himself knows who they are and wants to bless them with all the same blessings of the chosen people in the scriptures. I hope that when they are down, or when they need inspiration in their lives, that THESE SONGS will come back to them & call to their remembrance the things that they know and believe in, and that they'll feel the TRUTH that the Lord lives and loves them. This experience has been electrifying for all of us, and the actual day hasn't even happened, yet!
Here are some snapshots of the music we've been singing from the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration (some are hymns, some are by Rosanne, some are by others, but all the messages are powerful):
Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right? If the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? NO! True to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished! To God's command, soul HEART and HAND, faithful and TRUE, we will ever stand! #LIVETRUEGILBERT!
I choose this day! I choose the person I will be. Will I fear man? Deny who I am and what I believe? Will I stand strong, and turn my back to Babylon? I find my strength when I kneel to pray. I will follow the Lord! I choose THIS day!
Toma, toma mi mano, y ven con mingo a un mundo mejor, un mundo, sin tres tezas, y ven conmigo a un mundo de amor!
I love you Arizona - desert dust on the wind, the sage and cactus are blooming, and the smell of the rain on your skin! Oooooh, Arizona, you're the magic in me. Ooooooh, Arizona, you're the life-blood of me!
We'll be TRUE to the God of Abraham! His name is written IN OUR HEARTS! His spirit guides us, he stands beside us, a nation set apart! We'll find Zion in the midst of Babylon - "Courage Strong" will be our guide. The light of promise still shines upon us. We trust our God! We're in His hands! For we're the children of Abraham!
How can I be like my brother Nephi, and my father Lehi of old? How can I be like Captain Moroni? And the wars that were told? How can I be forever, like the promise to the 3 Nephites? I wanna be Samuel the Lamanite, I wanna be Benjamin the wise, I wanna be like Abinidi! Oh, tell me, HOW can I be like them? How can I be like Alma the younger, a strong servant of the Lord? How can I be like mighty Ammon whose heart was the sword? How can I be a stripling warrior, and learn to fight by faith? I wanna be Samuel the Lamanite! I wanna be Benjamin the wise! I wanna be like Jesus Christ! Oh tell me, how can I be like Him?
My ward assignment...as large as it was to work with 60 youth and help them memorize their lyrics was only a SMALL part of what's been happening. It's been a big deal to me, but we have an entire committee just for our ward, an entire committee just for the stake, then there are regional directors, and then there is the executive committee. At all of these respective committee levels, we also have a dance specialist, we have a food specialist, we have a secretary, we have a committee chair, we have a props director, we have captains of 10, and MORE! This has been a major production, but what's amazing is that so many people are doing their parts, and it's creating something that is bigger than us all - it's creating a GIFT to the Lord of our time, talents, and testimonies.
We all had limited time & rehearsals to teach our kids their respective parts before they met with the stake & regional rehearsals. These kids will be on TV, and they needed to know the lyrics, so I promised them a cinnamon roll party for memorizing their songs by a certain date...my friend Brie showed up to help me, and we made 150 cinnamon rolls for the youth & leaders who took the challenge to learn their lyrics early. Unfortunately, I planned this on the same day as the Super Bowl, so that ran into some conflicts with the timing of it and whatnot, but in the end it all worked out & Mitchell announced it to the kids as the "SUPER ROLL PARTY", and in the end we had kids making an effort to internalize these messages sooner than later. For example, my friend Autum texted me & thanked me for doing this. She said her boys were sitting on the trampoline quizzing each other, and I just felt the Spirit to catch a glimpse of these kids' excitement & dedication. Another one of our youth told me beforehand that she didn't need a special treat - she just wanted to memorize because she wanted to, not because she had to, and I felt the Spirit of that, too - she came to my party & didn't eat a cinnamon roll b/c she's going without sugar, but that was her way of being a part of it & giving her best efforts anyway. These are just 2 micro-moments of what the kids are doing and how they've been feeling, and it's been amazing. Now take those little moments & multiply them by 12,000 youth - so much good is happening in the lives of these kids, you could NEVER quantify the positive ripple effect it is having and will continue to have throughout their lives. It's been a treasured gift to have an assignment like this, and to be able to say that I've had a small part in it!