We were all so excited when we found out last year that there would be a Cultural Celebration the night before our Gilbert Temple would be dedicated. Even more excited that ALL the youth from the Gilbert Temple district would be asked to participate. ALL = 12,706 youth!!! Stake leaders were called on to help, we also had others in charge of costumes, props, learning the music and sign language, our dance and nearly 1,300 adults were asked to be a Captain of 10. (I was a Captain of 10!) This was a massive undertaking, to say the least. January 8, 2014 was our first practice as a ward. I was so impressed with our kids and dance instructor.
We were able to get through the whole dance the first night!
One of the first attempts at the rollercoaster.
They looked great....especially for their first practice.
It wouldn't be a activity without refreshments...
or clean up! After 3 weeks, we took our mad dancing skills and joined up with....
our stake! The first night took nearly 40 minutes just to get lined up correctly. After that, I was amazed at how well the practice went.
We spent 3 weeks working on our dance as a stake before our first regional practice - aka SUPER SATURDAY.
It was a busy day! The first half was spent putting the finishing touches on our dance.
Toma Mi Mano
The second half was spent getting into our correct spaces around the field and running through the program once before dinner. We were supposed to run through the program after dinner as well, but too many kids were having breathing problems because of all the dust. The cancelled the last practice and sent everyone home for the night. Colton was really sick and the next day was on the verge on pneumonia! The doctor told us he had to miss the next week of school. I'll be honest......I was thrilled to have him to myself all week! Yes, I was sad he was sick, but we watched movies and talked all week. I needed that!
|Colton with our Stake Banner that he designed!|
What I didn't need was getting sick just before the performance day! I was put on meds and had a steroid shot to help my lungs. Thankfully, I was able to be there on March 1st. The day started out great - the cousins found each other!!!
I don't know how the boys felt, but I loved being with them.
Don't they look excited?!? ;-)
What a blessing to have another temple!
This is how close we were to the prophet. He and President Eyring would be under a tent around this platform.
Some of our incredible youth!
I love that we could easily see our banner across the field.
More practicing where to be on the field.
Sister Tidwell speaking to the kids. She wrote the entire program over 10 years ago!
I loved that we were in the prophets favorite color - Yellow!
It was really exciting to have the dress rehearsal start.
Just a portion of the 12,000+ youth.
Gilbert Stapley Stake Banner
It was so cool to have the temple in the background of the show.
The clouds that never dropped rain.....until the program was about to start.
It made me so teary eyed to see all of these young men and young women waving their own Title of Liberty.
Then to see the future missionaries with the flag of the country they will serve.
Our stake leaders had the best shirts. I think Tony and I should have these for the House of Steve!
Now the kids were in full costume. I'm so glad I took lots of photos during the rehearsal since I wasn't able to get any photos of the performance during the pouring rain.
Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty
It was so moving to see all of these kids signing to I Choose This Day.
Now time for our big number. Of course the camera is between me and my boys! It didn't stop me from trying to get a few decent shots.
It looked so great to have everyone lined up across the field. Too bad it was pouring that night and so many kids had a difficult time just lifting their feet out of the mud. But they were happy!
Lots of talented kids played their ukulele for the song How Can I Be.
All the Titles of Liberty with the missionary flags on the stage.
I was so touched by the music, dancing and effort of everyone. The spirit was so strong. I didn't know how it could be topped. After this performance, we broke for dinner and had to be back and ready to go by 6:30pm. 6:30pm is exactly when the overburdened clouds could no longer contain themselves. It rained and everyone was soaked by the time the prophet arrived. Just then, the rain stopped and we saw President Eyring greet the crowd. All of our soaked youth cheered when they saw him. Here I was, soaking wet, sitting on the ground, sick and it was all worth it to see their reaction and feel the magnitude of the moment. Then something changed. The roar of the crowd escalated to the most jubilant cheers I've ever heard. I knew the moment I heard it that they had just seen our prophet, Thomas S. Monson.
I was correct. I quickly took advantage of the dry sky, grabbed my camera and ran down the incline to see if I could get a shot or two.
Channel 15 News broadcast this performance live online and the reporters kept commenting that these kids were acting like they were at a rock concert. They were so happy to see the prophet that they didn't even care about the rain that began to fall as the performance began. They sang and danced their hearts out. As for the rain, it didn't stop until we were all home! It had rained all day throughout the valley, except where we were! We were so blessed to have the rain hold out for us so we could still perform that night. Colton had a different view of the rain altogether. He said what does a desert need most? Water. He felt they were blessed with what this land needed for the effort and goodness of our youth. I love that! And I love that I was able to have a small part in this incredible celebration. The next morning, our whole family went to the dedication of the Gilbert Temple. What a blessing for us to be together for that occasion! I'm so thankful for temples. I'm so thankful that Tony and I are sealed together and to our children for time and all eternity!