Thursday, January 30, 2014


Every other form of social media does "throw back thursdays" (#tbt) so I can bring it into the blogging world, right? Right!
I missed the train today, twice actually, because I somehow forgot what time I had to be at school.
So I just stayed home... I decided I wanted to watch a movie, so I looked through the DVD's and came across two movies from my younger days. 
1) The Day of Celebration
2) The Draper Temple Celebration
I decided I would watch The Day of Celebration.
If you were a 12-18 year old member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, living in the Salt Lake valley in July of 2005 you probably know what I'm talking about.  If you weren't, or if you just didn't live in Utah you will most likely have no clue as to what this was.

In July of 2005 the youth of the church had the opportunity to join together and celebrate Joseph Smith's 200th birthday and the 175th anniversary of the church, in singing and dancing.
Young men and young women 12-18 from the Salt Lake valley gathered at Rice Eccles Stadium (the football stadium at the University of Utah) to have a celebration.  The stadium was packed to capacity with 45,000+ people.  The youth formed a 15,000 body choir, 2,400 flag carriers, and more than 5,200 dancers.  52,000 glow sticks were used and scarves for each person in the stadium were used to create a spectacular sight as together we spelled out "Joseph's 200", "Choose Light", and "Follow The Prophet" across the stadium. We sang, danced, clapped, cheered, listened, learned, and had our testimonies strengthened that night. It is truly a night that I will never forget.

I had the opportunity to sing in that 15,000 body choir.  I can honestly say it was one of the greatest things I have ever done in my life.  Many Sunday evenings were spent with my stake rehearsing the songs, then it was Sunday evenings at the Conference Center with the other 14,999 youth, then we had Saturday practices, as well as the normal Sunday practices.  This was definitely not something that was taken lightly.  The songs were hard, especially for an inexperienced singer, but they were fun.  They were so full of life and joy that it didn't matter that they were hard.  With each new song we learned my testimony was strengthened.  The Day of Celebration was all my friends and I could talk about at school (because we had been practicing while we were still in school).  When I agreed to perform I had no idea what to expect, and I didn't think it would be close to what it was.  The Friday before we performed we met at Rice Eccles Stadium at 3:00 pm to rehearse the songs, and then do a complete run-through or two of the performance.  We were there, in the 100+ degree weather that Utah is known for in July, from 3:00-11:30.  It was a long day, but I remember it was so fun.  But it held nothing in comparison to the actual performance.

We performed for our parents, our ward leaders, our stake leaders, our regional leaders.  We had the wonderful opportunity to have members of the Quorum of Twelve as well as the First Presidency present.  The celebration was also broadcast to Stake centers so that those who couldn't go to the stadium could still participate.   I remember being in awe the entire night, there were surprises that we didn't know about.  It was amazing to see how much work people put into preparing this celebration.  Although we were celebrating anniversaries that are dear to the church it was definitely something for the youth.  You could tell that the people in charge really wanted the youth to have something in their lives to strengthen them in the gospel.  I'd walk you through the program song by song, but that would take a long time.  We sang about finding joy in the journey, we had a group perform about showing your faith, and "calling home" or praying.  We were introduced to the Tongan tradition of Haka's when a group of young men performed one, center field, about being witnesses of God.  We transformed the stadium into a spectacular sight with scarves of red, blue, and yellow.  The organizers had planned meticulously so that we could create images throughout the stadium.  We first formed the words "Joseph's 200" it was the most incredible thing to see.  Then we formed a mountain range and watched as it grew lighter and then went back to dusk.  On top of the mountain range we formed the phrases "Choose Light" and "Follow The Prophet".  It was incredible to see what a little bit of teamwork could form.  At one point, the stadium lights were turned off and on the big screens they began to show a clip from the Joseph Smith movie, and the choir began to sing "Oh How Lovely Was The Morning".  It was at that moment that I was brought to tears.  To be singing praises and testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith while watching his account of the First Vision be played out was such an incredible testimony strengthener for me.  We had the wonderful privilege to have then prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley come out and speak to us.  He encouraged us to never forget the experience we had and spoke of his appreciation of the fun that we were having.  After he spoke he handed glow sticks to the two "narrators" of the show, the stadium lights went off, the narrators walked the field and row by row the stadium was lit up with the light of glow sticks, the missionaries who were serving in the Salt Lake mission came out onto the field, and the choir began to sing "The Spirit of God", joined with the rest of the audience on the last verse.

As I re-watched the performance, I was texting my friend about it.  We decided that we were extremely lucky as youth to be able to participate not only in this celebration but also in the celebration of the Draper temple.  I knew I was lucky then, but looking back I see how incredibly blessed I was.  I still remember the songs to this day, and the lyrics will randomly pop into my mind and give me a little boost.  I know that my testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel was definitely increased during this experience.  This experience showed thousands of youth that the church could be fun.  It isn't often that we gather and sing and clap and dance as a church.  It also showed how much the leaders of the church value and believe in the youth.  The organizer's of this event spent 18 months preparing for it, that's 18 month's of volunteer work so that we could have an experience that would introduce us to member's throughout the valley and to have fun.  I know that my leader's in my ward took a lot of time out of their own schedule's to be at practices, to take us to and from the conference center, they helped us learn the songs, and were there with us when we performed.
I am grateful for this experience and the growth that I saw in myself during that time.  I am grateful that I am able to go back and continue to learn from that experience.

*I have pictures that I borrowed from the DVD but my internet connection is sloooooow so those will be come*
**thank you for allowing me this throw back thursday**

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