“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:2-3)
As temple building has spread throughout the world, there has always been great anticipation and delight among the Saints, as they await the building and dedication of a new temple. It has been no different for church members in Utah, even though there are already two other temples in the Salt Lake Valley. In conjunction with the joyous occasion of recent temple dedications around the world, youth have been involved in celebrations of dance, music, and song. Elder John Pingree and Elder Patrick Price noted that the two-day youth celebration associated with the Draper Utah Temple and the Oquirrh (pronounced Oh’-kur) Mountain Temple is the first celebration and performance of its kind in the state of Utah. “If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.” (Doctrine & Covenants 136:28) President Hinckley encouraged and supported such celebrations, and President Monson has continued in the same spirit.
As the start time for the celebration drew near, throngs of people orderly entered the Conference Center. Some were in more of a hurry to get to their seat on time.
Many youth groups and families were in attendance, to join in the celebration of this momentous occasion.
Inside the Conference Center, the stage was set with a larger than life backdrop depicting a dramatic “Top of the Mountains” scene. The seats filled up quickly, as excitement grew among both the performers and the audience.
There were several plush chairs set on stage – audience members anticipated the presence of their beloved prophet, President Monson, at the performance.
President Monson and President Eyring were both in attendance. As President Monsen stood to address the audience briefly, he first stated it was his prerogative to change the program. and so he was going to. “Tonight happens to be President Eyring’s birthday, so I think it would be fitting to sing “Happy Birthday” to him.” Everyone present then joined in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday,” followed by a round of applause.
As President Monson took his seat in the front row, he was greeted by President Eyring, with a warm embrace.
This celebration was a massive undertaking, with youth and leaders from 51 different stakes, spending countless hours of preparation and rehearsal time, all to celebrate the building and dedication of two new temples. The thousands of youth involved must have felt a great desire to participate, knowing the sacrifices that would be required. This time of year when school is coming to an end, thoughts of youth are easily dominated by concerns related to final coursework, testing, and celebrations associated with graduation. This celebration however, will certainly leave a longer lasting and more profound impact on their lives.
The program started with a sweeping and dramatic depiction of the history of the Salt Lake Valley, beginning with the native people who first inhabited the area – tribes of Ute Indians. From them we get the word Utah, meaning “the top of the mountains” – a partial fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.
The early Mormon pioneers who arrived in 1847 were the first of thousands who answered the call to come west.
The pioneers worked to hard to establish towns and settlements in the valley. Until they could build more permanent homes, many early settlers lived in “dugouts” in the sides of the hills – literally finding refuge within the strength of the mountains.
The early railroad system helped with travel both along the Wasatch Front and interstate travel. Video segments illustrated details of the local railroad history, including a train that ran “from Payson to parts North.” The train was known as the “Red Heifer” because of the red velvet seats in the passenger cars. When the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, it was more feasible for people of all nations to gather with the Saints in the west.
Eventually, towns and cities were built throughout the state. Those who answered the call to gather to the mountains of Utah, found themselves part of a community working together to build Zion. People from many European nations soon colored the mountainous landscape of Utah as missionaries spread the gospel message across the sea.