Thousands of youth gathered in the LDS Conference Center this weekend to sing, dance and tell the history of temples in a cultural celebration in anticipation of the Jordan River Temple’s rededication on Sunday.
The results, according to Craig Burton, Coordinator of the Rededication Committee, “are breathtaking” for this largest temple district in the Church that includes 66 stakes with 17,000 youth.
With these sheer numbers, the LDS Conference Center was the best venue for the event, and the audience was the youth who performed, with the program being broadcast to stake centers in the temple district. For the program, the entire audience wore lighted wristbands, whose lights and duration were coordinated by computer.
The youth were told that these lights represented the light in them that was growing brighter and brighter until the perfect day, the light that is the temple, and the light of the Savior.
The celebration was the culmination of two months of activities to build the youth’s anticipation of having the temple re-open. These included a clean, energy-filled concert at South Jordan Equestrian Park that attracted 25,000 youth, the youth working on family history to learn how to find their own family names, and a walk to the temple. Stakes were given their own starting points, and then thousands of youth walked in pouring rain to the temple, converging on the parking lot were Elder L. Todd Budge of the Seventy addressed them.
The youth said of the walk in pouring rain, “Like this walk, life is a journey, and there will be a bunch of bumps in the road. When there are challenges, we have to keep just pushing forward.” Video of these events was shown at the cultural celebration.
The youth said they wanted to be ready in every way to receive all the blessings of the temple. “The more we feel the Spirit, the more we grow,” said the narrators in the program. “That is the process of going from not ready to ready.”
They acknowledged, “Sometimes the process of going from not ready to ready can be difficult. In some ways we all have to go through these uncomfortable changes to be ready. “These obstacles are definitely a part of life. Your Savior is always there, no matter what. He wants you to succeed.”
The youth memorized words from President Russell M. Nelson, “The purposes of the Creation, the Fall and the Atonement all converge on the sacred work done in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The earth was created and the Church was restored to make possible the sealing of wife to husband, children to parents, families to progenitors, worlds without end.
“This is the great latter-day work of which we are a part. That is why we have missionaries, that is why we have temples—to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God.”
In the fall of 1977, 16 temples dotted the earth. Then Alma Holt, a farmer of South Jordan, was sitting in the Salt Lake Temple late one evening thinking of the long drive home on a dark night. He said, “I heard a voice speak, just as clear as day that said, ‘Alma, why don’t you do something about it.’
That night looking over his beautiful farm land he said, “My heart was filled and I knew that the Lord had reserved this spot for the building of a temple.” Three days later, he called the Church and said, if they needed 15 acres of farm land in South Jordan to build a temple, he would give it to them. It was only two months later that President Spencer W. Kimball announced there would be a new temple. It would be paid for by calling upon members to sacrifice of their means to contribute.
One man went without lunch every day for a year to donate one dollar a day to the temple. Another sister found the strength to give up smoking and donated that money to the temple. One woman who needed cataract surgery, gave to the temple fund the money that would have gone for an operation to correct her vision.
In just one year, the Church had raised $14.5 million and the work was ready to move forward.
Sometime during that year, Alma Holt, who had donated that land had a dream where he was standing in a large field in the midst of thousands and thousands of people. He said that he didn’t recognize any of them and there were so many of them. “They had a message for me,” he said. ‘We’re all waiting for you.’”
As a group, the youth of the Jordan River Temple region have answered the call of those who are waiting. The proxy work for thousands of people have been done in the temple.
“We testify,” said the youth, that just as Brother Holt saw, thousands are waiting on us.” Their message? “Let us stand and rise. We are ready.”
Craig Burton said that in organizing the open house for the Jordan River Temple, 37,000 volunteer positions were available.
He said, “The impression that we had early on was that there was so much pent-up desire to have this temple back, rather than make assignments for those volunteer positions, we would create an app, that allowed signups to be done on line over a three-week period of time. Then stakes could back fill whatever was left in the assignments.
“By the time the signup period was over,” Burton said, we had 97% or 18,000 of our ushering assignments filled.
We had about 60% of our parking assignments filled, and this given the fact that those volunteers would have to stand in snow, wind and rain.
“This, to me,” Burton said, “was another evidence of the desire and the goodness of the people, as well as their hunger to have this temple back.
Every day as I went around and thanked people for coming, to a person they said, ‘This is my privilege.’”
Visitors to the open house also felt privileged. Burton said, “Little children would walk into the Celestial room and you would hear these audible intakes of breath.
They would do the same as they walked into a sealing room and saw those chandeliers.
There was such reverence that you almost can’t describe it, but it was very tangible and real.
“The thing that I felt all the way through the open house,” said Burton, “was that this is quite an effort and quite an expense to do an open house.
You have a lot of people who are walking through on these new carpets and touching these new walls, and little children who just want to feel it.
But the prophet wants the public to see and feel the house of the Lord and understand how very, very special it is.
“When they walked in, I don’t think to a person, they didn’t leave feeling somehow different and better.”
The beautiful youth of this temple district were taught a scripture on which to center their thoughts.
“Wherefore, I am in your midst…
…and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel.
He the buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.
And the day cometh…
…that you shall hear my voice and see me…
…and know that I am.
Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready. Even so. Amen.”