Waving yellow flags to represent light, some 9,200 youth gathered Nov. 17 on the campus of Boise State University and reveled in their greatest treasure — the gospel of Jesus Christ and a temple returning to their city.
The Church staged the youth cultural celebration, titled "Treasure the Light," the night before President Thomas S. Monson rededicated the Boise Idaho Temple, which closed 15 months ago for extensive renovation.
"The beautiful Boise Idaho Temple, which will be rededicated in the morning, is the reason for this great celebration," President Monson told the crowd, made up almost entirely of youth. "It shines as a beacon of righteousness to all who will follow its light. We treasure that light, and we thank our Heavenly Father for the blessings this temple and all temples bring into our lives."
President Monson praised the young people for their goodness, asked them to never forget the feeling of standing together with other Latter-day Saints, and left them with a special blessing. "My young brothers and sisters, I pronounce a blessing upon you tonight, that you may feel the love which we have for you," he said. "May you know, also, that our Heavenly Father loves you. I bless you that you will ever have a desire to serve Him and His Son Jesus Christ. I bless you that you will always walk in truth and treasure the light of the temple."
The program highlighted the many things Church members in the Boise Idaho Temple District treasure: the light of faith, heritage, industry, families, youth, liberty, service and the gospel. In a grand finale, as they sang "True to the Faith" and "Carry on," the youth then celebrated the greatest light in their lives — the light of Christ.
On Sunday, Elder David A. Bednar said there was enough energy during the program "to power every home in the United States for six months."
The production was less about dancing and more about preparing for the temple, said Gary Walker, youth cultural celebration sub-committee chairman.
"The vision for this was that every youth that participated would have a mighty change of heart and make a life-long commitment to live a life of righteousness," he said.
And the youth responded in great numbers. Brother Walker, a former Area Seventy, said substantially more teens participated in the program than expected. Because of the large number, the youth filled the Taco Bell Arena and their families and others gathered in remote locations to watch the program, which was broadcast to stake centers throughout the temple district.
Arlin Jones, executive producer, said organizers wanted all the youth to be the center of the celebration. "They wouldn't fit on the floor," he explained, "so the whole arena became the stage."
The focus, he added, was "the kids themselves."
Organizers called 60 youth, two from each stake in the temple district, to help determine the direction and theme of the program.
"We wanted to treasure the light and the light that we all share is the light of Christ," said committee member Marshall Calley, 18, of the Kuna 7th Ward, Kuna Idaho East Stake. "We wanted to include that theme in our presentation to the prophet and let him know that we have the light of Christ and we want to share it with the world."
Jessica Brinkerhoof, 17, of the Butte Ward, Emmett Idaho Stake, said the youth focused their ideas for the program on "light and how wonderful the light of the gospel is in such a dark time."
"We talked about the youth in the area and how we could change their lives," she added.
In the end, she was the person changed most. "I have come to understand that as youth we matter," said Jessica. "Our leaders don't just say that, they see it."
Jay Patterson, 17, of the Nampa 1st Ward, Nampa Idaho North Stake, said the youth knew why the performance was important. "It is our temple," he explained. "It is not just a temple. It is our temple and we need to celebrate."
Kylee Neil, 17, of the Kuna 3rd Ward, Kuna Idaho East Stake, said participating in the celebration left her with one resolve. "I want to go to the temple," she said. "I am so grateful to be part of all of this."
Jessica's parents were sealed in the Boise temple in 1994. "Now eighteen years later it is a new temple," she said. "It is our temple now. It was sacred to them. Now it is a really important part of my life as well."