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Idaho youth pay tribute to Prophet Joseph Smith

POCATELLO, Idaho — On Nov. 22, a crowd of nearly 3,800 youth and leaders gathered at the Reed Gymnasium at Idaho State University to honor the Prophet Joseph Smith whose 200th birthday is observed this year. A cast and crew of 421 participated in the event through dance, choir, and the premiere of a locally produced film entitled, "Praise to the Man."

The movie was projected on a giant screen suspended from the ceiling at mid-court so that the show could be viewed from both sides of the gymnasium.

Elder Gerald A. Mead, Area Seventy, presided over the event and welcomed the capacity crowd. "You are a beautiful sight!" he said, as he shared memories of growing up as a member of another faith and his eventual conversion. Youth narrators gave the program a professional feeling as 17 stake presidents were welcomed and cheered by the members of their various stakes. The dancers opened the evening as they performed to a special arrangement of "Praise to the Man," sung by the 150-voice regional youth choir.

Local youth film producers, Matt and Mark Overrocker and youth director, Alex Lystrup, invested hundreds of hours in the filmmaking project. Rich Kirkham and his wife, Kathy, produced the overall event. The 50-minute film relates the story of a young man who is seeking answers to his questions in life. Through the influence of his friends, the main character, Dave, played by Cooper Stronks, learns that, as He did for the young Joseph Smith, the Lord gives answers to questions when asked through prayer.

Applause for the film welcomed Dave and his missionary companion, played by Devin Belnap, as they entered the gym and introduced 40 missionaries from the Idaho Pocatello Mission. The sight of the missionaries brought the people in the audience to their feet as they all sang "Called to Serve."

Following the singing, Glenn Rawson, local popular host of the radio program "The Sounds of Sunday" addressed the group. "Sharing the Light of the Gospel is up to each and everyone of you. Each of you must let your light so shine," was the theme of his message as the missionaries distributed light sticks to all in attendance. On cue, the audience activated their light sticks and a wave of light slowly spread over the gym covering the youth in a blanket of soft light. A cheer spontaneously erupted as the choir and congregation joined together to sing, "The Spirit of God Like A fire Is Burning."

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