'Beauty for Ashes': 4,500 youth participate in cultural celebration


Through music and dance, more than 4,500 youth from the Provo and Springville areas showed their enthusiasm for the dedication of another temple in Provo.

“I am thrilled to be with you,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in his opening remarks at the event on Saturday evening, March 19. After 45 years and countless memorable events held in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus, “now we add to that great list of occasions our gathering here for this cultural celebration preceding the dedication of the Provo City Center Temple,” he said.

When developing the program, Polly K. Dunn of the Hobble Creek 5th Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek West Stake, who directed the cultural celebration, said that everything came back to the Provo Tabernacle. “This building had an incredible life,” she said. “This building that was built by pioneers without electricity, without power tools, without even running water — it had such an incredible life. I felt from the get-go that the program needed to revolve around this building.”

Pioneer history, personal sacrifice, patriotism, the arts and service were represented in dance numbers and song. The theme of the program, ‘Beauty for Ashes,’ was also inspired by the fire that destroyed the Provo Tabernacle in 2010 as well as scripture found in Isaiah.

“There’s a line in the first video that says this, and this is the thread that holds the whole program together. ‘There’s a lot we can learn from this grand old building and the lives that it has touched,’ ” Sister Dunn said.

Videos of interviews with members sharing their memories of stake conferences, service projects and the fire in the Provo Tabernacle alternated with the music and dance numbers in the program.

Julia Gonzalez of the Grasslands 1st Ward, Springville Utah West Stake, said she loves to hear the stories of people who attended the Provo Tabernacle. “This morning I was able to do baptisms for the dead (at the Provo Utah Temple). One of the ladies there was talking about the Tabernacle, how she had gone there before … and she’s just so happy that she can go there again.”

The cultural celebration gave the youth in the area an opportunity to learn to work together. “We all meshed together in the very end,” said Ali Killpack of the Hobble Creek 5th Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek West Stake. She performed in ‘When Johnny Comes Marching Home,’ a patriotic number featuring young men dressed as soldiers and young women dressed as Rosie the Riveter. “We had to learn to trust each other more, especially with all the lifts.”

“Attitude really matters,” said Rachel Holman of the Provo West 10th Ward, Provo Utah West Stake. Despite many long practices in preparing for the cultural celebration, “I tried to uplift other people and say, ‘Come on, it will be fun! This is fun, everybody smile!’ And it really made a difference.” Rachel performed in ‘Through Heaven’s Eyes,’ a dance number that represented the worth of personal sacrifice. She also celebrated her 18th birthday the day of the cultural celebration.

Carlos Colon of the North Park 4th Ward, Provo Utah North Park Stake, enjoyed the unity he felt with the youth of his and other stakes. “We all together can feel the Spirit. It’s just so joyous,” he said.

“I hope they remember the Spirit they felt tonight, … the hours that they put into it, the feeling that they accomplished something really worth doing and to realize they can do good, hard things,” said Sister Dunn. She called the work the youth put forth “sanctified sacrifice.”

“I have known from the beginning that if we worked as hard as we knew how to work and I worked as hard as I know how to work that it would be what Heavenly Father wanted it to be,” Sister Dunn said.

Also in attendance at the cultural celebration were President Russell M. Nelson, Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elder L. Whitney Clayton and Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Michael T. Ringwood and Elder Larry Y. Wilson of the Seventy; and Bishop Dean M. Davies, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Sister Linda S. Reeves of the Relief Society general presidency, Brother M. Joseph Brough of the Young Men general presidency, and Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president. Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Temple Department, conducted the event. Each of these Church leaders were accompanied by their spouses.

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