Youth of the Meridian temple district are 'a great treasure'

BOISE, Idaho

In the Boise River Valley in southwest Idaho is an area known as “Treasure Valley” for its abundance of resources and opportunities.

While Church members in the area have long cherished the Boise Idaho Temple, they now have another precious edifice in their valley with the dedication of the Meridian Idaho Temple on Nov. 19.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, told some 6,000 youth within the temple district that “here in the wonderful Treasure Valley is a great treasure of young people of faith.”

The story goes that at the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold, he said. “You are a much greater treasure than any treasure at any rainbow. You are the future of this community, of this area. You are the treasure of all those who live here: your own families, your own generations who passed before and who will follow, and for those who live in this beautiful area.”

Youth from the 16 stakes in the Meridian temple district gathered in the Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University Saturday, Nov. 18, to celebrate through song and dance the dedication of the temple located just a little more than 8 miles down the road from the Boise Idaho Temple.

President Uchtdorf said he hoped the youth would record their thoughts and feelings in their journals from participating in the celebratory event and subsequent dedication. “This is a moment to never be forgotten in your life,” he said.

He also encouraged the youth to follow the injunction found within the title of the event — “Be Strong, Steadfast and Immovable.”

The title and theme for the production stemmed from the name and location of the new temple. Early Idaho surveyors used an initial point — a steadfast and immovable line — from which to take all other measurements. The city of Meridian was named for its location on the Boise Principal Meridian. The Meridian temple, located close to that line, will serve a similar purpose in the spiritual lives of members through southwest Idaho.

“In the temple, we get our bearings. In a way, it represents the line of the Lord which guides our daily decisions,” Marian Workman, the youth cultural celebration event chairwoman, explained.

Each performance within the cultural celebration has historical meaning, which the youth then connect to the temple, Workman said.

The program’s narrative depicted a grandfather sharing with two of his grandchildren special “treasures” — artifacts he had gathered while living in the region — kept stowed away in a trunk for many years.

“During all my years surveying this southwest corner of Idaho, I’ve tramped everywhere, and run across artifacts revealing the great heritage of this ‘Treasure Valley,’ ” said the grandpa (played by a youth) in the production. “But with our new temple, each object now takes on a much deeper meaning.”

Artifacts in the trunk such as a map, wagon wheel, an old railroad spike, water canteen, lasso, cable and brick, sparked conversations highlighting the Oregon Trail, the Oregon Short Line Railroad, the impact of water irrigation, the ranchers of Southwest Idaho and the construction of the first Church building in the area.

An old photo retrieved from the trunk showed Hunter’s Croonaders — a dance band from the 1920s — featuring a musically talented Boise boy named Howard W. Hunter, who later became the 14th president of the Church.

Also among the artifacts was a bamboo stick, representing the story of Forrest Packard, an early Church leader in the area who had been a prisoner of war for four years during World War II. Every day Packard risked his life to keep a secret record of all the prisoners who died or became separated and he kept the record on a piece of paper he then rolled up and placed inside a bamboo stick. Many of Packard’s descendants continue to live in the valley today and around 50 participated in the youth cultural celebration.

Through each artifact and story, the grandchildren recognized eternal truths leading to the temple.

“The kids have been truly wonderful,” Workman told the Church News. “They have worked so hard for two months and have come together in unity for the [performance]. They have lived the principle of sacrificing to make an offering to the Lord.”

One of the three actors in the performance, Emma Larson, who played the role of a granddaughter, felt participating in the event was a memorable experience. Practicing for the cultural celebration helped her to focus on the temple.

“It has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” she said. “For the practices I passed the temple, and every time I got really excited. It is only five minutes from my school, so I am going to try to go either before or after school each week.”

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