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Friday, March 7, 2014

My experience with the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration

11/3 Brother Spencer (bishopric) asked me if I'd be willing to serve as the dance chairman in our ward for the Cultural Celebration. He said "you dance, right?" He called me Tuesday night to officially call me

11/14 Tonight we had our first meeting. There are 8 wards in our stake. Our region has 4 stakes (the largest) and we're all learning the same dance. There are 6 regions involved. We have a choreography session scheduled this Saturday from 3-5 to learn the dance. Starting in January we'll teach the dance to our youth. Our ward has 81! I will have 8 adult helpers for each rehearsal. We have 3 weeks of practice, then we start Stake practices, then regional practices. The Temple celebration will be March 1st. I'm excited to be a part of this great event! It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Theme is "Live True to the Faith."

Gilbert Arizona Temple Cultural Celebration

11/16 Today our region had our Super Saturday and learned our dance "Fiery Furnace." Each ward rep is responsible to teach the youth sign language to a song as well as our dance. We each got a DVD with instructional for each. The dance took about an hour to learn. It's really fun and is a Polynesian dance. Our portion will have professional fire dancers as well as tumblers. The dance is done with partners and is pretty easy.

1/14/14 We finished week 2 of 3 ward rehearsals. We combined with another ward this week and it went well. The kids are doing great, I'm so proud! I found my cousin's son, Braxton and had to snap a picture. It seems like every week we get new information about dates and things are constantly changing. Each week I am printing off a new schedule. It seems pretty unorganized which has been a little frustrating. We had to change the dance a little because of our costumes. They were pretty restrictive so we weren't able to kick. It's going to be crazy once we get to stake rehearsals. There will be tons of kids!

1/15: All the ward dance directors for our stake met tonight to learn an additional 4 counts of 8 in the middle of the dance. They had to change it due to the lack of space on the field. We taught the kids tonight during rehearsal and also changed the dance back to the original kick (:

1/25: We will be having Stake rehearsals (550 kids) for the next 4 weeks at Campo Verde High School. Got news that the performance will be at Discovery Park (across from the Temple) instead of Hamilton High School. These weeks were tough as we had to clean the dance and assign spots for dancers and get partners set in stone. We practiced going on and off the field. By the end the kids were sick of being there and I could tell they were worn out. They had a film crew there and did some audio for the performance. They flew a drone over and had the kids cheering and shouting "We love Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler...etc" and "Welcome to Our Celebration!" I read this in the Church News that our Temple is the largest temple the Church has constructed in 17 years, since the Mt. Timpanogas Temple.

2/18: Got official word that we will be able to be there for the performance. Up until now we didn't know who would be allowed because of limited space.

2/22/14: I was not able to go to this rehearsal since Ryan was gone, but I went after dinner. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find our stake or ward among the 12,000 youth plus leaders. I hiked to the top of the park to take some pictures and witness the miracle of getting all these youth together and having everything work out.  (There were so many unanswered questions and unresolved details and last minute changes that we wondered if it would all come together.) It has been very hard and frustrating trying to get these kids to listen and follow directions and take things seriously. There had been lots of medical issues that day with so much dust that they ended up cancelling the 2nd run through and sent everyone home instead.

3/7/14: The Temple Celebration was Saturday. It was incredible. The forecast all week showed 80% chance of rain. Although it was needed, we'd been praying for it to not rain for the performance. They had planned to water the field down several times that day to keep the dust at bay. We had a dress rehearsal Saturday morning. The weather was perfect. It sprinkled for a few minutes but that's it. After dinner and as we were heading down on the field it started to pour. This was one answer to prayer since the dust wouldn't be an issue anymore! We were planning to watch from above so we had our blankets and tarp to sit on, we didn't grab our umbrellas though. The YM leaders had taken down our tents and the youth had all their stuff packed up. We told the YM leaders to cover everything with tarps and we headed down. Sitting on the hill, we got drenched. Another leader brought the umbrellas down but gave them to the youth who didn't have anything and were in costume. We found out we could be down there with them on the field like we'd been during rehearsal so we headed down. When the prophet and President Eyring got there the rain subsided a little. President Eyring spoke and told everyone to write in their journals about this event. He said it's something we'll never forget. The youth did amazing! Even soaking wet and dancing through puddles of mud I didn't hear any complaints. For our dance the tumbling section got cut due to all the mud. Some kids had ponchos but others were already too wet and didn't seem to mind. The whole day they were talking about how excited they were to see the prophet. Their testimonies truly were expressed through their performance. The spirit was so strong as they sang and danced and raised their Titles of Liberty. I feel blessed that I was able to be a part of this great event. I felt bad for Sis Tidwell who wrote the script and months and months of hard work to have the performance rained out, but I'm sure she felt the spirit and was so proud of the youth.

Michonne McGovern, Chelsea Turner, Jen Ayers, Macy Riggs

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