By Cecily Markland
Youth in Phoenix Temple District Prepare for Cultural Celebration
“Be a Light,” the theme for the Phoenix Temple Cultural Celebration, is also a challenge of sorts to the more than 4,700 Young Men and Women of the 15 stakes in the Phoenix Temple District who will participate.
According to the director, Allyson Morris, the youth are aptly rising to that challenge.
The Cultural Celebration will be held at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria on Nov. 15, the night before the Temple dedication.
“The theme refers to the sun—as in the sun that is so much a part of our Arizona climate—and also to the Son of God—and how we can be a light to others,” says Allyson.
A member of Moon Mountain Ward, Phoenix North Stake, Allyson is hardly a newcomer to Church musical productions.
“I’ve done 37 musicals for my stake alone,” Allyson says.
For this particular assignment, as she prepared to create a script, she says, “I pulled in five of my favorite friends. We studied and pondered, ‘What is our youth’s culture?’ This is their cultural celebration, so we wanted it to reflect their culture.”
She extensively studied the history of Arizona and the Church’s role in that history.
Then, “With the Spirit touching my heart, I went at it,” she says.
The result is a script that focuses on six areas. Youth have been divided into six “regions,” and each region will celebrate one of the six areas. These areas include “the Native American culture and the canals that brought life-giving water to the desert,” Allyson says. Another region celebrates the Hispanic influence in this area, and, “We have a military base in the Phoenix Temple district, so one area will celebrate the military and the freedoms of America,” Allyson says.
“We also include a celebration of the air conditioner. It was invented in the ‘50s and after that invention, Phoenix doubled in size,” she says, adding that this segment will include a ‘50s number, complete with about 300 poodle skirts.
Another segment focuses on a celebration of talents “and on the huge number of talented kids we have in this area.” The sixth area focuses on the culture of service and missionary work, “celebrating the light we have received and now we have to share,” Allyson says.
This kind of production is energizing for Allyson. “It’s in my blood,” she says, adding that it has been gratifying to see the youth get involved and excited about the celebration.
“They are putting 100 percent into it. Their putting their whole soul into it,” says Allyson.
“They are singing, dancing, celebrating this temple with their whole body.
She says there also has been a tremendous excitement and willingness to serve and work among the many adult volunteers, including music specialists, dance specialists, medical and security people.
As the youth practice the music and dance numbers in preparation, they are also strengthening their testimonies and learning more about the temple.
“It’s all about the temple,” she says.
Several of the youth who are participating in the celebration have their pictures and testimonies about the temple posted
Posted on the Cultural Celebration website, at BeALightPhoenix.com, are pictures of several of the youth who are participating in the celebration, along with their testimonies about the temple, along with ideas of what it means to be a light.
For example, Haley, 17, says, “I can be a light by representing the church and spreading the gospel every day.”
Sarah, 16, says, “Going to the temple helps me regain perspective on what’s important in my life and helps me spiritually refuel, similar to a fresh water spring in the desert.
Sixteen-year-old, Adam, agrees, “The temple is the living water for everyone in the desert.
Allyson says, as they prepare for the Cultural Celebration, the youth are learning the importance of the temple.
“They are learning that they are His kids and this is His temple to bring them to. It’s very exciting.”
Ryan, 13, says, “It amazes me how blessed we are to have a temple so close to us when some members must drive for days to receive the blessings of the temple.”
Sixteen-year-old Courtney, too, is grateful for a temple that will be so close “that we can call it ‘our temple.’”