For one night a week during the past six weeks, Lexie Jeppson, 17, of Eagle, practiced her dance around a maypole. She looked forward to joining thousands of other young Treasure Valley Mormons to mark the renovation of the temple in front of her churchs leader, Thomas S. Monson.
For me, its like a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity, she said. I take that and cherish it.
So on the eve of the temples dedication Sunday after being closed for 15 months, Jeppson and 9,200 other young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took over Taco Bell Arena. The celebration, called Treasure the Light, was broadcast to LDS houses of worship around the Treasure Valley.
Hundreds of youths filled the arena floor for a rousing square dance as quilts were fluffed skyward and wagon wheels spun, depicting the Mormons 19th century migration west. Ninety fiddlers played.
Other youths paid tribute to the computer chip a mainstay of the Valleys economy by doing a synchronized dance in black pants and tops with brightly colored pink, green and yellow slits down their sleeves. They tumbled and pulled a few break dancing moves.
As the theme to Chariots of Fire played, they came on in blue and orange T-shirts symbolizing Boise State University and pulled off a couple of slow-motion plays as the audience broke into a spontaneous wave.
And there was Lexies moment as she joined with others to sing and dance to Give, Said the Little Stream, a song that recalls how Jesus gave and is said to be Monsons favorite Mormon childrens song.
Youth cultural celebrations centered on building and rededicating LDS temples began with the opening of the temple in Accra, Ghana, in 2004, when Gordon B. Hinckley was church president. They have become more common under the leadership of Monson, who succeeded Hinckley in 2008.
It shows our prophet that we really appreciate our temple and shows him that we know the true meaning of the temple and why its there, said Tanner Myler, 17, who danced as part of the stream that wound around Lexies and other girls maypoles.
For Lexie, after the music and the dance goes away, she said she is ready to rededicate herself to the work that members over age 12 can perform in the temple: baptisms for the dead.
She had come to take that work for granted, she said. But during the past 17 months when the temple was closed, she missed it. She now plans to be there with a friend every Wednesday at 6 a.m., and do baptisms for the dead before going to Eagle High School, where she is a senior.
Monson, the first LDS president to visit Boise since Ezra Taft Benson in 1988, told the young people that he often reminds other church leaders these are the events we ought to have.
Im not easily put down, he added, as the arena packed with young people, church leaders and other adults erupted in laughter.
The young people found a willing audience in Monson. They roared approval when he raised both his arms in jubilation after the performance.
And they returned their respect by waving thousands of yellow flags at the final hymn. Yellow was meant to symbolize the light of Christ, but its also Monsons favorite color.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts