Multicultural Celebration

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My heart is full. As the rain broke from the heavens, soaking our field, soaking our youth filed before the prophet, I huddled under the safety of a tarp, thoughts flooding my mind.

The youth had been diligent. At the first practices they didn’t quite line up, or wave their flags in sync; they played around and goofed off, as teens are prone to do. But now it was game time. I watched as they hit their marks, they waved the flags, they even sang. They grew together as a team.

Several families recently moved into our ward. I love watching how new youth are invited and incorporated into an old group, and I love seeing how the dynamics of that group change and become better. This event sped up that process. The youth not only performed, they became a performing team.

IMG_6737_2Just before they were asked to take the field in anticipation of President Monson’s arrival, the youth huddled into groups, I assumed to keep warm. As I came closer I realized they were praying, praying that they rain would cease, or that they could stay warm and have the strength to perform, I can only imagine, but I do know that the Spirit was felt in those prayers, testimonies were strengthened and prayers were answered.

For me, the highlight of that day wasn’t seeing the prophet, though of course that was a special experience. During the live rehearsal, I sat behind about a dozen youth with mental disabilities. During the Hispanic heritage song, they stood up and danced. One young man twirled his hat around with pride, and then launched it into the air at the end. Their performance was wonderful, but the best followed. As they sat to enjoy the rest of the performances, two young men noticed the disabled young man sitting in front of me. I gathered that they must have been in the same ward. With a handshake and a pat on the back, they smiled, said hi, and talked for a while. I believe that small acts of kindness happen all the time in our corner of the earth. Some of these acts have received national attention, and countless others are noticed by strangers like me, their presence undetected, their hearts touched forever.

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In our regional and everyone practices, I saw many friends, people I grew up with, that I attended school with, in Gilbert. I’m certain I felt like Alma the Younger when he saw his brothers after fourteen years. Here my friends are still in the faith. We that were once youth, no doubt concerns to our then leaders, are now serving other youth in that same vicinity, only now there stands a temple instead of cotton fields. I can only imagine what this new generation can do with the legacy they’ve been given. What reunion will there be when they bump into their friends at their children’s soccer game and reflect on that rainy night years before?

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