The history of the Church from the First Vision in 1820 and its founding in upstate New York in 1830 to the dedication of the Curitiba Brazil Temple on June 1, 2008 was re-enacted in a grand cultural event May 31 in Curitiba's Arena da Baixada.
In a program that included precision in music, dance, drama, gymnastics, scripting, costuming, direction, staging and technology, 4,330 Latter-day Saints took to the field, supported by a choir of 1,700 voices. President Thomas S. Monson described the program as "very much like what you'd see at the opening ceremony for the Olympics." He and Elder Russell M. Nelson called the event "amazing," "spectacular" and "impressive."
The program made an analogy of the symbols of Brazil's state of Parana the araucaria tree and the gralha-azul bird that spreads its seeds. The show portrayed how missionaries spread gospel seeds throughout the world, including Parana, where the Church is now established and strong, ready to receive its own temple.
After scenes portraying the establishment of the Church in upstate New York, the show depicted the beginnings of the Church in Brazil; Latter-day Saints were among German immigrants to Brazil in 1915.
A particularly moving scene was the portrayal of Elders James E. Faust and Wm. Grant Bangerter, who served in Curitiba in 1938. Elder Faust later became an apostle and served in the First Presidency until his death last August; Elder Bangerter served as a General Authority from 1975 until 1989, when he was given emeritus status. He lives in Alpine, Utah.
As their photos were displayed on large screens, a tremendous cheer went up from the audience. A scene showed the early missionaries as discouraged because they were not able to baptize people. They prayed and received inspiration that their work would bear fruit. The fruits of their labors were represented by segments that told the story of the growth of the Church in Curitiba: the missionaries, pioneer members, seminary and institute, Primary, Young Women, Young Men, Relief Society, Priesthood and other progress in the temple district.
Another scene focused on the future of the Church in Brazil. Children representing future missionaries were followed by missionaries serving in the field, and then returned missionaries who are today's leaders of the Church in Brazil.
In the southern hemisphere, the winter season is approaching. It is usually rainy with cold temperatures. The weather was unseasonably warm during the open house, May 7-24, but the day before the cultural event it turned very cold. On the day of the celebration, a light rain sprinkled on performers as they gathered in the stadium prior to the opening of the show. Rain threatened to spoil the show, for which participants had been planning and practicing since last July.
On Sunday morning, President Monson commented that when he saw the storm clouds on the evening of the show, he "felt it was time for prayer. I said, 'These folks have worked hard and they deserve to put on this show.' I asked the Lord to hold the rain until after the show. (That happened.) After the show came the rain."
Mario C. Costa was in charge of the program. Various scenes were directed by Rosane Goncalves Torres, Silvia Luz, Elton Luz and Suely V. Domaredzki. Rehearsal arrangements were handled by Allan K. Rodrigues, and logistics came under direction of Edgard Augusto. Dozens of volunteers helped.
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