For more than 2,100 Latter-day Saint youth in the new Tucson Arizona Temple district, “The Time Is Now!”
That was the message they conveyed Saturday evening, Aug. 12 — the eve of the temple’s dedication — through a cultural celebration, a spectacle of music, dance and color, staged at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, a large baseball park in Tucson.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, welcomed the crowd and referred to one of Tucson’s nicknames, “the Old Pueblo.”
“From now on, we should call it the New Templo,” said President Uchtdorf, who was set to dedicate the temple on Sunday morning.
“That is the place that Tucson is. You have the newest temple in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the newest of the houses of the Lord around the globe. What privilege it is to be here and celebrate with you.”
The address of the new temple is 7281 North Skyline Drive.
“Actually, I would call it Heavenline, because that’s where it leads to,” President Uchtdorf said. “And you who have prepared, I heard, since April for this wonderful celebration tonight, I would like to encourage you to proceed on this path you have chosen.”
He encouraged the youth to make an entry in their journals about the weekend’s events. “This is a new beginning for you. This is a new beginning to build a legacy of success, of spiritual power, of divine influence, not only for you, but also by you.”
The temple and its purpose and goals are a “wonderful harmonizing tool for your life,” President Uchtdorf said, admonishing the youth to harmonize the goals they have set for themselves as part of the cultural celebration with the principles in the pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth.”
Lisa Marcy, of the Tucson Arizona North Stake and chair of the celebration, said her committee of 17 began with a brainstorming session, eventually arriving at a theme and a youth challenge.
Viewing content on lds.org, they saw a video clip featuring Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles interacting with youth about their ancestry.
“The title of it was ‘The Time Is Now,’ ” Sister Marcy related, “and it just spoke to our committee that this should be our theme, because for our youth, the temple is here, and their time is now to do something about it.”
The challenge the committee developed for each of the youth was to come up with an “I will” statement “that says how they would show Heavenly Father and the First Presidency their gratitude for having a temple in the area.”
The committee received nearly 1,600 responses, submitted via social media or email.
“In fact we even made a booklet for our visiting authorities that has pictures of the youth with their ‘I will’ statements,” Sister Marcy said.
The program was replete with “I will” statements from several of the youth, even as it paid homage to Arizona history and culture and the role the Church has played in the state.
For example, a segment in the program put on by boys in the Tucson Arizona North Stake depicted the march of the Mormon Battalion through Arizona and retold the famous “battle of the bulls,” in which the battalion fended off a herd of stampeding bulls (portrayed by some of the boys pushing wheelbarrows with bulls’ heads on them).
Matthew Sorbe was seen in a video clip saying, “My great-great-great-grandfather came here to Tucson with the Mormon Battalion in 1846. He was the first person to raise the American flag over Tucson. I wonder if he anticipated a temple to be built here in our beautiful city 171 years later. I will honor him and our ancestors by finding and taking names to the temple and always being worthy to enter into the temple.”
In another segment, life was likened to Arizona’s occasional monsoon storms. “There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you,” President Uchdtdorf said in a conference sermon video clip displayed during the segment. “You may feel burdened by worry, fear or doubt. To you and to all of us I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It can illuminate the path before us.”
Then, two sisters, Celestial (CC) and Sariah Elam, 16 and 15, told their story in a video clip.
“On Feb. 20, 2017, we were involved in a high-speed car accident,” CC said. “And because of this accident we were paralyzed from the waist down.”
“At first, I was angry,” Sariah said. “I didn’t understand. Why us? Then I realized, why not us? Heavenly Father knows we’re strong enough to go through this and we’re His children, so He personally knows us and knows what is best for us.”
CC said, “My family and I gained strength from having seen the many miracles, having felt the Holy Ghost through our prayers to Heavenly Father and the amazing Christlike support around us. I’m learning that having a strong foundation in the gospel and my faith will help carry me through trials just like this. I will be pure and worthy to keep the relationship I have gained with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through this experience.”
Sariah said, “And I will give my life unto the Savior as He has given His life to me.”
Instrumental and vocal music for most of the songs in the program were pre-recorded by youth in the temple district.
Two original songs were included in the program, with words written by youth in the district: “It’s My Turn” by Mackenzie Romriel and “I Will” by Amber Stringham, Davey Spalding, Meghan Crowther and Emily Pickard.
The words to “It’s My Turn” read in part:
As moments pass and days go by,
It’s my time.
I will stand up and be counted, your work is divine!
The time is now; there’s work to do,
The past and future bind.
It’s my time.
A verse from “I Will” reads:
I have a purpose, I know His plan.
The time has come for me to take a stand.
I will make a difference, I will do my part.
The world needs me, it’s time to serve the Lord.