"You will have significant experiences. I hope that you will write them down and keep a record of them, that you will read them from time to time and refresh your memory of those meaningful and significant things. Some may be funny. Some may be significant only to you. Some of them may be sacred and quietly beautiful. Some may build one upon another until they represent a lifetime of special experience." Gordon B. Hinckley, 2006

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cultural Celebration

This was an unbelievable evening put on entirely by the youth of the church that live in the boundaries of the temple district.  Young men and women from:  Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia, Moldova, Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Romania.

Some highlights:

There was a pianist onstage before the event started playing prelude music.  When President Monson (accompanied by President Uchtdorf and Elder Nelson) came onto the stage everyone in the audience stood and clapped.  President Monson went over to the pianist, sat down on the bench, and began plinking away at the keyboard.  It was so funny and cute.  When he finished he got up and bowed and waved.  We all loved it!

He gave a beautiful speech, and talked about the events leading up to this dedication and the excitement of having this temple here in the Ukraine.  Another interesting thing--he said that many times at these dedicatory celebrations the weather has threatened to be rainy and nasty, but it has always held and remained clear.  True to President Monson's word, although the sky remained dark and it had been pouring rain earlier that day, the weather remained dry throughout the remainder of the evening and for the entire next day for the dedication.  In fact, when President Monson exited the temple, the sun came out and it was beautiful.

Each country was represented by traditional dances and costume.  It was so moving to sit in that auditorium and feel the excitement and pride of all of the people there.  As different countries would come on, they would stand and cheer, and the tears would stream down their cheeks.  It was so beautiful, and I felt myself so swept away with the emotion of the night.  The absolute highlight for me was at the end when the Ukrainians came out and did the Hopok.

I kept glancing over to President Monson, Uchtdorf, and Nelson and their wives, and the mood was so jovial and happy as they all clapped and waved along.

At one point they had all of the current missionaries come up on stage and sing and as they filed down the stairs, the spirit in the room was amazing!  We brought along Ira, who lives in the Ukraine and is the sister of Alex.  She is not a member of the church  and I thought this was the perfect event to take her too.  She had gone through the temple open house out of curiosity as well.

For the finale they had all the performers come on stage, and they sang a beautiful hymn in Russian, accompanied by a slide show of the construction of the temple.  It was amazing and I'm sure everyone in the room was bawling.  Brian and I sure were.  The kids on stage all waved and blew kisses to President Monson, and yelled out, "We LOVE you!"  It was awesome.

When the event was over, we mingled around and Brian met up with old missionary companions, members of the church that he knew, and his old mission president.  It was a joyful time.  They finally had to kick everyone out of the auditorium so they could close up.  So everyone went into the lobby and continued their conversations there forever until finally we got kicked out of there as well.  So everyone moved out to the front steps and continued conversing, hugging, and rejoicing, and I thought to myself, "This is a TRUE MORMON GATHERING!"  It was such a miracle for these saints to all be gathered together in great numbers like this.

(Here I am with some of the Armenian dancers afterwards.  They were so excited that we loved their dancing, and they pulled out their cameras to take pictures of me as well.)  :)

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