Monday, June 11, 2012

Arise and Shine Forth

They came running in--literally running--like Helaman's army. Only instead of 2,000, there were 1,100 flag-waving youth from six stakes in our area, gathered to present a dance festival.  And seeing the strength of that little army had me moved to tears.

Earlier in the week I'd chaperoned Caleb's choir field trip.  At one point during some lunchtime conversation, his choir director asked me, "Why is it that all my best kids and families are LDS?"  He later added, "You're doing something right!"

That night, in our family scripture study we were reading in 3 Nephi 12:16 when the savior says, "Therefore let your light so shine..."  I thought of my conversation with Caleb's teacher earlier in the day and shared with my family how grateful I am that the youth in our ward are living up to that charge and are shining sufficiently such that their teacher is taking notice.

When the youth came rushing into the arena to present their dance festival, I was deeply touched by thought of these youth being a light to the world and how well they are living this year's theme to "Arise and Shine Forth."  I still cry every time I think about it.  Such great kids.

The dance festival was a wonderful experience that called us all to repentance.  Caleb had complained long and hard about having to go to Tinikling practice.  Jon, who often went to help, talked about how painful the rehearsals were and we were all left wondering whose bright idea it was to have deacons dance with poles.  They had to master the rhythm of the sticks, dance in and out of them AND change positions throughout.  Really?  These are 12 and 13 year old boys.  They're in their awkward stage.  Perhaps the most awkward of the awkward stage.

But they pulled it off beautifully.  It was like witnessing a miracle.

Here's Caleb on the poles (with his back to us in the left corner):

And here he is dancing (in the middle):

One of our favorite young women doing some bollywood:

The Beehives did a fan dance:

The Haka.  Our stake didn't actually have any youth in this dance but we got a kick out of watching these cute little white boys do the Haka.

The swing.

More than twelve dances in all.

The finale involved some fun finger lights.

All of the dances were fabulous and the costumes so well done.  In between each dance, testimonies from our youth played on the arena's jumbotron.

I was amazed at the effort required from an untold number of people in order to coordinate an event of this kind.  We should've never complained.  It was so great that my dad thought it worthy of the church news.

While Caleb may have been less than enthusiastic about the months of practices and a 12 hour-long day of dress rehearsals and performances, it turned out to be a great experience.

He wore his dance festival t-shirt for 3 days straight!

Alyssa is already looking forward to being old enough to participate when dance festival comes along again in 4 more years.  I'll try to remember not to complain next time.

You were great, Caleb!  I'm so proud of the young man that you are.


Mom said...

I couldn't agree more. That was truly an amazing experience...I'm tearing up again just reading your post. Entertaining, uplifting, inspiring. Cudos to Caleb and 1,100 wonderful youth and hundreds of volunteers. I'm so, so glad I was there!!!

Jami Little said...

I had heard about the deacons - and how hard of a time they seemed to be having - and I was VERY impressed with how their dance turned out! even when a mistake was made, they would just get right back on track and keep going. AND the strength of those youth at the very beginning, running into the arena, was just overwhelming! That was by far my favorite part. The dances were all cute and fun and they did a great job, definitely, but i just LOVED to feel the spirit that those youth brought. I won't soon forget that great feeling!

SuburbiaMom said...

Dance festival was awesome--I agree! The deacons' dance was one of my favorites.

Jen said...

Such a wonderful event for Caleb to be able to be a part of. It will become an anchor to his testimony. Looks wonderful!