Sunday, September 18, 2016

#PhillyLDSTemple Cultural Celebration

Our family really enjoyed seeing the cultural celebration of the Philadelphia Temple last night.  It was our first time attending such an event, so we really didn't know what to expect. 

Our family accidently ended up sitting on the backside of the stage so it was difficult for me to get pictures of all of the amazing things represented in the program, which included William Penn who founded Pennsylvania as a place to worship God, the founding of the United States, the making of the Flag, George Washington at Valley Forge, Benjamin Franklin's innovations, the Restoration of the Priesthood and much more.  But we were able to partake of the spirit and see our young friends perform and share testimony, and that's what matters most.

On the way to the arena at Temple University, our GPS took us through some of the hardest neighborhoods I've seen in quite a while.  This is not news to us who have been attending the open houses for the temple or watching it being built. The temple is located right downtown in some of the roughest neighborhoods in Philly. The neighborhoods where the temple is located are very destitute in a lot of ways.

I share this one photo I snapped as we drove in, but really it is one of the nicer buildings, absolutely does not represent what we really saw.  I just share it for a point of reference.  It struck me as we passed through and saw children playing in vacant lots that passed for "parks".  It humbled me.  It impressed upon me. All I could think was, "And the Lord put a temple here!"  He put a temple here, because He loves ALL of his children.  All nationalities, all colors, all creeds, all ages, all circumstances, all economic classes.  He is actively calling each one of us to come follow Him.

The evening was amazing.  We loved hearing and seeing the youth from our stake bearing such powerful testimonies of the Savior Jesus Christ and His gospel and of the importance of temples.  

Some moments I really liked included hearing the story of young William Penn who prayed to God when he saw his father imprisoned.  Not understanding why just men were punished and then feeling light fill the room and vowing to serve God all his days echoed to experiences shared by George Washington and Joseph Smith who also turned to God in prayer for answers.

I loved seeing George Washington crossing the Delaware river and praying with his soldiers.  During that sequence I watched a group of boys posing as soldiers freezing at Valley Forge.  I saw a boy in a wheelchair being brought over to join with his fellow young men around the campfire.  That also touched my heart.  There is room for everyone is Christ's church.

I also loved the sequence where the founding fathers signed the Constitution. They seemed so vulnerable, but also so clearly willing to do what the Lord wanted them to do and to put their trust in Him.

Some of the more delightful and entertaining sequences were Ben Franklin's kite episode and the type-writer sequence. (Hopefully they will post it online so you can see it!)

But my favorite moment had to be the end of the program as the youth circled the replica of the temple which they helped "build", with hands raised, singing "The Spirit of God".  It was so powerful.  I moved up a few rows higher to get a better picture and when I turned around I noticed that there was a "couple" standing in front of the temple getting married.  The whole scene was moving, positive, joyful, strong.

As we drove home we talked about some of the scenes we saw together. We talked of the temple where there is so much order and how things tend to be in a home where there are mothers and fathers who are actively looking out for families, actively teaching them day in and day out, actively forgiving one another and trying to improve together.  We obseved that the Lord has a pattern that He clearly lays out for us in temples, and if we will do our best to follow it, our families will be happier and stronger. In fact, his pattern is the very reason families exist at all.  And if we turn our backs on it, if we stop trying to do the right things in our families, over time, families fail and societies crumble. If we follow it, regardless of our class or economic status, our families can be happy, strong, and grow to be incredible as generations pass.

As hard as it is at our house these days, as stressful as it tends to be trying to keep our family moving in the right direction during what is a very difficult time for us, I can see that I must keep trying no matter how easy it might seem to give up. As tired as I am of telling the children to clean up after themselves, as tired as I am of trying to teach them to be kind to one another...somewhere I must find the strength to try again, one more day, and the day after that one.  And I know the strength I seek to strengthen my family can be accessed as I worship in the temple.

So those are just some thoughts I had last night.  It was a privilege to watch these amazing youth express their love of the gospel and their joy for life last night.  Now, I need to get ready for the dedication later today.  Have a blessed Sabbath!


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I also hope they posted online.

  2. I love seeing these photos! It looks like such an amazing program. :) I live in Star Valley Wyoming, and our temple will be dedicated in the end of October. I love getting to be a part of the youth preparing for the cultural celebration - their spirits are so strong!

  3. Jocelyn, I love to read your posts! I have sorely missed them. But I felt to reach out to you and thank you for your Beautiful example of being a dedicated mother. You remind me of a talk/book by Sister Wendy Nelson called 'I am a Holy Woman' or maybe it is 'What would a Holy Woman do?' I think. You represent a Holy Woman in Every way! By the way, this is Shelly in Ephraim, Ut I commented last summer about your family coming here to the Manti Pageant someday. I am sorry for your family challenges right now. I've been there but that is another story. I was touched by your comment about how going to the temple will strengthen you and your family. I was recently touched deeply by Elder Kent F. Richards talk from April Conference called "The Power of Godliness" Each time I listen to or read it since I am absolutely touched at how real the promised blessings are from temple attendance/service. Take a look and see what you think. I hope it touches you like it has me. I have you and your family in my prayers, YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Remember Sister Mariotts motto, "It will all work out!" (spoken with a stron southern accent) If you ever need a virtual friend you can email me at (I have 6, but only 2 left at home)
    Thanks for all you exemplify!

    1. Hi Shelly in Ephraim! I thank you for your very kind and encouraging words! They really lifted me up. Don't read anything into the fact that I did not respond right away. I meant to many times, but got swept up in other things. I just wanted to thank you and let you know that I really really appreciate what you said. And I am going to read those talks asap!!! Thank you so much. It always helps to hear "just keep going!"

  4. My sister in Utah follows your blog and sent me this link. I'm also here in the Philly area (Ridley Park), and was there on Saturday helping my ward's youth with costumes and anything else that needed to be done. My husband and I always sat during rehearsals on the 'wrong' side too, but during the dress rehearsal we sat on the 'right' side and saw the bride and groom. BUT, I also knew that the other side of the temple had a bride and groom too but didn't get to see them. And that's my disappointment, for the bride on the other side, the one you have a photo of, is one of my Young Women. Her name is Francess and she is a new member of the Church. Her mother and she immigrated from Liberia to escape the Ebola outbreak and our sister missionaries found them in the Spring. They embraced the Gospel and were baptized. I'm so thrilled to have a picture of my Francess. I talked to her about this experience and she just glowed to be able to wear a bridal gown and be a part of the celebration. So I'm grateful my sister shared your link and that you posted a picture with the couple I never got to see that night.

    1. Hi Claire - Thank you so much for reaching out to me and sharing "the rest of the story." Please tell Francess that she was a vision of virtue standing there with her "groom" and I very much look forward to her having an actual temple wedding day in her future. She really touched my heart with her representation of a righteous man and woman being sealed in the House of the Lord. If I sat on the "wrong" side just to get you that picture, then it will have been worth it. Also, I can email you more hi-resolution versions of the photos I took if you'd like: