More than 340 youth and 75 adults in the Cedar Hills Utah West Stake spent the first day of their pioneer trek building a 16-foot-by-24-foot replica of the Nauvoo Temple out of wood, muslin and dense foam.

In the trek kickoff meeting on Thursday, June 11, stake leaders surprised the youth with the announcement that they would unite in a common cause by constructing and painting a temple in three hours that day.

Then the youth left the stake center and headed to Cascade Springs where they met their trek families and loaded their handcarts — including cornerstones (cinderblocks) for the temple. They decorated their family flags and trekked for three miles to Little Deer Creek Campground (just west of Midway, Utah), where they spent the afternoon raising walls, making Nauvoo Star windows, painting columns, designing doors, sewing the roof out of white cloth, painting a temple mural, and cutting sunstones and moonstones out of dense foam. Each family had a different assignment for each of the three hours. When the upper structure and towers went up — including a 6-foot-tall Moroni — the replica stood 27 feet tall.

“We wanted the youth to understand how the saints prepared for their trek west. They met in Nauvoo as strangers from England, Canada and the Eastern states and experienced miracles as they built the temple together,” said Jeanette Bennett, Stake Young Women president of the Cedar Hills Utah West Stake. “The saints grew closer to God by building the temple and then making covenants inside. We envisioned our youth growing closer to God and to each other as they helped our beautiful temple arise out of a grassy field.”

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