Overnight adventure lands front-row seats


    By McKay Coppins

    It?s 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning and nearly 70 freshmen are congregated outside the Marriott Center, throwing Frisbees, singing primary songs and doing everything they could to stay warm.

    Despite low temperatures, the group?s spirits remain high. In around eight hours, President Gordon B. Hinckley will speak at the devotional.

    ?We?re all going to be cold, but we?re all happy to be here right now,? said Chris Rostrom, 18, from Alaska. ?Mostly we?re here to say that we spent the night outside to wait for the prophet.?

    The Honor Code office said that there was no specific Honor Code issue with the night?s activities, as long as University Police didn?t have a problem with it. Actually bringing gear for organized camping out is not allowed on campus, said police, but coming early to stand in line is permitted.

    While there was a sense of unity among the students, many of whom didn?t know each other before Tuesday, everyone had their individual reasons to endure the long night.

    Ally Wells, 18, from Des Moines, Iowa, was baptized a month ago and was looking forward to her first time seeing the prophet, of whom she only recently gained a testimony.

    ?I know that everything he says is the word of God and that he speaks to us through his revelation,? said Wells. ?I am way excited.?

    Bobby Boland, from Beaverton, Ore., turned 19 on Tuesday, and couldn?t think of a better way to spend his birthday.

    ?I?m really complimented that the prophet would find time in his schedule to come visit me on my birthday,? joked Boland. ?The prophet is one of the three strongest parts of my testimony and I think seeing him in person is going to really help me feel his energy and his spirit.?

    Boland also commented on the atmosphere among the waiting students.

    ?I?m feeling a real strong spirit right now from my fellow students,? said Boland. ?It?s encouraging to see how willing people are to come support the prophet of God. I think it?s a good representation of the school itself.?

    But while the prophet?s devotional seemed to be on the top of their minds, most students didn?t mind admitting that fun was also a motivating factor in deciding to spend the night.

    ?I think the freshmen are here because we?re still new to BYU and so we?re trying to experience all we can,? said Corrine Christison, 18, from N.C. ?Sleeping outside to see the prophet seemed like a fun idea.?

    The students passed the night in various ways; studying American Heritage textbooks, playing acoustic guitars, and starting pillow fights.

    Jonny Gunson, 18, from North Carolina, even brought along what he thought was an appropriate collection of DVDs to watch on his laptop.

    ?We?ve got ?Special Witnesses of Christ?, ?The Restoration?, ?To This End Was I Born?, and ?Finding Faith in Christ,?? said Gunson, listing the LDS Church-produced movies he had gotten from the Distribution Center. ?My favorite is ?Special Witnesses of Christ.??

    As the night wore on, sleep deprivation became a concern for some, though few were worried that they would fall asleep during President Hinckley?s talk.

    ?It?s the classes afterward that?s going to be the trouble,? said Brian Grimsman, 18, from Carmichael, Calif.

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