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Triumph over Trials – A Caring Story of Healing and Faith

DOUG JESSOP’S UTAH CARING STORIES – ABC4 NEWS – Salt Lake City, Utah) Brett and Sandy Folkman’s daughter, Brooke, was passionate about life, animals, and adventure. Brooke struggled with mental health issues. She died from an accidental overdose at the age of twenty-three.

Her sister Rachel read from one of her journals; “I forget to pray to God. Because I think I know the way. But that’s really just pride and I’m falling astray. Reality is I don’t know my way. But God, he never leaves me. As soon as I kneel to pray, I feel the spirit surround me. There are no words to say.”

Remembering a family activity to see The Light of the World Sculpture Garden to a way to honor their daughter

Sandy told me; “Brooke absolutely loved the sculpture garden, and she had a deep love of the Savior.”

The Folkman’s commissioned The Light of the World sculptor, Angela Johnson, to memorialize their daughter.

Brett got emotional and he showed me a full-sized clay model which will be made into a gleaming bronze figure. “This beautiful, winged rendition of Brooke is how she is free of pain and suffering. It’s been a very spiritual experience for us and connected us deeply to Angela and that’s why we got involved with her next project, The Tree of Life.”

The Tree of Life project will feature over two-hundred larger than life figures representing the Plan of Salvation and be adjacent to the Light of the World Garden at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. Angela gave me a tour of the miniature version in her studio.

Angela made an important observation as we walked around the impressive figure and ended up standing next to the figure of Jesus; “This is to recreate that connection and that open discussion and that bond of love. Which in the end is more powerful than the pain? The pain terrifies us, but the love heals us. That is the ongoing mission of Jesus Christ.”

"The Pain Terrifies Us but the Love Heals us" - Sculptor Angela Johnson on Jessop's Journal

(DOUG JESSOP’S JESSOP’S JOURNAL – ABC4 NEWS – SALT LAKE CITY, UT) There are certain experiences that touch your senses…sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Then there are some experiences that touch your soul. This episode of Jessop’s Journal is one of those.

There is something about a bronze sculpture. Unlike a painting that is in the “no touch” zone, bronzes invite a tactical connection. If you’ve ever seen a sculpture that has been touched, you will notice a certain patina.

Angela Johnson, the self-taught sculptor that has created the Light of the World Sculpture Garden, with fifteen larger than life scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, located at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah; put it this way; “With bronze, I encourage people to reverently touch the depictions of Jesus Christ. What’s really amazing is that there are certain areas where you can tell hundreds of people touch the same area. Whether it’s the marks of the nail prints in his hand in the resurrected scene of “Reach and Faith”, it’s where people reach up and they stroke an area of the statue. Because they do it’s a “love touch” and it changes coloration. It becomes gold.”

I met Angela in her studio to see a maquette scale version of her next project called “The Tree of Life Vision.” It’s awe inspiring.  As I walked into her studio it is was interesting to note how high the ceilings are. We aren’t talking a small project. Come to find out that this new project features over two-hundred larger than life figures. To give you a sense of proportion, Angela pointed out a figure of a man in the middle of a lower field that was holding an unfurled banner and told me he was about twenty-two inches tall. I then had the honor of putting clay on the full-size figure of that man, titled “Captain Moroni, before it goes to the forge. That figure was seven feet tall! It is going to be a companion piece next to the Light of the World Garden and cover well over an acre.

The Tree of Life Vision sculpture is full of symbolism. There is a valley in the foreground with numerous figures of different historical and ethnic backgrounds.  You are lead on a journey up a steep and rocky incline guided with an iron rod to help you towards your final destination up a hill leading to an illuminated tree. To the right of the hill there is a large, spacious building with certain ominous figures and a heavy chain. The pinnacle of the entire presentation is the figure of Jesus Christ standing under a tree with light emanating from it.

There are over two-hundred figures with intricate details. Angela pointed out that each viewer seems to be drawn towards certain characters based on their life experiences.

It is a fact that there is opposition in all things. She gave me a tour and pointed out a figure of a Mother in anguish as her child is falling down the hill. Parents have, and will always, be worried about their children. I spied a young lady, named “Innocence”, peering from behind a column in the darker side of the sculpture, which prompted a conversation with Angela about man’s inhumanity to man.

On the other side of the scale, one of the figures I loved was a small girl with outstretched arms and the most incredible look of joy on her face as she met Jesus Christ. Angela said, “The epitome of joy is the joy that they are expressing in their open arms the delight in their eyes as they are looking up at the only being who truly understands them.”

What is the message of this donation funded project? Angela got emotional and said, “This is to recreate that connection and that open discussion and that bond of love. Which in the end is more powerful than the pain? The pain terrifies us, but the love heals us. That has been and still is, the ongoing mission of Jesus Christ.”

Consider this your personal invitation to watch this entire episode of Jessop’s Journal and share it with someone that you know that may need a reminder that there is still good in the world.

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