President and Sister Tanner and dear sisters and brothers of our BYUH ohana, aloha!
I rejoice with you in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!
What an amazing bicentennial General Conference weekend we have just experienced as we were able to #hearhim through our beloved Prophet Russell M. Nelson and Apostles, who all stand today as a light unto the world!
Samuel, the Lamanite Prophet, prophesied of the signs of Jesus’ death. There would be 3 days of darkness.
In 3 Nephi 8:17 and 19, it states that in the space of about 3 hours, the face of the whole earth became deformed because of the tempests and the thunderings and the lightnings and the quaking of the earth...and then there was darkness upon the face of the land. Also, in 3 Nephi it says that those that survived the earthquakes, could feel the vapor of darkness, because it was so thick. No light, candle, torch or fire could be lit. Even the sun, moon or stars couldn’t be seen. It was so frightening that the people cried in verse 25 “oh that we had repented before this great and terrible day.”
In chapter 9 verses 1 and 2, there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants of the earth, upon all the face of the land crying: “Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent”.
Many in the world, today, may feel in a state of darkness or uncertainty with the COVID-19. However, the crowning event of the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ, as recorded in 3 Nephi:11 tells of a great multitude that gathered together around the temple conversing about Jesus Christ, whom the sign had been given concerning his death.
In verse 3, it says that the people that were gathered heard a voice. It wasn’t a hard or a loud voice, but even though it was a small voice, it pierced them and there was no part of their body that it didn’t quake and it caused their hearts to burn. In verse 4, the voice came a second time, but they didn’t understand it. Finally, the third time they heard the voice, they opened their ears to hear it and understood it. In verse 7, the voice said:
“Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name---hear ye him”.
In verses 10-11,13,14 it reads:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.” (3 Nephi 11: 7,9-11,13-14)
I often envision living at that very time experiencing 3 hours of total destruction and 3 days of complete darkness. I pray that I would be able to find my way to the temple, to hear the voice of our loving Heavenly Father as He introduced His beloved son and then accept our Savior’s loving invitation to “come forth unto me” and feel the marks in his hands and feet. My dear sisters and brothers, I humbly extend our Savior’s invitation to each of us to “come forth unto him” to apply his eternal and loving atonement that He gave for each of us.
It was shared with me that an Elderly Samoan sister bore her testimony saying, “If you no repent, waste time He die for you!” Let us not waste anymore time to repent, let us feel of his healing love through His sacred atonement!
While at BYU in Provo, I took 2 years of American Sign Language. This is the sign for love! I feel it is because these 2 fingers point to the palm of the hand reminding us of the Sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement. It is also a special sign for the daughters and sons of Laie. I love my village of Laie. I am grateful for all those that have been a light for me.
Their example of love and support have played a role in molding me into the man that I try to be today. This past Sunday, we were able to participate in a worldwide solemn assembly led by President Russell M. Nelson in the sacred 'Hosanna Shout'. We, as a Church, celebrated this past general conference (and hopefully throughout the year) the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s First Vision of the Father and the Son.
It was in that vision that the Father, pointing to Jesus Christ, told the teenage Joseph, “This is my beloved Son. Hear him!” As a young boy, our ohana had the opportunity to visit the birthplace of the restoration: Palmyra, New York. There we visited the Sacred Grove, where the 1st vision took place as well as Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith received the Gold Plates.
However, sisters and brothers, it was not there that I received MY testimony of the first vision and the Book of Mormon. My “Sacred Grove” experience came on a cold winter night while walking back to my dorm at Helaman Halls during my Freshman year at BYU in Provo. I had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true as invited by the Prophet Moroni in Moroni 10:3-5. That night, I felt not Utah winter cold, but a Hawaii burning in my bosom. I knew it was TRUE. Have you experienced your sacred grove moment?
I am grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ, our Prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith, and our modern-day Prophet Russell M. Nelson! I would like to recognize the people that have been a light in my life and have made all the difference in the world!
My great, great paternal grandfather, Savea Moe was the first convert to the church in our family. He was baptized on September 4th, 1899 by Elder McDermott and confirmed by Elder Morris. How grateful I am for his baptism that allowed our family to know Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and His true gospel. My great grandfather and mother, Aupiu Savea and Lupe Moe, affectionately called Pa and Ma, served faithfully as Faifeau Nofonu’u (branch missionaries) in numerous villages in Samoa where the church needed to be strengthened.
They served under 15 mission presidents from 1903-1950. Pa & Ma later moved to California. Uncle David Hannemann shared that Pa & Ma along with other faithful Samoan saints would attend the Los Angeles Temple frequently despite their lack of understanding of the English language. The temple presidency was so touched by their faithfulness, that they created the Samoan language session in the LA temple.
My paternal grandparents, Miki & Mele Ah You, were considered wealthy in the village of Faleniu, American Samoa where my father was born, because he owned his own buses, had a mini market store, and owned land. On July 14th, 1960 they sacrificed their earthly possessions by selling most of everything to move to beautiful Laie, Hawaii to seal their most precious possessions, their children, to them in our beautiful Laie, Hawaii temple.
As my wife mentioned in our introduction, after we were married, we moved to Provo to prepare for school and the football season. I enrolled in the 'Living Prophets' course. We committed to follow President Ezra Taft Benson’s counsel for mothers, like Julie, to stay home and nurture and raise our soon to be born 1st child, Mapuana. As I was on a football scholarship, I couldn’t work while in school.
Julia was offered a teaching position that was to pay more money than we’d ever had (mind you, Julie only made $9,000 the previous year as she was a full-time student) so anything more than that was a lot of money, to us. We did not accept the offer and trusted in the Lord so Julie could stay home with our Mapuana.
After making that decision, my dear maternal grandparents, Joseph Keaunui and Henrietta Bee Ah Quin of Hauula Hawaii...who we thought would never leave this rock or Hawaii, and who were not active members of the church, decided out-of-the-blue to sell their beautiful farm in Hauula to move to Utah. We were blessed to live with them and ohana until I graduated and returned home to Laie, therefore meeting our needs and desire for Julie to stay home with Mapuana.
Sisters and brothers, my parents Junior and Almira are Kahuku high school sweethearts. Both danced at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) and are the proud parents of 8 children, 38 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild.
Our family owns Tita’s Grill at the PCC Marketplace. My mother is affectionately the Tita. She is one of the most beautiful, loving, selfless people I know. I love you Mom! Many of our students know Uncle Jr. as the person they can go to if they are hungry. He has fed many of our students without being asked or without anything in return.
Our slogan is 'AH YOU HUNGRY'.
He does remind me of our Savior that he can feed the masses with our Tita’s Bread and Coco Rice. It's a miracle we are still in business. Pa, my great grandfather was a spiritual Giant in our Aiga or Family. When my father was about 10 or 11, he received a grandfather’s blessing from Pa, Aupiu Savea Moe. That blessing promised my father that if he was faithful in church and kept the word of wisdom, he would have a successful career in sports.
My father said he laughed when he heard the words of that blessing because he was an awkward and uncoordinated child and no one wanted him to play on their team and he would be the last to be chosen while playing at Laie Park. I am the self appointed President of the Jr Ah You Fan Club, which consists of his posterity. He has had a very illustrious career in football.
He has been inducted to ASU Sun Devil HOF and Ring of Honor—as His name Hangs within the Frank Cush Football Stadium, Hula Bowl HOF, Canadian Football HOF, Hawaii State Sports HOF as well as many other accolades.
When my father was inducted in to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, he exclaimed in his speech that he “did it” meaning he fulfilled his grandfather’s special priesthood blessing. While playing football in Canada, he also followed Pa’s example by traveling with mission presidents holding firesides and drawing many to the church because of his good works. My parents also held many luaus to help fundraise to build chapels in Quebec.
One story I like to share is when many years back, a missionary serving in the Honolulu Hawaii Mission, called us to see if he could come meet my parents. He shared that his mother was once the girlfriend of one of my Dad’s coaches in Canada. She often came to practices and games and would see my father’s interactions with my younger brother and me.
She knew we were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and admired our family relationship and how my father had different standards from other players. Later in her life, missionaries happened to knock on her door and she remembered what she saw and felt with our family and she welcomed the missionaries in her home. Obviously, she joined the church and raised her sons to serve the Lord.
And finally, as a youth, my father counseled me to not have a serious girlfriend in high school. He counseled me to go on dates with different girls. At the time, I thought that that would make me a “player” or I saw it as a negative thing to date around. Now that I’m older and thanks to “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet, I realize that there was wisdom in his counsel. However, I did my best to obey.
After high school and while dancing at the Polynesian Cultural Center, I fell in “like” with a girl. At Christmas, I bought and gave this girl a half-heart pendant with me keeping the other half. Unfortunately, like the song “Last Christmas”, I gave her my heart and the very next day, she gave it away.
My heart was broken...like the pendant….it was a dark day. I thought that being obedient to my dad was supposed to bring me blessings...not heartache. Gratefully, my now sister-in-love, Sina, shared my heartache with her younger sister and she replied to Sina, “tell him if it makes him feel better, I’ll go out with him”.
The next day, Sina introduced us and on March 26, 1989 we sealed our friendship with a kiss on the temple steps exactly 3 years later to the date, we sealed our love for ETERNITY...and as they say, the rest is history!
My wife continues to be my light and it’s true what they say...we, as brethren, are called to the work because of our wives. One of my favorite scriptures, which I try to pattern my life after, is found in 3 Nephi 12:16.
“Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed due to the COVID-19. Prior to the olympic games, there is a traditional lighting of the olympic flame in Olympia, Greece. The flame or light is then carried one-by-one until it reaches the destination of the games that year. Sisters and brothers, the source of all light originates from our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our beloved prophet, Russel M. Nelson, is the bearer of His light. As we hear, hearken, and head his counsel, we will be a light bearer that shines for others. As I have shared how each of my ancestors have passed their light and good works, it is now my responsibility to carry forth His light.
It is my responsibility to ensure my posterity continues faithfully until we return to our heavenly home. I am eternally grateful for my Purcell, Ah Quin, and Ah You family on both sides of the veil whose light and good works continue to bless my life.
My greatest desire is to follow my savior Jesus Christ.
I have committed to continue the legacy of love and service of my family. President Russell M. Nelson said, “During trying times, few things are as reassuring and comforting as truth."
The Apostle Paul foresaw our day and prophesied that trying times would come. He added that many would be ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
What is true is that amid the gloomy darkness of a troubled world, the light of Jesus Christ shines ever brighter. He can speak truth to our hearts and minds as we seek Him and learn to hear Him.”
May we all strive to hear Him. In the name of our Beloved Savior Jesus Christ, amen.