Brothers and sisters, Aloha! There is no other place on Earth like this in this moment in this time. What a special place to be.
Most volcanoes—Mount Mayon, in the Philippines or say, Mount Fuji in Japan —grow along the boundary between tectonic plates, where collisions melt the earth’s upper layers and fuel eruptions.
The six largest Hawaiian Islands—the Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, and Kauai—form a chain of islands running to the northwest. They were formed one after the other as the Pacific Plate slid over a plume of magma—molten rock.
These magma plumes are not small—they can extend hundreds of kilometers below Earth’s surface. This upwelling of molten rock, known as a “hot spot,” creates volcanoes that spew out lava. The lava then cools and hardens to create new land. The Hawaiian Islands were essentially created from lots of volcanoes. 1
At this point, many of you may be thinking . . . Am I in a history or geology class again? I thought I was at graduation. You are not in those classes, but eons ago we all raised our hands and said, like the Savior, “We will go down” 2 and enter earth life, even the education of life classes. We raised our arms high and said, we will find Him and learn of THE ROCK, even the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ.
“And now, my sons [and my daughters], remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” 3
The Hawaiian Islands, BIG ROCKS, were born from volcanic activity. In fact, that volcanism can still be observed today in Hawaii as these beautiful islands continue to grow and develop. Just as each of us continues to grow and develop in our trials. Trials come in the form of refining as if in a fire, they come when we are in pressure situations and they come to each of us over time. In essence, we become like rocks shaped by heat, time, and pressure.
There are three types of rock on our earth. Igneous rock formed by heat, and the rock you see all around you here in Laie and the Hawaiian Islands. Sedimentary rock, formed by deposits of minerals over extended periods of time, and Metamorphic rock, formed primarily by pressure.
Lava rocks are types of igneous rocks that are formed when molten rock has been liquefied by intense heat and pressure, then cools to a solid state. 4 My friends, think about the last time you experienced something so difficult, that it seemed like your core was being “liquified.” Examples of core liquification in our lives may include a diagnosis of cancer, chronic illness like diabetes, a tragic accident, family separation or divorce, shame, anxiety, depression, abuse of any kind, suicidal ideation, failing a class, losing a job or a loved one and on and on. Through the trial, and after the trial, your core was changed, even molded in a new and different way.
After experiencing the loss of Elder Jaggi’s youngest brother to cancer, we found a scripture in the first book of James that encouraged us to “count it all joy.” We wanted to see the world with a more positive lens, despite our challenges. So we made “count it all joy” our family motto in the year 2020. 5 Just before finalizing our 2020 family motto, we also experienced a flood in our home while we were on vacation. Our third child Josh summarizes the disaster quite well in this video.
As our youngest daughter Eliza and I walked into the house after the floor, walls, parts of the ceiling, cabinetry and furniture were removed, it felt as if our sanctuary was ripped apart.
As we turn to Christ through these difficulties that are an inherent part of life on earth, we are changed by the experience. We may become “new creatures” in Christ. 6 Nephi said, “For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” 7 The “refiners fire” 8 provides formative learning and growth opportunities, throughout our lives. Allowing trials to shape and mold us as “tabernacles of clay” into what we are becoming, is critical to letting “old things pass away... and all things become new.”
6 Just three weeks ago in General Conference, President Nelson said, “None of us can control nations or the actions of others or even members of our own families...It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified.” But, “We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring.” 9
Elder and Sister Jaggi are in the fire, right alongside President and Sister Kauwe and all of you! Isn’t it great to be in the “furnace of affliction” together?
After a portion of our home was destroyed, Eliza looked up at one of the only things remaining in that area of the house, a picture of the Savior hanging above the fireplace. She said to me, “well mom, we may not have much left here, but we still have Jesus.” She had faith in Christ and reminded us that He was the one who would help us reconstruct our homes and our lives.
Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposit of mineral particles at the Earth's surface over thousands and even millions of years. These rocks have been shaped over TIME.
Regarding time and our lives, Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. ... That is, every thought, word, and deed has an [effect] on the human body; all these leave their marks, marks which can be read by Him who is Eternal as easily as the words in a book can be read.” 10 Everything we do has an impact on who we are.
Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and the internet also record your desires, expressed in the form of searches and clicks. For example, when you decide to take a homework break and open TikTok or Instagram, and you find yourself on a weird cat-lady video 30 minutes later. There are legions waiting to fill our desires. As we take selfies, click on certain pics, articles, and videos, we leave tracks—what we communicate, where we have been, how long we have been there, and the kinds of things that interest us. In this way, these apps create a cyber profile for us—in a sense, our “cyber book of life.” 11 As in life, over time, these apps will give us more and more of what we seek. If our desires are pure, the Gram or other apps, including the gospel library and gospel living app, can magnify righteous desires, making it ever easier to engage in worthy pursuits. But the opposite is also true.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it this way: “What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity...Only by educating and training our desires can they become our allies instead of our enemies!” 12 Think of how formative your last four years have been! How can the righteous desires of your hearts become your friends over time? I think of President Nelson, President Oaks, and President Eyring, who were once young students, like all of you. They have received deposits from heaven over the last ninety-plus years! “President Nelson...has been profoundly prepared and specifically tutored by the Lord to lead us at this time.” 13
As we think of the first presidency, as metaphorical “sedimentary rocks,” as we think of their relationship to the Savior, these scriptures come to mind about Jesus. “He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever. And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons; And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets. And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes,” 14
Metamorphic rocks are formed when other rocks are affected by great temperatures and especially PRESSURE. Marble and slate are two examples of metamorphic rocks. The name metamorphic comes from Greek words meaning “change of shape.”
Most of you are now finished with finals, the pressure of testing your knowledge about science, maths, and English is complete. Uncertainty about the future may continue to weigh you down. Questions may persist such as, What will I do for work, who will I marry, where will I live, how many children will I have? These are only some of the pressures of life you will face. Difficulties do come to all people.
To overcome the pressures of life, the prophet has also invited us to “ignite our spiritual momentum...” He said, “We know followers of Jesus Christ who became converted and grew in their faith...we have never needed positive spiritual momentum more than we do now...” 9
He invited us to: One, get on the covenant path and stay there. Two, discover the joy of daily repentance. Three, learn about God and how He works. Four, seek and expect miracles. Five, end conflict in your personal life. 9
You have been privileged to study in the shadow of the beautiful Laie Temple. President Nelson also promises this blessing, “Positive spiritual momentum increases as we worship in the temple and grow in our understanding of the magnificent breadth and depth of the blessings we receive there. I plead with you to counter worldly ways by focusing on the eternal blessings of the temple. Your time there brings blessings for eternity.” 9
I add my witness that the temple is where we truly come to know our Savior, build our lives upon His rock, and come to know our God and His plan of salvation and happiness for us.
Elder Christofferson has taught, “With divine help, ultimately consolation replaces pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. God will convert trial into blessing.” 15
And like our prophet always does, when he extends invitations, he also promises blessings. Here are the blessings he promised at General Conference if we will receive the 5 invitations Sister Jaggi just outlined. He promised peace and a burst of spiritual momentum. He promised the ability to move forward on the covenant path, despite the obstacles we face. He promised greater strength to resist temptation, more peace of mind, freedom from fear, and greater unity in our families. 9
You, the graduates of Brigham Young University–Hawaii have been shaped and molded by fire, by time and by pressure. You are modern-day rocks, even leaders of this generation.
We asked a crew to take some pictures of the rocks (some of you and your friends) at BYU–Hawaii. As we share these pictures, we would like to read a few scriptures of who you are and how you may continue to become who the Lord would have you become.
Psalm 18:1-2, “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
Matthew 7:24-25, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
2 Nephi 4:30, 35 “Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.”
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
- A Chain of Islands: Hawaiian Hot Spot
- Abraham 3:24
- Helaman 5:12
- Igneous Rocks
- Let Patience Have Her Perfect Work, and Count It All Joy!
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- 1 Nephi 20:10
- 3 Nephi 24:2
- Spiritual Momentum, Russell M. Nelson, April 2022 General Conference
- Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 97
- The Choice Generation
- “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 21, 22
- The Heart of a Prophet
- D&C 88:41-44, Helaman 5:12, JSH 1:61
- Liahona, The Refining Fire of Affliction, Elder T. Todd Christofferson, March 2022