Elder Timothy Dyches, President Keoni Kauwe, members of the President's Council, faculty and staff, family, friends, and fellow graduates, Aloha! It is my honor and privilege to address you for today's commencement exercise.
This is a great milestone in our lives. We have finished the challenging and fulfilling academic journey here at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. Despite this great accomplishment, we may still face some uncertainty about what the future holds for us. We have witnessed how the pandemic brought the whole world to a halt. May we remember that Heavenly Father is in control, and as we put our trust in Him, everything will fall into the right places.
Although some prayers are not answered the way we want them to be, I know that He hears all our pleadings, and He is mindful of our circumstances. If we do not receive what we want, our Heavenly Father will provide what we need. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come."
With the current pandemic, there are concerns of: "Will I find a job after I graduate? Is this the right path for me? Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Why do things seem not to be working out for me?" I feel your anxiety and worries that life after BYU-Hawaii may not be as a paradise like we want it to be. President Russell M. Nelson told us that "God gives us the pattern for success, happiness, and joy in this life. We are to hear the words of the Lord and hearken to them and heed what He has told us!"
I got baptized when I was ten years old, and I made a commitment to prepare myself to serve a full-time mission. At the time of my mission call, I was attending a state university in the Philippines. My single mother realized that sending three children to school simultaneously would be impossible. My mother and sisters decided to work to support my schooling. I worked part-time at McDonald's to help with my everyday expenses. The decision to go on a mission would mean that I will lose my scholarships, and I would not be able to help and support my family. I followed what the Lord wanted me to do. After my mission, I got married, and we were blessed with a child. I realized that pursuing a degree while providing for the needs of my family would be difficult. BYU–Hawaii was the answer to my prayers. Here we are given a wonderful opportunity to gain an education, work-part time to provide for our needs and raise our little family. Looking back, I have witnessed how our Father in Heaven has been in the details of my life. Today is the fulfillment of my mother's dream and the fruit of my sisters' sacrifices for me. I want to take this opportunity to honor my mother, Mama Myrna, my sisters, Ate Karisse and Jenica. We made it! Thank you to my loving wife, Ana Katrina, for all your help and support. She has been helping me to be the son, husband, and father that Heavenly Father wants me to be. To my inspiration, Reece and Kyle, I love you.
To the Class of 2021, Congratulations! Remember the pattern for success and happiness: hear the words of the Lord and hearken upon them. As we face the future, we will be comforted that our loving Heavenly Father is guiding us as we navigate in this mortal life. He is invested in our success and happiness because we are His children. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.