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Trust in God

Brothers & Sisters, Aloha!

What an amazing and humbling experience to be here with you today. I have been privileged to spend more than half of my life in this community and working on this campus. It is a special and sacred place. When I was in your seat as a student, I had my ideas of what I wanted to study and do in my life. My declared major was Travel Management. I wanted to work for the airlines and see the world. The Lord in His infinite wisdom guided me to this place where I could do the work He needs me to do; and as it turns out I can actually see the world through all the students and friends I meet who gather to Laie. I love all the cultural experiences we have access to in this microcosm of the world.During the sesquicentennial celebration of the Pioneers in the Pacific conference held on this campus in 1997, I was at the dedication ceremony for the statue of Jonathan Napela and George Q. Cannon outside this building which bears the name of the latter. The statue was commissioned for that special event to depict the rejoicing of the men responsible for translating the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language.President Gordon B. Hinckley was officiating the ceremony. After the dedication, he walked in my direction and extended his hand, and calling me by name, greeted me warmly. My heart raced as I heard the prophet of the Lord call me “Kimber”. It was such a thrilling surreal moment and I felt the power in knowing that the Lord and now his prophet too, were mindful of me personally. That wonderful feeling did not diminish even after I realized I had a name badge on. The Spirit bore witness to me in that moment that the Lord knows who I am and doesn’t need a name badge to recognize me.

As a child, I was not naturally athletic. I remember nearly drowning in the shallow end of a pool more than once. At age 10, my closest friends participated in a summer swim team league. I was not up to their level so every morning while they were warming up for team practices, I took beginner swim lessons with a bunch of younger kids to build my confidence and learn how to bob up & down in the water and eventually swim a bit without pinching my nose with one hand while the other arm spun around wildly. The following summer, I determined to join the swim team with my friends. So at age 11, I showed up for the first day of practice, nervous and hoping I remembered how to not drown.

Coach Bobby Fish (no kidding) was a very stern, imposing figure with short dark hair who honestly terrified me. In my mind, the scene that first day resembled the image of frail Prophet Abinadi facing the wicked King Noah. Coach Fish showed no indication of being merciful. I walked onto the pool deck, she sat with heavy arms folded sizing me up from behind darkly shaded glasses, then pointed at the starting block and said one word, "Dive".So I stepped up to the block which seemed to stand 10-feet above the edge of the pool and somehow put my faith in God and did a feeble flying flop into the pool. Luckily I didn’t hit the bottom and I was able to surface and start swimming as best I could to the other end. The pool seemed to stretch on indefinitely and I quickly grew tired. At last, I reached the other end and in so doing unknowingly passed the required ability test to join the team. This leap of faith turned out to be the beginning of a completely life-changing summer which helped me develop a sense of confidence and self-worth I had never before possessed.I grew stronger and healthier than ever before that summer and created a vital pillar of strength for my life through swimming. It all started with a desire to learn, putting my trust in God, and a giant leap of faith. Faith building experiences sometimes feel like this type of sink or swim situation but our Heavenly Father is always there for us to buoy us up when needed if we trust in Him.

I first discovered that a BYU campus existed in Hawaii when I was 13-years old and instantly knew this was where I wanted to attend college. I had never been to Hawaii but I knew I was destined to be here. Thankfully I was accepted and when the time came, I was excited and nervous to move to Hawaii. I arrived in Honolulu late at night and was picked up by the “Coconut Express” shuttle sent by BYUHSA along with 3 other students. I just remember sitting in that van watching the city lights turn into pretty much nothing but a blur of bushes and darkness on the long ride to campus. I wondered about the sanity of my decision to come here for I felt completely isolated and desolate at first but the Holy Spirit reassured and helped me get through it and now, 26 years later I’m still here and loving my island home.

Since I was determined to work hard and pay my way through school without incurring any long-term debt, one of the first orders of business once I got here was to get a job. I applied for several jobs on campus and at the Polynesian Cultural Center and was turned down for all of them. I had lots of previous job experience and was a dependable worker so it just wasn’t adding up for me. The last straw was when I was denied a custodial job at PCC. I thought that I must be beyond hopeless if I’m not qualified to scrub toilets for minimum wage. As in when Nephi broke his bow of fine steel, I had to humble myself and work harder to find a way to support myself. I was just lucky I didn’t have to deal with starvation and murmuring family members like he did. Several weeks into the semester a job opened up at the School of Business. I was more suited to this position than any of the others I had applied for and was offered the job. I felt humbled at my impatience and lack of trust in my Heavenly Father’s plan for me.

The School of Business was a wonderful job and I learned many valuable skills but I had to prove myself before the blessings started to come. My supervisor spoke fluent pidgin and not much else so I had to quickly learn how to decipher “da kine” multiple times in any given sentence. I was blessed with the gift of tongues and learned how to listen to and understand her instructions. We became good friends and I worked there as a student secretary for nearly 4-years. To trust in God, we have to learn for ourselves how to listen to his guidance and what His voice sounds like to us individually. During my second year of college at the fall opening social for the Tahitian Club, I met a brand new student. He was just off his mission and fresh off the boat with a radical farmer’s tan. At the social this new student with a thick accent kept asking me to dance all night. I learned that his name was Ramond but not much else because all he did was listen to me and smile or agree with everything I said. I was enrolled in French 101 that semester; Ramond was in EIL 101 just learning English basics so he was very kind to help me practice speaking French with him. The first time he called me on the phone he actually read a script his roommate had written out for him and then would repeat anything I asked him so his friend, like in the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, could tell him what to say in response. I had no idea this was going on. English is Ramond’s third language and his elocution was still pretty sparse when he first arrived but with help and encouragement form his mission president, he passed the Admissions criteria with help from on-high and we ended up becoming friends and regular study buddies.

As a result, we both improved in our foreign language studies.Within a year we were engaged to be married. We requested to have Ramond’s father, who is a sealer in the Papeete Tahiti Temple, perform our sealing ceremony here in the Laie Hawaii Temple. A petition had to be approved by the First Presidency to allow him to exercise his authority in a different temple. To our utter surprise and disappointment, the petition was denied. For me, it caused some second thoughts about what kind of sign we were receiving and if we had made the right choice.After several days of sincere prayer about what to do, we were walking together one evening when, through a window, Ramond saw into a room filled with people we didn’t know, many of whom were not observing the BYUH Dress and Grooming standards. Immediately Ramond received an impression that he was supposed to ask one of the men in the room if he would be our sealer. I was obviously not paying as much attention to the Spirit as he was because surveying the group I just said, "Sure, you go ahead and do that.” I was not brave enough to walk up to a total stranger and ask him if he was an LDS Temple Sealer, but Ramond was because the Spirit prompted him and he listened and trusted in the Lord to guide him. I sheepishly followed behind at a distance as he raced through the crowd and caught up to the man who was already walking out to his car. By the time I caught up to them, they had already established that the man was indeed a temple sealer and he had agreed to perform our ceremony for us. The experience that night was exactly what I needed as an indisputable answer to my prayers if our decision to be married was right for us. My confidence in our decision had returned yet it was still a confusing disappointment to have been denied the opportunity to be sealed by my future father-in-law.

Our beloved President Hinckley shared this wise counsel as a reminder to continually trust in the Lord even in the midst of our trials: “It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is.It all works out. Don’t worry.I say that to myself every morning.It will all work out.Put your trust in God,and move forward with faithand confidence in the future.The Lord will not forsake us.He will not forsake us.If we will put our trust in Him,if we will pray to Him,if we will live worthy of His blessings,He will hear our prayers.”1

What a tender mercy the Lord showed me by saying no to our petition as I eventually came to understand the wisdom in the First Presidency's decision. My Father-in-law speaks only in Tahitian and French so the ceremony would have been performed in a language not familiar to most in attendance. I had completed a total of 3-years of high school and college French classes but admittedly it would have been very difficult for me to understand the sacred ceremony with my rudimentary classroom French vocabulary. What a blessing it was to have both of our fathers there as witnesses to our sealing and to have the crystal-clear loving counsel of our sealer, Thomas Kekaula, who is someone who will remain very dear to us forever.The first car we owned as newlyweds was what is affectionately known as a “Laie car”. It had spent many years on campus being passed through numerous owners by the time we bought it for a whopping $250. If you own a car with that sort of price tag, please understand the reason they call them “Laie cars” is because they should not be driven outside of Laie, if at all. However, one morning Brother Brothers and I were driving to pick-up a new student arriving from Tahiti at the airport. Half-way through the Wilson Tunnel on the Like Like Highway, we heard a loud bang under the hood immediately followed by torrents of white smoke streaming out from the engine. We feared it was about to ignite and we would be going out in a blaze of glory. However, we made it to the top of the tunnel and pulled over to find it was a radiator hose which had exploded and spewed the contents of the radiator all over the engine thus creating all the smoke.

This was still in the BC years “before cellular” so we had no phone and no idea what to do. So we did the only thing we could, we prayed a mighty prayer then tried to turn the engine back on. It worked. We pulled the car around, took a deep breath, and headed back into the tunnel with the car in neutral and our faith on turbo the whole way down the mountain. At the bottom intersection, the light which was always red was miraculously green despite no other cars coming down before or after us. We coasted through the intersection and turned into the first neighborhood we could where suddenly the car’s engine just stopped. Then we finally exhaled and said a prayer of gratitude.Conveniently, there was a man standing in the carport right where we stalled who was wrapping lau lau at 6 am on a Sunday for some reason. He let us use his phone and get the help we needed to get our Laie car repaired and back home. The new student waiting at the airport caught a ride with someone else and we had a great laugh about it later.You would have thought we learned our lesson about trusting a Laie car but we were poor desperate students and had to put our trust in the Lord several more times with that car before it was towed off into car heaven. We were blessed over and over because of our faith and trust in the Lord. Trusting is a delicate matter. Placing our trust in the three members of the Godhead is sure and good. However, trust by nature is intangible and must be tested and proved. Take the experiences of Job, a righteous and respected man who certainly did not deserve the hardships placed upon him. By mortal standards, he had every reason to doubt and murmur against God. Yet he trusted in God even as his family, health, wealth, and reputation were taken from him. His friends questioned him and assumed the worst of him yet he remained meek and humble. He recognized his weaknesses found even greater humility and recognition of the Lord saying, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”2

It’s common to trust that promised blessings will come when we think we need them most rather than waiting on the Lord’s time and His plan for us. For almost a decade after being married, Brother Brothers and I still had not been blessed with a child. In fact, we had several pregnancies end in dramatic fashion requiring surgery and hospitalization. Each time the promises of motherhood in Priesthood blessings I had received became harder to understand. After losing our fourth baby, I lost my patience, my hope, my faith, I had nearly lost my life, I was in utter misery and a deep dark depression. I was angry with God because I was sure He had turned His back on me, so I turned mine on Him and shut out everyone and everything. It was what I imagine outer darkness feels like, completely removed from the presence of God. I remained in that despondent state for two nights until I came to my senses and admitted I needed help. In the very second I called out His name in prayer, I felt the overwhelming love and light of my Savior envelop me and melt away my misery. I felt the power of the Comforter and I’m sure many angels surrounding me. I was shocked at how quickly and how powerfully my answer for help came. He did not take away the sorrow but did help me through it. As it turns out, our path to parenthood came through the selfless sacrifice of amazing birth mothers who lovingly brought our two beautiful adopted children into the world. Their selfless love for these precious souls and trust in us to raise them is humbling and inspiring. God fulfilled His promises to bless my husband and I with the opportunity to be the parents of these two choice children.

Now for a bit of sobering reality, there are very real threats we must overcome in order to prove our trust and faith in God. We cannot pretend to be exempt or immune from the buffetings of Satan. He is ever at the door pressing his way in.Well over 100 years ago in 1894 President Wilford Woodruff shared:“God has held the angels of destruction for many years, lest they should reap down the wheat with the tares. But I want to tell you now, that those angels have left the portals of heaven, and they stand over this people and this nation now, and are hovering over the earth waiting to pour out the judgments. And from this very day they shall be poured out. Calamities and troubles are increasing in the earth, and there is a meaning to these things.”3

I believe that meaning spoken of is for us to be proved and to learn to trust in the Lord. As a personal professional caveat when it comes to trusting, we should all be aware by now that the world we are living in is not to be trusted.

Part of my job deals with security and system access. In the IT support profession, we have seen a skyrocketing increase in virtual threats. Most of those threats are filtered and removed before they can cause harm but every once in a while, a well-crafted message may sneak through and beguile unsuspecting recipients. The invitation to “Click here” should not be taken lightly. Even when you know the sender or the site, you should not automatically trust that the source is authentic. We must watch and be vigilant to not fall victim to the scams and works of the adversary by being too trusting and gullible. There are far too many cunning hackers whose only aim is to disrupt and rob you of your privacy, money, credit, & peace of mind. We must always use caution, think twice, and trust the promptings you receive through the Holy Spirit before you press that “Click here” link. Remember the warning in the Proverbs written by King Solomon, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”4

While preparing for a primary lesson recently, I was impressed by a simple principle in the lesson that in fact, God trusts each of us. God trusts me. That thought had not so clearly crossed my mind before.Why should God trust in me? Well, I am His child. He created me in His image and He gave me a conscience to help me know right from wrong, good from evil. God trusts all His children. He has given commandments which are within our ability to accomplish, so why shouldn’t he trust us to follow them? He wants us to succeed more than anyone. He is always willing to help us make course corrections to get back on the straight and narrow path. He gives us the opportunity to hit the reset button weekly with the sacred sacrament ordinance to start over with a clean slate. All we must do is exercise the gift of sincere repentance to receive the blessings of the atonement.

What has God trusted us to do in this life? He trusts us to bear the name of His Son and stand as witnesses of Him at all times and in all things and in all places. He is counting on us to share the gospel with all the world to prepare for the return of His Beloved Son. He trusts us to do everything we can to thwart the efforts of Satan to bring His children down into misery. He trusts each of us to use the gifts He blesses us with for good purposes.He is counting on us to love Him and our neighbors and ourselves. He gives us callings and responsibilities to help us do that. He gives us the Holy Spirit's promptings to help us know His will for us personally. He trusts us to be His hands upon the earth. Elder Kim B. Clark shared a thought in a talk on this campus many years ago that has stuck with me. What I took away was the concept that merely “sprinkling ourselves” with the gospel, meaning skipping daily scripture study and prayer, picking and choosing which precepts to follow, skipping meetings, not fulfilling our duties, and __fill in your own blank__, only gives you enough knowledge to feel guilty. There is diluted joy in living the gospel half way.If we wish to experience the full measure of joy the Lord promises, it comes as a result of our diving in with full immersion or dedicated discipleship and service to others. God trusts us to act upon His promptings, put our priorities in order, and to do what is right.

A beautiful reminder of what matters most in this life comes from the poem Treasure In Heaven - by John Godfrey Saxe: "Every coin of earthly treasure We have lavished, upon earth,For our simple worldly pleasure,May be reckoned something worth;For the spending was not losing,Though the purchase were but small;It has perished with the using;We have had it- that is all! All the gold we leave behind us When we turn to dust again(Though our avarice may blind us),We have gathered quite in vain;Since we neither can direct it,By the winds of fortune tossed,Nor in other worlds expect it;What we hoarded, we have lost. But each merciful oblation- (Seed of pity wisely sown),What we gave in self-negation,We may safely call our own;For the treasure freely givenIs the treasure that we hoard,Since the angels keep in HeavenWhat is lent unto the Lord!" One way God teaches us about trust is through the law of the tithe. I have seen the miracles that paying my tithing brings. The blessings associated with obedience to this law are easily overlooked, like having enough food to eat, shelter, transportation, and employment. I have found that obeying the law of tithing is easier when I pay my tithing first, then I always find a way to make ends meet.Several years ago, Brother Brothers and I were tight on funds and had to make a decision between paying our tithing or putting the money towards the adoption of our second child. Both were righteous and worthy uses for the money. We could not do both so we decided to prove the Lord, pay our tithing, and trust that everything would work out. A few days after paying our tithing, we received an unexpected refund check in the mail. We had been overcharged for something and the money was being returned to us. The amount was slightly more than the sum we had given in tithing. God keeps his promises when we obey. Alma’s testimony to his son promised, “...that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.5

By obeying His commandments, we are promised great treasures of knowledge, health, and salvation.6 Promised blessings are available now and extend into the eternities for those who faithfully believe in and follow Christ’s example and who “Trust in God.”I share my testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and of the love and trust that exists for each of us from on high. These things I say humbly in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] From the Funeral Program of Marjori Pay Hinckley, April 10, 2004 [2] Job 42:5-6, 10 [3] see Improvement Era, October 1914, p. 1165 [4] Proverbs 3:5-6 [5] Alma 36:3 [6] Doctrine and Covenants 89:18-21