I stand before you, full of emotions.
I must begin by telling you that when we learned that Keoni and Monica Kauwe had been asked to serve as President and companion at BYU–Hawaii, I felt a confirmation of pure joy and excitement. I knew they were the right people for this next season at this great university. They are absolutely wonderful. We are praying for them and are committed to helping them at this transition time.
I am also overwhelmed with emotion as I have been reflecting on the aloha that has been offered to us in our short years here. Last week I spoke in the campus devotional about love. In Hawaii we have our own powerful word to describe that attribute. It is “aloha” – love at its best.
I have so many aloha memories -- family home evenings with the kupuna of the community, other inclusive activities like hula lessons and beach barbeques, faculty members talking story with us about how the Spirit led them to this place, student groups eating shave ice on our lanai after telling their unique and humble stories with us. The entire University community – facilities management, staff, administration have been constantly helpful and kind. We love our neighbors in the ward, at the Polynesian Cultural Center, and in the temple.
Learning of and being part of Laie’s history and the prophetic destiny of this University has enriched and forever changed our lives. When we were asked to serve here, we immediately began reading everything we could find about the connections to Hawaii of George Q. Cannon, Joseph F. Smith, David O. McKay, and other prophets. We have been so blessed to witness the continuing fulfillment of their prophecies. Perhaps the greatest joy in this assignment, working side by side with my 100% dedicated husband, is being part of a worldwide mission to educate students -- intellectually, professionally, spiritually, in leadership abilities, and then to see them return to nations, islands, and states everywhere to build families, communities, and the kingdom of God. I am so thankful for this privilege.
The day that we first set foot on this campus was the day of my father’s passing. I felt so much peace as I basked in your welcoming love. His spirit lingered here with me in a place that had always been dear to his heart and to his ancestors.
Two years later my mother passed away. I did not know how I would have the strength to speak at her funeral. As the processional proceeded to the chapel for the service, someone on the sidelines draped me with a most exquisite lei. Instantly I felt enveloped in aloha from my Hawaiian ohana. I also felt the love of my ancestors represented by this lei. Again you brought me peace and shared your love.
We have been touched and changed by you, the angels of BYU–Hawaii and Laie. Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for the aloha you have showered upon us, and for the loving strength of our current prophets and leaders who serve us on our Board of Education, and to our Father in Heaven for allowing us this opportunity.
We are sad to be leaving you, but feel comfort in the knowledge that we will meet again, and that we will be forever bonded, because:
“that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only coupled with eternal glory which glory we do not now enjoy.”
Please know of my eternal love and aloha for you and for our gracious, loving Heavenly Father and His Son.