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Don’t Back Up: Move Forward With Faith and Trust in Jesus Christ

It is a thrill to be with you. Ron and I have looked forward to this for many months. You have a beautiful campus, wonderful professors, and remarkable leaders. (Thank you, President and Sister Kauwe.) And just look around and see all those like you who are striving to live the covenants they’ve made with our Father in Heaven. You have the best support system right here, and we hope you recognize the tremendous blessing it is to receive your education at BYU–Hawaii.


Last summer I attended a Young Women camp on Catalina Island off the coast of California. I met a group of 150 young women and leaders early in the morning when we boarded a chartered ferry to take us to a camp on a small beach called White’s Landing. It was a long, slow journey that gave many of our young campers upset tummies!

So, when the camp finally came into view, there were shouts of joy from very happy girls―we were almost there! When we got close enough to the landing dock, a thick rope was tossed into the front of the ferry where crew members began to pull the boat toward the small pier. As we inched our way closer to our destination, something odd happened. The rope snapped!

A spare rope would have so easily solved the problem, but there wasn’t one, and the boat could not be docked!

The question everyone was asking: “How is it possible that a rope that substantial could have broken?”

While we were carefully being cinched towards the pier moments earlier, most of the travelers had gone below to gather their gear and prepare to get off the ferry. A few of the girls and I stayed up top to enjoy the fresh air and watch our landing. We knew―because we had seen it―why the rope had snapped. For whatever reason, the ferry had backed up! And the pressure on the rope caused it to rupture.

We had been so close! Close enough, in fact, that we could have tossed all the sleeping bags and supplies onto the pier!

We ferried another 45 minutes past our desired destination to the main harbor, where we could dock and unload. With some effort, a small pontoon boat was found and hired to shuttle 20 girls at a time to the camp, a round trip that took two hours. And remember, we had 150 girls.

By 10 o’clock that evening, all the girls finally made it to camp, while supplies and gear continued to arrive through the night. We had lost a day of planned activities. But as a result of our experience with the ferry, we had found a lesson. Don’t back up!

Although we eventually arrived at our destination, the path taken and the time to get there was considerably longer and harder. We basically had to start over. All because the ferry backed up.

Each day we strive to push forward, trying our best to live our covenants. Sometimes we might feel like we are making good progress, and we have a clear view of the landing. Other times we may feel as though we are just inching along, maybe even relying on someone with a gentle tether to lovingly tug us along. There may be times; however, when difficulties, doubts, questions, fears, or other challenges cause us to stall, back up, or even back out, leaving us to flounder in a sea of confusion and unfamiliar paths. My dear young friends, you are enough, you know enough, you are strong enough to hold firm and move forward, closer to Christ and His glorious promises.


I recently became friends with a remarkable 14-year-old young woman from Colorado named Preslee. I first became acquainted with Preslee when I heard a message she shared on a gospel-related app that supports our individual and Church Come, Follow Me study. When I asked if I could share her message with you, she was absolutely delighted. Let’s watch.


Isn’t she amazing? Preslee was born with cerebral palsy. Her disability restricts some of her physical movement, including her ability to walk.
I love how Preslee boldly testifies that even with the uncertainty of her future, she has nothing to worry about. She has not quit, nor has she backed up. She continues to move forward in her faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement by placing her trust in Him.

We all face an uncertain future. We don’t know perfectly what is around the corner or precisely what tomorrow will bring. Challenges will certainly arise. Doubts may surface and difficult questions may go unanswered. Anxieties may persist. Testimonies may be tested. Worldly distractions and temptation may seem increasingly appealing. But we, like Preslee, can find direction, courage, stability, power, peace, and joy when we place our trust in the Lord.


Although we have no personal memory of our pre-earth life, we know that each of us participated in a Grand Council in Heaven. In that council, Heavenly Father presented His plan of happiness. It was an invitation to come to earth, receive a body, and have experiences that would help us to grow to become more like Him. We knew those experiences would be challenging, but we shouted for joy [1] at this opportunity.

When we chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan, we also chose to follow Jesus Christ. We trusted that He would do for us exactly what He said He would do―provide a way back, if we were willing to follow Him, into the presence of God our Father. We trusted Him then, and we must trust Him now.

The scripture Preslee quoted about trust is last year’s youth theme found in Proverbs 3:5–6: “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.”

Leaning NOT unto our own understanding, or the world’s understanding, means leaning unto or into the Lord. It means allowing Him to prevail in our lives, even when we are unsure of some things. Leaning unto the Lord is an act of humility and an acknowledgement that He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our names and our character. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He loves us. He knows our potential and He wants us to be successful. He wants us to experience true joy now and in the eternities! I am drawn to trust in Him because I need the assurance that if I do, He will direct my paths. I am confident that each of us wants and needs that same assurance.


Sometimes we might be tempted to doubt or discount our testimony, believing it must be formed through and accompanied by extraordinary events. For some, like Alma the Younger or Joseph Smith, that might happen. But it is typically the accumulation of small everyday thoughts and feelings received from the Spirit that provides lasting conversion. Those seemingly minute but personal recognitions of the Spirit can transform what we may only see as our parent’s church, into OUR church. Testimonies can be so simple, yet we somehow tend to complicate or overthink them!

When our grandson Winston was 6 years old, he asked his mom during a fast and testimony meeting if he could share his testimony. He was young, but as a family they had a regular habit of sharing their testimonies during family home evening. Our daughter knew that Winston understood what a testimony was and knew he could share it on his own without help from either of his parents. She gave him the green light, and he walked to the front of the chapel and stood at the podium.

He then unfolded a piece of paper he had retrieved from his pants pocket and began to read: “One time I was in China. I was there for a meeting for work (Remember, he is 6 years old!) But I saw a leopard zoo, but I still had a meeting for work. I really wanted to pet the leopards there. So I skipped my meeting for work. But I was at the leopard zoo, but the leopards were lost in the zoo. I was scared. So, I said a prayer that I will be safe at the zoo, and I was safe. And they teach us to do the right thing to do, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Our daughter and son-in-law, and I’m sure the entire ward, were perplexed by Winston’s testimony. Here was a young boy who simply wanted to share his witness about how Heavenly Father answered his prayer but did not think he could do it publicly without wrapping it in an exciting story. That’s what all the grownups did. Testimonies are simple- they are statements of truth that we know about Jesus Christ and His gospel.

I am confident that each of you could list three things you know about the Savior to be true. I am so confident of that, that I’d like you to do that now. Take 20 seconds and think of three things you know about the Savior to be true.

Now, turn to your neighbor and share just one of those truths.

What a happy noise of testimony!

How simple was that? There are many people in the world who love Jesus. There are few, however, who know as we do, that He has re-established His Church on earth. That knowledge brings not only great blessings, but also an obligation to share that good news with others. It’s true that we do not know the answers to all things. You might have questions―I have questions―but there many more things that I DO know than I don’t. I testify that as we lean into and unto the Savior, the truths we do know will not be overshadowed or abandoned by those things we do not know or understand yet.


Raise your hand if you have ever been told that you are a chosen or choice generation? [2] Have you ever really pondered why you are called a “choice generation?” I believe, my dear friends, it is because of the good choices you have already made―beginning with the choice to follow Heavenly Father’s plan and trust in Jesus Christ before coming to earth. You made a choice to be baptized into the Lord’s restored Church. You make good choices every day as you strive to live your covenants. And I believe you will continue to be a choice generation as you continue to do your best to make good choices.

With so many new and diverse ways of gathering information available today, we must be on guard to not fall prey to the false information traps set by the adversary. He packs the world with counterfeit messages, hoping that our choices follow the misguided philosophies of men. He has only one ambition―to lead us away from righteousness, “that [we may] be miserable like unto himself.” [3]

A friend shared an experience from a recent sacrament meeting she attended where a young man spoke. After giving an outstanding message, the young man stopped and folded his notes. He admitted that he had not been the one to write his talk; he had given that assignment to ChatGPT! He then continued with his real message: Although the talk was well written and doctrinally accurate, it lacked one thing―the Holy Ghost. AI could not provide the spirit of revelation or truth. The young man powerfully testified of personal revelation and the necessity of the Holy Ghost in identifying truth from error.

There is a reason that through our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord is pleading with us to know His voice, to know what the Spirit feels like and sounds like to us individually. There must be a reason why learning to seek and act upon personal revelation will be the only way we will be able to survive spiritually in coming days. [4] I believe those coming days are here.

The following quote from President Russell M. Nelson reiterates the Lord’s desire for each of us to seek for and obtain truth:

“Does God really want to speak to you? Yes! ... You don’t have to wonder about what is true. You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.” [5]

With the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can be protected from distraction and deceit. We can know the truth of all things necessary for our salvation. We will not stall, nor will we back up. We will move forward, trusting in the Lord.


There are guides to help us and keep us on the path.

I love to hike in the mountains near our home. It is not unusual to find a stack of rocks along the trail. I’m sure many of you recognize the stone structure in this photo as a cairn. Cairns have been used for centuries among many cultures as a way to mark significant conditions or features along a path. They have been used to designate danger, signify a direction, note good hunting, or mark a sacred spot. They continue to be helpful markers on trails today.

On a trip to Alaska last summer, Ron and I learned of a particular type of cairn called an inukshuk. They were used for generations by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. In addition to marking features along the trail, they represented safety, nourishment, trust, and reassurance. Their strength of presence gave comfort to the traveler, assuring them that they were not alone. Significantly, inukshuk means “in the image of man.”


The Lord provides many guides to help us find our way to Him and discover joy along the way. Some guides come from Him in the form of commandments. Others through the words of His prophets. And some from programs established to help us better know, trust, and follow Him.

I have a love for and a testimony of the Lord’s living prophets and apostles. I have sat in council with many of them during the past five years. They are good men who love the Lord and love each of us. I know they hear the voice of the Lord. I do not pretend to know the exact ways this occurs. But this I do know with surety―they hear His voice, and they are quick to respond to the direction they are given. I feel a great sense of confidence and security in following them as they follow the counsel of the Lord.

I was in a leadership meeting with one of our Apostles when a sincere question was asked by someone in the congregation. He wanted to know how to distinguish between counsel from our prophet and contrary information he thought might be more correct given scientific or scholarly findings. On this particular issue, he earnestly wanted to reconcile his feelings of confusion.

The answer from the attending Apostle was simple and tender. I will not quote what he said, but I will share the message my heart received. We each have our agency, which will never be taken from us or minimized. The world is laden with noise and alternate messages. It is precisely during these times of doubt or confusion that we should most carefully align ourselves with the prophet. There we will find needed peace and safety.

I will always remember how I felt during that meeting. I knew what was spoken was truth. Prophets see around corners. We can, brothers and sisters, step out of the muddle and uncertainty of the world into a place of safety and assurance as we follow prophetic counsel.


So, what if we’ve strayed from the path, overlooked an important guidepost, or for whatever reason, have backed up? We welcome you back! President Nelson said: [S10 UP] “If you have stepped off the path, may I invite you, with all the hope in my heart, to please come back! Whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church. You and generations yet unborn will be blessed by your actions now to return to the covenant path.” [6]

One of my favorite scriptures is about repentance. It’s found in Alma 34:31: “If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” [7]

The word immediately is significant. It does not mean that we will immediately be forgiven. But when we approach the Lord with a humble and repentant heart, immediately He will begin to work within us, and the blessings of His Atonement will flow into our lives. That is a powerful and comforting promise.

We all make mistakes, and we all need to repent―every day. We cannot be perfect in mortality, but we can be headed in that direction! We can seek to improve each day, showing the Lord our effort to become a little better and more like Him. And we know how the Lord feels about effort!

You are a special and unique generation, one that is not content to sit on the sidelines and just watch. We know, as a generalization, that you want to be part of the discussion and part of the solution. You want to make a difference. These great attributes are needed in the Lord’s growing Church. You are needed!

When challenges seem overwhelming or doubts arise, don’t back up! Please stay the course! Keep moving forward, trusting in the Lord as you work to find answers. With all of life’s uncertainties, we can count on those things that are certain:

  • We are children of Heavenly Parents. 
  • We have the capacity to become like them. 
  • Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.
  • This is His church.
  • We can find peace amid confusion as we place our trust in Him. 
  • We can recognize truth and avoid deception through the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
  • We are known by name. 
  • We are loved. 
  • (We – You) “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” [8]

I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen

[1] Job 38:7.
[2] 1 Peter 2:9
[3] Gospel Topics, "Satan,"
[4] Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives,” Liahona, May 2018
[5] Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives,” Liahona, May 2018
[6] Russell M. Nelson, “As We Go Forward Together,” Liahona April 2018.
[7] Alma 34:31
[8] Philippians 4:13