It is so good to be with you at the start of this new semester. Today, I want to share with you some thoughts I’ve been having about the importance of remembering and honoring our covenants. Specifically, I want to focus on the covenant we make at baptism.
Thirty-three years ago this month, I had the opportunity to be baptized by my dad. This was a special time for me. Growing up, we did our baptisms with our stake. I remember it well, especially how I felt. It was a Saturday evening. When we finished with the baptisms, it was dark outside. The next day, at church during sacrament meeting, my dad put his hands on my head and through the Melchizedek Priesthood he gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost. I remember being so overwhelmed with the Spirit that I cried during the entire blessing. I am grateful that I was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ so that I could choose to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and follow my Savior, Jesus Christ.
We know from the Fourth Article of Faith that baptism is the first saving ordinance of the gospel.
When we are baptized, we promise we will take Christ’s name upon us, remember him, and keep His commandments. In return, God promises us the companionship of the Holy Ghost to guide and help us make decisions in our lives that will lead us back to Him. Without Christ, without our Heavenly Father, and without the Holy Ghost, we would be lost. God also promises forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life.
Mosiah 18: 8-9 gives us a powerful description of what our desires should be when we are prepared to be baptized. Alma writes,
“...as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
"Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
"Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”
I'm grateful for the covenant I made with Heavenly Father on the day I was baptized. I’m also grateful for the plan of happiness so that we know what we need to do to follow Him so that we can return to Him.
Life is challenging and it is through life’s trials and challenges that we can prove to our Heavenly Father that we will choose Him. I know that there are times in our lives when we may get distracted; we may not always remember Christ as we should. We may feel lost and confused. We may not know what direction we need to go. The promises associated with our baptismal covenants can provide what we need. At the beginning of this new year and new semester, I would like us to consider what we can do better to honor our baptismal covenants each day so we can secure the promises of our baptism. I have four suggestions of small and simple things that we can be doing to bring and keep the Spirit in our lives.
First, choose to attend church each week and partake of the sacrament. Through the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenants. Sister Julie Beck, a former Relief Society General President said:
“It is not possible to make real change all by ourselves. Our own willpower and our own good intentions are not enough. When we make mistakes or choose poorly, we must have the help of our Savior to get back on track. We partake of the sacrament week after week to show our faith in His power to change us.” 
We can also be strengthened by the faith of others and their experiences and testimonies when we attend church. My friend Sarah recently moved from Utah to Boston. On her very first weekend, she had an opportunity to make a quick trip to New York. She made the deliberate choice to stay and attend her new ward instead. There she has happily found a community of saints that support, uplift, and encourage each other in following Christ’s example.
Second, we can strive to keep the Spirit by serving those around us. We have wonderful opportunities to serve in our wards. When asked, we can accept a calling and do our best in fulfilling that calling. Elder Uchtdorf reminded us why we serve in a general conference talk in October 2008. He said: “When we seek to serve others, we are motivated not by selfishness but by charity. This is the way Jesus Christ lived His life… The Savior did not care for the honors of men; Satan offered Him all the kingdoms and glory of the world, and Jesus rejected the offer immediately and completely. Throughout His life, the Savior must have often felt tired and pressed upon, with scarcely a moment to Himself; yet He always made time for the sick, the sorrowful, and the overlooked.” 
A third way we can strive to keep the spirit with us is through daily prayer and scripture study. I know from personal experience that these small and simple acts can really make a difference. Through our prayers and scripture study, we will come to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ better, we will have more power to resist temptation, and we will be strengthened in our challenges.
I love the scripture in Alma 37:37: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
A fourth way of striving to keep the Spirit with us is by following our living prophet President Russell M. Nelson. At each conference, we have the opportunity to raise our right hand and sustain our prophet, and by doing so, we agree to listen to and follow him. He is Christ's mouthpiece on the earth today.
I’m reminded of what President Nelson said at the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults last year and then again in this past October conference. He urged us to strengthen our testimonies and then “watch for miracles to happen in [our] lives.”  Is there something you can do now to see the miracles in your life as you continue to keep your baptismal covenants?
Life was not easy growing up in my family. We had financial difficulties along with other challenges of life. I recently asked my mom what blessings came to our family during those hard times because we were trying our best to live the gospel. She said we were blessed with health, and that we had always had a house to live in and food on the table. My siblings and I were regularly able to find jobs like mowing lawns and babysitting for neighbors. As we got older, we worked hard and sought education. We were always close as a family. Keeping our covenants with God brought specific blessings to our family that we still enjoy today.
I know that God’s promises are sure and that when we keep our covenants, He will provide us with help and guidance. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once noted that it was interesting to him “that covenants are made personally, individually… Those ordinances are performed for individual persons, one by one, no matter how many must ultimately receive them.”  Because our covenants are individually made with God, we can have the individual reassurance that God will provide blessings and miracles unique to us and our circumstances, just as He did for my family when I was growing up.
I love the gospel. I love all the gifts that our Heavenly Father has given to us. We have so many blessings here on earth. I am so grateful for the Restoration of the gospel. I am grateful to be a part of this amazing university. I love the students here. I love you. You are so good. The Spirit is always so strong here on campus, and it's because of you and the way you work to keep your covenants and to keep the Holy Ghost with you and your lives. You are all doing good things. I can tell you love the Lord and that you're striving to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your good example to all those around you. Keep going and doing what is right and know that even when life is hard, Heavenly Father will help us.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Sister Julie Beck, “Remembering, Repenting, and Changing,” General Conference, April 2007
 Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Lift Where You Stand, General Conference, October 2008
 Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults with President Nelson, May 15, 2022; “Overcome the World and Find Rest,” General Conference, October 2022
 Jeffrey R. Holland, “Keeping Covenants: A Message For Those Who Will Serve a Mission,” New Era, January 2012