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Sacred Places, Sacred Times

My dear brothers and sisters, this hour has been for me a sacred time in a sacred place. Music, prayers, and testimonies of truth have opened my heart and mind to feelings and thoughts that are sacred to me. When that happens, we wonder if there is a way to bring those experiences more often and more powerfully.

There are clues for what happened to us today. There was a faith-filled prayer to Heavenly Father in the sacred name of Jesus Christ for the influence of the Hoy Ghost to come. Our hearts were full as that prayer was answered for each of us as we listened to those words and repeated them in our minds.

The music drew our hearts to the Savior. In the words of testimony, of song, and of story we have heard and felt words as if they were the words of the Lord.

The Lord himself has said, “…whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” [1]

This place and this time have become sacred for us. Our hearts and minds have been lifted above mortal concerns. Other thoughts may be occupying your attention such as an upcoming exam, things that must be done, or concerns for your family. The test for each of us, myself included, is to give our hearts to the Lord as we meet and fulfill our obligations.

The Lord has given us the comforting and kind counsel we need to encourage us in Mosiah 4:

“And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

“And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

“And I would that ye should remember, that whosoever among you borroweth of his neighbor should return the thing that he borroweth, according as he doth agree, or else thou shalt commit sin; and perhaps thou shalt cause thy neighbor to commit sin also.

“And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are diverse ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.

“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” [2]

Now, those last three verses should always be read after what comes before them. This is a message to people who have qualified for the Holy Ghost as a personal companion because of their faith and repentance.

It is that gift which President Russell M. Nelson has said you will need to have for you to survive in the last days.

I have felt today, and in the many times I have come to this place, that people here have lived to qualify for that gift. That is why it feels to me as if I am in a sacred time and in a sacred place.

The feeling in this place must draw from us a deep gratitude for those who came before us. Many of you know far better than I what transpired in the past, and what you need to do to leave that gift for those who follow.

When we think of sacred times and places, I remember standing with President Thomas S. Monson as he rededicated the temple here.

In his prayer he expressed “gratitude for the insight and inspiration of President [Joseph F.] Smith, as well as for others who served faithfully and worked tirelessly so that a House of the Lord could be built here.”

In a history written of the La’ie Hawaii Temple, it is recorded that BYU-Hawaii students made a great contribution as temple workers and patrons.

“When BYU-Hawaii President Steven C. Wheelwright asked President Kanekoa if many students attended the temple, the latter confirmed that was so but added that more students could serve as ordinance workers (normally a six-hour shift). President Wheelwright expressed concern that school demands, combined with work and family obligations, made such a time commitment untenable for most students.

As they continued to discuss the matter, President Kanekoa asked, “What if we have the students serve for three hours?” Thus, a half shift was created to further extend the opportunity for BYU-Hawaii students to serve as temple ordinance workers.

Echoing the sentiment of previous temple administrations, President Kanekoa affirmed the value of these students to the work in the Laie Hawaii Temple and added, “They're amazing, . . . they're bright, they're smart, they know. They have a great spirit about them.” [3]

While that report speaks of the contribution of the students to the work of the Lord, I think of the example and the added spiritual contribution those student-temple workers made in their families through the generations and in the kingdom across the world.

Beyond their example of faith, and perhaps not seen at the time, they taught a lesson in courage and confidence. They took time from their studies to serve the Lord, believing that the Lord would somehow compensate and multiply their power to learn.

I know for myself that they were inspired to trust the Lord. When I was a student in my twenties, I was asked to be the first counselor in the Boston District in Massachusetts. It required traveling across New England every weekend when the other students were studying. My roommates couldn’t believe that I would be so foolish.

I did the same thing when I was a teacher at Stanford University where I served for three years as a bishop. The other professors thought that I was unwise. But trusting in the Lord, I found what you will find. Wherever you go and whatever work you do, all sacrifice is for Him. The Lord said:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house; and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts.

“And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts.” [4]

Now, my promise to you is that you will be blessed with courage and confidence as you exercise the faith and pray, “What will ye have me do?” Listen for an answer and then, do it. When He asks you, He already knows and wants what is best for you. Trust Him.

My father was a great scientist. He lectured all over the world. In every place he visited, he found the tiny branches of the Church. If even a few asked him to speak, he joyfully accepted. Do you think his career suffered? Surely God poured out spiritual blessings on him and on those he served, including his wife and family.

Now my testimony is that you are a spirit child of your Heavenly Father. He loves you more than you can comprehend. Jesus Christ is the only Begotten of the Father.

He paid the price of your sins. He did that personally for you. He knows you. He knows your name. You have taken His name upon you in a covenant you made as you were baptized by authority. I testify that is true. Jesus is the Christ, the Living Christ. He is your Savior and mine.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. If you have listened carefully, you have heard his voice confirm truth today. I have.

I have felt the Savior’s love for you. He invites you to come unto Him, and to stay.

I am grateful beyond my power of expression to have been in this sacred time and sacred place with you today. I pray that we will meet again. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Doctrine & Covenants 1:38
[2] Mosiah 4:26-30
[3] The La'ie Hawai'i Temple: A Century of Aloha by Clinton D. Christensen, Eric-Jon Keawe Marlowe
[4] Malachi 3:10-12