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Strength in the Lord Part 1

Our BYU–Hawaii Seasiders, Aloha,

We love being with you today. Mahalo nui loa President and Sister Kauwe and to all who have helped with this devotional. Mahalo President Walker for introducing us.

I remember Vice President Isaiah Walker as a teenager in our ward as a fisher of men through normal and natural “waves of surfing” by inviting his friends to come unto Christ, which they did. He went on to serve his mission continuing to invite others to come and see, serve, and belong.

Mahalo Brother Bradshaw for coordinating the beautiful hymn by Sister Sally DeFord, “If the Savior Stood Beside Me.” That song has been a family favorite since it came out in the October 1993 Friend magazine.

This song asks us to reflect on the things we say or do, and how we would live if the Savior stood beside us. Sister Wendy Nelson in the May 2022 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults said, there is one question that will change your life. “What would a holy young adult do?”

You have entered to learn and are going forth to serve just as the many students who have gone before you. They are your brothers and sisters of the alumni who are cheering you on!

Today we share our testimonies of “Strength in the Lord,” and invite you to ponder how you will apply the impressions you receive from the Holy Ghost. “What would a holy young adult do?”

We enjoyed your BYU–Hawaii Hoʻolōkahi Chamber Choir sharing their strength in the Lord last month on our island. They each radiated what a holy young adult would do through their songs, dances, and smiles. The last five words of 2 Nephi 9:39 are “spiritually-minded is life eternal.” That is the acronym for SMILE. Thank you, Seasiders for smiling because a smile shares your light with others and softens hearts.

President and Sister Nelson smile a lot. President Nelson said, “Begin with the end in mind.” He encouraged us to see the temple as the place where we can make and keep sacred covenants with God to help us navigate this life and return to our heavenly home by helping others along the way.

As mission leaders, we welcomed incoming missionaries by taking them to the Seattle Washington Temple in Bellevue to begin their missions with “the end in mind.” We loved their smiles of hope as they walked on the sacred grounds and pondered their missions to invite others to come unto Christ and receive eternal blessings.

Several weeks before completing their missions, we would take our departing missionaries for a temple session. We loved seeing their tender smiles as they reflected on their missions with humility and gratitude for our Savior. They had come to know the Atonement of Jesus Christ as they saw people change and draw closer to God with “the end in mind.” They had changed and learned that strength in the Lord was to be a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.

President Nelson said, “It takes faith to serve a mission during a pandemic.” [1] During the height of this unprecedented time, we had incoming and departing missionaries who did not go to the temple grounds or have a departing temple trip. However, they had the faith to remember their temple covenants by finding strength in the Lord.

You are blessed to have the Laie Hawaii Temple in your midst. Some of you can see the temple and its lights right where you live. As married students in TVA, we saw the temple whenever we opened the door of our studio apartment. It reminded us of King Benjamin’s people to keep their doors open towards the temple. “And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.” [2]

Fifty-one years ago, on a Sunday evening at then, Church College of Hawaii, I was a homesick freshman. Our orientation and placement tests were over and I made new friends, but on this evening I missed my family from Papaikou on the Big Island.

I was not alone because one of my new friends from Maui was also homesick.

The temple came to our minds. We were outer island girls who had never walked to the temple, so we decided to walk to the temple following its lights through the ironwood trees.

When we got to the closed gates we stood in awe at the majestic beauty of the temple.

Looking at the colored lights of the fountain we thought, “If only we could sit next to the fountain!” That’s what we did.

We climbed over the gate and ran to sit by the fountain. We could hardly sit by the fountain when feelings of remorse hit! This was wrong. We looked at each other and quickly climbed back over the gate. In Olympic speed we ran back to our dorm while praying for forgiveness.

Our CCH Branch 4 office was on the corner lounge of our women’s dorm. A tender mercy was seeing our Branch President John Delamare walking out of his office. We ran up to him and confessed all that we had done.

He listened intently and we felt his compassion as our branch president and keyholder. He said, “You don’t have to climb the temple gates. The gates are open to visitors daily. Go to the temple grounds next Sunday in the right way. Walk on the grounds and take the time to ponder when and how you will go into the temple the right way. Someday you will go into the temple the right way for the right reason with the right person.”

It was several years later that we each went to the temple to get our endowments to serve our missions. After our missions we did go into the temple to marry our eternal companions and years later witnessed our own children, missionaries, converts, and friends enter the right way for the right reason.

If you ever feel homesick, alone, have questions, or need peace and strength, please go to the temple. Go in a group or by yourself to participate in temple ordinances helping others beyond the veil. Go on a temple date that will not cost any money as you live on your student budgets. It will be a heavenly date with new friends and families who are beyond the veil cheering you on.

One of my favorite quotes in Preach My Gospel was from President Nelson who said, “The Lord’s message is for everyone. This is a global work….The message is to invite all God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior and enjoy the blessings of the temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life. And that will bring hope, help, and lift to all people." [3]

That quote was shared at President Nelson’s first stop in his global tour of April 2018. The last stop of that global tour was here in this Cannon Activities Center. I know that President Nelson and all the leaders who will speak at this upcoming general conference will help us find strength in the Lord.

“What would a holy young adult do?” Be worthy to enter the House of the Lord, the right way. I know that our Savior lives and loves us. You will find Him in the temple.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Wendy W. Nelson, “One Question That Can Change Your Life,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults with President Nelson
[2] 2 Nephi 9:39
[3] Russell M. Nelson, “Begin Missionary Work with the End Mind, Says Elder Nelson,” Church News, June 24, 2014