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Strengthening our Foundation

Thank you for being here. I love this campus. President Kauwe and I are grateful for you and happy to speak to you today.

Just about 18 months ago, our family experienced a major transition when we moved from Utah to Laie. We were comfortable with our life in Utah. We had great relationships and spent lots of time with family and friends. We had activities, schedules, and routines that were familiar and fulfilling. We liked where we were. When we moved in the middle of a pandemic, every day felt difficult and uncomfortable. The patterns, habits, and processes that served us so well there were no longer relevant. Despite that discomfort, the spirit confirmed to me that this is where our Heavenly Father wants us to be. Through past experiences, I know that as long as we are following the commandments so that the spirit can guide us, everything will be okay. It may be hard, and it may take time, but we can endure these challenges when we build our life on a strong spiritual foundation.

I’m happy to report that we have adjusted to our new life here in Hawaii. The children are enjoying school and have found positive activities that have replaced missing things. Sai is very into basketball, you may have seen him on the courts around campus. Mealani is happy playing as much volleyball as she can. Nawai likes basketball, skateboarding and enjoys fixing us breakfast whenever he can. Keawe is excited to be baptized in a few months, and Kaleo, who just turned 4 last month, is happiest being out and about on campus with his skateboard or scooter.

I knew when Keoni and I got married that he was a good, faithful man, and as I have watched him take on new responsibilities and assignments here at the university, I am in even greater awe of who he is. He cares so very deeply about this university and about each of you, the students, the employees, and the community. I hear him pray earnestly for your well-being and for your success, and I see him constantly working hard every day, and many sleepless nights, seeking solutions to problems and finding ways to do things better. I know that he was called to be here for a specific reason at this specific time. He truly is committed to President David O. McKay’s vision of having BYU–Hawaii’s influence “be felt for good towards the establishment of peace...” 1

Our life in Laie is filled with happiness, and on behalf of our entire family, I want to express our gratitude to each of you for the love and service you have offered as we have settled into our new routines here. You have been so welcoming, and we feel your support. We love this community, and we love all of you. This truly is a great place to be.

In a time when it has felt like everything our family knew was changing, we have been able to find stability and strength in our activities, love for each other, and love for our BYU–Hawaii ohana. Many of you may have gone through or are going through similar experiences right now, experiences which are leaving you uncomfortable, disoriented, or even distraught. I assure you that things can and will get better. A strong spiritual foundation is the key.

Last month President Russell M. Nelson encouraged us to begin the new year by strengthening our spiritual foundations. He said,

“This may involve setting a specific time and place to study the scriptures, praying more often, making temple worship a bigger priority, and letting God prevail in all aspects of your life.”2

In the Book of Helaman chapter 5 verse 12 it reads:

“And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”3

If we build our foundation on Christ’s teachings, Satan will have no power over us! Today I want to spend some time talking about the ways that President Nelson suggests we strengthen our spiritual foundation; scripture study, prayer, temple worship, and letting God prevail in our lives.

First, regular scripture study will help solidify our foundation. When we study the scriptures daily, we build our faith and testimonies, and we learn to recognize essential doctrines and principles that will guide our lives. When Lehi and his family began their journey, Nephi testified, “I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." 4 One way that our family can liken the scriptures to ourselves is to think about Nephi’s journey to the promised land compared to our move to Laie. When we were asked to come to BYU–HAWAII, we had two months to move our family of seven. That was not an easy task. While my husband was busy taking care of things at BYU in Provo to run his lab remotely and learning about his soon-to-be new job, I took care of getting our kids ready to move schools, packing up our house, and finding a new home for our eight-month-old puppy. We also had to prepare a devotional talk. A devotional talk was completely new to me and made me very nervous. Like Nephi and his family, knowing that we could rely on God’s help to see us through was definitely for our profit and learning.

I love the scripture in 2 Nephi 31:20:

"If ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."5

This reminds us that scripture study is essential to our eternal salvation. We need to be guided by the words of the scriptures and the words of the living prophet and apostles.

In this past October’s conference, President Nelson counseled,

“If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are not also seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true. Even Saints who are otherwise faithful can be derailed by the steady beat of Babylon’s band."6

Please consider how you are using your time. Could some of your time on social or other media be used more productively? Are you spending enough time reading the teachings of Christ and his prophets? Are you making quiet time to ponder important things and seeking inspiration and revelation from the Lord?

President Nelson’s second suggestion for strengthening our foundation is prayer. Daily personal prayer helps us make righteous choices throughout the day. Through daily prayer, we also come to know Heavenly Father better, and we can feel His great love for us. “...[He] is always ready to hear and answer [our prayers]. The power of [our] prayers depends on [us].” 7

Third, President Nelson encouraged us in our temple worship. The covenants we make in the temple strengthen our spiritual foundation. As we visit the temple often, we are reminded of the promises and blessings we receive there. Make temple covenants your goal and strive to live worthy to enter His holy house.

Finally, President Nelson told us to let God prevail in all aspects of our lives. We do this by striving to keep our covenants with God and by seeking revelation from Him. I have a friend whose thoughts are often filled with worry. This causes her to dwell on the difficulties and troubles of life. For her, choosing to let God prevail means making a conscious effort each day to worry less and trust God and his promises for her and her family–that things will work out.

On the surface, these four things that President Nelson suggests to strengthen our spiritual foundation seem easy, and yet we all fall short at some time or another. And that is why we have a Savior. Repentance is part of life, and it is how we learn. The Lord is asking for our best effort. If we are striving and giving all we can to do what’s right and honor our covenants and commitments, that is enough for Our Savior. If we are honestly trying to improve our weaknesses and shortcomings on a continual basis, we can be happy with ourselves and know that Our Savior is happy with us too.

Life is not easy. We are here to prove to our Heavenly Father that we will choose Him through easy and difficult times. We are here on earth so that we can have faith and joy, but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience challenges. Alma and his people in the Book of Mormon are a good example of this. Even though they had repented of their sins, they still found themselves in bondage to the Lamanites. “Their experience shows that trusting the Lord and living our covenants doesn’t always prevent difficulties, but it does help us overcome them.” 8 Those challenges help us grow and prepare us to live with Him again.

Our Heavenly Father loves us. He wants us to succeed and return to live with Him again. President Nelson counseled us to use scripture study, prayer, and temple worship to strengthen our spiritual foundation. I know that as we follow his counsel, keeping in mind that we can repent daily, we can have happiness in this life and in eternity.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


1. David O. McKay, Groundbreaking & Dedication of CCH/BYU–Hawaii, February 12, 1955

2. “President Russell M. Nelson suggests 3 resolutions in his first message of 2022,” Church News, January 1, 2022

3. Helaman 5:12

4. 1 Nephi 19:23

5. 2 Nephi 31:20

6. Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord,” General Conference, October 2021.

7. True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004), 120

8. Come Follow Me, Mosiah 23 & 24