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We Are the Vision

Brothers and Sisters, Family and Friends, Aloha.

I would like to thank President Shumway for that introduction. I also would like to thank my parents who are in the audience. Most of you probably know my Mom, she's the joyful lady that answers the phone when you try to call President Shumway, and some of you know my Dad, you call him Bishop Kahalepuna.

I'm grateful for my parents for their examples of hard work, service, and most of all faith.

For those of you who don't know our family we come from Kahuku, right down the road, and have lived there since we were little children. Kieiki and I have spent many childhood memories on this campus. I remember when you could get a french-fries and burger for $1.50, and a scoop of ice cream was only $.50. I also spent some of my pre school education in the Aloha center when I was 4 years old.

Brothers and Sisters I stand here in great humility as a representative of fellow students, and friends. It is with great honor that I speak to you today.

Fifty years ago not to far from where we are gathered today, another gathering took place. Amidst the cane fields and rolling hills of Laie, President David O. McKay dedicated the groundbreaking for the construction of the Church College of Hawaii on February 12, 1955. On this day President McKay had a vision for those who would attend this institution. "This school is going to produce men and women who cannot be bought or sold, "Genuine Gold". President McKay continues "From this school I'll tell you will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally!" Here at BYU-HAWAII we hear that promise often, and I hope you never tire of hearing that prophecy, and you realize that we, you and I, are the Vision.

A task like this could not take place anywhere in the world. This place, Laie where so many of us call home is part of the Vision itself. President McKay said "wonderful things would happen in this little place on the north shore. He dedicated the ground and said this place would become not a destination for hundreds, not thousands, but millions of people would come to experience the significance of Laie." Many of you students who are new to us this semester may not have had time to grasp the significance of what President McKay says, but I hope that you have already felt something different, something special. President Shumway says, " Laie is not just any community on this island or on this planet. It is sacred ground, as sacred as Mount Sinai when Moses stood in the presence of God; it is a place of prophecy, and a place of God. It is sacred not because of any ancient Hawaiian significance, but because prophets of God set it apart as a gathering place for righteous Saints and established in our midst the fullness of the Gospel and a House of the Lord."

As students we have the privilege, yes, the privilege of attending this University. It hurts to hear people speak harsh words about BYU-Hawaii, because of the deep love and gratitude I have. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the world with the things we learn here. According to the prophecy we will gain experience, knowledge and wisdom of how to establish peace in the world. Know that! That you are part of Vision not to affect the world but to change the world.

Some of you may know Nate Benson, who is now on his mission in Italy. Nate entered and won an essay contest here at BYU-Hawaii while he was a student a few years ago and wrote about his experiences here at BYU-Hawaii. I would like to share a few passages with you. "Away from BYU-Hawaii we are rivals, as the world teaches there can only be one winner. Here we pull together to help everyone succeed. We know that victory can come to all who endure." Nate has been a great example of kindness, humility, leadership and faith. I have another friend some of you are familiar with his face on campus. Anyone who knows this man knows he is a man of duty, righteousness, and passion. I got to know President Kongaika a lot better during our training in Provo. While addressing the some of the students there he said this about BYU-Hawaii. "The unique thing about BYU-Hawaii is not that we have a diversified Student Body. The unique thing is that we have harmony amongst diversity". A statement that I haven't forgotten, and I hold close to my heart. Theses words have given me a better understanding that we are the Vision.

Those of you, who have not had the opportunity to participate in cultural activities, take advantage of the enormous amount of clubs on campus. (SLIDE 7) Activities such as Foodfest, Songfest, gospel forums, they are all available to help educate all who are interested in cultures other than their own. You can sign up for clubs at Worldfest which is happening right now in the Aloha center. Alton Wade former president of BYU-Hawaii said "the continuing internationalization of the Church depends on members who understand and respect each other's cultures and heritages. Within the gospel culture, we must be like a delicious fruit salad, made up of distinctive parts yet unified in our purpose"

Unified purpose! That is the vision. We are from the four corners of the world, places that are heavy in war, hate, and bloodshed, yet we rise above it all here in our refuge of peace. It is our duty to share with the rest of the world the unity, harmony and love of our campus. We are the Vision. In choir we are told that we are the world in one room, and our mission in that class is not just to sing, but to teach the world. 50 years ago in this very spot President McKay had a Vision, his vision was you.

President Hinckley counsels the graduates at BYU-Hawaii, "To you young men and women who are leaving this institution today to move out into a larger world I say... 'Be not afraid, only believe.' "Believe in yourself" "Believe in your capacity to do great and good things. Believe that no mountain is too high that you cannot climb it. Believe that no storm is too great that you cannot weather it. You are not destined to be a scrub. You are a child of God, of infinite capacity." We are counseled to believe in ourselves. We are not scrubs! Look past what you can see, stand firm, solid in the trial of opposition, and most of all be faithful.

Brothers and sisters, we have the privilege and responsibility of being at this institution of higher learning. This place was made for you, the children of the Lord. Those who have chosen to be surrounded by Saints and live by standard set higher than the world can handle. You are here for a reason a not by chance, I believe that. Some of you may still have questions in your hearts, what is so special about this place? Why are the standards so high? This is why.

"The answer comes in places like BYU-Hawaii, a place where worldwide unity connects us together. Here, we watch out for each other as we prepare for our time to venture out in to the world to make our contribution, and to try our best at the game of life. Here, we remain sheltered from the storm until our time comes to leave the refuge of this nest prepared to test our ability against the worldly influence." Take with you from this University the things that our Heavenly Father has blessed you with and fulfill the Vision that you are.

Aloha Brothers and Sisters,

As a youth, growing up in this small community, I remember frequently visiting the temple grounds for firesides, Sunday school field trips, Johnny Lingo movie dates, and the infamous night of Prom pictures. At BYU-Hawaii, I remember participating in Stake water Olympics, Ward game room nights, and repeated visits to the snack bar, now called the Seasider, for the 50-cent ice cream cones. Both are treasured spots of my childhood, however as an adult today, these locations have found new meaning in my life, as I have begun to realize the magnitude of their relationship and their role in the fulfillment of a vision. A vision you and I am a part of now as students/faculty and staff. We are the Vision!

We are the Vision which the prophets saw,
We are the promise of the latter-day,
Ours is the task, to turn the gospel key,
Opening the gates of the Millennium
It is now, It is here,
It's our task, It is clear,
It is now, It is here,
It's our task, It is clear- We will serve our God.

These words come from a song entitled We are the Vision, a song we sang when I was a member of the women's choir. The words describe specifically three things:

1. a vision of promise,
2. a new beginning of the gospel,
3. and a responsibility to see the fulfillment of this promise.-

As I share my thoughts with you on this subject today, I invite you to ponder one question, What does this have to do with me?

We are the Vision
First, a Vision of Promise.

3 Nephi 21:26 "And then shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when this gospel shall be preached among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem."

This promise continues in 3 Nephi 22:10 "For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my people be removed..."

In reference to those scriptures, Elder Wilford Woodruff prophesied, "The Lamanites will blossom as the rose on the mountains" [1]

This was a vision of promise, a vision of restoration of the gospel to the descendents of the seed of Joseph [2] , to the people of Hawaii. And this promise first saw light in Hawaii on December 12, 1850, with the arrival of 10 missionaries, including George Q. Cannon. Five of those first 10 missionaries returned home after a few months because there was little success in the beginning. However, George Q. Cannon said, "I came here to do the Lord's work, and I will not leave it until I have completed my mission." President Hinckley comments that "in the course of that mission, he [Elder Cannon] met this wonderful Hawaiian native, a man of tremendous capacity and great strength who proved to have courage and vision and faith." [3]

This Hawaiian native is affectionately known as Jonathan Napela. Together, George Q. Cannon and Jonathan Napela further prepared the way for the gospel to be established in Hawaii with the translating of the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. The people, my people, could now learn the gospel in their native tongue. The translation of the Book of Mormon brought about many miracles and the church membership grew rapidly to 4,000 strong in a little over four years. Soon a new concern presented itself, as the Saints now needed a gathering place where they might worship together. This was a new beginning for the work of the Lord in Hawaii.

"Ours is the task to turn the gospel key, opening the gates of the Millennium" - A New Beginning of the Gospel in Hawaii

Laie was chosen as the gathering place for the Saints in Hawaii in 1865, but it wasn't until 1921, 56 years later, that Laie was prepared for yet another vision. Elder David O. Mckay, an apostle at the time, looking onto a flag raising ceremony at the local school said this, "As I looked at that motley group of youngsters, and realized how far apart their parents are in hopes, aspirations, and ideals, ... my bosom swelled with emotion and tears came to my eyes, and I felt like bowing in prayer and thanksgiving for the glorious country which is doing so much for all these nationalities. But more than that, when I realize that these same boys and girls have the opportunity of participating in all the blessings of the Gospel which will transform the American into a real citizen of the Kingdom of God, I feel to praise His name... We held short services in the school room in which all American, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino participated as though thy had belonged to one nation, one country, one tongue. America and the Church of Christ will truly make of all nations one blood. May God hasten the day when this is accomplished." [4]

"May [Laie] from this moment forward be what thou would have it become, be what the early fathers blessed this land to become. May their vision then, and vision of these choice men who stood so valiantly by that prophecy, be realized; and to that end we again consecrate this land." [5] (Pres. David O. McKay)

With the establishment of Laie as a gathering place, the leaders of the church inspired by divine revelation decided to pursue the building of a church school. A school of higher learning that would unite the students of different nations in one purpose and one goal to build the kingdom of God on the Earth. These would not be just ordinary students, but students who could not "be bought or sold, men who [would] scorn to violate truth, genuine gold." Said Pres. David O. McKay, "That is what this school is going to produce." [6]

In addition to the fulfillment of the prophecy of this school, BYU-Hawaii would be graced to stand in the shadows and grandeur of the Laie Temple, the House of God. The temple is also a place of learning, a place of refuge, a place of peace. It reminds us that Laie is more than a little village on the North Shore of Oahu. It is a city that embraces the House of God, and brings peace to the world. President Spencer W. Kimball seemed to capture the beauty of Laie in a poem offered a the rededication of the Laie Hawaii Temple on June 13.

Enter this door as if the floor within were gold;
And every wall of jewels all of wealth untold;
As if a choir in robes of fire were singing here;
Nor shout nor rush but hush ... for God is here. [7]

It is now, It is here, It's our task, It is clear We will serve our God

Now- for the question I asked you to ponder on earlier, what does this have to do with me? I say, the introduction of the gospel to the people of Hawaii, the building of the Temple, and the establishment of the Church College of Hawaii, is a fulfillment of the Vision of Promise. These things needed to happen, at this time, in this order, that BYU-Hawaii might exist, and that you my friends might be here. We are the Vision!!

With all that has been accomplished, all that has been sacrificed, all that has been given so that you and I can be here at this time, in this place, I pose the question- What does this have to do with me? My answer is Everything. Make no mistake, each of us, students, administrators, faculty and staff members are here because "we are the Vision that the prophets saw. It is now. It is here. It's our task, It is clear- We will serve our God."

We must determine today, How we will serve him. Will we be like everyone else- or will we be different because our purpose and task is different. How will you chose to serve our God here at BYU-Hawaii?

BYU-Hawaii, and the Laie Hawaii Temple stand majestic in our midst. Let us live the prophecy foretold long ago that "from this school, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally." Remember,

We are the Vision,
Ours is the task to turn the gospel key, opening the gates of the Millennium
It is now, It is here, It's our Task, It is clear...
We will serve our God.

We will decide how we will chose to build the Lord's kingdom on the Earth, by the decisions and choices that we begin to make here at BYU-Hawaii. We are the Leaders of the World who will establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. It is my testimony that God has his hand over Laie, BYU- Hawaii, and the glorious Temple. We will feel the power of his spirit immensely as we begin to realize that we are the Vision which the prophets saw.

[1] Dean L. Larsen, "Mingled Destinies: The Lamanites and the Latter-day Saints," Ensign, Dec. 1975, 8

[2] Joseph H. Spurrier, "Jonathon Napela: Quiet Hero of Hawaii ," Ensign, Aug. 1978, 49

[3] News of the Church," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 74

[4] The founding and Development of the Church College of Hawaii, Reuben D. Law

[5] The Founding and Development of the Church College of Hawaii, Reuben D. Law

[6] Dedicatory Service, The Church College of Hawaii- Ground Breaking- Feb. 12, 1955

David O. Mckay

[7] Rededication of Hawaii Temple, June 13- Spencer W. Kimball