Student Address to Graduates
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 15, 2012
Elder Bednar, President Wheelwright, honored guests, faculty, family, friends, and the graduating class of 2012, aloha!
It is a privilege and an honor to be here with you.
I’d like to take a moment to speak directly to our parents and relatives who helped us arrive at this point. The men and women before you are remarkable, talented people at a time when the Lord needs choice servants. We thank you for your support and guidance. You can rest assured that He is pleased with you and with the dedication that you have shown so that we may be here.
Now, to my fellow gradates. This is a memorable day in your life. I commend you for your perseverance and faithfulness. I know many of us have taken on multiple jobs, started a family, or have even faced phenomenal obstacles of health and loss during our time here. We should feel pleased at what we have accomplished in these past few years. We have struggled and sacrificed in order to pursue a higher education.
Because of Hawaii’s geographical location, it is likely that a majority of us have crossed vast amounts of land and ocean to come study here. Our time at BYU–Hawaii has been a choice experience and an adventure to be cherished. As this journey comes to a close, we look to the future and are faced with the challenge of crossing more oceans to return home to continue our progression and labor in His vineyard. We have new and exciting journeys ahead of us. As we return, we should remember that we are a peculiar people, a chosen generation, and are of curious workmanship. I say curious workmanship in reference to the quality of ships we are building for ourselves to cross those waters.
On any voyage across water, one needs to be adequately prepared. BYU–Hawaii, along with other life experiences, has prepared us to cross uncertain waters that are to come. In The Book of Mormon, we learn of Nephi who was called upon to journey through uncertainty, trials, rejection, and even danger only to be instructed later that he was to cross an ocean to the Promised Land. However, because of his faith and preparation, the ship he constructed was sea-worthy and brought his family across safely. 1 Nephi 18:1-3 illustrates this point well:
“And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship. Now I, Nephi did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me. And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.”
We are in charge of how our ship is designed and what kind of preparation goes into it. The story of Nephi’s journey and later the Brother of Jared in Ether provides insight as to how we may conquer our own waves that will arise on the ocean of life. The following five principles are noted in both stories which I thought would be appropriate to share.
The Lord will give us intimate instruction. He will give us personal direction on how we can improve the integrity of our ship’s design that we may be stronger and more resilient against the waves.
Curious workmanship. We are not like the rest of the world. We know what sets us apart and makes us unique. We have been given specific experiences and knowledge here at BYU–Hawaii. Embrace that knowledge.
Preparation proceeds power. If our ships are to be ready for the open ocean of life, we need to work hard in advance and invest the time to make them dependable. Our presence here indicates our level of commitment. Remember that we will be working on preparation for the rest of our lives.
He will direct us to the Promised Land. Like Nephi, on our journeys we will be continually directed toward something greater. That Promised Land may mean different things at different times, but it is always something to help us improve and progress. When I was 20, the Promised Land was the Kobe, Japan mission. When I was 22, it meant studying at BYU–Hawaii, and when I was 24, it was taking my best friend, Jerrica, to the temple to be married.
The waves will come. They may come later rather than sooner, but they will come. And, they will be tailored to the design of your ship to test it and to teach you where to improve.
Having worked for a cruise company in Seattle, I speak as one who has faced both literal and metaphorical waves in a storm; and I can tell you that you want your ship built well. We want to make sure our ships are sturdy not only for ourselves, but also to carry others across troubled waters. We must ask ourselves: Will our ships safely carry us and our families? The Lord has need for each and every one of us; remember that He usually answers our prayers through someone else.
As I was going through my own trial of cancer this year, I received a message from one of my professors that helped strengthen my ship. I suspect that the Lord will convey a similar message when you face your own waves. It simply said, “You have been in my thoughts and I want to make sure you are doing okay. I really have high expectations for you. Please make sure you are strong, well, and striving to reach your potential. Don’t ever think you have to do it all alone.”
In closing, it is my challenge for all of us to seek the guidance of the Spirit and remain of curious workmanship so we will cross safely with our families and loved ones to our Promised Land. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.