"You Are Here In Fulfillment of Prophecy"

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Jack Hoag

Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

July 5, 2006
Jack Hoag
Chairman of the Board at Hawaii Reserves, Inc.

Pondering this moment, I have asked myself, other than a call from President Shumway, "What brings us together?" What could we possibly have in common -- you, embarking on your college career which I commenced more that half a century ago. What can I share that could possibly command your attention? Of course one obvious commonality, at least for 95% of you, is the gospel. Today you will be privileged to hear statements made by modern day prophets that have not been quoted in public before.

First of all, I am truly grateful to be here, at this time, in this revered place. Of course at my age I am just grateful to be anywhere! Often I have expressed my thanks to Heavenly Father to have survived many close calls in the military, and for what purpose was I spared. Likewise, it is very important that you know why BYU-Hawaii and Laie are held in such high regard by the Brethren and why YOU should also feel privileged to be here, here in fulfillment of prophecies!

These lands, two ahupuaa, purchased by the Church at great sacrifice in 1865, as a gathering place for the saints in the Pacific, have a long and storied history. Time will permit just a few highlights. You would do well to study the complete history. In the early days of the Church, Joseph F. Smith served here as a very young man, again returning in 1885 as a member of the First Presidency. President Smith gave this counsel to members here in Laie who were discouraged due to crop failures and the lack of water, "Do not leave this land, for this place has been chosen by the Lord as a gathering place. Be patient, for the day is coming when this land will become a most beautiful land. Water shall spring forth in abundance, and upon the barren land you now see, the Saints will build homes, taro will be planted, and there will be plenty to eat and drink." Indeed his prophecy did come about. For many decades a sugar plantation and other crops have prospered, and below these lands lie one of the richest fresh water aquifers in the islands.

In 1919 the first Temple built outside of the continental U.S. was dedicated in Laie by President Heber J. Grant and at the groundbreaking for this university in 1955 President David O. McKay said, in part, "we dedicate our actions in this service unto thee and unto thy glory and to the salvation of the children on men, that this college, and the Temple and the town of Laie may become a missionary factor, influencing not thousands, not tens of thousands, but millions of people." This prophecy has come to pass with the opening of the PCC (a partner of BYUH) in 1963. Some 32 million visitors have traveled here, many stopping at the Church Visitor's Center.

It is worthy to note that Laie is the only place on the globe where the Church has a temple, visitor's center, university and a cultural center.

Two of my three children who live in Utah often remark, with some degree of envy, how we are visited so frequently by the Prophet, who has been here many times to speak at the university, preside at regional conferences and walk the grounds with us. At one recent meeting in Salt Lake in which HRI was giving its stewardship report regarding Laie, President Hinckley said in admonishing us of our responsibilities, "When I go over to the other side and greeted by Joseph F. Smith, David O. McKay and others and they ask, Gordon have you taken good care of Laie, I want to be able to say, YES!"

To emphasize the critical concerns the Brethren have for Laie and Hawaii in 1994, then President Howard W. Hunter gathered a few couples, including the Shumways, and my wife & I to rededicate the Church in Hawaii. Feel privileged to be provided with a few excerpts from this unique blessing. In his prayer, President Hunter, well aware of the travails we were having over same-sex marriage and other issues, invoked this, "We ask a blessing upon the legislators, the governmental officials at every level, and upon those who serve in the courts....that the Spirit of Christ may enlighten their minds. He goes on to say, "We ask a blessing upon the temple, upon the university and upon the cultural center." We did feel the influence of this blessing upon our legislators and others in the ensuing years in many ways.

So with prophets through the ages investing so much time and concern for the Church in Laie, likewise, you in turn have a serious obligation to live up to your honor code as students. One of the campus bishops has expressed to me, with some emotion, how he envisions a poor widow in an impoverished country struggling to pay her tithing which goes to subsidize this college. Bear in mind that about 80% of the cost of your education is NOT covered by your tuition and fees. BYUH has the highest cost per student in the Church Educational System. It is a privilege for you to attend and therefore you must honor those who make your education possible. That requires proper conduct on and off campus. The dress code applies on the beach and in town. The Church is judged by your language, dress and your actions.

So I do hope you are excited to be here, not just because of the beautiful beaches, lovely campus and diverse student body, but because you have a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to be enriched with great knowledge, both temporal and spiritual. At HRI we have employed many present students and graduates. You have some great teachers in diverse fields and if you don't experience total excitement in each and every class than it is up to you to find it.

It is YOUR responsibility to let the light in. Of course you are familiar with D&C 93:26, "the glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth." In 1829 the Prophet Joseph inquired of the Lord, seeking for greater light in the early formation of the Church. He was promised these gifts in D&C 11:19, "...if he desirith of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ," and thereby he was granted the gift of translation. We can also ask in faith in our studies.

For some, studies come very easy, others need to exert greater diligence. I see that in my grandchildren. As an employer I sometimes placed greater value on hiring the "worker bee" rather than the person who had the highest grades. When frequently asked how I became President of First Hawaiian Bank, hard work definitely overshadowed intellect, in my case. Certainly the work ethic has always been held in high esteem by our leaders. President Hinckley has said, "I believe in the gospel of work. There is no substitute under the heavens for productive work. It is the process by which dreams become reality....it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or a women."

Make no mistake, to succeed in college or in life, you must work and give 100%, BUT not be workaholics!

You have an obligation to yourself, your family, the other prospective students whose place you took here at BYUH, to the tithe payers of this Church, to the service missionaries that helped build this University and to the prophets and other Church leaders who created this school to achieve your highest potential, not just get by.

Can you achieve excellence in your studies? Elder Henry B. Eyring says you can. "If you believe you can learn, if learning rivets your attention, if you take counsel easily, than you can learn. Excellence in learning takes tenacity and discipline." NOT NECESSARILY STRAIGHT A's, but BEST OF YOUR POTENTIAL, in maximizing your unique gifts.

When we ponder our true potential, it is important to note that we are unique with different spirits as we enter this world and have our own particular mental, physical and intellectual capacities. Elder Russell M. Nelson was recently quoted, "I've got a DNA that's specifically mine, a blood type that is specifically mine. Those formulas are written in every cell of my body. No doubt they are in file in that great, heavenly filing cabinet."

The Lord knows us as individuals. President Hinckley has said, "Man is in reality a child of God. Nothing in the universe is more important than the individual. This work is concerned with people, each a son or daughter of God." It is important to bear this reality in mind as we talk of the ADVERSITIES that inevitably strike us throughout life. I would be surprised if you can get through your college tenure without some setbacks or disappointments: a grade that you don't feel to be fair, a friend that you perceive has let you down, a health or financial problem, a relationship gone awry, etc. I know of very few who have experienced more adversity than my dear wife, who has undergone eleven major surgeries in the last forty two years. But her abiding faith in the Savior and her knowledge of His plan of salvation has kept her spirit strong and resolute.

Some adversities come about due to poor decisions on our part. Every bishop in the Church has counseled members on mistakes that can be rectified. Elder Bruce Hafen provides hope to us all in the spiritual and temporal adversities we face, "the Savior's victory (that is through His atonement for us) can compensate not only for our sins but also for our inadequacies; not only for our deliberate mistakes but also for our sins committed ignorance; our errors in judgment, and our unavoidable imperfections." Wow, isn't that a relief? I am sure you all realize that Elder Hafen's reassuring words DOES NOT MEAN we can continue to make the same mistakes KNOWINGLY, failing to self correct, failing to repent and expect to gain the same grace. And as Elder Merrill J. Batemann described in the April Ensign, just as Oliver Cowdrey failed in his attempt to translate by asking only the Lord's help, but failing to study and do the hard work, we must exert our total commitment before we can expect the Lord's help.

DOES ADVERSITY REVEAL CHARACTER OR DEVELOP IT?

Elder Tad Callister in his great book, the "Infinite Atonement" states, "Regardless of the depth or multiplicity or our individual weaknesses, the Atonement is always there. The Savior is always standing by, anxiously longing to endow us with the powers that will convert our weakness to a strength."

Some thirty years ago I had the privilege as a relatively new member of the Church to be counseled and called to a position by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Bruce R. McConkie. I am sure you have studied some of his monumental teachings, a giant in his faith. Some of his most prophetic words, spoken twenty-six years ago in an Ensign article entitled, "The Coming Tests and Trials and Glory," whereby he speaks to your generation. He recounts the trials of the early saints and goes on to describe, most poetically, the wickedness of the last days preceding the second coming of the Savior.

"We stand today on a mountain peak, on a majestic, glorious peak in the midst of the mountains of Israel. To gain this height we have climbed over peaks of peace and trudged through the valleys of despair. Below us lie the deserts of sin and the forests of evil; below us stretch the swamps of carnality and the plains of passion; below us rage the roaring rivers of war and hate and crime, through all of which we have struggled to reach this summit."

But with hope he goes on to say, "We see the little stone cut from the mountain without hands beginning to roll forth....we see the Elders of the kingdom going forth to many nations....we see converts and stakes and temples..we honor our forebearers and reverence our prophets....we rejoice in the goodness of God and thank Him and them for the heritage that is ours....we see the saints of God, who are scattered upon all the face of the earth, rise in power and glory and stand as lights and guides to the people of all nations....we see the Lord break down barriers so that the world of ISLAM (to come) and the world of communism (now coming to pass) can hear the message of the restoration....we see our children and our children's children stand firm in the defense of truth and virtue.. and finally if we as a people keep the commandments of God; if we take the side of the Church on all issues, both religious and political; if we take the Holy Spirit as our guide; if we give heed to the words of our apostles and prophets who administer among us -- then, from an eternal standpoint, all things will work together for our good."

I could not possibly close with more stirring words and I would commend to you to read the full text of Elder McConkie's address in the May 1980 Ensign. These pronouncements made three decades ago are coming to pass this very day.

I hope that in expressing not just my thoughts, but more importantly a few choice excerpts of recent prophets, not previously shared in public, that you have truly felt the magnitude of revelations and sacrifice that preceded your attendance here in 2006. I would also hope that as you continue to learn more of the rich history of Laie and the sacrifices of the many, that you would be emboldened to reach higher in your quest for excellence and live the standards of the gospel. Remember, YOU ARE HERE IN FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY!

I have a testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel, the divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who heads this Church and the knowledge that Gordon B. Hinckley, who I am humbly privileged to call my friend, is the Prophet of God on the earth today and testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.print this page