I Have Dreamed A Dream

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Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

May 12, 2005
Viliami Toluta'u
Associate Professor of Art

Brother and Sisters, Aloha,

I pray that the Lord's spirit will help me. I have tried to sculpt this talk with words, and it hasn't been easy; I wish it could be done in clay instead. I am thankful to my wife for her kind introduction.

Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech in Washington D.C. to a crowd of 200,000 people. The most important phrase of that speech was "I have a dream".

Lehi left with his family into the wilderness, as commanded by the Lord. After three days they stopped and pitched their tent by the Red Sea. He confided upon his sons Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Samuel and said "I have dreamed a dream."

The sons reacted differently to their father's dream. To Laman and Lemuel, it was another one of their father's imaginary dreams as a visionary man. Whereas to Nephi; it was inspiration from the Lord.

It is interesting to see that the same message here was given to two different individuals; one rejects it and the other accepts it.

The reason why Nephi was receptive to it was because he did other things prior to meeting with his father. He visited the Lord and consulted with Him. Prior to that; he had done something else. He spent some time to dream. He dreamed of being just like his father, to know the mysteries of God and to receive revelation from Him.

In 1 Nephi 2:16 it shows that Nephi had a dream before he approached the Lord:

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers."

Here we can see that Nephi received his confirmation from the Lord before he went to his father in his tent.

"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father." (1 Nephi 3:1)

Laman and Lemuel did not do that before they approached their father. First, they didn't have a dream, and secondly, they didn't seek the Lord for themselves to see whether their father was inspired of God. It looks like they totally relied on their logic and reasoning. As a result, without the prompting of the Spirit, they murmured and received their father's message half-heartedly.

Today, in this devotional, we are going to build a house, an imaginary house; it will have five rooms: a dream room, where you dream and ponder;a private room, where you share your dream with the Lord; an executive room, where you seek advice from those you respect—your parents, spouse, bishop, and your teachers;a family room where you share your dreams with others in the family; a heat room represents the world where you face the challenge of living your dream.  Only when we follow this pattern and visit each room can we fulfill our dreams.

Using this comparison, we are going to study the reaction of Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Sam to their father's dream. Let's look at Laman and Lemuel first:

They don't spend time in the dream room, and they don't visit the private room either.

They don't have the humility to drop on their knees and seek the Lord and his Spirit. They have too much pride and they tend to rely on logic and reasoning.

On the other hand, Nephi is a dreamer: he dreams about being like his father, and he seeks to understand the mysteries of God, and to receive revelations like his father.

We are now ready to go to the executive room. Remember this is not the family room. It is the executive room. Here Lehi calls the boys to talk to them individually.  Here we learn that Laman and Lemuel instantly murmur and question their father's counsel. They don't reject it completely but they accept it half-heartedly. Lehi then calls in Nephi and Samuel. They whole-heartedly accept their father's request.

Lehi then calls everyone into the living room. Here he shares his dream with all his children. He asks them to trust him and to follow the counsel of the Lord and go back to Jerusalem to collect the records of their forefathers. Nephi replies "I will go" and Laman and Lemuel murmur.

Now we need to see what we figuratively call the heat room. This heat room represents the world and the trials that we experience when we try to fulfill our dreams. In this case it refers to the hardship that the boys face as they strive to obtain the records.

As they try the first time, they are called thieves and Laban ordered the guards to kick them out.  In effect, Laman and Lemuel get discouraged and blame Nephi as being foolish like their father. They are ready to give up and go home.  Yet Nephi is determined to try again. In 1 Nephi 3:15 he boldly opposes the idea of returning home without the record: "But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us" (1 Nephi 3:15).

The boys try again with their gold and silver, and Laban almost kills them. During these heated trials Laman and Lemuel get discouraged, yet Nephi repeatedly visits his private room to seek further counsel from the Lord. In 1 Nephi 3:19-20, he is again enlightened by the Lord and he encourages his brothers not give up and to try again. This was his counsel:

"And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;

"And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time." (1 Nephi 3:19-20).

The heat is unbearable and Laman and Lemuel are angry with Nephi.  Their anger gets out of hand. They don't visit their private rooms to share their problems with the Lord and instead they take matters into their own hands and whip their little brothers. As a result of their impatience and anger, the Lord sends an angel to intervene and save Nephi and Sam.  It is evident here that Laman and Lemuel failed the test and that they could not withstand the heat. Nephi is chosen to be a ruler over them.

This is the pattern of their activities; the process they went through to prepare and to carry forth the commandment of God.

What is it that we should learn from this lesson?

First we must find space to dream. When God gave us our free agency, it included the right to dream.  "Man has his free agency and God will not limit his imaginations to try and realize his fondest dreams." God expects you to have joy and to progress in life. For that reason, you have to dream to fully recognize your potential and talents. [Levi Edgar Young wrote:]

"We ought to have greater dreams. I claim there never has been anything accomplished by a man unless he dreamed dreams and had visions of greater things. I glory when a Latter-day Saint says to me: "I dream, I have my vision of greater things," because that is pre-eminently the gift of God to man, and when men do dream, when men have their visions, then will men have their ideals, and will strive to carry these ideals out and make of life the greatest, the glorious thing that God had intended it to be."

As adults, we cease to dream as we did when we were kids. We used to dream dreams. Some of them were wild, silly, unreasonable, and strange. They brought tears and laughter to your parents. Some of them were not very encouraging, yet your parents were probably understanding and sought the Lord for his guidance in accepting those dreams.

"We all start out in life as boys and girls with respect and reverence for our parents and our church. We start out with dreams of what we are going to accomplish. Then comes the fight (or the effect of the heat.) We have trouble getting through school and college; we get married and have to raise a family and support them. We gradually forget the dreams we started out with." (Bennett Cerf)

I would like to share a story of how I was like Laman and Lemuel in my childish pride and patience:

I was getting ready to go to high school. Mom and I were out in the family lot gathering fragrant leaves and seeds to make Tongan oil. I kept questioning mom whether it was worth all the hard work we were going through. I was not too enthusiastic about crawling through the shrubs and bushes looking for the ingredients.

At one point as I took every step with murmuring. Like Laman and Lemuel, I complained that we could easily buy a bottle in the market for only 10 cents. Being desperate and fed up with my complaining, mom threw the basket on the ground and said.

"If you do go to school without a shirt, people would acknowledge that you must come from a poor family; but if you don't have any oil to anoint your hair and to keep your skin fresh, people would say you don't have a mother. It's OK for people to know that you are poor, but it's a shame that your mother is considered dead when she is still alive. I am dead in the face others if my role is NOT fulfilled respectfully."

Here I learned that Mom's aspiration to fulfill her dreams and her duty to her children finally humbled my pride.

Almost twenty years later, while in graduate school in Provo in 1982, Mom had a chance to come up and stayed with us. Sheila and I had only one child then and it was Auguste. Every night I came home from school, I made it a habit to walk in the baby's room and check on Auguste. I could not wait to come home to see this new addition; one of my dreams.

Quite often I found the baby missing from the crib. Whenever the baby cries, I guess, grandma would pick him up and rock him to sleep on her bed. However it happened too often and I decided to talk to her about it. I was concerned that it would become a bad habit for the baby. It would be better, I presumed, to let him cry himself to sleep and not get used to being pampered at all times.

Mom was willing to do that for awhile but didn't last long. A few nights later I found the baby missing; he was again in grandma's bed. The baby was sound asleep as if grandma's arm was made for him. The baby was sleeping peacefully with her. For the first time, a silly thought crossed my mind - my son would probably be more attached to grandma than to us as his parents.

Finally one day I talked to mom about it again, and she knew from the tone of my voice that I was serious. She turned to me with a stern look on her face and with an emphatic tone in her voiced and said:

"Viliami, listen to me and listen closely. I will do it, if you promise me one thing. If you promise that you will not do this to your son's child, someday. You may not understand why I do this to the baby. But I want you to promise me that!"

I could not say a word; evidently she got me off guard. I stood there for a while dumbfounded. I was translated momentarily in time as if I was seeing a vision. For a while I was lost and unfamiliar with myself as to who I was.

Perhaps I was too preoccupied with everyday chores of life that my vision was blinded by my ambition and I could not see beyond the wall of our little basement apartment, and the screaming sound of the baby every night. It was too far advanced for me to imagine my infant son being a father to his own child; it was beyond my dream and I could not see myself as a grandpa then, especially when my son was still an infant. For the first time I finally could see the Lord's Plan of Salvation from my Mom's perspective.

I'm glad that Auguste is here and his wife; Elsie is expecting their first child. I think I have enough courage not to go into the baby's room some day, a promise grandma could not get out of me twenty three years ago. At least, that's what I think, since the baby is not here yet. However, if I pick up the baby from the crib some day, Auguste and Elsie, it will be to see how grandma felt when she was holding you in her arm and rocking you to sleep

As a teacher, I hope students will always dream and remember their dreams. Conventionally, teachers look upon students as empty cups. It is sad to say that students also tend to believe and accept that concept as a reality. They likely come to class with that attitude. However, you are not an empty cup. The Lord created man in his likeness in nature and in potential. He has blessed you also full with dreams in order to fully enjoy life.

Our role as teachers and parents is to see how much we can extract from the student's gifts and talents, rather than try to fill them up with our own dreams. Parents and teachers should allow space for students to dream.

Spencer W. Kimball visited Tonga in 1970 as a general Authority; he was President of the Quorum of the twelve at the time. I was a junior in high school at Liahona. As President Kimball toured the school campus he stopped at the Boys Dormitory. As he went in the main entrance he saw a bulletin board with his picture on it. He was impressed with the art work and he gave a message to the dorm father to relay to the student who created the work.

In 1983, thirteen years later, a couple from Fiji came to Provo. They brought some handicrafts from Fiji as a gift for Pres. Kimball's daughter who was living in Sandy, Utah. This couple needed a driver to take them there, so Sheila and I volunteered to drive them.

As we got there, I noticed a big black car slowly pulled up into the driveway. As the car door opened I instantly recognized the passengers; it was Pres. Kimball and his wife Camilla. We were surprised to find out that his daughter had arranged for them to come for dinner. Pres. Kimball at this time could not talk due his throat cancer.

After dinner, I was given the chance to stand and share something about Tonga, since the Fijian couple had spoken about Fiji and the church there.

Because my voice was not loud enough the daughter asked that I come over and stand next to Pres. Kimball. This made it difficult since I was nervous. I had never stood next to a prophet of God before.

I stood on his side, close enough that he wrapped his right arm around me. That made me more nervous. However, I gathered my thoughts and continued, "President Kimball, I am here today to tell you that I got your message. When you visited Tonga in 1970, 12 years ago, you visited the boys' dorm in Liahona. You left a message with the dorm father for the student who created the art work on the bulletin board at the main entrance. I was that student.

In a couple of weeks I will be graduating with a master's degree in Fine Arts. Your message was conveyed and it has been a guiding light. Your message served as a pedestal for me to stand taller and have a better perspective of God's love."

When you take your dreams to the Lord, share what is in your heart. The Lord is not pleased when you say things that are different from your heart. The Lord is discouraged when people worship him with their lips and yet their heart is far from Him.

When you pray, do it with humility of heart. We usually try to pray until the Lord can hear our voice. Instead, pray with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, until YOU can hear the voice of the Lord. Your prayer should be sincere so that your conscience is communicating with the Lord, and His Spirit will whisper into your soul. If you promise to do it in faith and with humility of heart the Lord will be with you; and you will be determined.

As you come out of your private room, you need to seek counsel with your father or your bishop. Try your teachers; seek their advice. Your bishop especially was called to be your spiritual father. He will always have the heart to support your dreams. These are the influential people that will make a positive impact in your life.

As you go forth, associate with others in the dorms and on campus. Go to your meetings and your Family Home Evening. Attend your classes and socialize with your friends. Share your dreams with them and listen to their dreams. There are people out there who love to hear your dreams. Likewise, they need your listening ears. Finding a friend is as important as being a friend. Serving others with kindness should be a part of your dreams.

When you leave from this campus, you are ready to face the real world. Your dreams are only dreams unless you commit yourself to it. The Lord has promised many blessings for those who are diligent and determined to face the challenges and trials of life. You have dreamed your dreams and you have taken it to the Lord. Your bishop, teachers, and friends have helped you and prepared you for those days when the heat is unbearable.

Your dreams won't become a reality without work. You have to sweat. Your dreams are like castles in the air. It takes effort to ground them and make them a reality. The sweetest thing to have in life is called perspiration. It is one of the things the Lord wants us to experience while we are in this time of probation. That is one of the first lessons he taught Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; they will earn their bread with the sweat of their brow. The lord expects us to pay an honest price for every blessing that is good in life. If you receive any blessings in life without perspiration, you are not a faithful servant. Like the prodigal son, he approached his father with humility and was willing to sweat for his meal. He finally realized the true principle of life is to work and he did not want to rob his father again.

As you leave this university, plan to apply this pattern in your life and you will see miracles.

In 1976 I joined the BYUH rugby program. A year later I was hooked on the sport. There was nothing else in my mind but rugby. What made things worse, Coach Inoke Funaki announced that BYU-H Seasiders team will be on a tour to the South Pacific: Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Fiji. I could visualize this as an opportunity to go home; a chance to see my family.

I knew that it would be a tough thing to accomplish but I was determined to do my best. I knew that only 26 players of the 70 players would be selected on the tour.

The other players were fast, experienced, heavier, and stronger. In comparison with other players, I was skinny, inexperience, light and uncoordinated. I decided to train hard during the week and played my best on Saturdays.

I made it a goal to be on the field for practice before anyone. During the practice I trained hard as if I were playing a real game. I was not fast but it my goal to outrun everybody. The "pain barrier" weeks came and went and I was physically fit. No distance was ever too far for me to run.

When the season started, a miracle happened; I almost made a touch down every game. It was simply from the opponent dropping the pass, and I was the first player to get to it. I was known as the tireless runner.

What most players did not know, I did more work off the field in my preparation for my games. From Monday to Friday, I practiced hard, and I played my best on Saturdays during the games. On Sundays, I fasted for rugby. I suspected that it was probably a silly thing to fast for, but that's the Lord's problem. He promised that if you ask He will give, and that's his to decide. As a result, I was not only doing well as a player, but also off the field as a student.

I made the team and went on the tour, and it was a memorable experience. I achieved far more than I expected from playing the game. I knew the Lord answered my prayer and I gained a stronger testimony of prayer and fasting. That's the best result of my rugby career.

Rugby was my passion then and now I have a different dream.

Pres. Shumway extended an invitation for me to sculpt the sculpture of George Q. Cannon and Napela. I felt that it was an inspiration and I was moved to sculpt it.

On the day we unveiled the sculpture, a short Hawaiian lady came over to hug and congratulate me. She whispered a statement which inspired my new dream.

"Thank you for doing this for my people; I feel closer to them."

Ever since that day, I dreamed of doing the same thing for the Tongans. I went to the library and I found that the history of the Pacific Islands was well documented: the Samoans, Maori, Hawaiians, and the Tahitians, but nothing for Tonga.

I took this dream to the Lord and I have been in the heat since. I have been sweating for the past five years, navigating this dream. I have been searching the history of my roots, from mission records and journals of those American missionaries who have served in Tonga since Elder Brigham Smoot and Alva John Butler in 1891.

I titled this project "Seek the roots for the health of the shoots".

I would like to thank BYU-Hawaii for allowing me the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. I'm grateful to David O. McKay for his dreams. To the Administration, Teachers, and Staff for perpetuating and working hard to fulfill David O. McKay's vision. To the Labor missionaries, thank you, for being in the heat to fulfill the dream. We are blessed because of your willingness to serve faithfully.

I would like to thank my wife for all her support. Without her I cannot fulfill my dreams. Thanks for being understanding through those challenging times. To my children, thank you for the different dimension that you contributed to my dreams. Like a diamond, you have created different facets to beautify it.

Lastly, I thank God for allowing the Gospel to be restored at this dispensation. I appreciate the young man, Joseph Smith, for sharing his ambition in humility with the Lord. To our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ for His love and sacrifice of Atonement so that may have joy, in time and in eternity. To Heavenly Father, for his plan of Happiness, our fondest dream. In Jesus name, Amen.