Blessed Are They Who Trust Him


Jay and Jane MonsonDevotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

March 8, 2007
Jay & Jane Monson
ITEP Missionaries

President Shumway, faculty, dear students and friends, it is an honor to talk to you today.

Someone said to me, "This should be an interesting experience for you to talk to people from 70 different countries - all those languages!" But we pray the spirit of the Lord will pass the language barriers and help you understand what we have to share with you today.

Our mission assignment is to Coordinate ITEP. Essentially, ITEP is a long distance teacher education program where we work with missionary couples in Kiribati, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand. These couples teach education classes to the teachers there, enabling them to earn a Teaching Certificate and a bachelor degree from BYU-Hawaii. This is a wonderful program - it has helped many teachers become better teachers. Part of our responsibility is to travel to these countries and work with the missionary couple there. Therefore, we have been to these countries several times. We want to share with you some stories from these experiences that have enriched our lives and helped us develop trust in our Heavenly Father.

We had a powerful experience at the beginning of our mission. We were visiting in Samoa and met Brett Macdonald, who was the Country Director at the time. He has a strong bond with Samoa and was fascinated with the early history of the Church in that country. He had researched and found interesting information. He shared with us stories about the early missionaries and how so many suffered from disease and hardship. He took us to a cemetery where these good missionaries were buried.

As we always do each week, we wrote our journal entry, including this information, and sent it to our children and a few close friends. We received a phone call very soon after from our dear friend Greg Lambert. He said, my mother's great uncle went to Samoa on a mission in the early 1900's. He died there and no one ever really knew what happened to him. If you ever run across any information about this, would you let me know. His name was Judson Tomlinson.

We wrote to Brett and asked if he had ever heard of this young missionary. Well, as a matter of fact he had. Judson Tomlinson had become ill and they took him to the mission home. The mission president and his wife cared for him and nursed him. Elder Tomlinson suffered terribly and died in the loving care of his good mission president. He was buried in the Fagali'i Cemetery.

The next time we were in Samoa, we visited that Cemetery and took a picture of Judson Tomlinson's grave. We sent it to Greg Lambert. After all these years - 106 years, Elder Monson and I were the ones to bring closure to that family. It was our great blessing to be the ones to close that gap.

I still wonder about that experience. How did that happen? One hundred years later - what if Brett hadn't told us those stories, what if we hadn't written about it in our journal, what if we hadn't sent the journal to Greg? What if another couple had been called instead of us? It's really pretty amazing, don't you think?

Henry B. Eyring said, "Your life is carefully watched over, as was mine. The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know. He is kind and He is all-knowing. So you can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn in preparation for the service you will give. You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not. But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder. You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased, and you will be grateful."

Let me tell you another story. We are assigned to the BYUH 6th Ward. We love that Ward - so many great young people. One fine young couple were the Bauros . They are great kids. Brother Bauro was the secretary in the Elders quorum Elder Monson worked with, so we had some extra association with them. We knew he wanted to go to Fiji to medical school. As the year went on, his scholarship funding became shakey. Then it became questionable. It was at this time we traveled to Fiji to meet with our missionaries there. One evening we returned to the hotel for dinner and Pres. Ardern, Pres of the Fiji mission, his wife, and some of their missionaries were eating dinner with Elder Winkel and his wife. Elder Winkle is a member of the Seventy, and at that time was a counselor in the Area Presidency. We knew Elder and Sister Winkel because he had been one of our sons Mission President in Spain. They greeted us so warmly and invited us to eat with them. We were seated right next to Pres. Winkle. As we chatted, Pres. Winkel said they had just been to Kiribati, so we mentioned we had been there several times and we knew such wonderful people there. We told him about Brother Bauro, and his desire to go to medical school, but that he was having problems with his scholarship funding. Pres. Winkel was very interested. He said to contact him in New Zealand in a couple of days and somehow, this funding problem would be solved.

So make a long and complicated story short, through Pres. Winkel, Vice President Kongiaka, President Shumway and a wonderful donor, Brother Bauro is now in medical school in Fiji.

How did that happen? Why were we in Fiji that very night? Why were Winkels at the same restaurant, why were they there at that same hour? Why did Brother Bauro's chance for medical school come together in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? I think it's amazing, don't you?

Do you believe the Lord had a hand in that? Was it just coincidence? Am I making a big deal over nothing?

C.S. Lewis put it this way: "God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man or woman in the world".

Just 5 weeks ago, Elder Donald Staheli stood here and talked to us. I thought he gave a wonderful talk. I printed it off the BYUH website. Do you remember the wonderful story he told about his airplane and the terrible snow storm. I quote, "We sat there for only a few minutes with the wind and blizzard howling around us, when all of a sudden the chief pilot came over the intercom stating, "Buckle up, the tower has informed us that there has been a strange opening in the storm, and we're going to try and make it through. As we rolled down the runway I quietly pleaded with the Lord to let us have a safe takeoff. We did exactly that. No sooner had we gotten through the heavy storm cloud cover when the pilot came back on the intercom saying, "You can't believe this. The heavy winds and blizzard conditions have reappeared. The airport is again closed. The pilots were perplexed with what had happened. We knew the Lord had intervened on our behalf." Then he said, "The Lord is in the details of our lives. As we continue our efforts to stay spiritually strong, He will respond and bless our efforts at the appropriate times. If you will always strive to live to be worthy of the direction of the spirit, you will be blessed in unimaginable ways."

Do you believe that? The details of our lives? In 2 Timothy 3:5 we read about people who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.

Do we limit God? And what He will do for us?

One more story - President Isaia wanted to give some of his land to the Church to build a Chapel. The village Matai said he couldn't do that - only Catholics and the LMS were allowed in that village. President Isaia said it was his land and he could give it to the Church. Another long story shortened. The Matai had made it very clear the Chapel could not be built. A fourth and final letter was sent to President Isaia by a special messenger from the village's council of chiefs. The letter contained threats of what would happen if the construction went forward. Brother Isaia said, "I talked with my wife and children. My answer to the threats was that if I die, I die with a testimony of the Church. We prayed. I put on clean garments, I put on long pants instead of a lava lava because I did not want the villagers to see my garments. My brother and some others came with bush knives and said they would protect me. But I told them the Lord was watching." The villagers arrived about 12:00 pm in a pickup truck. They put me in the truck, tied me with ropes, and drove me to the village green. My hands and feet were tied. The young untitled men were instructed to collect wood. I still remember the faces of the two men who lit the fire...I was lying on the ground facing up. The firewood and dry coconut leaves were placed around me and on top of me. I could see through the pieces of wood the faces of those who were there...During this time I felt as if I was being held - as if I was being embraced. The wood was lit on fire and then it began to rain. They tried seven times to light the fire - I was like that about five hours."

King Benjamin taught,
"...that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life,...this is the man who receiveth salvation.

This trust - this faith, is essential in our lives. Elder Robert Oaks teaches us that "Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable."

This faith and trust will bring you comfort and strength in your lives. It will allow the Lord to work in your behalf - to bless you and to bless others through you. May you develop this trust and love for your Father in Heaven. May you find peace in your lives. The Lord loves you. This I know. And He loves me. I am so grateful to know that. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Jay Monson

Aloha, brothers and sisters. It is a great honor to speak today at this great university. We are further honored to have so many friends and loved ones here. I see some special friends in the audience who are members of other faiths. We are deeply touched by their attendance

Thank you Brother Neal for your kind introduction. We recall when we first met Bill and Diana Neal. They came to Utah State where Bill joined the faculty, and soon they both joined the Church. What marvelous contributions they have made everywhere since that time. It's been wonderful to rekindle those friendships since coming on this mission.

I appreciate the fine talk which my wife, Sister Monson just gave. One time a General Authority told me that when they come to visit a stake to reorganize the stake presidency, they determine who the finest sisters are at that time in that stake and then under the Lord's guidance, they call one of the husbands to be the stake president. I am sure that is what happened in our case. I am grateful for my companion, my Eternal companion, and for her remarks today. She brings joy and happiness into our marriage each day.

We speak today about faith and about trust. It says in Psalms 1:12, "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him." Putting trust in the Lord, that's what it is all about.

The dictionary tells us what trust is. 1. Reliance on something hope; 2. To be confident; to believe. Ken Buist said that to trust is to willingly relinquish control, making yourself vulnerable to someone else for a certain outcome or consequence. Trust grows as a result of positive experiences accumulated over time.

There are many references to trust in the scriptures. Here a few:

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord, and do good

Psalm 125:1 They that trust in the Lord..abideth for ever

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart

Proverbs 16:20...whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he

Mosiah 23:22 Whoso putteth his trust in him shall be lifted

Mosiah 38:5 Those who shall putteth trust in God shall be supported...

And there's one more, of which I was surprised, Proverbs 28:25 (and I quote it exactly as it is written) "...he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat." I think "fat" meant something different in those days...probably to be fed. When I was on my mission in New Zealand for two-and-a-half years, I learned to speak Maori. One of my favorite Maori sayings is one you state after you eat. It's one I've taught to my children and they enjoy it as much as I do. "Ko kite puku, moe te powaka" which means "My stomach is full, I sleep like a pig." There are blessings in being able to sleep and in being well fed even "fat."

An article in National Geographic several years ago provides a penetrating picture of trust. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage.
One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he touched the bird with a stick.

When he touched it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.

When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live...

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;" (Psalm 91:4)

I hope you caught the analogy with this special story and our Savior Jesus Christ. Let me read it again, slightly different this time...Because He had been willing to die, we, under the cover of His wings will live.

Trusting in God is everything. There are so many of you here at BYU-Hawaii who are daily great examples of faith and trust.

There's time just for one great example. We have loved being part of the BYUH 6th Ward. One of the fine young couples in that ward, Mei Mei and Kisslan Chan, both from Hong Kong, and both converts and returned missionaries, became special friends of ours.

Unfortunately, Kisslan was stricken with a very serious illness. He even collapsed one day on campus. He was taken to the doctor, tests were completed, and he was told that he had a major illness. It was very difficult for him to go to class and do his projects; he was an Art major with a specialty in sculpture.

One day, Mei Mei came to our office on campus. She said, "Kisslan cannot get out of bed, he cannot walk, can you come to our home and give him a blessing?" I, of course, said yes. I contacted one of the student members of our bishopric to go with me. We blessed Kisslan as we listened to the Spirit telling us that he would be alright, that he would be able to make a full recovery and to attend classes and graduate on time. It was a special experience. Kisslan trusted in the Lord. Within an hour, from our office window, I saw Kisslan ride by on his bicycle, going to class with a large smile on his very happy face. Trust can work miracles. Kisslan is now working on his masters degree in fine arts at BYU (Provo).

Let me tell you another story, this one is from Samoa. (My wife and I did not read each others' talks, so I did not know one of her stories was also about Samoa. We could have just as well told some great stories about trust from our experiences in Tonga, Fiji, Kiribati or New Zealand, there are so many).

In February 1981, President Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the temple site for the islands of Samoa. Brother Nonumalo Faiga Chan Boon, a Matai (chief) was then the only LDS official in the government, he being a member of parliament and a cabinet minister. Thus, he was designated to be the "official governmental host" to escort President Kimball around the island. When the person organizing the schedule for President Kimball told him that a governmental official would be his official escort and his name was Brother Chan Boon, the Prophet closed his eyes for a moment and said, "Ah yes, Brother Chan Boon, he's a great man," and that was before they had ever met. Brother Chan Boon was a devoted member of the church and he and his family had a "family missionary fund.' Each year, for many years, they had funded two or three missionaries from the two church colleges (high schools) in Samoa. Brother Chan Boon had come from a very poor family and had not been able to go on his mission. As an adult, he felt he '˜owed the Lord' and could serve by supporting other young men on missions. After Brother Chan Boon met President Kimball, he told the Prophet about this fund and the many young Samoans who had served missions as a result of it. President Kimball's only reply was, "Brother Chan Boon, can you double this?" This answer really took him by surprise no 'Thanks' no 'God bless you', no "that is wonderful," ¦only 'Can you double this?" When he returned home, he told his family of his disappointment and '˜anger,' and that there would be no more missionary fund. He told his wife to stop putting money into this fund.

For a period of time he stewed in his bitterness. One night as he slept, he suddenly awoke and all the lights in the house were on. It was much brighter than it had ever been before; the whole house was full of light. He never told his family the rest of the story; he said it was just too sacred. According to his son, Alema, who is with us today as a student at BYUH, Brother Chan Boon had a "˜mighty change of heart,' just like Alma of old. He realized that he had been asked by a Prophet of God to double his efforts and he knew he'd better' get with it.' He apologized to his family and told them they were going to take the prophet's challenge and double the missionary fund and now do more than provide funds for two or three missionaries per school, to new provide money for six or more for each location. According to Alema, they were blessed as they did so. He said, it wasn't easy, and he remembers many nights eating only a small piece of bread and some rice or taro. But hundreds of young men and women were recipients and served honorable missions. Alema said his Dad had a loan in the bank and yet he still managed to do all this. The cost then was $3,000 for each missionary, and with 6 that was $18,000 per school, for an annual donation of $36,000. This was and still is a huge amount of money in Samoa and here in the USA. A remarkable thing to do. This continued until he passed away during Alma's own mission. His Dad sold his house to keep doing this before he died, but he paid his debts to the bank and to the Lord, no questions about either. We continue to learn so much from these Polynesians, truly people of faith and trust in Him.

May I conclude with a personal story of trust? It was a test of my trust and faith.

When I was just a few years older than most of you here today, in my early 30's, my wife and I thought we had "arrived" in life. We had struggled through a decade of gaining degrees from three different universities, of teaching school here and there along the way, and of finally being hired by a university back home, Utah State University. We had purchased a home, had four young, wonderful children, and settled in to really "˜begin' life. I was called to be a university ward bishop soon after we came to Logan, and life was good.

However, the bottom dropped out of all that in a period of six months. My wife came down with a very severe illness. She was treated for pneumonia and then bronchitis, and yet kept getting worse. More doctors, more tests. It was not until Dr. Russell M. Nelson, then an esteemed surgeon and thoracic specialist (and before his call as an Apostle), finally found the problem. I remember well when he told us that my wife, the queen of my life, had lung cancer. It was something they least expected as she had never smoked. Her step-father, however, had been a chain smoker. "Second hand smoke" was not mentioned in those days. We were devastated but continued to trust in the Lord.

We tried everything, chemo, radiation, etc, and had many special blessings, including one from a great General Authority. But my wife did not get better. Finally we ceased all efforts to stop this dread disease and returned to the peace of our home in Logan. I was taught to administer pain "˜shots' and medication. A wonderful neighbor nurse came in twice a day to check on things and we enjoyed several peaceful and happy months. Things continued to deteriorate, however, and the last time my wife, Diana, was able to be up for anything was the day of our son John's 3rd birthday party. It was organized by two wonderful neighbors who put it all together. I carried my wife outside into the back yard to be part of the celebration. She was so happy to be there with her children and family.

It was her last day to open her eyes. That night she slipped into a coma and passed away six days later.

We both still trusted the Lord. We knew families can be together forever. I felt much of my life was over, the joy was gone, but I also knew life must go on. My wife had made me promise her that I would remarry. She knew it would all work out.

How I met my wonderful wife, Sister Monson, whom has just spoken to you, is another story for another time. It was a miracle in and of itself.

The Lord has blessed me all my life as I have put my trust in Him. He has always been there for me and I can never repay him for all He has given me. I have experienced great joy and happiness in this life and that continues to this very day.

I pray every one of you will know, in your heart and soul, that He loves you just the same. That He is there for you when you put your trust in Him.

I pray we will all do so in the sacred name of his beloved Son, He whom is Trustworthy above all others, Jesus Christ, Amen.