Summer 2010

You Really Gotta Wanna or You Won’t Get It

08 Jun. 2010


You Really Gotta Wanna or You Won’t Get It


Welcome to Summer term. I commend you for your desire to endure school in the summer. When I was growing up in elementary school, I had some learning challenges and “had” to go to summer school. It was a requirement. Therefore, when I got to college, there was no way that I was going to do a summer semester. I had a friend talk me into trying it. By the end of the term when I got my grades, I was right and he was wrong. I couldn’t do a summer semester. So I respect your efforts and am committed to help you succeed.


Pursuit of Excellence

Will Durant, the American philosopher, summarized a thought expressed by Aristotle. I shared a statement at New Student Orientation last week. It is powerful and so I want to share it with you. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”  

To Aristotle’s thought we add President Henry B. Eyring’s declaration that “Our doctrine makes clear that [y]our potential is essentially limited only by [y]our choices.” So whatever you want, you really gotta wanna have it. And if really wanna, you can achieve excellence. It is a matter choice. Therefore, as faculty, staff, and administration we accept the challenge to create experiences whereby the spirit can “awaken in you confidence in your boundless capacities to learn whatever [your] previous personal, family, and educational experiences ha[s] been.” 

Our invitation to you is to simply open yourselves to the possibility of becoming what Father in Heaven has planned for you in this season of your life. We are here this summer to help enlighten your mind to those possibilities, elevate your hope that you can achieve them, and ennoble your souls on the way to finding and realizing that vision for yourself. But you really gotta wanna.

This College is a “beacon of educational hope, an open door to possibilities of growth, of improvement, and of learning.” If you think you have limited potential, you can come to realize there is more and you will find hope, you can dream dreams you thought were heretofore impossible. But you really gotta wanna see your potential as God sees it. 

In his book, The Last Lecture, Dr. Randy Pausch, a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University, characterized the “you really gotta wannna” principle. As you may know, Dr. Pausch was suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer when he gave what has been called and published as “The Last Lecture.” Here are his words.

Some old-school types complain these days that higher education too often feels like it is all about customer service. Students and their parents believe they are paying top dollar for a product, and so they want it to be valuable in a measurable way. It's as if they've walked into a department store, and instead of buying five pairs of designer jeans, they've purchased a five-subject course-load.

I don't fully reject the customer-service model, but I think it's important to use the right industry metaphor. It's not retail. Instead, I'd compare college tuition to paying for a personal trainer at an athletic club. We professors play the roles of trainers, giving [students] access to the equipment (books, labs, our expertise) and after that, it is our job to be demanding. We need to make sure that our students are exerting themselves. We need to praise them when they deserve it and to tell them honestly when they have it in them to work harder.

Most importantly, we need to let them know how to judge for themselves how they're coming along. The great thing about working out at a gym is that if you put in effort, you get very obvious results. The same should be true of college.

So we invite you to grab a towel, get on an elliptical and work your intellectual and spiritual muscles. We cannot do it for you, we just can’t. Intellectual and spiritual growth, like physical muscle, must be created by personal effort. We will coach you, encourage you, push and love you. But we will not and cannot lower our expectations for you. That only weakens and enables. We are about ennobling. And in that process you can find an “inner moral compass which will make you ever more rare and ever more valued” to the world and the church. But you really gotta wanna pay the price and make a commitment.

I invite you to develop the habit of pursing excellence by that which you do repeatedly. Do those things this summer that will bring you honor, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. I invite you to have fun while you work and study hard.


Does it Edify?

Some of you may be thinking, “How can I have fun while bringing honor to my family, myself, and my religion?” Let me give you a simple way to judge. Read Moroni 7:12-20. You remember, it reminds us that the Spirit of Christ is given to every man to know good from evil. And that everything that invites or persuades us to do good, to believe in Christ and act consistent with that belief is of God. The opposite is also true. 

Here is the standard I use. It is a simple question I ask myself. It has served me well when I have responded correctly. The question is: “Does this edify?” It is a simple question that should bring about a simple answer when we have employed the light of Christ accompanied by the influence of the Holy Ghost. That which edifies is okay, that which does not edify is not okay.

What does it mean to edify? To edify means to build, to erect a house or a temple, to establish, to uplift, to instruct or improve morally or intellectually. Here then is what that simple question means to me today and I invite you to apply that same meaning to you. Does this activity engage the spirit in a way that, enlightens you, elevates your hopes, and ennobles your soul? I promise that as you apply that standard to your behavior, thoughts, and choices you will have a wonderful summer and an excellent life! But you really gotta wanna think and act differently.


The Transformational Experience

You who are seasoned with us know that the way we accomplish our goal to enlighten, elevate, and ennoble is different than a high school or any other previous learning experience. We are not interested in just educating your mind. We are here to help you learn in the Lord’s way which will support you for a lifetime. The principle behind our learning model is deep. Through it, you can come to understand what heaven wants you to do with your life and then gain the power to do it. In this spirit enhanced environment, you can receive clarity of vision for this season of your life and beyond. That clarity will come by personal revelation. Such clarity produces confidence that you are doing what heaven wants. That confidence increases faith. Faith in the Savior increases your power to do.  

To do what? The answer to that question is found in this statement made by President Henry B. Eyring last October at the College. “Families and units of the Church of Jesus Christ require leaders who know how to find out what God wants done, know how to do it, and are determined to accomplish it.” This is part of the transformational experience you can have at the college. It is a personal experience. It is shaped and governed by heaven. But you really gotta wanna have that experience and live for it.


Finding your Course

You are here for a variety of self-determined reasons. May I suggest that heaven’s reasons for you being here are more important than your reasons for being here. Have you pondered what heaven wants you to do, and to become while you are here? I testify that you may come to know, not with a perfect knowledge but enough so that you can exercise faith and in time you will see the evidence of that faith. You will come to know why you are here and what it means to you now and in the future. Because we are talking about your future and your obligation to become more serviceable to heaven and the church, may I suggest how you may come to know the will of heaven and how this experience at the college can both alter and change your life in that direction. 

The pattern and clues are found in the scriptures. Let’s reflect and ponder for a moment Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life found in the first book of Nephi. You remember that Lehi told the dream to his family. They listened passively. They heard it. Who knows – some might have even taken “class notes”. The record reveals that only Nephi wanted to understand it sufficiently so as to act upon the principles contained in the dream. He wanted to know how the dream applied to his life. He knew that identifying the correct principles and having a desire to live those principles coupled with taking action brings knowledge, and understanding. He recorded it in the 10 chapter of 1 Nephi. First, the principle is recorded in verse 19. Here it is: Gaining knowledge requires diligent seeking. Diligent seeking couple with the personal revelatory power of the Holy Ghost brings not only understanding but edification. Having a correct desire is the second point and is found in verse 17. Notice how Nephi wanted to know. It was in a particular way: “I was desirous also that I might see, and hear and know of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost [emphasis added]. Then he reminds us how we access that power – faith in the Son of God. Third, he knew he needed to take action so in verse one of chapter 11, he exercised faith and pondered what his father had told him in his heart. Then the revelatory understanding came. It is interesting to note that the way his understanding came – the vision Nephi had -- is an example of the college’s learning model in action. You may learn by those very same principles.

So there is a pattern: First, identify the true principle to be understood whether it is math, geography, or economics. Second, desire to know by the power of the Holy Ghost which is a gift of faith to those who diligently seek the Savior. Finally, we must take the appropriate action to come to know – in the Lord’s way. Ponder, study, exercise faith and the knowledge will come. But you really gotta wanna act on true principles.

 Some may say, “I have prayed over my studies before, I have sought heaven’s help. It doesn’t work for me.” To you, I offer the advice of Elder Boyd K. Packer, “You may be in the right boat, you may even be on the right sea, but you might try fishing on the other side. The Lord gave that same invitation and when the apostles followed his counsel, their nets could hardly hold the blessing following their willingness to apply the Lord’s counsel. 

We invite you to bring the very best of what you know and have experienced about learning and let us add to it. Let us show you how to learn in the Lord’s was. And the blessings in your “net” will be that you will: (a) learn at rates that the “world be just be amazed”, (b) come to understand what heaven wants you to do with your life, and (c) gain the power to do it. I promise that if you lose your pride, humble yourself and through your diligence add to your faith, virtue, knowledge, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, you will reap the rewards of faithfulness and be blessed with greater power to achieve whatever is righteous in your life. But you really gotta wanna do it.


 Living with Personal Honor

Let me share with you the easiest thing you can do to prepare for that clarity of vision and its accompanying confidence and power. The easiest and most productive thing you can do is to live with personal honor. Living with personal is key to capturing the opportunities and blessing of being at the college. Living with personal honor is a spiritual matter. It is not temporal. You met with your Bishop, a common judge in Israel. A priesthood leader charged with the sacred obligation of measuring the integrity of your heart and protecting the learning environment at church sponsored institutions of higher learning. You pledged to him that you will live the Church Education System Honor Code including the dress and grooming standards. That pledge was more than just a “pinky swear”. It is a contract with this institution and a covenant with the Lord. That contract and covenant should guide your thoughts when choosing what to wear and what to do this summer.

A few of you will not see the connection between dressing and grooming and the gift of the spirit in your life. I ask you to take it on faith until you do see it. Because the connection is clear – we have seen it and bear witness of it. I invite you to experiment upon the word and counsel of the Brethren. Speaking to those who might be skeptical, I borrow the words of Elder Boyd K. Packer: "’Don't knock it till you've tried it’ .... If you haven't tried it yet, you are as yet no witness on the matter.”

Elder W. Rolfe Kerr, former Commissioner of Church Education, stated: “Don’t be critical of the Honor code. Don’t be cynical. Don’t try to compromise. Don’t push the envelope and get just as close as you can without violating it. Know that the Honor Code has been establish … by prophets, seers and revelators after much prayerful deliberation.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland counseled, “…choose your clothing the way you would choose your friends – in both cases choose that which improves you and would give you confidence standing in the presence of God. Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing.”

Elder David A. Bednar stated, “The Honor Code is only partially concerned with hairstyles and earrings and clothing…It is about agency. It is about inviting the Holy Ghost into our lives through obedience. As the Holy Ghost comes into our lives we experience its gifts, we become living members of the living church. That is what the Code of Honor is about.”

Finally, Elder Henry B. Eyring: “Outsiders are wrong when they say. ‘I can’t understand your people on your campuses. You care about how your students dress, you care about honor codes, you care about whether your faculty are faithful to covenants that they made. What’s that got to do with education? How uneducational!’ Well, they just don’t know what we know. And that is, if we can conduct ourselves in such a way that we invite the Spirit of God and we work our hearts out, our students if they do the same will learn at rates that the world will just be amazed.”

You learn in a building dedicated by the President of the Church. You have made a contract and covenant about how you will live with personal honor. When you do, you are magnified. When you don’t, the spirit retreats by degrees and you impact those around you. That you have no right to do. You may ask why? Listen to the words of Elder Boyd K. Packer:

“Spirituality, while consummately strong, reacts to very delicate changes in its environment. To have it present at all and to keep it in some degree of purity requires commitment and a watch care…The spiritual atmosphere in which students are to learn and what they receive, will not emerge spontaneously. [It] will happen only if caused to happen and thereafter maintained with unwavering determination.”


Trust and Accountability

Some might say, “Come on we are adults, don’t you trust us to use good judgment to dress and act appropriately?” Yes, we do trust you. We trust you explicitly and so that is why we hold you accountable. The doctrine of the kingdom and the pattern of the Lord is clear on this point. Whether you ponder the principle of “return and report” or personal priesthood interviews, the principle is the same. Trust and accountability are inseparable. So we do trust you and therefore we hold you accountable to live up to your covenants. We go to the temple to learn to make convents; we come to LDS Business College to learn how to keep covenants.

More important than our “trust” in you is our “love for you”. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. So when we combine our trust in you and our love for you, we will not stand by idly if you choose not to honor the contract you have made with us and the covenant you have made with the Lord. We will say something to you, not as “honor code police” but as fellow citizens in this household of faith, in this temple of learning. We will ask you to step up to the expectations we have for you and to the commitments you have made to heaven. 

I wish you all the best. This is a great time to be young, to have fun, and to be at the college. We are excited about your future and your possibilities. It reminds me of a title to an old rock-and-roll song: “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” I hope that is the way you feel about your future. You should feel that way. If you can’t see or feel the brightness of your future, let us help you.



I pray the Lord will bless and magnify you as you seek all that is noble, virtuous, lovely and of good report. I pray you will come to see and hear and know what heaven has in store for you now. I know you can. But to do so you really gotta wanna:

  • See your potential as God sees it
  • Pay the price and make the commitment
  • Think differently about yourself
  • Have a transformational experience
  • Act on true principles
  • Do it.

May you have the desire and courage to move forward in faith and confidence I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Durant, William J. (1926). The story of philosophy: The lives and opinions of the world’s greatest philosophers. Simon & Schuster, 76.
Eyring Henry B (2009).  Remarks at the inauguration of president J. Lawrence Richards, 4
Eyring Henry B (2009).  Remarks at the inauguration of president J. Lawrence Richards, 11
See  Eyring Henry B (2009).  Remarks at the inauguration of president J. Lawrence Richards, 4
Eyring Henry B (2009).  Remarks at the inauguration of president J. Lawrence Richards, 7
See D&C 50:21-23
See the book Change Your Questions Change Your Life written by Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of Elder Russell M. Nelson.
See 1 Nephi 10:17-19, 11:1
See 1 Nephi 17:49-51; D&C 43:16  as examples of faith, righteousness,  and power
Eyring Henry B (2009).  Remarks at the inauguration of president J. Lawrence Richards, 7
See Isaiah 55:8
See JST Hebrews 11:1
Elder Boyd K. Packer, The other side of the ship. Conference Report, October 1969, Afternoon Meeting 36.
John 21:1-6
Erying, Henry B. (n.d.).
2 Peter 1:5-8
Elder Boyd K. Packer, The other side of the ship. Conference Report, October 1969, Afternoon Meeting 36.
Kerr, Rolfe W. (n.d.)
Bednar, David A. (1997). Gain spiritual intelligence
Eyring, Henry B. (1995). Employee address, LDS Business College
Welch, John W. & Norton, Don E. Editors  (1996). Educating Zion, Provo: BYU Studies Monographs, 182
The 13th Article of Faith, also so Philippians 4:8

Why Does Your Heavenly Father Want You Here?

15 Jun. 2010


Why Does Your Heavenly Father Want You Here?


As I was driving here today I passed several golf courses. I really enjoy golf, although I’m not as good at it in real life as I am in my dreams. It is in incredible day outside, and with those golf courses in mind as I walked into the building I asked myself “what are we doing here today?” Last week President Richards challenged us to ask “Why does your Heavenly Father want you here?” I would like to explore that this morning.

So, why are we here? Most of you will recognize that question from Primary. It is the middle of 3 questions that are the basis for the Plan of Salvation. Where did we come from?, Why are we here?, and Where are we going after this life? 

Why is a word we learn very early in life. We seem to have a built in desire to understand how things work and why the rules exist. Dale Carnegie made the statement that “The deepest drive inside all people is the desire to succeed, to be great, and to excel.” I believe that drive comes from an inborn knowledge of our agreement in the pre-existence and our commitment to a personal plan of salvation. The veil might be drawn over our eyes, but our conscience knows what we agreed to do. It propels us forward knowing that eternity and eternal rewards are waiting.

As we grow into our teens, “why” seems to be a constant question for us. The answers that we receive or develop to the “why” questions usually determine our behavior and our outcome in any situation. I believe that is why the prophets have always taught that “where there is no vision, the people perish”. Without this vision of why we are doing something, the task usually becomes meaningless and has no direction, so any outcome will suffice.

An excellent example of how our vision affects our actions is found in Section 51. The June Ensign does a great job of expanding on these principles. Let me share a little of Section 51 and then the quote from the Ensign.

“And I consecrate unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence; And the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good” (D&C 51:16-17).

“I like to picture those early Saints hearing the Lord’s instructions and getting right to work. They plowed fields they didn’t know they would harvest, planted trees whose fruit they might never eat, and built a beautiful temple they would ultimately have to leave. I picture them living busy, productive lives, not peering endlessly into the unknown, wondering where they would go next and when. They acted “as for years”, trusting that their work would not be in vain.”

Our vision determines our actions!

Another example will reinforce this principle. To the question “Why are we here on this earth” you would be able to give some of the answers we learned in Primary. Certainly we gain a body, learn from our experience, and we have to walk by faith. In this month’s Ensign Elder Bednar has a great article about the critical important of gaining a body. Clearly, those are all true answers, but if I stop at that, my behavior might be quite a bit different than if I have the vision given by the Lord Himself. When He was teaching Abraham, He shared with Abraham a vision of why we are here.


22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Abraham 3:22-25.


My answer to the question “Why am I here” is to be obedient. I want to show the Lord that I WILL “do all things whatsoever” He commands me to do. Can you see how that might change my behavior and shape the course of my life? Now, as you can imagine, I haven’t always been obedient. I would like to think that I am still alive because the Lord is giving me another chance.

Having a “vision” is also so very important to answer why we are here at LDS Business College. I have learned that I really don’t need to ask “why did you come here?” Let me give you an example from the mission field. As a Stake President it was very important for me to ask a prospective missionary why he or she was going to serve a mission. I really wanted to know and to work on the reason for going and help the best I could with the spiritual preparation, and to see that they were going for the proper reasons. If not, we worked on that together until they were ready. 

As you know, there were a variety of reasons. “It’s what we are supposed to do, my parents expect it, all of my siblings have served, my girlfriend wants it, things are awful at home, I want to get away from my boyfriend, etc.” 

And yes, many, if not most were going for the right reasons. 

As a new Mission President I would ask a missionary “tell me why you came on a mission”. However, I quickly stopped asking that question as I realized it really didn’t matter any longer. What I saw happen in those two years of a missionary’s life deeply influenced me. I know that those of you that have served a mission know and feel what I am talking about.

Just like the miracle of a mission, now that you are here at LDS Business College, it no longer matters why you came here. What really matters (and the real miracle) is how you are, and who you are, when you leave.

President Packer reminded us of this at the dedication of the Conference Center in 2000. He quoted this poem to reinforce his remarks which I slightly modified for our particular benefit:

We are all blind, until we see

That in the universal plan

Nothing is worth the making if

It does not make the [student].


Why build these buildings glorious,

If [students] unbuilded go?

In vain we build the world, unless

The [student] also grows.

Now that you are here at this wonderful College, it no longer matters why you came here. It’s OK that your parents wanted you here, or that you wanted to get away from home without paying out-of-state tuition, or that your sweetheart wanted you here, or you came to find your sweetheart, OR even that you have always wanted to come here because of the unique educational experience. What I would like to challenge you on at this time is your vision of how you will leave these sacred halls. 

Who you are when you leave here will be determined by your vision of what you are doing here.

In a video produced by the College, Elder Nelson made these closing comments:

“The ultimate aim of true education is the building of character. Character becomes the substance of one’s eternal identity.”

Because this College is unique, we want you to go away with some very practical, daily skills that will make a difference in your character. There are so many things you can learn here that will make a significant difference in your life. They vary from the very large to the seemingly insignificant. 

There are a few practical daily things that you can do that will help you to organize yourself and to build and strengthen your character. Let me give you a few examples of a few seeming small, yet powerful daily actions that will make a difference.


#1 – Set a goal. Set a goal for each class AND for your time here at the College. You will find that this goal of a grade point average, something you want to take from the class, a concept you want to master, etc. will guide and direction your efforts.

Recently I was asked to teach employees of a major corporation some principles of “Time Management”. In preparation for this presentation I did a search of the Internet to find a quote, and my search returned over 1 Billion pages on this topic. I decided to see if Time Management was more popular than diets. Diets only showed up with about 27 Million hits. I thought everyone in the world was looking for a diet, but Time Management is 37 times more popular!

 It is not an accident that in Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, when the prophets are teaching us how to organize ourselves they use the wording “Set goals and make plans”. They put those words in that order for a very prophetic reason. Elder Ballard said:

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”

– Elder M. Russell Ballard, talk given to Salt Lake Area young adults, Oct. 18, 1981

Your faith is strengthened as you set goals and make plans. You cause good things to happen. You literally cause miracles to happen because you take small steps that set in motion eternal principles. How is it that I can say that you can CAUSE miracles to happen?

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated (D&C 130:20-21).

If a vision isn’t clear right now, or if you want help to “master the techniques of living to reach your goals” or “master the principles of setting a goal”, sit down with an advisor or faculty member and talk about what you would like to accomplish. Let us help you develop a roadmap to your personal success.


#2 – Diligently attend your classes. I was told that an internet search of the phrase “just showing up” returns over 240,000 quotes. Most of them are of the theme that “half of life is just showing up”. Just like Sunday School, Family Home Evening, Seminary, Institute and other events in your life (like in your employment), there is a statistical difference in those who diligently show up. Street contacting, door knocking and other types of tracting on a mission required some skill, but most of the success just came from being there and doing it.

Most of you have been baptized and confirmed. Many of you have received your endowment in the Temple. Some of you have even received the crowning ordinance of this life, which is to be sealed for time and all eternity. What else is left? Among other places, 2 Ne 31 teaches us that the last requirement in the Doctrine of Christ is to “endure to the end”. 

As a young teenager, I was pretty sure that I understand what enduring church meetings was all about. However, while there are many definitions of “enduring”, the one that is now the most clear to me is found in Chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel. 

Faith in Christ; repentance; making, renewing, and keeping covenants; and being cleansed by the Spirit become a pattern of living. Our actions in daily life are shaped and governed by these principles (p.66).

Enduring to the end is really about developing patterns of righteous living. It is forming the habits that become our eternal character. Our final judgment isn’t an accounting of good and bad and balancing the ledgers. It’s all about who we have become because of our pattern of living.

President Richards said this a different way last week when he quoted the following:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, it is a habit.”

We can only develop a “pattern of righteous living” through the daily habits of what we do. Why we do them is part of the development of the condition of our hearts. Showing up and being where we are supposed to be is part of who we become. 

As a young man, when my mother would ask me to do something, I remember having several responses, among which were a tendency to debate the relevancy of the task, passive disobedience, and even outright rebellion (which, by the way, I have witnessed all of these here when it comes to assignments and homework). She passed away a short while after I graduated High School, but since I was a late bloomer, she passed away long before the “common sense” part of my brain started to develop. 

Oh, how I wish I could go back and change so many things. One of them would be that I would try to get accepted into the 2,000 stripling warrior club. I would like to be able to say to my mother,

“Yea, and I did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness;”

It would be a way that I could show my mother how much I love her. I learned that from the Savior, when he said:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

I have also since learned a little about the other side of this diligence to be obedient equation. One Chapter later in John, we are shown the other side when he taught:

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;” (John 15:10).

Diligently attending your classes is just one way you can practice the habits that develop patterns of righteous living.


#3 – Turn you assignments in on time. This seems so simple, but so important. With the exception of the first week of class, you know weeks in advance when an assignment is due. Part of the Learning Model found in the 88th Section is to “Organize yourselves and prepare every needful thing.” Chaos is, by scientific definition, the opposite of harmony. When you are in chaos, you can’t do your best and your certainly aren’t prepared to be taught by the Spirit. By organizing ourselves to turn in our assignments on time, it contributes to the miracle that somehow we develop the tendency to be organized in every other aspect of our lives.

This is an example of how you cause success in your life through your pattern of living. When you are well organized, you have a tendency to meet your commitments, and they are always much better than when they are thrown together at the last moment. In fact, the Lord has given us counsel that is hidden from our youth. There is a scripture that is hidden from the youth of our Church. Asking forgiveness of President Richards, I will share a scripture that is only understood by High Priests in the church.

retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated (D&C 88:124).

When I was young, it seemed like when I asked why I was having a hard time, the answer from my mother was always “clean your room”. It took me years to clearly understand how much better everything seemed to be in my life when “figuratively” my room was clean and my life was organized.

seek learning, even by study and also by faith (D&C 88:118).

This scripture to learn by actual studying and by faith is followed by the scripture that talks about putting our house in order. Not a coincidence!

As part of attending class and turning in your assignments on time, you prepare in advance for your classes. Learning in a classroom isn’t nearly as effective as getting a clarification or even a verification of things you have already learned through your own efforts. Read the material in advance of the class. You will be amazed at how this simple change in schedule will allow you to process material learned in the class and how it will help your retention.

You might argue that it takes the same amount of time and effort if you don’t prepare in advance. That is not true. Even more importantly however, as we were counseled last week, this is part of casting your nets on the other side of the boat. It really makes a difference!


#4 – Have faith. You are a son or daughter of Heavenly Father. He loves you. The only begotten Son of God Himself came to this earth and sacrificed Himself just for you. You are important! Quoting President Monson, “Your future is as bright as your faith.” 

Sister Virginia Pearce (who is President Hinckley’s daughter) made the comment that with very few exceptions, most of the pioneers made it to the Salt Lake Valley simply by making the effort to put one foot in front of the other day after day. 

The textbook we use in the Sales class states it this way:

“The successful people of the world seem to gain the habit of doing those things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”

What a powerful statement about “enduring to the end.” We develop a habit of righteous living. We develop a habit of successful living. We develop a habit of successful learning.

These simple steps, maybe even arguably insignificant in and of themselves, when added together form a powerful pattern and therefore, a powerful character.

The Fire in the Bookstore…and What Came of It

22 Jun. 2010



The Fire in the Bookstore…and What Came of It


   I’m grateful for the chance to speak to you today. And thankful to my assistant, Moises Correa, for his help creating and running the technology side of what I want to share with you today.

   A couple of months ago my son, who is about your age and a recent graduate of LDS Business College, made a comment that caught my interest. He said he wished he’d known more about the College while he was still a student here. He then added, “I know I would have appreciated being there more if I had realized what I had.” 

I’ve thought several times about that comment, and because of it, choose to share with you today a few stories that will tell you how and why you are sitting in this room, on this campus. And by the end of our time together, I suspect you will have a greater understanding of, and appreciation for what you have here.

The College’s collection of yearbooks, journals, photo albums, and other materials are kept in my office, and those are the resources I’ve used for what I share today.

I’ll start with a couple of questions. First, do any of you know how old this College is? (Students only—faculty and staff, you can’t answer). Or, do any of you know when the College was founded, or organized?  

Well, here’s a hint: Can someone tell me when Utah became a state? (I realize not all of you are from Utah, but give it a guess.)

Utah gained statehood in 1896. And here’s the interesting part: In 1896, LDS Business College was already 10 years old. By then, many students had already graduated from the College. Remember that.



The Fire in the Bookstore

Now, I’m going to ask the staff and faculty to be patient…I want to share with you a story about the very first meeting of those who founded LDS Business College. They’ve already heard it….but you probably haven’t.

In 1886, a man named William B. Dougall believed that the youth of Salt Lake City should have a school of their own—an Academy, as it was called back then. So he contacted several of the citizens of the city and they chose a day and a meeting place—a bookstore owned by James Dwyer.

How appropriate, don’t you think, that they held a meeting to plan a college of learning… in a bookstore. It wasn’t a harness shop or a mercantile or a blacksmith shop—it was a bookstore.

But here’s the interesting part: a fire sprang up in that bookstore during the night, and by morning, the water used to put it out was still dripping down from the destroyed roof.

That might have been a good reason to call the meeting off, don’t you think? But you have to remember these were tough people with great determination. So they met anyway, sitting on boxes and crates in the dampness and ashes. I’ve always thought it rather symbolic that they sat there with the ashes of books—the most basic tools of learning—at their feet—while they laid plans for a place of learning. And the Phoenix that rose from those ashes was LDS Business College.

1. & 2. Their plan was basic. They needed a talented educator to help develop the Academy. Dr. Karl G. Maeser—who had already developed other academies and was starting up a new one in Provo, Utah, which became BYU—agreed to come to Salt Lake City to help establish this College. He brought with him his pick of the faculty— Willard Done—and served alongside him as he trained Brother Done to become the College’s president, from 1886-1888.

3. Dr. James E. Talmage, a great scholar, served as the College’s president from 1888-1892. His contribution (as quoted in one of the yearbooks) was giving “its students a sense for scholarship that finds its roots in religion.” Which, when you think about it, is another way of saying even then the motto was “learning by study and by faith.” If his name is familiar to you, think of the books “Jesus the Christ,” and “The Articles of Faith,” to name a few.

President Talmage was called away to start another church academy, but then officials from the University of Utah asked Church leaders if he could help establish that school instead, so he became the president of U. of U., and Willard Done became LDS Business College’s president again for 7 more years, from 1892 to 1899. His contribution was emphasis on theological training and the introduction of business courses into the curriculum.

4. Dr. Joshua H. Paul served as president from 1899 to 1905, and he inherited a difficult situation. The College was in financial trouble, and most of the faculty had left. The College seemed doomed, but church leaders and businessmen collected enough money to pay the College’s debts. And Church President Lorenzo Snow promised funding as well.  

A lot of changes happened during President Paul’s six years: the College’s name was changed again—(I’ll explain that a little later), the College moved again (I’ll also explain that a little later), and the College became famous for many reasons, including public speaking, dramatics, and athletics—especially basketball. (I’ll also explain that a little later).

5. Colonel Willard Young—a son of Brigham Young—served as president from 1905 to 1916. He was a military fellow, and brought a great deal of discipline and order to the College, as well as “exact scholarship.” In other words, he was tough. The yearbook says, “Under his administration, athletics became subordinate to studies, rules were rigidly enforced, and students learned to ‘toe the mark’ outside the institution as well as within.” And the college---and students—thrived under his leadership.

6. From 1916 to 1926, Guy C. Wilson served as president. During his ten years, he focused on teaching self-government to the students. Students made the laws, enforced the laws, and judged the law breakers (with faculty keeping an eye on the process). The school also changed. The four-year high school course was reduced to two years, and a two-year college course was added. A business college also began to grow around this time. The College was finally a college. 

7. Feramorz Young Fox became the College’s seventh president in 1926, and stayed for 22 years, until 1948. This means he carried the College through the Depression, and through the war. “Carried” is a good descriptive word. Those were difficult years of little money and great need, but his strong faith in the College and its’ purpose in the Lord’s kingdom helped him sustain it.

Lean years meant students couldn’t afford an education and enrollments dropped. In 1931, the high school and junior college programs were closed, and the business college alone remained. Along with his administrative duties at the College, President Fox and his son were selling apples and potatoes to keep their family farm from foreclosing. But due to his determination, the College eventually recovered, enrollments started climbing again, and by the time President Fox’s years of service completed, the College was in great condition, with high enrollments.

8. From 1948 to 1961, Kenneth S. Bennion served as the College’s 8th president. He was a former student —and later a teacher for 20 years—of the College. His strong connection to the business community kept the College connected too. He had very high standards for the College and its students. And although he kept a strict business attitude, he was well known for helping discouraged students stay in school.

9. R. Ferris Kirkham served the longest term as president—25 years from 1961 to 1986. He was a CPA and a talented businessman, and his years as president were marked by progress; he basically took the college from the typewriter age to the computer age. He developed new programs, expanded the campus, added student dorms and a library, increased enrollments, and made the College self-supporting. He truly modernized the College.

10. The tenth president, Kenneth H. Beesley, served from 1986 to 1991. His appointment coincided with the College’s 100-year anniversary, and they did have parties that year. During his time here he brought the College closer into the mainstream of Church education. Curriculum was revised, the student-to-computer ratio was improved, and the campus, which was the one just before this one, was renovated and restored.

11. A few employees here at the college can still remember President Beesley. Most remember the next president, Stephen K. Woodhouse, who served from 1992 until 2008. President Woodhouse was a successful businessman who advanced the College’s technology. He had a college history published, introduced service learning into the curriculum, and was in charge of the College’s move to this campus in 2006. As you can imagine, that was not an easy task.

I’m curious: Are there any students here today who went to the Mansion Campus before this campus?

Watch this: How many others in this room came from the Mansion Campus to this campus?  That’s how recent that piece of history is. A lot of us have memories of our Mansion Campus. It was a beautiful campus with beautiful woodwork, tapestries, and fireplaces where students sometimes roasted marshmallows. True story.

So now we have our 12th president, J. Lawrence—Larry—Richards. Most of you know him, some of you probably know him really well. He started here as a faculty member (after growing tired of being the president of a lot of banks), and after a while, he became the assistant to President Woodhouse. Then, on January 1, 2009, he became the College’s 12th president.

In the past year and a half, President Richards has placed emphasis on a number of developments: a new learning model; a revised mission statement; a vision statement; strategic initiatives, and the creation of more skills-based programs, to name a few.

He’s also placed emphasis on knowing each of you. I’d challenge any of you to find another college president who hangs out in the cafeteria every Wednesday so students can have lunch with him. And he’s in the halls, addressing you by name and asking how your mom is doing. You might not appreciate how uncommon that is…but you should.

Now, here’s an interesting historical fact. Remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser, the man who established this College? His name is spelled K-A-R-L M-A-E-S-E-R. Google him some time and read the story of his conversion to the Gospel. That man who taught him about the Gospel and baptized him was Franklin D. Richards, President Richard’s great-great-grandfather. So President Richards’ great-great grandfather taught and baptized the man who established the college where President Richards now serves as the president. And President Richards’ grandfather went to this College as well. Those are some pretty amazing connections, don’t you think?

Here’s another interesting historical connection: At the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, the president of the business college part of the whole college was Bryant S. Hinckley. President Hinckley had moved here from back east where he’d resided with his family. Not too long after moving here, President Hinckley’s wife became ill and eventually died, leaving him with their four small children.

   Meanwhile, a young woman named Ada Bitner was a faculty member at the College. She was an unusual female for the time. She’d gone back east to study Gregg Shorthand, and then returned here to teach it.

   The two of them—Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner—eventually fell in love, and were married. The first child of this new union was Gordon Bitner Hinckley. So President’ Hinckley’s parents met at LDS Business College. Which is why, when it was time to dedicate this new campus, President Hinckley said he’d like to do that himself, because of his particular affinity to this college.


Name Changes

The College’s name has changed a few times throughout its 124 years. It started out as the Salt Lake Academy, then became LDS College, then LDS University, then went back to LDS College, and since 1931, has been known as LDS Business College.


Campus Address Changes

The College’s campus address has also changed—EIGHT times, usually because the student population was growing, and the College needed more space. Yet all of the College’s campuses have never been more than a few blocks from Temple Square.


Started in Social Hall on 39 South State - 1886

(Outgrew Social Hall quickly, so some students met in Brigham Young Schoolhouse)

Ellerbeck Building on 200 West 200 South - 1891

The 17th Ward Chapel on 150 West 200 North - 1895

Templeton Building on South Temple and Main - 1897

Lion House on 63 East South Temple - 1900

(Every few years the College moved. Leaders finally decided a campus was needed where the College could stay and grow, so then they built...)

A growing campus of large buildings constructed at

70 North Main - 1902

(This campus remained for the longest span: 60 years. But eventually the Church needed this site for construction of the Church Office Building…)

Wall Mansion on 400 East South Temple - 1962

(The College was there for 44 years. And then in 2006, we hugged that campus good-bye and moved to…)

The Triad Campus, here at 300 West North Temple -  2006


The College also used other buildings at different times for different programs. At one time it used a large mansion on the hill for its music program, the old tithing barn for a biology lab, and the Deseret Gym in downtown Salt Lake City for gym classes.

Speaking of gym classes, the College also had a school song, called “The Gold and Blue,” written by a student, James W. Welch, in 1901. The song was the kind that students could sing during sports games. You probably didn’t know that the College has, at different times in its past, had some pretty amazing (and successful) sports teams.

The men’s teams included football , basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, golf, and track. Do you notice the “S” on the front of their jerseys? The College’s teams were called the “Saints,” (have to wonder what the mascot was). Over the years, the Saints crushed their opponents as they won an impressive collection of state and even national titles and awards.

Meanwhile, the women, not to be outdone, also had their own teams, among them tennis, hockey, baseball, and a Glee Club Basketball Team. 

College Life has evolved throughout the years. The College sponsored many kinds of clubs, some of them rather interesting, such as the “Seagull Club,” dedicated to doing good deeds, the “Block ‘S’ Club,” which promoted “good morals, clean living, sportsmanship, good fellowship, and high scholarship,” and the “Art Club,” created to “develop aesthetic interest.”

The College also had bands and orchestras, choruses, theatrical productions, and a lot of dances.

Of course, the College also taught classes. Lots of them. For instance, what started out as Bookkeeping courses in the 1880’s are today’s Accounting courses. 

At one time, stenography or shorthand was taught.

And so were classes in what was called Office Training, which has evolved into Business Administrative Support.

And typing classes—this College has taught typing since typewriters were invented. In fact, during wartime in the 1940’s, LDS Business College even taught typing to soldier clerks.

Students have also learned English since the College began, and at times throughout the College’s history, other languages taught here included Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, German, and French.

Of course, all kinds of math classes have always been taught here.

The fact is, the College has continued to develop courses as market and students’ needs change.

There. I’ve condensed LDS Business College’s history into about 20 minutes. If you’ve written any of this down, you’ll remember that the College is 124 years old, has had 12 presidents, 5 name changes, 8 addresses, some awesome sports teams, some interesting clubs, and a wide variety of classes. Hopefully you also noticed the Lord’s hand has guided this College all along.


But there’s more to the story. Because now it’s time to talk about the “Why” of this College:

Why was it founded in the first place?

Why has it been preserved for 124 years?

Why is it here today?

And most importantly….why are YOU here today?


Here are some ideas on that from people you’ll recognize and respect:

See if you can figure out a common idea or two in what they’ve said:

Remember Dr. Karl G. Maeser? He said,

“Here, at the headquarters of the Church, (he meant Salt Lake City when he said that) Israel will naturally look for an institution patronized by multitudes of students, conducted by faithful teachers, supported by the liberality of the people, approved in its labors by the authorities and above all, sustained by the blessings of Almighty God.”


Dr. James E. Talmage said:

“Theological teaching and religious training are essential to a well-balanced curriculum. For this symmetrical development of body, mind, and spirit—I commend our Latter-day Saint schools.”


In more recent years, in graduation speeches and at devotionals, other leaders have also taught us:

Bishop Keith B. McMullin: (Devo 2009)

“…The curriculum of the LDS Business College has not focused on training and ‘book learning’ alone. From the beginning, the aim has been to school the entire person, the spirit as well as the mind.”


Elder L. Whitney Clayton: (Devo 2007)

“I’m mindful that the purpose of LDS Business College is to teach business skills in a spiritual setting. Thus, it seeks to provide opportunity for balance in one’s life.”


Elder Kenneth Johnson: (Devo 2009)

“You have to learn fundamental skills in order to progress with the greater opportunities of life. Don’t look at simple things and say, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Recognize that in those simple things, you gain a capacity that will be so essential as you progress through life and in your career.”


President Gordon B. Hinckley: (at the dedication of this new Triad Campus in September, 2006):

“Nothing could be better than what we have here…. Enjoy it, be grateful for the opportunity you have of attending school here. Pray to the Lord for His blessings and guidance as you pursue your academic course.”


President Deiter F. Uchtdorf: (Presidency of the Seventy….Commencement 2004) 

“You, my dear friends...of this wonderful LDS Business College, are privileged to study and learn in an environment where your testimony of Jesus Christ is growing as part of your educational process.”


President Henry B. Eyring: (An Apostle …. Commencement 1996)

“The Lord talks about putting a light on a hill…. He will make you a light, a beacon, and the world will then have the value of knowing what education can be like when it is done the Lord’s way.”


President Thomas S. Monson: (A Counselor in the First Presidency…. Spoke at the inauguration Pres. Woodhouse ’92)

“This institution is one of the few bastions where truth can be taught, aided by testimony.”


Our leaders know why this College is here. And they know why you are here. But do you know why you are here?

Ask yourselves this: We have this college here, dedicated by a Prophet of God, staffed by faculty and staff and administrators who are all temple worthy. And through the doors come worthy students who’ve pledged to live in a way that will preserve this environment. All of us have come here—maybe been brought here—for what?

In my work here, I interview students and write your stories. In these stories, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern. Many—maybe most—of you come here a little unsure. Some of you are unsure of your abilities, some of you are unsure of the College, some of you are unsure of your future. But you come here anyway—from all 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide—you come here… because you felt you were guided here. Why?

You probably think you chose to come here to learn a skill and get on with your life. You did. But that’s only part of it. The rest of the reason is this:

You are being prepared for the rest of your life’s work, and that doesn’t just mean your career. That’s an important part, and you will need your skills and your careers to help you raise your families and be useful in your communities.

But the spiritual side of you, the disciple part of you, is also being taught here, nurtured here, and cultivated here, so that when you move on, you move on as a complete person, ready to help build the kingdom of our Heavenly Father on this earth in these latter days.

Amos 8:11-13 describes these latter days:

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to see the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

You young women and young men will not be among those fainting for thirst of the word of the Lord. Here at this college you are learning by study and by faith how to lead and serve others, prepare for temple blessings, and gain wisdom and knowledge that will enable you to teach and lift.

You will influence the world with what you learn—and become—here.

You will take your spark into a dark world and lighten it with love, subdue it with service, and improve it with knowledge, knowing that as long as one light exists, the dark can never be absolute.

Remember when I told you that LDS Business College was already ten years old when Utah became a state? Well, think about those young people who had graduated from the College by then.

What kind of influence do you think they had on that brand new state in 1886?

What kind of contributions do you think they made with the knowledge and spiritual strength they developed during their years at the College?

What kind of service did they know how to render?

Most importantly, what kind of leadership did they give?

Those LDS Business College graduates made the same kind of contributions 124 years ago that you will make during your lifetime in this world today.

My young friends… None of this has happened by chance—it’s all part of a grand design. You are here to gain an education in so much more than just a career. You are here to gain the word of the Lord, to become a beacon of light… and a disciple of Christ.

More than one kind of fire was lit in that Bookstore so many years ago. Kindled that day was a flame that has glowed continually, and never been extinguished.

For 124 years LDS Business College has been preparing—for you.

Be grateful for your legacy—and build on it.

May God bless you as you strive to make the most of your experience here, and continue the amazing legacy you’ve inherited is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Measuring Success: Particles to Pillars

29 Jun. 2010


Measuring Success: Particles to Pillars

Defining the measures of success in the way the world often uses; we see these images displayed in a variety of ways, and they are often distorted. To some success is measured by winning the race, reaching the summit, or becoming the ‘champion.’  
To others it may be finishing the race or just competing in it. Others may cheer in success of hiking the mountain, just walking life’s path, and others, like students: success is just getting out of bed for an early morning class.   
I believe that measuring success and viewing successes may be seen as great events of rising pillars or simple particles such as pausing before you act, from the driver that just cut you off. Nevertheless, successes should have greater meaning for faithful Latter-Day Saints with eternal perspectives.
At LDS Business College, we value the measure to achieve institutional initiatives and fulfill our inspired Mission which is:
LDS Business College provides a distinctive educational experience rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We work together to cultivate a nurturing
environment, teach practical skills, and develop confident and skillful learners. 
We enlighten minds, elevate hope, and ennoble souls to strengthen individuals, families, communities, and the Lord's Church (
According to this mission; students become significant measures as particles of truth enlighten your minds that grow as rising pillars, building yourselves, your families, the Church, and your communities. Students are all about the college’s success! I will help illustrate this through the words of one your fellow LDSBC students:
“I just want to tell you how grateful I am to take this medical assisting program and
have this experience with Cope family medicine. I have come to an end of my learning experience and have learned a lot; ready to work in any health care facility. 
My first week I was asked to join the doctor to assist him perform a procedure, for which I was nervous at the beginning, but I got the courage after that. It’s a surprise to be doing all this during my first week. 
My course work has given me the courage to prepare for this and I am happy for that... After my fourth week, I was okay in taking vital signs and taking patients to the office and obtaining medical [histories] and records…
Now that I am at the end of my hours, [I] am very happy and feel like not just being a medical assistant but to [become] a nurse and [I’m] happy for that. Thank you very much for all [the help you have given] me.” 
I would like to add my perspective of this student so you might know of the particles I witness in his growth and success. He is an international student and returned missionary. In his courses, learning the theory was challenging for him, yet he kept his grades above average. He would sit quietly and timidly in the back of the class, rarely adding a comment.
After his experience he noted above, he became a different young man, a different student. Proven knowledge filled him with confidence.  He radiates enthusiasm, adds insightful questions to enhance the learning environment. Some of this young man’s true success can be measured by his grades but the greatest measures are the evidences of his growth as a skilled and confident learner prepared for a professional career.
From particles to pillars this student gained much more than a degree. These are the successes we work toward and hope for each of you and others that will fill these halls and classrooms. This is our Mission!
In ‘Preach My Gospel’ the attributes given for success are:
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs.
  • Feel the Spirit testify to people through you.
  • Love people and desire their salvation (success).
  • Obey with exactness.
  • Live so that you can receive and know how to follow the Spirit, who will show you where to go, what to do, and what to say.
  • ‘You are successful when you are obedient, live righteously, and do your best in helping others live the gospel’ (2010, pp. 10-11).
In the 180th Annual General Conference, Sister Beck, drew these parallels of success: “…We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness. We are doing well when we seek to improve ourselves and do our best. We are doing well when we increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and seek out and help others who are in need. We know we are successful if we live so that we qualify for, receive, and know how to follow the Spirit... Peace, joy, and hope are available to those who measure success properly (Beck, 2010).
While teaching some of His final sermons during His mortal ministry, the Master provides His example of measured success or as I refer particle to pillars.  In Matthew 25: 14-28 Parable of the Talents
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own
servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he agave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
                17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
                18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
                19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and areckoneth with them.
 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou adeliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful aservant: thou hast been bfaithful over a few things, I will make thee cruler over many things: enter thou into the djoy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
                25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I breap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with ausury (interest).
                28 Take therefore the atalent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
What are the talents or gifts we have been given to help with our simple or great successes? Do we use these talents to grow our knowledge of truth, growing from particles to pillars? How many of you have received your Patriarchal Blessing? How many of you read and study it to know some of the gifts and talents which you have been blessed? Your gifts and other gifts you will acquire exist to help you succeed in your life path; a blessing to others and yourself, which the Lord states are the true measures of your success. 
I do not think it an accident, that we have a Learning Model at LDSBC that encourages us to exercise our given talents. Understanding the parable of the talents, it behooves us to use all our abilities to exercise our gifts so that we might also acquire additional talents, additional knowledge, and additional power to become. 
The endowments from heaven are often gained by diligence, dedication, and devotion in exercising our gifts. These attributes can create learning beyond learning, truths that raise us and rise with us for now and for eternity. The Master has promised as we are successful in practicing our natural talents we may receive more gifts to bless us, our families, and the kingdom of heaven.
To Joshua the Lord said, "This book of the alaw shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt bmeditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).      
The apostle Paul, provides an example of how important it is to have particles to build pillars or in his words we need all our parts to create the whole (1 Cor. 12:14-27).
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the ahead to the feet, I have no need of you.
22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be amore feeble, are necessary:
25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same acare one for another.
26 And whether one member asuffer, all the members bsuffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
27 Now ye are the body of aChrist, and bmembers in particular.”
Each of you creates the student body of LDS Business College and you are also members of the body, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As the Apostle Paul states in this passage, we also need your examples as all of us work together and rejoice together as we meet the measures of our design. To those parts that are frail or ill, we seek the best ways to restore them to their full measure. To students that struggle in the college environment we nurture you with particles of truth, trust, aid you, and  encourage you to rise to your potential pillars of success.
Might I also add; each student needs to participate, having every class member present each and every day of class. Just as the Church needs every member, so that we may experience the abundant measure of the Gifts of the Spirit: instructors need every student and students need other students, so that together, learning by the Spirit will create the best learning. Learning experiences will be more powerful when we offer particles to invite abundant measures of the Spirit
 To claim these experiences we need to be prepared for them.
Students, you need to attend class often to speak one with another, teach one another, and offer your gifts or talents as we learn together and measure particles of success in the Lords way. 
It is through preparing, participating, and offering your talents or gifts that we learn in the more excellent way. This is how we can measure learning in the most successful ways. 
Success need not be measures of an end, but with the small and simple successes or particles, we measure to build ourselves, lift others, and elevate hope of growing pillars.
If the dust of the earth (or particles) can be organized into human flesh, then we need not be so quick to discount the seemingly small particles of success that we experience in learning while living this journey. 
Now I pray that we will not focus so much on the measure of our stature, nor of our final grades, but more upon the measure of the Spirit within us in the process of learning and growing, and how we use our gifts to measure our successes properly. Remember simple particles of knowledge can grow to pillars and successes can be measured from simple to great; growing as pillars within our families, the Church, and communities. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Beck, J. B. (2010, May 1). Upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. Ensign , pp. 10-12.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2010, May 13). Preach My Gospel. Retrieved May 2010,        

Remember How Merciful the Lord Has Been

13 Jul. 2010


Remember How Merciful the Lord Has Been


Recently I have been thinking a great deal about the word “Remember” and how the act of remembering plays an important part in our lives.

Elder Marlin K. Jensen said, “If we pay close attention to the uses of the word remember in the holy scriptures, we will recognize that remembering in the way God intends is a fundamental and saving principle of the gospel” [Marlin K. Jensen, “Remember and Perish Not,” Ensign, May 2007, 36-38].

Elder Jensen went on to say that when prophets admonish us to remember it is frequently an invitation to action: to listen, to see, to do.

In April of 2004, Elder Neal Maxwell spoke in the Priesthood session of General Conference. His talk was filled with what he referred to as “a few remembrances and life’s little lessons”. He passed away a few months later in July of that year. I think it is significant that his remarks centered on seemingly small and what many people might have felt were insignificant experiences—each experience a witness to him of God’s hand in his life.

“. . . there are clusters of memories embedded in each of your lives. And these can help us to “remember how merciful the Lord hath been (Moroni 10:3) [Neal A. Maxwell, “Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been”, Ensign, May 2004, 44-46].

It has been said that when we remember the Lord it nearly always increases our gratitude for all he has done for us as we begin to recognize his hand in our lives.

Henry Ward Beecher wrote: “If one should give me a dish of sand, and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet and sweep through it, and how it will draw to itself the almost invisible particles by the mere power of attraction. The thankless heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day; and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”

In the hymns we are told to “Count your many blessings . . . / And it will surprise you what the Lord has done” (Hymns, no. 241). I guess that’s why it has been said that the better in math you are, the happier you are . . . because you’re an expert at counting your blessings (Chieko Okazaki).

The Psalmist put it this way: Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies. Who satisfied thy mouth with good things, . . . The Lord is merciful and gracious. . .”

When Elder Henry Eyring was First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, he gave a talk titled “Remembrance and Gratitude”. He spoke of the problem of not remembering . . . “we so easily forget that we came into life with nothing. Whatever we get soon seems our natural right, not a gift. And we forget the giver. Then our gaze shifts from what we have been given to what we don’t have yet” [Henry B. Eyring, “Remembrance and Gratitude,” Ensign, Nov 1989, 11]. Several years ago I heard Mary Ellen Edmunds tell a story that she said changed her life. The story is:

Two little children were put early to bed on a winter’s night, for the fire had gone out, and the cold was pouring in at the many cracks of their frail shanty. The mother strove to eke out the scantiness of the bed covering by placing clean boards over the children. A pair of bright eyes shone out from under a board, and just before it was hushed in slumber a sweet voice said, “Mother, how nice this is. How I pity the poor people who don’t have any boards to cover their children with this cold night.”

Sister Edmunds said, “This little story stopped me in my tracks. I thought about it over and over again, coming to the realization that I had spent far too much time in my life thinking of all I didn’t have instead of all I did have. Here was a little unknown child who taught me a great lesson: she was grateful for present blessings. She was looking at everything from the perspective of what she had” [A Singular Life: Perspectives on Being Single by Sixteen Latter-day Saint Women edited by Carol L. Clark and Blythe Darlyn Thatcher. Deseret Book Co., c1987].

Children seem to have an amazing ability to show their appreciation in honest and direct ways. Here is a letter from a little girl to God: “Dear God, Last week it rained for three days. We thought it would be like Noah’s Ark but it wasn’t. I’m glad because you could only take two of things, remember . . . and we have three cats. Donna.”

As we grow older and life gets more complicated and our future often seems uncertain it helps us to remember and recognize the blessings we have received in the past. A humorous little poem puts it this way:

There was a Daschshund once so long,

He hadn’t any notion

How long it took to notify

His tail of his emotions.

And so it happened

While his eyes were

Filled with woe and sadness,

His little tail went wagging on

Because of previous gladness.

Just like the little Daschshund remembering “previous gladness” can give us . . . strength to meet present challenges” [Jeanie McAllister, A Singular Life, Deseret Book, c1987].

Before meeting Goliath, David looked back, saying, “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

Ammon recalled God’s mercy to him during his mission to the Lamanites, “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success . . . . Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors, and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many . . . . blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us” (Alma 26:27, 31, 36).

President Eyring teaches a simple yet profound principle that each of us may practice to help us increase our ability to recognize how merciful the Lord has been in our life in this Mormon Message. Elder Eyring: O Remember, Remember

“When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day . . . I wrote down a few lines everyday for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today? As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done” [Henry B. Eyring, “O Remember, Remember”, Ensign, Nov 2007, 65-69].

Sister Chieko Okazaki related the story of an old missionary couple from a Protestant denomination who had been working in Africa for many years and were returning to New York City to retire. With no pension and broken in health, they were discouraged and fearful of the future. They happened to be booked on the same ship as the President of the United States [Teddy Roosevelt] who was returning from a big-game hunting expedition. They watched the passengers trying to glimpse the great man, the crew fussing over him . . .

At the dock in New York a band was waiting to greet the President . . . But the missionary couple slipped off the ship unnoticed.

That night in a cheap (apartment) flat they found on the East Side, the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, “I can’t take this. God is not treating us fairly.” His wife suggested he go into the bedroom and tell the Lord.

A short time later he came out of the bedroom with a face completely changed. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?”

“The Lord settled it with me,” he said. “I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us when we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as if the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and said, “But you’re not home yet.”

Elder Maxwell said that God “is in the details of our lives.” “He knows you perfectly, just as Jesus knew the woman of Samaria, whom he quizzed as to her belief in the Messiah. She said, “I know that Messias cometh . . .” when he is come, he will tell us all things.” And Jesus said, “I that speak unto thee am he.” And she went back to her village all excited and said she’d found the Messiah, and then, significantly, she said to the villagers, “He told me all that ever I did” (see John 4:25-26, 39-42). [Neal A. Maxwell, “Called to Serve” 27 March 1994 BYU Speeches].

“I testify to you that God has known you individually . . . for a long, long time (see D&C 93:23). He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars, He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys” [Neal A. Maxwell, “Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Ensign, May 2004, 44-46].

When I was in my early 30’s I was what I liked to call an “unclaimed treasure”. Others, less sensitive probably referred to me as an “old maid” – the stereotypical “Marian, the librarian”. Around this time my parents were called to serve a temple mission in Washington, D.C. After they had been there for a while they were so excited to call and tell me about a temple worker, a lady in her 70s who had never married. While serving in the temple, she became acquainted with another temple worker about her same age, a widower. And they were going to get married. All of sister temple workers gave her a bridal shower – it was so cute. My Dad could never understand why I was not comforted by this story.

Years later someone at LDS Business College listened to the promptings of the Spirit and introduced me to the man who would become my husband. I was a little younger than 70. After I got married many times when I would be talking to my mother on the phone she would ask me, “Are you happy.” I would reply, “Yes, Mother, I’m happy.” There would be a brief pause and then she would say, “Are you really happy?” Maybe it seemed like a miracle to her that what she had prayed for for so many years had finally come to pass. It seemed like a miracle to me too. But it shouldn’t have. All through my life I have experienced miracles—answers to my mother’s prayers for me.

When I was in College I took a speech class. I was always a very shy person and standing in front of the class to give a speech was hard for me. The teacher would fill out an evaluation of the speech and assign a grade giving us the sheet as we finished. The highest grade I had received for a speech in the class was a B+. I shared with my Mother the desire I had to get an A on one of my speeches. One day when I knew that I would be giving my next speech, Mother asked me what time my class would be. She told me that she would say a little prayer for me at the beginning of the hour.

I was the last person to give my speech at the end of the class period that day. When the teacher handed me the evaluation sheet with the grade I saw that he had given me the grade of B+ and then crossed it out changing the grade to A-.

Later when I told my Mother about the grade I had received she told me that she looked at the clock and realized that she had forgotten to pray for me at the beginning of the class period. She quickly offered a prayer for me at what would have been the end of the class period at the time the teacher was assigning my grade. I felt very strongly that my A- was a result of my Mother’s prayer.

On another occasion when I was in my 30s and living far away from my parents as a single adult, I was going through a time of feeling depressed. For some reason I was not able to shake off the sadness and had spoken to my mother about my feelings. For a period of time I had felt as if I were walking around under a cloud. One week for the first time in many weeks I felt as if the cloud was lifted and for the first time in a long time I felt happy and peaceful. After a few days I had the impression that my Mother had been praying for me that week and that this was an answer to her prayers.

About the middle of the week, I called her on the phone and asked, “Mother, have you been praying for me?” She said, “Karen, your dad and I pray for you every day.” I told her I knew that but I wondered if she had been praying for me more than usual that week. Then she told me that every time she had thought about me that week, she had stopped what she was doing and offered a silent prayer for me. I told her that I could feel the influence of her prayers and that the cloud of depression was gone.

Then I had an impression come to my mind that someday my Mother would die but that she would still be praying for me on the other side of the veil and that I would be able to feel the influence of her prayers.

I believe that God hears and answer prayers and that the unselfish prayer of a mother for her child is always heard.

There is story that helped me to have patience and faith at a time in my life when I wondered if God was aware of my heartaches and my unfulfilled dreams. 

 The Story of the three trees

Three young trees lived together on a hillside. They often talked about what each would like to be when he grew up.

One said, “Babies are the sweetest things in the world. I should like to be a baby’s cradle.”

The second spoke, “That would not please me at all. I should like to be a great ship so I might cross many waters and carry cargoes of gold.”

The third tree stood off by himself in deep reflection. “Have you no dream for the future?” asked the others.

“No dream,” he answered “except to stay on this hillside and point men to God. What could a tree do better than that?”

Years passed, and the three small trees grew up to be tall and beautiful. One day men came to the hillside and cut down the first tree. But he was not made into a cradle. Instead he was hewn into rough pieces and carelessly put together to form a manger. “This is not what I planned to be,” he sobbed heartbrokenly, “Shoved into this dark stable with no one but the cattle.”

But Heavenly Father, who loves trees, whispered, “Wait, I will show you something.” And he did.

For one night when God’s only Begotten Son was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger. The manger quivered with delight. “In all my dreams I never thought to hold a baby like this,” he said. “Why, I am part of a miracle. Truly, this is better than all my planning.”

Years passed. And men came to the hillside and cut down the second tree. But he was not made into a great sailing vessel. Instead he became a tiny fishing boat owned by a man named Peter. “To think that my life has come to this,” he complained unhappily. “Just a fishing boat.”

But Heavenly Father, who loves trees, whispered, “Wait I will show you something.” And he did.

For one day on the Lake of Gennesaret, Jesus sat in the little boat and spoke to the multitude on the shore. He spoke words of such wisdom and light that the little boat listened eagerly. “Why, I am part of a miracle,” he whispered, his heart full of wonder. “In all my dreams I never thought to carry a cargo like this. Truly, this is better than all my planning.”

Months went by, and men came to the hillside to cut down the third tree. “I don’t want to go into the valley,” he wept, as the axe cut into his heart. But the men tore away his branches, hewed him apart, and fashioned his pieces into a crude cross. “This is terrible,” he quivered. “They are going to hang someone. Oh, I never wanted this to happen to me. I only wanted to stand on the hillside and point men to God.”

But Heavenly Father, who loves trees, whispered, “Wait, I will show you something.” And he did.

For one day Jesus took up his cross and was led to a place called Golgotha where he was crucified between two thieves. Afterwards, his body was laid in a tomb. But at dawn on the third day when Mary Magdalene and the others came to the sepulcher, an angel met them, saying “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6).

And the cross began to understand, “Why, I am part of a miracle,” he marveled. “Jesus’ great mission was to give his life so that all who have ever lived on earth can one day return to God and live with him again. In all my dreams I never thought to point men to God in this way. Truly this is better than all my planning.”

The month of July is a time we remember and honor the Mormon pioneers who made so many sacrifices that we might enjoy the blessings we have today. My pioneer ancestor is my father. When I was a little girl, missionaries taught my family about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. My dad was a very humble man and in his mid-forties he embraced the gospel with all his heart and made the choice to leave his old way of life and his old habits to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

A few years later when I was old enough, I was baptized. One of the memories that is embedded in my life is the day I was baptized. I can still remember how clean I felt when I came up out of the water. And on the following Sunday when I was confirmed a member of the Church and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, I can still remember how I felt. A couple of years after I was baptized my mother who was what she called “a hard shell Baptist” was finally baptized. She had already been attending church with us and even had a calling in our little branch.

Several years ago Lavell Edwards spoke at a devotional at LDSBC. I remember that he talked about “defining moments” that he said present us with opportunities to learn something important. Many of the defining moments in my life center around that little congregation of the Church in my hometown in Southeast Missouri. We met in the upstairs of a two-story house. The downstairs was a doctor’s office and the doctor rented first one room, then two and finally all of the upstairs to the church members.

One of the members had purchased some seats that came from an old movie theatre that we used for our meetings. He had also purchased an old fashioned pump organ. But the organist didn’t have to pump the organ with the pedals because he had installed the motor from an old vacuum cleaner. When it was time for the hymn, the organist would flip a little switch and the sound of the motor would almost drown out the organ.

When I was about 12 years old, I was called to be the branch organist. I could play two or three hymns and we sang the same ones week after week until I was able to add to my repertoire. Remembering those experiences is a testimony of God’s mercy to me for he truly blessed me beyond my abilities.

One of the things that my husband and I have in common is that we both had the experience when we were growing up of attending very small congregations of the Church. He grew up in southern California and often reminds me that California Mormons are cool. Or in other words, they are cooler than Missouri Mormons.

On several occasions in the past few months we have had the opportunity to visit the Church History Library just a few blocks away where we have been able to look at old records from our respective branches during the time period when we were growing up. These records are part of our individual and family heritages. They help us to remember how merciful God has been to us in our lives. (“Many of the Church’s greatest stories are contained in personal and family histories, and these are part of our individual and family heritages” [Marlin K. Jensen].

“On April 6, 1830, the day the Church was organized, the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Behold, there shall be a record kept among you” (D&C 21:1). On that day the Prophet learned how important it is to the Lord for a history of the Church to be kept and he soon called Oliver Cowdery to be the first Church historian and recorder. In the beginning Oliver recorded minutes of meetings, patriarchal blessings, membership information, and certificates of priesthood authority. He also began what might be called a narrative history of the Church. 

Record keeping began with a commandment from God and continues to the present day” [Marlin K. Jensen, “There Shall Be a Record Kept among You”, Ensign, Dec 2007, 28-33].

The Church historian today is Elder Marlin K. Jensen. He has stated that:

“The primary purpose of Church history is to help Church members build faith in Jesus Christ and keep their sacred covenants. . . . we are guided by three main considerations:

First, we seek to bear witness of and defend the foundational truths of the Restoration.

Second, we desire to help Church membersremember the great things God has done for His children.

Third, we have a scriptural charge to help preserve the revealed order of the kingdom of God . . .

[Marlin K. Jensen, “There Shall Be a Record Kept among You,” Ensign, Dec 2007, 28-33].

Yesterday a student asked me, “Are you going to talk about libraries tomorrow?” Well, I have mentioned the Church History Library. And I wouldn’t be true to my profession as a librarian if I didn’t recommend a good book. One of my favorite books is by Michael Wilcox and is titled House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning In The Temple.

We have been taught that LDS Business College is a temple of learning and there are many parallels with how we learn in the temple and how we learn at the College.

“ In the Doctrine and Covenants the temple is called a “house of glory”. . . . We know that “the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). [Michael Wilcox, House of Glory, Deseret Book, c1995 p.94].

As I was pondering the meaning of the word “remember”, I thought about a story from the book House of Glory that involves remembering. It is the story of Michael Wilcox’s 4th great grandfather, Jean Combe, who lived in the Piedmont valleys of the Alps. He was a religious man and went regularly to church hungering to be spiritually fed but came away unsatisfied and would sometimes comment on the difference of the teaching of the day to those of the Savior and his apostles.

When he was on his death bed, he said to his granddaughter, “The old folks may not, but the young will see the day when the gospel shall be restored in its purity and powers; and in that day, Mary, remember me!”

Shortly after John Combe’s death, Lorenzo Snow and several other elders came to the shores of Italy. They were directed by the Spirit to the valleys of the Alps, to the village where John Combe’s family lived. After hearing the truths of the restored gospel, they were the first family to join the Church in Italy. 

Jesus told his apostles on the night of the Passover when the sacrament was instituted at the Last Supper that “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

Elder Eyring said that “The Holy Ghost brings back memories of what God has taught us. And one of the ways God teaches us is with his blessings: and so, if we choose to exercise faith, the Holy Ghost will bring God’s kindnesses to our remembrance” [Henry B. Eyring, “Remembrance and Gratitude,” Ensign, Nov 1989, 11].

The Holy Ghost also invites us to hear and to see who we really are – to hear, to see, to do.

Many years ago Elder Marion D. Hanks gave a talk titled “He Means Me”. He recalled an incident from his past. He said, “Another little daughter had joined our family and was of course much loved. Occasionally I had called her older sister “Princess”. One day Brother Hanks said to his younger daughter, “Come on Princess. Let’s go to the store for your mother.” She seemed not to hear. “Honey,” her mother said, “daddy is calling you.”

“Oh,” she answered, with a quiet sadness . . . “he doesn’t mean me.” He said, “ In memory I can still see the resignation on her innocent child face & hear it in her voice, when she thought that her father didn’t mean her.”

“I am one who believes that God loves and will never cease to love all his children, and that he will not cease to hope for us or reach for us or wait for us” [Marion D. Hanks, “He Means Me,” Ensign, May 1979, 74].

Have you seen His hand in your life?

May we have hearts that are quick to remember and slow to forget. May we have hearts that are filled with gratitude as we recognize and remember how merciful the Lord has been to each of us in our individual lives. The ultimate purpose of remembering is to come unto Christ. I pray that God will bless us always to remember His Son.

Other Reference:
Chieko N. Okazaki, “Thanksgiving: To Hold In Remembrance”, Nov 21, 2005 printed from Mormon Life (

Lessons from the Past

27 Jul. 2010


Lessons from the Past


Thank you for all the prayers that have been offered in my behalf.

I wanted to sing the opening song to place in your mind the fact that things aren’t always what we expect. I never expected to be on this side of the podium.

When I received the call to speak from Brother Nelson, I was standing, keys in hand, ready to head out the door to catch a flight to Arizona to attend the Gila Valley Temple open house. I thought, great, July 27th. That’s close to Pioneer Day and I’m going to the home of some of my ancestors. I’ll speak on pioneers. That’ll be easy. I could just stand up, read pioneer histories for 35 minutes, say “amen,” and sit down. Right?

If I was going to speak on pioneers, I needed to learn more about them and decide what I could share that may help someone in the audience today. I began to gather histories and take a closer look at my ancestors. In the process I discovered 12 of my father’s 2nd great grandparents and six of my mother’s great grandparents came across the plains in the early days of the Church – there were a lot of histories to read through. To say the least, I’ve been learning a lot about my family; some stories were faith promoting, others eye opening; and with that many ancestors in such a small geographical area, the histories and families were becoming so intertwined it was making my head spin. 

As I stepped back and analyzed what I had learned from the stories and how they might help, these words from Come, Come, Ye Saints came to mind.


Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.

Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?

Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;

And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well!


Those words, along with the histories, helped me to better understand that life is hard for everyone – we all have our challenges. What is hard for one person may not be hard for another, and vice versa; we need each other to help balance load. Some days it doesn’t seem so easy.

Their stories…

In Mormon 9:15 … and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
September 1846.  While camped at Cutler’s Park on the west side of the Missouri River, Brigham Young asked for volunteers to go back to Nauvoo to help evacuate the poor Saints from the city.  My 3rd great grandfather, Orvel Morgan Allen, left Winter Quarters and joined the volunteers, however, before they arrived the Saints had been driven by rifle and cannon fire from their homes, and then they were either thrown into or ferried across the river to a temporary camp near Montrose, Iowa.  As the Saints camped, the rains poured down and drenched everything.  Then, Thomas Bullock records the miracle – “On the 9th of October, several wagons with oxen having been sent by the Twelve to fetch the poor Saints away, were drawn out in a line on the river banks, ready to start. But hark! What noise is that? See! The quails descend; they alight close by our little camp of twelve wagons, run past each wagon tongue, when they arise, fly round the camp three times, descend, and again run the gauntlet past each wagon. See the sick knock them down with sticks, and the little children catch them alive with their hands. Some are cooked for breakfast, while my family were seated on the wagon tongues and ground, having a wash tub for a table. Behold, they come again! One descends upon our teaboard, in the midst of our cups, while we were actually round the table eating our breakfast, which a little boy about eight years old catches alive with his hands; they rise again, the flocks increase in number, seldom going seven rods from our camp, continually flying around the camp, sometimes under the wagons, sometimes over, and even into the wagons, where the poor sick Saints are lying in bed; thus having a direct manifestation from the Most High, that although we are driven by men, He has not forsaken us, but that His eyes are continually over us for good. At noon, having caught alive about 50 and killed some 50 more, the captain gave orders not to kill any more, as it was a direct manifestation and visitation from the Lord. In the afternoon hundreds were flying at a time. When our camp started at 3 p.m. there could not have been less than 500 (some say there were 1500) flying around the camp. Thus I am a witness to this visitation. Some Gentiles who were in the camp marvelled greatly; even some passengers on a steamboat going down the river looked with astonishment.”
In his May 2000 CES Fireside address entitled Miracles, Elder Dallin H. Oaks gives the definition of a miracle and then gives an explanation of the greatest miracle.   Miracle:  A beneficial event brought about through divine power that mortals do not understand and of themselves cannot duplicate.
… the greatest miracle is not in such things as restoring sight to the blind, healing an illness, or even raising the dead, since all of these restorations will happen in any event in the resurrection.  Changing bodies or protecting temples are miracles, but an even greater miracle is a mighty change of heart by a son or daughter of God.  A change of heart including new attitudes, priorities and desires is greater and more important than any miracle involving the body.  I repeat, the body will be resurrected in any event, but a change affecting what the scripture calls the heart of a spirit son or daughter of God is a change whose effect is eternal.  If of the right kind, this change opens the door to the process of repentance that cleanses us to dwell in the presence of God.  It introduces the prospective and priorities that lead us to make the choices that qualify us for eternal life – the greatest of all the gifts of God. 
Dallin H. Oaks, Miracles, CES Fireside: May 07, 2000,
The pioneers did indeed experience a miracle, but I have witnessed what Elder Oaks says is greatest miracle.  One story in particular comes to mind.  It is of a young man from Nevada.  I cannot tell you his name, only of the experience.  One summer we took our YM and YW to float down the Green River.  The overall group included three different youth groups, ours from East Mill Creek, a YM/YW group from Bountiful, and a Young Men’s group from Nevada.  Our ward ended up in several water wars with the Nevada group, and over the next couple of days friendships were made.  There was one young man in their group that really stood out – not because he had that “spiritual giant” demeanor, but because he was covered with tattoos.  One day as we were getting off the bus I asked him what had caused him to want to do that.  He said, “I got in with the wrong bunch of friends.  I wish I could take ‘em off, but it’s too expensive.”  The night of our ward testimony meeting he joined our group and bore a strong and powerful testimony.  He had experienced the mighty change and wanted the youth in our ward to know that the journey he had taken was a hard one and encouraged them to make better choices than he had.  I’m not sure if the youth in that meeting understood that they had witnessed a miracle.
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
Rudolf Dreikurs wrote a book entitled, Children: The Challenge.  I think Amy Francom would agree with my first response to that title, which is simply “amen.” 
In 1860 my ancestors, William Francom and Amy Dora Harding Francom, joined the Church while living in South Africa.  In 1865 William gave his consent to Amy to go to America with four of their children.  Due to persecution, they left secretly.  They loaded their wagon and drove the 20 miles to Port Elizabeth where they boarded the ship with 35 other convert families.  William planned stay in Africa long enough to settle business matters and then to join Amy in America. 
According to the diary of Miner G. Atwood, the head of the company on the ship, Amy had an eventful trip.  They left harbor on April 12, 1865.  On April 21 he made this entry, “Met with the children.  Also met with the Saints for prayers. A light breeze during the day. Met again in the evening for prayers. Spoke a short time to the Saints. All felt well. Sister Francom took the office of chief grumbler.”
In Atwood’s entry a week later I gained a better understanding of what may have been the cause of her grumbling.  On Thursday, April 27 he wrote. “I am some better today. Met for prayers this morning. Before the meeting was over Brother Kershaw came down in a passion about the conduct of (my then 13-year-old 2nd great grandfather) Samuel Francom. I soon settled it. Attended the school. A fine day. Ship on her course. Very warm. Met for prayers again in the evening.”

Friday, April 28. “Met this morning as usual for prayers. Also met in school. Samuel Francom was a very bad boy. We were obliged to tie him up to the ship's post. On promising that he would be a good boy he was released. A good breeze. Ship on her course. Met in the evening for prayers. All felt well.”

Saturday, April 29 was a repeat of Friday.

After Samuel, it was his older brother, John…
Saturday, May 13. “Met for prayers. John Francom called Elder Noon a liar in meeting and would not ask his pardon until he was tied up for several hours. He then did so and promised to be a good boy. A good breeze during the day. Very warm.”
Monday, May 29. “Had some trouble between [John] Driscal and John Francom and so it is, no sooner is one difficulty over than another begins, but through the blessings of the Lord we have thus far been able to put all things right. A good breeze during the day. Met in the evening for prayers. I stood guard until one.”
I can imagine what may have been in the letter Brother Atwood spoke of in his Saturday, June 17 entry. “Saw a great number of steamers, a lighthouse at one p.m., and land. We are about 80 miles from New York. Wrote a few lines to Brother William Francom, Senior. We saw land this afternoon. A light breeze. All feel well. Met for prayers when I gave the Saints some counsel about landing, etc. A good spirit is with all the Saints. I had a bath.”
Ephesians 6:2-3
Honour thy father and mother; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Poor Amy.  Can you imagine what it was like to spend four months on a ship with teenagers.  Children are a challenge and frequently push the limits, but to Amy it was worth it.  In John’s later history he says, “It was a very trying time for Amy to break away from her home and leave her husband, son, and sister behind, but her faith was so strong that she was willing to leave everything to cast her lot with the Mormon people.”
When I first read Atwood’s journal, I just had to shake my head and laugh.  My son had come by his behavior rightly.  There was been as many a time I felt like tying him up to keep him from driving me or someone else crazy.  When many of his younger sister’s sentences began with a tearful, “Mom, Paul…”  You have to know that he was good at pushing the right buttons to get a response.  There was a time he was tied up. I guess my boys had pushed one cousin to the limit.  My nephew tied both of my boys and his sister to a tree.  I wasn’t aware things like that ran in families.  I, too, need the faith that Amy had.
D&C 138: 47-48
The Prophet Elijah was to plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to their fathers,
Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.
One of the first histories I read was that of my 2nd great grandparents John Jacob Huber and his wife Mary Elizabeth Abegg Huber from Switzerland. 
After being introduced to the Church, John read everything he could get for and against the Mormons.  He joined the Church March 28, 1865.  On June 2, 1868 he married Mary who had joined the Church in March of 1857.  They decided to go to America the following spring even though Mary was in a delicate condition.  When upon the high seas, Mary became sick and gave birth to a baby boy, who only lived three days, and it was necessary to bury her first born in the Atlantic Ocean. 
In later years she told her son, Jacob, the following regarding that voyage:  “I knew Mormonism was true, and I prayed earnestly and with all the faith I could muster that our Father in Heaven would spare my child and that it would live and go to Zion, but with all the kind help I received from other immigrants, it passed away and my prayers were not answered.  But, my son, I want to tell you that through all my life I have prayed and have had consolation in so doing, although my prayers, it seems to me, have more often not been answered than they have.  Yet my faith grows stronger year by year, and my testimony of the Gospel does not diminish.”  Jacob says, “That’s the kind of integrity and faith that buoyed them on when adverse circumstances confronted them along the highway of life.”
I gained strength and appreciation from their story as I, too, lost a child to death.  Shortly before my youngest child turned two, she was diagnosed with liver cancer.  Her diagnosis put into perspective the fear my husband and I felt when her older brother needed tubes put in his ears – at the time we thought tubes would be the most difficult medical problem we would ever have to deal with.  Little did we know what life had in store for us.  One experience seems to prepare you for the next, perhaps more challenging, experience you’ll face. 
After two years of hospital visits, surgeries, chemo, and then radiation, the doctors told us there was no more they could do.  It was time to take her home and let her enjoy the time she had left.  Seven months later our brave little Sara quietly succumbed to cancer and moved to the other side of the veil.  While people often asked, “How can you stand it?” or they said, “I couldn’t do it.”  I wondered why we were so blessed to have an angel in our home.
Losing Sara was very hard, and 17 years later we still miss her; however, as hard as it was to lose her, I have since learned that there are things in life worse than death.  Her death added another step of experience, growth, and testimony to prepare me for the next hard step. 
For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom….
Our Story
After pondering the stories of the lives of my pioneer ancestors, their testimonies, their challenges, and their faithfulness, my mind went back to a conversation I had with Elder Hawkins a few weeks ago.  He’d been writing a story and I asked him how it was coming along.  He said, “I had the beginning, but then I had to write the end to figure out what to put in the middle.”  That really hit me.  We’ve “written” the beginning of our stories, and we know how we want it to end, so what are we going to put in the middle?  What other trials will we encounter?  How are we going endure if each step is harder than the last?  Who will help us?  Can we really hope to make it in this crazy world we live in?  Will we be as strong and faithful as the pioneers, so our stories help strengthen the testimonies of future generations?
The Middle
President Monson gives us counsel in regards to what to “put in the middle” in his talk Finding Joy in the Journey. He tells us, “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief.
Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.” 
Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 84–87
President Faust adds to that, saying, “We are not only to avoid evil, not only to do good but, most importantly, to do the things of greatest worth. We are to focus on the inward things of the heart, which we know and value intuitively but often neglect for that which is trivial, superficial, or prideful.”
James E. Faust, “The Weightier Matters of the Law: Judgment, Mercy, and Faith,” Ensign, Nov 1997, 53
We have a goal – the end.  We just need to remember what is most important, get our priorities straight, and forget about the petty and unimportant “things” that often distract us from our that goal.
Jesus wept.
This was the most often-quoted scripture during our family home evenings.  My kids had it memorized.  When I read this scripture I envision Christ weeping because of our sadness, our pain, and our trials, but when we meet him, I hope he’ll be weeping for joy.
While we’re making our journey trying to make the best choices, we’re going to experience adversity.  It may be something unfamiliar to us like a new church calling we feel inept at doing, or difficult decision we need to make.  Perhaps our trials will be physical, emotional, or mental challenges, never marrying, failed marriage, a lost job, abuse, money, children who stray, no education, too much education, or a myriad of other scenarios, it’s not going to be easy. 
Elder Neal A. Maxwell explains why.  “One’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free.

Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’ …

“Real faith … is required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process.”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds,” Ensign, May 1991, 88, 90.
In a Church News Article entitled “Role of Adversity” we learn more of the purpose of adversity.  Orson F. Whitney, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1906-1931, is quoted as having said: "No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God. . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our [Heavenly] Father. . . ."
“Role of Adversity,” LDS Church News, 4 Dec 1999
Through our trials it will be up to us to decide how we’ll act, or react.  Will we turn to the Lord for strength or will we become bitter and angry and look for someone else to blame?  Will we blame the Lord?  I heard a comment regarding blaming the Lord the other day on a radio broadcast.  The gentleman being interviewed was talking about the tragic death of his wife and children and he said, when asked why he didn’t blame the Lord, “You come to realize how incredibly ridiculous it is to shake your fist at heaven, because all you can say is, ‘Why are you trying to make me more like you?’  It’s the reason why we’re here.”
As hard as it is, he’s right.  It’s the plan.  Hopefully we are becoming more like him one small step at a time, and through those steps, we must endure.
D&C 14:7
And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.
President Uchtdorf shares his thoughts on enduring.  “When I was a young boy, “endure to the end” meant to me mainly that I had to try harder to stay awake until the end of our Church meetings. Later as a teenager I progressed only slightly in my understanding of this scriptural phrase. I linked it with youthful empathy to the efforts of our dear elderly members to hang in there until the end of their lives.”
He goes on to explain that enduring to the end implies “patient continuance in well doing,” striving to keep the commandments and doing the works of righteousness.  It requires sacrifice and hard work. To endure to the end, we need to trust our Father in Heaven ….
By doing our best to endure to the end, a beautiful refinement will come into our lives. We will learn to “do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us]” (Matthew 5:44). The blessings that come to us from enduring to the end in this life are real and very significant, and for the life to come they are beyond our comprehension.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Have We Not Reason to Rejoice?,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 18–21
Mosiah 18:8-9
… as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,
How did the pioneers do it?  They certainly didn’t do it alone.  Every story I read included saints who worked together.  They might never have made it if they had to travel that far in the competitive and contentious nature of the world we live in today.  We must forget the ways of the world and help each other. 
Lucy Mack Smith expressed the importance of working together when she told the Relief Society sisters in 1842, “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction, that we may all sit down in heaven together.”
Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, 24 Mar 1842
Together.  Isn’t that the way we really want it?
In D&C 66:9 Be patient in affliction. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
In the Church News article, Role of Adversity, President Kimball shares of another source of help.  Therein he states, “The Lord has not promised us freedom from adversity or affliction. Instead, he has given us the avenue of communication known as prayer, whereby we might humble ourselves and seek his help and divine guidance, so that we could establish a house of prayer. I have previously said that they who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God has been heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.”
Spencer W. Kimball, “Fortify Your Homes Against Evil,” Ensign, May 1979, 4
Do we “disconnect” from the distractions of the world and take the time to put ourselves in the stillness so we can hear the voice of God? 
In Moroni 7:40-42
And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope.… Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement …, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.

Elder Wilford W. Andersen describes the scene at the edge of the river when he visited Nauvoo, “As we stood on Parley Street reflecting upon their desperate conditions, my eyes were drawn to a series of wooden signs nailed to fence posts upon which were etched quotes from the diaries of these suffering Saints. As we read each quote, to our amazement what we found in their words were not of desperation and discouragement but of confidence and commitment and even joy. They were filled with hope, the hope that is reflected by this quote from the diary of Sarah DeArmon Rich, February 1846: “To start out on such a journey in the winter … would seem like walking into the jaws of death but we had faith … [and] we felt to rejoice that the day of our deliverance had come.”

These early Saints were indeed homeless, but they were not hopeless. Their hearts were broken, but their spirits were strong. They had learned a profound and important lesson. They had learned that hope, with its attendant blessings of peace and joy, does not depend upon circumstance. They had discovered that the true source of hope is faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His infinite Atonement, the one sure foundation upon which to build our lives.

When we strive to keep the commandments of God, repenting of our sins and promising our best efforts to follow the Savior, we begin to grow in confidence that through the Atonement everything will be all right. Those feelings are confirmed by the Holy Ghost, who drives from us what our pioneer mothers and fathers called “our useless cares.” In spite of our trials, we are filled with a sense of well-being and feel to sing with them that indeed “all is well.”

He concludes with this thought. He will never forget or abandon us, for He has graven us upon the palms of His hands.

Wilford W. Andersen, “The Rock of Our Redeemer,” Ensign, May 2010, 16–18

So our posterity may learn and grow from our stories, remember the experience shared by Sister Hales of President Eyring when he heard a voice tell him, “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”

Henry B. Eyring, “O Remember, Remember,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 66–69

May our lives be filled with the faith, hope, and the ability to endure as we have learned from the pioneers, that we may touch the future.