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Hawaiian jubilee

BYU-Hawaii celebrates 50th year in a big way

LAIE, Hawaii — Anyone looking for the precise location of Memory Lane should have been on the Hawaiian island of Oahu from Oct. 16 through Oct. 23. Its North Shore community of Laie was where memories resided during the 50th anniversary of Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

Former students and faculty, labor missionaries, volunteers and staff members joined what was aptly called "Jubilee Week." Years seemed to melt away as friends, former roommates and long-ago associates reunited.

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, joined in the celebratory events by addressing the school's devotional assembly on Friday, Oct. 21. In his address, he recapped the founding of the school, which began on Sept. 26, 1955, as the Church College of Hawaii.

He spoke of a visit 84 years ago that Elder David O. McKay, then a member of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve, made to Laie. Elder McKay attended a flag-raising ceremony and devotional exercises of the Laie Mission School, where 127 children of many races were enrolled, recounted President Monson.

"Elder McKay was deeply touched as he watched these children singing, praying and pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States. As he watched the proceedings, he envisioned a Church school of higher learning for Laie, which would eventually complement the recently dedicated Hawaii Temple. That vision, which endured for many years — including the years of World War II — culminated in what became the Church College of Hawaii, later renamed BYU-Hawaii. In February of 1955, the man who by then had become president of the Church presided at the groundbreaking services. In September of that year, the Church College of Hawaii officially commenced classes with a student body of 153. Today, on this beautiful campus, there are some 2,400 students from Asia, the Pacific Islands, the United States, and other parts of the world."

President Monson said that the students today, representing more than 70 countries, are fulfilling "the dream which President David O. McKay had for you and the thousands of others who have passed — and who will yet pass — through these hallowed halls. As he broke ground 50 years ago, President McKay declared that there were two purposes for the school: First, for things 'pertaining to God and His kingdom,' and second, 'to help develop. . . character, and make noble men and women.' For 50 years now, this institution has fulfilled these noble purposes. It will continue to do so."

President Monson described President McKay as an educator, a patron of the arts, a teacher of truth after the pattern of the Master teacher — the Savior, Jesus Christ. "Ever courteous and gentlemanly, he was the epitome of kindness," President Monson said.

"President David O. McKay was a giant among men — truly a prophet of God. I pay tribute to him and honor his name."

Then, President Monson said to the students, "My young friends, today I also pay tribute to you. As one who loves you and who, with your parents, appreciates your great expectations, may I discuss with you four guiding principles to help you in your quest for education and to assist you through your lives."

He listed the guidelines:

  1. Prepare properly.
  1. Serve willingly.
  1. Live honorably.
  1. Pray earnestly.

"First, let us prepare properly," President Monson advised. "When we contemplate the eternal nature of our choices, preparation is a vital factor in our lives. The day will come when we will look back upon our period of preparation and be grateful that we properly applied ourselves."

He spoke of having been on a sightseeing bus years ago while on a business trip to Dallas, Texas. The driver pointed out various churches. As the bus passed a red brick building on a hill, the driver exclaimed, "That building is where the Mormons meet." When a passenger asked for more information, the driver said that all he knew about the Mormons was that they met in that red brick building. He asked if anyone knew anything about the Mormons.

President Monson said that he realized for the first time the truth of the statement, "When the time for decision arrives, the time for preparation is past." For the next 15 minutes, he told his fellow passengers about the Church.

Of the second guideline, serve willingly, President Monson quoted the Savior's declaration: "the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days" (Doctrine and Covenants 64:34).

He spoke of when he was a bishop and followed a prompting to visit an elderly couple who had withdrawn from activity to the shelter of their home — isolated, detached, shut out from the mainstream of daily life and association. President Monson described how he visited with them and invited them to return to Church activity. They accepted the invitation and remained active for the rest of their lives.

Speaking of the third guideline, live honorably, President Monson encouraged the assembly to "avoid the detours which will deprive you of your celestial reward. You can recognize them if you will. They may be labeled, 'Just this once won't matter;' or 'My parents are so old-fashioned.' Bad habits also can be such pitfalls. First we could break them if we would. Later, we would break them if we could.

"Each of you has received from the Savior — and I emphasize it anew today — the divine charge to 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven' (Matthew 5:16). 'Ye are the light of the world' (Matthew 5:14).

President Monson then spoke of the fourth guideline, pray earnestly.

"As we pursue our quest for eternal life, we will come to many forks and turnings in the road. We cannot venture into the uncertainties of the future without reference to the certainties of the past. Your challenge is to join the forces of the old and the new — experience and experiment, history and destiny, the world of man and the new world of science — but always in accordance with the never-changing word of God. His counsel can keep us from the pitfalls threatening to engulf us and will lead us, rather, to the way of Life Eternal.

"As we face the temptations of time, the confusion of choice, the embarrassment of error, the pursuit of perfection, our Heavenly Father is available to listen, to love, to inspire. Our Father to whom we earnestly pray is not an ethereal substance or a mysterious and incomprehensible being. Rather, He has eyes with which to view our actions, lips with which to speak to us, ears to hear our pleas, and a heart to understand our love.

"In our petition, we must remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other.

To the students, President Monson said, "As we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of this fine institution of higher learning, whose existence came about by inspiration, may you remember who you are and what you can become. May you choose the right when the choice is placed before you. May you honor your parents. May you love and serve God. May you also love your fellow man. May you have peace within your hearts and contentment in your souls."

President Monson said he remembers President David O. McKay, "on this day of jubilee celebration because of his history with the beginning of this institution. He was the prophet of the Lord for that day. Today, I represent President Gordon B. Hinckley, prophet, seer and revelator for our day."

BYU-Hawaii's anniversary week brought together hundreds of alumni who returned to campus to reminisce about their "good old days" at the university. Anniversary week events began with a concert Saturday, Oct. 15, featuring singer Gladys Knight. Other events included art exhibits, musical performances, picnics, and a Jubilee Ball. A highlight was the premiere of a musical composition by Barlow Bradford, who had been commissioned to compose the work specifically for the Jubilee.

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, BYU-Hawaii President Eric B. Shumway addressed a devotional assembly, in which he paid tribute to former presidents of the school, the last three of whom were present: Dan W. Anderson, J. Elliot Cameron and Alton Wade. The first four were Reuben D. Law, Richard Wooten, Owen Cook and Stephen Brower.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, BYU-Hawaii's Fine Arts Department, joined by dozens of students from Laie Elementary School, re-enacted Elder McKay's experience at the 1921 flag-raising ceremony.

A multi-stake conference for Church members in Hawaii concluded the anniversary week's events. In addition to President Monson, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve and Bishop Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric addressed the conference.

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