While dining with his family a few weeks ago just west of the Brigham Young University campus, Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy saw the familiar entrance sign welcoming all to “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”
That familiar phrase — with a twist — was the message he had for students during a campus devotional on March 12 at the Marriott Center.
“Enter to learn, go forth to — fight.”
That message came to him as he reflected on his own experience as a student at BYU.
When he first attended the university, Elder Godoy had just returned from his mission and was able to leave his native Brazil to learn English at BYU.
“I was amazed with the idea of how nice it would be to be a student here,” he recalled. “But that was not my situation at the time. I had come just to learn English and to go back to Brazil, and that was what I did.”
Elder Godoy left his Utah days with a dream in his heart that maybe, someday, he would be able to return to BYU as a regular student.
“If not me, hopefully I would be able to provide my children with such an opportunity in the future.”
Ten years later, Elder Godoy realized that dream as he returned to the Provo, Utah, campus. He had married, obtained a degree in economics from a good Brazilian university, had served as a bishop and had three small children.
“I was then an MBA student, under scholarship at the Marriott School of Management,” he said. “Now, finally, I was here as a real student, entering to learn, but it was not easy.”
His experience was like some students at BYU — filled with struggle to get good grades and a feeling of not being as successful as he desired. Despite the struggles, Elder Godoy continued on, remembering that learning and growing is essential to a mortal experience, even when it is not easy.
To students who feel the same way he did, Elder Godoy said, “Please don’t get discouraged, or even if you get discouraged, don’t stay there for too long.”
He reminded them that some school classes and degrees are not as easy for some as it is for others.
“I was in the ‘not easy for some group,’” he said. “I know the feeling of receiving below-average grades or being left behind when study groups are formed or taking days to get an assignment done when others would do it in few hours. I know how it is to feel inadequate to do something or to feel frustrated with your own progress. But I want to assure you that you can do it. If I could do it, you can also do it.”
Remembering the hard work to get the requisite scores for graduate school admission, Elder Godoy shared that it took him three years to get the minimum scores for acceptance to the program. Year after year, all of his free time was spent studying until finally he received a scholarship and was accepted into the MBA program
“And I almost didn’t make it,” he said.
His English ability was enough to barely pass the admission tests, but it was not enough to keep up with his bright classmates.
“Most of the time, I was behind to a point that some professors recommended I take extra writing and speaking English classes,” Elder Godoy said. “So, during my first semester, besides my MBA classes, I took parallel English classes during my free time.”
By his second year, his grades had improved — he was above average — and after a good summer internship experience, he received an impressive employment offer in his home country, Brazil.
“You are here to learn, and it does not matter how behind you are or how hard it seems to be, you can do it,” he reminded students. “When we are willing to pay the price, anything is possible.”
After obtaining knowledge, it is important to “go forth to fight!” Elder Godoy said.
“Why go forth to fight?” he asked. “Let me start with a broader vision why we are here on earth. … Each one of us have assignments to fulfill in this life, just like the apostles and prophets do.”
An important part of that fight is enlisting against the great deceiver. Elder Godoy warned of being passive with the things of the Lord and encouraged all to be a part of the “latter-day battle.”
The Lord is aware of your struggles and your challenges. He knows you, your potential, your dreams.
“What battle is that?” he asked. “It is the fight for right, the fight to establish the kingdom of God, the fight to survive, the fight to help others along the way. It is the fight to protect our family. It is the fight for truth. In sum, it is the fight against the enemy of this great cause and plan of salvation.”
As the battle becomes more difficult in these latter-days, Elder Godoy spoke of three recent teachings of President Russell M. Nelson — ministering, priesthood quorums, and a home-centered, Church-supported gospel learning — that are “counter strategies and proactive plans to protect (the Lord's) kingdom, His Church, His children. They are to protect you.”
On a personal note, Elder Godoy spoke directly to those who have not served a mission or didn’t finish their mission at the scheduled time.
“Don’t punish yourself for the rest of your life,” he said. “Just stand up and aim at the next ordinance. Ordinances are the keys for our salvation and exaltation. And the next ordinance after your mission is sealing. This should be your main concern, to be worthy to get there with the right person, at the right time.
"Stand up, aim towards the temple, and keep going. There are so many things still to be done in this life and the Lord still expects a lot from you.”
To stand up for truth is not a Church calling, but rather a life calling.
“The Lord is aware of your struggles and your challenges,” he said. “He knows you, your potential, your dreams. His Atonement is real, and can help you become clean, but more than that, His Atonement can give you strength to do better. Sometimes it’s not a matter of worthiness, it’s just strength needed to keep going. I know He is on your side because He loves you. …
“It doesn’t matter how behind you are in your classes, how bad some of your grades have been. Stand up and fight. You can do it. In the same manner, it doesn’t matter how behind you are in your spiritual life, how many mistakes you have made. Stand up and fight. You can do it. More than that, you were called to do it. We are in the latter-days, and you are an important part of this latter day’s journey.”