Elder Holland explains how BYU-Hawaii is part of an experiment to establish Zion

The early Saints sacrificed money, time, labor and even tears to build temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo. But both temples were abandoned shortly after their completion.

Two days after the first Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, President Brigham Young declared that yet another temple would be built. For some Saints, the painful memory of what happened in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois was likely still fresh.

Brigham Young didn’t know what the Salt Lake Temple would look like, how long it would take to be built, or that he would die 15 years before it was finished. But he knew God wanted the task to be done in faith.

The diligence and attitude of Brigham Young is reflected in his statement following the temple announcement: “I have never cared but for one thing, and that is, simply to know that I am now right before my Father in Heaven.”

“His concern was not with future vindication or the ‘arc of history.’ His concern was with present duty,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“He knew that the journey of a thousand miles, or ten thousand miles, begins with one step, and he put his shovel in the ground to once again build an anchor to the city of Zion.”

Weeks before the centennial of the dedication of the Laie Hawaii Temple, Elder Holland spoke to BYU-Hawaii students in a devotional address on Oct. 22 about their unique privilege to learn from both the temple and the university in the prophetic goal of establishing Zion.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaks during a devotional at BYU-Hawaii on Oct. 22.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaks during a devotional at BYU-Hawaii on Oct. 22. Credit: Monique Saenz, BYU-Hawaii

As evident in his plans for Nauvoo, Illinois, the prophet Joseph Smith imagined that the ideal city of Zion was to be anchored by a temple and a university — a house of faith and a house of learning.

BYU-Hawaii is one of only four “experimental stations in the creation of Zion,” where a temple and university blend together in a continuation of the quest for Joseph Smith’s dream. BYU, BYU-Idaho and LDS Business College are the other stations.

“If you will persevere throughout your life as you have begun in your degree programs here and if you will be true to what Latter-day Saint temples and universities stand for — what Zion stands for — I promise you in the name of the Lord that your future will unfold as He intended it before the foundation of the world,” Elder Holland told BYU-Hawaii students.

Similar to the Kirtland, Nauvoo and Salt Lake temples, the construction of the temple in Laie was also a story of faith — a story that began with an impression in 1864 to build the temple and continued for more than 50 years until it was dedicated on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 27, 1919.

The Laie Hawaii Temple today serves the faithful Saints of Oahu, Kauai (the Kona Hawaii Temple has served the rest of Hawaii since 2000) and the Marshall Islands in the Western Pacific. When it firs opened in 1919, it served all of Hawaii, the South Pacific islands and Asia.
The Laie Hawaii Temple today serves the faithful Saints of Oahu, Kauai (the Kona Hawaii Temple has served the rest of Hawaii since 2000) and the Marshall Islands in the Western Pacific. When it firs opened in 1919, it served all of Hawaii, the South Pacific islands and Asia. Credit: Mike Foley

And that same determination and courage has marked the history of BYU-Hawaii, which began as the Church College of Hawaii in 1955 with 153 students taught in war surplus buildings.

“Your history has been challenging, even harrowing in some decades, giving you a taste of Kirtland and Jackson County and Nauvoo along the way,” Elder Holland said. “But here you are, and your success is as obvious as your tenacity.

“Not every aspect of the future is clear … but everything about the BYU–Hawaii experiment, just as with everything about that temple that sits on the crest of the hill just west of us, is a declaration of faith, a declaration of sacrifice, a declaration of prophecy and purity and miracles.”

The success of BYU-Hawaii and its students will continue to require faith and divine direction, he said.

Elder Holland charged students to declare far and wide their BYU-Hawaii story — that what they did “mattered in the quest for a unique way to learn and ultimately to live, a way that combined reason and revelation, faith and intellect, exalting the whole woman and whole man in the whole process.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, walk on the campus of BYU-Hawaii on Oct. 22.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, walk on the campus of BYU-Hawaii on Oct. 22. Credit: Trisha Panzo

He then added, “Testify to your friends and neighbors, employers and employees, that you are still trying to be ‘right before your Father in Heaven,’ … a lesson you learned at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.”

Be faithful, trust God and keep moving. “Your future is bright and God’s promises to you are firm,” Elder Holland declared.

He closed his address by paraphrasing Brigham Young: ‘ “I do not know where I shall be tomorrow, nor do I know when this (university experience will be fully realized, but) this I do know — there should be a (great university) built here. I do know it is the duty of this people’ to continue to build a great university unto the Lord.”

Prior to speaking at the BYU-Hawaii devotional, Elder Holland presided at a stake conference for the Waipahu Hawaii Stake with Elder Voi R. Taeoalii, Area Seventy, on Oct. 19-20.