The last time Young Men General President Steven J. Lund was on the BYU–Idaho campus on a priesthood assignment was in the “dead of the vaunted Idaho winter.” Eighteen-year-old Elder Lund stopped off at the Language Training Mission in Rexburg, Idaho, in January to study Dutch before reporting as a full-time missionary to the Netherlands Amsterdam Mission.
As his little cohort of missionaries trudged to campus in the “blowing, frozen, snow-drifting, feet-numbing cold of Idaho” and hunkered down in small classrooms, “we learned a lot more than Dutch,” the Church leader recalled to BYU–Idaho students during a campus devotional on Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Although learning Dutch was humbling, the truth of the gospel distilled upon his soul as he focused his heart, might, mind and strength on serving God, President Lund said.
“Your frozen campus became to me holy ground as the miracles of the gospel became indelibly etched into my soul,” he told students. “I am confident that this place can become that for you, as well.”
President Lund was joined at the devotional, which was broadcast to students and faculty due to COVID-19 precautions, by his wife, Sister Kalleen Lund.
President Lund, who was sustained as the Young Men general president on April 4 of this year, focused his remarks on the priceless value of truth.
Students are enrolled at BYU–Idaho because they are in pursuit of truth, the Young Men leader said. “When this campus is in full locomotion, true principles are being taught in every corner. Even today, scattered by pandemic as you are, truth is on the march at BYU–Idaho. I have a testimony of the value of the truths taught here.”
The bold line drawn by many learning institutions between secular learning and eternal doctrine is an artificial one, said President Lund, who shared the experience of the late Church scholar and BYU professor Truman G. Madsen as related by his wife, Ann Madsen.
While studying philosophy at Harvard University as a PhD student, Truman Madsen would spend his days deep in the world’s arcane philosophic discourses. The “philosophies of man” would swirl in his head, but then he would come home, take a book to the front porch and ask the question aloud, “Well, let’s see what Brother Joseph had to say about this.”
Just as the gospel helped Dr. Madsen learn philosophy and helped 18-year-old Steven Lund learn Dutch, President Lund said “the gospel will enlighten everything you study here and forever.”
President Lund told students the blended and enlightened worldview they are obtaining will bring success in life and make them a better learner, a better teacher and help them appreciate the wonders of creation.
“We are living in tumultuous times,” he said, “when, to find peace and to be able to make your full contribution to the world, you need clarity. What will help most is broadly understood, full-bodied, indivisible, now-and-forever truth.”
President Lund then pointed students to a resource that was just a snow-drifted field when he was first there — the Rexburg Idaho Temple.
“Today, it stands as a resource that can serve something like the objective lens of a microscope that organizes the light that is poured into it and focuses it to create a real image,” he said. “It can help you create order from chaos. Knowledge obtained there brings clarity to the rest of your learnings obtained here.”
President Lund testified that “virtually every good feature of my life today can be traced back to insight and direction I have received in quiet moments in the temple. Everything I know, which is not enough, but I know better because of workings of the Spirit which I have tried throughout my life to engage.”
When President Lund was serving as an Area Seventy, he was invited to a quorum meeting with Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Scott taught that inspiration is always grounded in truth, President Lund said. Elder Scott urged his listeners to write down impressions of the Spirit and then pray to know if it had been captured correctly. Make corrections and then, when it’s right, ask if there is more. Repeat the process “until you have it right.”
“My testimony to you, independent of Elder Scott’s, is that in this way, treasures of truth can come to us that we may never access without displaying this level of diligence and respect for the impressions we receive,” President Lund said. “It goes without saying, that to gain this benefit to our studies, we must live faithfully, repenting, and keeping close to the Spirit.”
For him, the temple has been a place of shelter from the storm, President Lund said.
“Learning is a sacred enterprise,” President Lund said in conclusion. “May we pray always, turning our eyes to the temple, and always toward Him who we may come to know through all of our learnings, here and everywhere.”
In her remarks, Sister Lund shared the story of a beloved ancestor, Mary Price Howells Adams, who joined the Church in England and left her family to meet up with the Latter-day Saints in America in 1857.
“I would imagine that many of you have had those same feelings of loneliness and being among strangers,” Sister Lund said, “and as you have left home to go on your grand adventure in search of ‘your Zion’ here at BYU–Idaho, and for those of you sheltering at home during this pandemic.”
Mary sought out companionship of other young women who were of her faith and found friendships that lasted throughout her life.
“I hope that you will look outside yourselves and try to find friends who will be a blessing to you your whole lives long. Please attend all the activities you can. Even if they are on Zoom. Be a gatherer of happy memories. That means doing lots of uncomfortable things like talking to people you don’t know — at first. If you will do this, you will find that in time it does get easier,” Sister Lund said.