“Anywhere”—The Power of the One

Maren M. Mouritsen Apr. 2, 1996 • Devotional
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Provost Hafen’s introduction was generous; however, what he did not tell about in his introduction was the way in which my call to the deanship at this university was announced some years ago. The actual caption for the pictures and the newspaper article was in the upper left-hand corner. But one of my clever friends cut out that corner and made sure the bottom lead line for another article was clearly displayed: “Utah Inmates Serving Shorter Terms Than They Were 10 to 25 Years Ago” (Universe, 4 June 1985). That is the way I was called. Then there was the way the announcement was made of the change in my assignment. Next to my picture was the caption for an adjacent article: “Woman in Orbit for Five Months” (Daily Universe, 29 March 1996).

As Provost Hafen has indicated, I once did a little stint for Walt Disney, and I collect cartoons. There is a cartoon on my office wall signed by one of our formerUniverse artists that says, “To laugh is to live.” So we’re going to have a little fun today, because this is not the talk that I originally prepared. With the announcement of my assignment change, I would like to say some very different things. My original talk was going to be on the desires of our heart. Those of you who know me or who have shared a Book of Mormon class with me know that is one of my favorite themes. Maybe I’ll give that talk someday, but not today, because what I would like to talk about is the fact that I have never been in prison in this position and I have never felt in orbit. I am not stepping down, I am stepping up, because the only way to go in life is up. As my dad was fond of saying, “When you’ve got something happening in your life, put on your boots and move on.” So I am putting on my boots today and moving on.

One of my favorite traditions here at BYU is sponsored by BYUSA and is called the Last Lecture Series. A professor, an important person, or a good person at the university is invited to address the student body on those remarks they would make if it were their last lecture. Although I don’t anticipate that this is going to be my last lecture, it is going to be my last opportunity as the dean of students to speak with you as my friends and colleagues. I would, therefore, like to reflect on what you have meant in my life and on what you mean to this university and to this Church. You see, I get letters—lots of letters. Over the past few days since this announcement, I have been reading them and rereading them. I have selected a few that I would like to share with you today.

I will begin with an image that has haunted me for years. During my time as a graduate student at Columbia University, I served in the presidency of the New York Stake Young Women organization. One summer I was working on girls’ camp. I had a funny little car, bought on a shoestring and dedicated to the Lord’s service—it was called a Gremlin. Most of you are probably too young to even remember that model, but it did have four wheels and was put together with spit and glue. One of my assignments for camp was the apples, lots of apples. I headed out to Hunt’s Point Market, which was quite a distance, to get the apples. Upon arriving, I simply opened the hatchback and said, “Fill ’er up.”

Heading upstate, I had to travel a number of cloverleafs in order to make a switch in direction. On the side of the highway just to the right as I entered the interstate on-ramp, I caught a glimpse of a young woman hitchhiker standing with a sign. The sign said, “Anywhere.” I quickly passed by. While my father was famous for picking up almost any stray and bringing it home, I had never stopped for a hitchhiker before in my life, especially not in New York. At that moment, however, something prompted me to reenter the cloverleaf and come back around. I thought to myself, “If she is still there, I will pick her up.” Being honest, I was hoping that she would be gone, but she wasn’t. So I stopped. She opened the car door and got in. She was unkempt, odoriferous, and very interesting. I was not sure how old she was. She was young, but clearly old beyond her years. Thinking to break the ensuing silence I said, “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” she responded.

I motioned, and reaching to the back of the car she grabbed an apple. It’s all I had, a car full of apples. She ate quickly and put the core on the dashboard by wedging it tightly against the windshield. Usually I am pretty good at conversation, but not this time: “Yes,” “No,” or no answer at all.

I finally said, “Where are you going?”

“Anywhere,” she said.

Somewhat stumped, even irritated, I said, “Are you still hungry?”

She reached for another apple until there were five apple cores lined up against my dashboard, pressed against the window.

“Two can play this game,” I thought, so in silence I paid the tolls and we made our way upstate. As I was about to turn off the freeway onto a little road where our camp was located, I said, “I’m about to turn off the main freeway. Would you like to get out?”

“No.”

“Well, I’m going to a camp with some young women, and I’ll just have to drop you off there.”

Looking straight ahead, she responded without feeling, “Fine.”

I turned off, and we traveled on. As my car pulled into camp, those young women surrounded us. They were so happy to see us, and I, needless to say, was happy to see them. As my passenger got out, there were some surprised young women. “Who is she?” “Where did she come from?” “What is she doing here?” Talking for a moment, I suggested that she may want to go out to the mailbox by the road. Perhaps somebody would pick her up there and she could be on her way to anywhere. The day passed. We had lunch and went about all the things you do at girls’ camp. Just before dinner, one of our young women came to me and said, “Sister Mouritsen, what are we going do with . . . with . . . it?”

“What do you mean, it?”

Pointing, she said, “What are we going to do with her?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “What do you think we should do with her?”

“I think we should invite her to dinner.”

Wow, I wish I’d thought of that, but I didn’t. It took a little Mia Maid to do that.

“Let’s go out together,” I said, “and we’ll invite her in.”

Hand in hand, we walked to the mailbox by the roadside. She came in and had dinner with us and stayed the entire week. I must admit that I was somewhat anxious, thinking it was a bit of a risk. I didn’t know who she was or where she’d come from or what she might have. But those young women embraced her in a most marvelous way. I saw her at the waterfront; I saw her in the craft tent; I saw her around the fireside. I watched her all week long. When camp was over, I said to her, “Can I take you some where?”

And she said, “Anywhere.”

“Well, I’m headed back to New York City.”

“I don’t want to go there,” she snapped. “Just let me off on the freeway.”

We got in my car—minus the apples—made our way to the freeway, and I let her off.

This is the image that haunts me. I watched her disappear in my rearview mirror as she stood on the roadside posting her clumsily written sign, “Anywhere.” Over the years, that image has come to mind many, many times.

Over the years I have also come to understand what a challenging life you live and what a challenging world you live in. I don’t need to tell you that—you already know it. Recently I was reading through the American freshman study conducted by Alexander Astin and his colleagues. This is a thirty-year, longitudinal study on the American freshman. BYU has, from time to time, participated in this study. The 1995 data isn’t too promising. On almost all of the indexes that have to do with social and political issues, students’ attitudes are down. Students are less interested in political affairs and less interested in influencing social values. Students are not only less interested in participating in community action groups but are much more academically disengaged. You study less, visit with teachers less, join fewer clubs, and are generally more bored than you were a few years ago. More important, more and more freshmen students indicate that they have no religious preference and have not attended any kind of a religious meeting or experience during the past year. There are, however, a few things that are up. Support for legalization of marijuana is up. Cheating is up. And illegitimate birthrates are up. It is, indeed, a challenging world.

Recently I was reflecting on Mormon and Moroni’s world, which was really quite similar to ours. As Moroni comes to the end of his life, he talks about what has happened for him. With his very soul on the precipice of eternity, he looks down from his mountain and in the end declares his final testimony. It is a dark and desperate world. Moroni shares his father’s words with us, and this is the kind of language Mormon used: “horrible scene” (Moroni 9:20); “without civilization” (Moroni 9:11); “without principle, and past feeling” (Moroni 9:20); “without faith” (Mormon 3:12); “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon 2:15). The book of Moroni is very different from any other in the Book of Mormon. It is but a series of short, choppy chapters. It took me a while to understand why that was so. Moroni and Mormon talk about doctrine, the bestowal of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordinances, the sacrament, baptism, faith, hope, charity, and the gifts of God. In the end, Moroni bears his testimony. Reflecting, I would like to draw a metaphoric comparison. Please do not take me wrong in thinking that I’m indicating or even implying anything prophetic about my role when it’s matched off against Moroni. But I thought about my mountain and your mountain. From my mountain, on the third floor of the Kimball Tower, I have rejoiced as I have watched your lives moving in, out, about, and around this campus. It has been a celebration. Since I do not have children of my own, in some ways you have become my surrogate family. Like any parent, it hasn’t all been good. There are the high times and there are the low times. In the end, this is the testimony that Moroni bore, and it’s the one I’d like to bear to you today. He talks of four things.

First, there is the power of the “one.” “For there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God” (Moroni 10:25). This is a hopeful description of not only his world but of our world. In a sense, it is as though our lives have been cast into a giant centrifuge. We are spun to the outside, separated, compartmentalized, and fragmented. Information is abundant yet seldom connected. But in the end, the power of the “one” becomes important in Moroni’s testimony.

Second, Moroni indicates that he will declare the word unto the fulfilling of prophecy (see Moroni 10:28). Specifically, he refers to your role in these latter days. As he looks down from his mountain, he talks about the importance of preparation and of being a witness.

Next he speaks of coming to Christ and of gifts: “And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift” (Moroni 10:30).

And, finally, he addresses the importance of cleansing yourself. He says, “Deny yourselves of all ungodliness” (Moroni 10:32) so that, in the end, he might “meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge” (Moroni 10:34). I would like to share with you some thoughts about these four declarations using the language of your letters and lives.

The Power of the One

While at the Art Institute of Chicago, I worked as a stock clerk before going to class. Newly appointed to this task, I had to go upstairs to make sure that the rooms were ready where the artists would be working the next day. It is a magnificent building, the Art Institute. Maybe you have seen pictures. It has two gigantic, life-size lions standing guard outside. Immediately upon entering, a magnificent staircase looms, working its way upward to the second floor. I made my way from the basement with one of the guards at my side; there were just the two of us. It was quiet. It was still. Moving upward, our footsteps brought hollow resolution against the marble stairway. Suddenly I looked up. At the top of the stairway landing hung a painting by Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Although not my most favorite work, seeing it for the first time was like being struck by lightning. Seurat spent more than two years on this painting that measures some eight by ten feet. A pointillist, he meticulously placed every dot of color on the surface so, when seen from a distance, the entire canvas blended into a singular, luminous presentation. To misplace one color, one direction, one iota, was to change the entire complexion of the masterpiece. Each stroke of light mattered. Where once the artist had stood, there I stood—a little kid from the flats of Arizona. I was stunned. For me, this painting is so much like BYU.

Let me tell you about “balloon boy.” To this day that is what I affectionately call him when we meet. He came rushing into my office one day just after having found a balloon on campus. Attached to the balloon was a sad note from somebody who was terribly, terribly lonely. In a kind of desperation, this young man, a student, was hoping to discover the identity of this person. Together we thought, let’s check the floral shops. We did. But no one could recall anybody having bought a helium balloon in the last day or so. What about Campus Craft and Floral in the Wilkinson Center? And sure enough, one of the clerks remembered a young woman having purchased a balloon that was like the one we described. Ironically, it had been paid for with a check. On the check was a name and an address. This young man, in his goodness, took on the challenge of befriending this young woman. I don’t know that she ever knew he had found her balloon. But did he make a difference in her life? He certainly did. One stroke of light.

I’m almost always in my office on Tuesday and Thursday mornings by 6:00 a.m. Those are my Book of Mormon days. I came in, however, a little later on this particular Thursday because it was an exam day. I stopped by Winchell’s to get some doughnuts in hopes of sweetening the experience just a little. It was kind of a gray day. As I went into the doughnut shop, there were two lines. In the line to my right was a young man whom I recognized as a participant in our Wright Leadership Seminar program. We chatted: “How are you? How is school going?” You know, the usual conversation. There was an older man standing just in front of this student. I had not paid much attention but did notice the man fumbling through his pocket and counting his change. Looking up at the order board, he changed his order from a drink and a doughnut to a hot drink. I went about my business, ordered my doughnuts, and said goodbye to this young man as he went on his way. Shortly, I saw the clerk come from behind the counter and walk over to the man with his drink. She laid a doughnut on the table and said, “That young man has bought you a doughnut.”

I wish I’d thought of that. But I didn’t. It took a BYU student to think of that. I watched the student as he walked down the street toward school, and he never looked back. Not for credit. Not for admiration. He simply walked on, his BYU backpack flung across his shoulder and his physics book under his arm.

There are so many of you who are part of our BYU masterpiece. I think about Y Group leaders. I think about the Student Alumni Association and the Residence Halls Association and BYUSA. I think about the members of the chorale, who have just sung so beautifully. I think about all the things that are done so willingly and so lovingly on this campus by so many. I could go on. The power of the “one” is real.

Declaring the Word unto the Fulfilling of Prophecy

Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants speaks eloquently of what it is we should be about at a university in Zion. Verse 78 tells us how we should instruct and why:

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand.

The next verse, verse 79, specifies the length and breadth of the curriculum:

Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth [I wonder if by this instruction God may be referring to subjects like geology, astronomy, and the earth sciences.]; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass [This might reference history, the social sciences, and current events.]; things which are at home, things which are abroad [How about civics, politics, family sciences, even health sciences?]; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land [In this context, it seems to me that politics, international affairs, sociology, and even military tactics are not to be ignored.]; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms. [This might suggest the study of geography, diplomacy, and certainly languages.]

Though a tall order, this is what a university in Zion ought to be about. Why? The why comes in verse 80:

That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

We do a lot of things and learn a lot of things on this campus. Let me read from a letter written by a young woman who worked in our area.

I knew from the beginning that I was the best person for the job. . . . I knew that there was no one else at BYU or in the entire world, for that matter, who would be a better person than me for this job. Would you say I lacked a little humility? And, I learned how much humility I lacked once I began my employment. I learned that I didn’t know anything. I learned that it takes hard work and determination to work with various types of personalities and to understand them. I learned that I had to juggle priorities—school, family responsibilities, work, personal commitments. I learned a lot. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are perfect for a job. No one is perfect. No one knows everything at first about a position one acquires. If someone thinks so, that person has been shortchanged.

Maybe I wasn’t the best person for the job necessarily, but the job was the best one for me. I wouldn’t trade my experience of working on this campus for anything. I just hope that others in the future will be able to learn what I learned as quickly as I had to. No sense in delaying knowledge.

A while back, a letter was sent over from the president’s office. In part, it read:

President, I don’t know who to write to. I don’t know who to thank. But, I want to thank somebody, so I’m thanking you.

I want to tell you that I got a splendid education at BYU. I’ve gone on and I’m now gainfully employed, but what I want to tell you is that the finest lessons I learned on this university campus came at the end of a broom from a custodian in the Wilkinson Center who taught me what it was to be honorable at three o’clock in the morning, who taught me what it was to clean the corners and what it meant to care for the university.

This is your time of preparation, my young friends. And section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants will help you understand the “mission” for which you are to be prepared. You will have ample opportunity on this campus to do just that, if you so choose.

Coming unto Christ

My files are replete with wonderful letters from Book of Mormon students. One sister missionary writes:

I’m alive and well, learning lots each day and loving the work. It’s the work of our Father in Heaven, and he has a greater role in it than I ever thought possible. When I am completely obedient and diligent and working, I am led to the pure in heart—those waiting for the message. I love the Book of Mormon. It’s true, and the testimonies of the Atonement of the Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ are undeniable. [The Book of Mormon] is a tool that must be used if we are to have success in our missionary endeavors, and we will have success. There is no way we can have the help of our Lord if we are not willing to sacrifice ourselves, to go “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14), to work totally. We must offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

The secret of missionary work is to work hard, to work hard, and to work hard. If we lack the faith to ask for help, we’ll never receive the miracle in our lives. Obedience, work, or faithful prayer alone won’t produce the miracle. But all of those together—with me in the middle—make it possible. I love Jesus Christ.

I can’t think of a better Easter message. And then there is this from an elder serving in a distant land:

Friday afternoon we visited a family. We had been working with them for some time, but they are not willing to attend church. I was disappointed because I knew that we’d have to move on. I felt great heaviness of heart and internal sorrow. I had come to love them. I cried all the way to our next appointment. I started thinking to myself, “This must be how Christ feels. His sorrow must be a trillion, billion times greater than mine. I’ve given my time and prayers to help this family, but Christ gave his life.” I’ve been thinking lately about how I can get to know Christ better. It helps to read about his life and the doctrine in the scriptures. But, what is helping even more is the experience of walking the streets.

As a representative of Jesus Christ, I have had the opportunity to teach people about God and the plan of salvation just like he did. I see people reject the gospel and accept it. Christ lets us share his work and his glory, and by actively taking part we can come to a greater understanding of our elder brother, Jesus Christ. What will help me be a better missionary is constantly striving to teach and to love and to be like him. I know I’ll never be the teacher he was, but I have faith, and in making an honest effort I’ll touch somebody’s life and grow in the process.

Somehow, someway, it is significant and important that we get outside of ourselves; that we not be so overwhelmingly consumed by our own self-interests. When that happens, you will be willing to deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind, and strength.

Cleanse Yourself

I sat one day in my office with a large athlete. Robust and well exercised, he had to turn sideways to get through my door. He was not a member of this Church. Things had gone haywire in his life while at BYU, and he knew it. With his head in his hands and tears streaming down his face, he said to me, “My father’s going to kill me. I wasn’t raised this way. I’ve got a lot of work to do.” So we rolled up our sleeves and, in the next couple of months and even years, we worked. Now a member of the Church, this young man has served in a bishopric, has married in the temple, and has a precious young family.

This is a letter from a student who wants to return to BYU after having stubbed a toe:

Last Sunday I was reading my patriarchal blessing. Then that night, when I was saying my prayers, I was thinking that if all these blessings come true then there certainly could be no question that I really am a good person. I know everyone always tried to tell me that, but I had a hard time believing it. Anyway, after my prayers that night, I just seemed to have a whole different outlook on life. I didn’t really understand it until the next day when I was writing in my journal about that “good feeling.” And all of a sudden, I realized that I’d finally gotten the answer to my prayers. It took a lot of work, but I know it was worth it because I will never forget this time in my life. I was so angry with you when you asked me to leave the university. I now would like to kiss your feet.

I still didn’t quite understand the importance of this feeling I’d had until late Tuesday night. Then I understood that the new outlook I had on life was . . . I no longer had any desire to be bad. I hope that doesn’t sound dumb because that is as clear as I can explain it. I decided—that is, I realized—that . . . I wanted to be different. This might sound kind of confusing, but it’s hard for me to say these things because I’m not sure how my life’s going to turn out. . . . I know it isn’t going to be all roses and wonderful times, but the point is, I’m ready to do whatever it takes. . . . We can give up our cars and pay our tithing, but the hardest thing in the world is to give up our sins. I’m willing to give up my sins to get my life together and find the greatest joys.

I wish I could tell you some of my goals, but I don’t have a plan right now. But I can tell you some of my hopes. I want to marry in the temple. I want to honor the priesthood. . . . I want to go on a mission. But right now I just want to return to BYU. . . . I also want to be sure and say, if I hadn’t already said it, how much I love everyone and appreciate your kindness. . . . I truly regret I didn’t recognize how much everyone cared for me until it was nearly too late. I say nearly because fortunately I was given a second chance, so thanks everybody for putting up with me during these hard times. I want to promise you that you haven’t wasted your time.

To Meet You Before the Pleasing Bar

Finally, Moroni talks about us all being in this life together and ultimately facing judgment together as witnesses one for another. He says it in this way:

And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you [Literally, I believe he means you and me!] before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen. [Moroni 10:34]

Over the years I have come to realize that although we owe God everything, he can’t do this work without us. In 3 Nephi 27:27, the Savior inquires, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” The resounding response is, “Even as I am.” Then come the marvelous verses with which we are all so familiar:

Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh it shall be opened.

And now, behold, my joy is great [remember this is the Savior talking], even unto fulness because of you, and also this generation. [3 Nephi 27:29–30; emphasis added]

By adding that last phrase, “this generation,” it seems clear to me that the Savior is reaching to a distant time, a future generation. He is, I believe, talking to you and to me. The verse continues:

Because of you, and also this generation; yea, and even the Father rejoiceth, and also all the holy angels, because of you and this generation; for none of them are lost.

What a promise. Do we have a role? You bet we do. And if you’re interested in nobody being lost, then roll up your sleeves and look to your left and look to your right. And you know when we can start? We can start this weekend with Y Days. If every single one of you showed up on Saturday for a service project, we could blow the lid off this city. Just think of it, 27,000 plus of us all serving the community we love. Could we do it? I’ve already talked to Wesley McDougal, the BYUSA president, and he says he’s ready for you. My question is, are you ready for him?

Returning to my earlier story, one day my secretary rang in and said, “There’s a young woman with a baby here to see you. She said it won’t do any good to give you her name. You won’t know her by name.”

I welcomed her in, and she sat at my table holding a beautiful baby girl.

“Do you recognize me?” she said.

“No, I’m sorry, but I don’t.”

“I have known you were here, but I haven’t quite known what to say. I’m the young woman you picked up on the highway in New York City some years ago. Although angry and hardened, I was touched by what I heard and saw and felt at girls’ camp.”

She continued to explain that it had been a horrible life for her, including a long history of abuse at a very young age. Finally, she thought, “There’s got to be something better than this out there.”

So she ran. As you might expect, a young woman of her age with no resources ended up in desperate places. That is when I found her and she found me on the New York freeway.

“When I left girls’ camp, I stole a dollar. Now I know that all I had to do was ask and you would have given money to me, or anyone would have given it to me. But I stole a dollar. (By this time we were both in tears.) When you drove off and left me on the freeway, I had time to think, as it was several hours before somebody picked me up. I went to the very next city and found a telephone book. I thumbed through the Yellow Pages until I found The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I rang up the number. I wanted to see if what you folks said was really true. A pleasant woman answered the phone, and I asked for the bishop. I’d heard you use that term, bishop, at camp,” she said.

“He isn’t home right now,” was the response, “but I’d be happy to have him call you back.”

“I don’t have a telephone number. I’ll call him back.”

And she did.

What happened next is a true miracle. This good family took in this waif and made her a member of their family. They cared for her and taught her and loved her. Eventually she joined the Church, she met a returned missionary, and they married. He was now a student at BYU. She came that day with baby in hand, a newly adopted baby, to extend an invitation.

“I would like to invite you to the blessing of our baby. Can you come?”

And I said, “Anytime.”

There is much more to this story, but these are my last words for you this day. First, never underestimate the power of the one. Never, please never, take for granted your individual influence in the lives of others. Second, prepare yourself to become a witness as Moroni has admonished. Third, now is the time to come unto Christ, for his grace is sufficient for all of us. And finally, cleanse yourself and just plain be good.

I ran into a young woman in the elevator the other day, and she said, “What can I do for you as you leave the deanship?”

“You can do one thing for me, you can live a good life.”

This brings us full cycle to our opening hymn: Shall the youth of Zion falter in defending truth and right? While the enemy assaileth, shall we shrink or shun the fight? While we know the powers of darkness seek to thwart the work of God, shall the children of the promise cease to grasp the iron rod? Will we work out our salvation? Will we cleave unto the truth? Will we watch and pray and labor with a fervent zeal of youth? Will we strive to be found worthy of the kingdom of the Lord, with the faithful ones redeemed who have loved and kept his word? (See “True to the Faith,” Hymns, 1985, no. 254.)

It is my conviction, because I know your lives and I have your letters, that we can respond, you and I, to the questions of this hymn in a resounding, affirmative way that will split the heavens and shatter the foundations of hell, and it can start at Y Days. This next week, Y Week, as you think about your lives, I would like for one final time as the dean of students to light the Y for you. I have said that to students as they have come under my stewardship for the past ten years in the opening assembly to new students. But this time, I say it to all of you. Tonight, we will light the Y for you because you light the Y.

Let me add this from a little boy:

Dear BYU:

My name is Matthew. I am four years old, and my mom is writing what I am saying. We came to BYU on Friday and played games in the Game Center. I made me a smashed penny that said “BYU” on it from a machine by the games. I carried it around all day and put it in my pocket. When we got home to Salt Lake, I couldn’t find my penny anywhere. I was so sad. Here is a penny and a quarter. Could someone at BYU make me a new penny and send it back to me here at my house? My Mom is putting in a special envelope to send it back. Thank you so much. I love BYU.

Our response:

Matt:

We’re sending you two pennies. One for you and one for your Mom. Thanks for writing. Your letter was special to us. We love you. We love BYU, too.

So at this moment, I, like Moroni, bid you farewell and remind you that these questions are your questions. Will you falter? Will you be assailed by darkness? Will you work out your salvation and will you strive to be found worthy? I am convinced with every fiber of my being that you will because I have sat with you in happy times as well as in sad times, but never, ever has there been any doubt in my mind that you are the hope of Zion, that in you rest the seeds of the Savior. And without you we cannot—indeed, he cannot—do his work.

Thank you for these years. They have been renaissance years for me. Through it all I have taken nothing but joy and happiness and good memories. Thank you for being you. I love you. I love BYU. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Maren M. Mouritsen was assistant vice president and dean of students at Brigham Young University when this devotional address was given on 2 April 1996.

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