As part of the Holomua Program, 109 high school students participated in an evening devotional at the Temple Visitors’ Center on July 9. Maurice Mo’o, the director of the program, said the purpose of having the devotional on Monday was to allow the students to start a spiritual experience for the rest of the week.
According to the BYU-Hawaii website, the Holomua Program is a six-day program which provides preparation for high school students for their future success at BYUH. Mo’o explained the meaning of holomua, “Usually when someone goes from one stage of life to another, we call it ‘holomua.’ When high school students transit to college, we also refer it to ‘holomua.’ The actual meaning of ‘holo’ is ‘to move’ and ‘mua’ means ‘forward.’ Inspired by the canoe Iosepa, we hope our students can sail forward in their own voyages.”
Katie Nuku, a junior from New Zealand majoring in World Music and part of the Come to Zion Young Adult Choir, which performed for the devotional, said “The Holomua is a really good experience for the students, and we didn’t have anything like this when we were in high school. The program gives them the opportunity to experience what colleges will be like for them, and I hope they will appreciate it because not everyone gets a good transition into the college like this.”
According to Ryan Ng, the student assistant director of the program, the theme of the program comes from President Tanner’s recent talk, “Creating a Zion’s University.”
Elder Charlie Goo, a former mission president in Hong Kong and the former temple president of the Hong Kong Temple gave the opening remark. In order to get to know where the students were from, Elder Goo asked them to stand up as he called out the places.
Most of the students were from the state of Hawaii, quite a few of them were from the mainland, and three of them were from other countries: Australia, Canada, and Kuwait.
Elder Goo started off his remark by reminding students of the standards of BYUH and briefly going through the Honor Code.
He also quoted from President Hinckley’s talk, “A Time of New Beginnings,” “Let us, my brothers and sisters, get on our knees and pray for the opportunity to bring others into the joy of the gospel.”
In his talk, Elder Goo invited students to consider three aspects in order to have rich experiences during the Holomua Program and in their future pursuits:
· Heed the council of President Hinckley and ask the Lord to bring you an opportunity to share the gospel.
· Make the most of each day.
· “Put your trust in God” as Alma counseled his son Shiblon in Alma 38:5 in the Book of Mormon
Celeste Kaka, a returning senior studying exercise science, shared her experiences of balancing high school and sports, choosing between going on a mission and staying for a swimming competition, battling with cancer, and how her friendship with the Savior has helped her with different trials.
Kaka said attending BYUH gave her the opportunity to meet lots of people who also put the Savior first. “Over time, I recognized a pattern that once we put our time and effort to rely on the Savior more, and develop a relationship with Him, we will see many blessings.”
She said it’s hard to imagine such illness would happen to her in a young age, but she encouraged students to choose to stay close to the Savior.
“I remember when I was really weak and wasn’t strong enough to open my eyes, my husband would read the scriptures to me. We prayed together, and when I did have the strength, we attended the temple. All those things helped me feel God’s love and peace inside me.”
The Kaka family, Alohilani Housman from the big island, and members of the Come to Zion Young Adult Choir contributed a few musical numbers at the devotional. Performers said they hope to express their love toward the Savior through music.
Mo’o shared, “The program was created for our students from Hawaii, but we opened it up for more students. In fact, this year is the first year we had to deny people because of budget reasons.
“There were so many applicants, especially from the mainland, but we just couldn’t accept everyone because it was originally designed for Hawaii students. In fact, the Leaders in Korea asked us if we could move the program back for two weeks so students in Korea could come after school ended. We also got people from Japan and other places wanting to come. We have a girl from Guam this year, and she told us there will be two more students from Guam coming next year.”
As a mentor of the program this year, Benjamin Liew, a computer information science sophomore from Malaysia said they have quite a diverse group this year. “They [the students] are very energetic and are just really fun to be around. The first day was a bit rough because some just arrived, but as time progressed, we went from strangers to be best friends quickly. I am definitely looking forward to spending more time with them.”