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Dr. Neil J. Anderson invites students to act their part to build a balanced community

Dr. Neil J. Anderson sits at the stand with his wife, other BYUH faculty and students.

Students gathered in the Cannon Activities Center on March 5 as Dr. Neil J. Anderson invited those in attendance to listen closely to what the Holy Ghost taught them. During his message, Anderson discussed how students can act well their part to build Zion both on the campus as well as in the community.

Anderson is a professor of TESOL in the Faculty of Education & Social Work, Center for Learning & Teaching, and Distance Learning. According to the BYU–Hawaii website, he is the author or editor of more than 50 books, chapters, and journal articles. He was also the 2014 recipient of the prestigious James Alatis Service Award to TESOL.

To explain the importance of students acting well their part, he shared an experience President David O. McKay had on his mission in Scotland. Anderson spoke about McKay being transferred to Sterling. In an instance when he and his companion decided to familiarize themselves with the area, the two passed a construction site of some new apartments, which would later be called the Albany Crescent Building.

Anderson said while McKay and his companion were passing the construction, McKay noticed something unusual about the building. Anderson shared, “Elder McKay later recalled, ‘From the sidewalk, to my surprise I saw an inscription carved in stone on the lintel of the front door.’”

According to Anderson, when the young McKay was not more than halfway up the steps, he was touched by the inscription, which read “What e’er thou art, act well thy part.”

Community member Hono Wihongi, from New Zealand, shared how Anderson’s emphasis on focusing on one task at a time stood out to him. He commented, “I feel like I am always worrying about something else, so it was a good reminder to stay present and mindful of my current situation.”

Wihongi elaborated how he could act well his part in his own life. He said, “I think I can make sure my mind is where my body is.”

Anderson shared the importance of the various parts to this community. He said, “Any discussion of Zion and a Zion community at BYU–Hawaii and Laie would not be complete without including our brothers and sisters who work and serve at the Polynesian Cultural Center under the direction of Alfred Grace.

“The PCC, the temple, and the campus constitute a tripartite that is unequal in unity and power, consecration and aloha anywhere in the world.”

Anderson explained what he believes acting well one’s part looks like in building Zion. He said, “I think of wholeness and completeness. I think of living in a balanced way so all aspects of life are aligned with Godly purposes.”

Bethany Sabiar, a freshman from Utah majoring in biomedical science, shared how she would act well her part. She said, “I could probably do a better job at not comparing myself to others and trying to find my strengths and play on those and grow stronger in my weaknesses.”

Anderson also talked about a magic square that was found below the carving. He introduced more about the origin of magic squares, saying, “Magic squares have their origin in mathematics and date back as old as 537 B.C. Magic squares are three by three, four by four, five by five, or six by six tables which are perfectly balanced mathematically and numerically.

“Each square represents a different numerical value. What makes it a magic square is that each row, column, and diagonal equal 18. We cannot rearrange any of the numbers without having a negative impact on the balance of the magic square.” He also noted how each numerical value is different from the one next to it.

Anderson continued, saying, “We have various roles, responsibilities, and needs in life. Each need can be represented by each of the squares on the three-by-three magic square.” He then mapped out nine needs that required attention to be balanced: Economic, intellectual, physical, spiritual, temporal, emotional, social, individual, and familial.

He explained how similar to the magic square, each role or responsibility will not have the same value, and people need to adjust the focus of their needs on any day, week, month, year, or stage in life.

Samantha Urmston, a freshman from California majoring in business management, shared what stood out to her in Anderson’s talk. She said, “I really liked hearing about balance.

“Especially in college, we try to do everything at once, and we try to do our best with everything we do. It can be hard to understand how sometimes we need to let things go to build ourselves up.

“I believe every person on this campus has an individual responsibility to act well his or her part. Regardless of our roles and responsibilities on campus, each must contribute to a community.”

Sabiar shared how she could contribute to building a Zion community, saying, “I think a Zion environment means standing in holy places. Trying to make every place radiate with the Spirit. Having the same feelings you would have in the temple or church.”