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Elder Clark C. Gilbert invites incoming freshman to ponder about their journey at BYUH

A husband and wife are pictured with him wearing a suit, white shirt and tie and her wearing a black jacket trimmed in white with big gold buttons on the front.
Elder Clark G. Gilbert and Sister Christine Gilbert.

At the conclusion of New Student Orientation Week, incoming BYU-Hawaii freshmen received spiritual guidance at a Sunday devotional hosting Elder Clark C. Gilbert, the commissioner of the Church Education System, as the main speaker. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert, as well as BYUH President John S.K. Kauwe III and his wife Monica Kauwe.

I am a child of God

Sister Kauwe opened the devotional by referencing Elder Boyd K. Packer’s talk “To Young Women and Men” from the April 1989 General Conference.

“You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of normal birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!”

In her conclusion, Sister Kauwe said attending BYUH will allow the freshman the opportunity to fulfill their potential.

President Kauwe speaking to the students at the devotional.
President Kauwe addressing the new students at the devotional.

A unique university

President Kauwe said according to research other universities such as Hawaii Pacific University, Chaminade University of Honolulu, BYU in Provo and Washington University in St. Louis, are incomparable to BYUH in size, student composition and mission. Part of that uniqueness, he shared, comes from how BYUH unites students “in ways that are simply not done at any other university in the world.”

Secondly, President Kauwe described BYUH as being revealed through divine revelation received by President David O. McKay in 1955. He said BYUH possesses a spiritual foundation and the gospel of Jesus Christ while allowing students to celebrate their eternal heritage as children of God. He said past, current and future generations each have a part in furthering and fulfilling the prophetic mission of the university.

Finding direction

Elder Gilbert said President Russell M. Nelson spoke to young adults about labels they should be identified by. Those labels are a child of God, a child of the covenant and a disciple of Jesus Christ, he added. By knowing these labels, he said students can find their purpose here at BYUH.

Elder Gilbert also shared the scripture 2 Nephi 1:6, which reads, “Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.” In accordance with the scripture, he invited students to write down and ponder about their purpose in coming to BYUH.

Quoting President Nelson, Elder Gilbert said those who build their foundation on Jesus Christ “need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era.”

Spiritual momentum

President Kauwe said his anxieties when he was younger were rooted from a lack of purpose, direction and movement. By focusing on his performance in school and mission preparation, he was able to build momentum and seek balance easily, he shared.

To ensure spiritual and academic success while attending BYUH, President Kauwe said students should worry less about balance and focus on where they are headed. “When you see someone who is making it look easy, they have purpose and direction, they have momentum.”

President Kauwe referenced counsel from President Nelson, saying that by having “positive spiritual momentum,” students can overcome the influence of the adversary in their lives. President Nelson shared five points to obtain spiritual momentum, he added, including getting on the covenant path, daily repentance, learn about God and how He works, seek and expect miracles and end conflict in your personal life.

Sister Christine Gilbert said students need daily experiences of worshipping the Lord and studying His gospel to see miracles in their lives. “There are few things that will accelerate your spiritual momentum more than realizing the Lord is helping you to move a mountain in your life.”

Pondering your legacy

On April 29, 2020, President Kauwe shared he and Sister Kauwe met with the First Presidency and leaders of the Church Educational System and accepted the calling to serve as the president at BYUH.

Upon accepting his calling, President Kauwe said he sought his purpose by understanding his personal connections to BYUH. He said his fourth great-grandfather, Kaleohana, was one of the first Latter-day Saints to gather in Laie. Kaleohana assisted Elder George Q. Cannon and began his lifetime of missionary service, President Kauwe said. His mission included teaching the Hawaiian language to the saints, connecting with missionaries, and becoming a community leader, he said. President Kauwe also said Kaleohana dedicated the northwest cornerstone of the Hawaii Laie Temple.

President Kauwe said his father, John Kauwe Jr., studied Mandarin at the then language training mission on the BYUH campus, which is now Hale 2. He said the Spirit has testified to him of the importance of his role in fulfilling the prophecy associated with the university.

President Kauwe said the most important part of the continuing story and legacy of BYUH is the students. “Every prophecy, every sacrifice, every challenge that has been overcome to build and sustain this university has been for you.” He invited students to ponder the legacy they wish to build while attending BYUH and the Lord will allow them to fulfill their eternal purposes as they align their desires with his.