With the rapidly changing nature of the global pandemic and surrounding circumstances, unprecedented challenges and stressors popped up worldwide. Amidst the chaos and panic, professors and students at BYU–Hawaii banded together to provide hope for one another.
“Some of you may be worried if you will have a place to live or food to eat in the next few weeks. You will. To those who worry that you won’t be able to enroll for classes in Spring Semester. You will,” wrote BYUH President John Tanner in a Special Student Bulletin on March 13.
“To those who wonder if the world will end tomorrow or if you will get married, I don’t know. But I wouldn’t plan on the former and I’d work toward the latter if you are single. So take heart. Remember the words of our old pioneer hymn: ‘All is well.’ The pioneers sang these in the face of trials, not in their absence.”
Following the announcement of classes being offered only remotely for the time being, professors also sent out words of encouragement to their students.
“All will be well. I have no doubt ofthat,” wrote Dr. Marcus Martins, a professorin the Faculty of Religious Education, to his students. “We have the word of the Lord and of
one of his prophets about that: ‘Therefore, let your hearts be comforted ... for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God’ (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16).”
Martins also posted a video for his past and current students, in which he shared his personal impressions, faith and testimony during the current crisis.
“I can see that this is a time in whichwe need, more than ever, revelation and the exercise of priesthood authority and priesthood keys in ways never before seen in our lifetime. And this is my faith, that the Lord will grantus. He will grant us this inspiration, so thatthe work of salvation will not stop. Sure, our meetings are suspended, but the work of salvation cannot stop.
I can see that this is a time in which we need, more than ever, revelation and the exercise of priesthood authority and priesthood keys in ways never before seen in our lifetime.
“The Lord blessed us with technology. He inspired scientists and interpreters tomake available to us technologies through which geographical distances are no longer an impediment ... We are very, very close to each other because of the tools that have been made available to us. We can’t congregate in our buildings, but we can congregate virtually.”
Laura Hinze, a junior from Washington studying marine biology, said when classes were switched to online there was a lot of
uncertainty and confusion with communication between professors. She said she was comforted by one of her professors who took the time to ask her how she was doing.
“He just genuinely cared, which was beautiful because most of the time teachers care, but they’re not that personable about it. It was very sweet actually.”
She further explained how many of her classmates and friends who chose to leave the island questioned her decision to stay, which caused her more stress. In speaking with another friend who is staying, she decided to get a priesthood blessing.
“Once I made that decision to get a priesthood blessing, I felt calm about it. That was one of the best assurances I got ... It just brought peace.”
On March 14 President Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video and statement of hope on social media.
“These unique challenges will pass in due time. I remain optimistic for the future. I know the great and marvelous blessings that God has in store for those who love Him and serve Him. I see evidence of His hand in this holy work in so many ways,” he stated.
“So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, ‘I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.’ I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws.”
So, during these uncertain times, be comforted by this promise from the Savior. He said, 'I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say.' I promise you that joy is always within the reach of everyone who will hear Him and obey His laws.
President Nelson encouraged members to focus on Church initiatives such as Come, Follow Me and ministering.
In addition to messages of hope from leaders and professors on and off campus, students who were interviewed said they found hope in banding together as classmates to offer and receive hope and encouragement from one another.
Isabella Vincent, a junior from California studying intercultural peacebuilding, said she and some friends gathered soap and hand sanitizer along with some food for the homeless.
“A lot of the time the homeless are already marginalized by society, and they are the most susceptible during a time like this, so [it’s important to keep] in mind the people who we’re maybe not thinking about. I think it’s just good to help others during a time where people really need help.”
Vincent added that while manyare providing messages of hope and encouragement, there is still a lot of fear and anxiety going around.
“A lot of people are still pretty anxious and scared. I don’t know if that’s really been quelled by a lot of other people,” said Vincent.
“As someone who suffers from anxiety, I don’t really know if there’s a lot people can do. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming when people keep messaging about stuff like that.I think the best thing you can do is just show someone you care and reach out to them. Let them know you’re there and do your best to help.”
Hinze agreed it is important to reach out to others during a time of crisis. “You don’t know who’s stressed and overwhelmed until you ask and give those messages of hope ... It’s a pandemic - ‘panic’ being the root of the word. Even if it’s virtually, it’s good to reach out. Even that small little act can totally change someone’s day and get them in a calm mind space so they can make the right decision for them and their families.
“It hasn’t been just one person providing hope. It’s small snippets from 40 different people – professors, faculty, friends, priesthood leaders, family – it’s been a vast network of people. It’s kind of that ‘it takes a village’ principle. It’s not just one person, but it’s everyone working together.”
Martins added in his video, “We don’t need to fear. We don’t need to feel powerless. We were endowed with power from on high in the house of the Lord.
“We received great resources to accomplish the Lord’s will, so now it’s time for us to have that faith that will enable us to move forward in ways we never did before.”