The Boise Institute 2013 Welcome Fireside was an inspiring start to the beginning of the Fall semester. The format was different from previous kick-off firesides organized by the Boise Institute program because it presented numerous opportunities to hear direct testimonies from our church leaders. These inspired changes allowed those in attendance to be deeply enriched by the Spirit.
One of the amazing things about the Boise Institute program is that it’s operated by single adult committees under the direction of the Institute facility. Each Institute committee serves a different purpose, such as event planning, communication, and enrollment. The Boise Institute called Garrison Holdaway as the new Institute President and Cassandra Sullivan as the new Institute Vice President. I had the privilege to previously serve with both Garrison and Cassandra on Institute committees and I was impressed by their dedication to their gospel and their willingness to serve other students in the Institute program.
Testimonies from Institute President and Bishops
After Garrison’s testimony, the Bishop in each YSA ward had the opportunity to introduce themselves and bear their testimonies. A Bishop is an unpaid spiritual leader of an LDS congregation and has stewardship over each member who attends their unit. This is the first time I’ve seen this done at a welcome fireside, which I felt was an inspired decision. Many single adults are not familiar with their Bishop and it’s important for each member to feel comfortable turning to their Bishop for support, guidance, and encouragement in living gospel principles.
Each Bishop bore sincere testimony, but my favorite was the testimony of Bishop Lindstrom, my personal Bishop in the 5th ward. Bishop Lindstrom’s testimony was the perfect example of what a testimony should be – a brief, heartfelt declaration of the truthfulness of the gospel. Bishop Lindstrom testified of the truthfulness of the Restoration and how the Institute program helps single adults balance the teachings of the world with the teachings of God. He encouraged us to learn spiritual truths that can help us return to God and to focus on the eternal things that truly matter.
One by One Video
After testimonies from the Bishops, we listened to a hymn medley by Hannah Swenson, then watched a short video, “One by One,” which documented an experience that Elder Bednar had when serving as the President of BYU-Idaho. When he found out that Elder Eyring was planning to visit BYU-Idaho, Elder Bednar encouraged his students to spiritually prepare themselves. He specifically asked each student to invite five people in a way that would encourage them to also reach out to others. Because of the faith and obedience of the students, the attendance of students at devotional went from 250 to more than 12,000 when Elder Eyring arrived at BYU-Idaho. Each student was dressed in their absolute Sunday best and was spiritually ready to hear the words of an Apostle. Elder Eyring openly wept when he saw the preparation of the students and how they were ready to learn from a servant of the Lord.
I felt the video was relevant because as young single adults, our individual choices really do matter. Because students were willing to personally administer to their friends, a miracle happened at BYU-Idaho. Just like the Savior made a difference through ministering to people one by one, we can make a difference in the lives of others through our personal ministry.
Brother Spjute and President Vail’s Remarks
After the video, Brother Spjute, the new Boise Institute Director, addressed us. He explained that although Institute enrollment may drop because of the changes that allowed single adults to serve missions at an earlier age, we can still build a vibrant Boise Institute program through our personal ministry. Brother Spjute shared the story from the New Testament about how Peter was walking on water, but started to sink when he lost sight of the Savior and his faith wavered. The Savior reached out to Peter and saved him.
Brother Spjute encouraged us to follow the example of the Savior and to reach out to others who are struggling. As we do so, the Lord will comfort and strengthen us in ways we never thought possible – even if we feel that we’re the ones who need help. Brother Spjute closed by bearing his personal testimony that the Lord knows and loves each of us individually and promised us that miracles can happen when we reach out to others and act as the Savior’s representative.
After Brother Spjute’s remarks, Justin White, accompanied by Shalise Adams and Jessica Gourley, performed “Be Still My Soul” before turning over the time to President Phillips, our Stake President. President Phillips felt inspired to ask his first counselor, President Vail, to bear his brief testimony. President Vail expressed how the Stake Presidency has a deep love for the single adults in the Stake and how the faith, obedience, and spirit of the single adults is an uplifting influence that sustains the Stake Presidency. He testified that the Savior has the ability to help each of us individually, if we only choose to open the door to our heart when the Savior knocks.
President Phillips’ Remarks
President Phillips was the last speaker and he read from Ephesians 4: 11-13, which talks about how the church is structured in a way that allows each member to “come in the unity of the faith” and develop a testimony of the Savior. He shared how his son’s mission president gave four instructions to missionaries who were returning home, and one specific instruction was to take an Institute class. He admonished us to develop our personal testimonies through taking advantage of the Boise Institute program. President Phillips then gave two specific instructions to those in attendance:
1) Know who your Bishop is. President Phillips explained that Bishops have a sacred calling to serve the single adults in their congregation. We shouldn’t hesitate to approach them because they have the authority and inspiration to administer to our needs.
2) Be wise. (Jacob 6:12). LDS single adults need to be wise in resisting the temptations and distractions that come their way. Having knowledge of gospel principles isn’t enough; we need wisdom to apply these principles in our daily lives.
President Phillips asserted that the single adults in our stake are meant to act as the light of the world (Matthew 5: 14 – 16). Through living gospel principles, single adults can inspire others around them and create future opportunities for missionary work. President Phillips closed by using his Priesthood authority to pronounce a blessing upon the single adults in the Boise YSA Stake.
He asked that during this year, the single adults in the stake:
-Will have the strength to keep the commandments.
-Will have their minds open to the scriptures.
-Will find friendship and companionship.
-Will know that God loves and knows them individually.
-Will have their hearts open to those in need.
-Will bring strength and joy to those around them, both to members and nonmembers.
-Will have their testimonies grow as they develop a stronger conviction of the Savior.
After President Phillips’ blessing and the closing prayer, the fireside adjourned and allowed the single adults to mingle and enjoy refreshments. The Boise Institute Welcome Fireside was a powerful experience that allowed those in attendance to be spiritually uplifted. The fireside made it clear that the Boise YSA Stake and the Boise Institute has dedicated and righteous leaders who deeply care about the single adults and want them to be successful.
To stay connected to the Boise Institute and receive notifications of upcoming events, follow the Boise Institute Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/boiseinstitute. If you’re new in town or just need someone to go with to Institute activities, feel free to contact me and I’ll gladly meet up with you.