Category Archives: Boise Institute

Articles that showcase the value of the Boise Institute program.

2013 Institute Choir Concert: Wonderful World of Music

2013 Wonderful World of Music Program

2013 Wonderful World of Music Program

Each year, the Boise Institute Choir (Unison), organizes an annual musical production to remind people of the variety of uplifting music that is available. Through choosing uplifting songs and hymns, the choir is able to use music to teach doctrine and principles of the gospel. At the end of the evening, audience members walk away inspired to keep a special playlist of music that inspires them and reminds them of the standards of the Church.

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Unison kicked things off by having Danny Christophiades perform “Disney Potpourri,” a melody of Disney songs on his trumpet. When it comes to Disney trivia, Danny is the most knowledgeable person I’ve met – in fact, he actually participated in a national competition hosted by Disney and was competitively ranked. After Danny’s performance, Garrison Holdaway, our Institute Council President, said a few opening remarks before we had an opening prayer and transitioned to the Unison Choir.

Unison performed Choir Jam, a lively mash up of various songs choreographed by Tom Lungren. After Choir Jam, we had the opportunity to hear from individual members of the choir in solo performances throughout the evening. Here’s a summary of just a few of the acts that were particularly noteworthy.

Jillian Durrant and Jessica Miller

Jillian Durrant and Jessica Miller perform “Forget About the Boy”


Jillian Durrant and Jessica Miller performed “Forget about the Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. It was an energetic performance and they both captured the spirit of a classic musical.   

Sarah and Bridgette Worthington perform "For Good"

Sarah and Bridgette Worthington perform “For Good”




Bridgette and Sarah Worthington, with backup from the women in the Choir, performed a cover of “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Bridgette and Sarah are sisters, so I thought it was particularly meaningful they’d perform a song about making a positive impact on each other’s lives.

Justin White, Gage Olson, Sarah Hart, and Robin Jensen perform "Just a Kiss"

Justin White, Gage Olson, Sarah Hart, and Robin Jensen perform “Just a Kiss”


Robin Jensen, Sarah Hart, Justin White and Gage Olson performed a cover of “Just a Kiss” by Lady Antebellum. Robin rapped midway through the song, which added a unique flair to a popular song. Check out their song on YouTube!    


To help showcase the talent represented by other Institute faculty and students outside the Choir, there were also several non-musical acts performed at the end of the concert:

Brother Mel Thompson performs a "One-wheel-man"

Brother Mel Thompson performs a “One-wheel-man”

In his act, “One-wheel-man,” Brother Mel Thompson, one of the Institute faculty members, juggled and jumped rope while riding a unicycle. Brother Thompson is one of the most talented Institute faculty members and I suspect he must have been a circus performer in a previous life. 

Garrison Holdaway and Josh Van Loo performs #Institute

Garrison Holdaway and Josh Van Loo performs #Institute


In tribute to Jimmy Fallon’s recent skit, #Hashtag, Garrison Holdaway and Josh Van Loo performed a humorous sketch entitled, #Institute.  Of course, because this was an LDS sketch, the focus was about relationships and the blessings of Institute. #Awesome!

Robin Jensen bears her testimony of the power of inspiring music,

Robin Jensen bears her testimony of the power of inspiring music,



After these acts concluded, Robin Jensen, the President of the Unison Choir, said a few closing remarks. With the light shining down on her, she looked angelic as she bore a powerful testimony on the importance of choosing uplifting and inspiring music. After her remarks, the Choir closed the evening by singing, “I Stand All Amazed” and “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth.”


As members of the church, it’s critical for us to make good choices with the music we surround ourselves with. Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “Music has power to provide spiritual nourishment. It has healing power…It provides power for us to express prayerful thoughts and bear testimony of sacred truths.” That’s why the annual Unison Choir looks for opportunity to uplift and inspire others through the power of music.

As usual, the Unison Choir did an outstanding job with this year’s Wonderful World of Music. The Unison Choir is always looking for new members to join their ranks and share their testimonies through the power of music. If you’re interested in joining Unison, contact Brother Spjute at 208-344-8549.

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Highlights of the 2013 Boise Institute Luau and Shaun Canon Concert

The Boise Institute kicked off the 2013 fall semester by organizing a luau and a concert with Mormon artist Shaun Canon. As a native Hawaiian, I had high expectations for the luau and I’m happy to report that the Institute activity was a fun evening that represented the island traditions.

2013 Boise Institute Luau

I picked up my photographer, Marc, and lent him one of my Hawaiian shirts.  We arrived at Ann Morrison park and it was already packed full of excited single adults. There were about 400 people and I was pleased to see many dressed appropriately for a luau, including President Phillips and President Vail from the Stake Presidency.

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Feasting and Friendship  at the Luau

True to form, the dinner was a roasted pig that was carved up for the feast. The dinner tables around the park shelter were completely packed with happy and excited single adults. One of the greatest strengths about the Institute program is that it provides opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Nik and Donovan

Nik and Donovan

During dinner, I had the chance to meet up with two of my friends, Donovan and Nik. My buddy Nik had just finished his vendor business at the Western Idaho Fair, “Bacon on a Stick,” and was still in the process of readjusting to a normal schedule after working an insane 150+ hour week at the fair.

It was also great to see Donovan. Because he’s had family in town for the last month, I hadn’t been able to meet up with him for a while. Donovan has been a good friend to me over the last few years and I was glad we got to hang out.

Kachina at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau


I also had the pleasure of meeting a new friend during dinner, Kachina, who has just moved to Boise to take on a new job. I learned that before coming to Boise, she was studying anthropology at the University of Utah. She needed to take a break from school to save money before transferring to another university, so when a job opened up in Boise, she was quick to take advantage of the opportunity.   

Brother Thompson Has Sweet Skills

After dinner, Boise Institute faculty member Brother Thompson entertained the crowd with his epic juggling skills. If you’ve ever watched the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I’m sure you remember the scene where Napoleon talks to his friend Pedro about the importance of having useful skills. I don’t know if Brother Thompson has nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills, but when it comes to juggling, Brother Thompson has some flipping sweet skills. Check out the embedded video below:

2013 Boise Institute Luau

Brother Thompson teaches juggling

After his performance, Brother Thompson was kind enough to teach juggling to a few Institute students who were amazed by his performance. Thankfully, Brother Thompson started them off with balls, rather than with sharp knives or flaming torches.


Volleyball, Slacking Off, and Dance Off

Trent slacklining at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Trent demonstrates slacklining

There were several games of volleyball going on and we also had a slackline set up. Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking, only the line’s tension allows it to bounce like a trampoline. This allows different stunts to be performed. At my request, Trent, one of the members in my ward, jumped on the slack line and demonstrated a few cool tricks.

Laura, one of the students that helps run the Boise Institute, was the MC for the event and organized a limbo contest and a hula dance off! The initial pool of dancers was narrowed down to the top four people. Laura then had the crowd choose the final winner.

Rusty wins the dance off at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Rusty wins the dance off!

Rusty, a former member of the Boise Institute leadership team, won the dance off. Acen, last year’s President of the Boise Institute, and Earl, one of the members in my ward, celebrated by putting Rusty on their shoulders as the crowd went wild! After the luau ended around 8 pm, we left the park to meet up at Boise State’s amphitheater on campus for the Shaun Canon concert.

A Round of Bad Jokes

I was extremely grateful for Marc coming with me and taking pictures during the event. Marc recently took on another part-time job and he had been awake since 4:30 am that morning, without having time to rest before coming to the Institute activity. I could tell that Marc was getting tired, so to keep him awake, I tried to make him laugh while we were waiting for Shaun to finish setting up for the concert. I asked Marc if he had heard any good jokes lately, and when he couldn’t think of any, I resorted to a few tried and true bar jokes.

I started off by saying, “A horse walks into the bar, and the bartender says, why the long face?

Marc chuckled politely, but as it turned out, he had heard that joke before. So I told him another bar joke: “A termite walks into a bar, and says, is the bar tender here?” Marc hadn’t heard that before and got a good laugh from that one.

Donovan followed that up saying, “A man walks into a bar, and says, ouch!” Immediately afterwards, Donovan seemed chagrined and said, “I guess that was a bad joke.”

I dryly responded, “Well Donovan, I think that for these jokes, we need to set the bar higher.” Thankfully, Laura from the Boise Institute got up to make opening announcements before we could go for another round of bar jokes. (Yeah, we’re hilarious.) 

 Laura tosses out candy at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Laura tosses out candy to the crowd

Laura started off by choosing names for a random drawing of prizes sponsored by the Boise Institute. There were some great prizes given away, including restaurant gift certificates and movie tickets. Following the drawing, Laura tossed out candy to the crowd of excited single adults before turning the time over to Shaun Canon.


Concert with Shaun Canon: I knew he was treble when he walked in

If you’re not familiar with Shaun Canon, he was a top contestant on American Idol, Season 7. Since American Idol, Shaun has stayed active pursuing his dreams. A few of Shaun’s achievements include receiving a Platinum AVA award, opening for major acts such as Brian McKnight and Janelle Monae, and winning a UK Music Contest called “Slice the Pie.”

Shaun Canon at the 2013 Boise Institute Luau

Shaun Canon

Shaun Canon spoke briefly about his music career and how he wanted to use his talents to make a difference in the world. That’s why he started the ambitious “Live for Music,” tour which raises money for high school music programs around the country. At each fundraising event, Shaun donates 50% of what they make back to the school, and to date, Shaun has raised more than $100,000 for high school music programs.  

Shaun Canon proved to be quite talented and I felt his music was a refreshing change from the typical genre of bubblegum love songs. I enjoyed Shaun’s music and thought his songs had more depth than the catchy, but often hollow tunes often played over and over again on the radio. I particularly enjoyed his songs, “A More Meaningful Life” and “You’re All My Reasons,” a duet that he performed with local artist Christy Davis.

Shaun dedicated the last song, “When I Take Your Hand,” to his wife, Molly Canon. He said that they were just married in the Manti temple two months ago and the audience cheered when he made the announcement. I was happy for him, but I had to fight the urge to make an ill-advised joke about marrying a “Molly Mormon.” After the performance, we ended the activity with a closing prayer. If you’d like to hear Shaun Canon’s music, check out his Reverbnation profile.

Mahalo to the Boise Institute!

As always, the Boise Institute did a great job organizing and executing the kick-off activity. 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. For more pictures of the luau and concert, check out the gallery below. Thanks again to my buddy Marc for contributing his pictures!

Aloha Oi’ to my dear readers until next time.  

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Boise Institute 2013 Welcome Fireside

Welcome Flyer

Welcome Flyer

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. 

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Opening Exercises 

Robin Jensen, the new Institute Choir President

Robin Jensen, the new Institute Choir President

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

Garrison and Cassandra, the new Institute President and Vice President

Garrison and Cassandra, the new Institute President and Vice President

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.  

Students mingle 1After 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 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. 


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