There’s a saying—I don’t know who said it, but it goes like this. I kind of put my own spin on it, but—facts are facts, and stories are how we learn. So I’m going to tell you a couple of stories and in the 25 minutes or so that I have, I want to get just a couple of points across. I’ve learned not to try to cram too many things into a talk or try to unload the wagon all at one time—my missionaries used to do that. They’d ride into town, poetically speaking, and we had cars in South Africa and everything, but we want to tell everything that we know. It doesn’t leave much for the future. So I hope to not unload the whole wagon, but mention a few things to you that will help you in your studies, in your job search and in your life. Because there’s a blend that you have to have; there’s a mixture that you need that has to happen. You can’t become lop-sided. You have to have bits that make you well-rounded, and being well-rounded will make you desirous [desirable?] to a future mate or companion, or to a future boss or employer.
So I want to remind you that in Alma we learn that we should cry to the Lord over our flocks (see Alma 34:17-27). And in that metaphor, in that verbiage, we learn that we should cry over our business, our livelihoods, what’s important to us, the things that we’re responsible for, we’ve been told that we can pray over. So, brothers and sisters, your education, your studies, your righteous desires are things that you can pray over. In Doctrine and Covenants 64:29, one of my favorite scriptures especially as a mission president, it says: “Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business.”
And so, brothers and sisters, we’re about the Lord’s business. And you studying, you learning, you having a hobby, getting better at something, is the Lord’s business. And then when you go out and you have a career, you are about the Lord’s business. We know that everything was created spiritually before it was created physically. So it was well thought out. This world, this planet, this universe that we’re part of, our work, and our being, has been thought out and planned, crated physically. And so what we learn and study is that critical as well. So it’s important for you to pray over your flocks and to be about the Lord’s business.
Steve mentioned to you a little bit about my calling. I was a part of a family business that manufactured skylights. You can see our work all over this Triad Center. If there’s glass here that is curved or on a slope, Keller in 1962 did that. At the airport, at malls, churches, schools, all over—overhead glass is a niche that my former company does and still does. And I was, I turned off a welder to answer the phone when Elder Hales’ office called to see if Kelly and I could come visit and talk about being a mission president. We really didn’t know that was what he was calling about. In fact, we were scared pretty bad. It was a Tuesday, and I called Kelly in the afternoon and said, “Kelly, we’ve just been invited to Elder Hales’ office.”
“What about?” You know, that’s the first question.
“I don’t know.” So we got to his office, and this was on a Thursday.
And he said, “I suppose you know what we’re going to talk about.”
And I said, “Elder Hales, we really don’t. The answer is yes, but we don’t know the question yet.” So we knew that we were ready and willing for whatever, and we started this journey that took us—and what I’ve learned as a mission president, a couple of things: Enjoy the journey, life’s journey, this journey that we call life; and persistence is what I’d like to get across to you today. A couple of points about enjoying the journey and persistence.
A little bit about my career, and the new career that I’m on now. Three years is a long time, and so I came home unemployed. We had some changes at the shop, and I came home unemployed. I had a job at Welfare Square Unemployment Services, part time, and that’s when Steve and I got together. Well, I started doing things. I was working with priesthood leaders—stake presidents, bishoprics, stake presidencies, elders quorum presidents, and high councilors—to find them jobs. I’d come home and high-five my wife and kids, “Hey, I got this stake president a job!”
And my sons would say, “Why don’t you get you one?”
So it was—I had a lot of fun doing it, and I got sucked into the volunteer part of it—but I started doing things in this volunteer work, in this part-time work, that I learned how to do in South Africa as a mission president. I found that if I could get my black African missionaries a job before they went home, they would stay active and do the right things. If they went home to the same kind of poverty that they went on their missions from, it was very, very difficult. You see, they were young executives. They were very successful “about the Lord’s business” men and women. And to go back home to the poverty that they came to the mission [from] was very difficult and it was very hard on their hearts. And they would go inactive. If I found them jobs before they went home, they got married, they were branch presidents, they were high councilors, they were the leadership of the Church in their countries.
You see, we had black African missionaries from 15 different countries in Durban. And so, at the same time I was a mission president, I was also a stake president for a geographical area within our mission. We didn’t have any districts, so I was a set-apart stake president at the same time I was a mission president. I was also the Consulate General for the United States, so if a missionary or a citizen of the United States was injured, hurt, got thrown in jail, did something stupid, it was kind of my assignment to help them get out of the country and get back home. Or, in the case of somebody passing away…killed in an accident or something, we had to get their bodies home, which was a chore in and of itself. Well, I had connections at consulates; I had connections in different countries with branch presidents and with MTCs, temples, missions, all these areas. I was using my connections. I was networking for my missionaries. So I started using the same kinds of techniques in this part-time job.
Well, we started having great success, didn’t we, Steve? We had great success. The Presiding Bishopric said, “Danny, why don’t you come to work for the Church, and let’s use some of what you do to help employment. Your paycheck will come from the D.I. and you’ll work for the Welfare System, but you’ll work with these 43 D.I.s.” And that’s what I do now. I develop training opportunities for the associates that you see working at the Deseret Industries. You see, at Deseret Industries like the one in Centerville has 100 and something people they’re working. About 12 or 15 are actual full-time Church employees. The rest are people the bishop has sent to get training of one kind or another. So we’re finding jobs and training opportunities for them. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m networking, like you’re learning how to do. Like you did, I believe, yesterday. How many of you went to the meeting yesterday? Quite a few of you. And so that’s all about networking and getting to know people.
Well, this persistence made it possible for me to get my new job and my new career. So that’s a little bit about my life and what we’re doing now with my business. I’d like to—instead of—I planned on bringing my memory stick and we were going to show some things up on the screen and have a real high-tech PowerPoint and a couple of videos, but instead I brought my wife. So I’m going to ask Sister Brock, Kelly, to come up and talk to you a little bit about enjoying the journey. She’s got a great presentation that we used when she was the mission president’s wife and we were speaking all over. And still today, she’s the stake Relief Society president in Bountiful, and she uses this to speak to women about enjoying the journey. So I thought instead of throwing a slide up or something, I would bring Kelly and have spend a few minutes with you, and then I’ll finish with talking about being persistent.
That was quite an intro too. I hope that I’m going to just hit some highlights on some of the things that I’ve learned. I think that one thing I have learned is that life never turns out the way you think it’s going to, and I’m sure that a lot of you have had that happen already in your life. Even if we plan and hope to do all the things that are righteous and worthy, and those are our goals, sometimes they still don’t work out the way we planned. To illustrate that, when I was your age, my goal at that time was to become a nurse. I always wanted to become a nurse; that was never a hard question for me. I was going to be a nurse. And after my first year at Utah State University, I put in my papers. I knew I would get accepted. That was my plan. I had been working toward that. I felt like my patriarchal blessing guided me toward that, and it was just a no-brainer. Well, when the letter came a few weeks later that said, “Thank you for applying to the nursing program, but we’re not going to be able to allow you a place this year,” my heart dropped.
I thought, “Wait a minute. This is my plan. It’s my goal. It’s a good goal, it’s a worthy cause. It’s what the Lord wants me to do.” And it kind of threw me for a loop. And it was about that time I had a call from one of my friends who had gone to New York and was working for a Jewish family as a nanny. You’ve heard about girls who do that. She called me and said, “I’m going home the end of the summer and they want someone to take my place. Do you want to come out?”
And I thought, “Well, what do I have to lose?” So I said, “Sure. I’ll come out.”
Well, that changed my life. It made me think about my beliefs. It made me challenge my beliefs. I really wanted to know what I believed. And I read the Book of Mormon like I’d never read the Book of Mormon before in my life, and gained a very strong testimony. I gained a wonderful friendship with a wonderful Jewish family that we still keep in touch with. And I did get accepted into nursing the next year, but that delay put me in the right spot in the right time to meet my future husband. And so I have to keep reminding myself that even when things don’t work on our timetable that the Lord knows the whole picture, and he’ll put you in the places that you belong and where you need to be at the right time. And I just want to quickly give you five points that can aid on your journey through life. And if you put these to use, they’ll safely see you through.
The first one is to recognize and cultivate your righteous desires. I love the quote you’ve probably heard a hundred times from President Hinckley when he said, “You’re good. But it is not good enough… to be good. You must be good for something” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, January 1998). And he’s right. Our greatest good and happiness in life is found in doing good. In Doctrine and Covenants 6:8, the Lord said, “If you desire, ye shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.” What plans that we make in our life, back those plans up with a desire to be the means of doing much good, and you can’t go wrong. Because the Lord knows that that is where you will be happy and you will have safety, doing good for others.
And then, prepare for the unexpected. That’s number two. You need to cultivate those righteous desires, but then you need to allow the Lord to put those desires to use in perhaps unexpected ways. Quickly, I’m not going to go into detail, but you know the story in chapter 5 of Luke, when the Savior is out teaching in Galilee and he’s sitting in Peter’s fishing boat. And when he is done teaching, that’s when he says to Peter, “Go out and drop down your net.”
And Peter says to himself, “I’ve been there all night.” And he’s a professional fisherman and he knows how to fish, and here’s the Savior, who’s probably not a professional, but He is the Savior. And He tells him, “Go out there and drop down your nets.”
And Peter says to Him, “At thy word, I will let down the net” (v. 5). And you know what happens. He gets more fish that day than he ever had before. So in our lives, sometimes the Lord will tell us to let down your nets in a place, and we say, “No, I’ve been there, done that, it didn’t work out. I’m not going to do it again.” But I’m saying, when the Lord is saying let down your nets, don’t go with what you think. Sometimes you just have to go with what you know is right, and go on faith, that the Lord is telling you what to do. The Lord will always work for our profit and our good; even when we don’t think they’re going to happen, miracles will happen. So prepare yourself. Learn. Accept opportunities when they come, even when you don’t think they’re exactly what you need at that time.
Number three is to accept adversity. It’s important to remember that even when we’re doing our best, and we’re doing the right thing, and we have righteous desires in our heart, that the Lord still will let us experience uncertain times and adversity. How do we react? We all crave peace; we all want to feel good, and we don’t like not seeing what’s ahead for that first step into the darkness. I have a great quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer that, the first time I heard this I wrote it down and I have it hanging up someplace, but I wrote it down here. And he said, “It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal. Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or [even] several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out. There is great purpose to our struggle in life” (“Solving Emotional Problems in the Lord’s Own Way,” Liahona, Jan. 2010).
I read that quote to my son this morning, who is in the process of finding a job. He’s just struggling right now, and I read him that quote and he said, “Well, what is that? What is the purpose of that struggle?”
And then I said, “Listen. Let me tell you the rest of this quote.” Because that made me feel pretty comfortable, knowing that it’s okay to be miserable once in a while.
But if we are doing all that we can to live the commandments, and challenges arise, we would be well to say, not ‘what is wrong with this’ but ‘what is right.’ What is the divine purpose that is being accomplished here? Peace comes when we learn to trust that such a purpose exists and we are willing to submit to that tutoring that such experiences will offer us.”
To go to the scriptures really quickly again, and not a lot of detail, the Jaredites in their barges—I mean, I always love the story when they touch the stones, and turn to light, but I love even more to imagine being in one of those barges that had air holes on both sides because the Lord knew that it was going to flip around so much that they had to have air holes on both sides. I get carsick, I keep trying to go deep sea fishing, and I promise I won’t again, because I get so seasick. I don’t think I could have done it, flipping around in the waves.
But in chapter six, it says, “And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind” (Ether 6:6). That sounds awful, I think. I would have died on that journey, I am sure. But the Lord, in verse 8—well, the Lord didn’t say this; it is what Ether says: “And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land.”
And so all that adversity, all of that wind that just kept blowing the barges, is what got them to where they needed to go. So we have to remember that sometimes those hard things, the things that just keep going wrong, is what is pushing you, what is getting you to where you need to go.
And then to have the patience, that’s the fourth thing. Patience paves our path to the Promised Land. We all know in James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” But you need to go to the verses before that. In verse 2, he says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into many afflictions; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (vv. 2-4; verse 2, Joseph Smith Translation). So being patient, and knowing that the Lord’s time is not yours.
Then the last, number 5, and there’s a lot to this, but I’m going to be quick. Number five is to be active in the Church. I think this one is close to my heart because of sadness and grief I have felt when I have had close loved ones stray away from the Church. I invite you today here to make a commitment to yourself and to your Father in Heaven, to your children, to your future children, that no matter what challenges, adversities, temptations or doubts come into your life or into your heart, you will not walk away from the Church of Jesus Christ. Walking away from the Church of Jesus Christ is walking away from Jesus Christ. Too many of us convince ourselves that we can remain close to the Lord without remaining close to His Church, and that is a lie.
I just will leave you one more thought. If you have the idea that shedding that protective armor of the covenants that you have made will make your lives easier, that also is a lie. It’s those thoughts that Satan gives us that life would be much easier if we didn’t have all these Church callings or things that we had to do, when in reality, those are what is giving us the strength. Because if we let go of that, then we are on our own. We don’t have the Lord there with us. I love Mosiah when the Nephites are in bondage to the Lamanites and they cry to the Lord to help them. And He didn’t come down to deliver them from all the hardships; he made them have strong backs. That’s what he does for us. If we will pray and ask for help, He will give you all the strength you need to get through any of the hard times and the temptations you have in front of you.
So I’d just like to end that you will make it to your Promised Land. You will get through. You’ll get that degree. You’re going to find the job that you need. But it might be a different journey than you had planned. The Lord will never leave you. I’d like to end with this scripture from 1 Nephi 17:13: “I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.”
I would just like to testify to you that I know that this power is available to all of us. I loved the talk that we heard on the Atonement today, because that’s for us. That strength is for us, and we can’t forget that Jesus Christ is sufficient to lead us through this mortal journey and all the hardships that we have. We need to enjoy each minute and look for the good, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Brethren, can you imagine having a missionary companion like that for three years? I’m telling you, we did so many things and traveled so many miles, and Kelly was the bright spot in so many places and touched so many people. And what she’s told you today is true. This journey that you’re on is watched over by the Lord, and like I told you earlier, when you cry over your flocks and you are about His business, He is going to be about your business.
When baby Jesus was born and the star was up in the sky, I don’t believe for a second that on that evening at that moment that Heavenly Father took a star and plucked it and moved it to the spot that it was at the night that he was born. I think that star was put into orbit eons and eons and eons before that, so that on the very perfect day as this star is in orbit, on the very perfect day that baby Jesus is born, the star is over His manger. So our lives are that way. We’re on a journey and this journey is like an orbit. Brothers and sisters, don’t do anything that would goof up this orbit. Don’t do anything that would make your star kick out so that you’re not in the right spot ant the right time. Do the right things. Stay away from pornography. Listen to your leaders when they counsel you to study and to do certain things. Follow the example of the Brethren. Do the right things. Don’t let your orbit go crazy. Keep your star in orbit; keep it in the right spot so that when you get to the right place at the right time, the blessings can come.
I wanted to show you a couple of things before I close. I want you to get a passion. You see, in all of this getting that you’re doing, in all of this learning and getting—you know, all of these teachers are here teaching you, and you come here and you absorb…I went down to the parking lot with Steve to get a few of these things out of my truck, and I bet in five minutes there were probably ten students that came to him, “Brother Asay, Brother Asay, Brother Asay.” So people are doing things for you all the time. Your family is doing things for you, your parents and loved ones are praying for you. Brothers and sisters, in all of your getting, do some giving. Find a passion in the neighborhood that you can do something, read to somebody, do something fantastic if you must, but do something. And this is just a reminder to me—I found a new little passion, and it’s sewing machines. This is an old sewing machine, but it doesn’t have to be an old one. There’s been a man here locally who has devised an $8 hand crank. These sewing machines have been cast out. They’re old. This looks old, but it’s not worth anything. It’s just an old sewing machine. Well, he puts and $8 part on it, and somebody with no legs, somebody in Africa can have this because you can put this in a backpack and put it in carry-on luggage and take it anywhere you want.
So I got this little passion and I find these sewing machines and we put these little cranks on them so we can take them places. That’s become this little thing for me. I’ve even learned how to sew these little teddy bears. You see, there’s a liter of rice in there, so this little sleeve kind of folds out. You open it up, you put a liter of rice in it, and you can ship these off to anywhere. This stays clean in a home that’s maybe not so clean, you use it, finished, and the kids can put rocks and dirt in it and play with it. You see? Ten minutes on that machine. Some of you could do ten of these in a minute.
National Geographic from December 1984 shows this man in a monsoon. You see him walking—it’s hard to see it, but you see him walking. He’s up to his chin in water, and he’s holding his sewing machine. His livelihood can carry on, because he’s got his sewing machine. You see? So I got passionate about sewing machines.
Get passionate about something. And read. Put those phones down, get off the TV, and pick up a book. Don’t read them on the computer, don’t read them on your Kindle. Pick up a book. And have a red pencil in your hand so you can make some notes. And these are awesome books. Blink is one. It’s by Malcolm Gladwell, the guy who wrote The Tipping Point. It is a crucial conversation to help you learn to speak to people. Indispensable by Monday will help you prove to your boss why he shouldn’t fire you. Freakonomics is just fun. Strength Finder helps you find out your strengths. You see, we need to be strength-based. We need to be positive, strength- based. If you’re—now, I can remember my son coming home, and he had his report card. And his report card was: History-B, English-B, Math-D, Physical Education-A, Engineering-A. What do you think I focused on? “Doggone it, son. Why did you get that D?” He had this wonderful report card, but wasn’t so good in math. So I beat him up over—I mean, you know, not really, but I worked him over because he had a D. Strength Finders helps you find out what you’re good at, and how we should work at and concentrate on what we’re good at. Outliers, Good to Great—there’s a million of them. Read some books, and turn off the TV and enjoy a little bit of time with the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t listen to the TV.
Now, I don’t want you to think that Sister Brock and I are not fun people, because we—we watch a TV show now and again. In fact, we’ve got a couple, I’m not going to tell you what they are, but it’s kind of like date night. We watch a little of this or that, and we enjoy some TV shows. But we read things together. We read things at night. Kelly’s reading a book, a David O. McKay biography, and we talk about it at night and when we’re driving to places. We talk about books we’re reading, or we listen to books on tape, and it’s very enjoyable to be together.
I want to close, brothers and sisters, I hope that you can see by all these bits by Kelly and I, there’s a journey that you can be joyful about. Right now it includes school, it includes looking for a career. It includes some knocks and some getting worked over, and it includes some disappointment. But just like the Jaredites, the tough winds are going to blow you the right direction. Don’t let your star get out of orbit. Don’t let your barge get off course. Do the right things. Stay away from the things that aren’t right. Live your life the way that you know you should.
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the task is changed, but our ability to perform the task has increased.” If you continue to gossip and backbite, you’ll be the best gossip and backbiter on this campus. Okay? Because you get better at what you do. If you get passionate about something, if you go help people, if you get passionate about learning something, if you go read books to the kids at the elementary school over here, or if you get passionate about tutoring or something like that, you’ll get better at it. You see, you can become whoever you want. I used to tell my missionaries, “You’re brand new.” They’d come off that plane scared to death, and I didn’t know who they were. And I said, “You missionaries have a chance right now to be someone that you’ve always wanted to be. Because I don’t know. I don’t know you. Maybe you’re conceited and ornery and critical of everyone around you. But I don’t know that. So if you’ve ever wanted to change, do it now.”
Change now, this minute, right now. Brothers and sisters, if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do—if you’ve wanted to learn the violin, if you’ve wanted to get better at chess, if you’ve wanted to wood burn or carve walking sticks—start today, and in a few weeks you’ll be better. In a few years, you’ll be better, and you’ll be great at a few things someday. I promise you that it is true.
Walt Disney’s definition of success was “Would the child I was be happy with the adult I have become?” This about it, brothers and sisters. Think about the child you were. Would that child be happy? Would Father in Heaven be happy with the adult that you have become? If not, make a few changes. Make them today. Make them one at a time. If there are ten things you want to change, pick one. Have success at it; go after another one. Kelly and I do it. We work at things every day. And it’s not because we’re old and smart, it’s just because we continue to do it.
So brothers and sisters, you are winners. The fact that you are here—Father in Heaven has blessed you. You’re on a winning team. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth, and of that I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.