President Kusch began his academic career at BYU-Idaho in August 2002 as a member of the faculty of the Business Management department. In July 2008 he was appointed Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum, serving in that role until June 2012 when he and Sister Kusch were called to preside over the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.
Prior to joining the BYU-Idaho faculty, President Kusch worked in the high technology industry in Silicon Valley, CA in various sales, marketing, general management, and consulting roles. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix, an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management, and a PhD in instructional design from Idaho State University.
Sister Alynda Kusch is a graduate of BYU-Idaho. Following her graduation, she taught Culinary Arts until she and President Kusch left for their missionary service in Mexico. If you know Sister Kusch at all, you know she is a master teacher, and master designer and creator of textile art.
Both born and raised in Southern California, President and Sister Kusch were married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1974. They are the parents of four children, and 15 grandchildren.
President Bruce C. Kusch
For I Will Go Before Your Face
As we were walking over here this morning, I told Sister Kusch I knew that I could be assured that there would be at least one good talk given in this meeting today and you’ve just heard it.
Brothers and sisters, Alynda and I rejoice with you as we gather this morning in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. We are excited for the beginning of the semester, and we express our love to you who are here in the Assembly Hall, to those who may be viewing from another location, and to those who may be viewing this devotional at a later date.
The Fall 2021 semester marks two landmark milestones in the history of Ensign College: first, we are now officially offering three fully accredited Bachelor of Applied Science degrees, and second, through our collaborative partnership with BYU-Pathway Worldwide we have enrolled thousands of matriculated BYU-Pathway Worldwide students around the world in Ensign College online certificates and degrees. It is the beginning of a new era in the storied history of the college, made possible by the consecrated efforts of many since its inception in 1886. As I have said previously, we stand on the shoulders of those giants of the past, and I pay tribute to them today.
In late June of 2002, on a crystal-clear early summer morning, my wife and I left San Jose, California, where we had raised our family and lived for the past 23 years, for Rexburg, Idaho. We loved our time in San Jose. And for anyone who is at all familiar with both cities, you know that Rexburg is very, very different from San Jose. In 2002, the population of San Jose was 1.5 million people, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area population was 3.2 million. In 2002, the population of Rexburg was just a little under 19,000.
I was excited for the opportunity to join the Business Management faculty at BYU-Idaho, and we were looking forward to discovering what life would bring in a place we had only visited a few times while our daughter attended then Ricks College in the late 1990’s.
In March of 2016 we left Rexburg for Salt Lake City, excited for the opportunity to begin a new role at then LDS Business College. We loved our time in Rexburg. We had been home from our missionary service in Mexico less than a year. And while in Mexico, a year before we finished our service, a freak summer storm caused significant water damage on the BYU-Idaho campus and in several surrounding neighborhoods, including ours. Our basement, where we had stored nearly everything we owned, filled with over 200,000 gallons of water, and several feet of mud. Furniture, books, pictures, clothes, and a lifetime of family mementos were destroyed in an afternoon. A year later we came home to a basement that was only concrete floor and 2x4 wood framing. We spent those months before moving here rebuilding our home – just the way we wanted it – with the assumption that Rexburg would be our home forever.
In 2016 the population of Rexburg had grown to 28,000. In 2016 the combined population of Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, and Utah counties was approximately 1.3 million. We were moving back to a big city.
Over the years I have often been asked the same question about our move from California to Idaho, and our move from Idaho to Utah: “So, what brought you to Rexburg?” or “What brought you to Utah?” When that question has been posed by a member of the Church, my answer has always been the same: “The Holy Ghost.”
Time does not permit me to share all of the details of the many miracles, circumstances and principles, and lessons surrounding these two moves. But, with an apology for speaking so personally, I’d like to share some of them this morning. A few weeks ago, as I visited with an Ensign College colleague it occurred to me that I have not publicly shared much about our journey, and I feel it’s important to do so.
There are five lessons and principles learned that I wish to speak about:
1. Don’t be in a hurry for God to answer your prayers. But, when answers come, you will know it.
2. God puts people in our path – to fulfill His purposes – and often in miraculous ways.
3. When God’s timing is different than yours, trust His. He ALWAYS knows best.
4. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. and
5. If we allow it, God will “educate our desires” to prepare us for things we might never decide to do on our own.
Lesson 1 - Don’t be in a hurry for God to answer your prayers. But, when answers come, you will know it.
Our youngest daughter, Jen, graduated from Ricks College in 1998. With plans to transfer to BYU she originally decided not to earn an Associate degree but changed her mind at the beginning of the winter semester, which would be her last. We attended her graduation and Elder Henry B. Eyring was the Commencement speaker. I do not remember anything about his message but what I do remember is sitting in the Hart Auditorium and as he spoke receiving a very, very strong spiritual impression that I should prepare myself to teach at Ricks College. This was an answer to a prayer that was most unexpected – but gratefully received. I had been seeking heaven’s guidance regarding my personal pursuits for nearly 6 years. In 1998 I did not have the qualifications to be hired; I did not have a master’s degree, which I knew would be a requirement and I might add Sister Kusch and I are both first generation college students.
Lesson 2 – God puts people in our path – to fulfill His purposes – and often in miraculous ways.
We came back to San Jose a few days later after our daughter’s graduation and I called the Business Management department at Ricks College to see if I could speak to someone on the faculty; NOT to ask directly about employment, but simply to offer a little of my time as a resource. As a sales and marketing executive for an international company I thought perhaps my experience could be useful somehow. I spoke to the department secretary and the only faculty member on campus that day was Craig Bell, who taught marketing and organizational behavior. We had a wonderful conversation and at the end I did ask him how the hiring process worked. Craig explained it, and added this final comment: “Bruce, at the end of the day, if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” Well I took that comment to heart and determined I would do everything in my power to qualify and then we would see if it was meant to happen. In the fall of 1998, I enrolled in an evening MBA program with the Keller Graduate School of Management. In my mind, 2005 was about the time I thought we would be ready to leave California and to finish my professional life in Rexburg.
Lesson 3 – When God’s timing is different than yours, trust His. Because He ALWAYS knows best.
In December 2001, I was in the last class of my MBA program and I couldn’t wait to be finished with school! Does that sound familiar to anyone? I came home from work one day and was casually browsing through the Church News. On the back page – it was a physical copy - they published the faculty openings at all of the Church schools. I was not specifically looking for a faculty opportunity at that time – 2005 was still several years in the future. When I got to the back page however, I noticed that one of the BYU-Idaho faculty postings fit my background almost perfectly. I looked at the details of the position on their website and thought, “This is me!” And, then I very distinctly heard these words in my mind: “Bruce, this is your window of opportunity. If you do not act now, the opportunity will be gone, the blessing will be someone else’s and there will not be another opportunity for you at BYU-Idaho in the future.” I took the paper into the kitchen where my wife was fixing dinner and showed her the job posting and asked what she thought I should do. And she said, “Well, one thing you know for sure, if you don’t apply, they are not going to coming knocking on your door!” In late January of 2002 I applied – nearly three years sooner than I had planned. Those impressions were correct. I came to understand that had I not applied when I did, there would not have ever been another opportunity for me to join the BYU-Idaho faculty. I called Craig Bell and I let him know I was going to apply. But I only left him a voicemail and sent him an email as well as he did not answer the phone when I called. We never spoke, nor did I get a reply to my email.
Lesson 4 – If it’s meant to be, it will happen
On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-February of 2002, a few weeks after submitting my application, a very nice woman from BYU-Idaho called to invite me to come to
Rexburg to interview for the faculty position in Business Management. I was thrilled! I was hoping if I had only gotten an interview it would have thought it would have fulfilled my hopes and I asked when it might be, and she said they would be back to me soon with details. On Friday afternoon, just two days later, I received a letter in the mail from BYU-Idaho. And I thought “that’s really quick” and assumed it had the details for my upcoming interview. I opened the envelope and with some horror and disbelief read: “Dear Mr. Kusch: As you can imagine there are many candidates applying for faculty openings in our Information Technology Department. Unfortunately, we cannot offer you an interview at this time.” It was signed by the Dean of the College of Business and Communication, Fenton L. Broadhead.
I was devastated. I wondered, right letter, wrong person? Right person, wrong letter? I had not applied for an Information Technology position to teach. I tried to call BYU-Idaho, but everyone had left for the weekend. Needless to say I was freaking out. I don’t know how else to explain it.
On Monday morning I called the very nice woman at BYU-Idaho and told her about the letter I had received. She said, “Oh dear, there’s been a mistake.” And I thought, “what kind of mistake?” In a few minutes she was back on the phone and she said, “Yes, Brother Kusch, we DO want you to come. Please ignore that letter.” And at the time, she gave me absolutely no explanation for the letter I had received in the mail.
Well a few months later I learned the story behind the letter. BYU-Idaho interviews three candidates for each faculty opening. The chair of the Business Management Department had identified two candidates for the position that I applied for; I was not one of the two. One afternoon he was having a conversation with Craig Bell – remember him? – expressing concern that he only had two candidates. Craig said, “I know Bruce Kusch was applying for the position, but I have not seen his resume.” The department chair immediately went on a search for my application and the documentation that I had sent. When he found it and reviewed it, he said, “This is our third candidate.” My resume and application had been mistakenly put with applicants for positions on the faculty in the Information Technology Department. And if Craig Bell had not been on campus on that day in the spring of 1998 chances are very good that I would have never been hired at BYU-Idaho. And on the Friday morning of General Conference weekend of April 2002, Dean Fenton L. Broadhead called me and offered me a position on the Business Management faculty at Brigham Young University-Idaho. I immediately accepted and then I remembered very quickly that my wife was in Utah and I thought I had better call her and tell her what I had just done. And fortunately she was grateful to support me in this position and this adventure. We knew then it was meant to be.
Lesson 5 – If we allow it, God will “educate our desires” to prepare us for things we might never decide to do on our own.
After 10 wonderful years in Rexburg, Alynda and I had the blessing of serving in the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission with nearly 600 valiant missionaries. We served from 2012 to 2015. Mission presidents begin and end their service around the first of July.
As we planned for and looked forward to our return to Rexburg and BYU-Idaho, I had been in communication with Fenton Broadhead, who was then serving as the Academic Vice President. And I had worked out a wonderful plan – teaching several sections of the Missionary Preparation course with my wife and several of my favorite business classes. I was even planning for a semester-long sabbatical that I had never been possible in earlier years. It was going be perfect!
President Joseph F. Smith taught, “the education...of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 297.
A few months before our release, I had some very, very strong impressions about LDS Business College and working there. I did not say a word to anyone about these impressions, including my wife. I felt these impressions were not for me to act on until or unless someone at the school or the Church Educational System invited me to do so. Frankly, they surprised me. There was no reason for me to think about working at LDS Business College. It was not part of our plan. We loved Rexburg and we had every intention of being there for a very long time.
I had met President Larry Richards once in 2007 when he visited my business strategy class. It was a great day as we discussed leadership lessons from Captain Moroni. I got reacquainted with President Richards in December of 2015. Now home from Mexico, instead of that perfect plan that I had arranged at BYU-Idaho, Brother Broadhead asked me to serve as an Associate Dean for Online Programs. And one of my responsibilities was to be BYU-Idaho’s liaison to LDS Business College as we were working together on the beginnings of online education at LDSBC. On a Thursday in mid-December, I was on campus here in Salt Lake City for a meeting and President Richards came in for just a brief few moments. We said hello, he asked about our time in Mexico and then he left.
The next Monday I spoke to President Richards on the phone to follow up on our meeting. As the call concluded, he said, “There’s one more thing I’d like to visit with you about. Are you aware we are looking for a new Chief Academic Officer?” I said, “yes, I’m aware.” Then he said, “In the meeting last week, I had the impression I that should ask if you would ever consider coming here to serve in that position.” I briefly mentioned my experience in Mexico and the impressions that I had about the college. “Can you send me a job description?” I asked. And within a few minutes I had an email with the job description. It was a close fit with my experience in almost every way. I went home and told my wife about the conversation – adding, “by the way, several months before coming home from Mexico I had these impressions about LDS Business College, and I didn’t say anything to you.” And then she said, “That’s very interesting, because several months before coming home from Mexico I had those same impressions about LDS Business College, and I didn’t say anything to you either.” Heavenly Father had educated our desires many months before, preparing us to respond to President Richards’ invitation in a way we most likely would not have, had it not been for those powerful impressions. Our experiences at Ensign College have been of far-reaching importance to our happiness, and we cannot imagine our lives without them, and without you.
Now brothers and sisters, I bear my very certain testimony that you and I are each known to and by a loving Heavenly Father. Because He is our Father, he loves us at all times and in all places. And if you do not know that, or if you have the slightest doubt about that, please prayerfully and sincerely seek to know. Nephi taught that, “...he that is righteous is favored of God” (see 1 Nephi 17:35). While God’s love for His children is enduring and universal, as President Russell M. Nelson taught, it is not unconditional, but rather conditional, and tied to our obedience and righteous desires (see “Divine Love,” Ensign, February 2003).
I testify that as we live with meek and willing hearts and minds, God will answer our prayers, and we will recognize it when He does. I know that one way He fulfills His purposes for us is through others – even through circumstances that to us appear random and coincidental.
Let us trust Him and His timing as we seek to be guided in our holy desires and efforts to stand in holy places. I witness that as you live in that way you will discover the custom-made plan that Heavenly Father has just for you. But that discovery won’t come all at once. It will come line upon line, and precept upon precept. And along the way, your desires to love God and to serve Him will be educated, and the impact will be far-reaching, not only in this life, but throughout all eternity.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sister Alynda Kusch
Stand in Holy Places
That song was beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Two and a half years after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, the Lord warned Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants section 87 of impending wars and famines and plagues that would come to the world.
We need only to turn to today’s news and read about conditions at this time, in this place, to see many of the same things that the Lord was describing and warning about almost 200 hundred years ago.
But the Lord did not leave his people without the knowledge of a way to withstand the conditions of the world and buffetings of Satan.
He revealed to the prophet Joseph in that same section how to be safe and how to feel safe even in the midst of commotion and uncertainty.
He simply stated: “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved” (D&C 87:8)
Why would standing in holy places be so important to your safety?
Our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, answered this question for us.
In the first talk that he gave following the solemn assembly when he was sustained as our prophet, he made this declaration:
“[I]n coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” (Revelation For the Church, April 2018)
So the truth is this, if hearing the voice of the Lord and allowing Him to prevail in your life as you move along the covenant path is essential, then you must consistently be in places where he can speak to you.
His promise to us is simple but very powerful when he said, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:62)
He is always there, but you must act in faith, seeking Him out, standing in places where the Savior can be.
What are holy places and where can they be found?
Well, the obvious ones are, of course, the temple, and our meetinghouses, this very building in which we assemble this morning.
But there are many others. Remember that a holy place is anywhere where the Lord can come and speak to us through the Holy Ghost.
President Nelson recalled the following, “I remember in an operating room, I have stood over a patient—unsure how to perform an unprecedented procedure—and experienced the Holy Ghost diagramming the technique in my mind.” (Revelation for the Church, April 2018.
An operating room became a holy place.
When we were on our mission in Mexico, a very dangerous situation arose in one of the states in which we had missionaries. It was urgent that we evacuate all 90 missionaries in one day from their areas, and it fell to me to look for ways that we could house them once they arrived in Cuernavaca.
As I sat at my desk in the kitchen of the mission home looking at a list of missionary apartments, I offered a quick but fervent prayer that I might know what to do to help our displaced missionaries. The answer came swiftly and powerfully to my mind and I knew what arrangements needed to be made.
My desk in the kitchen of the mission home became a holy place.
Many years ago, President Kusch and I were shopping one Saturday afternoon. We parked our car in a busy parking lot and began a long walk to the entrance of the store. As I recall at the time I had been studying and praying about the Plan of Salvation. As I walked across the pavement of that parking lot, the Spirit bore witness to me that what I had been studying was most certainly true. It was as strong a feeling as I have ever had, in fact it almost took my breath away.
A parking lot became a holy place.
Not too many months ago I was driving along State Street in Salt Lake, a favorite song on my playlist began to fill my car. It was a song that bore witness of Jesus Christ. I had heard it many times before but in answer to my prayer that morning, the Holy Ghost filled my soul with peace and joy and a renewed testimony that Jesus Christ is indeed who he says he is, my Savior and my friend.
At that moment, I was overcome with feelings of gratitude and joy that I tearfully pulled my car over to the side of the road and sat quietly as I listened to the words and music.
My car became a holy place.
Do you see a pattern here?
It has more to do with you and less to do with about where you are. You know that you can be in church, with your mind wandering and playing on your phone, and get nothing out of the meetings. Yet you can be in your car and have a glorious experience with the Spirit. It depends on you.
Now it is important to note that there are some places where the Holy Ghost cannot come, and it would be wise to avoid those, but for the most part it has much less to do about a physical location and more to do about your own spiritual preparation.
Holy places can be where the Lord’s Spirit can be. As you are obedient to the covenants you have made, as you are prayerful and striving to be like our Savior, you are drawing near to Him. Then, because of your efforts and His promise, anywhere that the Holy Ghost can speak, can become a holy place for you.
When you understand what holy places are, you will know where to be.
The Lord’s message is a simple one, we are to stand in these places and be not moved from them.
So, how can we create holy places in our lives, so that we can hear the voice of the Lord more clearly and more often?
I would suggest two ways to you.
The first is to simply to have a desire – you must want to be in a place where the Lord can speak to you. If this is not what you truly want, and, because as humans it is so easy to wander and lose focus, it will be difficult to remain in places of safety where you can feel the Lord near you and hear his voice.
Many years ago, I was serving a Church Service Mission at our Rexburg, Idaho Distribution Center. One afternoon a man came into the center, and we had a very interesting exchange. I watched him as he very carefully picked up and lovingly examined every temple picture that we had in the center.
He selected a few pictures and brought them to me at the counter. As he would carefully hold up a picture of a temple, our conversation went something like this:
“Sister, this is a picture of the Hawaiian temple, right?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Have you been there?”
“Yes, I have.”
“It’s very beautiful, isn’t it?” “Oh yes, it is.”
Then he would hold up another.
“Sister, this is a picture of the Washington D.C. Temple, right?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Have you been there?”
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes, it is.”
Then he would hold up yet another.
“Sister, this is a picture of the Sao Paulo, Brazil Temple, right?”
“Yes, it is”
“Have you been there?”
“It’s very beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes, it is.”
He did this with every picture he held in his hands until we had looked at all of the ones he had selected.
I was very grateful at that moment that all picture he had chosen of the temples were ones to which I had visited.
He told me that he had spent many years away from the church but that recently he had returned. He said that sometimes it was hard to leave old habits and feelings behind. He was buying these temple pictures to put in his home to remind him of what was important and of the covenants he had made.
His simple desire to surround himself with reminders of holiness had led him to act in a way that would help him in times of discouragement and temptation. He was creating a holy place to live so that he could hear and feel the Holy Ghost.
You can do the same, whether it is your apartment or simply your bedroom, whether it is in your car or on the Frontrunner. Desire is the first step. Then let that desire guide your actions, who you choose for your friends, and what you decide to bring into your life, your music, your movies, and your games.
And you can pray for a desire to build holy places in your life.
The second thing I would suggest is that you must be determined. The Savior said that we must not only stand in holy places, but that we must not be removed from them. There are many things that will pull at you to close the shades to gospel light, that dim’s the Spirit’s influence. You must guard against the adversary’s enticements. “Just this once won’t matter,” is a dangerous yet effective tool of his.
Years ago, President Kusch and I were happily sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to begin. It was a feature that had been highly recommended and had excellent reviews. The lights dimmed and the movie began. Not 10 minutes into it however we looked at each other and at the same time said, “This is not good. I don’t want to be here.”
Well, the only way out of the crowded theater was to walk to the front and directly across so that everyone who was attending would see us leave. What would they think of us? Well, in the long term it didn’t matter. We knew that what was being shown was not good for our spirits and we got up and left.
Any momentary embarrassment was replaced with relief as we exited the building.
Be determined to stand with the Lord and then stay there. Speak up when you need to and walk away when it is appropriate.
If we say that we want the Lord to draw near us, we must have a desire to be near to Him and then have a determination to stay with Him.
I would invite you to examine your life, your home, your music play list, your friends, your diversions and ask, “Are these things, these people, this music, helping me to come closer to the Lord?”
And then, you must do whatever it takes to stand in holy places and be not moved, understanding that the fruits of your desire and determination will be having the Lord near you and hearing His voice.
From my own experience, I testify to you that these things are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.