Blog

October, 21, 2015

Abraham O Smoot: An Exemplar of Leadership, Dedication, and Sacrifice

Abraham Smoot
By Jessica Reschke

One of BYU’s contributors, Abraham O. Smoot, was highlighted during this year’s Homecoming. Smoot served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Brigham Young Academy, where he applied his great leadership skills. Some of these skills had come from his past experience serving as mayor of Salt Lake City and Provo.
Smoot demonstrated dedication and sacrifice, and also provided financial support to the growing academy. Shortly after creating the Academy in 1876, Brigham Young asked Smoot to support the growing academy. Even though President Young died in 1877, he continued to give further instruction to Smoot through visitations. Around 1890, President Young took Smoot to a city where Christ had visited and told Smoot, “You are not to come here until those buildings for the Brigham Young Academy are completed. The growth of the [C]hurch depends upon the growth of the Brigham Young Academy[,] for it is only through knowledge that people will come to understand the Church.” Furthermore, in 1892 Smoot recalled that President Young “appeared to me and . . . said[, ‘] . . . [Y]ou need not worry about the Academy or about how means can be obtained to build the structures which have been commenced, for the way will be opened.[’]
Abraham O. Smoot should be greatly respected for his obedience and willingness to take on such an immense task of helping to build up the Academy in spite of the limitations and financial difficulties at that time. Smoot is a great example of acting in faith and being in tune with the Spirit to receive revelation and guidance. Thanks to Brother Smoot’s efforts and contributions, Brigham Young Academy was able to grow and be strengthened, which helped to establish what is known as Brigham Young University today.
1 Abraham O. Smoot. Photograph. byu. Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, 09
Sep. 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.
2 Abraham O. Smoot, “Abraham O. Smoot’s Mission” Education in Zion Gallery.

October, 14, 2015

A Loving Mentor: Delbert Brigham Brown

Delbert Brown

By Chris Kinghorn

Delbert Brigham Brown grew up in Mexico as a rancher and a farmer, but in his adult years he moved his family to Provo, Utah, so his children could attend BYU. There, Brother Brown’s loving personality inspired and influenced the students and faculty. His wife, Irene, said, “Somehow his kind, understanding heart and great love of the students drew them to him.” It is this attribute of loving mentorship that I want to highlight through the experiences of Delbert Brigham Brown.
Delbert Brigham Brown showed his exceptional mentorship abilities when he showed the students how much he cared about them. A story is told of a student with cigarettes in her purse. Without judging or criticizing her, Brother Brown viewed her divine potential and in a loving way inspired her to be better. He gave her a new perspective and it obviously impacted her because three years later she returned to tell him that she had turned her life around. Another student had an inappropriate picture in his wallet, but because of the loving, corrective guidance given by Brother Brown this young man was decided to make a change in his life.
The last experience I want to relate shows how Brother Brown’s loving reputation allowed students to trust him. This made him very approachable. A student from another country was short ten dollars on tuition. He had nobody to turn to but Brother Brown, whom he felt he had a friendship with. What an awesome experience and a wonder example of loving mentorship by a man quoted as saying, “All students at BYU are my friends.”
Let us remember to show love to the people around us so that we may develop trust and be an influence for good in the world.
Cited: Full EIZ text

September, 30, 2015

The Education in Zion Gallery, A Good Place to Start

Joseph F Smith photo
By Reggie Voyce

If you have not yet discovered The Education in Zion Gallery in the Joseph F. Smith Building, it is a great time to do so. If you are an incoming student it is a good place to start with building a true appreciation of dedicated, life-long learning. That appreciation will serve you well, not only here at BYU, but for the rest of your life as you have the discretionary time to learn anything you want, not just what is needed to graduate.
The Latter-day Saints who built not only this school, but many others, built with a sense of absolute commitment to learning truth in all its variety. Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “The mind must not only possess a knowledge of truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem; and this human life must be guided and shaped by it in order to fulfill its destiny.”
His statement gives rise to serious reflection about the nature of true learning and what it means for us who know that all of our hard work for knowledge, truth and wisdom will rise with us in the eternities, even when we don’t always remember it for the test!
Our destiny awaits us, and the Education in Zion Gallery is a genuine place to help us make a good start.
1. Joseph F. Smith, First Presidency 1895, Education in Zion Gallery(italics added)

September, 30, 2015

Club Swinging: The Zumba of Yesteryear

club swinging BYA
By Annilyn Schill

This photo of BYA students in gym class is one of my favorites to point out in the gallery because it just seems so funny and strange. Most visitors can’t imagine what you would do with those weird looking clubs. But these strange clubs, known as Indian clubs or meels, were actually the Zumba of the Victorian era.
The English first encountered this martial art in India, where club swinging was used as a military drill to train warriors for battle. It was brought back to Britain as a form of exercise and was considered appropriate for both men and women. The club craze soon spread to America and by the turn of the century it had become part of the athletic curriculum at many colleges. J. H. Doughtery, the amateur club-swinging champion of America, reported in a pamphlet explaining the benefits of club-swinging, “Students have had its theory and practice drilled into them at college and have come forth into the battle of life with the physique of gladiators.”
BYU adopted the fad around this same time. Club-swinging would have been taught similar to most modern aerobic courses with an instructor leading participants through the series of swinging exercises with the weighted clubs. When the clubs were not in use the clubs were kept on racks on the walls of the BYU gym.
While the idea of synchronized club swinging might seem silly today, at the time it was the height of fitness and was included as an Olympic event in 1904, the same year this photo was taken at the BYU branch in Beaver. In the 1920s and 30s, organized sports began to replace these aerobic exercises. But the last twenty years have seen increased interest in reviving meels as a form of exercise.

club swinging drawing

1 Dougherty, J. H. Indian Clubs and Dumb Bells. New York: American Sports Pub., 1901.
2 Jillings, Anna. “Introduction.” Modern Club Swinging and Pole Spinning. 1994. Accessed September 24, 2015. http://www.semlyen.net/cosmosjugglers/lib/contents.htm.
3 Dougherty, J. H. Indian Clubs and Dumb Bells. New York: American Sports Pub., 1901.

September, 24, 2015

He Will Help

Joseph Smith
By Anna Romney

The first couple weeks of school have been difficult to say the least. I’ve never done well with change, so beginnings of semesters have always been hard. Adding a new job, wedding planning, and everything else on top of adjusting to the new semester means I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt so unequal to what was expected of me. I’ve always had a knowledge (and more often than not, faith) that God is looking out for us and will help us through our trials, but those first few weeks were making that knowledge difficult to maintain. Sure, He could help me, but would He? Would He really help me to be more than I am?
One of the people we spotlight in the Education in Zion Gallery is the Prophet Joseph Smith. At the age of fourteen, when visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ, he had only obtained the equivalent of a third grade education. With that, he was trusted to restore the true and everlasting gospel to the earth! Through his personal study, experiences, and visitations from angels, God prepared and qualified Joseph for the work He’d given him. He helped him to be greater than he would have ever been through his own means. Discovering this gave me greater hope. If God can help an uneducated young man bring about the restored gospel of His Beloved Son, He can most certainly help me.

September, 24, 2015

Ka Buke a Moramona: Hawaiian Book of Mormon

hawaiian book of mormon
By Myunghee Sim

In 1850, Elder George Q. Cannon and nine other missionaries went to Hawaii to preach the gospel. Many faced challenges in their missionary work due to the language and cultural barriers. Because of these difficulties, five of the original ten missionaries left Hawaii. However, George Q. Cannon decided to stay in Maui to learn the Hawaiian language so he could preach the gospel.

In Maui, there was a man named Jonathan H. Napela. He was a highly educated man who came from an Ali’l (royal or chief) family. Because of his educational background, he could speak pure Hawaiian as well as fluent English. One night in spring 1851, Napela had a dream where he met a man in white who had been sent to deliver an important message. Not long afterward, George Q. Cannon was traveling near Napela’s house in Wailuku, Maui. When two women from Napela’s house saw him, they called out to Napela saying, “Oh, here is the white man.” Cannon was welcomed into Napela’s house and introduced the gospel to Napela’s family. Soon after, Napela and his wife were baptized.

Cannon and Napela worked together to translate The Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language. Because of Napela’s knowledge of the Hawaiian and English languages, the translation process went quickly. Elder Cannon wrote, “Probably but few in the nation were as well qualified as Brother Napela, to help me in this respect.” With The Book of Mormon available in the native Hawaiian language, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hawaii grew to have more than 3,000 members by the end of Elder Cannon’s mission in 1854. Jonathan H. Napela’s education enabled him to assist in the translation of the Hawaiian Book of Mormon translation. This blessed numerous lives. Just like Napela, how do you think your education can bless the lives of others?

March, 25, 2015

Jesse Knight: An Example of Life-long Service

imagesIn 1888, Wilford Woodruff sent out a commission to all stakes in the Church. They were to build their own academies of learning, construct school houses, appoint teachers, and develop curriculum. However, the timing of the commission was not opportune. The Saints were already struggling to make ends meet. They were also in the midst of persecution, and many families feared for their own safety. Nevertheless, regardless of the looming deterrents, the Saints answered the prophet’s call.

Stakes answered the call with faith. Within four months, academies were up and running, and within a year, twenty of the twenty-one stakes in Utah had established academies. Two or three years after the call, every stake but one in the entire Church had established an academy.

With looming difficulty and widespread persecution, the faith of the Saints proved true. They did not shirk, nor did they delay the responsibility given to them by their loving prophet. The haste with which they completed their task is noteworthy and should inspire all of us. Even without persecution, nearly impoverished circumstance, and very limited knowledge or resources, how many of us delay or shirk what we are called to do? We should have faith in the importance and in the significance of our callings as students, as children, as employees, as Church members, and as children of God. We cannot know the extent of the effect our faithfully fulfilling our duties can have in the future.

 

1 Hunter, J. Michael, “Jesse Knight and His Humbug Mine” (2004). All Faculty Publications. Paper 1405.

http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/facpub/1405, 11.

March, 25, 2015

Answering the Call

Weber Academy Ogden Utah

Weber Academy, established 1888

In 1888, Wilford Woodruff sent out a commission to all stakes in the Church. They were to build their own academies of learning, construct school houses, appoint teachers, and develop curriculum. However, the timing of the commission was not opportune. The Saints were already struggling to make ends meet. They were also in the midst of persecution, and many families feared for their own safety. Nevertheless, regardless of the looming deterrents, the Saints answered the prophet’s call.

Stakes answered the call with faith. Within four months, academies were up and running, and within a year, twenty of the twenty-one stakes in Utah had established academies. Two or three years after the call, every stake but one in the entire Church had established an academy.

With looming difficulty and widespread persecution, the faith of the Saints proved true. They did not shirk, nor did they delay the responsibility given to them by their loving prophet. The haste with which they completed their task is noteworthy and should inspire all of us. Even without persecution, nearly impoverished circumstance, and very limited knowledge or resources, how many of us delay or shirk what we are called to do? We should have faith in the importance and in the significance of our callings as students, as children, as employees, as Church members, and as children of God. We cannot know the extent of the effect our faithfully fulfilling our duties can have in the future.

March, 3, 2015

An Education to Help Build Zion

As I give tours of the mentor room in the gallery, I love to touch on the advice given to young James E. Talmage by his mentors. They told him to get an education, not with the intent of obtaining a degree, but to help build Zion. Nobody exemplifies this advice better than Joseph Kelly Nicholes.

NicholesAs Nicholes started work on his Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford University, he was called back home to be the St. George Stake President and president of Dixie College. Talk about a difficult church assignment! Yet he did not hesitate to give up his personal aspirations and put his education on hold in order to serve the Lord.

After 6 years of hard work and success in helping the Church develop in St. George, Nicholes joined the BYU faculty in 1933. He worked at BYU until his retirement and considered his greatest regret not earning his Ph.D. Perhaps his calling in life didn’t involve earning a degree. The Lord had another work planned forhim. Nicholes himself stated, “A teacher is more than the ordinary laborer or business man. In the life of a student he may be a prophet.” All the students he taught felt the influence of Nicholes. It was so strong in fact, that even after he retired, the chemistry department wanted him to stay close so that he would have “maximum opportunity to contact and inspire our new students” (Armin J. Hill, Dean).

Joseph Kelly Nicholes dedicated his life to building Zion, and he found the best way he could do this was through inspiring his students and lifting them up. His influence was so great that three years before he died, BYU honored his life-long goal of obtaining a doctorate by awarding him with an honorary doctor of science degree. His sacrifices should be remembered for generations to come.

March, 3, 2015

Filled with God’s Light

UnknownTheodore M. Burton, former member of the Quorum of the Seventy, once spoke of an experience he had inspecting a mine with his father. The tunnel was deeper than expected, and eventually his father’s flashlight began to dim. Elder Burton said, “Before long [my father’s] flashlight gave out completely, and I can still remember—until I again turned on my [flash]light—the panic I felt to be in such cold and utter blackness. Although my own batteries gave out before we reached the mine entrance, we were by then guided by the dim light coming from the mouth of the tunnel. How good it felt to see the light increase as we made our way back to the entrance and found ourselves in warm, brilliant sunlight.” [1]

The Joseph F. Smith Building was built with the intention of including the Education in Zion Gallery. Because of this, there is a lot of symbolism in the gallery’s architecture. One of the symbols the gallery emphasizes is light. Natural light floods the gallery from almost every direction.

Light symbolizes several things in the scriptures, and one of them is truth. Some of the ways we can seek for the light of truth are going to the temple, partaking of the sacrament, attending church meetings, reading the scriptures, and praying. At first, those things do not seem like they belong on a college campus. But here at BYU and in the Education in Zion Gallery, we know that without those things an education cannot be complete.

With the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our education will be fruitful and our progression eternal. Just as Elder Burton felt the warmth of daylight dispel the cold darkness in the mine, we can feel the warmth of the light of truth in our lives. As we do, we will increase in understanding, for “a body which is filled with God’s light will be able to comprehend all things.” [1]

  1. Burton, Theodore. “Light and Truth.” www.lds.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1 Apr. 1981. Web.