April, 4, 2014

Mountains: Temples of Learning

Learning in the LightThe Education in Zion Gallery, with its stunning two-story windows, has one of the most beautiful views on BYU campus.  I love how you can see a large portion of campus (most notably the library), but mostly I love how you can see the mountains framing campus. This view is just one of the many symbols in the gallery.

In the scriptures, mountains are commonly referred to as temples, or places to commune with God. Isaiah teaches,  “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways” (Isaiah 2:3). Nephi also describes his experience in the mountains: “As I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain” (1 Nephi 11:1). Finally, we learn that Jesus Christ himself “went up into a mountain apart to pray” (Matthew 14:23).

I see a close relationship with the natural view of the mountains and the mural in the gallery, “The Temple: A Holy School.” Seeing these mountains framing our college campus reminds me that the Lord values not only “spiritual” studies, but “secular”studies as well. All truth testifies of Christ, and we should be actively seeking truth in any form: a textbook, scriptures, uplifting music, or hiking.  As the thirteenth Article of Faith teaches, “anything lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” I am grateful for these majestic mountains that are constant reminders of my Heavenly Father’s love for me.

March, 28, 2014

An Instrument of the Lord: The Conversion of Karl G. Maeser

pic 2While teaching at a school in Germany, Karl G. Maeser came across an incendiary text about Mormonism that, ironically, sparked his initial interest in the religion.[1]  In 1853, Maeser wrote the mission president of the Scandinavian mission requesting missionaries to teach him in Saxony.  This president then informed the president of the Swiss-German Mission, Elder Daniel Tyler, about the letter.

Because of the circumstances in Germany, Elder Tyler feared the letter might be a trick to bait missionaries into Saxony and then arrest and imprison them for preaching the gospel. Consequently, Elder Tyler did not respond to Maeser, but rather sent his letter back, having faith that if Maeser’s interest was genuine, he would write again.

Maeser did not disappoint them. He wrote again, and this time his new letter was sent to President Franklin D. Richards, the President of the whole European Mission who felt strongly that Maeser’s desire to learn was sincere.

Sending a missionary to Saxony would still be a risky task, so President Richards met with Elder William Budge and offered him the opportunity, which he was happy to accept.[2] Once in Germany, the young Scotch Elder was careful to avoid problems with the police and posed as a student of German who was seeking the instruction of the talented teacher, Karl G. Maeser. Within two weeks Maeser and his family were converted. On October 14, 1855, at midnight they were baptized in the Elbe River.2

[1] Wilkinson, Ernest L. and W. Cleon Skousen, Brigham Young University: A School of Destiny 1 (Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 1976): 84-87.

[2] Wilkinson, Ernest L., Brigham Young University: The First 100 Years, (Utah, Brigham Young University Press, 1975): 56-58.

March, 28, 2014

To Cherish the Unseen

BYA GraduatesThe spirit of the Education in Zion Gallery is one of eternal reflection. The stories of Saints long gone—and yet ever-present by their works of dedication—are a source of reflection; pictures of their solemn, smiling, or firmly determined expressions tell their stories.

What did it matter that there were no papers, pencils, maps, or other teaching supplies? Their ingenuity provided the basics to learn: quill pens were created from chicken feathers, ink from crushed bearberries, and pencils from the charcoal ends of blackened sticks pulled from the fire. And what did they write on? They wrote on their hands, arms, and old rags until Church President Brigham Young brought the first paper mill to Salt Lake Valley in 1857. These early Mormon settlers of the Great Basin had not wasted the first decade in the Salt Lake Valley. The Saints had been very busy establishing farms, houses, and a few businesses, and they were also laboring to construct temples and schools.

The statement, “Man cannot be saved in ignorance” (D&C 131:6) rang through their very beings, and so they labored. The Saints labored to learn the gospel through diligent scripture study and they built temples where they would administer sacred ordinances while also gaining an education of the spirit. They constructed schools where they could “become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people”, (D&C 90:15) an education of the secular mind.

To stroll through the gallery is to feel of their unseen and yet ever-zealous desire to be educated and to educate.  This spirit implores us to waste no time on worldly pursuits of no eternal value, but to cherish that which is unseen, our accomplishments yet to be realized in our pursuit to be “taught from on high” (D&C 43:16).


March, 10, 2014

Alma O. Taylor


At the young age of 19, Alma O. Taylor was called to serve a nine-year mission to Japan for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was one of the first LDS missionaries to serve in Japan because the country had previously been closed off to countries from the Western hemisphere. As any missionary past or present can attest, learning a new language brings its fair share of frustration. Alma was no exception, and he struggled to master the Japanese language.

In 1902, Elder Heber J. Grant—who also struggled with the Japanese language—prophesied that Alma “would be the main instrument in the hands of the Lord in translating the Book of Mormon into the Japanese language.” Despite his shortcomings, Alma accepted the assignment. After years of hard work, the first Japanese Book of Mormon was finally printed in 1909.[1]

The translation of the Book of Mormon into Japanese helped fulfill the prophecy in Doctrine and Covenants 90:11: “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

And the translation work continues to progress into the twenty-first century. As of 2011 “the Book of Mormon has been published in its entirety in 82 languages, with selections of the book available in an additional 25 languages.”[2] Alma O Taylor played a critical role in fulfilling the promise made in Doctrine and Covenants. As a result of his faith and diligence in the early part of the twentieth century, the people of Japan had the opportunity to hear the fullness of the gospel in their native language.


[1] Larry Richards, “Translations of the Book of Mormon,” LDS Media Talk (forum), July 30, 2010,

[2] “Book of Mormon Reaches 150 Million Copies,” LDS Church News, April 20, 2011,

*For further reading, see Reid L. Neilson, “The Japanese Missionary Journals of Elder Alma O. Taylor, 1901-10” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2001).

March, 10, 2014

Sacrifice Brings Forth Blessings

Maeser building litThis week I gave a tour of the gallery to a friend of mine who goes to massage therapy school and has been working very hard to get an education.  We talked about the sacrifices that some of the early Saints had to make in order to help their children get an education.

I then asked her, “What are some of the sacrifices that you have made in order to get an education?”  Her response was very enlightening.  She had family members telling her to give up because an education just wasn’t for her, that she had spent all of her money on tuition and didn’t even have her own place to live for a while.  However, she felt this sacrifice was worth it in order to get an education.  She feels accomplished knowing that, despite her critics, she was able to stick with a task and accomplish it. All she has left to do now is study and pass her test to complete massage therapy school to get her certificate.

I love asking people what sacrifices they have made for education in their lives.  An education is very important, and I believe it should require some kind of sacrifice from us.  As the hymn “Praise to the Man,” says, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” When I ask visitors what sacrifices they’ve made for their education, it helps them to see how their sacrifice is worth every bit of it because of the joy they have received and the potential joy they will receive in the future from receiving an education.

February, 28, 2014

Housing Brigham Young Academy

BY-Academy-ca.-1892-page-3Brigham Young Academy (BYA), predecessor of Brigham Young University, was housed in a variety of buildings during its foundational years.  The initial location, the Lewis Building in Provo, served the academy well. While the building itself was not very grand, it played an important role in BYA’s legacy, for it was there that Maeser set out to establish fundamental programs that would shape not only BYA, but ultimately all other Church academies.

BYA grew over the years, and by 1882 the Lewis Building was too small. Funds were raised to help expand the building, but only six months later tragedy struck: the newly renovated Lewis Building caught fire and burned down.  Many worried that the academy would not be able to recover, but Maeser and Smoot were determined to keep the academy going. Smoot made arrangements to house the academy on his business property, and the school only lost one day of study following the fire! [1]

After the fair, arrangements were made to build a new permanent home for the academy. LDS Church President John Taylor selected a site, and a campaign began to raise money for the new school. George Q. Cannon was among one of the private donors and many wards in Provo were generous in their support. [2] Plans were made to lay the foundation of the new facility. The academy was moved to a local Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) warehouse in the meantime. Yet, due to nationwide economy problems, the academy collected very few donations. The foundation was laid, but the building progressed little in the next seven years.

The building was finally completed in 1892 when George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency dedicated it as the official location for Brigham Young Academy. This building, which is now the Provo Library, housed the school until the early 1900s when University President George Brimhall began expansion to Temple Hill.


*Information taken from Education in Zion Gallery text


[1] Wilkinson, Ernest L. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 128.

[2] Wilkinson, Ernest L. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976), 130.

February, 28, 2014

The Spirit of the Gallery

photoI love the experiences the gallery holds for individuals of all majors, backgrounds, and faiths. The gallery is a wonderful place that invites the Spirit to teach us and allows for deep reflection.

The first time I had a tour from one of the gallery educators, I was blown away. I knew education was important, but I didn’t realize how much Church leaders have always focused on education and the progression toward a Zion-like community. After a forty-minute tour, I came away with a lot of new knowledge and felt an abundance of peace.

Now I work at the gallery and am blessed to see the lessons I learned months earlier being passed on to others. This in itself is one of the greatest blessings to me because I now have the chance to help uplif others. For these reasons, I love the Education in Zion Gallery.

December, 12, 2013

Printing, a Crucial Instrument of the Restoration

During the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg converted a wooden wine press into a printing press. Arguably the most important invention in human history, this press was like daybreak after millennia of darkness. It is said that Gutenberg’s idea of a press with movable type came to him “like a ray of light.” (1) Gutenberg eventually prepared the Bible for widespread circulation, so that common citizens could study the word of God.


Years later, William Tyndale used Gutenberg’s press to produce an English translation of the Bible to be had among all people—an act that led to his execution, but not before famously stating to a clergyman, “If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause the boy that drives the plow to know more of the scriptures than you!” (2)

Benjamin Franklin used the same press hundreds of years later to produce such documents as the Federalist Papers. The world owes much to Gutenberg and his press—but like all inventions his was eventually upgraded. In 1804, Lord Charles Stanhope devised an all-metal press that required less physical strength to operate, which increased printing speed and reduced cost.

The press was continually upgraded until some were small enough for owners of small printing shops to buy. One such owner was a man named Egbert B. Grandin, who was hired by Joseph Smith to print the first copies of The Book of Mormon.

The permanent exhibition at the Education in Zion Gallery features a beautiful room dedicated solely to printing, and the miracle that it has been for the world, especially for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From the fifteenth century until now, printing has truly been a crucial instrument of the Restoration.


1. Burke, James (1985). The Day the Universe Changed. Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.

2. Foxe, John (1563). Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, touching Matters of the Church (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). England: John Day

December, 9, 2013

James E. Talmage

James-E.-Talmage-ca.-1882James E. Talmage was born September 21st, 1862, in Hungerford, Berkshire, England. Talmage was dedicated to education and to the Lord’s work. After his years of education in schools such as Oxford, Brigham Young Academy, Lehigh University, and John Hopkins University, Talmage Returned to Provo in 1884 to teach geology and chemistry at BYA. One writer said of Talmage, “To the classroom he brought such personality, such lucidity of explanation, such an energizing influence that students made unusual progress under his direction.”1

Talmage was ordained an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by President Joseph F. Smith in 1911.  Under this calling, Talmage served as President of the European Mission of the Church, which was headquartered in Liverpool, England. As a mission president, he traveled across the European continent meeting with Church members and missionaries, directing their work, teaching the gospel, and providing inspiration. Talmage dedicated his life to both temporal and spiritual education. His ecclesiastical and professional works include: First Book of Nature (1888), The Great Salt Lake, Present and Past (1900), The Articles of Faith (1899), The Great Apostasy (1909), The House of the Lord (1912), and Jesus the Christ (1915). Elder Talmage also separated The Pearl of Great Price into verse form, and added scriptural references in preparation for a new edition. James E. Talmage died in July, 1933, leaving behind a legacy of education and the building up of the kingdom of God.

1. James E. Talmage, The Parables of James E. Talmage, comp. Albert L. Zobell, Jr. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1973), 65-66

December, 9, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 1.30.07 PMWith lights, poinsettias and carols beginning to appear all over campus, it is so thrilling that the Christmas season is here! While I love that this is the most socially acceptable time to spontaneously burst into song, I think the best part is the atmosphere of good will and charity that abides wherever you go. Christmastime unites us in a unique way.

The Christmas season is more than sales and presents, it is a season of service and hope. The season begins with Thanksgiving, a holiday devoted to gratitude. Thanksgiving is the perfect springboard into Christmastime as it directs our thoughts to be happy and to give thanks for all we have.

We had a sign in our home while I was growing up that said, “Christmas is not about the presents, but His presence.” I love that sign because it reminds me that Christmas is not a once-a-year celebration; it is a spirit that can continue into the spring, summer, and fall. It is a mindset of looking outside yourself and finding others to uplift. Christ truly is the “reason for the season,” but not just the winter season. As we keep a Christ-centered life, the “Christmas spirit” can always stay with us.

One of the things I love about the Education in Zion Gallery is that it teaches us how to keep Christ at the center of our learning and our lives.