This has post has been really hard for me to blog. President Hinckley's passing just had an impact on me and it just felt so personal to me that I just couldn't do a little blog about it like all the other inane things in my life. So let's just leave it at the fact that I will miss him dearly -- oh so much -- I just remember crying and crying as I watched the funeral on BYUTV. I'm not sure I will ever have such a connection to a Church leader like I had with him. One of my first memories of him personally was up in Rexburg at then Ricks College. He was coming for devotional my freshman year and they decided they'd give out tickets to devotional first come, first serve. The catch? The line started in the football stadium stands. People were out there more than 24 hours ahead of time to get in line. One of my many Bens (the one who looked like a mix of Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller) took my ID card and waited in line for me and got me a great seat. Really the only thing I can remember from that day (other than the anticipation, when the prophet is coming to campus you can just feel it in the air! I loved that!) was when Pres. Hinckley walked into the Hart and everyone stood up and we just all started singing "We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet". I'm not sure I've ever had the Spirit witness to me so strongly that we have a living prophet and here he was right there! I had this experience in my first few weeks of being in college and I think it really helped set the path for my life and who I became while I was in college. It was also the first time I fell in love with Sister Hinckley!!! I was also there the next summer, when my 7 am class was canceled and I was forced to go to an assembly in the Hart (grudgingly). Much to my surprise I watched Pres. Hinckley make the announcement via satellite about BYU-Idaho and I still remember the smile on his face as 90% of the auditorium erupted into cheers. My third experience was three years later when he came back for the GBHinckley Building dedication. It was one of the few times he didn't even look at his notes and he just talked to all the kids -- I think he had a soft spot for the kids at BYUI.
This is long, so you don't have to read it, but here are my favorite excerpts (there wasn't a dry eye in the building):
First, I want to tell you that I love you. I love you kids, you wonderful young people of this Church. I love you. I believe you are the best generation this Church has ever had. No generation which has gone before measures up to the stature to which you measure up. You are better educated. I think you have greater faith I think you have shown that faith and are showing that faith than any other previous generation. I am so thankful for you. I thank you for your strength; for your willingness to do the right thing; for your desire to serve the Lord; for your capacity to help build the kingdom; for the fact that you get on your knees and say your prayers, as I know you do; for the fact that you pray to the Lord to help you, to guide you in the things you do, as I know you do.
I wish for you nothing but the best. You are so choice and so wonderful and the future is so great that you can't afford to betray yourselves in anyway or to do anything less than that which each of you is capable of accomplishing. You don't have to be a genius. You don't have to be a straight-A student. You just have to do your very best with all the capability you have. You have to do your very best. And somehow, if you do that, God will open the way before you and the sun will shine, and your lives will be fruitful and you will accomplish great good in the world in which you take a part. I couldn't wish for you anything better as I look into your faces this day.
There is no end in sight for the good you can do. Do you know it? You are just simple kids. You are not geniuses. I know that. But the work of the world isn't done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people who have learned to work in an extraordinary way people of your kind who can do these things.
I repeat. Don't sell yourselves short. You look in the mirror every morning when you boys get up to scrape off the fuzz, and the girls get up to put on the paint you look into the mirror and say "I can do the right thing today, God being my helper. And I will do it." Heaven bless you is my humble prayer for you.
God bless this great institution. May heaven smile upon it and all who come here and use it. May its name be spread for good across the earth as good men and women, educated here and going forth to serve, stand with honesty and integrity before the world as men and women of faith and accomplishment and goodness and integrity, is my humble prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
And with his passing comes another solemn assembly where we sustain another prophet to lead and guide us. Now there are certain general authorities where you feel a strong bond with, I must admit I never have felt really connected to Pres. Thomas S. Monson -- but that makes him no less a prophet and no less of a man. I just happen to enjoy bluntness and candidness (thus my favorites of Oaks, Holland, and Bednar as well as Ballard this year!) and not so much storytelling. It's just my personality. Nevertheless it was my privilege to be part of sustaining him on Saturday and Sunday. And I will not forget how awesome Saturday morning was. We are very blessed to have living prophets!