Henry Johnson Eyring became the 17th president of Brigham Young University-Idaho in April 2017.
President Eyring and his family have had a long association with Rexburg and BYU-Idaho. He first came to the area as a child when his father, President Henry B. Eyring, served as president of Ricks College.
He returned to Rexburg and the relatively new BYU-Idaho in 2006. Over the ensuing 11 years at the university, he has served as associate academic vice president over Online Learning, dvancement vice president, and academic vice president.
Prior to his work at BYU-Idaho, President Eyring worked as a strategy consultant at Monitor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as MBA director at Brigham Young University in Provo.
President Eyring has served in various callings in the Church, including as a full-time missionary in the Japan Nagoya Mission, bishop, mission president in the Japan Tokyo North Mission, and President of the Rexburg Idaho YSA 6th Stake.
President Eyring earned a bachelor’s degree in geology, a master’s degree in business administration, and a juris doctorate from BYU. While attending BYU, he married his high school sweetheart, Kelly Ann Child.
Sister Eyring graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in English. She has served as a stake Young Women president and Primary president. President and Sister Eyring currently team teach the CTR 6 class in Primary.
President and Sister Eyring are the parents of five children. Their three oldest children are graduates of BYU-Idaho, and their two younger children live at home. They also have three grandchildren.
Without revealing private details, can you share, on the devotional discussion board, a story of how repenting increased your faith in the Gospel and the Church?
"Picking Up a Testimony"
Sister Kelly Eyring
September 18, 2018
The music at devotionals is always so inspiring. Thank you for that beautiful musical number.
Today I would like to explore with you a metaphor for strengthening our testimonies of the gospel and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a metaphor based on a poem that may be familiar to you:
In my childhood, this poem resonated with me. I remember the thrill of a finding a lost penny—or, better yet, a nickel, a dime, or a quarter. I felt truly lucky, imagining the penny candy or other treats I could buy. And I believed that the coin was a sign of more good luck to come.
However, finding a coin doesn’t mean as much to me today. There are few things I can buy with a single coin, especially a penny. And time and experience have made me less prone to believe in luck.
Recently, though, I read a thought-provoking story in The Wall Street Journal titled “What I’ve Learned From My Quest for Loose Change.” This story was told by editor Brian Hershberg, who wrote about picking up every coin he found starting when he was 21 years old. Brian explains his unusual habit this way:
I began the quest as a budget-challenged college student on the theory that the money I passed on the ground wouldn’t be insignificant if it was added together over time. Most people see a penny on the ground and don’t pick it up because, well, it’s only 1 cent. Where I would set myself apart, I figured, is by picking up and counting everything. Pick up enough of the pennies that others passed, and eventually there would be a substantial amount. [ii]
Brian kept track of his collection in a college blue book. To date, he has collected $973.45. [iii] More importantly, Brian has picked up valuable mental and emotional benefits. As he says,
Early on, it was about adopting a long-term mind-set, about looking at the big picture. The act of tracking my daily finds got me thinking in the right frame of mind. . . . It also was a way to brighten even the most difficult of days. I felt that I could always say I had a good day if I found money, no matter how little. [iv]
As I read Brian’s story, I recognized a metaphor, or parable. A single penny isn’t worth much. In fact, we may feel that it’s not worth the time and effort to pick it up. Within moments of passing by, we are likely to have forgotten it.
But it is the accumulation of many pennies over a long time that produces financial fortunes. Likewise, the habit of looking for and picking up the seemingly small experiences that Heavenly Father places in our day can fill our testimony banks to overflowing. The key is to recognize and “pick up” those experiences and put them into our spiritual “bank accounts,” where they can be added to and grow larger rather than being lost to memory.
My message today is not about trying to gather enough dropped coins to pay for your college education. (Though you are welcome to keep the coins you may have picked up in the lobby of the BYU-Idaho Center today.) Much more importantly, I hope to encourage us all to notice the testimony-building experiences that are scattered through each day.
I feel grateful to have been born into a family where the gospel was taught to my “believing heart.” I have not experienced a single, grand miracle that convinced me of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, it has been many experiences over many years that have solidified my testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet, the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, my Heavenly Father’s love for me, and the power of our Savior’s Atonement to heal me. Even as I share these ideas with you, I feel the Spirit reconfirm them to me.
Doctrine and Covenants, section 64, verse 33, teaches us to be persistent and patient in strengthening our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It says, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” [v]
Elder Bruce C. Hafen, a former president of Ricks College, has said something similar:
The scriptures teach that God deliberately, and for wise purposes, may use restraint in expressing his highly obvious manifestations. Yet he remains deeply interested and involved in our lives. Because of that restraint in the midst of such interest, it is most important that we learn to perceive the hand of the Lord in situations where his presence may be still and small. It helps make such perception possible if we are willing to “be believing.” [vi]
Like Elder Hafen, I strive to be believing. We have all wondered at one time or another whether a hoped-for blessing was mere coincidence or an answer to our prayers. I challenge you—and myself—to choose to see those experiences as gifts and to write them down. As we do so, the Spirit will be able to confirm to us the love and constant care of our Father in Heaven.
In the final devotional of the Summer Session, Brother Joe McWilliams, BYU-Idaho’s IT Solutions managing director, taught us about the blessings of technology. But he also testified that God is the source of all truth and that we must “stay plugged into the Spirit.” In addition, Brother McWilliams taught that we must be anxiously engaged in a good cause and that we should remember what really matters. [vii]
In my experience, the best way to remember something is to write it down. Brian Hershberg, the journalist who gathers coins, records the amount of every find. That is how he remembers the sum total of his good fortune. A married couple highlighted in a follow-up Wall Street Journal article together picked up coins totaling $3,375.62 in 15 years. [viii] They know because they kept track.
Regrettably, I have not kept good track of the many times I have seen the hand of Heavenly Father in my daily life. By contrast, my husband and my father-in-law are both diligent journal keepers. Their conscientious recording of testimony-building experiences is a blessing to them and those they love. Some of these experiences seem large, like quarters. Others appear smaller, like pennies. But, over time, the sum becomes large and very valuable.
Did you know that there are two more lines to the Penny Poem, or what we might rename the Testimony Poem? Here is that poem in total, including the encouragement to not only look for and “pick up” testimony-building experiences, but also share them with others:
Thank you for allowing me to share my testimony with you. By noting and sharing our testimony-building experiences with each other, we can all be lucky and blessed. I hope to make this new semester one of testimony building as I watch for, collect, and record the spiritual experiences Heavenly Father places in my path. I hope you will too. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.