It is always a pleasure to be on the BYU-Idaho campus. Excitement for learning and hope for the future are in the air here. Change to me is always invigorating, and your new university president, President Meredith, embodies vigor. We love and support him and his talented wife Jennifer. You will not go wrong if you look to them to see what life looks like for disciples of Jesus Christ.
Tonight, I’d like to tell you a story from my family history—you may have a story like it in your family history, too. Or your experience may be the source of stories that your posterity will tell.
My story is from the life of my second great-grandmother, Anthonette (Nettie) Marie Olsen. Nettie was born in 1845 in Oslo, Norway, the first child of Christian and Christine Olsen. Nettie and her parents joined the Church when Nettie was about 10 years old. As a result, Nettie and her family were shunned and ridiculed for their new faith. She worked as weaver in a factory to save enough money to immigrate to Salt Lake City, Utah, to be with other Latter-day Saints.
When she was 20 years old, she was ready to undertake the journey. Her father made her a travel bag, which contained a few pieces of underwear and a second dress. She wore the only pair of shoes she owned. Neither she nor her parents understood the nature of the journey ahead.
Nettie sailed across the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Boston. From Boston, she took a train to a point near Florence, Nebraska. From Florence, she walked to Salt Lake City, a distance of 1000 miles. Before she walked 300 miles, her shoes wore off her feet. Nettie offered a fellow traveler her spare dress for a pair of shoes. The woman to whom she made this appeal had several pairs of shoes in her possession, but she refused, saying that she would need the shoes later on.
So, Nettie walked in her stocking feet. She mended her stockings each night by the campfire to be ready for the next day’s walk. Nettie later said, “This wasn’t so bad through the deep sand for miles and miles, but oh, the cactus patches.”
On November 8, 1865, Nettie arrived “afoot and alone” in Salt Lake City. She knew only a few words of English. She had met Christian Fredrick Bernhard Lybbert on the trail, and he helped her find work as a weaver and to learn English. She later married CFB (as the family calls him) and bore 11 children. She and her family eventually settled in Ashley Valley, Uintah County, Utah, where she died in 1932.
I have frequently thought of the sacrifices that Nettie made for her faith. She sacrificed personal comfort, her homeland, and the company of her friends and family in Norway. She sacrificed everything she had ever known for the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may wonder if she thought her commitment to the restored church of Jesus Christ was worth her sacrifice—she knew it was. She had a deep testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith though she never met him. She lived her life consistent with principles of truth and served the Lord, her family, and neighbors. She had faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the promises He makes to the faithful. Her sacrifices built her faith, and she was faithful to the end.
Lectures on Faith states:
“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”
After reading this statement, the natural questions that follow for me are: What am I willing to sacrifice to have this kind of power and faith in my life? What am I willing to sacrifice to have staying power, the power to stay faithful to my covenant that I have made with God? What are you willing to sacrifice to have power sufficient to produce faith that is necessary for salvation?
It is helpful to remember that in “ancient days, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy.” We can see in the scriptures how sacrifice has been required of all God’s people in some form, from Adam and Eve to today. Originally, God’s people offered a sacrifice of animals. It was a symbol of the sacrifice that would be made by the Only Begotten Son of God. This practice continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended animal sacrifice as a gospel ordinance.
Today, He invites us to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This means that we offer our willing obedience, humility, and repentant hearts. Emblems of Christ’s sacrifice are presented to us each week during the sacrament when we can remember the body and blood of Christ, which was sacrificed for us.
We are all confronted every day with the question of how we will use our time. President Russell M. Nelson observed that “mortality is a master class in learning to choose the things of greatest eternal import.” Choosing how you use your time is not just a challenge when you are in school. Every day you decide what is worth your time and talents and what will need to wait. Perhaps you sacrifice time on social media to study. Maybe you sacrifice time for yourself for employment, so you have enough money for your needs. You may sacrifice sleep to serve in the Lord’s kingdom and attend Sunday meetings.
If you find yourself wondering if the sacrifice you make to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and serve in His Church is worth it, please ponder the questions I posed earlier: What am I willing to sacrifice for the kind of power and faith in my life that is necessary to produce eternal life and salvation? What am I willing to sacrifice to become holy and worthy to be in God’s presence again?
I am sure that Nettie Olsen Lybbert thought it was worth her sacrifice of personal comfort to come to Zion. It was worth enduring the pain of the cactus patches that she trekked through. It was worth her sacrifice of popularity to have the peace and power of covenants in her life. It was worth her sacrifice of time to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I think that she found that what others call “sacrifice’’ were really expressions of her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His promises.
My dear young friends, as you make choices for your future now, the greatest choice you can make is to choose Christ and His gospel and all the glorious truths it contains. Choose to make the necessary sacrifices to become someone who has faith with staying power, holy and worthy for salvation. It is worth it. I know this to be true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen
 Lectures on Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 69..
 Bible Dictionary, “Sacrifice.”
 See Moses 5:4–8.
 See Alma 34:13–14.
 See 3 Nephi 9:19–22.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Think Celestial!” Liahona, Nov. 2023.