Elder Merrill J. Bateman

Dedicatory Talk


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Story Highlights

  • We need to know how to be whole people whether we’re in church on Sunday or in a business or in a home Monday through Friday.
  • This season may we be grateful for the ultimate gifts given to us. Of immortality and eternal life.

Listen here:

Brothers and sisters, I am delighted to be a part of this program this evening. It was about three years ago, about a year after I became president of the university, that I was approached by the Utah South Area presidency with the possibility of using this particular site for a double stake center. They had built one in the north end of the stadium parking lot–I had watched that go up, having lived the community at that time–and thought to myself as I saw it go up that it would be used in the evenings, part of it during the week and then on Saturdays and Sundays, but it would not be used Monday through Friday. And so when the area presidency approached me I suggested to them that we might try another concept. And that concept would be one where the university would, like on campus, would be able to use the new facility Monday through Friday–at least a significant portion of the building–and then have the stakes use it during the weekday evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays. The area presidency thought it was a good idea. And so went forward, taking it to the board of trustees on the one hand, and also up through the physical facility side of the church, so that we could get both sides represented in the process of building this new building.

I thought it was important for two reasons. One was the cost, because for probably twenty to twenty-five percent more we could increase the usage of the building by sixty to seventy percent. Number two, since coming to campus as president, I’ve had this very overpowering feeling that we need to combine the secular with the sacred–that the Lord’s school does not have a dividing line. Life doesn’t have a dividing line as far as I’m concerned. We need to know how to be whole people whether we’re in church on Sunday or in a business or in a home Monday through Friday. And so the question came: can we put together a building that would really serve a major unit of university and at the same time accommodate a stake? I’ve just finished my second tour of the building, and as I’ve listened to Brother Ray Graham, who represents the University side, and as I’ve listened to President Covey, who represents the ecclesiastical side, I have great hope.

Actually, there is a third reason. I think this building can be a prototype for what the church does across the earth, if we can learn how to work together in this building–both the university with its purposes and the ecclesiastical side with its. I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen on both tours. I’m very pleased with the attitude of the stake and ward leadership to work with the university leadership–and the university to work with the stakes. It seems to me that a pattern is being formed and a great prospect is being uncovered as the church rolls across the earth over the next few years.

This is a special time of the season–it’s a season when gifts are exchanged. May I close today by just sharing with you an experience I’ve had this week that’s helped me to understand how God uses everyday life to really be a blessing to us. I spoke at a funeral three days ago. It was a funeral of a fifteen-year-old girl–young woman–she was born with Trisome 18. Now, Down Syndrome is Trisome 21. Trisome means that on one of your genes you end up with three chromosomes instead of two and the third chromosome causes a mixing and a dis-equilibrium in terms of what’s going on. Trisome 18 is lethal. Normally a person with Trisome 18 lives a few hours. A miracle was performed at birth on this small baby. Trisome 18 attacks the heart and the lungs. That’s primarily where the major problems are centered, although it can attack the brain and it can do other things as well.

With this young girl, she never walked, she could never talk, but she lived here for fifteen years. She took extraordinary care on the part of the parents. What was interesting was the mother was going into English, her father had this impression that she should become a nurse. The daughter at first resisted and then relented and had the same impression herself. She’d graduated from the university's nursing program, she’d spent the first nine month’s practice in the pediatrics ward at the hospital, then the baby was born. She spent the last fifteen years caring from morning to night caring for this small child. When the young woman died this past week at fifteen years of age, she weighed thirty-five pounds and was about three feet long. The mother or the father carried her wherever she went. The mother indicated that normally her pattern was to go to sleep at two in the morning and wake up at noon except on Sundays, when she always woke up at 6:30, which gave the mother enough time to get her ready to go to church. The mother also indicated that when she became twelve–from twelve to fifteen, her last three years–every time they would come to the end of the first meeting and it was time to go to Young Women’s, she could see her daughter just began to shake–she was so excited as she began to anticipate being with those other young women in the program.

At one point the father of the young woman said to himself, what is the purpose of her life? What can she get out of life? A few months later, he had a dream. In the dream a person came to him and took him to a far place. In that far place, he saw a long line of people. And at the head of it he saw his daughter. And all these people lined up to thank her for the lessons that she had taught them. As I listened to it, I thought of those lessons. For example, the mother said at a short speech she gave at the funeral, "I can hardly wait for the day that she puts her arms around my neck again, and I can tell she doesn’t want to let me go." I thought of the love that has been created in that family.

The next gift the daughter had given to the parents and the other members of the family was one of patience. Every morning and evening the mother would start a three-hour therapy to clean out the lungs of this young girl and get her going again during the day. The family in fifteen years have had one vacation with the daughter being cared for by her next sister and the grandmother while the parents and the other three children took a few days.

It has been very costly to care for her. I thought of a lesson in temperance or moderation. I thought of a spiritual witness the father had and the testimony and faith that’s been built in the family as another gift that has come from her. Even though there was sorrow at the funeral, there was peace and serenity in the hearts of the family–another gift. All of the sudden it dawned on me that God has used this young woman to help feed the gifts of the spirit in the lives of the family–peace, joy, love, faith, temperance, long suffering. He’s helped them, through her, acquire the attributes of divine nature. This season may we be grateful for the ultimate gifts given to us. Of immortality and eternal life of which these gifts are an integral part. I ask God’s blessings on you and on those who use this building in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.