Ballard and Tuminez share messages of hope and inclusion

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President Astrid Tuminez of UVU joined Elder M. Russell Ballard, an apostle and religious leader from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, during a devotional this past Friday afternoon. The devotional was held at the Utah Valley University’s Institute of Religion and was directed towards the student body with a theme of hope. There were an estimated 2,000 students in attendance.

President Tuminez presented a message of hope after sharing her own experience with grief. Tuminez shared her journey of recovery through hard work and therapy. “I learned to accept pain, realizing it was integral for my being in this world,” Tuminez said, adding that this experience opened her up, “to an ocean of love.”  Tuminez also invited students to read the Wolverine Stories series that spotlights students on campus who overcame great difficulty and chose hope. “We are in the business of hope.” Tuminez added.

Tuminez also invited students to build and sustain a strong community like a Redwood forest. Although Redwoods achieve heights of 300 feet, their roots are only five to six feet deep.

Hannah Hallsted, a student studying at UVU, commented: “I loved when she pulled up the picture of the trees and how the roots just weave together to stay strong . . . As students here at UVU and just as people we can grow and be a really strong tree but when there are people surrounding us and we’re surrounded by other people, we’re helping other people stay strong no matter what winds of life come.”

Brittain Young, Latter Day Saint Association co-president, explained what apostles, like Elder Ballard are: “An apostle has a specific call from Christ himself to help people learn about them. There are apostles just like the New Testament that help to direct the church, help with things logistically as well as spiritually, [and] help people to come unto Him.”

Elder Ballard invited students to slow down and reflect on how they spend their time. He reminded students that mortality is short, calling students to, “find a moment, close your eyes in a quiet place, and connect spiritually with the things that matter most.” With this reflection, Elder Ballard challenged the student body to bring someone new that isn’t currently enrolled at Institute to participate at UVU’s Institute by Christmas. “We cannot be casual about our responsibility to touch and bless the lives of Heavenly Father’s Children,” Ballard said.

When asked why students should get involved with the Institute at UVU Tanner Mallier, President of the Institute Student Council said, “Institute is a great way to get involved, enjoy fun, social atmospheres, and that’s funny because that’s all complementary to what we do here. Just like the role of an apostle, the main purpose of the Institute is to bring people closer to Christ.” 

Involvement at the Institute is not limited to religious classes. The UVU Institute also offers service opportunities, weekly devotionals, activities, and dances. Young said, “We hope that anyone, especially those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would feel like they could be included here.”

President Tuminez and Elder Ballard both left an impression on attending Utah Valley students, to have more hope, to rise to their potential, to connect to the things that matter most, and to get more involved.

Photographs taken by Ysabel Berger

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