Keeping with tradition, President Eyring kicked off the Winter 2021 Semester with a virtual devotional address to students and employees on Tuesday, January 10. In the address he praised the campus community for their diligence in following safety guidelines during the fall semester.
President Eyring explained that although COVID cases are lower, we should continue to follow public health guidelines and “remain in a state of high alert.”
“Given our fall success, we can aspire to doing even better in winter, notwithstanding the cold,” President Eyring said. “Fall showed us that we can adapt and survive. Winter presents an opportunity to thrive.”
Along with this encouragement, President Eyring issued an invitation for students to participate in a campus-wide fast that Sunday to help the university community have a healthy semester. Following the fast, BYU-Idaho Food Services provided 17,000 meals of lasagna, salad, bread rolls, and a cookie for students to break their fasts.
“We had approximately 230 volunteers helping with break-the-fast,” said Student Support Director Allen Jones. “It was amazing to see so many happy faces in the freezing rain.”
With their meal, students were invited to have a discussion with family or roommates to discuss what they can do to help keep themselves and campus healthy.
In his address, President Eyring also shared the biblical account of the Good Samaritan. He likened it to the way BYU-Idaho students serve their peers and find opportunities to be Good Samaritans in their own lives.
“The Good Samaritan risked harm while giving his all,” President Eyring said. “And there was nothing in it for him but the satisfaction of sacrificing and serving. BYU-Idaho is blessed with a tradition of attracting and nurturing Good Samaritans.”
President Eyring then likened our current times to the Teton Dam tragedy in June 1976. He shared how devastation hit Rexburg: Lives were lost, buildings were damaged, and streets were flooded. Despite the destruction, people stepped up to serve their neighbors.
“Many types of ‘dams’ will break on us and those we care for,” President Eyring shared. “The floods may bring illness and quarantine, school and career setbacks, and, perhaps most painful of all, family sorrows. But that ‘curriculum’ is central to the purpose of this Earth life.”
President Eyring acknowledged the differences between the current pandemic and the Teton Dam flood but described our current state as “a COVID-19 dam” in our lives.
“A COVID-19 dam has broken on us,” President Eyring stated. “But we can be sure that personal and collective righteousness will qualify us for Heaven’s blessings, as always. Part of qualifying is the maintaining of pandemic precautions, as we did last semester.”
He committed to students that he would be responsible during the pandemic by wearing a protective mask when he leaves his house, showing generosity towards others’ decisions, and refraining from assigning blame.
“The Good Samaritan modeled that behavior,” President Eyring said. “He didn’t judge the beaten man on the perilous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Nor did he make excuses, as the danger of the situation would have allowed. He took the risk of helping.”
President Eyring concluded by sharing the blessings that come from serving others. He encouraged students to help each other throughout the semester and be modern-day Good Samaritans.
“Like the Good Samaritan, we will be protected and blessed in this service. Heaven will ‘vaccinate’ us, spiritually and emotionally, for service in difficult assignments such as the one undertaken by the Good Samaritan. Throughout our lives, we will be ready to lead when a pandemic threatens, a dam breaks, or a rocky, dangerous road must be traveled.”