Article written by: Grady Ellsworth

On Tuesday, June 20 at 11:30 a.m., John Mackenzie, manager of I.T. project management, delivered his devotional talk in which he spoke on the importance of gathering with others who share similar beliefs and values. 

He began his talk by sharing his experience of coming to school at BYU-Idaho for the first time. Upon arriving to Rexburg, panic and doubt set in, but those feelings were quickly subdued as he arrived to his apartment complex and found himself surrounded by other students who also happened to be faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mackenzie mentioned that feeling the need to be around others doesn’t necessarily denote a lack of self-reliance. 

“We shouldn’t confuse the eternal principles of independence and self-reliance with the strength that comes from gathering,” Mackenzie said. “We are all interconnected in some way, and our actions have an impact on the people around us. When we focus only on ourselves and our own needs and desires, we miss out on the opportunity to build strong relationships with others and to create an environment of community and belonging.”

He went on to explain that gathering with others can help to solve problems of isolation and loneliness and illustrated this through images of campfires. Mackenzie explained that while the logs igniting the fire were together, they remained strong as they fueled the flame. Following this explanation, he showed an image of a charred log on its own and without and flame due to being isolated from the fire. He compared the logs to students and the fire to students being together. He said that the flame will continue to burn as long as students are with one another. 

“The brightly burning logs within the fire remind me of the strength and inclusive feelings we enjoy when together we are working towards a similar goal,” Mackenzie said. “We provide support, light and strength to one another. We help each other grow, develop and get through difficult times.”

In closing, Mackenzie shared his testimony and encouraged students to make an effort to take advantage of social and spiritual opportunities by gathering with those around them. He promised warmth, light and many other blessings to those who would be willing to apply the teachings of his message. 

“It is my hope that your student experience will nurture and strengthen your foundation through the many opportunities to gather during your time at BYU-Idaho,” Mackenzie said. “Let us commit to staying connected and to supporting each other through both good times and bad. As we do so, we will be like that log that burns brightly in the fire, providing warmth, light and strength to all around us.”