TEMPE, Ariz. — The president of Arizona State University told nearly 4,000 young single adult members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Saturday to use their brains.
“The single most complex physical object that exists in the universe is the human brain,” said President Michael M. Crow. “I mean this literally.”
Crow’s remarks were part of the second general session of a three-day YSA conference held in the Grady Gammage Auditorium on the campus of Arizona State University and attended by single church members from five stakes. Also speaking at the session were former NBA player Thurl Bailey and former NFL player Vai Sikahema.
During his remarks, Crow asked the capacity crowd, which included an overflow broadcast at the Temple Arizona LDS Institute of Religion building, to ponder how they will use their brains.
“What will you create?” questioned the university president. “How will you teach your family or others? How will you help others? How will you solve problems that have not been solved before? How will you discover?”
Crow told the young adults that their brain was an “unbelievably powerful gift.”
Then he asked them to utilize this gift when choosing whom to date.
“Look at their brain,” he quipped. “Think about whether or not they know how to use it.”
Sikahema, president of the Cherry Hill New Jersey Stake and a graduate of Mesa High School in Arizona, recounted his family’s conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ that started its journey from Tonga to Mesa. He said he never did well in school and didn’t learn to read until he was 10 years old.
But he succeeded because his greatest gift was “the ability to recognize people that would bless my life.”
Two such people were Neal and Sally Sue Nelson — Sikahema's former Blazer B teacher and Scoutmaster.
The couple was at the conference and stood when Sikahema introduced them.
“They helped me get to college and stayed with me and assisted me,” he said. “They helped me get on my mission.”
Not everyone can be a star student or a star athlete, he said. “But here is what blessed my life: the gift I have to be able to recognize people who could help me.”
He told the young single adults to also use the power of observation.
“God loves us. We are his children," Sikahema said. "He especially cares for you as young people. I pray you will be observant of your many gifts and share them to bless the lives of others.”
Bailey began his remarks with the word “journey.”
“I love the word 'journey,'” he said, noting that his life has been an amazing journey.
While playing basketball in Europe, he said on many occasions he crossed the border into Switzerland. Every time he was asked the same three questions. But one day those questions hit him so hard, he pulled his car over to the side of the road.
“Where have you been? What is your purpose here today? What is your destination?”
He decided that those “were the three most important questions that could ever be asked to me. Those questions were so profound at that moment.”
Bailey also spoke about being cut from the junior high basketball team in the seventh and eighth grade and having a coach tell him to “give it up.”
But a year later, Bailey said a new coach saw potential in him and worked with him. He also spoke about moving to Utah to play with the Utah Jazz, about his conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and about meeting his wife.
“Throughout the course of your journey you will have many ups and downs," he said. "But you have so much potential.”
With that potential comes the responsibility to “see the potential in others, see the good in others,” he added. “I pray those three questions always stand out in your mind.”