The first BYU devotional of the 2013 winter semester provided BYU students with the chance to get to know President and Sister Samuelson better and know of their dedication to the university and students.
The Samuelsons’ format in the devotional was to share a few stories with the audience about their life, marriage and children that show the hand of the Lord in their lives, and to encourage the students to find and acknowledge the Lord’s hand in their own lives.
President Samuelson began by comparing their experience with that of President Eyring, who left Stanford to become president of Rick’s College, now BYU–Idaho, without fully understanding the reasons why he was accepting such a calling. He spoke about how to recognize the hand of the Lord.
“The common characteristic in our case seems to be that we recognize the hand of the Lord much better in retrospect than while divine interventions are taking place,” President Samuelson said. “We fully believe that rarely, if ever, do good things happen to us without the influence of the hand of heaven.”
The Samuelsons then spoke about a few experiences in their marriage that highlighted times when they recognized the hand of the Lord, such as the way in which the two met each other. Sister Samuelson worked as a secretary for Cecil O. Samuelson, Sr., at the University of Utah, when he mentioned he had a son on a mission and hoped she would be available when he returned. While hesitant at first, she changed her mind when President Samuelson returned, and they were married shortly thereafter, with the expectation of having several children.
“Since we both came from rather large families, we knew we wanted to have several children,” Sister Samuelson said. “However, our first wasn’t born until three years after we were married. Initially, we weren’t terribly concerned … it was my dream and blessing to be a mother, and in that I have never felt otherwise.”
However, pregnancies became difficult, and complications became severe. Another child was born five years later, but the Samuelsons were told it could be their last. Situations changed for the young family when in February 1977, President Samuelson was called as a stake president. Through one of the members of the high council, President Samuelson learned of a program to adopt children from Guatemala and thought it might be a good idea.
“Within a few days, we received an unexpected call explaining a set of twins that would be born within the end of the month would be available for adoption,” Sister Samuelson said. “The culture at the time (in Guatemala) was that having twins was not good fortune. The practice in their area at that time was to choose the potentially stronger infant of the two and nurse that one, while the other child would be neglected.”
The Samuelsons recognized the hand of the Lord in helping them have more children and helping the infants survive and have a good home.
“We were confident that the hand of the Lord was on these good people, because our twins were healthy when I arrived,” President Samuelson said. “Our eldest son’s prayer for a brother and a sister were answered.”
Additionally, President and Sister Samuelson have recognized that their time spent at BYU has been influenced by the Lord in many ways as well, and recommended an exercise to help recognize the Lord’s hand in the lives of each of the students.
“We feel the great privilege of our assignment to BYU,” President Samuelson said. “We feel the pride and pain of parenthood as we see you grow, struggle, achieve and excel. You and the thousands like you are great blessings in our lives. The scriptures are replete with accounts of the hand of the Lord influencing many of his children. You have your favorites, and we have ours. A useful exercise which we recommend is to go through the scriptures and count the many references to the reality of the Lord’s hand and his promises to his people.”