Junjiro, Steve, and Cassidy know what it is like to be elders. They did, after all, just come home from missions. Now, at school, they were all set to throw themselves into their education when a new learning experience presented itself. They were called to serve as the elders quorum presidency in the BYU–Hawaii First Ward.
“I was excited about the calling because I felt like the Lord trusted me,” said elders quorum president Junjiro Makise, originally from Japan. “I knew He would not give me a calling that I could not handle. And I could do something to help all the members of the ward.”
Called to serve as counselors were Stephen Dangerfield from Moscow, Idaho, and Cassidy Matthew from the Marshall Islands. Alvin Singh is the secretary. The new presidency set out to learn how to be leaders. They followed the pattern they had learned in the Aaronic Priesthood and while on their missions—they turned to the scriptures and to the Lord in prayer.
“I had a good example in my life,” said Junjiro. “That was my father. He had been the bishop and the stake president when I was growing up. He said that in a leadership position, you have to be an example and participate in everything. It’s not just telling the members what to do but showing by example. You have to do all the things that you ask them to do. You have to be at the activity or at the service project. Then they will do the things you ask them to do more willingly because they know you are doing them as well.”
“My father always drove me to Church activities,” said Junjiro. “Sometimes I just wanted to stay home and play with my friends, but he was always there to take me. Because of my father, I developed the habit of participating in all Church activities. To me, he was what a leader should be.”
Junjiro follows his father’s advice. If he asks the members of the quorum to volunteer for service or to teach a lesson or come to an activity, he is there himself offering support. He said, “Before my calling, I didn’t know the members of my quorum very well. Now I worry about how I can help them to do their part.”
Making an Amazing Difference
When Junjiro was called, he approached the Lord, as the bishop suggested, in deciding upon his counselors. Two names came up: Stephen Dangerfield and Cassidy Matthew. He felt the influence of the Spirit in asking to serve with these fine young men.
Steve had been serving as a district supervisor for home teaching. “I knew he was on top of things and would get things done,” said Junjiro. Cassidy was newly called as the membership clerk in the ward. But when Junjiro talked to the bishop about him, the bishop said if that’s what the Lord wants, then that’s how it will be. The presidency is united in their goal to serve the elders of their ward.
Steve said, “I think the biggest thing you learn in this sort of position is how significant each person is. It doesn’t need a huge effort on each person’s part, just doing home teaching or coming to activities. It’s fulfilling your responsibilities. You don’t need to go beyond what you’re asked to do. But just doing what you are assigned makes an amazing difference.”
The first challenge facing this presidency was just getting to know all the members of their quorum. Since they are all students, turnover is significant. People finish a semester or a school year and then return home or go on to school in other places.
At first, the quorum was combined from three wards for the summer semester. “Our quorum,” said Steve, “is a good bunch of guys. They all want to be friends.”
On Sundays, Steve often has to assign the quorum to service or welfare projects. He appreciates those who are willing to serve. “They are valiant—or they have flexible schedules,” said Steve, with a smile. The presidency strives to include everyone and leave no individual overlooked.
Learning to Care
For Cassidy, it was a surprise when he was called to the presidency. “I got a call asking me to come for an interview with the bishop,” said Cassidy. “I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t know what it was. I had served in the elders quorum presidency in my small branch back home in the Marshall Islands before my mission, and I learned a lot. But here, in such a large quorum, I have learned even more.
“The thing that has impressed me most was when we looked at all the names on the list and discussed what we were going to do to help each person. It meant a lot to me that we were talking about the needs of each person. It hit me that I was thinking more about others than I was about myself.”
Even in a student ward, this elders quorum presidency is young. But they all see it as a chance to grow. “There are a lot of people in the ward,” said Junjiro, “who know more than we do, and they know more about how to run activities. At first, we looked at our weaknesses. They are hard to get over, but then we gained confidence, and now we just need to keep going.”
And that’s just how this presidency is working. They are pushing ahead, getting to know everyone, trying to get them all involved, finding ways to help fulfill the needs of those in the ward. They are leading by example.
Photographs by Janet Thomas; illustrations by Scott Greer