- Now after all these studies and activities, it is appropriate to ask ourselves, “Therefore, what?” Are these pioneer celebrations academic, merely increasing our fund of experiences and knowledge? Or will they have a profound impact on how we live our lives?
These activities should be reviewed for their deeper meaning. We should look at these activities and try to discover what eternal principles are being taught to us.
- It is not enough to study or reenact the accomplishments of our pioneers. We need to identify the great, eternal principles they applied to achieve all they achieved for our benefit and then apply those principles to the challenges of our day.
He speaks about the faith of the early pioneers to endure the trials and hardships that they went through. We have similar hardships in our time and we should look for the answers to the pioneers issues as possible answers to our trials and difficulties.
- The foremost quality of our pioneers was faith. With faith in God, they did what every pioneer does—they stepped forward into the unknown: a new religion, a new land, a new way of doing things. With faith in their leaders and in one another, they stood fast against formidable opposition. When their leader said, “This is the right place,” they trusted, and they stayed. When other leaders said, “Do it this way,” they followed in faith.
He speaks about the qualities of unselfishness and sacrifice that were so evident in the pioneer era.
- Two companion qualities evident in the lives of our pioneers, early and modern, are unselfishness and sacrifice. Our Utah pioneers excelled at putting “the general welfare and community goals over individual gain and personal ambition.”
Although the pioneers excelled in these areas, we have the challenge of living up to those same standards in our lives.
- We praise what the pioneers’ unselfishness and sacrifice have done for us, but that is not enough. We should also assure that these same qualities are guiding principles for each of us as we have opportunities to sacrifice for our nations, our families, our quorums, our members, and our Church.
President Oaks points out additional traits that the pioneers had that we need to try to emulate in our lives.
- Other great qualities in our early pioneers were obedience, unity, and cooperation.
- Another great pioneer virtue was their commitment to one another, to their leaders, and to their faith.
He quotes the song "True to the Faith" and asks us what those words mean.
- What does it mean to be true to the faith? That word true implies commitment, integrity, endurance, and courage.
He speaks to returned missionaries about the words to the hymn "True to the Faith" and asks them to find deep meaning in the faith that they have seen in their lives. He encourages them to hold true to the faith that they have seen demonstrated in the lives of people they have worked with in their missionary service. He encourages faith that will help us endure to the end.
- In the spirit of that description I say to our returned missionaries—men and women who have made covenants to serve the Lord and who have already served Him in the great work of proclaiming the gospel and perfecting the Saints—are you being true to the faith? Do you have the faith and continuing commitment to demonstrate the principles of the gospel in your own lives, consistently? You have served well, but do you, like the pioneers, have the courage and the consistency to be true to the faith and to endure to the end?
He concludes by quoting President Hinckley about honoring those that have come before us.
- As President Hinckley reminded us last April, “We honor best those who have gone before when we serve well in the cause of truth.” That cause of truth is the cause of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, whose servants they were, and whose servants we should strive to be.
From this talk, I take away from it that it is more important to recognize the changes in our lives than talk about the great pioneers of the past. We are to do something with this knowledge and use the examples of those in the past to better our future. We all need people around us that have faced adversity and are still strong in their faith afterwards. To me, the pioneers are examples of this. Despite the heartache, famine, fatigue, trials, and even death of loves ones, they held on to their faith to see them through those rough times in their lives. For me, that is what I get from listening to stories of my ancestors. I can continue to have faith through my trials because I know others have done hard things in their lives and continued to keep the faith.