OGDEN — It is wise to prepare for the future by looking to the past, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said Sunday evening.
Speaking during the annual Pioneer Days Devotional in Ogden, Utah, President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addressed the topic, “All is Well.”
“From the pioneers we can learn to have faith and trust God; we can learn to be compassionate to others; we can learn that work and industry not only bless us temporally but spiritually; and that happiness is available to us no matter our circumstances,” he said.
A capacity crowd of more than 11,500 gathered in the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State University for the program, which also included remarks by Weber State University President Charles A. Wight and patriotic music from the Ogden Institute Resound Choir.
President Uchtdorf began his talk by speaking not only of the LDS pioneer heritage he and his wife, Harriet, claim as their own, but also of their German heritage.
“We were almost late coming here because Harriet and I were busy winning the World Cup,” he said, making reference to Germany’s 1-0 victory over Argentina earlier in the day.
During his remarks, President Uchtdorf said more than a century and a half has passed since the first Mormon pioneers made the 1,300-mile trek from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley.
“What they and those who followed them did was very difficult and dangerous. I doubt that many of those who set foot on that journey really understood what they were getting into or that they looked forward to the daily effort it eventually required. They knew it was going to be hard, that there was a possibility they or someone they loved would not finish the journey. And yet they came.”
As a result, he said, the LDS Church, the nation, and even the world are richer because of the pioneers.
President Uchtdorf said the pioneers who came to the area acted with faith and courage. “They believed that God had a plan for them and a place prepared where they could worship God and live their religion in peace,” he said. “It is no wonder that 160 years later we still commemorate their achievement with songs, speeches, parades, fireworks, commemorative treks, pins, balloons, banners and T-shirts.”
President Uchtdorf said in the life to come he will be eager to meet the “legendary giants who gave so much to found these cities here in the valleys of the mountains.”
“I think they will be pleased by our interest in them,” he said. “I think they will be humbled by our admiration. But I also believe that they will be far more concerned not about what they did, but about what we did as a result of their sacrifice.”
President Uchtdorf spoke of three pioneer attributes that inspire him: compassion, work and optimism.
“In the end, the best way we can honor the pioneers — the best way for us to repay our debt of gratitude to them — goes beyond making and hearing speeches, marching in parades or attending fireworks celebrations,” he said. “The best way we can show our gratitude is by incorporating into our own lives the faithfulness to God’s commandments, the compassion and love for our fellowmen, the industry, optimism and joy the pioneers demonstrated so well in their own lives.”
During his remarks, President Wight also addressed pioneer courage and resolve.
The WSU president said he has seen many modern-day pioneers on the Weber State University campus — pioneers in their fields of study or students pioneering to get an education despite trials and uncertainly.
“The best way to honor the pioneers of yesteryear is to embrace their spirit,” he said, asking those in the audience to realize the pioneering spirit inside each of them.