By luke alo
By learning from the trials of Mormon pioneers, people today will be prepared to face their own challenges, said President James E Faust in the annual LDS Pioneer Day Commemeration Sunday night, July 20.
“We go forward with a different set of challenges than our pioneer forbears had,” Faust said. “These modern challenges are more subtle.”
President Faust spoke to a nearly full audience at the LDS Conference Center, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which recently returned from a trip to the East coast, performed.
A reminiscent smile played on President Faust”s lips as he recounted some of the pioneer stories his grandmother told him.
He then told the story of Susan Witbeck, who as a young woman in England, was baptized into the LDS church against her grandparents” will.
“Her grandfather was so disturbed and enraged that he gave her the choice of giving up her religion or her home,” Faust said.
Witbeck left her home to stay with the saints and came to America, Faust said.
After getting to Iowa City, she had no money and eventually found work as a seamstress. Faced with another difficult decision, Witbeck rejected a marriage proposal from a non-mormon and went to Utah with the Israel Evans Handcart Company.
Her arrival to Utah ended a trying journey where the saints welcomed her.
Faust said her struggles reflect those of modern people.
“They may not be as physically exhausting,” he said, “but in some ways it requires a different kind of spiritual strength to resist the sometimes overpowering influences of our time.”
Sarali Allen, a BYU graduate from Meridian, Idaho, said Faust”s message had obvious application.
“Everywhere we go in the church we have a home,” she said. “We should also remember to welcome the pioneers that come into the church today.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir accompanied President Faust”s remarks with rousing pioneer anthems such as “Come, Come Ye Saints,” and “Faith in Every Footstep.”
Recently returned from what President Gordon B. Hinckley called a most successful tour to the northeastern states, the choir impressed the audience with a moving performance of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
“The music was amazing,” said Ryan Allen 23, a junior at BYU from Billings, Montana, majoring in accounting.
President Faust said the pioneer tradition unites members of the LDS Church.
“In the spirit of the pioneers, together we welcome and embrace one another in the community of Saints to which we all belong,” he said.