People today should go forward, meeting their problems as the pioneers met their problems, President Gordon B. Hinckley said Feb. 19.
Speaking at a pioneer-style dinner for Utah community, government, business and religious leaders, President Hinckley asked the group to pattern their lives after the pioneers, "so future generations will speak of appreciation of what we have done as we speak of appreciation of what they did."The dinner was sponsored by the Utah Pioneer Sesquicentennial Celebration Coordinating Council and the Church Sesquicentennial Committee. Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley; President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances; and President James E. Faust and his wife, Ruth, as well as several members of the Quorum of the Twelve also attended the event, held on the 26th floor of the Church Office Building.
Native American performers; a special program featuring a representation of pioneer children, including Sister Hinckley's grandmother (see separate article on this page); and historical displays helped educate the community leaders about the pioneer sesquicentennial celebration.
President Hinckley told the group that Church members and Utahns share a great inheritance. "What a tremendous thing to have great people behind you, from whom you can look back and whom you can gain strength," he said. "No one can honestly question our remarkable legacy. We are the beneficiary of the works of great men and great women. They did something truly significant."
He said he marveled at Brigham Young's faith, noting that some 80,000 people came to the Salt Lake Valley before the coming of the railroad in 1869.
"They plowed and planted, they brought the waters from the mountain streams to the hard soil," said President Hinckley. "They fought crickets and lizards and snakes. They nurtured their families, they harvested their crops and made the desert blossom as a rose."
President Hinckley said their story is now history. "Their remarkable achievements will grow in appreciation as generations of thankful people recount them. The places of their greatest sufferings have become hallowed shrines now."
President Hinckley encouraged the dinner group to look forward. "Some might wish for a return to the simpler times of the past, rather than face the problems of the future. This cannot be. We will face up to whatever challenges the future may bring."
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said the events planned by the Church this year to honor the pioneers will be "grand celebrations." He noted that during April General Conference, there will be "wonderful teachings from the First Presidency" in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.
Sesquicentennial activities will unfold throughout the world on an almost daily basis this year, he continued, explaining that more than 20,000 wards and branches in 160 different countries will celebrate the establishment of the Church in Utah and around the world.
"We trust that the Lord will be pleased with our celebration and that faith will be one of those things that will be in all of our hearts as we trace the footsteps of our faithful pioneer forefathers," Elder Ballard said.
Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt also spoke on pioneering into the future, and said that technology is constantly changing. Facing this unknown future "will require the same virtues that the pioneers had."
The governor said the pioneers' task was defined by the harshness of the elements; the challenge today will be the pace and breadth of the change that people have to deal with - perhaps the most profound transition man has ever known.
He told the group that if people today will lay the same foundation that supported their pioneer forbears, they will succeed as the pioneers did.