Declaring that the days of the pioneers are not past, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve affirmed that today's Church members can rightly be called "modern pioneers" for their acts of faith.
"Members of this Church face hardships, overcome obstacles, and follow the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ as valiantly as the pioneers of any age," said Elder Oaks in the Sunday morning session.He spoke of the early-day settlers, saying that those who were back in the last wagon may not have received the recognition of those leading the wagon train, but they were every bit as noble and faithful. The same commentary may be applied to saints today, he noted.
"There are hidden heroines and heroes among the Latter-day Saints," said Elder Oaks, "those of the last wagon whose fidelity to duty and devotion to righteousness goes unnoticed, except byT the One whose notice really matters."
Offering some examples of modern pioneers, Elder Oaks praised those who place devoted Church service above their personal preferences.
The apostle explained that Church members are tested for Christlike qualities in different ways at different times.
"EarlyT pioneers received some of their toughest tests at graveside," he said. "Some modern pioneers receive their tests at bedside." He read a letter from a woman whose mother cared lovingly for her husband, stricken with Alzheimer's disease, all the while radiating joy.
Those who have been called to prominent positions are more noticeable but no more noble, Elder Oaks said, and related how a mother had once introduced him to her teenage son, asking the boy if he knew who Elder Oaks was.
The youth's response - "Sure, he's one of those guys who hangs on the wall at seminary" - elicited laughter from the congregation.
"Prominent position . . . does not put anyone on a fast track to exaltation," Elder Oaks testified. "The criteria for that ultimate goal is the same for every person. . . . Have we received the ordinances of salvation and kept our covenants?"
He related a story of a woman who forgave someone who had abused her, and said, "Like this sister who forgave, many modern saints do their pioneering on the frontiers of their own attitudes and emotions."
The apostle expressed his gratitude to the "rank and file members of this Church" for faithfulness and nobility, saying that he receives more from them than he gives.
Accounts of members' inspirational examples are rarely published, he said, "except on the pages" of the Church News and the Church magazines, and urged all members to have these in their homes.
"In our day, as in the days of earlier pioneers," he concluded, "those in the lead wagons set the direction and signal onward, but it is the faithful men and women in the wagons which follow that provide the momentum and motive power for this great work."