Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pioneer Heritage

For many members of the Church, these words (the faith of our fathers) bring to mind valiant pioneers who abandoned the comfort of their homes and traveled by wagon and on foot until they reached the valley of the Great Salt Lake. I love and honor the faith and courage of those early pioneers of the Church. My own ancestors were living an ocean away at the time. None were among those who lived in Nauvoo or Winter Quarters, and none made the journey across the plains. But as a member of the Church, I claim with gratitude and pride this pioneer legacy as my own.  (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, April Conference, 2008)

My last missionary companion was man of great faith, serving a mission only a year after his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  As we walked or biked along the dusty, rocky streets of Rawson, Argentina we occasionally discussed whether the pioneer history of the Church as presented in hymns and lessons was a heritage of members in our branch.

He believed that being separated by time, space and culture the pioneer experience was little understood.  I thought that learning of the faith and commitment to the gospel of the pioneers would would create a natural bond, a legacy. 

In “The LDS Church in Mongolia,” Briana Stewart gives a brief and interesting account of the Church in Mongolia.  Within the article is a picture of Mongolian youth on a Pioneer Trek.  The Pioneer Trek has greater intensity than the traditional lessons that I believed would create a legacy.  In Mongolia, Argentina, and everywhere in between, treks will transport our youth to a different time, bridging the distance between their lands and the plains and mountains of the American West, letting them glimpse at the faith and character needed to gather in Zion, strengthening their testimonies by bonding them to our common legacy.  They will understand that their personal journey as Saints is the same as that of the pioneers.   

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