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“We have a great story; we have the great pioneer story,” said President Ballard in an interview on June 15th with the Church Newsroom and other media outlets.
President M. Russell Ballard is a direct descendent of Hyrum Smith, the brother of the prophet Joseph Smith who was the first president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Not everybody is a descendant of a pioneer that made their way across the plains in the valley,” said President M. Russell Ballard, senior apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “But all of us have forefathers, and regardless of our nation, culture, and where we come from … we all have pioneer heritage.”
Pioneer Day is not just a day for us to celebrate with our families, have a day off, or relax. It's a great day to reflect on those who walked across the plains of America in hopes for a better future and life.
“When you read that history and think about what they went through, them and others who pulled handcarts, and others who just walked all the way, my oh my. When we celebrate Pioneer Day, we ought to be cheering for those who led the way to everything that we have in this great valley,” said President Ballard.
When thinking about the pioneers, it's almost impossible to not think about the many hardships that they had. Through sickness and deaths that came across them in their travels, the strived to find a place they could call home, to worship in peace, and to continue to live the Gospel.
“Nobody is perfect; they weren't perfect,” said President Ballard. “But I would say, as they suffered, as they made their way, and as they learned to know God and to know the Lord Jesus Christ through their faith in their prayers ... they then became stronger spiritually."
He pointed out that people today have much more in common with them than they think.
“That’s the quest that all of us have,” said President Ballard. “We're trying to become better people.”
As you celebrate Pioneer Day, think about what that means for you and your family and the life that you live. In many ways, we are all pioneers.
“Wherever people live, there are our forefathers who were pioneers,” he said. “And when you think about how the gospel of Jesus Christ went out in the world and those people that accepted it, they became pioneers in their own countries, in their own way.
“We have a great story; we have the great pioneer story,” said President Ballard.
To read the full interview with President Ballard, as well as Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Joy D. Jones, the Primary General President, click on the link below!