OGDEN -- With levity -- comparing modern day problems of getting out of comfortable beds and not getting ketchup at drive-up windows -- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Second Counselor Dieter F. Uchtdorf ushered in the upcoming re-dedication of the Ogden temple with a pioneer fireside as part of the Ogden Pioneer Days celebration at the Dee Events Center Sunday night.
Uchtdorf encouraged those in attendance to learn from members of the LDS Church who more than 160 years ago paid for their arrival in Utah with extreme sacrifice in their journey westward.
“We can reach across the decades of time and take the hands of those noble pioneers in ours,” he said. “We can add our own voices to theirs.”
He encouraged those in attendance to fill their hearts, spirits and voices with the same spirit the pioneers lived and to teach their children the same spirit.
Uchtdorf showed his enthusiasm as he welcomed the large crowd by waving at them while facing them in several different directions, pausing while people waved back at him.
Weber State University President Charles W. Wight welcomed those in attendance by challenging them to become modern-day pioneers.
"Let’s all take that first step toward greater lives and greater communities,“ he said, after recounting the difficult journey the Mormon pioneers took and also stories of difficulties some graduates of WSU faced.
"Do not let fear damage your pioneer spirit, no matter how bumpy your journey may be,” he said.
The fireside was attended by a full-house of area residents, many of whom came more than an hour before the talk to stand outside the doors, making sure they would get a seat.
Jeff James of Ogden said he always makes the pioneer fireside a tradition.
However, he said with Uchtdorf as the speaker, he was especially excited this year and came early.
“This will be one of the highlights of the summer,” he said as he anticipated the fireside’s start. He said he’d never heard Uchtdorf speak in person.
Darlene Bates of North Ogden said she was always enthused to hear Uchtdorf speak.
She said she arrived at the Dee Events Center at 4:45 p.m. to find lines snaked around the building waiting to get in but she was surprised she didn’t see more people.
“I expected there would be standing room only,” she said, noting the popularity of the Mormon Church leader.
And Uchtdorf said Ogden residents had much to be excited for in the days ahead, drawing their attention away from himself and to their soon-to-be dedicated temple.
“In a few weeks the eyes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be on this place as the Ogden Utah temple is getting ready to be re-dedicated,” he said. “Ogden, get ready for this historic event. It will be wonderful and a time for spiritual new beginning.”
He encouraged members of the LDS church to have their temple recommends.
He encouraged non-members to ask questions of the members.
And he reminded all that they could learn from the Mormon pioneers who settled the Deseret state by outlining three important lessons they taught.
They were: Compassion, work and optimism.
Uchtdorf said pioneers displayed compassion by looking out for one another.
“Even when it meant personal sacrifice and toil, they helped each other,” he said.
In contrast, Uchtdorf said in today’s society, sometimes those ideals are forgotten.
“When success in reaching goals comes at the expense of disregarding and even hurting others, that success may be too precious,” he said.
Of pioneers who planted crops for others and then moved on their journey, he said: “It must have given them comfort to know that just as they reached out to others, when the time came others would reach out to them.”
Uchtdorf said pioneers knew the value of work.
“It is difficult to imagine how hard these great souls worked. Walking became one of the easiest tasks they had,” he said in naming a long lists of other difficult tasks.
“They woke up each day with clearly defined goals and purposes that everyone understood -- to serve God and their fellow men. They knew each day’s progress mattered. Each day, they literally put their shoulders to the wheel in order to get to that place of refuge.”
But he said In our time, when so much of what we desire is so easily within our reach, it is tempting to give up. “In those moments, it might inspire us to reflect on those who did not let sickness and even death deter them.”
The leader said optimism is something people can learn looking back on a group who found happiness in every circumstance, in every trial.
“They understood that happiness doesn’t come as a result of luck, it comes from the inside, regardless of what is happening around us,” he said.“Perhaps we will think of the words of our blessed pioneers when someone else got the biggest slice of pizza. It might help us to realize that there is a difference between the profound and the trivial. ... So often our excuses for not being happy are in reality are trivial and vain.”
Uchtdorf has served in the LDS Church First Presidency since February of 2008. He was sustained as a member of the Twelve Apostles in October 2004 and served as a general authority since April 1994.
Uchtdorf is originally from Germany and is married to Harriet Reich. He has two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
He served as a pilot in his career before becoming a general authority.
You may reach JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.