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`Put on pioneer shoes,' members told

- Find lost sheep

- Strengthen one another- Write family histories

As members of the Church feel the pioneer spirit and come to know and understand their past, they will gain strength for the future, said Relief Society Gen. Pres. Mary Ellen Smoot.

"Brothers and sisters," she declared in her first general conference address since being sustained last April conference, "put on your pioneer shoes."

Speaking Saturday morning, Pres. Smoot said in every auxiliary, members need to circle their wagons and prepare for increased numbers.

Quoting the 25th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, she explained that the Lord instructed Emma Smith to "lay aside the things of the world, and seek for the things of a better."

"What are the things of a better?" she asked. "Walk with me in the shoes of several pioneers and you will see how saints have put aside the things of this world and found things of a better."

Pres. Smoot held a small pair of pioneer shoes made by a modern-day pioneer, Robert King, while he was serving as a missionary in Nauvoo. She said he thought he was the first of his family to join the Church, but, through family history research, found that his great-grandfather, Reed, and great-uncle, Abraham, had joined the Church in 1835. Later his great-grandfather lost his testimony.

"Such falling away concerns me," said Sister Smoot. "My desire is to plead with our sisters to stop worrying about a phone call or a quarterly or monthly visit and whether that will do, and concentrate instead on nurturing tender souls. Our responsibility is to see that the gospel flame continues to burn brightly. Our charge is to find the lost sheep and help them feel our Savior's love.

"By strengthening each other spiritually, building faith and fellowship, we wear the shoes of a pioneer," she affirmed.

She then said that Brother King's great uncle remained true to the faith and today his posterity includes more than 2,000 members of the Church.

Pres. Smoot continued, "Because Brother King chose to seek for `things of a better' and don his pioneer shoes, his is the conduit through which generations, both past and future, will receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

She encouraged members to search their past, and to write their family histories. "This year we have been strengthened by the lives of the pioneers of the past."

Sister Smoot spoke of the faith that emanates from the Church's past and present pioneers - on the frontiers of the gospel as well as in well-established stakes and wards.

"Whether on the plains of Nebraska, in Argentina, the highways of Maryland, or within the walls of our own homes," she said, "the simple faith of a true pioneer is powerful and eternal."