Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Mission Presidents' Seminar: A Doctrinal and Historical Bibliographic Review



The first worldwide seminar for all mission presidents convened in Salt Lake City on 25 June 1961 and lasted ten days. Fifty-one out of the sixty-two mission presidents and their wives attended. The eleven not attending had been released but not replaced. From this time forward the church has consistently held an annual seminar for new mission presidents and their wives.


For all mission presidents there has only been two historic meetings with all mission presidents attending in person during the last forty-eight years. There was the June 1961 meeting which lasted from June 26 until July 3rd and a Mission Presidents’ Conference—held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 3–4, 1985 prior to general conference. During the 1985 meeting the first day was held in Salt Lake City and the second day was held in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center where the mission presidents and their wives received detailed instructions. A third meeting was conducted via satellite to all the mission presidents in the world. President Gordon B. Hinckley remarks delivered on 21 June to the new presidents' seminar were broadcast to other mission presidents around the world.

We learn from the Institute Doctrine and Covenants manual that the first comprehensive mission president training for all mission presidents took place in 1961: "In 1961 Church leaders convened the first seminar for all mission presidents, who were taught to encourage families to fellowship their friends and neighbors and then have these people taught by missionaries in their homes."

We learn from the Teachings of David O. McKay manual that the 1961 meeting was convened by President David O. McKay: "he convened the first seminar for all mission presidents, who were taught to encourage families to fellowship their friends and neighbors and then have these people taught by missionaries in their homes. 39 Emphasizing the concept of “every member a missionary,” he urged every member to make a commitment to bring at least one new member into the Church each year."

At a seminar in 1961 in Salt Lake City for all mission presidents worldwide, a new teaching plan of six lessons that was to be used in every mission of the Church was officially presented, as was the "every member a missionary" program, which was based on President David O. McKay's famous statement from the April 1959 general conference. Also in 1961, a Missionary Language Institute was established at BYU, which was renamed the Language Training Mission in 1963 and later changed to the Missionary Training Center on 26 October 1978. In March 1962, the age at which young men became eligible for missions was lowered from 20 to 19.

Every year there have been smaller mission president gatherings with a new mission presidents' seminar held annually and once in the field area mission presidents' meetings where area presidencies or the Executive Missionary Committee address them usual on an annual basis.

N. Eldon Tanner said that the Quorum of Twelve is responsible for mission presidents training: "The Council of the Twelve also has the responsibility of planning seminars for new mission presidents..." Russell M. Nelson tells us that the Seventy assist in the supervising mission presidents: "The Twelve call upon the Seventy “instead of any others.” (D&C 107:38.) Under this divinely inspired organizational pattern, the Seventy serve in Area Presidencies and direct the work of mission presidents and local leaders."

I will share with you some of the instruction the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the Seventies have given to mission presidents that I found interesting during the new mission presidents' seminars from 1959 until the present. The annual June new Mission Presidents' Seminar was conducted first for several years in Salt Lake City and since in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center. It is usually conducted the last week of June. On rare occasions of all of the mission presidents gathering the meeting has been conducted in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall.

The new mission president seminars' include instructions by the general authorities on how mission presidents are to handle their responsibilities. Let us trace briefly what each seminar that I could find included:

In 1959 in Salt Lake City, April 7, 1959, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught the new mission presidents: “Some missionaries in the field...resort to excessive fasting in behalf of their investigators.

We are informed that some missionaries engage in rather lengthy fasting. It is not advisable that they do this. If there is a special matter for which they should fast, if they would fast one day and then go to the Lord humbly and ask for his blessings, that should suffice. If our missionaries feel the need of fasting, they should fast for the day only and not extend it. They need the strength for their work, and I think once a month is sufficient for fasting. They may have special occasions when they want to increase their faith to help someone who is ill or for other worthy causes when they may take another day during the month, but they should not make a prolonged fast.

Some missionaries have also written to their friends and relatives, as well as to members of their home wards, requesting them to hold special fasts for their investigators. Missionaries are requested to refrain from making such requests, either among the saints in the mission field or among their friends and ward members at home."

Thomas S. Monson recalled his impressions of the activities while at the 1959 new mission presidents' seminar: "While serving as a mission president, I attended a seminar for all presidents held in Salt Lake City. My wife and I were privileged to devote an evening to meeting the parents of those missionaries who served with us. Some parents were wealthy and handsomely attired. They spoke in a gracious manner. Their faith was strong. Others were less affluent, of modest means and rather shy. They, too, were proud of their special missionary and prayed and sacrificed for his welfare.

Of all the parents whom I met that evening, the best remembered was the mother from Star Valley. As she took my hand in hers, I felt the large calluses that revealed the manual labor she daily performed. Almost apologetically, she attempted to excuse her rough hands, her wind-whipped face. She whispered, "Tell our son Spencer that we love him, that we’re proud of him, and that we pray daily for him."

Until that night I had never seen an angel nor heard an angel speak. I never again could make that statement, for that angel mother carried within her the Spirit of Christ. She who, with that same hand clasped in the hand of God, had walked bravely into the valley of the shadow of death to bring to this mortal life her son—had indelibly impressed my life."

Later Thomas S. Monson amplified the story in greater detail: "The hand of a bride becomes the hand of a mother. Ever so gently, she cares for her precious child. Bathing, dressing, feeding, comforting—-there is no hand like Mother’s. Nor does its tender care diminish through the years. Ever shall I remember the hand of one mother—the mother of a missionary. Some years ago at a worldwide seminar for mission presidents, the parents of missionaries were invited to meet and visit briefly with each mission president. Forgotten are the names of each who extended a greeting and exchanged a friendly handshake. Remembered are the feelings that welled up within me as I took in my hand the calloused hand of one mother from Star Valley, Wyoming. "Please excuse the roughness of my hand,” she apologized. "Since my husband has been ill, the work of the farm has been mine to do, that our boy may, as a missionary, serve the Lord." Tears could not be restrained, nor should they have been. Such tears produce a certain cleansing of the soul. That boy continues to be very special to me, as he does to her. A mother’s labor sanctified a son’s service."

1961 Mission Presidents' Seminar

The mission presidents' seminar lasted from June 26th until July 3rd.

In the 1961 mission presidents' seminar Elder Harold B. Lee taught about the symbolism on the Salt Lake City Temple: "In introducing his talk President Lee explained that during the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, the architect, Truman O. Angell, had been asked by Brigham Young to write an article for the Millennial Star in hopes that this would help the Saints abroad sense the need for contributions to the building project. In his article Brother Angell described the symbolism of some of the exterior parts of the Temple. President Lee further described Brother Angell’s article by saying:

“There are the sunstones to represent the celestial, the moonstones, and the stars. Now you have all seen those, and there are other things there; but there is one other thing that he mentioned that has particular significance that I ask you to think about here. He said that on the west end of the Temple, underneath the tower or the battlements as they are referred to, just underneath the square of the Temple, there will be depicted the constellation which the astronomers would call Ursa Major—we call it the Dipper—-where the pointers will be pointing to the North Star; that was to symbolize and suggest to the mind ‘that, through the Priesthood of God, the lost may find their way.’ "

At the mission presidents' seminar Harold B. Lee said in his address "Stand Ye in Holy Places": "Priesthood defined is the power of God given to man to act for Him in all things pertaining to the salvation of man--and I should add, within the limitations of each endowment of authority by the laying on of hands. (Mission presidents' seminar, July 2, 1961) (Stand Ye in Holy Places, p. 266)

Hugh B. Brown taught the mission presidents and their wives: " Whenever I enter any of the temples I am hushed and humbled because I am reminded that I am actually not only entering the house of God, but to the degree that I may become worthy, entering into the presence of the Lord. In the humble and inspiring prayer that Elder Harold B. Lee offered this morning, we were impressively reminded of the importance of this particular occasion. President Smith's remarks remind us of the covenants and obligations we take and I am sure each of us has breathed a prayer that we may individually be counted worthy to be in God's presence.

When I say we come into his presence, of course I do not mean to intimate that he is on all occasions bodily present in the temple, although there have been occasions when he was, but I do mean that his Spirit is here, and if our spirits are right, and if we can do what Brother Lee intimated in his prayer-tune out anything that would cause static, and tune in to that Spirit-then each of us may know that we are in his presence. Anyone who comes into that presence will be purified as by fire.

So each week I ask myself as we meet in this temple, "Are you worthy to enter here?" And that leads me then to a prayer for forgiveness because I have never yet been fully worthy. I think, my brethren and sisters, this is a wonderful climax to a history-making week. Every part of the Church will be affected by what has been done here this last week.

Now we meet in the temple that the activities of the seminar may be sealed by the Holy Spirit so that we may more effectively carry on our work. Here we will not only lay aside the clothing of the street, but the thoughts of the street, and will try not only to clothe our bodies in clean white linen but our minds in purity of thought. May we profit by the spoken word and, what is more lasting and more impressive, receive instruction from the Spirit.

We know, of course, this room is filled with music, with the spoken word, with news reports, etc., and that, if we had the right instruments we could tune in and not only hear but see what is going on in London, New York, San Francisco, or Tokyo-this is made possible by the use of mechanical appliances invented by men.

But it is equally true-and it is more amazing-that this building at the moment is filled with spiritual messages, with heavenly music, and I dare say some Personages could be seen if we were spiritually in tune. To the degree that we tune in we all become aware that we stand in a holy place. I trust that each of us may be able to tune out the static of the earthy and tune into the inspiration of the Lord so that wherever we may go, and whomsoever we may meet, that spirit may shine through to bless all whose lives we touch.

We are all, of course, convinced that the things of the Spirit are the only things that endure, that the things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. Here in mortality we have contact with the things of the world, but what real riches we have glimpsed during this seminar as we have seen the operation of the Holy Spirit upon our President and those who have been in charge. I am sure that every mission president and every wife of a mission president, and all of us, are going to rededicate our lives to the transcendent work of sharing the gospel.

And now this morning, while we are going to take names and make covenants for and in behalf of someone who is not here in person, while we will make covenants and speak for them, let us, within ourselves, each of us renew our own covenants and pray for forgiveness of anything that might have occurred since last we went through the temple which might interfere with spiritual reception in order that we might return to the mission field and carry with us the spirit that is here, because, brethren and sisters, not only are we entitled to have that presence in this house, and to have it to the degree that we can be sensitive to its inspiration, not only is that true here, but it may be true with all of us wherever we may be, if we will but keep ourselves in tune and in harmony, and avoid everything that would in any way interfere with the free flow of the Holy Spirit.

It would be presumptuous and inappropriate for me to speak longer. We are all anxious to hear from the President. May I simply say that I know better than I know anything else in this world that Jesus the Christ is really the Head of the Church; that Joseph the Prophet stands and will stand at the head of this dispensation. I haven't the slightest doubt that the Savior, the Prophet, and they who have succeeded him are aware of what we are doing. It is because of their awareness and interest and contact that President David O. McKay, the present leader of the Church, the Prophet of God, was inspired to call us all together.

I leave my testimony with you, and my blessing, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.-Mission Presidents Seminar, in Salt Lake Temple, July 5, 1961; republished in Continuing the Quest.)

He also taught them: " Never in my life have I felt so humble, so inadequate, so much in need of divine guidance as I feel today. Someone said that speech is the faculty given to man to conceal his thoughts. This morning I wish I had the facility to reveal my thoughts and what is in my heart. I am only sure that whatever I shall say will be less than what I feel.

We octogenarians have learned that as one gains knowledge he becomes more aware of the scope of his ignorance. Someone has said, "Conscious ignorance keeps pace with the acquisition of knowledge." By the same token, as one's responsibility increases, his inadequacy becomes more apparent; his dependence more complete. But this is not the time nor place for me to refer to myself or to what has recently happened to me, however, the warmth of your greetings, your pledges of support and prayers seem to make it necessary for me to say thank you. Thank you very much. And may God bless you.

Our message to the world is positive, definite, unequivocal. I read in Time magazine recently something that I would like to share with you. It is indicative of the thinking of some of the leaders of modern Christianity.

"While the country rang last week with commencement exhortations to cherish the spiritual legacy of the past, the graduating class at Princeton Theological Seminary heard that ancient dogma is a dangerously heavy burden. From the dean of Harvard Divinity School came the suggestion that Christianity may be at death's door, and that its spiritual legacy is more likely to push it through the door than the atheism of the present.

"Tall, gray Dr.Samuel Howard Miller, 61, Harvard Divinity's former professor of pastoral theology and the first Baptist to be dean of the 149-year-old seminary, told Princeton's fledgling ministers that if religion is to have any real place in the modern world, it will have to 'undergo a radical revolution.' In fact, he warned, 'the critical point of no return may have been passed.' The churches are addressing themselves in a dead language to situations and issues that no longer exist. 'The ancient dogmas no longer dominate the imagination; the shape of life has changed; the patterns of truth are different; the questions have new terms; the doubts have deeper dimensions; the hunger of the heart and mind has been enlarged.'

"THREE DARK AREAS. Specifically," said Dean Miller, "there are three developments with which religion must cope:

"The 'Freudian probe' that has unveiled 'an abyss within man, full of new embarrassments and a new terror.'

"The space probe, and the danger that man's new power to colonize the stars will turn demonic and destructive.

"The interdependence of the technological world, in which human beings must somehow live in new intimacy, 'although as races, religious and continental blocs, we simply do not know the first ABCs of understanding each other.'

"'If religion cannot illuminate these three dark areas of modern life,' said Dean Miller, 'it should then in decency get out of the way so that men will not be tripped up by frumpery or fooled by its solemnity. There is serious work to be done, lest the world descend into darkness deeper than we have ever known before.'

". . . It is the movement of the spirit by which religion itself may be saved from itself. Nothing could be more tragic than to find ourselves hugging our own sanctified, even pseudo-Christian idol, blind and hostile to the living revelation of God's mystery in our own time.'

". . . Religion which is interested only in itself, in its prestige and success, in its institutions and ecclesiastical niceties is worse than vanity; it is essentially incestuous. Religion is to help the world fulfil itself."

Contrast that with living revelation of the Church. It is not accidental, it is providential and foreordained that at this time, when the scope of missionary activity of the Church exceeds anything that could have been imagined in the past, that at this time when we must carry out the Savior's injunction to preach the gospel to every creature, we have at the head of the Church one of the greatest missionaries of all time: Joseph, the Prophet and Seer, the Revelator and Restorer, had no peer; Brigham Young, the prophet, colonizer, and leader of men was great and equal to his day. Each of their successors has been qualified by him who sent them for their particular time and calling, and the man who now stands at the head of the Church was chosen as they were from among the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones.

From among this select group, one was foreordained to become the leader of the Church at the most crucial and critical, and yet most inspiring epoch in the history of the world. Now President McKay would not have me say more along that line, in fact, he didn't authorize me to say this much. But I know that all of you dedicated people join with me in thanking God that at the head of the great missionary movement stands this great missionary, teacher, inspired leader and prophet of God.

Now brethren and sisters, speaking again for a moment on the callings that come to us and the support we receive from our friends, speaking now directly to you mission presidents and your lovely wives and to all who are called to serve. May I sound the note of warning, warning against the wiles of the adversary, warning against the danger inherent in authority and power. Let us not become heady or high-minded because of the success that may come to us, the success that is coming to the Church. Let us as individuals and as a group be humble. Mission presidents, both at home and abroad, are praised and honored and rightly so, but I counsel you to be deaf to applause.

Sometime ago my daughter taught me a lesson. Sister Brown and I were at a cafe having lunch with our daughter from California. A couple from an adjoining table came over and introduced themselves and said they had attended a conference where I had spoken. They proceeded to tell me what a great talk I had given. They praised me lavishly for ten minutes. When they left, my daughter put her hand on mine and said, "Now, Daddy, that kind of talk won't hurt you as long as you don't believe it."

Along that line I would like to quote what the Prophet Joseph Smith said, and this appeal has a warning admonition to all of us to beware of pride, to remember that our effectiveness and success will depend upon our humility and our dependence upon divine guidance. The Prophet said, "When the Twelve or any other witnesses stand before the congregations of the earth and they preach in the power and demonstration of the spirit of God, and the people are astonished and confounded at the doctrines and they say, 'That man has preached a powerful discourse, a great sermon,' then let that man or those men take care that they do not ascribe the glory unto themselves, but be careful that they are humble and ascribe the praise and glory to God and the Lamb. For it is by the power of the Holy Priesthood and the Holy Ghost that they have power thus to preach. Who art thou, O Man, but dust. And from whom receiveth thou thy power and blessings but from God."

When I think of missionary work-and incidentally it is my first love-I remember the words of Alma, "I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." (Alma 29:9.)

When I think back on early missionary experiences, there comes to mind one incident which I shall never forget. Fifty-six years ago I was in Norwich, England, on a mission. I had been tracting, and in those days we went three times to every door regardless of the reception. On this occasion I came to a door where I remembered the woman had been particularly antagonistic, and I knocked on the door with the big brass knocker. I knocked as a mature missionary knocks, for I had been there nearly two years. New missionaries, as you know, sometimes knock rather carefully hoping they won't be heard, but I knocked vigorously and had no response. I looked through the window and saw a woman sitting in the front room knitting. I recognized her, for she had given me a tongue lashing before, and I knew she wasn't deaf nor dumb. She wouldn't respond so I went around to the back door. In those days we carried a walking stick. We had those long Prince Albert coats and derby hats. I took my walking stick and knocked on the door so hard that she came out like a setting hen comes off the nest in response to a troublesome boy. I think for several minutes she gave me the worst Scotch blessing I have ever had. But she had an impediment of speech; she had to stop every fifteen minutes to draw her breath, and when she did stop I said, "My dear lady, I apologize for having annoyed you, but our Heavenly Father sent me 6,000 miles to bring you a message and inasmuch as he sent me I can't go home until I give you that message." She said, "Do you mean the Lord sent a message to me?" I Said, "I mean just that. He sent it because he loves you." She said, "Tell me the message." And I told her as best I could the Joseph Smith story. She listened intently, apparently impressed. And then I again apologized for having been rude enough to insist on her coming out and then I added, "Sister, when you and I meet again, and we will meet again, you are going to say 'thank you, and thank God that you came to my back door and insisted on speaking to me.' "

That was in 1906. Ten years later, in 1916, I was in England again, this time in uniform. President George F. Richards was the president of the mission. He had the flu, and he called me at the military camp and asked if it was possible to get a leave and go down to Norwich and hold a conference for him. I, of course, was very glad to visit my old mission field. At the close of the morning session a woman and four grown daughters came down the aisle.

I was shaking hands with old friends, and as I took her by the hand she bowed her head and kissed my hand and wet it with her tears. She said, "I do thank God that you came to my door ten years ago. When you left that day I thought about what you had said, I couldn't get it out of my mind. I was fighting it, but I couldn't sleep that night. I kept thinking, 'God has sent a message to me.' But," she said, "I fought it for three days. I tried to find the missionaries from the address on the tract, and when I found them, you had returned to Canada. We continued to investigate until my daughters and I joined the Church, and next month we are leaving for Utah." I cite that as a word of encouragement to you, my brothers and sisters. The joy that comes into the heart of a man or woman who has been instrumental in the hands of God in carrying the message of life and salvation to some soul, be it only one, is a joy beyond anything that men in the world can know. I am sure I need not emphasize that to you for you know it from experience.

And now just one specific word to you, and it is a word of caution. I hope I am not out of place. I know I am not intentionally out of harmony with the spirit of this occasion. Among your many grave responsibilities there is none more sacred than your responsibility to your missionaries. The relationship and responsibility of mission president to missionaries is second only to that of parenthood. Love them. Care for them. Pray for them. Be with them. Encourage them. They need your help. Their parents and God have entrusted them to your care during the most impressionable years of their lives and though you convert the whole world, if, by reason of any neglect on your part or any misjudgment or any lack of consideration or appreciation, sympathy, or love, one of them is lost, you will not be blameless on the judgment day.

Those of us who were raised on a farm, those of us who have had to do with the breaking of colts to a harness or saddle, know that every colt is different from every other colt, and some of us have learned by sad experience that in breaking a colt if we are not careful how we tighten the rope we may break his neck, or what is worse, his spirit.

These young people under you are like colts. They are purebreds but all are not intended or fitted for the same kind of work. Remember that some horses are Clydesdales, and some are Hambletonians. We do not expect a Hambletonian to be a good plow horse nor a plow horse to be a good racer. So with these young men. Classify them and do not yoke them together unequally. Do not expect the same speed or pulling power from each. Beyond all else, inspire and save them. Do not allow competition to become the chief incentive to work. Encourage them all, of course, to do their best, but let your competition from now on be with your own mission, your own past record, and not with the other mission. Teach your missionaries that their competition must be with themselves and not with the other missionaries, but inspire them with ambition and enthusiasm. Encourage them to be humble and prayerful. Do not downgrade them with unfavorable comparisons. Preserve their self-confidence and self-respect. Do not break their spirits. When great movements get the impetus of a prairie fire there is danger. I hope I have not spoken out of place. I am just sounding this word of warning.

In your enthusiasm to increase the flock, be careful you don't lose the shepherds. The Lord spoke about leaving the ninety and nine and going out to save the one; I am thinking in reverse order. You are asking the one to go out and get the ninety and nine, but be sure you don't lose the one. God bless you, my brethren and sisters. God bless the missionaries. One of the most effective techniques of your work is that which all of you are employing and asking your missionaries to employ, that of bearing testimony. I want to tell you from the very center of my heart that I know that Joseph the Prophet talked with Jesus the Christ. I know that this is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, that it is led by revelation and that the man who stands at the head of the Church today is a prophet of God. My soul almost melts when I think that it is my high privilege to sit at his side. I leave you that testimony and ask for your prayers for all of us that we may remain humble and somehow be efficacious and partly, at least, equal to the task assigned to us. I leave you that testimony and my blessing, a blessing of peace in your souls, wisdom in your minds and hearts, enthusiasm for the work. I bless you that you may go back inspired as never before to carry out the greatest work of all time. I pray that we may negate what some people, to whom I have referred, have said, and prove to all the world that real Christianity is not on the way out, it is just starting on the last lap, the final sprint. Revelations from God will continue to come and the world will yet know, as they are beginning to know, that there is a force in the world that is capable of combating the satanic and implacable foe called anti-Christ.-Mission Presidents' Seminar, June 26, 1961; republished in Continuing the Quest.)

1966 Mission Presidents' Seminar

John H. Groberg in this book entitled Fire of Faith wrote about his impressions of this mission presidents seminar and his call: " At about the time our ward moved into its new building, Jean and I moved our growing family into a new and larger home. By that time we had been blessed with two more beautiful daughters-Marilyn in 1962 and Jane in 1964. With each of these births my feelings for my daughters and Jean were deep and wonderful, and I realized anew that they were truly my first priority.

One evening after all our moving was completed, I was alone in the bishop's office, prayerfully going over some names for important positions. I leaned back and was thinking deeply when suddenly, as clear as anything, these words came into my mind: "You will go to Tonga and there preside over a fiftieth anniversary celebration. You will receive further instructions." I could hardly believe it. I hadn't been thinking about Tonga and I put the thought into the back of my mind and said nothing to anyone about it.

Over a year later I had another somewhat strange and unexpected impression. I was at work one afternoon in late April, 1966, when I was suddenly hit by a very heavy sensation and felt that I should go home. I wasn't sure what the problem was but wondered if Jean was all right, as she was expecting our fifth child soon.

When I arrived home, Jean was resting. I asked her if everything was okay. She said she was fine but that I should look at the mail because there was a letter from Salt Lake City.

"What does it say?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied. "I don't open your mail, but when I saw the envelope I felt a strange sensation."

"Bishops get lots of mail from Salt Lake. What's so unusual about this one?" I asked.

She replied, "Well, this one is addressed to Elder John H. Groberg, not Bishop John H. Groberg. It's something unusual, I know."

I went to the study, found the letter, opened it, and read:

"Dear Brother Groberg:

"We are pleased to extend to you a call to preside over one of the missions of the Church… . Your wife is called to serve with you… . A seminar for new Mission Presidents is scheduled for June 22, 23, 24… . You are both invited to attend… ."

It was signed by President David O. McKay and his counselors. There was more, but as soon as I saw the date I ran back to the bedroom and asked Jean, "How quickly can you have the baby?"

"In about three weeks. Why?"

"Good, because we have to report to Salt Lake on June 22. We have been called to preside over a mission." Again Jean was fully supportive and assured me that she knew I could do whatever I was asked to do and that she would be ready to help in every way.

Since no one had talked to us we didn't know what to do or who we could tell. So we just waited. Within a few days we received passport and visa applications for Tonga from Murdock Travel. Soon thereafter we received another letter from the First Presidency confirming my call to serve as mission president in Tonga. We now felt that we could tell others and started to make specific plans. The next few weeks were a whirlwind of activity highlighted by the birth of our fifth daughter, Gayle.

The last sacrament meeting as bishop was full of heartthrobs as we prepared to leave our new building, our new home, and (more touchingly) our many friends and loved ones. As I sat on the stand and looked out over the congregation, I thought, "How good these people are." I realized that during the four and a half years I had served as their bishop I had been young and had made mistakes. How grateful I was for all of those marvelous people who had been so patient and kind, helpful and forgiving. I thought of Jesus, the greatest of all, who loves us and is not only willing but anxious to forgive us. It came to me forcefully that forgiveness and love are inseparable. It is important to live so we can allow His sacred forgiveness to come into our lives. I was overcome with a feeling of deep love towards those loving and forgiving people and towards my Savior. How grateful I was for His example of love and forgiveness and His willingness to make total love and forgiveness a real possibility for all of us. That was my closing message to the ward members. I knew that even though this chapter of our life was over, the love gained, lessons learned, and memories made would last forever.

A few days later Jean and I and our baby daughter, Gayle (five weeks old), traveled to Salt Lake City. The three-day seminar was filled with the Spirit of God. It was worth everything just to be there and receive instruction and support from such great men, indeed prophets of God.

We were especially impressed with everyone's willingness to help with the baby during the seminar. At one time I overheard someone ask Elder Hinckley, "Do you think a young family like that should go all the way to Tonga?" I heard Elder Hinckley reply, "I know they have been called by inspiration and revelation and they will be just fine." What strength that simple yet powerful statement gave me!

Bolstered by the support and goodwill we felt from everyone at the seminar, we returned to Idaho Falls, gathered our other daughters, said our final good-byes, and headed for Tonga by way of Hawaii and Fiji." (John H. Groberg, Fire of Faith, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996, p. 3.)

1971 Mission Presidents' Seminar

Ezra Taft Benson told the mission presidents and their wives: "Sound financial management is dependent upon careful and wise budgeting. To accomplish this it is necessary to assess what our goals and objectives are, and then determine what finances are required to attain those goals. The second aspect of effective budgeting is to live within the approved budget. If a careful analysis has been effected in the preparation of the budget, then it should not be difficult to confine expenditures within the budget as authorized." (Ezra Taft Benson, "Budgets and Financial Discipline," Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 22 June 1971.)

1972 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1972 Seminar President Joseph Fielding Smith made a change in how mission presidents were trained: "the First Presidency recently announced a major new supervisory program. The program increases the number of Regional Representatives of the Council of the Twelve and creates a new position known as Mission Representative of the Council of the Twelve and of the First Council of the Seventy.

Speaking at the mission presidents seminar just three days prior to his passing, President Joseph Fielding Smith announced that "hereafter, Regional Representatives of the Twelve will go into the mission districts as they have been going into the stakes" to help "increase the activity and strengthen the faith of those who are members of the Church.

"Mission Representatives of the Twelve and Seventy will be sent to assist you in training and otherwise increasing the effectiveness of the missionaries. . . .The creation of Mission Representatives means that proselyting training in stakes and missions will be supervised by experienced leaders in order to bring to all missionaries, both stake and mission, the best in proselyting counsel. Twenty-nine Mission Representatives were called, four of whom also serve as Regional Representatives.

Thus, missions of the Church and regions where full-time missionary efforts are conducted will be supervised by both a Mission Representative, who will work with proselyting activities, and a Regional Representative, who will work with and train the leadership of the organized branches and districts.

President Smith also announced that the new program calls for discontinuance of the supervision of specific areas of the world by members of the Twelve and other General Authorities. "You mission presidents," he said, "may expect the brethren of the Twelve to visit you periodically, but not in the capacity of area directors as has been the case in the past.” A few of these representatives included Stephen R. Covey, Gene R. Cook, Richard G. Scott, Spencer J. Palmer, O. Leslie Stone, Antonio D. Carmargo, Robert E. Wells, Jacob de Jager, Dean L. Larsen, and James M. Paramore.

Harold B. Lee taught them: "In the basic principles of the gospel—faith, repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, by which power all things can be revealed—we will begin to understand what the Prophet Joseph Smith possibly meant when he said on one occasion when asked why this church was different than all other churches—because we have the Holy Ghost. [See History of the Church, 4:42.] Having that power by which all things can be revealed, therein the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be established" (Address to new mission presidents’ seminar, 29–30 June 1972, Historical Department Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5).

The seminar was conducted a few days before President Joseph Fielding Smith passing. Elder Bruce R. McConkie in a tribute to him shared his diary entry: "I was with him during the final days and hours of his life here among us and was in fact holding his hand when his pulse stopped beating.

On Thursday, June 29, he gave the opening address at the seminar for mission presidents and their wives. Friday night he attended a banquet with about 270 others who work in the missionary cause.

On Sunday, July 2, he attended sacrament meeting in the Eighteenth Ward, his home ward. That afternoon he listened as my young daughter, Sara, and I read to each other and discussed chapters 5 through 12 of First Nephi in the Book of Mormon. He ate a light supper at about 7:30 p.m. He was as healthy and robust, as alert and active, as he has been at any time in recent years.

After supper he sat in his favorite chair in the front room and talked with my wife, Amelia. One of the last things he said to her was that he loved her and blessed her. At about 9:20 p.m. she went into another room to get an address for a letter she was writing.

In a couple of minutes she returned. During that interval the Lord as it were called: "Come up hither; your work among mortals on earth is finished, and I have other and greater things for you to do"—-which brings to mind the words of Elder Ezra Taft Benson, spoken two days before at the mission presidents seminar: "The saving of the souls of men is the greatest work that is going on in the whole universe. It is going on both sides of the veil, and I sometimes think it doesn’t matter which side of the veil we are working on."

When Amelia returned, she found her father in what seemed to be a state of shock. She called to me, and within moments, not more than a few seconds at most, we were giving him oxygen—-to no avail. It was apparent his time had come and that the tenement of clay no longer housed the eternal spirit.

His passing was as sweet and as easy, as calm and as peaceful as though he had fallen asleep, which in fact he had; it was with him, as with one of old of whom Jesus said, "Lazarus sleepeth." He passed away sitting in the same chair in which his beloved Jessie had sat almost eleven months to the day earlier when she answered a similar summons."




1973 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1973 mission presidents seminar thirty-six new mission presidents and their wives were taught in the Salt Lake City LDS Church Office Building. Earl C. Tingey now a Seventy and also a member of the Executive Missionary Committee was a mission president from the Australia East Mission attending with his wife as were four other future Seventies: Lynn A. Sorenson, Royden G. Derrick, Graham W. Doxey, and Hugh W. Pinnock.

"The two-day seminar featured talks by members of the First Presidency including President Harold B. Lee and by President Spencer W. Kimball and Elders Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve. A new proselyting program was introduced in a series of workshops; a reception was held where mission presidents and their wives could meet with parents of missionaries; and the seminar was concluded with a banquet on the 26th floor of the new building.

"The new missionary plan, prepared under the direction of the Council of the Twelve and the First Council of the Seventy, is entitled "The Uniform System for Teaching Families" and suggests more individual initiative and approaches in proselyting. It strongly emphasizes the family home evening program to help strengthen family ties and suggests that missionaries might introduce the gospel by making appointments with nonmember parents to hold family home evenings. The family will be invited to learn more about the Church, and those who accept the invitation will participate in seven missionary discussions."

President Harold B. Lee said on this occasion to mission presidents: "Those called into missionary service must be worthy and able"—-worthy in not having committed any serious sins that would jeopardize their receiving the Holy Spirit, and able in being capable of receiving and carrying out assignments."

President Lee also said: "Judging a person’s worthiness requires intuition, which is nothing more than the spirit of prophecy. We urge mission presidents to exercise that gift."

President Lee’s remarks centered on the spiritual guidance needed by every individual associated with missionary work: the bishops and stake presidents and branch and mission presidents who select and recommend missionaries; by the president of the Church, who reviews the names and gives final approval to those who are called; by mission presidents and missionaries who labor in the field; and by prospective candidates for baptism.

"When I ponder the lists of names submitted to me," President Lee declared, "I realize that these are not just names; they are real people, individuals, and I want to know something about them. I want to fulfill my responsibility with that same spirit of prophecy. No callings in the Church are given more careful consideration than are those for the mission field.

"A prospective mission president once asked me, 'Do you have a department to help me get my affairs in order?’ I replied, ‘Yes, we do. It is the Lord. If you will go to him prayerfully and humbly, he will help you get your affairs in order.’ That mission president returned to tell me that I was right."

Emphasizing the need for an investigator to seek spiritual conversion before baptism, President Lee stated that if a person is truly seeking the truth, then when someone comes to teach him the truth, he will receive a witness of this truth.

"There are drastic changes the new convert must make," he added, "but if he is converted, then he will be willing to change and forgo all past bad habits. But without the witness of the Spirit, he will not make the necessary sacrifices and changes."

President Lee admonished the mission presidents, "Your work will not be judged by how many baptisms you put on the records of the Church, but by how many converts you have—-how many are still active after a few years. No one is thoroughly converted until he sees the power of God resting upon this church, until he knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the present leadership of the Church is directed by the Lord. The new member must do his spiritual housekeeping and be prepared to receive the witness of the Spirit. After that he must work to keep his testimony alive, because it is as fragile as an orchid: it will die if he departs from gospel principles and activity in the Church."

Referring to the new missionary lessons now being introduced, he said, "You are being sent out to teach your missionaries to convert the world. Teach them the simple principles of the gospel. And what is the gospel? The answer is found in the scriptures:

"‘And this is my gospel—-repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which showeth all things, and teacheth the peaceable things of the kingdom.’ (D&C 39:6.)"

1974 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1974 at the mission presidents' seminar President Kimball said: "Evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of man and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is crucial; every generation is strategic. We may not be responsible for past generations, but we cannot escape full responsibility for this one, and we have our time and our generation and our missionaries and our great potential." (Mission Presidents Seminar, June 27, 1974.)

Ezra Taft Benson taught the mission presidents: "We all have confidence that when we have fully prepared ourselves, the Lord will provide a way for us to take the gospel to those lands now closed to our missionaries. President Spencer W. Kimball has said, "Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith." We all share this faith" (Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 June 1974).

He also said: "When we set goals we are in command. If we know where we are going, we can judge more accurately where we are now and make effective plans to reach our destination. If we keep a goal firmly in mind, we will know when we have reached it. This gives us a sense of accomplishment and the challenge of establishing fresh, new goals-always keeping the long-range objective in mind. If we can state our goals clearly, we will gain a purpose and meaning in all our actions. Clearly understood goals bring our lives into focus just as a magnifying glass focuses a beam of light into one burning point. Without goals our efforts may be scattered and unproductive. Without knowing it, we may be torn by conflicting impulses or desires...

If we are to achieve long-range goals, we must learn to set up and accomplish short-range goals that will move us along the way. If we do not consciously select our goals, we may be controlled by goals not of our own choosing--goals imposed by outside pressures (such as the expectations of others) or by our habits (such as procrastination) or by our desire for the approval of the world....

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do a great deal if we choose our goals well and work diligently to attain them" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 June 1974).

The missionary is entitled to inspiration in choosing his personal goals; and when he has sought the Lord through prayer and meditation, he will be motivated best by those goals he selects himself and commits himself to attain. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 June 1974.)

The Lord speaks to us in this question: "Unto what were ye ordained?" (D&C 50:13.) He gives us the answer: "To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth" (D&C 50:14). In the same manner He points out that if we speak in any other way than by the Spirit of truth, it will not be of God (D&C 50:17-18). He also tells us that if the listeners receive by any other spirit than the Spirit of truth, it is not of God (D&C 50:19-20). I am given comfort and hope that when both speaker and listener are given the power to speak and hear by the Spirit of truth, both are edified and rejoice together (D&C 50:21-22). They taste of the heavenly light (D&C 50:24). (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27-28 June 1974.)

I feel the weight of this responsibility so great that were it not for the light which gives me hope I would not be able to bear it, but with that light I join with Peter and Paul, with Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and with President Spencer W. Kimball and the others who have been charged with this work by the Lord. It is not too great to accomplish. The Lord is with us. This is His work. He will never fail us for He declared in that great revelation-designated as His preface to His "Book of Commandments" which He has given us to publish unto the "inhabitants of the earth"--this reassuring promise: "And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them" (D&C 1:5-6). (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27-28 June 1974.)

Many of those of that day believed they would live to see the fulfillment and the final coming of the Lord. We now know that truly no man knows when the Lord will come. We do know that the field is still white and the harvest goes on. In our eyes, this seems to be happening slowly, but in the eyes of the Holy One of Israel, it is more rapid than we think. "Not yet," He seems to say, "not yet." There is still wheat among the tares. We must realize, I suppose, that in each generation of men on earth is concealed the wheat which the Lord will harvest. Our generation must find its wheat. (See D&C 38:12.) With the Lord's help we shall not fail. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27-28 June 1974.)

1975 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1975 the new mission presidents group included several future General Authorities including: George P. Lee, Helio de Roche Camargo, Derek A. Cuthbert, Rex Cropper Reeve, Sr.,Douglas Lane Callister,Jay E. Jensen, Jack H. Goaslind, Jr., and William R. Bradford.

William R. Bradford of the Seventy reported his impressions of the 1975 mission presidents' seminar: "During the new mission presidents’ seminar which was held in June, my wife and I had the privilege to be taught by President Kimball and many of the other General Authorities. President Kimball penetrated our minds with the fact that this is a time for reaping: the harvest is upon us. The hour has come to gather the wheat from among the tares. Most of my life I have been closely associated with planting and harvesting. I know the anxiety in the heart of the planter when the tares are overtaking the wheat.

The Lord has said, "Therefore, let the wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest is fully ripe; then ye shall first gather out the wheat from among the tares, and after the gathering of the wheat, behold and lo, the tares are bound in bundles, and the field remaineth to be burned." (D&C 86:7.)

The harvest is fully ripe. We are now sent for the last time to gather it in. The sickle is in our hands. We must use it while the day lasts. I feel the word of the Lord being fulfilled. In the Chile Santiago Mission, 120 missionaries, thirty-two of them native Chileans serving in their own land, baptized 220 people during the month of September. Among these there were forty families. The missionaries in Chile love to follow the prophet.

I am honored to be one of the workers. I take great comfort in knowing that the Savior directs this work, that his direction comes when the living prophet and those who follow him listen and hear the voice as it is dictated by the Holy Spirit."

Ezra Taft Benson told them: "There are several areas that a missionary needs to be concerned with in order to be successful. First, he must develop a real deep spirituality. The Spirit is the most important matter in this glorious work. The Lord gives us a great law about teaching His gospel. He said, "And the Spirit shall be given you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach" (D&C 42:14).

To be a successful missionary one must have the Spirit of the Lord. We are also taught that the Spirit will not dwell in unclean tabernacles. Therefore, one of the first things a missionary must do to gain spirituality is to make sure his own personal life is in order" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975).

In addition he suggested: "Open houses in stakes and wards should be held in every ward or branch chapel in the Church, as there is opportunity, and should have the full support of the full-time missionaries laboring in the area. It is a natural, effective, easy way for members to begin (or continue) to do their member-missionary work. In the days ahead there will be increasing opportunities as our stakes increase and our missions spread" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975.)

It is vital that missionaries maintain the proper missionary image and have the reputation as great proselyting elders and not just "good guys." (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975.)

A missionary should never permit himself to see a movie or cheap literature, or hear music that tends to interfere with or which dampens the spirit of missionary work. There is ample evidence that rock music is offensive to the Spirit and affects adversely the spirituality of the missionaries and thus the success of the proselyting work. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975.)

At Elder Mark E. Peterson's funeral on 16 January 1984: "Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve talked of the pain that Elder Petersen fought the last ten years of his life. His was a constant battle with physical problems, including cancer. Then when he lost his wife [Emma Marr Peterson on April 15, 1975), pain of another kind became a constant companion. "Sometime later, he was assigned to a seminar for mission presidents and their wives," Elder Packer said. "The first day, being without his wife, his loneliness was so overwhelming he thought he could not bear it. Then, something happened. He became aware that she was with him, there by his side. And she stayed with him for days. And he was greatly comforted."

Ezra Taft Benson told the group: "Missionaries should have a standard of performance or excellence to which they ascribe and to which they commit. Missionaries should take pride in being in "the best mission in the Church" (for them), and being "missionaries of excellence" (Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975).

A missionary should never permit himself to see a movie or cheap literature, or hear music that tends to interfere with or which dampens the spirit of missionary work. There is ample evidence that rock music is offensive to the Spirit and affects adversely the spirituality of the missionaries and thus the success of the proselyting work. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 June 1975.)

1976 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1976 there were two members of the seventy called as mission presidents--Loren C. Dunn(Australia Sydney Mission) and Gene R. Cook (Uruguay Montevideo Mission). In the group of forty-one new mission presidents was future Seventy Russell C. Taylor (Arvada Colorado Mission).

Ezra Taft Benson told the assembled group: "A missionary who is inspired by the Spirit of the Lord must be led by that Spirit to choose the proper approach to be effective. We must not forget that the Lord Himself provided the Book of Mormon as His chief witness. The Book of Mormon is still our most powerful missionary tool. Let us use it" (Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 24 June 1976).

In 1976 Carlos E. Asay recalled an earlier mission presidents' seminar when Hugh B. Brown had addressed them: "A few years ago, in a mission presidents seminar, President Hugh B. Brown said: “If God would grant me one wish—just one—it would be this: that each missionary felt and enjoyed the spirit of his calling.” He also stated that if all missionaries were blessed to feel this spirit, miraculous things would occur in the world.

If I were granted one wish, it would be similar to President Brown’s. My wish, however, would apply to all members of the Church, not just the full-time missionaries. Within my heart is the compelling desire that all members of the Church, young and old, be influenced and motivated by that special spirit which accompanies the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Would that all Latter-day Saints had intimate and continuous association with the missionary spirit!" (Carlos E. Asay, “The Spirit of Missionary Work,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 41.)


1977 Mission Presidents' Seminar

Marion G. Romney in October 1977 General Conference shared what Thomas S. Monson shared a story he told to the mission presidents and their wives: "In the mission presidents’ seminar last June, Elder Thomas S. Monson told of the great faith and trust in the Lord of Randall Ellsworth, a missionary who, in Brother Monson’s words, “was crushed under that devastating earthquake in Guatemala, pinned for, I think, twelve hours. Found himself totally paralyzed from the waist down. Kidney functions, not present. No hope to ever walk again....

“He was flown to … Maryland and … interviewed in the hospital by a television reporter. The television reporter said to him, ‘The doctors say you will not walk again. What do you think, Elder Ellsworth?’ He said, ‘I’ll not only walk again, but I have a call from a prophet to serve a mission in Guatemala, and I shall go back to Guatemala and finish that mission’....

“He exercised twice the [requirement] outlined by the doctors. He exerted his faith. He received a blessing from the priesthood and his recovery was miraculous. It astounded the physicians and the specialists. He began to be able to stand on his feet. Then he could walk with crutches, and then the doctors said to him, ‘You may return to the mission field if the Church will permit you to go.’ He went. We sent him to Guatemala. He returned to the land to which he had been called, to the people whom he dearly loved.

“While there he was walking, proselyting a full schedule with a cane in each hand. [His mission president] looked at him and said, ‘Elder Ellsworth, with the faith that you have, why don’t you throw those canes away and walk?’ And Elder Ellsworth said, ‘If you have that kind of faith in me [take the canes].’ ” He put down the canes and has never used them since. (Mission Presidents’ Training Seminar, June 1977, tape recording, Missionary Department.)


1978 Mission Presidents' Seminar


In 1978 72 new mission presidents met for five days from June 19th through the 23rd at the Language Training Mission in Provo, Utah. A special highlight of the seminar was a testimony meeting in the solemn assembly room of the Salt Lake Temple. "They were instructed by members of the Quorum of the Twelve in such matters as motivating missionaries, the conversion process, and interviewing and teaching skills. Members of the First Quorum of the Seventy gave addresses and led discussions on such topics as the organization and supervision of missionaries, building the missionary’s confidence and trust, study techniques, missionary leadership skills, and the use of the scriptures."

President Spencer W. Kimball asked that missionaries be doubled. "Speaking at the conclusion of a five-day mission presidents’ seminar in 1978, President Kimball told some seventy-two new mission presidents and their wives that as the Church approaches one thousand stakes, the lands of the world need to supply their own local missionaries as fast as possible. He said that the day will come when many nations will also have a surplus to send elsewhere. “That day, we hope, is not too far off.”

President Kimball again stressed the great need for missionaries: "In a population survey that came to my attention, we read that there were many, many nations...that have hardly been touched with the gospel at all. We are therefore making an appeal for nearly doubling or more than doubling the missionaries of the world.

We would ask every Latter-day Saint woman who gives birth to a boy child that she begin training him for his mission, encouraging him to save the money that comes into his hands and work in little jobs which will bring money to him that can be saved for that purpose. If his mother and family teach him these missionary needs from his infancy, he will grow up with a feeling of receiving gladly his missionary term."

President Kimball expressed disappointment that only 20.1 percent of all eligible young men in the Church are serving missions. "This makes me very sad indeed,” he said. “I am a bit disappointed or at least surprised."

President Kimball also encouraged members and missionaries to teach members of numerous minority groups and ethnic communities throughout the world.

"In view of recent revelations—the blacks holding the priesthood—we can now use many more missionaries in the United States, where we have a great abundance of these people, because there are many areas that will be needing missionaries."

He cited figures indicating that millions of foreign-born persons live outside their homelands, and he instructed mission presidents to make certain that these people are taught the gospel. "Wherever they live, they’re important to us," he said. "If they are sons and daughters of God, they need the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Ezra Taft Benson told them: "We all have confidence that when we have fully prepared ourselves, the Lord will provide a way for us to take the gospel to those lands now closed to our missionaries. President Spencer W. Kimball has said, "Somehow, brethren, I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith." We all share this faith. (Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 27 June 1974.)


1979 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1979 on June 20th through June 22nd fifty-eight mission presidents and their wives attended the mission presidents' seminar. The first two days of classes were held at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, where 2,426 new missionaries are also preparing to take the gospel to the world. Meetings on the third day were held in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City and culminated in a special testimony meeting held in the assembly room in the Salt Lake Temple.

The two days of workshops given at the MTC included presentations on "Motivating Missionaries," by Elder Mark E. Petersen; "Distinctive Features of a True Disciple," by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley; "The First Weeks in the Mission Field," by Elder Thomas S. Monson; "Missionary Conduct," by Elder Boyd K. Packer; "Power of Your Personal Influence," by Elder L. Tom Perry; and "Elements of Effective Teaching," by Elder David B. Haight.

In other workshops, led by members of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and by other members of the quorum, the new mission leaders received additional training. Of special interest was a workshop by Elder Carlos E. Asay, executive director of the Missionary Department, assisted by several General Authorities’ wives, on "Role of the Mission President’s Wife."

Ezra Taft Benson said: " Humility does not mean weakness. It does not mean timidity. It does not mean fear. A man can be humble and fearless. A man can be humble and courageous." (At seminar for new mission presidents, June 1979.)

He also said: "Let your home radiate what you are, and that quiet influence will have a lasting impression on all who come to it. That influence is the greatest contribution to our missionary work. We only teach what we really are! (Ezra Taft Benson, "Keys to Successful Missionary Work," Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 20 June 1979.)

The third day of the seminar opened with an address on the life of Christ by Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The message of salvation, rests upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection proves that Jesus was the Son of God. If Jesus rose from the dead, he is the Son of God. If he is the Son of God, his gospel is true. If his gospel is true, men must believe and obey. They must accept these truths, be baptized, and live the law, or they will be damned.

If the resurrection is so central to a belief in the Savior, then, how do you prove the resurrection? How do you prove spiritual truth?

You prove it by testimony. You teach the doctrines of salvation so people will be in an intelligent position to weigh the merit and proof of your testimony. And after we have taught in plainness to the best of our ability, then we bear witness, and we say, ‘I know it, the Holy Spirit of God has revealed to me, to us, to the Latter-day Saints, that this work is true!’ And after we have taught and born testimony, every individual who is in tune, who has prepared himself spiritually to receive the truth, will feel in his heart that what we have said is true. And it won’t be a matter of argument, it won’t be a matter of debate, it will not be an intellectual conversion. It will be a revelation from the Holy Spirit of God."

President N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke on Joseph Smith and the restoration. "Every member of the Church and especially every set-apart missionary, should have a testimony of the divine calling of Joseph Smith, and indeed of the need for and the mission of all the prophets. Joseph Smith, like his predecessors and like his successors down to the present, Spencer W. Kimball today, was foreordained to come forth at a given time for a particular mission.

Besides bearing witness of the mission of Joseph Smith, every missionary needs to have a personal testimony of what the restoration of the gospel means to the world—-what unique truths it provides to the world.

The contributions of Joseph Smith as revealed through the restored gospel are of such magnitude and so remarkable as to challenge every one of us to invite the world to partake of the glorious message and to live according to the teachings as espoused in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The final address of the Friday morning session was by President Spencer W. Kimball. He began by quoting his concluding remarks in April 1979 general conference:

"‘It seems clear to me, indeed, this impression weighs upon me—-that the Church is at a point in its growth and maturity when we are at last ready to move forward in a major way. … We have paused on some plateaus long enough....Think, brothers and sisters, what would happen if each active family were to bring another family or individual into the Church before next April conference: We would be joined by several hundred thousand new members of the Church.... I believe the Lord’s church is on the verge of an upsurge in spirituality.’ Let’s move forward and upward." (Ensign, May 1979, p. 82.)

President Kimball then continued: "I now say those same things a second time.

"We’ve been doing in our missionary efforts a good work, but it is not good enough. It is time to stir ourselves, and then we can stir others."

Cautioning the mission leaders against getting bogged down in programs and paper, he said, “We hope that statistics will not overpower us. We do want many, many converts, but we want them well converted. We want worthy baptisms—-people who have been carefully taught.

"Our concerns are with souls, not with statistics. We desire growth only because it will mean that we are reaching out farther to our Father’s children."

President Kimball spoke of the importance of constantly fellowshipping new members and of involving them immediately in missionary work “as friends and finders."

"At the same time we involve the new members we must begin as never before to energize our members of longer standing to get them involved in the missionary program.

I feel impressed to say, brothers and sisters, that the Lord has placed in a very natural way within our circles of friends many thousands who we intend to bring into the Church. This is one of the reasons I am so confident that the Church can now grow in a major way."

He also spoke of the need to revitalize the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums to be ready to receive, assist, watch over, and train the many new members that will be joining the Church.

He encouraged the study of other languages: "Is there any reason why all our sons and daughters couldn’t begin to take the language of their choice—Spanish, French, German, Cantonese, Mandarin—or whatever it would be?"

Reminding the leaders of our charge to take the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, President Kimball again spoke of moving into countries not yet open for missionary work. "We are tremendously sincere in this effort."

According to President Kimball, every member of the Church can do much to further this effort: "I hope you’ll pray, brothers and sisters, pray as you’ve never prayed before. Pray with a great earnestness. Pray for the leaders of the nations. Pray for all of our leaders. Pray for our leaders who are filling especially high, responsible positions in all the countries of the world.

"The Lord will hear our prayers, I am positive of that. And he will in his own way and in his own time cause that we may have success."

President Spencer W. Kimball also said: "the Lord has placed in a very natural way within our circles of friends many of those thousands he intends to bring into the Church." (Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 22 June 1979.)

He said, "Please do not confuse this straightforward emphasis on missionary work with mere statistics. Our concerns are with souls, not statistics. We desire growth only because that will mean that we are reaching our Father's children who desperately need the gospel and Church in their lives. . . . What we have been doing in our missionary efforts is good, but it is not good enough. It is time to stir ourselves, and then we can stir others" (Mission presidents' seminar, June 1979).

President Ezra Taft Benson remarked at a seminar for mission presidents in June 1979, "Humility does not mean weakness. It does not mean timidity. It does not mean fear. A man can be humble and fearless. A man can be humble and courageous." (Church News, [Saturday, 21 February 2004]: 16).

1980 Mission Presidents' Seminar


1981 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1981 at the new mission presidents' seminar, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said: "As missionaries teach by the Spirit, there will be a response by the Spirit. We teach the lessons to bring about belief. We urge prayer and the study of the scriptures along with meditation and pondering to bring about conversion. The Lord has said: ‘Whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit’(D&C 5:16)....

This is the conversion process as I understand it. It is more than a thing of the mind; it is a thing of the Spirit. I believe that baptisms that come about in this manner will represent true conversions.... In the conversion process, the teaching should be so complete and the endorsement of the Spirit so real that there will be no disruptive challenges to the convert after he or she is in the Church. Such matters as the Word of Wisdom, tithing, Church responsibility, should all have been adequately covered" (New Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 24 June 1981).

1982 Mission Presidents' Seminar

Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve discussed the power of the Holy Ghost at a seminar for new mission presidents June 25, 1982:

Perhaps the most well-known passage in the Book of Mormon is found in the last chapter:

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.'And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.' (Moro. 10:4-5.)

We do not learn spiritual things in exactly the same way we learn other things that we know, even though such things as reading, listening, and pondering may be used. I have learned that it requires a special attitude both to teach and to learn spiritual things. There are some things you know, or may come to know that you will find quite difficult to explain to others. I am certain it was meant to be that way. . . .

We cannot express spiritual knowledge in words alone. We can, however, with words show another how to prepare for the reception of the Spirit. The Spirit itself will help. 'For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. . . .' (2 Ne. 33:1.)

Then when we have a spiritual communication, we can say within ourselves, this is it! This is what is meant by those words in the revelation. Thereafter, if they are carefully chosen, words are adequate for teaching about spiritual things.

We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have the words) which perfectly describe the Spirit. The scriptures generally use the word voice, which does not exactly fit. These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes, nor heard with our ears. And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one feels, more than one hears.

Once I came to understand this, one verse in the Book of Mormon took on a profound meaning, and my testimony increased immeasurably. It had to do with Laman and Lemuel, who rebelled against Nephi. Nephi rebuked them and said, `Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoke to you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words. . . .' (1 Ne. 17:45; italics added.)

There may be more power in your testimony than even you realize. The Lord said to the Nephites: `Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. . . .' (3 Ne. 9:20; italics added.)

There is great power in this work, spiritual power. The ordinary member of the Church, like you, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, can do the work of the Lord.

There is much more to say. I could speak of prayer, of fasting, of priesthood and authority, of worthiness--all essential to revelation. When they are understood, it all fits together - perfectly. But some things one must learn individually, and alone, taught by the Spirit." ("Moroni's Final Words Expound on Holy Ghost," Church News [Saturday, 28 November 1993]: 14).

He also said during his talk to mission presidents: "I feel deeply that far too few of our converts have read the Book of Mormon. I feel that far too few have any understanding of the history of the Church.... Those we teach need the Spirit and the conversion power of that great and sacred volume [the Book of Mormon]."

When assignments were changed and I was appointed vice-chairman of the Missionary Executive Committee under the direction of President Gordon B. Hinckley, I was greatly concerned about the seminar for new mission presidents and their wives. I knew I would have a prominent place among the speakers and wondered what counsel I should give that would in a very material way benefit missionary work. I knew it would not be in the field of administration, for others were more experienced and much more competent to counsel them on that subject. Finally I determined that the thing that would help the most was that which would increase the testimony and spirituality of the missionaries across the world. Therefore, I determined that I would not talk to the mission presidents and their wives, but I would talk through them to the missionaries. "The Candle of the Lord" is that message.

The Elder Packer's address is given here in its entirety:

" The Candle of the Lord

We do not learn spiritual things in exactly the same way we learn other things that we know, even though such things as reading, listening, and pondering may be used.

I have learned that it requires a special attitude both to teach and to learn spiritual things. There are some things you know, or may come to know, that you will find quite difficult to explain to others. I am very certain that it was meant to be that way.

I Know There Is a God

I will tell you of an experience I had (before I was a General Authority) which affected me profoundly. I sat on a plane next to a professed atheist who pressed his disbelief in God so urgently that I bore my testimony to him. "You are wrong," I said, "there is a God. I know He lives!"

He protested, "You don't know. Nobody knows that. You can't know it." When I would not yield, the atheist, who was an attorney, asked perhaps the ultimate question on the subject of testimony. "All fight," he said in a sneering, condescending way, "you say you know." Then (inferring, if you're so smart), "Tell me how you know."

When I attempted to answer, even though I held advanced academic degrees, I was helpless to communicate.

Sometimes our youth, you young missionaries, are embarrassed when the cynic, the skeptic, treat you with contempt because you do not have ready answers for everything. Before such ridicule some turn away in shame. (Remember the iron rod, the spacious building, and the mocking; see 1 Nephi 8:28.)

When I used the words spirit and witness the atheist responded, "I don't know what you are talking about." The words prayer, discernment, and faith were meaningless to him also.

"You see," he said, "you don't really know. If you did, you would be able to tell me how you know."

I felt, perhaps, that I had borne my testimony to him unwisely and was at a loss as to what to do. Then came the experience. Something came into my mind. And, I mention here a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas .... And thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 151.)

The Taste of Salt

Such an idea came into my mind, and I said to the atheist, "Let me

ask if you know what salt tastes like?"

"Of course I do," was his reply.

"When did you taste salt last?"

"I just had dinner on the plane."

"You just think you know what salt tastes like," I said.

He insisted, "I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything."

"If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?"

"Now you are getting juvenile," was his reply. "Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience. I know it as well as I know anything."

"Then," I said, "assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like."

After some thought, he ventured, "Well-I-uh, it is not sweet, and it is not sour."

"You've told me what it isn't, not what it is."

After several attempts, of course, he could not do it. He could not convey, in words alone, so ordinary an experience as tasting salt. I bore testimony to him once again and said, "I know there is a God. You ridiculed that testimony and said that if I did know, I would be able to tell you exactly how I know. My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like. But I say to you again, there is a God! He does live! And just because you don't know, don't try to tell me that I don't know, for I do!"

As we parted, I heard him mutter, "I don't need your religion for a crotch. I don't need it."

From that experience forward, I have never been embarrassed or ashamed that I could not explain in words alone everything I know spiritually, or tell how I received it.

The Apostle Paul said it this way:

We speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:13-14.)

How to Prepare

We cannot express spiritual knowledge in words alone. We can, however, with words, show another how to prepare for the reception of the Spirit.

The Spirit of itself will help. "For when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." (2 Nephi 3:1.)

Then when they have a spiritual communication, they say within themselves, This is it. This is what is meant by those words in the revelation. Thereafter, if they are carefully chosen, words are adequate for teaching about spiritual things.

We do not have the words (even the scriptures do not have words) which perfectly describe the Spirit. The scriptures generally use the word voice, which does not exactly fit.

The Voice One Can Feel

These delicate, refined spiritual communications are not seen with our eyes nor heard with our ears. And even though it is described as a voice, it is a voice that one feels more than one hears.

Once I came to understand this, one verse in the Book of Mormon took on a profound meaning and my testimony of the book increased immeasurably. It had to do with Laman and Lemuel, who rebelled against Nephi. Nephi rebuked them and said, "Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words." (1 Nephi 17:45; italics added.)

Nephi, in a great, profound sermon of instruction, explained that "angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:3.)

Should an angel appear and converse with you, neither you, nor he would be confined to corporeal sight or sound in order to communicate. For there is that spiritual process, described by the Prophet Joseph Smith, by which pure intelligence can flow into our minds and we can know what we need to know without either the drudgery of study or

the passage of time, for it is revelation.

And the Prophet said further:

All things whatsoever God in his infinite wisdom has seen fit and proper to reveal to us, while we are dwelling in mortality, in regard to our mortal bodies, are revealed to us in the abstract... revealed to our spirits precisely as though we had no mortal bodies at all; and those revelations which will save our spirits will save our bodies. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 355.)

The Still Small Voice

The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither loud, nor harsh. (See 3 Nephi 11:3.) "Not a voice of thunder, neither... a voice of a great tumultuous noise." But rather, still and small, "of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper," and it can "pierce even to the very soul" (Helaman 5:30) and cause the heart to burn. (See 3 Nephi 11:3; D&C 85:6-7.) Remember Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but was a "still small voice." (1 Kings 19:12.)

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all.

(No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)

Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, "Speak, for try servant heareth." (1 Samuel 3:10.)

I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction. Unless we are called by proper authority to do so, they do not position us to counsel or to correct others.

Spiritual Things Must be Guarded

I have come to believe also that it is not wise to continually talk of unusual spiritual experiences. They are to be guarded with care and shared only when the Spirit itself prompts us to use them to the blessing of others.

I am ever mindful of Alma's words:

It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. (Alma 12:9.)

I heard President Romney once counsel mission presidents and their wives in Geneva. "I do not tell all I know. I have never told my wife all I know, for I found out that if I talked too lightly of sacred things, thereafter the Lord would not trust me."

We are, I believe, to keep these things and ponder them in our hearts, as Luke said Mary did of the supernal events that surrounded the birth of Jesus. (See Luke 2:19.)

There is something else to learn. A testimony is not thrust upon you; a testimony grows. We become taller in testimony like we grow taller in physical stature, and hardly know it happens because it comes by growth.

It is not wise to wrestle with the revelations with such insistence as to demand immediate answers or blessings to your liking.

You Cannot Force Spiritual Things

You cannot force spiritual things. Such words as compel, coerce, constrain, pressure, demand do not describe our privileges with the Spirit.

You can no more force the Spirit to respond than you can force a bean to sprout, or an egg to hatch before its time. You can create a climate to foster growth; you can nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: You must await the growth.

Do not be impatient to gain great spiritual knowledge. Let it grow, help it grow; but do not force it, or you will open the way to be misled.

We are expected to use the light and knowledge we already possess to work out our lives. We should not need a revelation to instruct us to be up and about our duty, for we have been told that already in the scriptures; we should not expect revelation to replace the spiritual or temporal intelligence which we have already received-only to extend it. We must go about our life in an ordinary workaday way, following the routines and rules and regulations that govern life.

Rules and regulations and commandments are valuable protection. Should we stand in need of revealed instruction to alter our course, it will be waiting along the way as we arrive at the point of need. The counsel to be busily engaged is wise counsel indeed.

Philip and Nathanael

There is a wide difference in the spirituality of individuals. When Philip told Nathanael that he had found "him of whom Moses... and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph," Nathanael's response was, "Can...any good thing come out of Nazareth?"

Philip said, "Come and see." Come he did, and he did see. What Nathanael must have felt! For with no further convincing, he exclaimed "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God!"

The Lord blessed him for his belief and said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." (John 1:45-51.)

Thomas is another story; the combined testimony of ten of the Apostles could not convince him that the Lord had risen. He required tangible evidence. "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Eight days later the Lord appeared. "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." After he had seen and felt for himself, Thomas responded, "My Lord and my God."

Then the Lord taught a profound lesson. "Thomas because thou has seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:25-29; italics added.)

And so the title "Doubting Thomas," different indeed than the description of Nathanael, whom the Lord described as being "without guile."

With Thomas it was seeing is believing; with Nathanael it was the other way around, believing then seeing "heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." (John 1:51.)

Now, do not feel hesitant or ashamed if you do not know everything. Nephi said: "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." (1 Nephi 11:17.)

There may be more power in your testimony than even you realize. The Lord said to the Nephites:

Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not. (3 Nephi 9:20; italics added.)

Several years ago I met one of our sons in the mission field in a distant part of the world. He had been there for a year. His first question was this: "Dad, what can I do to grow spiritually? I have tried so hard to grow spiritually, and I just haven't made any progress."

That was his perception: to me it was otherwise. I could hardly believe the maturity, the spiritual growth that he had gained in just one year. He "knew it not," for it had come as growth, not as a startling spiritual experience.

It is not unusual to have a missionary say, "How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony would that not be dishonest?"

Testimony Is Found in Bearing It

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle! A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it. Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that "leap of faith," as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and step into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. The spirit of man, as the scripture says, indeed is the candle of the Lord.

It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what -you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!

The prophet Ether "did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, and they did not believe, because they saw them not. And now, I, Moroni .... would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12:5-6.) To speak out is the test of your faith.

If you will speak with humility and honest intent, the Lord will not leave you. The scriptures promise that. Consider this one:

Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall [note that is future tense] put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;

For it shall [again, note the future tense] be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.

But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.

And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say. (D&C 100:5-8; italics added.)

Testimony Hidden From the Skeptic

The skeptic will say that to bear testimony when you may not know you possess one is to condition yourself-that the response is manufactured. One thing is for sure; the skeptic will never know, for he will not meet the requirement of faith, humility, and obedience to qualify him for the visitation of the Spirit.

Can you not see that that is where testimony is hidden, protected perfectly from the insincere, from the intellectual, from the mere experimenter, the arrogant, the faithless, the proud. It will not come to them.

Bear testimony of the things that you hope are true, as an act of faith. It is something of an experiment akin to the experiment that the prophet Alma proposed to his followers. We begin with faith. Not with a perfect knowledge of things. That sermon in the thirty-second chapter of Alma is one of the greatest messages in holy writ, for it is addressed to the beginner, to the novice, to the humble seeker. And it holds a key to a witness of the truth.

The Spirit and testimony of Christ will come to you for the most part when, and remain with you only if, you share it.

In that process is the very essence of the gospel.

Be Obedient to Promptings

Is not this a perfect demonstration of Christianity? You cannot find it, nor keep it, nor enlarge it unless and until you are willing to share it. It is by giving it away freely that it becomes yours.

Now, once you receive it, be obedient to the promptings you receive.

I learned a sobering lesson as a mission president. I was also a General Authority. I had been prompted several times, for the good of the work, to release one of my counselors. Besides praying about it, I had reasoned that it was the right thing to do. But I did not do it. I feared that it would injure a man who had given long service to the Church.

The Spirit withdrew from me. I could get no promptings on who should be called as a counselor should I release him. It lasted for several weeks. My prayers seemed to be contained within the room where I offered them. I tried a number of alternate ways to arrange the work, but to no avail. Finally I did as I was bidden to do by the Spirit. Immediately the gift returned. Oh, the exquisite sweetness to have that gift again! You know it, for you have it-the gift of the Holy Ghost. And the brother was not injured, indeed he was greatly blessed and immediately thereafter the work prospered.

Be ever on guard lest you be deceived by inspiration from an unworthy source. You can be given false spiritual messages. There are counterfeit spirits just as there are counterfeit angels (see Moroni 7:17). Be careful lest you be deceived, for the devil may come disguised as an angel of light.

The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that it is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God when they are either centered in the emotions or they are from the adversary.

Avoid like the plague those who claim that some great spiritual experience authorizes them to challenge the constituted priesthood authority in the Church.

Do not be unsettled if you cannot explain every insinuation of the apostate or every challenge from the enemies who attack the Lord's Church. And we now face a tidal wave of that. In due time you will be able to confound the wicked and inspire the honest in heart.

As a missionary you will mature, develop a confidence, learn to speak up, to organize, to set goals, you learn about people and places, you learn to learn, and you learn many other things. These are lasting benefits that come as something of a reward for your dedicated service.

The Choicest Pearl

But these things do not compare with the most lasting reward. The choicest pearl, the one of great price, is to learn at an early age how one is guided by the Spirit of the Lord, a supernal gift. Indeed it is a guide and a protection. "The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach." (D&C 42:14.)

There is great power in this work, great spiritual power. The ordinary member of the Church, like you, having received the gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, can do the work of the Lord.

Years ago a friend, who long since is gone, told this experience. He was seventeen-years-old and with his companion stopped at a cottage in the southern states. It was his first day in the mission field and was his first door. A gray-haired woman stood inside the screen and asked what they wanted. His companion nudged him to proceed. Frightened and somewhat tongue-tied he finally blurted out, "As man is God once was, and as God is man may become."

Strangely enough, she was interested and asked where he got that. He answered, "It's in the Bible." She left the door for a moment, returned with her Bible. Commenting that she was a minister of a congregation, she handed it to him and said, "Here, show me."

He took the Bible and nervously thumbed back and forth through it. Finally he handed it back saying, "Here, I can't find it. I'm not even sure that it's in there, and even if it is, I couldn't find it. I'm just a poor farm boy from out in Cache Valley in Utah. I haven't had much training. But I come from a family where we live the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it's done so much for our family that I've accepted a call to come on a mission for two years, at my own expense, to tell people how I feel about it."

After half a century, he could not hold back the tears as he told me how she pushed open the door and said, "Come in, my boy, I'd like to hear what you have to say."

There Is Great Power

There is great power in this work and the ordinary member of the Church, sustained by the Spirit, can do the work of the Lord.

There is so much more to say, but there is no time today to speak of prayer, of fasting, of priesthood and authority, of worthiness, all essential to revelation. When they are understood, it all fits together-perfectly.

Some things one must learn individually, alone, taught by the Spirit. Nephi interrupted that great sermon on the Holy Ghost and on angels saying, "I...cannot say more, the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance." (2 Nephi 32:7.)

I have done the best I could with the words I have. Perchance the Spirit has opened the veil a little or confirmed to you a sacred principle of revelation, of spiritual communication.

I know by experience too sacred to touch upon in even this setting that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost that is conferred upon us at confirmation is a supernal gift. The Book of Mormon is true. Jesus is the Christ! This is His Church. There presides over us a prophet of God. The day of miracles has not ceased, neither have angels ceased to appear and minister unto man. The spiritual gifts are with the Church. Choice among them is the gift of the Holy Ghost. Of this I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (Boyd K. Packer, Address given at a seminar for new mission presidents June 25, 1982; Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, [January 1983]: 51.)

Ezra Taft Benson told the group: "One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work. If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people; and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. That’s the secret—work, work, work. There is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work."

1983 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In June 1983 from June 21-24th sixty-one new mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the MTC in Provo, Utah.

Do whatever needs to be done to help missionaries, to strengthen them, to fortify them, to touch their lives.

On Tuesday, June 21, 1983 sixty-one new mission presidents and their wives received an orientation to the MTC, witnessing firsthand the training that missionaries receive there. That evening they attended a devotional, along with some fifteen hundred newly called missionaries.

President Ezra Taft Benson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at the devotional. He said that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has "the greatest message in all the world.” This is the work of the Savior, he said, and moving it forward requires “complete dependence upon him."

The following days were filled with additional training and orientation. For eight hours each day, they attended workshops and received instruction and inspiration from a number of General Authorities. Among the church leaders in attendance were all members of the Quorum of the Twelve, except Elder Mark E. Petersen who was absent due to illness. Also absent were President Spencer W. Kimball and President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency.

On Friday morning a general session was held, conducted by President Hinckley. In speaking to the new mission presidents, President Hinckley recalled his own experience as a young missionary fifty years earlier. After writing a letter filled with discouragement, he received a brief, yet memorable, reply from his father: "Dear Gordon, I just read your letter. I suggest you forget yourself and go to work. Sincerely, Your Father."

"The day that letter came was a great day," said President Hinckley. "I made a pledge to the Lord that I would try to lose myself in his work. And the sun began to shine through the English fog, and it was a new and wonderful world. As I look back upon my life, all that’s happened since that’s been worthwhile I can trace back to that day of decision."

President Hinckley listed ten gifts he hoped every missionary would bring home from the mission field. The foremost is "a knowledge of and love for God our eternal Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift that can come to anyone in this world. … Unless we do all we can to foster that in the lives of every man and woman who comes under our direction, we will have failed in our ministry."

A second gift is "a knowledge of and love for the scriptures, the word of the Lord. As a missionary, I read each evening before going to bed a few chapters in the Book of Mormon, and there came into my heart a conviction which has never left that this is the word of God.... I would hope that every man and woman who comes under your influence would leave his field of labor with a conviction in his or her heart that these things are verily true."

Increased love for parents, love for the people among whom they labor, appreciation for hard work, and an understanding of the importance of teamwork are other important gifts.

The availability of inspiration is a seventh gift mission presidents should help their missionaries gain—-"the assurance that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is available to each of us when we live for it." Other gifts are the value of personal virtue, the faith to act, and humility to pray. Every missionary should recognize, President Hinckley said, "that there is a power greater than ours...and that there is a source of power to which he can go—-with the assurance that he will be listened to and that there will be a response."

Elder Howard W. Hunter also addressed the new mission presidents, telling them that the Lord has placed the responsibility of missionary work "squarely upon the Church as an institution and upon each member of the Church." Preaching the gospel is one of the basic missions of the Church, he said, "because it is the essence of the work of our Father and of the Lord, Jesus Christ."

However, it is only one aspect of our three-fold mission to preach the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead. "Your calling for the next three years is specifically to proclaim the gospel to nonmembers," he said, "but we should avoid any artificial distinctions between these three great responsibilities." They are different in some respects, but are all part of the work of salvation, he said. "It is instructive to note that the keys relating to these three missions were restored on the same day—-April 3, 1836....

Since the restoration of these keys, we have watched the Spirit of the Lord brooding over the nations."

Elder Hunter related several stories illustrating "the remarkable demonstrations of power that attend this latter-day work." He said that "the Lord wants all of his children to accept the gospel, to be cleansed through the atonement of Christ, and to continue in faithfulness.... The Lord expects us to baptize and to gather the lost sheep of Israel into the fold so that we can begin the process of perfection and work for the salvation of others in an ever-widening circle."

Elder Neal A. Maxwell encouraged the new mission presidents to develop good public relations programs to "bring the Church out of obscurity" and to spread the good news of the Restoration. However, he said, "the perception of us as a Church and a people will improve in direct proportion to the degree to which we mirror the Master in our lives. No media effort can do as much good over the sweep of time as can believing, behaving, and serving members of the Church."

Addressing the "minor but irritating challenges of misrepresentation," Elder Maxwell counseled the leaders to develop a sense of history in order to put modern challenges into perspective. "We must not, as the Lord has instructed us, revile against those that revile. Let us instead be about our Father’s business in dignity and devotion."

Critics of the Church are not a major concern, he said: "These tactical irritations are mere mosquitoes in the swamp. The real challenge is the spreading swamp itself, the growing secularization of the Western world. From the former we receive some stings of criticism. From the latter,...we receive deepening indifference, if not hostility, towards all things spiritual."

Elder Maxwell explained that since much of the Christian world now exists in that "secular swamp," true Christianity seldom gets a hearing: "So many in the world regard Christianity not as untrue or even unthinkable, but simply as irrelevant.... Upon this sober scene has burst forth the full light of the everlasting gospel.... We bring fresh evidence and reassurance of Jesus’ reality, identity, and personality to a doubting and despairing world."

1984 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In June 1984 seventy-four mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Gordon B. Hinckley told them "You will look upon this experience as the sweetest, the richest, the most rewarding of your lives." He also explained the function of the new system of Area Presidencies. Every mission president, he said, would have an Area Presidency to whom he could look for direction and guidance in the details of the work. “We can’t make every decision in Salt Lake City. We have to do something about decentralizing authority,” he told the new leaders.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson taught them: "we have the answers to the problems of the world,” and we in the Church have a responsibility in acting as ambassadors for Jesus Christ to share that knowledge.

The greatest help mission presidents and their wives will have in this new stewardship, he said, is their own spirituality.

He cautioned them that "it was never intended for this Church to be popular with the worldly." But "to the honest in heart, the Church is the most attractive religious body in the world. There are tens of millions of these honest in heart who are awaiting our message."

President Benson then gave four suggestions for effective missionary work. First, he said, obtain the Spirit through personal worthiness, the prayer of faith, and a daily searching of the scriptures. Then acquire humility, which is not timidity or weakness, but is an essential ingredient of success. Next, love the people. "Point them up to a higher, finer life and, eventually, to exaltation." And finally, work diligently. "If a missionary works," he said, "he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. Work, work, work: there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work."

Leaving his blessing on the mission presidents and their wives, he said: "God bless us that we may serve so that we will never have any serious regrets, that we will know we have been magnified even beyond our natural talents."

His theme of having the Spirit at this mission presidents seminar was explored in greater detail by Elaine A. Cannon in the Church News in 1993: "Seek the Spirit!" has been the single most recurring theme in the sermons and writings of President Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th president of the Church. It also has been a constant in his life. In times of personal decision, trial, responsibility or opportunity to serve the Lord, President Benson has sought the Lord in deep humility, not alone because of need but because of his earnest desire to do the will of God.

Over the many years of his service in the Church, President Benson has counseled people to strive for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.At a mission president's seminar at the Missionary Training Center, President Benson was specific about how to obtain the Spirit.

He said: "Pray for the Spirit, and the Spirit shall be given you by the prayer of faith. (D&C 42:14.) Live for the Spirit by keeping your life circumspect, by being faithful to all your temple covenants, and by keeping your life unspotted from the sins of the world. Search the scriptures diligently in personal study every day. Daily scripture study invites the Spirit. Cultivate a spirit of unity in your family. Contention is an enemy of the Spirit. Disharmony drives out the Spirit."

President Benson explained that it was while he was on his first mission in England in 1922 that he discovered the constant need for dependence on the Lord. He shared the following experience:

"My companion and I had been invited to travel over to South Shields and speak in the sacrament meeting. In the invitation they said, `We feel sure we can fill the little chapel. Many of the people over here do not believe the falsehoods printed about us. If you'll come, we're sure that we'll have a great meeting.' We accepted.

"We fasted and prayed sincerely and went to the sacrament meeting. My companion had planned to talk on the first principles. I had studied hard in preparation for a talk on the apostasy. There was a wonderful spirit in the meeting. The hall was filled. My companion spoke first and gave an inspirational message. I followed and talked with a freedom I had never experienced before in my life. When I sat down, I realized that I had not mentioned the apostasy. I had talked on the Prophet Joseph Smith and borne my witness of his divine mission and of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. After the meeting had ended, many people came forward, several being non-members, and said: `Tonight we received a witness that Mormonism is true. We are now ready for baptism.'

"This was an answer to our prayers, for we had prayed to say only those things which would touch the hearts of the investigators. Learn to be dependent on the Lord for your success."

President Benson's testimony of the Lord is firm and has reminded people to turn their lives over to God because He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. President Benson has testified that the Lord will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. "Each week we make a solemn covenant to be like Him, to always remember Him in everything, and to keep all of His commandments. In return, He promises to give us His Spirit." (The Joys of Christmas, 1988.)

There is an incident from his younger years that influenced President Benson's testimony about the importance of being guided by the Spirit in life.

He and his cousin George were born about the same time in the same community. They were fast friends. As young men they joined the army as part of the World War I forces, and were assigned to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Utah State University. They were given two weeks furlough to go home and help harvest beets. They had planned to leave ROTC camp for home on Saturday.

Friday morning Ezra Taft woke up with a strong impression of the Spirit that he should go home that day and not wait until Saturday. He left, but George stayed. That day the killer flu epidemic of that period [1918T broke out in ROTC camp. George, who slept in a cot one side of young Ezra, and the man who slept on the other side both died. Ezra Taft became ill, as well, but he was home, where he received a powerful priesthood blessing of healing at the hands of his father, and loving, tender nursing care from his mother. President Benson has always felt that had he stayed back at camp with George, no doubt he, too, would have died like the others.

President Benson's impressions of the Spirit began early. One of the oft-repeated family stories was about the birth of the future prophet, whose life was spared through the power of God and the faith of his family. He was born Aug. 4, 1899, in a two-room house on the remote family farm in Whitney, Idaho. Medical help--equipment, training and experience--was extremely limited. There were life-threatening complications with the birth of the first child of George and Sarah Benson. The country doctor told George T. Benson Jr. that he believed he could save the mother's life but that there was no hope for the child. He put the unbreathing baby aside and quickly went to work on the mother.

But the grandmothers went to work on the baby. Each grandmother took a basin of water, one cold and one warm. They dipped the nearly 12-pound baby alternately into the basins in an effort to shock the infant's little system into life.

The fervent, silent prayers of the grandmothers as they cared for the baby were answered. Also ratified were the promises made through the laying on of hands of the priesthood. This special new spirit was not only to live but to flourish in high places.

From the beginning it was noted that Ezra Taft Benson was unique. When the time came for naming this precious infant, though other names were considered, the parents agreed that indeed he should be the namesake of his noble great-grandfather, Ezra T. Benson, colonizer and apostle during the time of President Brigham Young.

Part of the upbringing of Ezra Taft was the learning of all the words to the Church hymns from his father, who sang them with gusto, in the milking barn as well as in the household. The father did more than teach a young boy hymns; he taught the responsive son to pray, and President Benson remembers the reverence required before God as the family knelt together. This training carried over into Ezra Taft's entire life. To pray was much more than to list needs or recite gratitudes. It was for the purpose of seeking the Spirit and knowing God's will.

As a young man, he also learned about tithing from his parents. Many times he recounted the experience he had of overhearing his parents in a serious discussion as tithing settlement time drew near. They had only $50 to their name. That was the amount they owed for tithing, and it was also the amount they owed the bank for a note. His father had tried to earn money to cover the bank deficit by building a hay derrick but he hadn't sold it. So they considered their options and decided to pay the tithing. They took the money to their bishop and on the way home a neighbor stopped them with an offer to buy the hay derrick. He made out a check for $50 on the spot and his father paid back the bank.

As a student, as a young father, as a civic leader, as an apostle of God and as president of the Church, Ezra Taft Benson has consistently followed a pattern of seeking the Spirit, reaching for the companionship of the Lord and striving to know the will of Heavenly Father. The work ethic was innate in Brother Benson, and so faith always was coupled with hard work and application of gospel principles.

He wanted to do what the Lord wanted him to do. On a trip from Washington D.C., where he was stake president, he made a visit to Salt Lake City to seek counsel about a new job he had been offered. He was quick to respond when word reached him that Heber J. Grant, then president of the Church, wanted to visit with him. A driver took him to a cool retreat in the mountains where President Grant was staying.

President Grant, with his eyes full of tears, took the right hand of the younger man in both of his. He said, "Brother Benson, with all my heart I congratulate you and pray God's blessings to attend you. You have been chosen as the youngest member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles."

It was July 26, 1943. Ezra Taft Benson would be 44 just days later on Aug. 4. He was startled at this call. He said later that he felt his whole world cave in around him. He had been wrestling with decisions regarding his own future, and, meanwhile, someone else had been planning it for him! He was ordained an apostle Oct. 7, 1943, following the ordination of another new apostle, Elder Spencer W. Kimball.

President Benson became president of the Church on Nov. 10, 1985, following the death of President Kimball.

His journal at this sacred time in his life reflects this deep commitment to cultivating the Spirit and to gratefully accepting its influence. He recorded: "I have never felt weaker and never before have I felt the influence of the Spirit in such great strength. . . . May the good Lord sustain me as I go forward humbly. I think it can be truthfully said, I will never acknowledge the Lord's hand as I have the last few hours." (Ezra Taft Benson, A Biography, p. 481.)

Thus it wasn't surprising that when he was Secretary of Agriculture from 1953 to 1961, Elder Benson was the one to suggest that cabinet meetings be opened with prayer. President Eisenhower asked the new secretary at the first cabinet meeting to give a prayer before the members began the business of the day. After that, it was a tradition for prayer to precede the cabinet meeting--a tradition carried on during the eight years of the Eisenhower administration.

During this period of his career, Ezra Taft, the patriot-man-of-God, used his enthusiasm and clout to support the addition of the phrase ``under God'' in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States. And that is the way it is recited at flag ceremonies to this day.

President Benson, a true patriot, was called on several occasions to travel and serve in Europe for both the Church and as Secretary of Agriculture and a representative of the president of the United States. On one trip in the fall of 1959, President Benson added a Moscow stop to his European trade tour. Something occurred there that impressed him as deeply as anything in his life.

There were 10 members of the national press along with the secretary's party. Secretary Benson was demanding in his desire to be allowed to visit a Protestant church. At last the request was granted and on a chilly day of constant rain, the party trouped into the Central Baptist Church in Moscow. The church was filled with middle- to old-aged people who attended at a certain risk to their own well-being. When they saw the Americans file down the aisle they gave up their own pews, crowded together, reached out to touch them as they passed.

One news article reported: "Every face in the old sanctuary gaped incredulously as our obviously American group was led down the aisle. . . . Their wrinkled old faces looked at us pleadingly. They reached out to touch us almost as one would reach out for the last final caress of one's most-beloved just before the casket is lowered. . . . They gripped our hands like frightened children." (Tom Anderson, reprinted in Straight Talk, Oct. 2, 1986.)

Secretary Benson was surprised when he was invited by the minister to speak. He sought the Lord silently, but with all energy of heart as he approached the podium. He faced the people, knowing full well what he had and what they were without. The Spirit was with him. People and members of the press felt something unusual about this man. He seemed more than just a leader.

Secretary Benson, an apostle, was almost overcome by his emotions as he began to speak to these spiritually starved people, deprived of the freedom of unrestricted worship. Leaning upon the Lord, Secretary Benson spoke about hope in a Savior who did indeed live and care about them. He said: ``Our Heavenly Father is not far away. He is our Father. Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World, watches over this earth.... Be unafraid, keep His commandments, love one another, pray for peace, and all will be well."

People openly wept. They nodded their heads in agreement. ``This life is only a span of eternity, '' he continued. ``We lived before we came here. . . . We will live again after we leave this life. . . .'' Though he was very careful, he could not resist revealing his personal testimony. He said, ``I believe very firmly in prayer. I know it is possible to reach out and tap that Unseen Power which gives us strength and [is] such an anchor in time of need. . . . I leave you; my witness as a church servant for many years that the truth will endure. Time is on the side of truth. God bless you and keep you all the days of your life."

He finished his talk with tears spilling down his cheeks. Filing out of the church, they spontaneously began singing ``God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again.'' Even members of the press who resented having to go to church with Secretary Benson were moved and many wept. A journalist wrote: ``It turned out to be one of the most moving experiences in the lifetime of many of us. One newsman, a former Marine, ranked it with the sight of `the American flag rising over the old American compound in Tientsin, China, at the end of World War II.' '' (Grant Salisbury, in U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 26, 1959.)

Those who have worked most closely with Ezra Taft Benson on any of his assignments are those who have championed him most. One example is Frederick W. Babbel, who traveled with President Benson to post-war Europe: ". . . What a blessed privilege was mine in working with him. Never had I met a man of God who was so humble, so grateful for loyalty and kindness rendered, so genuinely and deeply emotional and receptive to that which is good and pure, a man who has such an all-consuming love for the children of our Father. . . . He [can do more in less time, and that more thoroughly and effectively, than I had ever dreamed to be possible." (On Wings of Faith, p 21).

During President Benson's varied career he distinguished himself as a man of high principle, exactness and integrity with a deep and abiding spirituality. He always served unflinchingly in whatever capacity has been his lot. He has mingled with top political leaders, royalty, great thinkers and personalities of the world. Yet he has always stated that his great love is for God and all His children, with a special love for his own ancestors and descendants.

He married his college-days sweetheart, Flora Amussen, on Sept. 10, 1926, in the Salt Lake Temple. President Benson explained their lifelong love affair: ``The attraction between us was evident from the first but the contrast between us was extreme. She owned her own car and was actually the most popular girl in town; I was a farm boy in the traditional blue serge Sunday suit, typically shiny in the back. But she had, and never lost, a rare graciousness that put me immediately at ease.''

Over the years the Bensons had a dozen homes in almost as many cities of the world, with six children to ring the rafters. But there was peace as well as great fun in their home always. Together they prepared a home where friends of all ages, welcomed and entertained, were conscious of a special spirit therein. The Bensons were a loving team and skillfully wove their stalwart family life into the fabric of the many demands and honors thrust upon them. They were stabilized by the gospel and fortified for the stress of such visibility through family prayer and combined faith of devoted children: Reed, Mark, Barbara, Beverly, Bonnie, and Beth.

In the last years of their life together here on earth, Sister Benson was in poor health and leaned upon him heavily until her death Aug. 14, 1992. His tender care of her and his unabashed attentiveness proved him a dignified example of a loving husband.

Whether as a child growing up or as a father shepherding his own children, to President Benson the family home is sacred. Seeking the Spirit, according to President Benson, begins in infancy at home and is nurtured within the circle of one's family. Good families require spirituality in the home.

Ezra Taft Benson--a compassionate prophet, a disciple of Christ, a student of the Word--has also tirelessly and fervently encouraged people in the daily study of the Book of Mormon. He said:

"I would . . . urge you to read daily from the Book of Mormon . . . really know and love the Book of Mormon . . . ponder its pages . . . to obtain the Spirit you will have to search these scriptures daily. The more familiar you are with the scriptures, the closer you become to the mind and will of the Lord and the closer you become as husband and wife and children. You will find that by reading the scriptures the truths of eternity will rest on your minds." (Ensign, April 1988, First Presidency Message.)

The most formally educated prophet of our time, Ezra Taft Benson completed his courses at the Church Academy in Preston, Idaho, and Utah State University at Logan. Then in June of 1926 he graduated from BYU with honors and with the tag the "man most likely to succeed."

With his bride, Flora Amussen, he went to Ames, Iowa, for graduate study. In June 1927 he graduated with honors and was awarded a master of science in agricultural economics. Later he took further study at the University of California, nearly completing a doctorate in his chosen field. The list of President Benson's honorary degrees is impressive, and includes doctor of law degrees and doctor of agriculture degrees, as well as a doctor of science degree and a doctor of public services degree.

Ezra Taft Benson rose to prominence in a changing world and was prepared to take the calls to serve in stride.

Last August, he turned 94. During the past few years, he has been limited, due to his age and health, from maintaining an active schedule. He still enjoys visits with family members and goes for rides to some of his favorite sites in the Salt Lake area, and receives visits from his counselors in the First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. He listens to all the Church firesides and conference sessions by closed circuit to his residence, and listens to music, particularly the favorite tunes that he and Sister Benson used to enjoy.

In the Oct. 1, 1988, general conference, President Benson said: "I am getting older and less vigorous and am so grateful for your prayers and for the support of my younger Brethren. I thank the Lord for renewing my body from time to time so that I can still help build His kingdom.

"I do not know fully why God has preserved my life to this age, but I do know this: That for the present hour He has revealed to me the absolute need for us to move the Book of Mormon forward now in a marvelous manner. . . . Some of us may not live long enough to see the day when the Book of Mormon floods the earth and when the Lord lifts His condemnation. But, God willing, I intend to spend all my remaining days in that glorious effort." ("'Seek Spirit' Prophet's Constant Theme," Church News [Saturday, 25 December 1993]: 7).

1985 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On April 3rd 1985 all 105 Mission President attended General Conference and attended a Mission Presidents' Conference, the first such conference in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall since 1961 when Mission Presidents' Seminars began. On April 4th they all went to the MTC for instructions on how to work with investigators.

"Speakers at the Wednesday opening session held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square were President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency; President Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder M. Russell Ballard, Executive Director of the Church’s Missionary Department; and Bishop J. Richard Clarke, a member at that time of the Presiding Bishopric."

Gordon B. Hinckley said "The Church is moving forward in a marvelous way. Our people, generally through the goodness of their lives, have brought lustre to the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

President Ezra Taft Benson reviewed four areas of missionary emphasis as taught by President Spencer W. Kimball: the sacredness of bringing souls unto our Father in Heaven; the necessity of increasing our own personal faith to influence missionary work in a dramatic way; the importance of missionaries prayerfully setting personal missionary goals; and the urgency of members of the Church to be actively and productively engaged in member-missionary work. He said: "Member-missionary work is literally the key to the future growth of the Church."

Sheri Dew in Ezra Taft Benson's biography shared the following: "Oh, that President Spencer W. Kimball could speak to us at this time, for no prophet in this dispensation, since the Prophet Joseph, has spoken on missionary work as much or as forcefully as has our beloved prophet, President Kimball."

President Benson then explained that he had re-read every major address President Kimball had given on that topic during his administration. "Tears have welled up in my eyes," President Benson told the group, "as I have again caught [President Kimball's] marvelous vision of missionary work." (Ezra Taft Benson, "President Kimball's View of Missionary Work," concluding message at Mission President's Conference, April 3, 1985, Church Archives.)

President Benson also said: "If there is one message I have repeated to my brethren of the Twelve, it is that it’s the Spirit that counts. It is the Spirit that matters. I do not know how often I have said this, but I never tire of saying it—-it is the Spirit that matters most" (Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 3 Apr. 1985). His talk was republished in its entirety in the July 1985 Ensign.

Elder Boyd K. Packer focused his discussion on the theme of the Mission Presidents’ Conference: "He that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth." (D&C 50:21.) Elder Packer instructed mission presidents to re-emphasize gospel principles in their activities.

M. Russell Ballard told them one purpose of the conference was to help mission presidents “develop mature, capable, responsive missionaries who will teach by the Spirit” as they teach the gospel to investigators throughout the world.

Bishop J. Richard Clarke said: "The Book of Mormon has been the means of converting more people to the gospel than all other instruments combined since the Restoration. Our mandate is to declare the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, validated by the power of the Spirit."

On Thursday, April 4, the mission presidents and their companions journeyed to Provo to the Missionary Training Center for instruction and training on presenting the gospel to investigators."

Jay E. Jenson recalls of that meeting: "In the April 1985 World Mission Presidents’ Conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer spoke about the spirit of "Box B"—-putting spirit into missionary calls and not overlooking the sacrifices missionary service requires. During his presentation, he paused and commented about the importance of the Book of Mormon. The peace and clarity of mind I experienced and the joy I felt were confirmations from the Holy Ghost that what Elder Packer was saying was true and was from God.

1986 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1986 from June 25th through June 27th sixty-eight new mission presidents and their wives attended the seminar in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center.

On June 25th Ezra Taft Benson said: "The influence of the Spirit is the most important element in this work. If you will allow the Spirit to magnify your callings, you will be able to work miracles for the Lord."

President Benson stressed in his address the use of the Book of Mormon by mission presidents. "He challenged them to accelerate member-missionary work and to make greater use of the Book of Mormon in their efforts.

President Benson advised leaders to use the Book of Mormon as "the center of our personal study, our preaching and missionary work. We are not yet doing all that the Lord would have us do. Of this we must repent.

"The Book of Mormon must be the heart of our missionary work in every mission of the Church."

President Benson noted that more people are now being baptized—-a direct result of an increased use of the Book of Mormon during the past year. "I promise you that you will have more and better converts in every mission of the Church if you will teach and inspire your missionaries to effectively use the Book of Mormon as the great converter," he said.

"Your greatest help will come from the Lord Himself as you supplicate and plead with Him in humble prayer. As you are driven to your knees again and again, asking Him for divine help in your mission, you will feel the Spirit, you will get your answer from above, your mission will prosper spiritually because of your dependence and your reliance on Him" (Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

President Benson instructed the mission presidents to "let members know that the Lord will sustain them in their missionary responsibilities if they just have the faith to try." He also told them to "share with the members the joy they will experience by finding and fellowshipping friends and neighbors for your missionaries to teach."

President Benson encouraged the new presidents to love the work and work hard because "it is a time for harvest, not a time of gleaning." He also underscored the importance of faith on the part of the missionaries. Developing faith will give missionaries the "absolute, unquestioning assurance that this is the work of God, that it is true, that it is a work of power, a work of miracles, a work of wonder," he said.

In his address, President Benson urged mission leaders to "exemplify faith in their own lives" in order to help build faith in their missionaries. He advised them to "do good and wonderful and significant things as those who have been called by the spirit of revelation and prophecy and set apart by the laying on of hands." He promised the mission presidents that if they would do this, they would have a tremendous impact on lives ever afterward.

"Through the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord proclaimed to John and Peter Whitmer, "The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people that you may bring souls unto me" (D&C 15:6). Your greatest desire, as newly called mission presidents, should be to bring souls unto Him, converted souls taught by excellent missionaries in your field of labor" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

"The modern-day challenging and testifying missionary prays every morning to "lead me this day to a family that I can fulfill my purpose" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

It is a time of harvest and not a time of gleaning, and if missionaries are true and faithful, they will literally be instruments in the hands of the Lord in bringing souls unto Him. The Apostle Paul's statement reminds them that in the conversion process some missionaries will plant, some will water, and some will baptize. You are not concerned with who gets the credit for the baptisms because "God [gives] the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6). (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986.)

Missionaries are engaged in the greatest work in all the world-saving the souls of our Father in Heaven's children. They have been called by inspiration and revelation at this time for a sacred and holy purpose. They are serving exactly where the Lord wants them, for them they are in the best mission of the Church, they cannot fail in this work, they have been called to succeed, and succeed they will. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986.)

He stated: "It is a time of harvest and not a time of gleaning, and if missionaries are true and faithful, they will literally be instruments in the hands of the Lord in bringing souls unto Him. The Apostle Paul's statement reminds them that in the conversion process some missionaries will plant, some will water, and some will baptize. You are not concerned with who gets the credit for the baptisms because "God [gives] the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6.)....

Concentrate all of your time and effort and talent on your mission. The Apostle Paul declared: "This one thing I do" (Philippians 3:13), and you have just one marvelous thing to do and that is the most important work in all the world-missionary work. Give it all you have got and you will have true joy. As you come to the close of your mission, don't run out of steam. Sprint to the end.....

President Harold B. Lee once instructed a group of new mission presidents to "save the missionaries and they will save the people." The key to saving anyone is to love them. It is still true that "a person doesn't care how much you know as long as he knows how much you care"....

Teach correct principles to missionaries and you will bless their lives forever....

The principle of not aspiring to positions in the mission field is taught well in Mark 9:34-35 and Matthew 23:11-12. Missionaries should be taught that it doesn't matter where they serve, but how. Position doesn't save anyone, but faithfulness does. Aspiring to positions of responsibility can destroy the spirit of the mission as well as the spirit of a missionary.(Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

In addition he said: "It is vital that missionaries maintain the proper missionary image and have the reputation as great proselyting elders and not just "good guys"....Missionary work is not easy. It is the most demanding, the most compelling, the most exhausting, and yet, with it all, the most happy and most joyful work in all the world" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

The Lord will sustain members in their missionary responsibility if they just have the faith to try. "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9-10.) Share with them the joy they will experience by finding and fellowshipping friends and neighbors" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

Speaking on the Book of Mormon he said: "The Book of Mormon must be the heart of our missionary work in every mission of the Church if we are to come out from under this condemnation (see D&C 84:56-57). And what a marvelous missionary tool it is! Already we see an increase in baptisms, which testifies to the power of this sacred volume....

The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use in our missionary work. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ. All other things are secondary. The golden question of the Book of Mormon is "Do you want to learn more of Christ?" The Book of Mormon is the great finder of the golden contact. It does not contain things which are "pleasing unto the world," and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve. (See I Nephi 6:5.)

There is a difference between a convert who is built on the rock of Christ through the Book of Mormon and stays hold of the iron rod, and one who is not. I promise you that you will have more and better converts in every mission of the Church if you will teach and inspire missionaries to effectively use the Book of Mormon as the great converter.

We need missionaries to match our message. We need missionaries who really know and love the Book of Mormon, who have a burning testimony of its divinity, and who by the Spirit can challenge their investigators to read and ponder its pages, knowing with complete assurance that the Lord will manifest the truth of the Book of Mormon to them by the power of the Holy Ghost....

Anyone who has diligently sought to know the doctrines and teachings of the Book of Mormon and has used it conscientiously in missionary work knows within his soul that this is the instrument which God has given to the missionaries to convince the Jew and Gentile and Lamanite of the truthfulness of our message" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

Speaking on the Spirit President Benson said: "Be guided by the Spirit. I have said so many times to my Brethren that the Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit, and by magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

I challenge you to enjoy your call and to magnify it completely. Be happy and joyful in the service of the Lord. Love missionary work with all your heart. I promise you that as you magnify your call this will be the sweetest and most glorious experience you have had in Church service to this time" (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986).

1987 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1987, on June 23rd eighty-eight mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the MTC in Provo, Utah. Dennis Bramwell Neuenschwander future member of the Seventy was in this group.

On 23 June 1987 at the MTC in Provo, Utah Ezra Taft Benson addressed new mission presidents and their wives at annual Mission Presidents Seminar. Ezra Taft Benson told them" "With the Spirit, you and your missionaries will perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Conversion itself is a miracle, and only by the Spirit will we ever realize the harvest of convert baptisms that the Lord expects of us."

President Ezra Taft Benson emphasized the Spirit as the means to attract new converts. "With the Spirit, you and your missionaries will perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Conversion itself is a miracle, and only by the Spirit will we ever realize the harvest of convert baptisms that the Lord expects of us.

President Benson pointed to the gospel principles of love, work, prayer, faith, obedience, and gospel study as basic to the success of the mission presidents and their wives. He advised them to take time daily to study the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. "There is a spiritual power in the Book of Mormon that is unique to all other scriptures." President Benson exhorted mission leaders to pray for the Lord’s help. "Plead for it, live for it, pour out your soul to the Lord to receive it."

You will not be an effective missionary until you learn to have sympathy for all of our Father's children-unless you learn to love them. People can feel when love is extended to them. Many yearn for it. When you sympathize with their feelings, they in turn will reciprocate goodwill to you. You will have made a friend. And as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "Whom can I preach to but my friends." Yes, love the people. (Ezra Taft Benson, "Keys to Successful Missionary Work," Mission Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 23 June 1987.)

He also said: "President Ezra Taft Benson has said, “The Spirit is the most important matter in this glorious work.” (Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 1975, 1986, 1987.)After speaking to the mission presidents President Benson addressed 1,400 missionaries and told them "The Spirit is the most important thing in this work and there is no satisfactory substitute."

Ezra Taft Benson also told them: "If you want to keep the Spirit, to love your mission and not be homesick, you must work. But, remember the words of President Thomas S. Monson: "Work without vision is drudgery. Vision without work is dreaming. Work coupled with vision is destiny." There is no greater exhilaration or satisfaction than to know, after a hard day of missionary work, that you have done your best" (Ezra Taft Benson, "Keys to Successful Missionary Work," Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 23 June 1987).

Missionary work is not easy. It is the most demanding, the most compelling, the most exhausting, and yet, with it all, the most happy and most joyful work in all the world. (Ezra Taft Benson, Mission Presidents Seminar, Provo, Utah, 25 June 1986.)

President Thomas S. Monson told the presidents and their wives: "Work without vision is drudgery. Vision without work is dreaming. Work coupled with vision is destiny. ("Keys to Successful Missionary Work, Provo, Utah, 23 June 1987.)

1988 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1988 sixty-eight new mission presidents were instructed on June 21st at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Goodbyes have been said at home, at airports, and even around campfires, as the next set of mission presidents begin their formal training for service in worldwide positions of leadership.

Pres. A. Dean Jeffs, center, an Orem, Utah, attorney, who will preside over the West Indies Mission, says farewell to the Varsity Scouts of the Orem 50th Ward that he coached prior to his mission call. Pres. Jeffs is one of 68 new leaders who participated in a week long seminar June 20-25 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. ("About the Cover," Church News [Saturday, 25 June 1988]: 2).

On 21 June 1988 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah Ezra Taft Benson addressed the mission presidents' seminar.President Benson wasn't feeling well but made a few brief remarks: "I love this work with all my heart. You are engaged in the greatest work in all the world. You are not called to fail." Then Elder M. Russell Ballard delivered President Benson's prepared talk for him which included six principles essential for a mission president’s success: (1)"The first principle is love. . . . Truly love the work in which you are engaged...love your own eternal companion...love your missionaries. Teach your missionaries this principle of love." (2) "teach your missionaries the love of work, and you set the example." (3) gospel study--"You and your missionaries should read daily from the Book of Mormon." (4) prayer--"Pray for divine direction. . . . Teach your missionaries the power of prayer.” (5) faith--have "faith in your missionaries" and "faith in yourself." (6) obedience--"Simple obedience brings forth the blessings of heaven."

For missionaries to succeed in their quest to bless additional lives, they must become more skillful teachers of the gospel, said Church leaders who addressed the New Mission Presidents Seminar.

During four days of intensive instruction June 21-24, 68 new mission presidents and their wives heard from the entire First Presidency, six members of the Council of the Twelve and other General Authorities assigned to the Missionary Department.

In addition to these addresses, much of the instruction centered on training mission presidents to teach missionary skills. These skills are needed in creating a spiritual setting and in developing the faith needed to teach under inspiration.

President Ezra Taft Benson addressed the new mission presidents June 21.

President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, counselors in the First Presidency, spoke to mission presidents in subsequent sessions, as did President Howard W. Hunter and others of the Council of the Twelve.

After the seminar's concluding session, the new mission leaders departed for their fields of service. Warm friendships developed during the week. The leaders left after exchanging handshakes and hugs and carried with them the urgency of spreading the gospel to all the world.

In his address, President Hinckley said that missionaries are sent to bless lives. These missionaries, he remarked, "look the same everywhere—they are clean and sharp, bright and neat, and eager and alert. They have looked that way for the last hundred years, and I hope they'll look that way for the next hundred years.

"There is something wonderful and marvelous about missionaries . . . they are ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ."

President Hinckley told mission presidents that to supervise missionaries "is a tremendous responsibility, one which I hope you will never forget."

He said mission presidents are successful when they:

1. Love the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Motivate missionaries to do their best in the work to which they have been called, and leave the result of that work to the Lord.

3. Forget themselves in the service of others.

4. Bless all whose lives they touch.

President Gordan B. Hinckley celebrated his 78th birthday June 23 by speaking at the Mission Presidents Seminar in Provo, Utah, and attending his usual Thursday meetings. Included are the weekly meeting of the General Authorities in the Salt Lake Temple and committee meetings later in the day. In the afternoon, he took a few minutes from his schedule to cut a birthday cake and accept the best wishes of his associates.

President Hinckley applied the Beatitudes of the New Testament to missionary work.

"'Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,'" he said. "You'll be dealing with poor in spirit; know that theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"'Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.' You'll come to know something of suffering, as well as gladness."

"'Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.' And that is your great opportunity to teach the teachable—those who eagerly wish to listen to what you have for them.

"'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.' You will have a few of them," he continued, "not as many as you might wish . . . and you shall witness the marvelous process of them becoming filled and faithful." (Matt. 5:3-6).

President Monson told the mission presidents and their wives that they were entering one of the happiest periods of their lives. "Your first responsibility will be to the missionaries," he said. "You will be entrusted with the hopes and dreams of parents." He said parents make a considerable sacrifice as young men and women leave the family.

Missionaries, he continued, must always remember that they have received a call from the prophet of the Lord, and that they have accepted that call in writing.

President Monson admonished the mission presidents to be kind to their missionaries. "If you treat them as they are, they will remain as they are, but if you treat them as you expect them to be, they will become so.

"If you ignore, you injure. If you inform, you inspire," he told the mission presidents.

He said the leaders should instruct their returning missionaries about preparation for careers. "Tell them to be the best in that field. There is no room for mediocrity."

Returned missionaries should be instructed to marry in the temple and to commit themselves to always pay tithing, counseled President Monson.

"Let your motto be, 'No one fails in my mission,'" he instructed. "Let the mission be a place where they can find themselves."

Missionaries carry essential truths that include doctrines of the plan of salvation, the Godhead, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he declared. Missionaries should understand these truths and become skilled in teaching them. In addition, "Make prayer a part of that great message," he added.

President Monson encouraged the leaders to engender support from the members within their missions. "Their support has to be merited. It can't be drafted." Then, he added, once the members are involved, "there is nothing that can't be accomplished."

He promised the new mission presidents and their wives that the Lord would pay them dividends for their service that would last long after their terms in the mission field ended.

As his years as a mission president were starting, former automobile executive Giuseppe Pasta, new president of the Italy Rome Mission, summed up his feelings about the mission presidents seminar: "We have been in the 'celestial kingdom,' and now we are going back into the lone and dreary world. But we have a three-years' supply of spirituality."

The primary object of missionary work is to help non-members enter into the way of eternal life, said President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.

The gateway to that path of eternal life is through repentance and baptism, he explained. "No man or woman can receive eternal life without the atonement of Jesus Christ being fully efficacious in his or her life."

The Atonement, he said, is an act of love by Heavenly Father and His only Begotten Son.

"I have stood in the Garden of Gethsemane on many occasions," President Hunter recalled. "I have contemplated that suffering, the agony of the Savior—that agony that was experienced when our Heavenly Father permitted Him, in a way our minds cannot even contemplate, to take upon Himself the pain and sins of all mankind.

"What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have concern for the welfare of others. A great indication of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others," said President Hunter.

'Prophet has stood test'

No prophet on earth has been scrutinized as long and thoroughly as has the Prophet Joseph Smith, said Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve.

And, he added, "He has stood the test."

Joseph Smith, though unlearned and untrained in theology, gave the Church more printed pages of scriptures than the combined papers of Paul, Luke and Mormon, he said.

"He provided us with the essential grammar of the gospel as no one else could," continued the apostle.

The truths he shared were revolutionary in his time. And, said Elder Maxwell, while these truths tower above the foothills of philosophy, the world still largely ignores them.

The people of the world "don't realize that the great relevance of the truths of the Restoration are a many--splendored affirmation that Jesus is the Christ."

Elder Maxwell said missionaries must bear firm testimonies of the Restoration's lead prophet, "who did what no one else would do."

Spirit will testify

The Lord's way of teaching takes place through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, reported Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

"The Spirit guides us in what we should teach, brings all-important gospel truths to our remembrances and then testifies of the Father and the Son and affirms the truth of what we have taught by the Spirit," said Elder Oaks of the Council of the Twelve.

"This is why the gospel can be proclaimed by the weak and simple to the ends of the earth."

He said that to teach by the Spirit, members must be worthy of the companionship of the Spirit. "We must be obedient to the commandments of the Lord, we must be prayerful, we must be prepared in knowledge of the doctrine and missionary discussions."

Careful preparation is required to be guided by the Spirit, said Elder Oaks. "We must always be prepared to proceed on our own best judgment. There are times when we have latitude, and time when we will be told what to do."

The testimony of the Spirit is an intense feeling of serenity, or righteousness, or peace, he declared. The apostle encouraged missionaries to bear testimony in simple, direct phrases and avoid using cliches.

Catch enthusiasm

Mission presidents are entrusted with one of the greatest assets of the Church—full-time missionaries, said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve.

He said that after serving, returned missionaries continue to be important. "They provide a valuable leadership base for the Church. The future leadership base for the Church. The future leadership of the Church is in your hands."

He encouraged mission presidents to "thrust in your sickles with enthusiasm. Your missionaries will catch the enthusiasm from you. You need to be on fire every morning when you are with your missionaries.

Mission presidents should perform their work with love, particularly in the labor to save each missionary. "Your missionaries all have one thing in common—they are all junior angels," said Elder Perry.

He encouraged mission presidents to be exemplary in sharing the gospel and in teaching missionaries. "You will bring to pass much righteousness. This Church is not man-made. It is directed by the Savior Himself," said Elder Perry.

Increased skills needed

Missionaries need to increase their finding and teaching skills, emphasized Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.

"Until our missionaries understand how to prepare people for the gospel, and identify and prepare for the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, and until they learn how to follow up, frankly, we are not going to accelerate the work," he said.

Missionaries must build a relationship of trust, resolve people's concerns, and create a teaching setting before conversion can take place, he noted.

"Do you realize that more people are born in one day in the world than we baptize in one year?" he asked. "We just simply have to learn how to break loose from where we are."

Missionaries, he said, are dealing with eternal life. Once they are prepared, they have the tools . . . and they can go forward anywhere, under any circumstances.

"They can teach the chairman of the board just as easily as they teach underprivileged families. That's the skill that has to be generated in the lives of the missionaries." ("Mission Quest Bless Lives," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1988]: 6).

A detailed account of President Benson's talk was given in the Church News: "President Ezra Taft Benson fervently emphasized his love for missionary work - and for the leaders who move it forward--as he opened the annual New Mission President's Seminar at the Missionary Training Center here June 21.

"I love this work with all my heart," he said. Speaking about missionary work "almost brings tears to my eyes. And now, the Lord has spoken, and we are joined with Him in this marvelous work. You face the happiest years of your life. I know, I have been there."President Benson was the first speaker in the week long seminar for the 68 new mission presidents and their wives. Following his remarks to the mission presidents, he spoke briefly to missionaries at the center.

The new presidents, who come from a dozen countries and range in ages from 39 to 68, will head missions in 32 countries. They include physicians, teachers, attorneys, executives and farmers. Most will begin their service about July 1. Others, however, such as Pres. J. Duffy Palmer, have already begun their service. This is Pres. Palmer's second call as mission president; this time he is heading the Liberia Monrova Mission, a new mission created March 1.

In attendance at the first session of the seminar were all three members of the First Presidency, most of the Council of the Twelve and the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, as well as members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Presiding Bishopric.

The meeting was conducted by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. Also speaking the morning of June 21 were Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve and a member of the Missionary Executive Council, and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department.

Other General Authorities were to address the new mission presidents in later sessions throughout the week. They included President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency; President Howard W. Hunter, president of the Council of the Twelve; and members of the Council of the Twelve and the First Quorum of the Seventy, including area presidencies.

In President Benson's address, which was delivered by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve, mission leaders were offered eternal principles for success in missionary work.

First and foremost, mission leaders should love the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel and the special calling that is now theirs, they were told. "Truly love the work in which you are engaged. Love it with all your heart, and true joy and happiness will be yours."

President Benson also counseled mission presidents and their wives to love the missionaries who serve under them. "Express your love often to them personally and in meetings together. Love changes lives."

Love should also be extended to investigators, he encouraged.

President Benson said missionaries should also know how to work. "We want missionaries who every day arise early, who study diligently, who go tracting with the purpose of finding golden contacts, who challenge and teach with the Spirit, who return every evening `tired in the Lord,' who daily literally have their bodies renewed in His service."

He encouraged mission presidents to take time to study the scriptures with their wives on a daily basis.

"And you and your missionaries should read daily from the Book of Mormon," he emphasized. "There is a spiritual power in the Book of Mormon which is unique to all other scriptures. . . . Every missionary needs the power of the Book of Mormon to bring conversion to his own soul and to increase his own spirituality. With that power your missionaries should use the Book of Mormon as the heart of their proselyting work and as the great converter."

President Benson also observed that obedience brings perfection. "Some missionaries in your mission may suffer a little as they learn this principle, as they bend their will to the will of the Lord, but, oh, what blessings follow!

"You will bless the lives of your missionaries forever if by your example and your teachings they learn and love and live by the principle of obedience."

Elder Haight outlined the missionary role of early members of the Council of the Twelve under Brigham Young in Great Britain, and observed: "In the past century and a half, doors of nations have continued to open to us as prophesied. But we must be prepared and ready.

"We have built through knowledge and testimony a constantly growing membership of Latter-day Saints who are a credit to the Church and an asset to the countries in which they live," he said.

"This is an exciting but soul-searching time for you misison presidents and your lovely companions," Elder Haight continued. "You are to be involved in a continuing history of missionary work and especially to entwine your lives with the lives of others in this soul-saving work."

Elder Backman paid tribute to the mission presidents. "I give thanksgiving to the Lord that there are so many wonderful and great people such as you who respond to the call."

The goals of the missionary program, he reported, include increasing the number of missionaries, the number of converts, and the number of converts who remain active in the Church.

He said that members form a vital link between the missionaries and their converts. In the United States, most converts have been referred by about one-fifth of the members." ("I Love this Work with All My Heart," Church News [Saturday, 25 June 1988]: 4).

Mary Ellen Edmunds described how President Benson met with the elders after the mission presidents' seminar: "On 21 June 1988, the annual seminar for new mission presidents was being held at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. After President Ezra Taft Benson spoke to these presidents and their wives, he went to the multipurpose room, where close to two thousand missionaries waited for him. I was thrilled to watch these two thousand as President Benson came into the room, to see the love in their eyes as they sang “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” Many of them had tears running down their faces. There was a feeling in the room as wonderful to me, I think, as if Moses or another prophet from the past had been standing before us."

Howard W. Hunter taught them: "We are to stand as witnesses of God at all times in all places, even until death [see Mosiah 18:8-9]. We renew that covenant during the sacrament when we covenant to take the name of Christ upon us.

Missionary service is one important way we take upon ourselves his name. The Savior has said if we desire to take upon us his name, with full purpose of heart, we are called to go into all the world and preach his gospel to every creature (see D&C 18:28).

Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior. For he hath said, "I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in the solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you" (D&C 84:61.) (Mission Presidents' Seminar, "The Atonement of Jesus Christ." Mission Presidents Seminar, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah, 24 June 1988).

1989 Mission Presidents' Seminar

Effective missionary work means finding, teaching and converting by the power of the Spirit, 75 new mission presidents and their wives were instructed June 20-23 at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar.

The new presidents left their homes and lifestyles behind to begin their three-year service, 'Unto all the world.' Participating in the seminar at the Missionary Training Center here were President Ezra Taft Benson; his two counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson; 10 members of the Council of the Twelve; all seven Presidents of the Seventy; and many members of the First and Second Quorum of the Seventy. Recently called General Authorities were also in attendance, there to benefit by the training.

On 20 June 20 1989 at the MTC in Provo, Utah Ezra Taft Benson addressed the mission presidents' seminar. President Ezra Taft Benson left his blessing with the new presidents, saying "God bless you. I wish I were going with you.

"You're going to the most wonderful work in this world. I know what it is, because I've been there. God bless you every one."

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, conducted the seminar.

"It is a miracle of the Church before us here," he said, referring to the mission presidents and their wives. "What a miracle it is to see this great work unfold."

Speaking at the opening session June 20 were Elders M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve and Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Ballard is on the Missionary Executive Committee and Elder Backman is executive director of the Missionary Department. The Osmond Boys--a quartet of preteen sons of Alan Osmond of the famous Osmond family--wearing missionary name tags, performed two musical numbers.

Among the new mission leaders were Marco Alberto Flores and his wife, Maria, from Mexico City, who were called only four days before the seminar began. They were in Provo taking English classes at BYU when they received their call to preside over the Mexico Chihuahua Mission.

"We had such a short time to prepare," said Pres. Flores. "But we are grateful that the Lord was thinking of us."

They said the seminar "was a great opportunity to learn of our great responsibility."

Speakers throughout the week emphasized the importance of conversion through the Holy Ghost, and in having missionaries and members surround that experience with love and understanding.

In his address, Elder Ballard cited verses 17-22 in D&C 50 of the Doctrine and Covenants as the "underpinning doctrine" for the process of conversion:

"Therefore, why is it ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

"Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." (D&C 50:21-22.)

"That's the key process of conversion," he emphasized. "When that glorious connection occurs between the missionary and the investigator, presided over by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, then they understand one another.

"Spiritual experiences are very, very important in the lives of people," he continued. "Missionaries must prepare investigators to have spiritual experiences, and they can do that--they can have a spiritual experience by just praying with them."

Elder Ballard said the current increase in convert baptisms is due in part to better preparation of mission presidents, to missionaries who know how to teach by the Spirit, to the use of the media in spreading the gospel message, and to the work of stake and ward mission leaders.

He urged mission leaders to enlist both members and investigators to help find additional people for the missionaries to teach.

Many of the missionaries don't capture the vision of finding, of opening their mouths and talking with everybody that they see, he observed. "The most effective way to increase the number of investigators is to teach missionaries to boldly talk to people, wherever they are."

Elder Backman, in an overview of missionary work, complimented the leaders for accepting the calls.

"My heart is in my throat," he told the group. "I give thanks to the Lord that there are so many wonderful and great people who are willing to give so much as they respond to the call.

"I know all of you share trepidation in leaving the comfort zones of home and work, and family and finance, and in going out to live among strangers. Many of you will learn languages and cultures. And you also must hold some uneasiness about the future, about what it holds when you return from your missions. I know you share concern about being surrogate mother and father to 200 young missionaries.

"You share certainly a sense of the audacity of what you are about to do--getting a small army of young and some not-so-young missionaries, many hardly able to speak the language, much less understand the cultures--to ask strangers to change their lives forever."

He said that if leaders had these concerns, then they also shared the faith and courage that it requires to succeed.

And, "you share more than this. Asking people to change their lives requires a sure knowledge on your part that this new life will be a better one. You have experienced the richness and joys of lives dedicated to gospel service."

He counseled presidents to "save yourselves and your families, save the missionaries, increase the number of converts, and to retain the converts as active members.

"We are thrilled with the increase in baptisms, but we know we've only scratched the surface of what we are capable of doing." ("'Unto All the World' Seminar Focus," Church News [Saturday, 24 June 1989]: 3).

The Church News covered Thomas S. Monson's address in detail: "At the Mission Presidents Seminar June 22, President Thomas S. Monson assured 74 new mission presidents and their wives that wherever they go, they are going to the right place at the right time.

"And you've been called by the right authority," said President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency. "You are on the Lord's errand and therefore you are entitled to the Lord's help." President Monson emphasized the "Four M's of Missionary Work" - the missionary, the message, the mission and the members. He instructed the new mission leaders in each:

--The missionary. "When missionaries come to you brethren and sisters, will you ensure that you place them with qualified missionaries who will love them and help teach them to reach their full potential?

"The missionary will become just what you expect him to become," he said. "Treat the missionary as though he already is what he can and will and should become, and he will grow forward and upward in that pattern and will not disappoint you."

He also called on the mission leaders to encourage their missionaries to write home each week.

--The message. President Monson emphasized the following three points about the message:

First, missionaries need to know the discussions carrying the message. He said contacts love to hear about the plan of salvation. They also are impressed with the missionaries' testimony that a prophet of God leads and directs the Church. Finally, they are interested in a sacred record known as the Book of Mormon.

Second, he counseled missionaries to personalize the message by underlining passages in the Book of Mormon.

Third, he urged them to stay with the program and teach from the discussions.

--The mission. "How you organize your mission is very important," President Monson said. "Choose as your top missionary helpers those who can inspire others and grow in their talents."

He counseled the mission presidents to inform local Church leaders when a change is made in missionary leadership in their areas. "When you inform, you inspire," he said. "When you ignore, you injure. Don't ignore the feelings of the local leadership of the wards or the stakes."

Mission presidents also should take care of their families, President Monson advised. When President Monson was a mission president, he was reminded by Elder S. Dilworth Young, then of the First Council of the Seventy, that he would be a mission president for three years, but he would be a husband and father for eternity.

"You become the model--the role model for them to follow," said President Monson.

"It's important that you maintain a spirituality so that when things are difficult you are not just a friend, you are their role model, their older brother, their father."

--The members. ``No mission will reach its potential without members involved in the program,'' President Monson said.

"I would try to win the love and devotion and the support of those members. That mission home of yours will never be put to a better purpose than if you're inviting the stake presidency and their wives, the high council and their wives, the bishopric and their wives, members and their wives to come over to the mission home to get acquainted.

"In this way involvement in missionary work will follow, the Church will grow and souls will be saved," he added. ("Wherever New Missionary Leaders Go It's 'The Right Place at the Right Time'," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1989]: 5).

Howard W. Hunter also addressed the mission president. The Church News reported: "Quoting Nephi, President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve said the greatest objective of the Church's missionary endeavor is to help nonmembers enter the gate into the pathway of eternal life.

The gateway, said President Hunter during the Mission Presidents Seminar, is "repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost." (2 Ne. 31:17-18.)President Hunter affirmed that "no man or woman can receive eternal life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ being fully efficacious in one's life."

He cited the pattern of conversion in the Book of Mormon following King Benjamin's sermon in Mosiah 4. The effect of the message, President Hunter observed, was that the people viewed themselves in their worldly state, and they next cried to the Lord for mercy, forgiveness and purification. Ultimately the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them and filled them with joy.

"That pattern of conversion applies to every member of the Church today," President Hunter said.

Posing the question of what the Atonement has to do with missionary work, President Hunter said, "Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others."

To illustrate, he cited examples from the Book of Mormon, including Lehi partaking of fruit from the tree of life, Enos' concern about the Nephites and Lamanites, and the sons of Mosiah and their mission among the Lamanites.

He read the conversion story of Alma the younger in Alma 36:12-24.

"A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others," he commented. "For this reason the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be missionaries."

Reviewing the covenants of baptism and the sacrament, President Hunter said missionary work is one important way to take upon oneself the name of Christ.

"Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior," he declared. ("Baptism Is Gateway to Eternal Plan," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1989]: 5).

John L. Hart of the Church News did a feature on some of the mission presidents that attended the conference: "When Pres. Jay A. Ferrell--representative of the 74 new mission presidents called this year--boards an airplane to begin his service, he has the satisfaction of knowing that the aircraft may well be one he has helped design and test.

Pres. Ferrell, 62, who was an aerodynamics engineer and supervisor for the Boeing Company before his mission call, will preside over the Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission. In his career, he was a chief engineer in design phases of the Boeing 700, 727 and 737 aircrafts that are used by many commercial airlines.Pres. Ferrell is typical of those who have been called from their careers to preside over missions throughout the world in the next three years.

On June 19, he and his wife will trade their comfortable farm home in Everett, Wash., for the facilities of the Missionary Training Center. For the next four days, they and 73 other new mission leaders and their wives will receive extensive training at the annual Mission President's Seminar, June 20-23.

At the seminar, the new leaders will be addressed by members of the First Presidency and instructed by General Authorities and Missionary Department leaders in numerous workshops. Subjects to be emphasized include teaching by the Spirit, increasing use of the media, and presiding over a mission.

Following the seminar, the leaders will leave for their various missions and begin service about July 1. Their number comprises about one-third of the Church's 226 missions.

Typically, some of the new presidents will change careers after their missions. Others will return following a leave of absence. Many, like Pres. Ferrell, retired after long and successful careers.

Pres. Ferrell said that during his career, "I supervised the design of the aerodynamics. We worked on numerous designs. We do hundreds of designs for every one that becomes an airplane."

Before he left Boeing, Pres. Ferrell was honored at a retirement party.

"I wanted to quietly pack my things, shake a few hands, and walk out the door, but I wasn't able to do that," he said. One of the gifts he received from his company was a missionary journal.

After his retirement party, his children sponsored an open house. To the non-member friends who attended, he and his wife, Jackie, presented more than 100 gift-wrapped, personalized copies of the Book of Mormon.

He said they did not anticipate a call to preside over a mission, but, "We always intended to go on mission of some kind. We retired a little earlier for this reason. We are not retiring to inactivity."

Missionary work is not new to the Ferrells. His father was a district president in central Washington, and the family worked closely with the missionary effort in that state.

He and his wife operated a ranch in Montana. "We felt a strong need to dedicate that ranch to the purposes of the Lord," he explained. "From that time on, our springs never went dry. We watered our neighbors' cattle when their springs dried up." He said that before they left the ranch to move to Washington, several of the neighbors had been converted to the Church.

When he arrived in Seattle, he was called as bishop. His ward members were consistently good member-missionaries, he affirmed. He also was a stake president's counselor and president of the Asian Branch in Seattle from 1983-1987.

He also served as a counselor to three mission presidents. "My work was mostly in training stake missionaries and stake presidents," he said.

"I think missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church," he continued. "We either do missionary work or the Church doesn't really fulfill its destiny. Missionary work is what keeps vitality in the entire Church system.

"It is an almost overwhelming responsibility." ("74 New Mission Presidents to Attend Seminar: Training Prepares Leaders for 3-Year Callings to Missions throughout World," Church News [Saturday, 17 June 1989]: 3).

1990 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1990 the mission presidents' seminar was held in Provo on June 19th through June 22nd with 123 mission presidents and their wives attending.

The Church News added: "New mission presidents and their wives were counseled by President Gordon B. Hinckley to "lose yourselves in the work."

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, was the keynote speaker June 19 at the opening session of annual Mission Presidents Seminar, held at the Missionary Training Center. He addressed a group of 124 new mission presidents and their wives, the largest group ever called in a single year. The seminar was to continue through Friday, June 22.President Hinckley commended them for readily accepting their calls, despite substantial sacrifice required of each. He said that while "it won't be easy for you," their sacrifices would pale in comparison with the rewards they would experience.

The new leaders were welcomed by eight members of the Council of the Twelve, six of the seven Presidents of the Seventy, and other members of the Seventy and of the Presiding Bishopric.

Speaking on the opening day of the seminar were President Hinckley; Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council; and Elder Marvin J. Ashton and Elder Richard G. Scott, also of the Council of the Twelve.

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the seminar on June 20." (Mission Seminar Begins for Largest Group Ever," Church News [Saturday, 23 June 1990]: 3).

On 19 June 1990 Elder Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency "invited the mission president and their wives to be sure love is the lodestar of their service. "The Son of God came into this world not to condemn the world, but to save it."

"God will not forsake us if we come unto Him in faith. He is not sending us out to fail, but to succeed. The key to obtaining the Lord’s help is "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God will take thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."(D&C 112:10.)

Reminding the new leaders of the true role of the missionary, President Hinckley corrected the notion that missionary work is a "course in personal development, a rite of passage, a finishing school for young men and women. A missionary is called to serve, to fulfill the divinely given mandate to spread the word of God and build His kingdom on earth.

"Of course there will be personal benefits. These will come in proportion to the degree of selflessness evidenced in service," he explained. He told the mission president that loving their missionaries—especially those who might be difficult to love—would be essential to success.

President Hinckley concluded his remarks with a charge: “Lose yourselves in the work, so that your lives might be filled with light.

John L. Hart in the Church News summarized the Brethrens' remarks: "Build the kingdom of God by bringing in new converts and help them remain active, new mission presidents were charged at their annual seminar June 19-22.

Speaking at the largest-ever seminar (for 124 mission presidents and their wives) were President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, first and second counselor, respectively, in the First Presidency. Others delivering addresses were President Howard W. Hunter and five other members of the Council of the Twelve, including Elder L. Tom Perry, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. Also speaking were Elder Dean L. Larsen and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy. Elder Backman is executive director of the Missionary Department. (See additional stories on this page and page 4.)The new presidents and their wives, representing 23 countries and a myriad of professions, formed a sizable congregation during the seminar. After the week of instructions, the new leaders embarked to take the helms of their missions.

Much of the seminar was made up of group training where major emphasis was placed on guidance, inspiration and conversion by the Spirit. "Undergirding and overriding everything else we do at the seminar is the importance of the Spirit in missionary work," said Elder Backman.

Elder Perry instructed mission presidents on June 19 that with the doors of nations opening, it has become the Church's responsibility to enter.

"The challenge is now ours to move forward in this wide open window of opportunity at an ever-accelerated rate," said Elder Perry.

"I am certain that is what the Lord expects of us. He has opened the door; we are now expected to carry the gospel message into all the lands that are now available to us."

Elder Perry continued, "I am sure He expects us to build solidly with a foundation of true conversions that will allow the fruit to remain and ripen."

He said that for this to happen, missionaries must teach with the converting power of the Spirit.

"Every detail of our administration and our teaching must be directed toward establishing a climate where those feelings can develop. Missionaries must develop attributes in order to qualify for the Spirit. These attributes include gospel knowledge, testimony, personal righteousness, faith, hard work and charity."

"We all know the blessing of the Spirit on investigators. It brings them peace, enlightenment to their minds; it brings increased understanding and enlarges their souls.

"We are honored to be associated with you in this, the Lord's great missionary program."

He noted that missionaries are now approved to teach the lessons to new members, teach the gospel essentials class and work with the converts in their progress toward temple sealings. Missionaries are also encouraged to work in community service projects once a week.

Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department promised the mission presidents that they would be successful.

"The Lord will go before you because you are going to carry to all who will listen to you the greatest of all messages--that God lives, that His Son Jesus Christ directs the Church today. Because of His infinite love for all mankind, He established a way by which we can regain His very presence.

"How more beautifully or profitably can anyone spend the next two or three years as you are going to do?"

He said the presidents can render service, "and in the end, it is no sacrifice at all because the Lord repays us so much for the efforts we expend in building His holy kingdom."

On the other side of the pulpit, mission presidents described the seminar as a consistent spiritual experience. The training was well-organized and relevant, they said. ("Build Solidly Convert by Convert," Church News [Saturday, 30 June 1990]: 3).

Elder Thomas S. Monson of the 1st Presidency said: "You husbands and wives must become great exemplars before your missionaries in following this standard. It is a constant challenge to keep the eye of the missionary on the glory of Him whom he serves.”

In giving practical advice to the mission presidents, President Monson recommended President Spencer W. Kimball’s approach to interviewing missionaries in ways that would help them learn to love more effectively. President Kimball would say, "Elder, what are the most outstanding virtues of your companion?" And "If you were writing a letter home to a younger brother, what would you tell him to help him to become a qualified missionary?"

President Monson said that in President Kimball’s approach, "everything was positive, nothing negative. He would lift the missionary to a new height." Positive, uplifting counsel became the central theme for President Monson’s remarks.

"What a joy to receive a call to lay aside the mundane affairs of the world and respond to an assignment to serve," he said, reminiscing about his and Sister Monson’s call to lead a mission in Toronto, Ontario.

"You are called to serve where the Lord would have you serve," he assured the new presidents and their wives. "He know each one of us—-our talents, our shortcomings, our failures, the experiences we’ve had, and the experiences we ought to have. And He knows how to match the man with a mission."

President Monson reminded new mission presidents that "no mission will rise to its greatest potential unless the members and the missionaries work cooperatively together," adding that "missionary problems almost vanish when every missionary is enjoying success in the service."

The presidents’ relationship with members is important, but so is his relationship with each missionary, he explained, counseling new presidents that their role is closely akin to being parents. "The Lord will bless you as you look upon each of these young men and women as your son or daughter."

In the same week as the mission presidents’ seminar, a group of missionaries entered the Missionary Training Center from the German Democratic Republic—-the first to do so. He praised their faithfulness and the faithfulness of their parents, who live in a land now hungering for the gospel. He compared them to the people Isaiah described as "people that walked in darkness [who] have seen a great light" (Isa. 9:2).

In conducting the meetings, Elder Perry, chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Committee, described the seminar as a momentous occasion. "The challenge is now ours to move forward through a wide-open window of opportunity at an ever-accelerated rate," Elder Perry charged the assembly. "I am certain that is what the Lord expects of us. He has opened the door; we are now expected to carry the gospel message into all the lands that are now available to us. I am sure He expects us to build solidly with a foundation of true conversions that will allow the fruit to remain and ripen."

President Howard W. Hunter instructed them: "to always remember the atonement of Jesus Christ. Because it was the supreme act of love, it is the supreme example of selfless concern for others. “Any time we experience the blessing of the Atonement in our lives we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others.

A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary.

Just as the Atonement represents His great love for us, the call to share the gospel with others can represent our great love for our Heavenly Father’s children. May the Lord bless us as missionaries to help our Father’s children outside the covenant receive the full blessings of the Atonement in their lives. . . . God will not forsake us if we come to him in faith. He is not sending us out to fail, but to succeed."

The Church News added the following points about his address: "We must always remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ was a foreordained assignment by our Heavenly Father to redeem His children after their fallen state,'' said President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve. He addressed the Mission Presidents Seminar June 22.

It was an act of love by our Heavenly Father to permit His Only Begotten to make an atoning sacrifice. It was a supreme act of love by His beloved Son to carry out the Atonement....Any time we experience the blessing of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. . . . A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary.

The Atonement represents His great love for us. The call to share the gospel with others represents our great love for our Heavenly Father's children as well as for the Savior and what He did for us. May the Lord bless us as missionaries to help our Father's children outside the covenant receive the full blessings of the Atonement in their lives.'' ("Atoning Sacrifice," Church News [Saturday, 30 June 1990]: 4).

John L. Hart did a thorough demographic analysis of the 1990 class of mission presidents: " Perhaps the challenges of missionary work have never been as complex as they are today with 255 missions in the ever-changing circumstances that encircle the globe.

However, the new mission presidents who will begin service July 1 in the United States and 42 other countries approach their task with a wealth of Church experience. Many will come to the task with an international background.The new leaders will attend the annual Mission Presidents Seminar June 19-22 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. There, rubbing shoulders with missionaries who are also new, they will be instructed by General Authorities in their new responsibilities.

The single charge of missionaries and mission presidents is to invite all to ``come unto Christ.'' It is an invitation extended to people in a variety of circumstances - from those with advanced technologies to those who live in third world countries. The invitation may be uttered in an obscure native dialect or an international language of diplomacy, along a dusty road in Africa or at a castle in Europe. Regardless of the circumstances, the missionaries' goal is to make it spiritual and effective.

Faced with the challenge of administering this work is a group of 124 mission leaders, the largest ever called and assembled, who will lead nearly half of the Church's 255 missions.

Twenty-nine new missions were created this year, including nine in the changing face of continental Europe. Nine others were created in Latin American countries, where 24 of the new presidents are from.

A glimpse of this year's mission presidents shows that a typical mission president from the United States is an educator in his 60s who has served in a stake presidency.

A typical leader from another country is employed by the Church, has served as a regional representative, and is in his mid- to late-40s.

The presidents represent a remarkably high education level. About half - some 59 - have either masters degrees or doctorates while another 49 have either bachelor's degrees or received schooling at the university level.

They also have broad experience in Church leadership. Seventeen have served as regional representatives, and 70 have served as stake presidents or stake presidents' counselors, while others have served on high councils, or as stake mission leaders. Many have been bishops.

Others, however, list `home teacher'' as one of their most important callings.

The oldest is 68 and the youngest is half that age at 34. Family size ranges from no children to 11 children. Regardless of their differences, they each have severed ties with home for three years to reside within the boundaries of a distant mission.

This glimpse of presidents also gives evidence of the developing leadership in other countries. A number of these countries have become nearly self-sufficient in mission presidents. This year, Mexico provided seven mission leaders and required presidents for eight missions. Brazil provided six new presidents, and required seven. Uruguay, which had no requirements for a mission president this year, provided four.

Among the new presidents from the Asia area is Makoto Fukuda, 54, a convert since 1952 who has served as stake president twice. A businessman, he is president of a life insurance company in Tokyo.

He will return to Sendai, where he was baptized in 1952 with his brother, Atsushi. The two young men were stalwarts in the tiny Sendai Branch, said Richard M. Austin, a missionary at the time. Later, Brother Fukuda became counselor to then-Pres. Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Japan Tokyo North Stake, and succeeded him as president when Elder Kikuchi became a General Authority.

Now he, like the other presidents, will supervise a work built on the foundations provided by the faith of leaders before them.("New Mission Leaders Rich in Experience," Church News [Saturday, 16 June 1990]: 4).

1991 New Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1991 82 mission presidents and their wives attended the new mission presidents' seminar at the MTC in Provo, Utah.

John L. Hart gave a review of the first day 18 June 1991 talks: "Every soul who is baptized into the Church is precious and deserving of the nurture and care that will lead him or her to unshakable faith, President Gordon B. Hinckley instructed new mission presidents June 18.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke to 81 new mission presidents and their wives at the opening session of the annual Mission Presidents Seminar, held annually at the Missionary Training Center here.Following his address to mission presidents, President Hinckley walked to the nearby auditorium and addressed a packed congregation of more than 2,000 missionaries. His missionary address is a tradition over several years.

The new mission presidents, who came from 15 states of the United States and nine other countries, will begin their service about July 1.

Also speaking at the opening session of the seminar were Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, who presented remarks jointly with Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve and a member of the Missionary Executive Council also gave remarks at the opening session.

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, and President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve addressed later sessions of the seminar. Coverage of their remarks, and remarks of other General Authorities, who were to address the new mission presidents, will be in the Church News next week.

Speakers in the opening session called for a balanced and unified endeavor between full-time missionaries and members in efforts to convert, fellowship and reactivate. They noted that missionaries are authorized to help in reactivation efforts as well as in proselyting.

President Hinckley called upon the new leaders to perform work that is ``solid and well-done.''

Mission presidents ``go out as ministers of the Son of God to teach the gospel of salvation and eternal life,'' he declared. ``You go as leaders, inspired and dedicated and selfless in your service to those whom you lead.

``Three years will pass quickly, but the fruits of those three years will go on forever in your lives and in the lives of those you are sent to lead.''

President Hinckley observed that converts of just the past year would constitute more than 100 stakes.

``Through this service, lives of converts are altered in a remarkable and marvelous way, and out of those efforts will come generations of those blessed by the light of the everlasting gospel.

"And, perhaps as important as the effect on converts is the effect upon the missionaries. No one can measure the effect, but all can observe it."

While missionaries have done much, President Hinckley continued, "It is a rather shocking fact that millions of people are born and living out their lives and dying without ever hearing of this Church."

Nevertheless, "We go where we are able to go, and we do what we are able to do. Some nations we cannot enter. But what we do now is preparation for the day when we will enter such nations.

The work at best is slow. It must be solid and well done. We cannot afford the kind of teaching that leads to unstable membership and weak and flagging testimony."

He assured the new leaders they were called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. He instructed them to ``go into the world as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ to teach the gospel of salvation to the people.

"You go with an almost terrifying responsibility. . . . You go with our love and confidence to do the work of the Lord."

President Hinckley said mission presidents should be great leaders who take young men and women of mostly ordinary capacity and lead them to work in an extraordinary manner.

"The mission field affords such a tremendous opportunity to acquire habits of work that will prove to be an everlasting blessing," he said.

"Unassailable integrity" should also be practiced in the mission field.

"In this age of shoddy behavior and rampant dishonesty, how precious is a man or woman who will not barter his or her principles for any price."

President Hinckley declared that every missionary deserves a president who loves him or her.

"When all is said or done, that's what this work is all about," President Hinckley explained. ``It is a work of love that transcends every other consideration. It is the kind of love that comes out of the heart of a president and is felt in the heart of the missionary.

"It is the kind of love that says, `You are very important to me. You are very important to the Lord. You are very important to His work. Please know that I love you and that I want to help you succeed.' If that love is experienced in the mission field, it will become as a medicine to those who are discouraged and despondent. It will become a strength that will be felt forever after in the lives of those who become beneficiaries of it."

Elder Perry and Elder Backman encouraged members and missionaries to work unitedly with members in both proselyting and reactivation.

Elder Perry noted that, according to research, 86 percent of the active converts have close personal ties to other LDS members or relatives.

"We are grateful to live in a time when the Lord is opening doors and hastening His work, making it possible as never before to `Go ye unto all the world,'" said Elder Perry. "Think of it - a united effort of missionaries and members and priesthood leaders focused upon a single divine objective!"

Elder Backman called for "complete and perfect harmony" between full-time and stake missionaries.

"We have long taught that every member is a missionary," he explained. "Now we add that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch where he serves to perfect the saints as well as proclaim the gospel. This is one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated."

Elder Wirthlin also encouraged leaders to develop cooperation between members and missionaries.

"Authorization has been given for missionaries to provide assistance in the retention of converts and the full activation of less-active members. The salvation of souls is not compartmentalized into non-members and less-active members. One soul is as precious as another." ("New Mission Presidents Embark on 'Work of Love'," Church News [Saturday, 22 June 1991]: 3).

John L. Hart of the Church News gave a brief synopsis of the other addresses during the week: "If missionary work is to reach its full potential in the Church, efforts of the missionaries must be united with those of the members, said President Thomas S. Monson.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the new mission presidents seminar June 19 at the Missionary Training Center here.President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve spoke at a weekly missionary devotional in the evening of June 18. Also addressing the seminar later in the week were Elders Boyd K. Packer, Marvin J. Ashton, Neal A. Maxwell, M. Russell Ballard and Richard G. Scott of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the Seventy. Quotations from their addresses are on this page.

While the seminar began June 18 with 81 presidents and their wives, it ended with 82 couples on June 23. The newest and youngest mission president, Pres. Fernando Jose Duarte De Araujo, 35, and his wife, Maria, arrived from their home in Fortaleza, Brazil on Tuesday evening, June 18. They had been called the previous Friday to replace Pres. R. Douglas Holt of the Portugal Lisbon South Mission, whose wife, Diana, has become ill. The sudden call, they said, was "quite a surprise," but they are ready to serve.

The new mission leaders, including the De Araujos, will assume their posts about July 1.

In his address, President Monson encouraged new mission presidents to work in close harmony with local priesthood leaders.

"No mission will attain its highest degree of proficiency until the mission president has been able to bring about that cooperative spirit with the members," he said. "Don't overlook that divine privilege; it will bless your lives and bless your mission."

President Monson shared experiences from his service as mission president wherein members had accompanied missionaries to help teach investigators.

"Members offer a great second testimony to that of the missionaries," he related. In addition, fellowshipping by members is ``one of our chief principles. We can't afford to have people see the light of the gospel, become members of the Church, and then drift away."

He told an example of fellowshipping as directed by Leopoldo Larcher, one of the first modern-day members in Italy, who was a district president some years ago when President Monson attended a district conference.

"I noticed a number of people wearing white carnations. I asked Brother Larcher about the white carnations. He said, `We always put a white carnation on the dress or lapel of any convert who has become a member since our last conference. Then every member will know that here is a new convert, and make her welcome or make him welcome."

President Monson continued, "I watched the glow that came to those who wore the white carnations when the members just hovered around them and welcomed them to the Church of Jesus Christ."

He urged mission presidents to become acquainted with local leaders and members.

"Keep the people aware of what is going on in your mission," he admonished. "When you ignore, you injure; when you inform, you inspire."

He also reminded the new mission presidents of the worth of the missionaries over which they will preside.

"They are the fruitage of all that is dear and all that is best in the families of the Latter-day Saints," he said.

"They have been waiting to be called on a mission for a long time. Parents are teaching their children from the cradle to be missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . and each of them has been called by a procedure where prophets, seers and revelators determine their call."

"Recognize that these calls have come from God."

New missionaries will arrive in the mission field "a bit weary; they are a little apprehensive. Their courage is worn down with each hundred miles the plane has flown," he said.

President Monson encouraged a warm welcome for the missionaries and admonished the presidents to help the missionaries build mission spirit.

"Take the missionary where you find him, and lift him or her to a higher plane," suggested President Monson.

Spiritually prepared missionaries will then take a divine message to a world yearning to know of its spiritual roots and possibilities.

"Times have not changed," he said. "Nothing will kindle the interest as will the plan of salvation. Every person on this planet wants to know where he came from."

Other points he enumerated that answer spiritual yearnings are the true nature of the Godhead, the fact the world has a living prophet, and the teachings within the Book of Mormon.

"Those four points represent the message that will bring conversion to the hearts of men," he said.

The new mission presidents and their wives were promised that as they serve, they will have some of the greatest experiences of their lives. ``You've left your vocations, you've left your homes, and above all, sisters, you're leaving your grandchildren. . .,'' he said.

"I believe you personify the words of the Savior when He said, `Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth. . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'"(Matt. 6:19,21.) ("Don't Let Converts 'Drift Away"," Church News [Saturday, 29 June 1991]: 4).

An interesting story is recounted in the Church News by John L. Hart about the calling of Fredrick S. Williams: " ``I've been baptized, Jesus was baptized, and all of you are going to be baptized . . . I hope.''

More than 40 years ago, 8-year-old Frederick G. Williams, son of mission president Frederick S. Williams, gave many talks in the mission field. He delivered the talks in fluent Spanish to investigators in the newly opened Uruguay Mission.The namesake and descendant of an early Church leader, he was born in Argentina while his father was president of the Argentine Mission.

The father was a pioneer missionary in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Peru from the 1920s to the 1950s. He was among the first few missionaries to Argentina in the 1920s, and returned as mission president in 1938. He later was called as the first mission president in the new Uruguay Mission in 1947, where he opened the work. He also opened the work in Paraguay in 1950, and helped open the work in Peru in 1956.

His son is following his footsteps. He, too, was a pioneer for the Church in Uruguay in his own right. As young missionaries there, Freddy and other family members gave frequent talks because of their ability in the Spanish language. He was the first person baptized in Uruguay and a busy member-missionary in those formative years.

And his little-boy talk with its wishful but direct message is typical of the goal of mission presidents around the world.

Now, Frederick G. Williams, 51, is representative of the 81 new mission presidents called this year. He will return to South America in July as president of the new Brazil Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission.

The 81 new presidents will direct the work in 69 existing missions and 12 new ones. The new leaders come from 15 states of the United States and nine other countries of the world.

This year the presidents are younger, with an average age of 52, as compared with last year's mission presidents' average age of 60. Some 42 of the 81 new presidents have served in a stake presidency, while 22 have been high councilors. (See chart on this page for other information on the new presidents.)

From June 18-23 they will take part in a new mission president's seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. They will be addressed by members of the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and other General Authorities. Their terms of service begin about July 1.

Service in another country and in another language may not be as much a change for Pres. Williams and his wife, Carol, as for other new mission leaders. Pres. Williams is fluent in three languages, having learned Spanish and English as a child, and Portuguese while on a mission to Brazil.

Sister Williams has studied Portuguese for some time--since 1976, in fact. In 1975, they received a tentative call from Church headquarters to lead a mission. Brother Williams was asked if, when he returned, he could return to his job as a professor of Portuguese and Brazilian literature at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He said he did not have tenure and would not have a job upon returning. Still, he accepted the call, but the First Presidency considered the situation and postponed the call.

The same call--and same question--were repeated three years later with the same answer and a second postponement.

After the second call was postponed, he and family were very tentative with their long-term plans. A year or so later, Brother Williams gained tenure - but the call didn't come. As the years passed, they went on with life, keeping in mind that a mission interlude could be just a telephone call away.

Sister Williams, an accomplished soprano and opera singer in Santa Barbara productions, began taking language classes in Portuguese at the university. Brother Williams continued close associations with fellow educators in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

This year, when the call came, they were ready.

Pres. Williams said missionary work was a very important part of his early life. His father endeavored to raise the Church profile through proselyting, and through sporting activities and musical performances.

Missionaries would start a branch and soon up to 100 investigators would attend. ``Our family was quite divided because,'' he said, ``each of us belonged to a different branch to lend support. I'd go to Primary in one branch, and Sunday School in another branch. I used to travel with my dad to outlying branches as well. He'd go from meeting to meeting without stopping to eat; I thought I would starve.

``My father was very busy--he thought he could get away with using the same talk at different branches, but he couldn't--the members followed him from branch to branch.''

The Williams family also formed a musical group and performed at cities around the country. They'd perform, and sing on a local radio station on Saturday, and invite listeners to a Sunday service. ``The music made a very nice impression,'' he said.

Young Fred was also trained as a pianist and was the accompanist in Primary. He also played the piano and spoke at large firesides.

Occasionally, when he and his sister Nancy were the only ones at the mission home, people would come asking questions about the Church.

``We'd often invite people inside and give them a discussion,'' he recalled. ``We were about 10 and 8 years of age then.''

Pres. Frederick S. Williams was released as president of the Uruguay Mission in 1951. In four years, the mission had grown to 23 branches in Uruguay and two in Paraguay. Some 515 converts had been baptized in four years.

In 1956, the Williams family moved to Lima, Peru, where again they took part in the opening of missionary work. In Peru, Fred, now a teenager, helped convert a girlfriend. A boyfriend of his sister Nancy's was later converted as well.

Fred was later called as a missionary to Brazil where he served from 1960-63 under then Pres. Wm. Grant Bangerter, now emeritus member of the Seventy.

At the time of his call as a mission president, Brother Williams was chairman of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and was serving as bishop for the second. He is considered an expert in Portuguese and Brazilian literature and has many ties to Brazil as well as to Uruguay.

The Williams will take four of their seven children with them where they will experience a first-hand mission experience in South America, as did their father and grandfather before them. ('Presidente' Follows Fathers Steps," Church News [Saturday, June 15, 1991]: 4).

1992 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1992 John L. Hart in the Church News reported on the mission presidents seminar in two different articles on June 27th and July 4, 1992:

A testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ--the Savior and Redeemer of mankind--is now and always will be the most important element of missionary work, said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, was the keynote speaker June 23 at the opening of the annual mission presidents seminar, held at the missionary Training Center here. He addressed some 83 new mission presidents and their wives, as well as most of the 15 newly called General Authorities. An area presidencies seminar was held at the same time with a joint opening session.Also emphasized at the seminar was the need of creating a unified effort between full-time and stake missionaries and members at a time "when the Lord is hastening His work," and the "doors of many nations are opening."

Eight members of the Council of the Twelve and six of the seven Presidents of the Seventy attended the seminar, along with many members of the Seventy.

Mission presidents came to the seminar from across the world, including the first three ever from West Africa. Most of the new mission presidents will begin their three-year service about July 1.

Prior to the seminar was particularly eventful for Fritzner Joseph of Haiti, who is the new president of the Haiti Port-au-Prince Mission, and his wife, Marie Gina. Sister Joseph gave birth to a son in a local hospital just a day before the seminar began.

In addition to President Hinckley, other speakers in the opening session included Elders L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve, a member of the Missionary Executive Council; and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy, executive director of the Missionary Department.

The seminar will continue through Sunday, June 28. Other members of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve are scheduled to address the group during the week. (Additional coverage will be in the Church News on July 4.)

President Hinckley, keynote speaker at the seminar, told the new leaders it was natural for them to have concerns about their ability to do the work.

"I assure you that the Lord will not let you down if you walk with faith and humility; I have no hesitancy in promising you that."

However, he observed, "You will be trained in greater depth than any generation of mission presidents before you were ever trained. Your fears, your concerns, sacrifices, are not new. They have been felt by those who have similarly gone forth since the earliest days of the Church."

Today's mission presidents have better transportation and smaller areas than mission presidents of earlier days, President Hinckley noted.

"Within my own experience we have moved from the time when there was not a mission president in all the world who drove a car."

One factor that has not changed over time is the responsibility of the mission president over a group of missionaries, he said.

"They become your greatest challenge, your greatest opportunity for your greatest satisfaction. Without their dedicated efforts, you cannot succeed. With their dedicated efforts, you cannot fail."

President Hinckley instructed the new mission presidents to train and trust their missionaries. In that training, "when all the mechanics of missionary work have been discussed, mastered and utilized, there is no message so important, none so new as the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and our King whose holy name becomes the name of the Church we go out to represent."

He recalled the words of his mission president, [Joseph F. Merrill], who in essence said, "The most important thing, the most significant thing we can give to the people we teach is the certain knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Savior and Redeemer of the world, through whose atoning sacrifice the blessings of eternal life are made possible for all the sons and daughters of God."

President Hinckley added, "Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences, as the victory of the crucified Lord who came forth in the resurrection that first Easter morning.

"While laboring in England I saw many statues and paintings of the great men and women of English history. But great and important as are all of these heroes of the past, none could compare with the victory of the lonely pain-wracked figure on Calvary's cross. He triumphed over death and brought the gift of eternal life to all mankind. He it was who answered Job's question, `If a man die, shall he live again?'

"It was of Him that Job spoke in eloquent testimony: `For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

"`And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.' (Job 19:25-26.)

"This Jesus, of whom every missionary should and must bear witness, was the Master of life and death, a man of miracles. It was He who made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear. Small wonder that those who sought Him were astonished with a great astonishment. None other in all their acquaintance have done what He did."

"I hope," President Hinckley continued, "that each of you presidents and leaders will carry in your hearts a flame of faith and knowledge from which the candles of those who serve under you will catch a light and become of the very essence of their testimonies of the work."

Elder Perry and Elder Backman conducted a workshop on stake and full-time missionaries. Elder Perry called for "complete and perfect harmony" between stake and full-time missionaries. He instructed leaders to follow the directions of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, that there "will be one voice in proclaiming the gospel around the world."

He said that a convert is assisted when he is supported before and after his baptism by "the united efforts of members and missionaries, under the careful supervision of caring leaders."

Elder Backman said stake and full-time missionaries should work hard together in all phases of missionary work.

"Then the missionary will be busy in the sacred processes of conversion. He'll be busy in retention. He'll be busy in activation. And he'll be busy in community service.

"We have long taught that every member is a missionary. Now we add that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch in which he serves, to perfect the saints as well as to proclaim the gospel, for these are one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated."

Unity was also emphasized by Elder Wirthlin in his remarks.

"You are the beneficiaries of generations of experience," he counseled.

"You can have confidence in what you will be taught at this seminar."

He said that after understanding the established methods, leaders are then in a position to receive inspiration.

He asked leaders to follow a pattern of responsive orthodoxy and inspired initiative.

"To me, responsive orthodoxy means you actively seek direction of the presiding Brethren....It means that once you have learned the will of the Lord and the expectations of the brethren, you exercise voluntary obedience. It means you act in a spirit of unity, not in a spirit of grudging compliance.

"Inspired initiative means you seek the Lord's guidance to carry out the approved program. I would emphasize that inspiration comes most freely when you seek it in behalf of others," he said. ("Mission Presidents Seminar: Work Based on 'Testimony of Savior'," Church News [Saturday, 27 June 1992]: 4).

An interesting thing about the week of the mission presidents' seminar every year is that it was the week of Gordon B. Hinckley's birthday. The Church News reported his birthday activities which included his attendance at the seminar:

"Returning to the farm where he grew up on the east side of Salt Lake City, President Gordon B. Hinckley topped off a typically busy day on his 82nd birthday June 23.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Marjorie P. Hinckley, gathered with about 25 family members for a barbecue on the back lawn at the home where one of their daughters, Jane Dudley, now resides with her family. "This is where Dad grew up, and where my brothers, sisters and I were raised," Sister Dudley said. "Dad still has an orchard beside our house; he still prunes the trees and plants new ones. He likes to walk among the trees to check on how they're doing, and he enjoys working in a garden he has out here.

"He loves to come home on his birthday and have a party, and we love to be together. We like to laugh, and we have a wonderful time. Our whole family looks for any excuse to get together."

Sister Dudley said President Hinckley's birthday was made more special this year because it doubled as a welcome home party for one of his grandsons, Jeff Barnes, who just returned from a mission to Poland.

Earlier in the day on his birthday, President Hinckley addressed new mission presidents and their wives at a seminar in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The new mission presidents sang "Happy Birthday,'' to which he responded, "I was born in 1910 so I am 82 years of age. I can scarcely believe it--I don't feel it. I have been blessed by the Lord in a remarkable way, and I am profoundly grateful."

That afternoon, President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, and members of the office staff and others who work with President Hinckley, held a small social in the office to note the birthday.

President Hinckley was born June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City, a son of Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley. ("Pres. Hinckley Enjoys Birthday with Family at Childhood Farm," Church News [Saturday, 27 June 1992]: 5).

"Members and missionaries should cooperate fully in the great work of sharing the gospel with others, said President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency.

President Monson addressed 83 new mission presidents June 24 at their annual seminar at the Missionary Training Center here. The seminar was held June 23-28 for the new mission presidents and their wives. Most of the new presidents started their service about July 1.President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, delivered the keynote address at the seminar June 23. President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve spoke to the new mission presidents on June 26.

President Monson told the mission presidents, "No mission in the Church, in my view, will reach its exalted pinnacle of perfection without the help of members. Members are essential to our success--enlist their help."

He also noted: "Testimony bearing is an essential part of the presentation of any of the discussions. An honest, sincerely expressed testimony from the heart of the missionary will penetrate. . . . But members, when they can bear testimony. . . , bring an added dimension, a second witness to the testimony of the missionary. . . .

"The testimony of truth of members and missionaries--what a winning combination!" President Monson exclaimed.

He encouraged mission presidents to continue to utilize the Book of Mormon. "No one has emphasized the teaching of the Book of Mormon more than has President Benson. We have all become more literate because of his certain sound of the trumpet to return to that book."

President Monson encouraged the presidents to be patient with and considerate of the missionaries they lead.

He presented to mission presidents what he called the 'Monson rule': Every missionary sends a letter home every week to his or her parents."

Letters from a missionary take on additional significance, he observed.

"The letter seems to go through a heavenly post office before it comes home and the Lord puts an invisible stamp of approval on it. It becomes like an epistle of Paul to the Galatians. Mother will love it, and she will cry. I promise you she will cry."

President Monson reminded the new presidents and their wives of the risen Lord's words pertaining to missionary work.

"Can you picture the Savior meeting with His disciples . . . knowing that He has an opportunity to leave with them any legacy of faith, any final instructions pertaining to what they should do or accomplish?

"He chose this message, and it really is meant for you: `Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'" (Matt. 28:19-20.)

"What a beautiful declaration--those two words of missionary work, teach and baptize, that all whom we influence may be candidates for the kingdom of God and have their lives blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"As I look at you and anticipate the joy you're going to have and the influence you are going to exert on the missionaries who will be under your direction, I thank Almighty God for your upbringing, for your experiences that you have had under His divine direction, and for your willingness to serve."

President Hunter, in his address, commented, "A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason, the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary."

President Hunter discussed the role of the Atonement in missionary work. ``The Atonement represents His great love for us. [Answering the call to share the gospel with others represents our great love for our Heavenly Father's children as well as for the Savior and what He did for us."

He emphasized that the objective of missionary work is to invite every man and woman to come unto Christ, and to "rely wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." (2 Ne. 31:19.)

This means, President Hunter continued, that "no man or woman can receive eternal life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ being fully efficacious in his or her life.

"We must always remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ was a foreordained assignment by our Heavenly Father to redeem His children after their fallen state. It was an act of love by our Heavenly Father to permit His Only Begotten to make an atoning sacrifice. And it was a supreme act of love by His beloved Son to carry out the Atonement."

President Hunter said that, on many occasions, he had stood in the garden of Gethsemane "and contemplated in my mind the suffering and agony of the Savior. That agony was experienced when our Heavenly Father permitted Him, in a way our minds cannot comprehend, to take upon Himself the pain and sins of all mankind. My soul was filled with sorrow as I've thought of His great sacrifice for mankind. . . .

"I've stood in front of the garden tomb, as many of you have, and thought of that glorious day of resurrection when the Savior emerged from the tomb alive, resurrected and immortal. In that meditation, my heart has swelled with joy. Through these experiences I've felt to pour out my soul to our Heavenly Father for the love which He and His son have given us through the glorious atoning sacrifice."

He said that when "we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for others.

"Missionary service is one important way we can take upon ourselves His name. The Savior has said if we desire to take upon us His name, with full purpose of heart, we are called to go into all the world and preach His gospel to every creature. This is a fitting description of you who are called as mission presidents." ("Members Essential to Missionary Success in Sharing the Gospel," Church News [Saturday, 4 July 1992]: 3).

In 1992 mission presidents came to the seminar from across the world, including the first three ever from West Africa. Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said to the eighty-three new mission presidents: "A testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ—-the Savior and Redeemer of mankind—-is now and always will be the most important element of missionary work...

When all the mechanics of missionary work have been discussed, mastered, and utilized, there is no message so important, none so new as the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, our master and our King, whose holy name is the name of the Church we go out to represent.

You will be trained in greater depth than any generation of mission presidents before you were ever trained. Your fears, your concerns, [your] sacrifices are not new. They have been felt by those who have similarly gone forth since the earliest days of the Church.

I hope that each of you presidents and leaders will carry in your hearts a flame of faith and knowledge from which the candles of those who serve under you will catch a light and become of the very essence of their testimonies of the work."

President Hinckley also said: "I assure you that the Lord will not let you down if you walk with faith and humility; I have no hesitancy in promising you that....

You will be trained in greater depth than any generation of mission presidents before you were ever trained. Your fears, your concerns, sacrifices, are not new. They have been felt by those who have similarly gone forth since the earliest days of the Church....

Today's mission presidents have better transportation and smaller areas than mission presidents of earlier days....

Within my own experience we have moved from the time when there was not a mission president in all the world who drove a car....

One factor that has not changed over time is the responsibility of the mission president over a group of missionaries....

"They become your greatest challenge, your greatest opportunity for your greatest satisfaction. Without their dedicated efforts, you cannot succeed. With their dedicated efforts, you cannot fail."

President Hinckley instructed the new mission presidents to train and trust their missionaries. In that training, "when all the mechanics of missionary work have been discussed, mastered and utilized, there is no message so important, none so new as the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and our King whose holy name becomes the name of the Church we go out to represent."

He recalled the words of his mission president, Joseph F. Merrill, who in essence said, "The most important thing, the most significant thing we can give to the people we teach is the certain knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, Savior and Redeemer of the world, through whose atoning sacrifice the blessings of eternal life are made possible for all the sons and daughters of God."

President Hinckley added, "Of all the victories in human history, none is so great, none so universal in its effect, none so everlasting in its consequences, as the victory of the crucified Lord who came forth in the resurrection that first Easter morning.

"While laboring in England I saw many statues and paintings of the great men and women of English history. But great and important as are all of these heroes of the past, none could compare with the victory of the lonely pain-wracked figure on Calvary's cross. He triumphed over death and brought the gift of eternal life to all mankind. He it was who answered Job's question, 'If a man die, shall he live again?'

"It was of Him that Job spoke in eloquent testimony: 'For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

"'And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.' (Job 19:25-26.)

"This Jesus, of whom every missionary should and must bear witness, was the Master of life and death, a man of miracles. It was He who made the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear. Small wonder that those who sought Him were astonished with a great astonishment. None other in all their acquaintance have done what He did."

"I hope," President Hinckley continued, "that each of you presidents and leaders will carry in your hearts a flame of faith and knowledge from which the candles of those who serve under you will catch a light and become of the very essence of their testimonies of the work."

In addition to President Hinckley, other speakers in the opening session included Elders L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve, a member of the Missionary Executive Council; and Elder Robert L. Backman of the Presidency of the Seventy, executive director of the Missionary Department.

The seminar will continue through Sunday, June 28. Other members of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve are scheduled to address the group during the week.

Elder Perry and Elder Backman conducted a workshop on stake and full-time missionaries. Elder Perry called for "complete and perfect harmony" between stake and full-time missionaries. He instructed leaders to follow the directions of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, that there "will be one voice in proclaiming the gospel around the world."

He said that a convert is assisted when he is supported before and after his baptism by "the united efforts of members and missionaries, under the careful supervision of caring leaders."

Elder Backman said stake and full-time missionaries should work hard together in all phases of missionary work.

"Then the missionary will be busy in the sacred processes of conversion. He'll be busy in retention. He'll be busy in activation. And he'll be busy in community service.

"We have long taught that every member is a missionary. Now we add that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch in which he serves, to perfect the saints as well as to proclaim the gospel, for these are one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated."

Unity was also emphasized by Elder Wirthlin in his remarks.

"You are the beneficiaries of generations of experience," he counseled.

"You can have confidence in what you will be taught at this seminar."

He said that after understanding the established methods, leaders are then in a position to receive inspiration.

He asked leaders to follow a pattern of responsive orthodoxy and inspired initiative.

"To me, responsive orthodoxy means you actively seek direction of the presiding Brethren....It means that once you have learned the will of the Lord and the expectations of the brethren, you exercise voluntary obedience. It means you act in a spirit of unity, not in a spirit of grudging compliance.

"Inspired initiative means you seek the Lord's guidance to carry out the approved program. I would emphasize that inspiration comes most freely when you seek it in behalf of others," he said.

Elder Thomas S. Monson said: No mission in the Church, in my view, will reach its exalted pinnacle of perfection without the help of members. Members are essential to our success—enlist their help. What a beautiful declaration—those two words of missionary work, teach and baptize, that all whom we influence may be candidates for the kingdom of God and have their lives blessed by the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Elder L. Tom Perry taught them that "The united efforts of members and missionaries, under the careful supervision of caring leaders,” supports a convert before and after baptism."

Elder Robert Backman of the Seventy said: "We have long taught that every member is a missionary. Now we add that every missionary is a member who assists as appropriate in the ward or branch in which he serves, to perfect the Saints as well as to proclaim the gospel, for these are one great work of salvation and should not be artificially separated.”

Joseph B. Wirthlin taught them about inspired initiative: "It means that once you have learned the will of the Lord you exercise voluntary obedience. It means you act in a spirit of unity, not in a spirit of grudging compliance.

Inspired initiative means you seek the Lord’s guidance to carry out the approved program. I would emphasize that inspiration comes most freely when you seek it in behalf of [serving] others."

John L. Hart did a feature story in the Church News on one of the mission presidents, A. Heliton Lemos:

When A. Heliton Lemos was baptized in 1968, he felt as though he had one foot in the Church and one foot in the world--and he didn't know which foot to stand on.

Now, both feet are planted firmly within the Church, and Pres. Lemos, a Brazilian ophthalmologist, is an able representative of the enthusiastic new mission leaders who will attend the annual seminar of new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, June 23-28. "I know that our mission is as important to us as the air we breathe," he said in a Church News interview by telephone.

He is one of 83 newly called men who will preside over missions worldwide. A few are already serving, but most will begin their three-year terms about July 1, after the seminar concludes.

Like most of the new leaders, Pres. Lemos, 50, is experienced. He has served as regional representative, twice as stake president, and as high councilor and bishop. In order to accept the full-time call, he resigned his military commission as a lieutenant colonel in the Brazilian army, ending a 31-year career. He also turned his medical practice to another. He and his wife, Rosina, will take their five children to Campinas, Brazil, where he will preside over the mission headquartered in that city.

Pres. Lemos was a young medical school student when he was introduced to the Church. His roommate, Vincente Telles, was investigating six religions at once, including the LDS Church.

"Vincente invited me to attend a missionary discussion," said Pres. Lemos. "Then the missionaries, Elders Allen F. Edwards and Lynn C. Rowe, began teaching me.

"After many questions, I began reading the Book of Mormon. In a week I read the Book of Mormon. But it was very confusing to me."

He continued to read and progress and in "two weeks they invited me to be baptized. I didn't accept because I had many doubts. But I attended meetings.

"The missionaries had fasted in my behalf to help me understand the things they were teaching. I don't know how many times they fasted for me, but it was several."

When he learned that they were fasting for him, he said, "it really hurt me. Why are two American boys here in my land fasting in my behalf? They told me it was to soften my heart and help me understand the new things I'd learned."

One day the missionaries visited and Elder Edwards explained that he was being transferred. He asked young Heliton to be baptized. At first their investigator demurred, protesting that it was too great a commitment to make. "I don't have a testimony yet," he said. But Elder Edwards believed that he was, indeed, ready.

"Please," Pres. Lemos quoted Elder Edwards as saying, "accept baptism and you will receive the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will teach you and improve your understanding of the gospel."

Their investigator agreed to be baptized, but told the missionaries that if his fragile belief evaporated, he'd exit the Church through the back door.

He was baptized and the missionaries' promise was fulfilled--his testimony grew rapidly. Four months after his baptism he was called as a counselor in the branch presidency.

And, one year later he baptized his roommate, Vincente Telles, who is now president of the Irani Branch in Santa Catalina.

"Now the Church makes up our lives," Pres. Lemos said. "We couldn't live without the Church."

He has also progressed in family history work. "Two months ago I delivered almost 400 family names to the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple."

He said that his patriarchal blessing promised that if he served with diligence, he'd have great opportunities in his medical profession. During his years as an ophthalmologist, he has established many professional friendships with U.S. physicians, particularly those at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center.

Another blessing was realized when he met his wife in the 1970s. They were married in 1976. "I had prayed many times and fasted to find my marriage partner," he said. "The Lord has blessed me with my wife, Rosina. She is a great woman. Now we are very happy and eager to start our mission." ("Uncertain Convert Now a Mission President," Church News [Saturday, 20 June 1992]: 5).

The Church News reported a few pithy quotes from the 1992 mission presidents seminar:

The following are excerpts from addresses given at the mission president's seminar, June 23-28.

The more I see of the world, and the more I see of events and people, the more I have come to realize that things that seem impossible to us--or [those things we would imagine, "How could that ever be?" the more I sense [their possibility. I know in my own heart and soul that if we understood a little more clearly what the Savior is trying to teach us, and to teach mankind, those obstacles that we see out on the horizon will disappear. We are seeing the world change. The barriers are coming down fast. - Elder David B. Haight, Council of the Twelve, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

It is interesting to observe how rapidly the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith unfolded after the Book of Mormon was translated and published. Many of the doctrines and the priesthood authority were restored during the translation process. Once the translation was finished and without delay, the first missionary went out, and the Church was organized. We can conclude from this that the Book of Mormon is necessary both to weave the threads of the prophetic mantle of Joseph Smith, and also to lay the foundation for restoring the dispensation of the fullness of times. - Elder James E. Faust, Council of the Twelve, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

Of course the great worth of the Book of Mormon lies not in its miraculous translation, wondrous as it was, nor in its stories that we read to our children. The great worth of the Book of Mormon is that it is another testament of Jesus Christ. All four of its major authors--Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni--were eyewitnesses of the Lord, as was His inspired translator of the book. The Book of Mormon is a great clarifier of doctrine. It refutes many myths, and at the same time affirms truths previously obscured. And it reveals many glorious doctrines lost or previously unknown. . . .

The Book of Mormon reveals that Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary, is literally the Son of God. No book of scripture bears more solemnly the weighty burden of that testimony than does the Book of Mormon. Its pages contain nearly 4,000 references to Christ, using more than 100 different titles for Him. His holy name is mentioned on the average of once every 2.8 verses. No wonder the book has been designated "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." - Elder Russell M. Nelson, Council of the Twelve, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

We do not preach and teach in order to "bring people into the Church" or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. We honor and appreciate the many ministers and others who are involved in the kind of ministry that make bad men good and good men better. This is important, but we offer something more. You can qualify for the terrestrial kingdom instead of the telestial kingdom without the aid of this Church. We are concerned with a higher destination.

The purpose of our missionary work is to help the children of God fulfill a condition prescribed by our Savior and Redeemer. We preach and teach in order to baptize the children of God so that they can be saved in the celestial kingdom instead of being damned in a lesser kingdom. We do missionary work in order to baptize. That is the doctrinal basis for missionary work. - Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Council of the Twelve, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

God loves all of His children, but His way of blessing them is to a great measure through utilizing agents who represent Him. In this manner, His children are blessed, the instruments of His love are blessed in their service, and He is glorified in the accomplishments of His purposes. His Chief Agent in all of this, our Exemplar and Savior, was and is and ever will be, His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. - Elder Marion D. Hanks,Presidency of the Seventy, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

If you teach the gospel and get the right climate arranged and then bear testimony that what you are saying is true, it strikes a responsive chord in the heart of the hearer. The conversion comes when the hearer, the investigator, bears testimony back to you when his soul vibrates and responds to what you have said.

He can't explain it, and he doesn't know why, but all of a sudden, he knows that the work is true.

God bless you to have the richest experiences in your lives as you lead wonderful men and women to find their way, their position and their responsibility as they walk through life. - Elder Robert L. Backman, Presidency of the Seventy, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

President [Ezra Taft Benson's counsel is very clear: "Our preaching and our teaching must be by the power of the Holy Ghost. We must ever remember that in this glorious work, the most essential element is the Spirit."

What can we do to help the missionaries speak by the power of the Spirit? Worthiness, prayer, study--yes--in addition we can bear testimony to certain truths that bring a great outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord. I have noticed that the Spirit bears witness to some truths with great intensity. . . .

Inasmuch as a person's eternal welfare is dependent upon accepting certain truths - it follows that the Holy Spirit will bear witness to those truths when that witness is sought under the conditions given by the Lord. It also follows that when a servant of the Lord stands as a witness of those truths, the Spirit is bound by the laws of heaven to respond to the honest, searching heart. - Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Seventy, "Divinity of Gospel Message Emphasized," Church News [Saturday, [4 July 1992]: 4).

1993 Mission Presidents' Seminar

Missionary work infuses vitality into the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, told the largest-ever group of new mission presidents June 22.

"Missionary work . . . keeps this Church so vigorous and alive and forward moving," he said. When young men and women devote themselves totally to missionary work "something happens that is electrifying and wonderful. It brings with it an infusion into the Church of the majesty and the miracle of the large number of converts who come in every year from a vast selection of cultures and religious backgrounds."

Speaking at the annual Mission Presidents' Seminar at the Missionary Training Center here, President Hinckley delivered the first address to the 136 mission presidents and their wives in the administration building.

Following his address, President Hinckley walked to the new auditorium of the Missionary Training Center and addressed some 2,100 missionaries gathered there.

The Mission Presidents' Seminar was conducted by Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. In his welcoming comments, Elder Haight described the group:

"They come from 22 different countries and will serve in 46 countries. Ninety-eight are from the United States and Canada, and 26 are from Latin American countries, while 12 are from other countries. They will become part of 295 missions with 49,000 missionaries."

In attendance at the opening session were nine members of the Council of the Twelve, the seven members of the Presidency of the Seventy, and many members of the Seventy. President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the seminar June 23, and members of the Council of the Twelve were scheduled to speak during the week long seminar.

In his remarks to the mission presidents, President Hinckley said: "This is a tremendous responsibility to speak to a group like this. I don't know when there have been so many presidents assembled in one small room."

He said President Ezra Taft Benson sent his love and greetings.

"He gets up each morning and his smile is bright and his countenance is ruddy. He has difficulty walking, and he has some difficulty speaking, but he is our prophet, and he will be for so long as the Lord keeps him there. And when it is time for him to go, there will be another who will take his place and we will never be without a prophet so long as we are worthy of a prophet."

Missionaries today, he said, are "going out in the best time of the world. I think it is going to get better, but you are going to help it get better. . . . By and large, there never was a time when this Church was as highly respected and as well-regarded as it is today. There never was a time when it was as strong as it is today. There never was a time when it was doing better than it is today. Things are getting better and better and better."

He thanked the mission presidents and their wives for accepting the calling to serve. "There is much of sacrifice represented in this room," he observed. "Sacrifice is an important part of the gospel. The Father gave His Son, and the Son gave His life. Unless there is some sacrifice there is no true worship—-I believe that.

"But the marvelous and interesting thing is that it isn't a sacrifice because you get more than you give. Sacrifice becomes an investment rather than a cost because the returns begin to flow quickly, and they flow continuously.

"I don't hesitate to say that you'll shed more tears when you leave to come home in three years from now than you have shed or will shed when you leave home to go where you are going. It is the very nature of the work of the Lord."

He encouraged the mission presidents and their wives to bless the lives of others through their ministry. "Teach them from the scriptures, from those precious and marvelous books which are of the very essence of what the Lord has given us through generations of time. They are the word of the Lord to this generation."

Speaking to the overflow congregation of missionaries in the auditorium, he told them they made quite a picture, and added, "even you older ones."

"There is a vitality about this work that is wonderful and just keeps growing and strengthening, and you are part of it—an important part of it. You are what makes it grow. You have been called by the Lord to strengthen His Church—what a wonderful call that is."

"You are the greatest missionary tracts we have—-your very appearance."

He reminded the missionaries that each day members pray for at least two things: the prophet and the missionaries. "Don't you ever forget that each night, there are hundreds of thousands of people praying for you."

In his remarks, Elder Haight counseled mission presidents that the purpose of missionary work is "to help others enter the gate leading to eternal life."

"We rejoice today in the continuing growth of the Church—there are many new members, more missionaries, more temples, and more ward and stake meetinghouses. We are growing and we will continue to grow as we take the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who seek and hope for eternal salvation. . . .

"This is the message that you mission presidents will effectively take out to all the world." ("Missionary Work Infuses Vitality," Church News [Saturday, 26 June 1993]: 3).

John L. Hart of the Church News reported Thomas S. Monson's talk in greater detail: "The scripture in Isaiah 9:2 describes what is taking place as doors swing open to missionaries in Eastern Europe and other areas of the world, President Thomas S. Monson told new mission presidents in their annual seminar June 23.

"Jot down Isaiah 9:2," admonished President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency. "It is beautiful.''He then read the scripture, which states: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light."

"That's true of every investigator in the world," he explained. "It describes what has taken place in Eastern Germany, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Albania. All this has happened during the period when we've been living. The door is open."

In an address filled with warmth and humor, President Monson spoke for an hour, underscoring the importance of taking the gospel to the world, and suggested 10 ways for more effective missionary work.

The seminar began June 22 with an address by President Gordon B. Hinckley (see June 26 Church News). Through the course of the week at the seminar, members of the Council of the Twelve and the Seventy spoke on various subjects relating to missionary work.

The seminar concluded with a testimony meeting Sunday, June 27. The 136 new mission leaders and their wives then enplaned to various parts of the world where, beginning about July 1, they assumed the leadership of their missions for the next three years.

President Monson told the mission presidents and their wives to "prepare for the greatest experience in your life thus far."

He then paid tribute to his wife, Frances, for her example of service in the Canadian Mission where he was president from 1959-1962.

"Realize back in 1959 she was expecting our third child, deathly sick. We'd been in our one-and-only new home just a year and half. And I came home in the middle of the day.

"She said, `What are you doing here?'"

"I said, `We've been called on a mission to Canada.'"

"`A mission? When do we go?'

"In three weeks."

"`Do we have any training?' I said no."

Now, he reflected, "As we look back on that three-year period, she's often said it was the most treasured experience we had together. And I acknowledge that likewise."

He observed that during their mission, Sister Monson was president of the Relief Society, the Young Women and the Primary of 53 branches, and ran "that old mission home with the staff living in, and the office on the top floor."

"And we loved every minute of it.

"She said, `I wouldn't trade that old mission home and all those missionaries and sick ones and homesick ones for the lovely mission quarters that are provided today.' She loved those missionaries and they knew it. I think she did more good than she realizes."

President Monson said the scripture theme for his talk was the Savior's commission to the Twelve. "It is your charge,'' President Monson told the mission presidents:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

"Teaching them (`I like that--teaching them') to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:19-20.)

"If we'll keep that charge firmly in our minds and in our hearts, we'll be successful," he said.

President Monson then outlined his 10 suggestions for more effective missionary work, based on his experience and faith:

1. Be an example--continually

"Your missionaries are going to emulate you," he said. "You'll find out they'll use your gestures when they are speaking. Your scripture favorites will be theirs. Your illustrations will be theirs - magnified a bit. They'll walk in your footsteps--make sure they are straight and pointed in the right direction."

Mission presidents can also be examples in the way they motivate missionaries, he said. A few missionaries may become discouraged, but, "Presidents, you don't need to lose them. Hold on to them with faith and love and prayer, and love them and work with them, and they will praise your name to their dying days."

2. Interview--wisely

President Monson said mission presidents should have a personal in-depth interview with their missionaries about every six weeks. Missionaries are encouraged through personal interviews, he said. He then spoke of some of the experiences he had while interviewing missionaries as a mission president. "All those interviews were worthwhile," he emphasized. He also said that during one year as a General Authority, he personally interviewed 1,7000 missionaries.

President Monson told the mission presidents in their interviews to talk about the missionaries' companion, and referred to a thought by then--Elder Spencer W. Kimball. "He'd ask, `What traits in your companion do you admire most?' That's the way."

"Another thought of Elder Kimball's was, `If you were advising your younger brother, what would you tell him in writing that he might become a more successful missionary?'

"Finally, provide help, not pressure," suggested President Monson. "Show how, not just tell how. Love, don't scold."

3. Transfer--sparingly

President Monson encouraged mission presidents to make transfers through inspiration and refrain from making transfers too often.

In considering companionships, he suggested, find missionary companions who will edify each other spiritually.

Part of transferring is to teach missionaries to work in an area, not through it. "I had an elder over in Kitchener, Ontario. He wrote a letter to me: `Dear President, we tracted out Kitchener. What do we do now?'

"Kitchener. A city of 80,000."

"I wrote back, `Dear Elder, Happy to hear you have tracted out Kitchener. Now if you will teach and baptize the people in Kitchener.' And that was that.''

4. Read reports--carefully.

President Monson said reading the weekly reports from the missionaries "is the best diagnostic aid available'' to mission presidents.

"You may not be able to read it all. Handwriting is poor and the grammar sometimes worse--they can't even spell the words. But what they say in there is vital to your success as a mission president.

"One elder wrote, `I'm real happy today. My sister had a baby, and I am now an uncle for the first time.'

"I jotted a note to him and said, `Elder, congratulations on being an uncle for the first time. Send a letter to that baby. It'll be the first letter he'll ever receive. And tell him his uncle's advice on how to be a good missionary.'

"That elder [later] said that was the first time he knew the president read the letters he sent. `I'll be more careful in the future,'" he said.

5. Plan preparation day--intelligently.

Preparation day is when missionaries attend to personal responsibilities and "when they write their weekly letter home," a practice he described as ``the Monson rule--a weekly letter home to your parents."

He cautioned that missionaries should avoid strenuous sports that might lead to injuries. "There is one way to judge what it is proper on [preparation day] and what isn't--Do nothing on preparation day to rob you of your spirituality."

6. Motivate with meetings--monthly

Missionary meetings give missionaries a new start. "Feature the handbook, share success accounts, and demonstrate how you would do it if you were giving a door approach, or soliciting a referral, or encouraging someone to be baptized.

"Remember: `I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do and I understand.' Get involved in those meetings.

"Testimonies could be wonderful in those meetings. Let each one bear a testimony and have him or her relate faith-promoting experiences they have had in the last month.

President Monson related that at a meeting in which he was conducting a missionary stood up and said: "`Since coming on my mission, my father has been ordained an elder. I know this happens every day in the Church, but it doesn't happen every day to my father.' Oh, we had the spirit that day," said President Monson.

7. Follow the handbook--constantly

President Monson said the concise missionary handbook is brief but valuable. "In your missionary meetings, use the handbook, teach out of it, give demonstrations out of it, ask questions about it, let [the missionaries get totally familiar with that handbook. They will be more successful."

8. Seek member help--consistently

He said that no mission achieves its full potential without member help.

"That's a guarantee. It's your job, president, to establish the rapport between the mission and the stakes or the districts. It is the best thing you can do.

"Ignore and you injure; Inform and you inspire."

He related the account of a stake president in Argentina, Hugo Gazoni, who had each of the auxiliaries involved in an open house effort. Pres. Gazoni told his stake members that with their help, the open house would be the greatest day in the history of the Rosario Argentina Stake. Hundreds of non-members would come.

"He had the right idea," said President Monson.

9. Cultivate mission spirit--enthusiastically

Henry Ford once said that whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right, President Monson related.

He described his personal philosophy about missionaries as being like that of a school teacher: ``No one fails in my class. I'm the teacher, they are the pupils. My task is to so teach that everyone learns and no one fails in my class.

"That's the charge I leave with you mission presidents. We send to you the fruitage of the families of the Church. Their parents have sacrificed and saved and taught and skimped.

"You can turn a mission into the most successful proselyting areas simply by your attitude," he counseled. "And by the attitude of the missionaries and the enthusiasm you generate."

10. Remember the worth of souls--everlastingly

"The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. That is a beautiful passage,'' said President Monson.

"It was the Prophet Joseph who said only a fool will trifle with the souls of men. Don't let your missionaries demean a contact, or an investigator, or a member. They are precious. Everyone on this earth. And we have a privilege of harvesting in the Lord's harvest field so white.

President Monson reminded the mission presidents that when they are on the Lord's errand, they are entitled to the Lord's help. "That should make everyone of you a little more comfortable after these Brethren have told you all that is expected of you. When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help. Remember, whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.

"He has spoken, you have answered," President Monson concluded." ("Mission Presidents Told to Prepare for 'Greatest Experience'," Church News [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 6).

Several missionary quotes were given in the Church News during the seminar:

"The following are excerpts from addresses given by members of the Council of the Twelve at the Mission Presidents' Seminar, June 22-27, at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Help them come to know truth.

They [the missionaries] cannot teach that which they do not know, and you could do much for them if you teach them the patterns of discipline and organization and efficiency. But that could not equal in a tiny percent what you could do for them if you caused them to gain a knowledge of the doctrines and a knowledge of the truth that are found in the scriptures and the revelations. . . . And if you teach it right, angels will attend you. If you teach it properly, you will speak with the tongues of angels. If you teach it properly, they [missionaries will read and will know that they have heard His voice, and have that revelation.- Elder Boyd K. Packer ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Victory--more vital than a win.

This has to do with you ultimate victory. There isn't anyone here who doesn't want to have a victory. I think that is more important than a win. . . . Regardless of what we achieve, regardless of disappointment, regardless of heartaches, regardless of great successes, I think what we want more than anything else is victory, the way our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ measure it. Not in the score. Not in the length. Not in the achievements, but total victory when you put all the ingredients together.- Elder Marvin J. Ashton ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Their joy will be real.

From the four corners of the earth we've gathered together the best group of mission presidents that's ever been assembled in the history of the Church. . . . I hope you realize the power of your personal influence as you spread yourselves throughout the world during these next three years.

You can see your influence indelibly imprinted on perhaps as many as a quarter of a million souls during the rest of your lifetimes with the service you are performing here in the mission field. The power of your influence cannot be underestimated as you go forward and serve. Then when you think of the joy of adding one soul to our Father in Heaven's kingdom, think of the great joy that will be yours on this special missionary experience. - Elder L. Tom Perry ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Book of Mormon--a keystone.

We are all aware of Joseph Smith's statement that the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. The keystone keeps an arch in place; without a keystone the whole arch will collapse. Why is the Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion?

The Book of Mormon is central to our history and theology. It is the text for this dispensation. Nothing took priority over getting the Book of Mormon translated and published. Everything was held until that was accomplished. There were no apostles until it came into being. Ten days after its publication the Church was organized. Publication of the Book of Mormon preceded missionary work because Samuel Smith needed to have it in hand before he could go forward as the first missionary of the Church.

Both Section 17 and 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants indicate that the Brethren could not pretend to know the divinity of the latter-day work until the Book of Mormon was translated. - Elder James E. Faust ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Prophet has place with ancients.

The precious Book of Mormon came through not from Joseph, the Seer. It came to him by the ``gift and power of God.'' But though it was not ``his'' book, Joseph was its remarkable translator! It was actually the book of prophets who had long before preceded him. By means of his intensive labors of translation, Joseph has let these prophets speak so eloquently for themselves - to millions of us! More printed pages of scripture have come through Joseph Smith than from any other human.

Once the Prophet Joseph hoped aloud that he might so live amid his suffering, that one day he could take his place among Abraham and the ``ancients,'' hoping to ``hold an even weight in the balances with them.'' (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith by Dean Jessee, p. 395.) Joseph so triumphed, which is why we can rightly sing of Joseph's being ``[Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.'' (Hymns, No. 27.)
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Unity increases strength.

In the Church, we work together, and we're stronger when we do. We don't solo. The Lord so counseled, 'Bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.' (D&C 43:9; see also D&C 82:15.) You beloved mission presidents and companions already know that you are more secure when you are united in your partnership. And this calling will unify you even more than you were before. Likewise, a mission presidency of three is stronger when a president and his counselors are happily bound together as one. Time and time again, you will find that missionaries, when properly united as companions, gain strength beyond the sum of their own strength as individuals. - Elder Russell M. Nelson ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Missions of Church harmonious.

The proclaiming of the gospel does not stand independent of perfecting the Saints or redeeming the dead, nor they of it. All three are are harmonious parts of one unified mission of the Church. Missionary work must be done so as to "establish" the Lord's Church. For this reason we must conduct our efforts so as to grow from centers of strength. In this way, the baptism of one person leads on to the perfecting of that Saint, to the ordinances that seal a family in the holy temple, and to the redeeming and sealing of dead ancestors and their families. We must conduct our missionary work in that spirit of unity and wholeness. Baptisms are not enough. - Elder Dallin H. Oaks ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Holy Ghost conveys knowledge.

We have to master the ability to have the Holy Ghost as our companion and to recognize that He is the teacher, He is the comforter, He is the one that conveys spiritual knowledge and spiritual truth from one party to another party and He does that by working with wonderful 19-year-old elders and 21-year-old sisters. And He does that through languages that you [missionaries never dreamed you'd have to learn. You'll find yourselves out in the world, speaking in tongues, so to speak, foreign to you today. - Elder M. Russell Ballard ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

Representatives of Christ.

The most important aspect that I know of in working with missionaries is to help them understand who the Savior is, and that they are agents in the hands of the Lord to invite the people to come unto Him. And that their mission is to be a representative of Jesus Christ, fully empowered and inspired to know what to do, and to have the capacity to do it.

As you teach missionaries the skills and all about the program, make sure they all know the Savior and who He is, what His atonement means, and what their relationship is to Him, and His to His Father. - Elder Richard G. Scott ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

One soul precious as another.

The role of missionaries has expanded in recent years to include convert retention and activation. . . . The salvation of souls is not compartmentalized. One soul is as precious as another. We are as interested in less-active members as we are a non-member.

It is also wise to teach missionaries that the process of bringing one person to Christ often has a ripple effect that involves many people. Wise mission leaders will teach their missionaries to take advantage of a contact's intertwined social network. Convert retention and activation should always be considered as finding opportunities. - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin ("Timely Counsel from Members of the Twelve," Church New [Saturday, 3 July 1993]: 7).

1994 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On 5 June 1994 Howard W. Hunter was ordained and set apart as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.President Howard W. Hunter delivered his first major address at the annual Mission President's Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

On 21 June 1994 President Howard W. Hunter addressed 92 new mission presidents at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar in Provo, Utah. He also greeted 2,245 missionaries at the Missionary Training Center. President Howard W. Hunter said at the seminar for mission presidents: "Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. - New Mission Presidents' Seminar, June 21, 1994; "President Hunter's Speeches Cover a Variety of Topics, Church News [Saturday, 11 March 1995]: 6).

Gerry Avant gave a couple of detailed reports of the 1994 mission presidents seminar:

"The Savior's atonement is the foundation of missionary work, President Howard W. Hunter told new mission presidents and their wives at the annual New Mission Presidents' Seminar, June 21 at the Missionary Training Center.

President Hunter delivered the keynote address, his first formal address since becoming president of the Church June 5. His theme of missionary work based on the atonement is one that he frequently discusses with mission presidents.He spoke to 92 new presidents and their wives, including two who were called just a few days previously to replace presidents with recently developed health problems. The new presidents hail from 12 countries and will serve in 39 nations. They are among 305 mission presidents who preside over some 48,500 missionaries worldwide.

Following President Hunter's address, President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First presidency, spoke to the new leaders. President Hunter and President Monson then went to the auditorium where more than 2,200 missionaries were assembled, and spoke to them as well.

In his remarks, President Hunter emphasized that those who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of the Lord and Savior.

He said a preliminary question might be, "What is the objective of our missionary endeavor? Nephi's answer was to help non-members enter the gate into the pathway of eternal life through the gateway of repentance and baptism. (See 2 Ne. 31:17-18.) He said Nephi's testimony implies a conversion on behalf of the persons baptized. "They have repented, been baptized, and then received the remission of sins by the power of the Holy Ghost," President Hunter said.

"But then Nephi asks: `After ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, now, note these words: relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.' (2 Ne. 31:19.)

"What does it mean to rely wholly on the merits of Him who is mighty to save? It means that no man or woman can receive eternal life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ being fully efficacious in his or her life."

President Hunter referred to Mosiah 4:2-3 as an example of how people can know they have received forgiveness of their sins.

President Hunter spoke of the sorrow he has felt as he has stood in the Garden of Gethsemane and has contemplated the suffering and agony of the Savior as He took upon Himself the pains and sins of all mankind. He told of standing beneath Golgotha and thinking of the crucifixion that led to the Savior's mortal death, but which brought to pass His and all mankind's immortality. He spoke of standing in front of the Garden Tomb and thinking of that glorious day of resurrection when the Savior emerged from the tomb, alive, resurrected, immortal.

"Through these experiences I've felt to pour out my soul in thanksgiving and appreciation to our Heavenly Father for the love which He and His Son have given to us through the glorious atoning sacrifice."

President Hunter said, ``Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others.''

He said examples abound in the Book of Mormon that illustrate that principle: Lehi desired that his family should also partake of the fruit of the tree, symbolic of partaking of the Atonement. (1 Ne. 8:12) When Enos experienced his conversion and received a forgiveness of his sins, he had a desire for the welfare of his brethren. (Enos 1:9.) The sons of Mosiah, receiving a forgiveness of sins through the Atonement, labored for years among the Lamanites to bring them to Christ. (See Mosiah 28:3.)

"A great indicator of one's personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others," President Hunter said. "For this reason the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the church to be a missionary."

President Hunter bore testimony that the Atonement "represents His great love for us. The call to share the gospel with others represents our great love for our Heavenly Father's children as well as for the Savior and what He did for us.'

President Monson said that D&C 4:3--"Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work"--reflects his own feelings. He spoke companionably to new presidents and their wives about the joys, rewards and benefits of missionary work.

He said when he and his wife, Frances, were leaving 35 years ago for their mission in Canada, Elder Harold B. Lee, then of the Council of the Twelve, told them to remember two things:

"First, `Whom God calls, God qualifies.'" President Monson counseled the mission presidents, "You have been called by Heavenly Father, and He will qualify you.

"Second: `When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help.'"

He said those two statements would bring comfort to the mission leaders' souls and would give them confidence that God will be with them.

He invited them to share with their missionaries a great promise found in D&C 84:88: "`I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.'"

He spoke of a phrase from Luke 9:62, which speaks of the servant who has "put his hand to the plough." President Monson said, "You have put your hand to the plough of our Lord Jesus Christ, to lead your great missionaries in His harvest fields."

President Monson reflected on the occasion when the Savior gave instructions to his disciples from whom He was about to depart. "Of all the instructions that the Lord could give His brethren, what did He choose to say to them on that very tender occasion?" President Monson asked. "What was uppermost in His mind? What was the thought He wanted them to carry? What was the duty he desired each one to fulfill? It is found in Matt. 28:19-20: `Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'"

President Monson spoke of the message all missionaries bear: "Jesus is the Christ. God lives and we pray to Him. We're never alone." He said missionaries, through the message of the plan of salvation, go out with answers to the universal questions: "Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going after we die?"

President Monson counseled the new mission leaders not to worry excessively about their homes and families left behind while they go to serve the Lord. He said they could derive comfort in the Lord's words to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who were engaged in His work: "`Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends. Sidney and Joseph, you families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power. Therefore, follow me, and listen to the counsel which I shall give unto you.'" (D&C 100:1-2) ("Pres. Hunter, Pres. Monson Address New Mission Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 25 June 1994]: 3).

Missionary work is a great and sacred ministry based on love for the Savior, President Gordon B. Hinckley instructed mission leaders at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar.

Missionary work, he said, "is about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that speaks of love for Him who gave His life for each of us, in an act of atonement beyond our capacity to fully understand. It is about coming to know of His love for us and of the love we must have for Him." President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke June 22 to new mission presidents and their wives and other leaders gathered at the Missionary Training Center for the week-long instruction. Also in attendance were members of various area presidencies, as well as the new members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy who were called in April. Most of the 92 new presidents assumed their three-year posts about July 1.

President Howard W. Hunter and his second counselor, President Thomas S. Monson, also addressed the new leaders during the week. Their addresses were reported in the June 25 issue of Church News. Excerpts from addresses by members of the Council of the Twelve are on the adjacent page.

In his remarks, President Hinckley reminded the mission leaders that missionary work is about people, not numbers and not reports.

Missionaries should seek to create in "each one who is taught a living consciousness that he or she is verily a child of God loved by an Eternal Father, to impart to each a conviction that the Savior of the world is a forgiving friend, an advocate who shed His blood for us, and whose atonement made possible for all immortality and eternal life," he said.

He reminded leaders to "never forget that you are training young people, not only for the work of this year or the next 18 months, but for the remainder of their lives. I hope you will teach them not only the gospel, I hope you will motivate them to work not only with industry and integrity, but that they will also learn civility in their relationships with others, good manners, and love for the people among whom they labor. Missionaries should also develop love for and dependence upon God, their eternal Father, and the risen Lord in whose name they serve."

President Hinckley said: "Missionary work is concerned with searching and winnowing and gleaning and teaching with love and kindness. Every missionary ought to come to realize that the world is full of beautiful, wonderful people.

"Of course there are rascals. There are a lot of them around and they are meddlesome and nasty. But there are more of the good than the bad. Our mission is to find the good and make them better and teach the bad when we find them and make them good."

He said missionaries should develop sensitivity to the Spirit and follow its directings, and to never give up those who shun the message. Missionaries work with patience and love until trust and confidence are established, he said.

Missionaries encourage reading of the Book of Mormon that will "bring a testimony of the Redeemer of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ." Missionaries should teach without fear the principles of the Word of Wisdom and payment of tithing, and teach the investigator to pray.

"Prayer will become as a polar star to guide the convert throughout his or her life."

He reminisced about his experiences as a missionary that began 61 years when he was called to England. He told of traveling overland by a train that had no sleeping cars, and by ship to England. There were few members in Preston when he served there in 1933. Of the day he arrived, he said: "We drove to the Preston market place. It was there in the evening of the day I arrived that my companion and I took a little stand, set it up in the town square, began singing, offered prayer and watched a crowd gather.

"My companion said a few words and then called on me to speak. That was the first talk I ever gave in England.

"I think I have given hundreds during these passing years but nothing since has held for me the terror that I felt that time or quite the exhilaration when it was over and we'd had an opportunity to talk to people about the Church."

The missionary program in the British Mission at the time was meager, he said. "There were 16 districts scattered throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. There were about four missionaries in each district, a total of 65 in all of the United Kingdom, where there are now 1,500 missionaries in eight large thriving missions."

He said that the branches in the British Mission were ``small and desperately struggling. We owned only one small building in all of the British Isles. We rented halls, and they were cheap and miserable. Preston had its own branch, and had since 1837. It is now a ward and a headquarters of a stake. It is the oldest continuous existing unit in the entire Church. Its history goes back 10 years beyond anything in the Salt Lake Valley."

He spoke of the recent groundbreaking for the Preston England Temple, where more than 10,000 Saints had come from all over England. One in attendance was a member who used to assist him in missionary work in the 1930s.

"I looked down, and on the front row was a row of wheel chairs. In one of these was old Bob Pickles. I'd known him when I was a missionary. He'd gone out and worked with us. I left the stand and hurried and knelt down and put my arms around him. I said, `Bob! Dear Bob Pickles. How wonderful to see you again.' He wept. I wept. He's now an old man, disabled and sick and almost blind."

President Hinckley said of that groundbreaking: "It was wonderful to stand at the pulpit and look into the faces of these good people, these wonderful Latter-day Saints, who pray and pay their tithing and keep the Word of Wisdom and who carry in their hearts a testimony and conviction of the truth of this work and the living reality of God, our eternal Father, and His beloved son, the Lord Jesus Christ."

The groundbreaking was an emotional experience, he said. "Then with a shining English spade we broke the English earth to mark the beginning of another English temple. In the dialect of Lancashire that I heard and couldn't understand when I first went there, I could now again say, `Aye, lad, t'was a grand occasion. That it t'were, my boy.'"

He said: "All that I saw and wondered at in these English meetings is the sweet fruit of missionary work. As I pondered it, I said to myself, `I am grateful for this great program and I am thankful that I was worthy in my young years to serve a mission. I am grateful that I went. I am grateful that I tried to do what I was expected to do. I traced the rich blessings of the present back to those days in Lancashire." ("Preach the Gospel is 'Sacred Ministry' Grounded on Love," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 4).

In the 1994 mission presidents' seminar Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught the presidents and their wives: "We are often left to work out problems, without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening to the still small voice, the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of His Spirit" (Teaching by the Spirit (address delivered at new mission presidents’ seminar, 22 June 1994), 8.)

President Donald D. Salmon, former auditor general of Alberta in Canada, and his wife, Joyce, are among the couples who attended the new mission presidents seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, June 21-26. The Salmons are among 92 couples who have been called this year to serve in missions in various areas of the world.

The Church News did a human interest piece on him: "A year ago, Donald D. Salmon, then auditor general of Alberta, planned to retire in 1994 and scale down from his pressure-filled public position.

As scheduled, he completed his eight-year appointment as a provincial legislative officer this year. But instead of finding a lower-stress position in private industry, as many of his predecessors had, he and his wife, Joyce, dramatically changed their lives following a phone call.They were called to full-time missionary service. Pres. Salmon will preside over the Utah Ogden Mission.

The Salmons were among 92 new mission presidents and their wives to attend the annual mission presidents seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, June 21-26.

There, the new leaders and their wives received instruction from General Authorities and training center personnel regarding missionary work. Most of the couples will assume their new duties in missions across the globe about the first of July.

Representative of the new mission presidents, Pres. Salmon is well-seasoned in both Church and professional service. At the time of his calling, he was serving as regional representative and is a former stake president, bishop, bishop's counselor, stake clerk and is a patriarch. He is also a member of the Church Audit Committee.

Sister Salmon is a stake family history consultant, and former ward Primary president, Young Women counselor, Relief Society president's counselor and board member.

The Church has guided Pres. Salmon's life for many years. He explained that as he began his schooling in the 1950s in Edmonton, he was influenced in the choice of career by President N. Eldon Tanner, former first counselor in the First Presidency, who was then branch president in Edmonton.

Pres. Salman said, "I was a young man just out of high school. He sort of was my mentor because of what he'd done in government. His picture still hangs in the legislature because at one time he was Speaker of the House. He's been a really good example to me."

Pres. Salmon has spent most of his career as a public servant, beginning as audit director in 1965, and serving in the auditor general's office as assistant from 1978 to 1986. At that time, following a national competition advertised throughout Canada, he was appointed by the legislature to head the 160-employee department. Most are professionals like himself, and, like him, most are Chartered Accountants, a title corresponding to certified public accountant in the United States.

With the announcement that Pres. Salmon was leaving to serve a mission, he said he's "had great opportunities to see the reaction of people with respect to the Church.

"They were quite fascinated, and it gave me an opportunity to talk about the Church to a number of senior people. In the past they have been mostly quite guarded in talking about religion. But there has been a very open door in the past six months." ("Phone Call Changes Lives Dramatically," Church News [Saturday, 25 June 1994]: 4).

Several good quotes were delivered during the mission presidents' seminar:

REVERENCE

Revelation and reverence are inextricably combined. You will not in irreverence receive much revelation. Reverence has behavioral manifestations in meetings and there is also a depth of personal reverence that is an essential if you are going to receive revelation. Reverence means submission, it means obedience. - President Boyd K. Packer, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

CONVERSION

Your challenge is, with all the power, faith, and enthusiasm of your souls, to create such a conversion in the hearts of your great, full-time missionaries that they will wish that they could extend themselves beyond the powers of just being a mortal, to be an instrument in the hands of God, and to have the great joy of bringing souls to repentance and to a knowledge of the gospel of our Lord and Savior. - Elder L. Tom Perry, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

ASSIGNMENT

Elder Haight, who underwent surgery earlier in the week for a hip replacement, sent the following statement to be read at the New Mission President's Seminar:

As chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, I have complete confidence that you will fill your assignments effectively and with great power. The Lord expects that we find people who are willing to be obedient and take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, individuals who can help in building the kingdom and providing leadership for the onrolling of the work.

Train your missionaries well. Teach them the doctrine and how to accomplish the work. Inspire them to work hard from the very first day. I know you'll have great success in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to proclaim His gospel to the world. - Elder David B. Haight, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

BOOK OF MORMON

Your investigators will never be truly on the road to conversion until they have at least a beginning witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. . . .

The importance of the Book of Mormon in missionary work cannot be overestimated. . . . It is central to our history and theology. Nothing took priority over getting the Book of Mormon published. Everything was held until this was accomplished. There were no apostles until it came into being. Then, the day after its publication, the Church was organized. - Elder James E. Faust, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

CHRISTLIKE ATTRIBUTES

Sometimes we give little thought to what we are to be. Yet Jesus asks us to become `even as I am,' calling attention to `weightier matters' such as judgment, mercy, and faith.

Even the gifts of God are of little final use, if one has not developed the quality of charity.

I hope we understand the implications of those words. Without charity we can't go to the upper rooms of the celestial kingdom. It is just as essential as baptism. So what we are to do and what we are to be are incredibly important. - Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

PROPHET'S MISSION

The quotation that Joseph Smith `has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world. . .' is not an extravagant eulogy. The restored gospel applies to both the living and the dead. The Savior laid down His life for the redemption of all mankind. Through the Prophet Joseph, temple work for the dead was revealed. Thus, if we consider the millions of temple ordinances - past, present and future - performed for those living beyond the veil, President Taylor's statement is not only reasonable and conservative, it is correct!

The life and deeds of Joseph Smith stand as eloquent evidence of his divine calling as the Prophet of the Restoration - for which he was foreordained. - Elder Russell M. Nelson, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

TEACHING BY THE SPIRIT

First, the Lord will speak to us in His own time. Second, He will speak to us in His own way. This is usually by what the scriptures call the 'still, small voice' of enlightenment or ideas or a feeling of peace and serenity. Third, revelation is not continuous. We are often obliged to act upon our best judgment subject to the Spirit's restraining impression if we have strayed beyond the permissible limits. Fourth, revelation is a reality. It happens, in the Lord's way and according to the Lord's timetable. - Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

POWER OF HOLY GHOST

We have the great need to see that the power of the Spirit gets through this work because it is a work of the Spirit. I think we all understand that. Conversion is a process of the Holy Ghost being able to work through a missionary and touch hearts and bring a feeling within the heart that causes people to want to change their lives and to come unto Christ and to repent and give up their sins. - Elder M. Russell Ballard, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

DECLARING THE WORD

Our challenge as missionaries is to declare the word of the Lord among all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of the earth who are searching and hungering and yearning for the truth: `For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations who are. . . kept from the truth only because they know not where to find it.' - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

You will accomplish a work that is far beyond your greatest dream to touch the hearts of your missionaries that you supervise, to strengthen the witness and testimony of your own children, those that are with us and those that are home, and to forge of you instruments worthy of representing the Lord, Jesus Christ, to the areas of the world to which you are assigned. - Elder Richard G. Scott, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

SERVICE

We don't give our testimony and lives in death in the same manner that Joseph Smith, the martyred Prophet, gave his life. Rather, we give testimony by devoted service in our lives each day to live and to strengthen others. If your missionaries can understand this principle of the gospel, it will make them successful not only on their missions, but for the rest of their lives. - Elder Robert D. Hales, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).

TESTIMONY

Above all the things that bind us together today is that we are to bear testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a renewed invitation to me now for the rest of my life, to be a special witness, the overwhelming responsibility for which has simply undone me. . . .

There are a lot of things I don't know, but I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that more certainly than I know that you sit here and I stand at the pulpit. I know that God lives and that this work is exactly what the boy Prophet said it was and that a mere child walked out of the grove and took history by the lapels and changed it forever. - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, "Apostles Counsel Embarking Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 1994]: 5).


1995 Mission Presidents' Seminar


On June 21-June 24, 1995
ninety new mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah during a four day training period at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Ninety new mission presidents and their wives began four days of training at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 21 and heard President Thomas S. Monson speak of the five "M's" of missionary work.

"In behalf of President [Gordon B.] Hinckley, President [James E.] Faust and all of the General Authorities, I welcome you to the greatest experience of your lives," President Monson told the group gathered for the opening session at the Missionary Training Center.

"This seminar will be marked by much instruction, little sleep and a spirit of love," said President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.

He was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Frances. Also attending were President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities including members of the Twelve, the Presidency of the Seventy, the quorums of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.

The new mission presidents and their wives, representing 14 nations, will begin their service about July 1 in 39 countries. They will be among mission presidents presiding over 47,000 missionaries in 308 missions worldwide, according to Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. The seminar will continue through June 24.

In his address, President Monson said the "Five M's of Missionary Work" are:

The Message.

The Missionary.

The Mission.

The Member.

The Mission President.

In speaking of the message, he declared, "The holy scriptures contain no more relevant proclamation, no more binding responsibility, no more direct instruction than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the 11 disciples:

"'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'" (Matt. 28:18-20.)

President Monson said the message the missionaries take throughout the world is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness. That fulness, he explained, includes the Book of Mormon; the true nature of the Godhead; the Church which is built on a foundation of apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone; a living prophet today; the understanding of the Plan of Salvation; and the first vision, which opened the latter-day work of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

"The world hungers for that message," declared President Monson, who emphasized that the personal testimony of dedicated and devoted missionaries accompanies the presentation of each subject of the message.

President Monson then spoke about the second "M" of missionary work—the missionary. He said missionaries are called of God by prophecy and revelation. "The desire of a lifetime is a missionary call."

As he spoke about missionaries, President Monson quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared: "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel." (See History of the Church 2:478.)

"A son, a daughter. What greater gift could be placed upon the altar of God?" President Monson asked. He spoke of what happens as a missionary arrives in his or her field of labor, including the orientation, the interview and the first assignment with a companion.

"Your missionaries," he told the mission presidents, "should hear you bear your testimony as soon as they arrive in the mission field. Let them know you know this work is true.

"Every missionary has a burning—-even a consuming desire—-to be successful," the first counselor in the First Presidency declared. "The mission presidents' responsibility is to show how this might be accomplished."

Speaking of the third "M" of missionary work—the mission—President Monson, who served as president of the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959-1962, explained that each mission has its own history and tradition. "Help every missionary," he told the mission presidents, "be a part of such history, such tradition."

He emphasized that mission presidents should build on the foundation of their predecessors.

President Monson then spoke about the fourth "M"—the member—and counseled mission presidents to work with members. "Supervision of member districts is your responsibility. Each member district is a future stake," he said.

Urging member-missionary cooperative efforts, he explained the importance of referrals and open house events. "Members and missionaries are on the same team."

Speaking about the fifth "M" of missionary work, President Monson said the mission president sets the spiritual tone of the mission. "What you do, missionaries will do." He then emphasized that the mission president and his wife are a team. "They are models to follow."

He counseled mission presidents to have missionaries "work in areas—not through them. Too frequent transfers are not good or productive."

He urged the mission presidents and their wives adopt the philosophy: "No one fails in my mission. It is my responsibility to help each missionary succeed."

President Monson told of returning with Sister Monson to Toronto two weeks ago for a regional conference. "What a glorious experience it was to relive the missionary memories." He said 7,000 members from seven stakes in the region attended the conference.

"In the vast throng whom we greeted at the conclusion of the general session was Elmer Pollard, who moved his wheelchair forward that we might greet one another and renew our friendship." President Monson said he became acquainted with Brother Pollard 35 years ago, and then related the power of testimony in his conversion:

He met the missionaries as they were proselyting door to door on a cold, snowy afternoon. He invited the missionaries in, but soon asked them to leave and not return. His last words were spoken in derision: "You can't tell me you actually believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God!"

The missionaries left, but as they walked down the path, the junior companion insisted on returning and bearing his testimony of Joseph Smith. "He mustered up all the strength he had and said: 'I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he translated the Book of Mormon and he saw God the Father and Jesus the Son. I know it.'"

The missionary's testimony had a powerful effect on the man. "That night," he later said, "I could not sleep. Resounding in my ears were the words, 'Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know it. I know it.' " The next day, he telephoned the missionaries to return and their message, coupled with their testimonies, changed his life and he and his family were baptized.

President Monson said that Brother Pollard told him as they renewed their friendship at the regional conference: "The gospel is true. I knew it then. I know it now."

Concluding his address, President Monson quoted the Scottish poet James Barrie and said, "God gave us memories that we might have June roses in the December of our lives."

"Go forward with our blessings," he told the mission presidents and their wives. "Go forward with our love, go forward to your garden of eternal memories."

During his June 21 remarks, President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the five M’s of missionary work: the message, the missionary, the mission, the member, and the mission president.

"The world hungers for that message which includes the Book of Mormon; the true nature of the Godhead; the Church, which is built on a foundation of Apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone; a living prophet; the plan of salvation; and the First Vision."

In speaking about missionaries, President Monson said that missionaries are called of God by prophecy and revelation. “The desire of a lifetime is a missionary call,” he noted. “Your missionaries should hear you bear testimony as soon as they arrive in the mission field.”

President Monson, who served as a mission president in Canada, said that each mission has its own history and tradition. He encouraged the mission leaders to help every missionary become a part of the mission history.

In speaking about the fourth M—-the member, President Monson told mission presidents to work closely with members. "Each member district is a future stake," he said. He also talked of the importance of referrals and open-house events. "Members and missionaries are on the same team," he said.

President Monson told the mission presidents that they set the tone for the mission. "What you do, the missionaries will do," he said. He emphasized that mission presidents and their wives are a team and should be models to follow.

During the mission presidents' seminar there was a special musical number:

"'Called to Serve' was first written as a children's song and was included in the children's songbook in 1920. Although it was occasionally sung for the next 65 years, it became widely known as a missionary anthem after 1985. That year, it was performed by missionaries at the annual mission presidents seminar. "The impact of this experience was so moving that tears were flowing," according to a Church News editorial. Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve, then chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, arranged to have the song sung at the seminar." ("Church News: Question of the Week," Church News [Saturday, 16 September 1995]: 2).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said during his June 24 address: "I never get over the fact that what we’re doing is in very deed a remarkable miracle: to send out young men and young women into a world that is unfriendly, generally, to their message, and to teach that world, and to have one here and another there listen and give attention....

Oh, my brothers and sisters,[these]are the ten gifts which I would like to bless you with this morning as you come to the concluding day of this seminar: the gift of health and safety, the gift of leadership, the gift of wisdom, the gift of humility, the gift of patience, the gift of testimony, the gift of love, the gift of happiness, the gift of faith, and the gift of revelation....

We are among the ‘weak and the simple,' referring to D&C 1:20–24. We are not very professional, most of us, in this work. We’re ordinary people with ordinary capacities, who have been given an extraordinary assignment—-to teach the gospel to the world, which will save the world, if people of the world will hearken unto the message we have to give."

The Church News published Elder Hinckley's talk in greater detail on 1 July 1995:

"The missionary work of the Church is a "remarkable miracle" that is occurring around the world, said President Gordon B. Hinckley as he addressed mission presidents and their wives on June 24, the concluding day of the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

At the seminar, President Hinckley was accompanied by his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve, members of the Presidency of the Seventy and other General Authorities. The 90 new mission presidents and their wives were trained June 21-24, with most beginning their service about July 1. "You're part of a great miracle that's occurring over the earth," President Hinckley said. "I never get over the fact that what we are doing is in very deed a remarkable miracle: to send out young men and young women into a world that is unreceptive, generally, to their message, and to teach that world and to have one here and another there give attention."

President Hinckley thanked the new leaders for accepting their calls and "for your willingness to leave what you've been doing, set it aside, and go where you've been asked to go in the service of the Lord."

He recalled a visit some time ago by then--U.S. President George Bush, who asked Church leaders about the process of the Church becoming established in another country.

"We said that when a member goes out to a strange place, he immediately wants to gather people around him. First we have a family, then we have a little group, and then we have a larger group, and then we have a branch of the Church, and then we have a congregation and the Church is well-established."

President Hinckley quoted the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants about the purpose of missionary work:
"That every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
"That faith might also increase in the earth;
"That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
"That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers. . . .
". . .that they might come to understanding." (D&C 1:20-24.)

"We are among the weak and simple,'' said President Hinckley. "I believe that. We're ordinary people with ordinary capacities, who have been given an extraordinary assignment--to teach the gospel to the world, which will save the world, if the people of the world will hearken unto the message we have to give.

"And to see what's taking place! Ten years ago we never would have dreamed that we'd have missionaries and congregations in Russia and Latvia and Albania and Mongolia, places of that kind."

President Hinckley discussed ten spiritual gifts that would bless the lives of the mission leaders as they go forth to do the Lord's work.

These gifts are:

Health and safety

"This is a rigorous work," he said. "You're going night and day. We pray that the Lord will bless you with strength and vitality, to handle all that's expected of
you. . . .

"We pray the Lord will bless you with the gift of health and safety, which I think is so very important--your physical health, your physical safety."

Leadership

"I don't care where you go, you're going to lead a great group of missionaries, the best in the world. You're going to feel your own inadequacies as you face them and watch them in their zeal and their anxious and willing desire to build the kingdom."

He referred to Moses, who described himself of a "slow tongue."

Moses was told by the Lord to "go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say." (Ex. 4:10-12.)

"A great statement--leadership. Moses went with his shaft in hand and cast it before Pharaoh, and the shaft became a serpent. Pharaoh finally consented after a series of threats to let Israel go."

Wisdom

"You'll need it--prudence, understanding, good judgment. You'll be constantly making decisions. You'll be faced with them every day that you are in the field. I bless you that you may have wisdom and judgment in those decisions, and in all that you do."

Humility

President Hinckley quoted the words of the Lord to Thomas B. Marsh: "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answers to thy prayers." (D&C 112:10.)

He said this verse is among his favorite scriptures. "There is no room for arrogance in this work," President Hinckley said. "There's no room for egotism in this work. There is a need for humility, and the leading hand of the Almighty as we seek to serve Him."

Patience

Mission presidents and their wives will need lots of patience, said President Hinckley. To their wives, he said, "While your husbands are interviewing, you'll be sitting patiently, patiently, patiently."

He said sometimes mission presidents may want to lose patience with missionaries but "you can't do it. The gift of patience--so very important in your lives."

Testimony

"Speak out of the convictions in your hearts concerning the knowledge of the things of God," he said. "People can argue with you about the declarations you make on the doctrine based on scripture. But when you say, `I know . . .' there is no argument against that. . . . They can't refute you when you bear your testimony. And that is worthy of constant expression. So very, very important--testimony."

Love

President Hinckley said the spirit of love is important--"Love for the Lord, love for His servants the missionaries. Missionary work is a work of love and trust, and it has to be done on that basis.

"A mission president must love his missionaries as much as he loves himself.

"Love--power of the priesthood, power of our message, power of our call. Love--love for the Lord, love for His people, love for the message, love for the missionaries."

Happiness

"I hope you enjoy this work. I really do. Notwithstanding all the problems, this is a work of happiness. This is the good news! This is a work of joy! I hope you can laugh and smile and be happy and rejoice before the Lord over the great opportunity that you have to serve as a leader in carrying forth the work to the world wherever you may be assigned to go. And I'd like to say, concerning that, it doesn't matter where you go. A soul saved in Provo is as valuable as a soul saved in Copenhagen, or anywhere else in the world. We're out to save the sons and daughters of God by teaching them the gospel. Find your happiness doing it."

Faith

"You will need faith," said President Hinckley. `Faith and courage to move out, to step ahead into the dark a little--with the confidence and assurance that it will grow light as you walk in that path--and move your missionaries ahead, and to show faith in them. It will make such a tremendous difference if they know you have faith in them."

President Hinckley told an account of being sent, as a missionary, to visit a publisher to protest a book that purported to be a history of the Mormons. After his visit, the publisher recalled the books and included a statement that the books were fiction, not history.

"My mission president had faith in me. I didn't have faith in myself, but he had it in me. And the Lord rewarded it in a wonderful way. Faith--looking ahead into the dark and marching with a complete assurance that your feet will be on firm ground and that the light will grow before you."

Revelation

"Revelation--you're entitled to it--for your work in your capacity as president of the mission," he said. "You'll need it: the power of revelation, the power of discernment, the power to see into the hearts of your missionaries, the power to detect what's going wrong with them.

"Listen to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."

President Hinckley concluded with his testimony.

"My brothers and sisters, God our Eternal Father lives. He's the governor of the universe. But somehow, He is also my Father, to whom I can speak with the assurance that He will respond. Jesus is my Redeemer, my Savior, who gave His life for all mankind, and through His gift will come resurrection for the dead for all, and a greater and more enlarged opportunity for eternal life for those who will walk in obedience to His commandments. The Book of Mormon is true. It carries with it the power of conversion. I believe that. I know it. The priesthood is upon the earth....

"I pray that you may come back when your missions are over with joy in your hearts, and have done that which the Lord would have you do, and done it faithfully and well, to your everlasting happiness." ("Missionary Work: A 'Great Miracle'," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1995]: 3).

President Hinckley also bore witness of the Book of Mormon: "The Book of Mormon is true. It carries with it the power of conversion. I believe that, I know it. - From Mission President's Seminar, June 24, 1995; Church News [Saturday, 6 January 1996]: 2).

He told the group: "You are part of a great miracle that's occurring over the earth. I never get over the fact that what we are doing is in very deed a remarkable miracle: to send out young men and young women into a world that is unreceptive, generally, to their message, and to teach that world and to have one here and another there give attention." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Mission Presidents Seminar, June 24, 1995.)

I remember a mission presidents seminar we had many years ago. We brought the mission presidents in from the world, and we had a testimony meeting at the close. One mission president told this story: "I dreamed one night that one of my missionaries off in a distant place was in deep mud. It was up to his shoulders. He was sinking to his chin. And I awakened, and I couldn't get that graphic picture out of my mind. I went downstairs, awakened my assistants, and said, 'There's something wrong with Elder so-and-so, out in such-and-such a place. I want you to get dressed right now and drive there and see what's wrong.' It was a six-hour drive, but they did as I asked. When they arrived, they found this missionary in serious moral difficulty. Not so far gone that he would have to be sent home, but approaching that."

Listen to the whisperings of the Spirit. Brother Harold B. Lee set me apart, when he was a member of the Twelve, as a stake president. I remember only one thing he said: "Listen for the whisperings of the Spirit in the middle of the night, and respond to those whisperings." I don't know why revelation comes sometimes in the night, but it does. It comes in the day as well, of course. But listen to the whisperings of the Spirit, the gift of revelation, to which you are entitled. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Mission Presidents Seminar, June 24, 1995.)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell told the group that day: "Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior. For he has said, ‘I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—-that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you’(D&C 84:61)" ("The Atonement and Missionary Work," seminar for new mission presidents, 21 June 1994, 2).

In his June 23 address, President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, told the leaders that missionaries should be "so in tune with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that every one of them can speak in the name of God as they witness and testify of the Savior."

He talked about four things that he would like his sons and grandsons to learn from their mission experience: how to acquire a testimony of the Savior and understand the blessings of the Atonement, how to be honest in all relationships, how to have courage to teach eternal principles, and how to be obedient.

"I would hope my son’s mission president would teach from the scriptures," President Faust said. "The value of testimony is profound. I used to make my living in the courtroom, and the testimony can never be impeached. It is ours; it cannot be contravened. It can be challenged, of course, but there is not any way it can be disproved because it is something that is unique and special to our minds and souls."

President Faust observed that missionaries "must be honest with the Lord, whose servants they are. This is the overriding principle of everything." Missionaries must be honest with their parents, mission presidents, and companions, he said.

"I would like my son to learn from his mission president to have courage in teaching eternal principles....We are trying to build up Zion and establish the kingdom of God. Missionaries need to have courage to not be afraid of man."

President Faust noted that the best missionaries are not always the smartest, but they are the most obedient. "Mission presidents nurture obedience by loving their missionaries," President Faust pointed out.

Another good quote was given about the Book of Mormon at the seminar: " President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, speaking at the annual mission presidents' seminar on June 21, 1995, emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon to mission presidents:

"Your investigators will never be truly on the road to conversion until they have at least a beginning witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. . . ," he told the mission presidents.

"The importance of the Book of Mormon in missionary work cannot be overestimated." ["Influence of the Book of Mormon Increases," Church News [Saturday, 16 March 1996]: 3).

The Church News gave an expanded version of Elder Faust's talk on 1 July 1995:

"Thrust in the sickle; the harvest is the Lord's!"

With that statement, President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the importance of missionaries being ``so in tune with the guidance of the Holy Spirit that every one of them can speak in the name of God as they witness and testify of the Savior, and will be where they need to be.''He addressed new mission presidents and their wives at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 23 at the Missionary Training Center.

President Faust paid tribute to Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, who is now 88 years of age, and who has "great experience, great judgment and great inspiration."

He also paid tribute to the new mission leaders. "I want to express appreciation for your lives, for your quality, for your devotion and for your willingness to serve." President Faust told those mission leaders who are temporarily separated by their service from their children and grandchildren, that they will enjoy "great compensatory blessings which flow to our families in consequence of our devotion to service."

President Faust recalled a saying of President Gordon B. Hinckley's that mission presidents will be judged by what happens to their missionaries 20 years after their missions. President Faust outlined four subjects "that I would like my sons and grandsons to learn from their mission presidents." These subjects are:

1. To acquire a testimony of who the Savior is, and an understanding of the blessings that have come to mankind through the Savior's atonement.
2. To be honest in all relationships.
3. To have courage to teach eternal principles.
4. To be obedient.

Testimony

"I would hope my son's mission president would teach from the scriptures," said President Faust. "Missionaries, like the men who are seated on this stand, are especial witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have great responsibility to testify. How can they testify if they do not have their own witness?

"The value of testimony is profound. I used to make my living in the courtroom and the testimony can never be impeached. It is ours; it cannot be contravened. It can be challenged, of course, but there is not any way it can be disproved, because it is something that is unique and special to our minds and souls."

He recalled his first mission to Brazil 56 years ago, when missionaries did not have translated versions of the Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants or Pearl of Great Price.

"We had only the Bible and our own witnesses and our own testimonies," he said. "That was hard. But amazingly enough, there were a few--a very, very few--who because of our witness and our testimony of Joseph Smith and the Restoration, joined the Church."

Honesty in relationships

President Faust said, "I would like my son to learn from his mission president to be honest in all his relationships." He quoted the late President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency, who said, "Loyalty to a principle is greater than loyalty to a person."

"They must be honest with the Lord whose servants they are," President Faust said of missionaries. "This is the overriding principle of everything. They must be honest with their parents who love and support them at great sacrifice. They need to be honest with their mission president who represents the Lord and the Church. They need to be honest with their companions.'' However, he said, their loyalty to the Lord and the Church and mission president overrides their loyalty to their companions.

Missionaries must be honest with their investigators and not just focus on baptizing them, but strive to direct them on their eternal journey toward eternal life and the temple.

He suggested that missionaries explain the principle of tithing. "Before baptism, the missionary needs to get a tithing form and sit down and show the prospective convert how to fill it out, as he explains the principles. Challenge them to become tithe payers," he said. "After all, tithing isn't a law of money--it is a law of faith."

He emphasized that missionaries need to be honest with the Lord in teaching, and bring in entire families, especially fathers.

"We violate eternal principles when we divide families," he said.

He asked mission presidents to teach missionaries to be frugal and learn to sacrifice.

"On my first mission, my parents were keeping two of us out, and I tried to save money. I did not buy shaving soap; I used hand soap to shave. I didn't own a camera of any kind during my mission."

Goal setting should be an honest process with missionaries themselves setting their goals. However, mission presidents, zone leaders or stake mission presidents may inspire missionaries.

Courage

"I would like my son to learn from his mission president to have courage in teaching eternal principles," said President Faust. "We are trying to build up Zion and establish the kingdom of God. Missionaries need to have courage to not be afraid of man.

"You've learned in this seminar that you are to concentrate on teaching fathers and families. There must be a priesthood infrastructure for the Church to have proper priesthood leadership.

"You may be surprised that I suggest that one way to teach courage to our missionaries is to have them read their little white handbook weekly and have them know the contents."

Courage also means following rules, he said. The Church has 165 years of experience in doing missionary work, "since Samuel Smith first went out with a handful of copies of the Book of Mormon. You want to be inspired and creative within the guidelines that have been long established for the successful missionary work of the Church."

Obedience

President Faust said that the best missionaries are not always the smartest missionaries, but they are the most obedient.

Obedience means accepting the direction of leaders. It means having clean and presentable living quarters and following health guidelines.

He said mission presidents nurture obedience by loving their missionaries. He spoke of a recent trip to Brazil. "We happened to have a couple of missionaries on the plane when we arrived and when they got off, their mission president said: 'I love you. I trust you. I support you, I pray for you. You will never be alone,'" President Faust said, quoting the mission president.

"'All of the General Authorities pray for you. All of the temple patrons pray for you. All of your family and friends pray for you. Indeed, much of the whole Church prays for you.'"

President Faust concluded with a poignant account of his experience as a missionary. He quoted the late President Henry D. Moyle of the First Presidency, who said:

"'Thrust in the sickle; the harvest is the Lord's.'"

"I've had the experience of my lifetime - 60 years of seeing the gospel prosper on two continents, South America and Africa."

He said that as a missionary in Brazil in 1939, "it seemed like the work was not smiling on the Latin people. It seemed to be smiling on the Europeans. It was so hard. One year, all 75 missionaries in the Brazilian Mission baptized only three people."

He said he was laboring in the city of Curitiba, in the state of Parana, Brazil, and was a new missionary with Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter (now an emeritus General Authority). "There was not one single member in the whole state of Parana," he said. The pair tracted up a street and then Elder Bangerter told his young companion,

"This is your house."

"I prayed," said President Faust. Then, demonstrating as he spoke, he explained that in Brazil in those days, the missionaries clapped their hands to get attention. "A woman stuck her head out of the window and asked in Portuguese, 'What do you want?'

"I didn't even understand that," he recalled. "I looked at my companion for deliverance, but he had his head down in the tracting book. I prayed some more. Then the woman asked, 'Would you like to come in?'

"That was the first house I ever tracted. We didn't teach that family and we didn't baptize them, but they eventually became the first family to join the Church in the city of Curitiba, Parana."

He said that half a century later he visited the city and met with one of the family members. "They were in tears, I was in tears. One of their grandchildren, now a lady with gray hair, took my hands. As the tears fell down on my hands, she rubbed them as if it were salve."

He said that he and his wife, Ruth, recently attended a regional conference in Curitiba. At the conference were between 5,000 and 6,000 members gathered in two meetinghouses.

"I was an eyewitness to His majesty in the coming of the gospel of Jesus Christ," President Faust said. "We have organized 130 stakes in Brazil. When I was a young man, I presided over the Sao Paulo District, which then had 175 members of the Church. There are now half a million members in Brazil. We are approaching 400 stakes in South America.

"There is no way to explain what has happened. Not just in South America, but all over the world. The Lord Jesus Christ is directing the work in His own way, smiling upon different peoples of the earth in His own time."

"'Thrust in the sickle; the harvest is the Lord's!'" ("President Faust Tells of Importance for Missionaries to Rely on the Spirit," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 1995]: 3).

John L. Hart of the Church News did a human interest piece on Gordon Williams,an English Bobby who was called as one of the mission presidents:

Like a detective examining a case, civil policeman Gordon Williams studied information about the Church. As the evidence piled up during that inquiry 36 years ago, he concluded that the Church's teachings were true, and he and his wife, Margaret, changed their lives to conform with those teachings.

"It has been an incredible story of where we were--just drifting on in life, and suddenly the gospel comes along and takes over our whole lives," he reflected.Pres. Williams, 61, recently released bishop of the Spen Valley Ward, Huddersfield England Stake, is the newly called president of the Scotland Edinburgh Mission. Pres. and Sister Williams are among the 91 new mission presidents and their wives who will attend the annual Mission Presidents Seminar June 21-24 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

The new mission presidents will serve in some 21 states and 33 nations, beginning their three-year terms of service about July 1.

Pres. Williams and the other new mission presidents will take a sharp change of direction in their lives to devote all their "heart, might, mind and strength" to missionary service. (D&C 4:2.)

Many years of experience have prepared Pres. and Sister Williams for their assignment. His first contact with the Church came on a Sunday in 1959. He was a
"bobby" walking a beat in the Batley area of West Yorkshire in England. The subject of religion interested him because as a policeman he was often approached by representatives of various religions.

" They wanted to bend my ear, wondering what my faith was. I was probably a sitting duck to talk to. So I became curious, really, why there were so many religions. It wasn't a curiosity born of spiritual wonderment, it was almost like a detective examining an issue. Gradually, I amassed evidence from different churches."

One Sunday, he was on a beat where he often stopped to visit with a garage owner and his son. Lately, the son, Peter Burnett, hadn't been to the garage on Sundays. So when the officer saw him hurriedly climbing out of his work overalls, he asked the young mechanic where he was off to in such haste.

" He said he was going to Church," recalled Pres. Williams. "I asked him which one, and he said the Mormons. So I asked for some literature. He'd only just joined two months ago and was a stake missionary. He gave me a handful of leaflets, all of which I read. The one that really converted me was `Friendly Discussion' by Ben E. Rich."

The policeman and his wife received the missionary lessons from Peter Burnett and his companion, Arthur Gregory. Two full-time missionaries, Elders Keith Sorensen and Sam Longbotham, assisted the stake missionaries.

One experience during that period came as the policeman and mechanic talked about the small donations that local congregations continually requested from their parishioners.

"I thought it was horrific that they should ask me to give. A guy [from a local congregation] was anxious that we were signed up to give a few pence a week; it was very little, really."

So the policeman asked his friend what he thought of churches always requesting money. Pres. Williams recalled that the stake missionary gulped and said, "Well there is something I need to tell you." He then taught the principle of tithing.

"I said, 'Well, that is fantastic.' He couldn't believe that I could deny a church that wanted a few cents a week, but accept a Church that was asking a tenth of my wage."

Brother Williams was baptized on Aug. 22, 1959, at the Bradford Branch in what was soon to be the Leeds England Stake in north central England. Sister Williams was baptized a month later.

In his first visit to priesthood meeting after his baptism, he noticed the quorum president was talking about assigning a series of three lessons to a small, young-appearing man." I thought he was a little boy, so I said, 'I'll take that assignment.'"

So, by his second week in the Church, the new convert was teaching the priesthood quorum.

Shortly, Brother Williams was called to serve in the Young Men program, a challenging position where he worked with a number of young men who had been recently baptized.
"One had to have terrific patience, and spend lot of time looking after the young people," he said.

Brother Williams soon found that the amount of time required in his calling conflicted with his work as a police officer. After fasting and praying, he eventually changed careers and began selling woodworking machinery, an occupation that has taken him to many parts of the world. Callings continued to come his way.

"I was called as Sunday School president, then as stake Young Men president, then they made me counselor in a bishopric, a high councilor, bishop and then counselor in a stake presidency. They never let me hold any position longer than two years."

His friend and stake missionary, Peter Burnett, served with him in the bishopric and stake presidency.

While in the stake presidency, he felt impressed to prepare spiritually by fasting and praying. "Then my stake president, Dennis Livesey, was called to preside over the Scotland Edinburgh Mission, and I was called as stake president."

He served as stake president for eight years. When he was called as regional representative, he was succeeded by Peter Burnett. He served as regional representative for six and a half years and was followed again by Brother Burnett, who was recently released as a regional representative. Pres. Williams was later called a second time as bishop, this time serving six and a half years.

"One of the things we have been blessed with is friendship," reflected Pres. Williams. "I doubt whether anybody joins this Church and stays securely without good friends. Peter and I are like brothers, really. I think back, and realize I was more than fortunate to have met a man of his caliber."

Another acquaintance from earlier years, Arthur Gregory who helped teach him the gospel, is a temple sealer who recently performed family sealings for the Williams family.

Sister Williams has also made many contributions in the Church in the past 36 years. As her husband took leadership roles, she at first remained in " the background, but always had a Church calling," she said. " We have five children, so I was always being put with them in Primary, Sunday School and Young Women.

"Only after they grew up was I called as ward Relief Society president." Five years later she served as stake Relief Society president. During this time, she cared for seven foster children.

He husband commented, " I've seen her sitting in bed, falling asleep, studying a talk or studying a lesson, and caring for the foster children."

"They fit very well into the family," she said.

The Williams family has been missionary-minded, inviting friends into their home for a film or missionary lessons. "We've had a natural flow of missionary work from our home," he said. "When I travel, I have always given out copies of the Book of Mormon, all over the world. I always manage to talk to someone on the journeys--in Singapore, Germany, Italy or South Africa."

He said the gospel brings great happiness. " We've really got to be happy because that is what the gospel is all about. The gospel is just marvelous. Those spiritual moments are our jewels." ("British 'Bobby' Investigates and Finds Truth," Church News [Saturday, 17 June 1995]: 5).

1996 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 1996 four days of mission president training was conducted at the MTC in Provo, Utah. On 18 June to 23 June 1996 the largest group of new mission presidents ever assembled--138--and their wives received four days of instruction at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents. All three members of the First Presidency and other General Authorities spoke to them.

The Church News discussed why it was the largest group: "The largest number of new mission presidents yet assembled participated in the 1996 Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 19-23 at the Missionary Training Center here. The 138 new leaders and their wives, who come from 17 countries, received instruction from President Gordon B. Hinckley; his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust; members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the Quorums of the Seventy; and the Missionary Department staff.

The leaders, seasoned with many years of Church experience, met for general sessions that began with an address by President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and concluded with an address by President Gordon B. Hinckley.Following the seminar, the new presidents traveled to the 47 countries where they will assume their three-year responsibilities.

The large number of new presidents this year is a result of the continually increasing number of missions, and the replacement of presidents called to lead 19 new missions created in 1993." ("Class of '96' is Largest Yet, Church News [Saturday, 29 June 1996]: 3).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "I would hope that as mission presidents, if you did nothing else during the time you’re in the field, you would strive to create within the lives, the hearts, the souls of your missionaries, a love for Jesus the Christ."

In encouraging the new leaders to create a love for the Savior in their missionaries’ hearts, President Hinckley observed that such a love can come from reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon and by pondering and practicing what one reads.

He counseled the mission presidents and their wives to believe that they were called by revelation, to believe in the message they are sent to teach, to believe in their missionaries, to believe in the power of prayer, to believe in their power to bless, to believe in the Savior whom they are called to represent, and to believe in God, their eternal Father."

President Hinckley said: "I was in Jerusalem yesterday, and while we were there we went out to Shepherd's Field. A slit of a moon was in the sky, a band of sheep nearby, and Bethlehem over on the hill on the other side. There, in the shadows of the evening, we read together the story of the birth of the Son of God and sang a Christmas carol or two and had prayer together. It was not December; it was not April. It was June. But it was a wonderful thing, a thing of great inspiration. I wish everyone in the Church could have an experience of that kind. I've had it before. I am glad to have had it again.

To sense that, and to go again to the Garden of Gethsemane and there to sit in the shadow of an old olive tree and read of that terrible wrestling of the Son of God as He faced the certain future, sweating drops of blood and praying to His Father to let the cup pass if it might-but saying, Nevertheless, Thy will be done, not mine. As we sat there, I had an overwhelming feeling that He wasn't making His plea, He wasn't facing that ordeal in terms of the physical pain He was about to face, the terrible, brutal crucifixion on the cross. That was part of it, I am sure. But in larger measure it was, I think, a sense on His part of His role in the eternal welfare of all of the sons and daughters of God, of all generations of time.

Everything depended on Him--His atoning sacrifice. That was the key. That was the keystone in the arch of the great plan which the Father had brought forth for the eternal life of His sons and daughters. Terrible as it was to face it, and burdensome as it was to realize it, He faced it, He accomplished it, and it was a marvelous and wonderful thing. It is beyond our comprehension, I believe. Nevertheless, we glimpse it in small part and must learn to appreciate it more and more and more." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Mission Presidents Seminar, June 23, 1996.)

President Hinckley also told them: "The history of this Church is replete with miracles of healing. I know that. I am confident of that. I recall once when I arrived in Hong Kong I was asked if I would visit a woman in the hospital whose doctors had told her she was going blind and would lose her sight within a week. She asked if we would administer to her and we did so, and she states that she was miraculously healed. I have a painting in my home that she gave me which says on the back of it, "To Gordon B. Hinckley in grateful appreciation for the miracle of saving my sight." I said to her, "I didn't save your sight. Of course, the Lord saved your sight. Thank Him and be grateful to Him." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Mission Presidents Seminar, June 23, 1996.)

R. Scott Lloyd contributed a more extensive version of the opening address by Thomas S. Monson:

President Monson shared the five M's of missionary work: the message, the missionary, the mission, the member, and the mission president.

1. The message. “What a divine message you and your missionaries have to proclaim,” he said. “It’s the message that’s all-important, but we must convey it in a way which exemplifies the spirit of the message itself."

2. The missionary. President Monson observed that many families have prepared young men and young women to be missionaries, and these missionaries have now put aside their daily interests and activities, have left jobs, friends, and family behind to serve the Lord. “That’s no small thing, particularly in this day and age,” he declared. “It’s a miracle, a true miracle, to see the missionary force of the kingdom of God.”

3. The mission. President Monson emphasized that calls are issued to missionaries to serve in the particular fields of labor where the Lord wants them to serve. He also talked of the importance of missionaries gaining a love and appreciation for the missions to which they are assigned.

4. The member. “The member is the key to the maximization of a mission’s success,” said President Monson. “There are many ways to contact people. There are many ways to teach investigators. The best way in the world is to involve the members.”

5. The mission president. President Monson told those assembled that the mission presidents set the spiritual tone of their missions and that they, along with their wives, serve as models for the missionaries.

R. Scott Lloyd gave a detailed account of President Thomas S. Monson's opening talk:

"President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, opened the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents, speaking in the first session Wednesday morning, June 19. He spoke again on the closing day of the seminar Sunday, June 23. He also spoke to missionaries and staff at the Missionary Training Center on the opening day.

In his address at the seminar on June 19 he advised mission presidents and their wives to get ready for "the most challenging and inspiring experience" that they've ever had. He reminisced about some of the experiences he and his wife, Sister Frances Monson, had when he presided over the Canadian Mission from 1959-62.

He presented "five M's of missionary work," which he identified as:

1. The message. "What a divine message you and your missionaries have to proclaim the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ; to teach people where they came from, why they're here, where they go after they die; to talk to them about families that can be forever; to share with them the truths of the Book of Mormon; to bring to them the rays of living light," President Monson said. "It's the message that's all important, but we must convey it in a way which exemplifies the spirit of the message itself."

President Monson quoted the Savior, who said: " 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

" 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

" 'Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' " (Matt. 28:18-20.)

"There is the message," President Monson emphasized. "Note that He said 'teach' before He said 'baptize.' "

He quoted the Prophet Joseph, who declared: " 'After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.' " (History of the Church 2:478.)

President Monson told the new mission leaders: "You've been called to the greatest and most important duty—to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"The personal testimony of the missionary is part of the message that you carry to people. There is something powerful about the testimony of a young man, a young woman and older missionaries when they bear witness to someone that this work is true, when they present a principle, and then declare, 'I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.' "

2. The missionary. President Monson said that missionaries "represent the fruit of the families of the Church." Many, he observed, have had savings accounts for their missions all their lives, and some parents started the accounts before today's missionaries were born.

He noted that the families have prepared young men and young women to be missionaries. These missionaries have now put aside their daily interests and activities, have left jobs, friends and family behind to serve the Lord. "That's no small thing, particularly in this day and age," President Monson declared. "It's a miracle, a true miracle, to see the missionary force of the Kingdom of God."

3. The mission. President Monson emphasized that calls are issued to missionaries to serve in the particular fields of labor where the Lord wants them to serve. He spoke also of the importance of missionaries gaining a love and an appreciation for the missions to which they are assigned. He quoted Ernie Pyle, a World War II correspondent: " 'Morale is really the secret of success. Morale depends upon two things: Pride in your outfit and confidence in your leaders.'

"You are leaders," President Monson told the mission presidents and their wives. "You can build pride in your outfit. The missionaries under your direction will be happy to be in your mission, wherever it is."

4. The member. "The member is the key to the maximization of a mission's success," President Monson pointed out. "There are many ways to contact people. There are many ways to teach investigators. The best way in the world is to involve the members."

He described how, in the mission he presided over, missionaries enlisted the assistance of converts who had common interests with investigators, particularly those who had come from the same religious backgrounds. He encouraged the mission leaders to work with stake and district presidents to keep them informed about what is taking place within the missions where they reside. "Work with them and the members," he told the mission leaders. "You're working on the same team."

5. The mission president. President Monson told the mission presidents that they set the spiritual tone of their missions, and that they and their wives serve as models for the missionaries.

He cited an ideal used by outstanding teachers: "No one fails in my class." That ideal, he said, should be employed by mission presidents who say, "It is my responsibility to help each missionary succeed."

In his remarks Sunday morning in the seminar's closing session, President Monson commended the presidents for having "responded magnificently, I think no less than when the early brethren received their calls. I'm glad you don't have to leave your sick wives behind. I'm glad you can take your wives with you; you'll need them!"

President Monson closed with what he called an example of a missionary blessed. The missionary was Randall Ellsworth, who, in an earthquake in Guatemala in 1976, was paralyzed in his lower extremities when a beam fell upon him as he slept. Elder Ellsworth was told by physicians he would never walk again.

"He sat in a wheelchair as a national television reporter was interviewing him," President Monson recalled. "Sister Monson and I were sitting at home watching the news, and the reporter asked, 'Do you think you'll ever walk again?' I turned to Frances, and I said, 'That's cruel, that's terribly cruel. We've been told he'll never walk again.' "

But Elder Ellsworth declared he would walk again, that he would return and finish his mission in Guatemala.

President Monson said he monitored the young elder's progress and, upon the advice of Elder Ellsworth's doctors, eventually approved his return to Guatemala to complete his mission.

"When he arrived, his mission president, John F. O'Donnal . . . said to Randall Ellsworth, 'It's a miracle you're here. It truly is.' After a time, Pres. O'Donnal told Elder Ellsworth, 'I believe you don't need those crutches.' " The mission president handed him two canes, which the elder used in place of the crutches. Eventually with the mission president's encouragement, he was able to lay aside even the canes.

Years later President O'Donnal gave one of the canes to President Monson as a memento of the experience. This President Monson eventually returned to Randall Ellsworth, now a practicing physician with a wife and family. He said he told Brother Ellsworth, "I want you to keep it in your family forever as a reminder of that great promise of the Lord to missionaries: 'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in you hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' (D&C 84:88.)"

To the mission presidents and their wives, President Monson said, "With all my heart I invoke that prayer and that blessing upon each of you." ("The Five M's of Missionary Service," Church News [Saturday, 29 June 1996]: 3).

R. Scott Lloyd of the Church News gave a more detailed account of Gordon B. Hinckley's talk:

"Having returned the previous day from the Holy Land, President Gordon B. Hinckley invoked Christ's words to 'be not faithless but be believing' as he addressed 138 new mission presidents and their wives Sunday, June 23.

Speaking, as he said, in an informal way and from his heart, the prophet capped four days of instruction and inspiration the new leaders and their wives received at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the Missionary Training Center here. The presidents will shortly begin their responsibilities in their respective fields of labor.In a surprise action Sunday, arranged by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve who conducted the meeting, the assembly sang ``Happy Birthday'' to President Hinckley after the prophet had finished his address. Thanking the group, President Hinckley quipped, "When your birthdays reach this number 86, you wish that people could forget them." He then excused himself to go to the Salt Lake Tabernacle to address an international Kiwanis Club convention "and tell them a little about the Church, doing my missionary duty."

In his address, President Hinckley told of his recent trip, during which he and his group sang Christmas carols on Shepherd's Field near Bethlehem and sat in the shadow of an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.

"I would hope that as mission presidents, if you did nothing else during all the time you're in the field, you would strive to create within the lives, the hearts, the souls of your missionaries a love for Jesus the Christ," he said.

Such a love comes through reading the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon, by pondering what one reads and by practicing what one learns, he added.

He repeated the resurrected Savior's admonition to Thomas to 'be not faithless, but be believing.' (John 20:27.) Giving that injunction to the mission presidents, he emphasized these points:

--Believe that you are called by revelation. "Said the Lord to His disciples, `You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.' (John 15:16.) And so it is with you, each one of you. You have not chosen to do this. The Lord has chosen you to do this. And you have been ordained for this purpose."

--Believe in the message you are sent to teach. "Our purpose in going is that people might know `the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.' (John 17:3.)"

--Believe in your missionaries. "Their problems are your problems, their success your success. You're going to be judged by what they do. That's the interesting and marvelous thing, really, when all's said and done. They are your extended hands, as it were, and without them, you're nobody, really. With them you can accomplish miracles and will do. Take care of them. . . . Love them. Let them know that you love them. Pray with them. Bless them. Help them. They get homesick sometimes, yes, of course they do. You sisters can comfort them. Their families suffer tragedies occasionally while they're in the field, and they're very difficult to bear for those who are out there. They need comfort. They need strengthening. They need help. Be close to them."

--Believe in the power of prayer. "You'll be faced with dilemmas you don't know how to handle, and you'll plead with the Lord for direction and it will come. . . . `Be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers.' (D&C 112:10.) That's one of the great promises in all scripture, in my judgment."

--Believe in your power to bless. The prophet told of administering to a woman in a Hong Kong hospital who had been told she would lose her sight within a week. She recovered her sight. "I have a painting in my home that she gave me which says on the back of it, `To Gordon B. Hinckley in grateful appreciation for a miracle of saving my sight.' I said to her, `I didn't save your sight. Of course, I didn't. The Lord saved your sight. Thank Him and be grateful to Him.'"

--Believe in the Savior whom you're called to represent. "Each one of you is an ambassador plenipotentiary with full plenary powers to represent the Savior of the world, to represent His Church, His kingdom. You have had bestowed upon your shoulders full powers of representation. Look to the Lord, dwell upon Him, ponder His life. Read His teachings, exemplify them in your lives and conduct yourselves in such a way that every night you can close the day with a prayer of gratitude offered in His name."

--Believe in God your eternal Father, "who notwithstanding His majesty as the ruler of the universe, will hear you as you speak with Him. . . . Somebody said, `When I hear you people pray, it's like someone ordering groceries. You dial a number, you place your order, and you hang up.' He said, `I'd feel a little better if you would ask for less and listen more.' I think that's right." ("4 Days of Inspiration for New Leaders," Church News [Saturday, 29 June 1996]: 3).

President James E. Faust told them "no one fails if they do their best." (“New Mission Presidents Instructed by Church Leaders,” Ensign, Sept. 1996, 78).

Elder Faust said: "“Who should be baptized?” he asked, and then observed that while the answer might seem easy, it is not that simple. “It’s a great responsibility to bring someone into this Church...so that through baptism they may become a new person through repentance,” he said. He noted that some missionaries are so hungry for baptisms that they may urge people to be baptized before the people understand what they are baptized for. President Faust then talked about two “time-tested” principles of conversion: the powerful bearing of testimony and being guided by the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

Speaking of the first principle, President Faust recalled a meeting where the Prophet Joseph Smith spoke to a congregation. Parley P. Pratt recorded that the Prophet “arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost spoke in great power, bearing testimony” concerning his visions, the ministering of angels, and the translation of the Book of Mormon. The result of his testimony was that “multitudes were baptized in Philadelphia and in the regions around.”

Regarding the second principle, President Faust related the missionary experiences of Wilford Woodruff, who labored in England. “He had been laboring up among the Potteries, and the Spirit told him to move eight miles south and labor there. Logic would not have taken him there, because it was farm country. He contacted the United Brethren and had perhaps the greatest harvest ever in the history of the Church.”

Many missions in the Church do not have high numbers of baptisms, President Faust said. Despite the potential discouragement, the Church leader told those in attendance that “no one fails if they do their best."

One of the mission presidents called this year later shared his experience while at the mission presidents' seminar:

"Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God. -- D&C 101:16.

When called to preside over a mission in Latin America, I left a secure, well-paying job with a large aviation company in Texas. Shortly after I arrived in the mission field, the company was dissolved and the position that I was to return to after three years of service disappeared.My wife and I were not greatly concerned at the time and focused all of our efforts in doing our best in the service to which we had been called. The time passed quickly and before we knew it we were at our last mission presidents seminar.

I had begun praying for direction in what I should do upon my release, but was still not overly concerned and continued to occupy myself in the great joy of being a mission president.

It was the morning of the last day of the mission presidents seminar and I was in the state of semi-consciousness, between being fully awake and fully asleep, and when my mind began to think of returning to "the world." Suddenly there came into my mind the words of the Lord from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 101, Verse 16. A feeling of overwhelming peace came over me and I knew that I need not concern myself any more about the future but should dedicate all my energies to the service to which we had been called.

I never worried about what to do concerning employment from that morning on. I returned to find gainful employment and although we have often faced financial trials from time to time since being released, I continue to be at peace, knowing that my family and I are truly in our Heavenly Father's hands, and that He continues to bless and take care of us. I move forward each day knowing that when times of crisis come, I need to "be still and know that (He is) God," and that the blessings will come. -- Scott D. Livingston, Gilbert, Ariz. ("Living by the Scriptures," Church News [Saturday, 23 January 1999]: 2).

1997 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On 24-27 June 1997 One hundred five new mission presidents and their wives heard instruction from all three members of the First Presidency at the annual mission presidents seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Thomas S. Monson shared with them: "The promise I want you to carry in your minds and in your hearts and to instill within your missionaries is in the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 88: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.’ On disappointing days, if you just read that promise, the Spirit will enlighten your soul and you will be doubly prepared to move forward with that great band of missionaries....

I maintain that no mission will achieve its full potential unless it has a cooperative effort with the members of the Church in bringing that about."

In 1997 the new mission presidents' seminar was held the last week of June at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. During the week-long seminar, Presidents Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor, and James E. Faust, Second Counselor, of the First Presidency spoke, as did several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Presidency of the Seventy.

In an address filled with reminiscences and warmth, President Thomas S. Monson described to new mission presidents and their wives the joys of the gospel and rewards of missionary service.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave direction to new leaders June 25 at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar at the Missionary Training Center here. He was accompanied by his wife Frances. Also in attendance were members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.

Commending the mission presidents and their wives for their faith to accept their new call, he said, "You have been called to serve. Each of you has been set apart, and soon you will be on your way to one of the greatest adventures God can give a man—to serve as a mission president.

"I want to emphasize that you are never alone. We remember you in our prayers always."

He described the seminar as "the best training in the world," and promised the new mission presidents and their wives that "you will fall in love with the membership of the Church wherever you are."

He contrasted this training seminar with that of 1959 when Sister Monson and he were called to serve in the Canadian Mission in Toronto, Canada, with only three weeks' notice.

"Sister Monson was ill, expecting our third child. . . but about three weeks later we were on a train going to Toronto, Canada."

Among those who gave him brief instructions was Elder Harold B. Lee, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, who told him, "Whom God calls, God qualifies." President Monson continued: "Chapter by chapter, the Lord just takes you by the hand and gives you answers to your prayers. And when you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help.

"But the promise I want you to carry in your minds and in your hearts and to instill within your missionaries is in the 84th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verse 88: 'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' On disappointing days, if you just read that promise, the Spirit will enlighten your soul and you will be doubly prepared to move forward with that great band of missionaries," he said.

The scriptural mandate given by the Savior to His apostles is specific to missionary work, President Monson said. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matt. 28:19-20.)

"That's a wonderful instruction from the Lord to His apostles. It is an apropos instruction from one of His apostles today to each one of you."

In describing missionary work, he quoted a hymn, "Sweet is the work, my God, my King; To praise thy name, give thanks and sing; To show thy love by morning light, And talk of all thy truths at night." (Hymns, No. 147.)

The missionaries themselves "look great," he said. Referring to a missionary chorus that performed at the seminar, he said that as they entered, he whispered to Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was seated next to him: "There stands before you the product of our homes, the most prized possessions of all.

"Remember each one could be your son or daughter," President Monson told the mission leaders. He encouraged the new mission presidents to require missionaries to write a letter home to their parents every week. "This letter from a missionary becomes an epistle to the family. Mother reads it, Dad reads it, tears come to their eyes.

"You have a sacred responsibility to help them be successful."

He continued, "A quotation of President Spencer W. Kimball is worthy of emphasis: 'We expect to have complete cooperation between the stake and full-time missionaries and to involve the members of the Church generally in opening the gospel door to our Father's other children.'"

President Monson observed further: "I maintain that no mission will achieve its full potential unless it has a cooperative effort with the members of the Church in bringing that about."

He described the fellowshiping at a district conference in Italy under Pres. Leopoldo Larcher. There, he saw some members wearing white carnations.

"Leopoldo Larcher said, 'We put a white carnation on every person who has been a new convert since our last district conference. That way we know that we must make them welcome.' "

President Monson said he mentioned that experience to priesthood leaders at a regional priesthood leadership meeting in Paris, France. The next morning at regional conference "I saw about 40 or 50 white carnations. It works. People like to know they are special, and the other members love to say hello to them and welcome them."

President Monson said that missionaries carry a fundamental message: "Jesus is the Christ. That is the message. God lives. Pray to Him." Teaching Heavenly Father's Plan, he said, answers some of the basic questions of humankind: "Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after the body dies? People are like Job, who asked, 'If a man die, shall he live again?'

"I love to tell them yes," President Monson said. "Christ was crucified on the cross. He was placed in the tomb at the conclusion of His life and on the morning of the third day, He arose. Two men stood by the women at the tomb and answered Job's question with, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." (Luke 24:5-6.)

Teaching this gospel message provides wonderful memories, said President Monson. He quoted the Scottish poet, James Barrie, who said, "God gave us memories that we might have June roses in the December of our lives," and added, "You are going into a magnificent rose garden and the flowers will bloom even brighter because you are there." ("Mission presidents seminar: Joys, rewards of missionary service," Church News [Saturday, June 28, 1997]: 4).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "Each of you will have a wonderful experience and work very hard, perhaps harder than you have ever worked in your lives, but you will gain deeper satisfaction as you do so....Your burden will be lightened by the Spirit of the Lord. You will be motivated by that Spirit, and you will do things you thought you were never capable of accomplishing."

Suggesting five principles for effective missionary work, President Hinckley said, "I don’t hesitate to promise that if you observe them, you will be blessed in your work and in your ministry.” The principles included working with an eye single to the glory of God, practicing and teaching effective habits of study and work, observing habits of personal safety and welfare, having love be the lodestar of their lives, and living close to the Lord at all times and in all circumstances....

Draw near to the Lord and make Him your constant source of strength....I know as you do that, there is joy in this service that can be found nowhere else."

A detailed account of Elder Gordon B. Hinckley's addressed was published in the Church News on 5 July 1997:

"A willingness to sacrifice, as exemplified by the Pioneers who came to the Salt Lake Valley 150 years ago, is needed today to move forward the work of the Lord, said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Hinckley addressed new mission presidents and their wives on June 27, the final day of the annual Mission Presidents Seminar that began four days earlier on June 24.``We are now commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley," President Hinckley noted. "Tremendous was their fortitude, their faith and their vision. With nothing but their bare hands and the will to do, they set to work and made this desert blossom like a rose. They sacrificed very much, even their lives in some cases."

But, he said, "The days of sacrifice are not behind us. . . . It seems to me that only as we sacrifice do we move forward the work of the Lord. It was so when Jesus wrought the great Atonement, it was so in the days of the pioneers, it is so today."

He acknowledged the sacrifice the new mission leaders were making to leave their homes for three years and thanked them for accepting their calls.

"Each of you will have a wonderful experience and work very hard, perhaps harder than you have ever worked in your lives, but you will gain deeper satisfaction as you do so," he said. "Your burden will be lightened by the Spirit of the Lord. You will be motivated by that Spirit, and you will do things you thought you were never capable of accomplishing.

Reminiscing on his lifetime missionary service, he observed: "I think I have had the longest continuous association with the missionary work of the Church of any living man." This association, he said, began with his call as a missionary in 1933, and

"I've been at it ever since in one capacity or another."

"I love this work. I love the missionaries. I love the mission presidents and their wives and families. I love all who have to do with this great and selfless cause."

He suggested five principles for sustaining missionary work. "I don't hesitate to promise that if you observe them, you will be blessed in your work and in your ministry," he said.

1. Work with an eye single to the glory of God.

"The Lord has said, 'And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you.' (D&C 88:67).

"In that declaration is the whole spirit of missionary service. You as presidents and wives must become great exemplars before your missionaries in observing this demanding standard of deportment. You must know, and each of them must come to know, that you are not sent to serve yourselves, but to serve the Lord."

However, he said, "there will be personal benefits unusual and remarkable. These will come in proportion to the degree of selflessness evidenced in your service."

Continuing, President Hinckley observed that to the degree missionaries keep their eyes single to the glory of God, "There will follow an absence of selfishness, and the darkness associated therewith. There will follow an absence of laziness and the darkness that comes therefrom. There will follow the absence of sin and the terrible darkness that inevitably accompanies it."

2. Practice and teach effective habits of study and work.

"There are few things that you can impart of more lasting value to the future than the acquisition of habits of study and work," said President Hinckley. "The vocation of your missionaries will vary when they leave the field and take up their life's work, but the habits they establish while in the field will remain with them. What a singular and remarkable opportunity you have to teach them how to apply themselves, to study, to get up in the morning, to get out and do the work that is expected of them."

He said the Church is producing men of "tremendous quality and accomplishment" who are being recognized far and wide for their abilities.

"The roots of their accomplishments in so very many cases are found in the habits acquired while serving as missionaries."

3. Observe habits of personal safety and welfare.

"Please, observe and teach habits of safety and well-being. As the president, you are the watchman on the tower. Safeguard those in your charge. As surely as this is the Lord's work, so the adversary will do all that he can to injure and destroy.

"Brethren, you are guardians of those sent to work under your direction. You must be aware of the areas where they labor. You must be aware of the hazards they face. You must do all you can, and you must observe these same practices yourselves to reduce injury."

4. Make love the lodestar of your lives.

"When all is said and done, love--Godly and wonderful love--is the essence of our work," said President Hinckley. "The Son of God came into the world not to condemn the world but to save it. We are His servants, and love must be the unfailing, constant lodestar of our service."

5. Live close to the Lord at all times and in all circumstances.

"Wrote James, 'Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.' (James 4:8.)

"This is His work. We are His servants. There is no way we can accomplish very much without His help. That help will be forthcoming if we draw near to Him.

"'In God we trust' must be our constant motto. Prayer is our great source of strength. God will not forsake us if we come unto Him in faith. This is His work. He does not wish it, or us, to fail."

President Hinckley testified of the truthfulness of the scripture, 'Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.' (D&C 122:10.)

"I believe this. I know this. I have seen the manifestation of the fulfillment of this promise. You will see the manifestation of the fulness of His promise. Draw near to the Lord and make Him your constant source of strength.

"I know as you do that there is joy in this service that can be found nowhere else." ("`Only as we sacrifice do we move forward'," Church News [Saturday, July 5, 1997]: 3).

James E. Faust said in selecting mission presidents: "Would I wish my son or grandson to serve under that mission president and his wife?" He then discussed his hopes that mission presidents and their wives would help their missionaries acquire a testimony of the Savior’s Atonement and of the mission of Joseph Smith and develop traits of honesty, courage, and obedience.

A detailed account of James E. Faust's address was published in the Church News on Saturday, 28 June 1997:

"The importance of a personal testimony of the Savior and His Atonement was emphasized by President James E. Faust to new mission presidents and their wives at the opening session of the annual mission presidents seminar June 24.

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed some 105 new presidents and their wives at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The seminar began Tuesday and continued through Friday, June 27. The new leaders were then to travel to their respective missions in some 39 lands to assume their responsibilities about July 1.Among those addressing the new mission leaders during the week were the entire First Presidency, eight members of the Quorum of the Twelve and members of the Presidency of the Seventy.

President Gordon B. Hinckley was to speak Friday, June 27. His remarks will be included in the July 5 Church News. An address June 25 by President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, is reported on this page.

President Faust warmly welcomed the new presidents and their wives, saying, "You have our prayers and our confidence; we are able to sleep at night because you are out there."

He told the leaders that his personal issuing callings to about half of them was a singular event that "strengthened my faith. It built me up. It was a marvelous experience as we felt of your devotion and strength and spirit." Their selection, he said, came down to one test: "Would I wish my son or grandson to serve under that mission president and his wife?

"You can't know--you just cannot know how many times you were prayed over and prayed over some more." He observed that mission presidents could well be judged not so much by the numbers of baptisms by their missionaries, but rather, how active in the Church their missionaries were 20 years later.

President Faust discussed four things, that, if he had a son serving a mission, he would like his son to learn from a mission president and his wife.

- First, he said, missionaries should be taught how to acquire a testimony of who the Savior is, the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and then understand the blessings that have flowed to mankind as a consequence of the Savior's Atonement and the Restoration.

"Now, missionaries are like members of the Quorum of the Twelve. They are special witnesses of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you must never let them forget that. And they can't testify--they won't have the power and they won't have the authority to testify--unless they themselves have a testimony."

President Faust told of serving in Brazil in 1939 before the scriptures of the Restoration were available in Portuguese.

"All we had was an old Bible and our personal testimonies. There is nothing more powerful than a personal testimony. And there are still people today who joined the Church in Brazil from the personal testimonies of the missionaries without ever having held a copy of the Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants or Pearl of Great Price in their hands. I would emphasize that we are now approaching 600,000 members of the Church in that one country."

--Second, he said, he would like his son to learn honesty from his mission president. The Church leader recalled learning a lesson in honesty at the missionary home in Salt Lake City in 1939 from President David O. McKay, then second counselor in the First Presidency.

"He came in and didn't say a word. He just took a piece of chalk and wrote on the board: `It is a greater honor to be trusted than to be loved."

President Faust continued: "Loyalty to a principle is greater than loyalty to a person. We want our missionaries to be honest with the Lord, whose servants they are."

He also encouraged mission presidents to teach their missionaries to be frugal and to do their work in a spirit of sacrifice and consecration.

"On my first mission, I tried to save what money I could in case an emergency followed. I didn't buy shaving soap. I used hand soap to shave, and I did not buy a camera."

--Third, missionaries should be taught to go forward with courage and teach eternal principles without fear of men, "by doing the Lord's work, trying to build up Zion and establish the kingdom of God." Missionaries need to have courage so they will not be afraid of men.

--Fourth, be obedient, said President Faust. "The Lord gives us love and guidance. In return we give Him obedience."

In closing, he encouraged mission presidents and their wives to let their missionaries know they are loved, trusted and prayed for.

"The growth and progress of this Church is a witness in and of itself of its divinity. You have seen it, we have seen it," said President Faust. ("Missionaries need personal testimony," Church News [Saturday, 28 June 1997]: 4).

1998 Mission Presidents' Seminar

The Church News described the process of how the new mission presidents seminar works: "Thousands of young men and women in best dress, bearing heavy suitcases, course through the doors of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, as they embark into a new world of missionary service.

On June 23, 110 new mission presidents and their wives will enter that new world through those same doors. They will spend a week in intensive training from the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar, June 23-26.Then this, the mission president class of '98, will assume leadership of the Church's missionary work in 23 states and 42 countries.

This year's new mission presidents will have responsibility for approximately one-third of the Church's 58,000 missionaries who are serving in 331 missions in more than 150 lands.

The new leaders, who come from 12 countries and 18 states of the United States, will be charged to help fulfill the Savior's "grand commission" to carry the gospel to all the world. (Matt. 28:19-21.)

During the seminar, the new leaders will be instructed daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. about the many aspects of missionary work. After a final testimony meeting, the couples will travel to their fields of labor, many seeing for the first time upon arrival the city that will be home to them for three years. There, they will supervise about 180 young men and women as well as older couples in proselyting efforts. Mission presidents in the Church's developing areas will also preside over districts and branches.

Some of the new leaders have known of their calling for half a year or more. Two of the couples are already serving. Pres. E. Marshall McCoy and his wife, Suzanne, have served in the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo East Mission since November 1997, and Pres. Sheridan Ted Gashler and his wife, Pamela, have been in the Russia Samara Mission since May.

Others, however, have known for just a few weeks that full-time missionary work awaited on their horizon.

Among these are Pres. M. Keith Giddens and his wife, Rhonda, of the Lost Mountain Ward, Powder Springs Georgia Stake. The Giddens were called just six weeks ago. He will preside over the New Jersey Cherry Hill Mission, in a city where none of the family has visited. He is a former stake president's counselor, bishop of two wards, and elders quorum president.

"We are thrilled and humbled by the call," he said. "It was very unexpected. We have gone through the whole range of emotions. I have a feeling of inadequacy, but I cling to the words of President Thomas S. Monson, who said, "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies."

He said the family had to start making preparations immediately.

"After the call that night, we gathered the children together and told them that we had been called on a mission," said Pres. Giddens. "Our youngest, Catherine, who was then 6, started crying and said, `Why did they choose us?'

"We wanted her to understand the Lord's call, so we told her that we would go and serve wherever the Lord wanted us, and do whatever He wanted us to do."

Further explanation quickly satisfied young Catherine when she realized that she would be among lots of missionaries. The youngster considers the visit of missionaries a treat.

Pres. Giddens said that they have been called to help bring others into the Church, and help them remain active once baptized. He emphasized how important retention in activity for new converts is to him.

"My parents joined the Church before I was 8, and I was baptized by my father, Johnny Giddens Jr., when I turned 8, but I don't ever remember going to Church," he said. He explained that his family continued in inactivity for years. Shortly after Keith came of age and left home, his mother, Gladys, became ill and died. Ward members rallied around his father and helped him through that difficult time. His father began attending Church. Another Giddens, Keith's brother, Jan, also became reactivated and was married in the temple.

The change in their lives left a deep impact on Keith, who began reading the Book of Mormon and gained a testimony.

"When I think back of having a chance to grow up in the Church and wasn't able to do it, reactivation becomes very important to me," he said. "I didn't have the opportunity to be part of the Boy Scouts or the Young Men. I didn't even know what a mission was.

"The earlier one can start, the better off he or she is."

While retention of new converts is important to him, "we can't retain if we don't baptize," he said.

Sister Giddens and most of her family joined the Church when she was 13 and they have been active since then. She and her grandmother were baptized first, and her mother and other family members followed two weeks later. Sister Giddens has brought two of her friends into the Church. Her parents, Gene and Patricia Smith, are currently serving a full-time mission.

The Giddens met at Church when she came home from BYU one summer. They were married in the Washington Temple in 1979.

The Giddens family departed from their home and friends in Georgia leaving a life that will never be quite the same. Pres. Giddens relinquished his self-owned mortgage brokerage. Their oldest child, Amanda, will be away as she attends BYU next year. The other three children, Laura, 15, Taylor, 10, and Catherine, now 7, will spend three years in New Jersey schools among new friends.

Pres. Giddens said his service as a bishop helped prepare him for missionary work.

"I conducted five funerals in 10 months," he said. "Two were for children, and I was tremendously strengthened by seeing the faith of their families. It strengthened my faith and my commitment to my family.

"That has helped prepare me to help others learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "We have faith the Lord will lift and bless us and help us in our personal salvation and to bring souls unto Christ. We are going just to serve." ("New mission leaders gather for training," Church News [Saturday, 20 June 1998]: 12).

In 1998 "At the annual mission presidents seminar held 23–26 June at the Provo Missionary Training Center, 110 new mission presidents and their wives were instructed by members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric."

May our testimonies ring forth with power and authority and conviction concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith—the greatest prophet who ever lived—and concerning the Book of Mormon which he brought forth," said President James E. Faust.

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, was the first speaker at the opening session of the week long Mission Presidents Seminar June 23.

During the seminar, held at the Missionary Training Center, emphasis was also placed upon retention of new converts and caring for missionaries. Mission presidents were counseled to listen to their wives, and their wives were counseled to be wise companions to their husbands.

President Faust was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Ruth. Many other General Authorities and their wives also attended, including President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder David B. Haight and his wife, Ruby; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin and his wife, Elisa; and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; all seven presidents of the Seventy who each conducted a training session that morning; many members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy; and Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric.

The scope of the work to which the new presidents and their wives have been called became more evident as Elder Scott introduced them individually along with their missions in such rarely visited places as Banglore, India; Port Harcourt, Nigeria; and Samara, Russia, to name a few.

As President Packer described the mixed emotions of the new leaders who are leaving their homes to embark on such demanding callings, the group laughed because of the accuracy of his description.

Other leaders who spoke in the first session included President Packer and Elder Haight, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. Coverage of the rest of the seminar, held June 23-26, will be in the July 4 Church News.

In his remarks, President Faust noted that he had called about half the 111 new mission presidents and their wives, and quipped, "I've raised some of you."

He paid tribute to the new leaders for their willingness to lay aside personal affairs and leave children and grandchildren behind.

"It is not easy. However," he assured, "the prayers that ascend to heaven in your behalf and in behalf of your missionaries literally number in the millions, and those prayers will be answered."

President Faust, referring to young Joseph Smith, said that "those who are unlearned still need teaching. This was true in the case of Joseph Smith. For him, the Spirit was the teacher. And the Spirit would be your teacher, and the Spirit would be the teacher of missionaries."

Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon the keystone of the gospel, President Faust said. Such is its importance that as it was being translated, Joseph Smith "was given no other gift."

Shortly after the book was published, however, the Church was organized and the first missionary was sent out, he continued. "We can conclude from this that the Book of Mormon was necessary to both weave the threads of the prophetic mantle of Joseph and also lay the foundation for restoring the dispensation of the fulness of times."

So important is the mission of Joseph Smith that "your investigators will never be truly on the road to conversion until they have at least a beginning witness of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon as 'Another Testament of Christ,'" he said.

He said all Church members must accept some absolutes. These absolutes are that:

Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, and Redeemer of all mankind through His atonement.

Joseph Smith is a prophet of God who restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness and completeness.

The Book of Mormon is "Another Testament of Christ."

All presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith have been successors of Joseph Smith, possessing the keys and authority which he restored.

President Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet, seer and revelator to the world at this time.

"The importance of the Book of Mormon to missionary work cannot be overestimated," said President Faust. "It is the text for this dispensation."

He noted that "the Lord has made clear that this generation shall remain under condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon."

He spoke of the early missionary work in Brazil, in which he was involved, where in one year missionaries without the Book of Mormon baptized only three converts. By contrast, missionaries in 1997, using the Book of Mormon, baptized more than 40,000 converts in Brazil.

"There are now 175 stakes in Brazil," he said.

President Packer emphasized the importance of careful watch care over the missionaries, who now number nearly 58,500.

"Missionaries are your first responsibility," he emphasized, and said that as leaders watch out for missionaries, other responsibilities will naturally be cared for.

To provide watch care for the missionaries, he said, "Be susceptible to constant revelation. The way to get revelation is to ask for it. 'Ask and ye shall receive.' "

Mission presidents, he said, "can have the power of discernment. It is inherent in the setting apart of mission presidents. To discern is to see."

He said that, as described in the Doctrine and Covenants, the priesthood "is a consummate power."

"I've learned that the Lord gives power commensurate to responsibility. The Lord gives no commandment save He prepares a way. So we have unlimited confidence in you," he said.

He cited a scripture indicating that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and therefore they speak the words of Christ. (See 2 Ne. 32:3.) He counseled the leaders to "feast on the words of Christ."

"My interpretation of this is that you will be attended constantly by angels who will speak to you by the power of the Holy Ghost."

He promised the new leaders that they would rejoice in their work, and grow spiritually as they serve.

In his remarks, Elder Haight, referring to the broad scope of assignments of those in the room, exclaimed, "What has happened to that little organization of 1830 that started with six members!"

He spoke of the "miraculous way" that the new leaders were called and their challenges to fulfill their callings had been resolved.

He cited the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, where Joseph Smith and others are given power to "bring the Church out of obscurity and out of darkness." (D&C 1:30.)

"Those 'others' are sitting right here. We're here. We are the others today. You are the ones called and selected and prayed over, going out to teach and train and inspire these marvelous young men and young women who will be under your direction."

He said that the Church has made great progress in coming out of obscurity.

"Today, we are looking at a different world than the one that the Prophet Joseph looked at."

It is a marvel to behold how the Church has, "line upon line and precept upon precept unrolled and unrolled and unrolled," Elder Haight said.

He told the new leaders that this service would change their lives. This change will come "while you are spending three years in the mission field, relying on . . . your Father in Heaven to bless you. You will develop that warm, wonderful relationship with your companion. You'll see more of each other than you ever had in your life. You're going to be together."

He said that during missionary service, leaders "pull down the shades on Babylon" as "we commit ourselves through our faith and our obedience and our hope and our aspirations—-all that is good about us. We devote ourselves to finding and teaching and explaining and testifying and praying for the Spirit of the Lord to touch the lives of the people to whom we are called.

"We hope that you bring about many baptisms," he concluded. "They will no longer be strangers. They will be fellow citizens.

"We do it right; we teach them the right way, we fellowship them and integrate them. We work with the members."

While challenging new mission presidents to think, ponder and pray about ways to increase the number of converts who come into the Church, President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized:

"I believe it is totally unnecessary that we lose [any of] those who are baptized."

John L. Hart gave a detailed account of the opening address at the seminar by President James E. Faust:

"May our testimonies ring forth with power and authority and conviction concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith--the greatest prophet who ever lived--and concerning the Book of Mormon which he brought forth,'' said President James E. Faust.

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, was the first speaker at the opening session of the week long Mission Presidents Seminar June 23.During the seminar, held at the Missionary Training Center, emphasis was also placed upon retention of new converts and caring for missionaries. Mission presidents were counseled to listen to their wives, and their wives were counseled to be wise companions to their husbands.

President Faust was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Ruth. Many other General Authorities and their wives also attended, including President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder David B. Haight and his wife, Ruby; Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin and his wife, Elisa; and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve; all seven presidents of the Seventy who each conducted a training session that morning; many members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy; and Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric.

The scope of the work to which the new presidents and their wives have been called became more evident as Elder Scott introduced them individually along with their missions in such rarely visited places as Banglore, India; Port Harcourt, Nigeria; and Samara, Russia, to name a few.

As President Packer described the mixed emotions of the new leaders who are leaving their homes to embark on such demanding callings, the group laughed because of the accuracy of his description.

Other leaders who spoke in the first session included President Packer and Elder Haight, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council.

In his remarks, President Faust noted that he had called about half the 111 new mission presidents and their wives, and quipped, "I've raised some of you."

He paid tribute to the new leaders for their willingness to lay aside personal affairs and leave children and grandchildren behind.

"It is not easy. However," he assured, " the prayers that ascend to heaven in your behalf and in behalf of your missionaries literally number in the millions, and those prayers will be answered."

President Faust, referring to young Joseph Smith, said that "those who are unlearned still need teaching. This was true in the case of Joseph Smith. For him, the Spirit was the teacher. And the Spirit would be your teacher, and the Spirit would be the teacher of missionaries."

Joseph Smith called the Book of Mormon the keystone of the gospel, President Faust said. Such is its importance that as it was being translated, Joseph Smith "was given no other gift."

Shortly after the book was published, however, the Church was organized and the first missionary was sent out, he continued. "We can conclude from this that the Book of Mormon was necessary to both weave the threads of the prophetic mantle of Joseph and also lay the foundation for restoring the dispensation of the fulness of times."

So important is the mission of Joseph Smith that "your investigators will never be truly on the road to conversion until they have at least a beginning witness of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon as `Another Testament of Christ,'" he said.

He said all Church members must accept some absolutes. These absolutes are that:

--Jesus is the Christ, the Savior, and Redeemer of all mankind through His atonement.

--Joseph Smith is a prophet of God who restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness and completeness.

--The Book of Mormon is 'Another Testament of Christ'.

--All presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith have been successors of Joseph Smith, possessing the keys and authority which he restored.

--President Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet, seer and revelator to the world at this time.

"The importance of the Book of Mormon to missionary work cannot be overestimated," said President Faust. " It is the text for this dispensation."

He noted that "the Lord has made clear that this generation shall remain under condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon."

He spoke of the early missionary work in Brazil, in which he was involved, where in one year missionaries without the Book of Mormon baptized only three converts. By contrast, missionaries in 1997, using the Book of Mormon, baptized more than 40,000 converts in Brazil.

"There are now 175 stakes in Brazil," he said.

President Packer emphasized the importance of careful watchcare over the missionaries, who now number nearly 58,500.

"Missionaries are your first responsibility," he emphasized, and said that as leaders watch out for missionaries, other responsibilities will naturally be cared for.

To provide watch care for the missionaries, he said, "Be susceptible to constant revelation. The way to get revelation is to ask for it. `Ask and ye shall receive.'"

Mission presidents, he said, "can have the power of discernment. It is inherent in the setting apart of mission presidents. To discern is to see."

He said that, as described in the Doctrine and Covenants, the priesthood "is a consummate power."

"I've learned that the Lord gives power commensurate to responsibility. The Lord gives no commandment save He prepares a way. So we have unlimited confidence in you," he said.

He cited a scripture indicating that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and therefore they speak the words of Christ. (See 2 Ne. 32:3.) He counseled the leaders to "feast on the words of Christ."

"My interpretation of this is that you will be attended constantly by angels who will speak to you by the power of the Holy Ghost."

He promised the new leaders that they would rejoice in their work, and grow spiritually as they serve.

In his remarks, Elder Haight, referring to the broad scope of assignments of those in the room, exclaimed, " What has happened to that little organization of 1830 that started with six members!"

He spoke of the "miraculous way" that the new leaders were called and their challenges to fulfill their callings had been resolved.

He cited the first section of the Doctrine and Covenants, where Joseph Smith and others are given power to "bring the Church out of obscurity and out of darkness." (D&C 1:30.)

"Those `others' are sitting right here. We're here. We are the others today. You are the ones called and selected and prayed over, going out to teach and train and inspire these marvelous young men and young women who will be under your direction."

He said that the Church has made great progress in coming out of obscurity.

"Today, we are looking at a different world than the one that the Prophet Joseph looked at."

It is a marvel to behold how the Church has, "line upon line and precept upon precept unrolled and unrolled and unrolled," Elder Haight said.

He told the new leaders that this service would change their lives. This change will come " while you are spending three years in the mission field, relying on . . . your Father in Heaven to bless you. You will develop that warm, wonderful relationship with your companion. You'll see more of each other than you ever had in your life. You're going to be together."

He said that during missionary service, leaders " pull down the shades on Babylon'' as ``we commit ourselves through our faith and our obedience and our hope and our aspirations--all that is good about us. We devote ourselves to finding and teaching and explaining and testifying and praying for the Spirit of the Lord to touch the lives of the people to whom we are called.

"We hope that you bring about many baptisms," he concluded. "They will no longer be strangers. They will be fellow citizens.

"We do it right; we teach them the right way, we fellowship them and integrate them. We work with the members." ("'May testimonies ring forth with power'," Church News [Saturday, 27 June 1998]: 5).

John L. Hart of the Church News reported on President Hinckley's remarks to the 111 mission presidents and their wives: "President Hinckley was the concluding speaker June 26 at the final session of the annual Mission Presidents Seminar held in the Missionary Training Center. Following his remarks, the group sang a traditional farewell song, "God Be with You Till We Meet Again," and the couples exchanged hugs and tearful farewells as they departed to their respective missions. Most assumed their leadership positions about July 1.

President Hinckley remarked that he is managing "to get out a little" and hoped to see the new presidents and their wives in the field.

"I have been in many nations in the last three years, among thousands and thousands of missionaries and millions of members of the Church."

Following his address to the new mission presidents, President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, rode in a small cart from the building where the seminar was held to the nearby training center auditorium. The sidewalk between the two buildings was lined with missionaries. He waved and spoke to the missionaries as he passed.

In his address to the new mission presidents, President Hinckley charged them to "work to hold on to every one who is baptized."

In some areas, converts come in large numbers. In others, only occasionally is there a convert baptism, he said. But, he emphasized, "there is no point in baptizing people if they do not become solid members of the Church."

Actual harm, he said, may be done to those who leave old friendships and old ways of doing things only to be allowed to slip into inactivity.

The Church leader reported he has asked the Quorum of the Twelve to improve convert retention. The Brethren have been out in all the missions of the world.

President Hinckley emphasized the importance of true conversion, not just baptisms, to mission presidents. He said that a convert is a "precious person. He or she will make a tremendous decision in coming into the Church. Retention will primarily be the work of the local wards and branches. However, you have a very, very important part in this. Your missionaries must be sure that conversion is real, that it is life-changing, that it is something that is to last forever and go on through generations.

"Nobody gains when there is baptism without retention," he said. "The missionary loses, and while the Church gains statistically, the membership suffers, really, and the enthusiasm of the convert turns to ashes."

He said missionaries should keep in touch with those who have been baptized.

"Any individual who has been worthy of baptism is worthy of saving, now and for as long as he lives and the generations who follow."

President Hinckley noted that "this is a great season of opportunity for the Church.

"In most areas we are better known and highly respected. The Church now with 10 million members has become large enough to be reckoned with as a force for good in the world. Our mission numbers are without equal. This university [BYU] and its faculty, our family history facilities, the Church's fast building programs. The Church has spread over the earth, and it has won the admiration of people everywhere."

The field is white and the harvest is great, he said, "and it is wonderful to be a part of it all."

"We love you very much," President Hinckley told the new mission presidents as he expressed confidence in them. "We will be counting on you to carry forward this marvelous work and wonder which has come to pass in these latter days. I hope there will be for each of you a marvelous and wonderful and rewarding experience."

He said that members who accept callings work very hard and seem to sacrifice in their great desire to serve, but, "It is not a sacrifice when you receive more than you give. This is what happens to those who go to the temple, to those with leadership positions, with the women of the Relief Society. . . . It becomes not a sacrifice but an investment.

"You will work harder than you have worked before. You will learn more. You will pray more. Your faith will be tested, but with all this will come something sweet and wonderful and good.

"Your lives will be changed. You will re-dedicate yourselves exclusively to the work of the Lord. Your natures will be mellowed, your personalities refined. You will speak more softly but with certainty concerning the things of God. Your prayers will be heard and answered. Solutions will be found and followed."

One of the great blessings will be the love the new presidents and their wives develop for their missionaries, he said.

"You have been told 25 times, perhaps 50 times, in this seminar that your first great responsibility is toward the missionaries. I am sure you realize this. Their care and well-being will be in your hands. A missionary is a special commodity. With very, very few exceptions, they all have mothers who have loaned them to the Church for two years. Many of these mothers are working to keep them in the field. They are praying for you."

President Hinckley concluded by saying, "My heart simply bursts with the testimony of this great and good work, this the work of God as He has moved His hand in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the salvation and blessing of His children because He loves us." ("Totally unnecessary to lose any of those who are baptized," Church News [Saturday, 4 July 1998]: 4).

A detailed account of President Gordon B. Hinckley's talk was given in the Church News:

"If missionaries could really convey the gospel message, "at least twice as many people would come into the Church,"declared President Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Hinckley addressed missionaries at the Missionary Training Center June 26, following the conclusion of the Mission Presidents Seminar. Missionaries welcomed him to the auditorium of the training center by lining both sides of the sidewalk as he traveled to the auditorium with his wife, Marjorie, in a small cart.President Hinckley, who has spent a lifetime in missionary work, said that missionary work has improved over the years and, "I hope this improvement will continue until we learn to really speak to the world."

Missionary work need not be all tracting, he said. "It is wonderful what we can do as we practice a little ingenuity. You ought to take advantage of every opportunity in the world to speak with people about why we are there and what we are doing and give them some taste of a gospel message."

He encouraged the missionaries to find people on the streets, on trains, trams, and various places. "And I wish for each of you the power and capacity to testify of the truth of this work to those whom you can get to listen to you."

He also suggested that missionaries practice good hygiene and protect their health. "Keep you apartments tidy, make your beds every day, live orderly lives. Live lives that will preserve your health. A sick missionary is a handicap."

Missionaries should look for and emulate the good in their companions, said President Hinckley. He told of a missionary companion he spent 16 months with during his mission in England, and how much he appreciated this man.

Missionary companions "stand as witnesses one with another. What a precious thing is a good companion. He becomes your protector in times of trouble or temptation."

The Church leader also urged missionaries to keep the rules, and to "be careful, and be wise. Take care of yourselves. Protect yourselves against physical danger."

The missionaries were cautioned to "keep your thoughts clean, the things you dwell on. Get out of the gutter; stand tall and clean. Unclean thoughts . . . are like a terrible poison that will tear you down and utterly ruin your lives. If you are busy with your missionary work you won't be troubled with those things. . . . Be worthy of the tremendous commission you have."

He said if missionaries are ever tempted to do something wrong, they can remember that "there are hundreds of thousands of people kneeling and praying for you. We pray for you because we love you."

President Hinckley also asked that missionaries write regularly to their parents.

"They feast on your records. I think your mother will be able to read your writing." He said letters need not be long but should be informative and include "the great happiness you are finding in the work. They are praying for you. They are sacrificing for you . . . and they are deserving of a letter at least once a week."

He told the missionaries that they would grow and mature in a wonderful way very soon in their missions. "Your fears leave you. You are not afraid to go up and knock on a door. That is a terrible thing the first time you try it, but your fears leave you. There comes into your hearts a new assurance and a new boldness that you didn't have."

Missionaries should be happy and have smiles on their faces, counseled President Hinckley. "You can't bring anybody into the Church while you are scowling."

He cited several verses from Doctrine and Covenants, Section 112, verses 4-5,10, 'Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face,' and said to the missionaries,

"You look better with a smile on your face. It doesn't cost you a thing. Be happy about it--let that happiness be a radiance from your countenance."

He recalled the words of Elder Harold B. Lee, who set him apart as a stake president: "Listen to the whisperings of the Spirit in the stillness of the night."

"I can testify that ideas have come into my head that have been prophetic in their nature."

Missionary work is different in nature than any other position, and is a great privilege and blessing to be involved in, and a very small gift to give, he said.

Missionary work, said President Hinckley, is "the payment of a tithe of your life to the advancement of the work of God in all the world."

Missionaries who are prayerful, obedient and who work hard will be given some measure of harvest, "for which you will be grateful all the days of your life."

"You will never be able to judge the consequences of that which you do as a missionary," he said. "If you bring someone into the Church and that individual stays in the Church, the harvest will go on and on, growing and growing through the years and through generations of time.

"We place tremendous confidence in you. We count on you to do a superb job. No less than the best will do. You must do your very, very best." ("Take every opportunity to share the gospel, missionaries counseled," Church News [Saturday, 4 July 1998]: 4).

President Hinckley also shared a quote on sacrifice: "I remind each of us that this is a work of sacrifice. It entails giving of ourselves. It entails giving of our substance. Our Father gave His Son, and His Son gave His life, and there is no true worship unless we give, and give, and give. I believe that. - From seminar for new mission presidents, Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, June 26, 1998; "Messages of inspiration from President Hinckley, Church News [Saturday, 5 September 1998]: 2).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:"Retention will primarily be the work of the local wards and branches. However, you have a very, very important part in this. Your missionaries must be sure that conversion is real, that it is life-changing, that it is something that is to last forever and go on through generations. Nobody gains when there is baptism without retention. The missionary loses, and while the Church gains statistically, the membership suffers, really, and the enthusiasm of the convert turns to ashes.

Your first great responsibility is toward the missionaries. I am sure you realize this. Their care and well-being will be in your hands. A missionary is a special commodity. With very, very few exceptions, they all have mothers who have loaned them to the Church for two years. Many of these mothers are working to keep them in the field. They are praying for you."

Elder Thomas S. Monson taught them: "No mission will ever reach its highest potential until there is cooperation between the missionary force and the membership of the Church. . . . The Prophet Joseph said that we must work by mental exertion and not by physical force. The referral program is such an example which brings people into the kingdom of God through friendship and close fellowship when we work with the member organization. If we have all the mission presidents and the stake presidents and all of the district presidencies as partners in our missionary labors, we will see the mission take off."

Elder James E. Faust added: "May our testimonies ring forth with power and authority and conviction concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith—-the greatest prophet who ever lived—-and concerning the Book of Mormon which he brought forth.. . .The prayers that ascend to heaven in your behalf and in behalf of your missionaries literally number in the millions, and those prayers will be answered."

A detailed account of President Thomas S. Monson was reported in the Church News:

"No mission will ever reach its highest potential until there is cooperation between the missionary force and the membership of the Church," declared President Thomas S. Monson.

Addressing the annual Mission Presidents Seminar June 24, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged a warm, close relationship between the stake and mission organizations. "Of course we work hard," he said. ``But the Prophet Joseph said that we must work by mental exertion and not by physical force. The referral program is such an example which brings people into the kingdom of God--through friendship and close fellowship when we work with the member organization.

"If we have all the mission presidents and the stake presidents and all of the district presidencies as partners in our missionary labors, we will see the mission take off."

President Monson, who personally extended the call to about half the 111 new mission presidents and their wives in attendance, congratulated them for accepting their callings.

"Your responses thrilled me," he said. "You said, `Yes, I am ready.' I just marvel at the faith of our Latter-day Saints to leave home, hearth, children--and especially grandchildren; that's where the heart really starts fluttering--and put it all on the line, wherever you go, whatever you say."

He promised the new leaders that their devotion would "make a big difference in the lives of your missionaries."

President Monson was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Frances. In his remarks, he reminisced about the time he and Sister Monson were called with about three weeks notice to leave their home and move their small family to eastern Canada where he served as mission president.

After his call was received, "I came home in the middle of the day. It was snowing outside. [His wife] asked `What are you doing home?'

"I said, `We've been called to preside over a mission.' She had to sit down. . . . We were on our way in three weeks. That's all the preparation we had.

"Off we went and it was the most lovely three years anyone could have."

He said that while "all feel inadequate when it comes to these assignments . . . here are two thoughts given to Frances and me when we went into the mission field. Elder Harold B. Lee, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, said, "Remember this, whom God calls, God qualifies."

President Monson told the new mission presidents: "Will you rivet that into your souls so your missionaries will know that you are a servant of God and have had hands laid upon your head and that you have been commissioned under the call of the Lord to assume the responsibility to which you have been called."

President Monson also said that Elder Lee told them, "When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help."

This concept is also contained in a verse in the Doctrine and Covenants, explained President Monson. He quoted:

"'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.' (D&C 84:88.)

"That's the great promise to a missionary," he said, and encouraged the new presidents to share it often with their missionaries. ``It will penetrate the hearts of the new missionaries and it will reinforce the experienced missionaries; they will never get tired of hearing the promise of the Lord to them.''

Once missionaries "put their hand to the plough" (Luke 9:62), they should not look back, but go forward with the work, he said.

"And work it is, my brothers and sisters. It is not a vacation."

But the work, as the hymn suggests, is sweet, he said. (See Hymns, No. 147.)

President Monson emphasized the responsibility of the presidents to their missionaries, to whom he referred as the "fruitage of the parents of the Church."

"I get a little choked up when I think about the missionaries," he said.

President Monson described seeing parents outfitting a young missionary at a local department store. "Obviously, they wanted the best for him. Then I looked down and saw the shoes on the father's feet, obviously worn out and they will stay worn out because the money all went to the missionary.

"In their prayers, they ask God to let their son's mission president be the one `To lead my boy to his future possibilities that he may come home honorably, having had an eternal experience not attainable in any other way, exemplary in knowledge of truth.'"

He recalled some spontaneous advice he once gave to a missionary that was simple but valuable in retrospect: "Learn how to cook, and love the people."

President Monson also encouraged the presidents to follow "the Monson rule." This rule is to "have the missionaries send a weekly letter to their parents" who will "worry and fret until they know how their missionary is doing."

A mission president's responsibility is to help each missionary progress, counseled President Monson. He encouraged the attitude that, "No one fails in my class. I am the president, and I want to save every single one of them, and lift each one to his or her highest potential."

When missionaries are progressing, they are happy. He held up a photograph that was captioned on the back, "I am happy." The picture was of a missionary with such a broad smile that it prompted laughter among the new leaders.

As each mission instills a sense of tradition, it strengthens the missionaries, said President Monson.

He also said that missionary work continues beyond the mission. He told of returning from his mission in Canada, and meeting President David O. McKay at the foot of the steps of the Church Administration Building. President McKay called to him.

"He said, with his finger pointing at me, `Brother Monson, remember. Once a missionary, always a missionary. Do you understand?'"

"I said, `I understand.'"

Concluding, President Monson said, "I want more than anything in the world for you to be the mission president who will love every missionary you have. Be your best self, and the Lord will bless you." ("Missionary force, membership must cooperate," Church News [Saturday, 4 July 1998]: 4).

1999 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On 22-25 June 22-25 the annual Mission Presidents Seminar convened in Provo, Utah, with 131 mission presidents and their wives hearing addresses from all three members of the First Presidency.

In 1999 in the week-long mission presidents' seminar 131 mission presidents and their wives were instructed by all three members of the First Presidency, several members each of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presidency of the Seventy, the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.

Thomas S. Monson told them: "Ours is the responsibility not only to direct their feet but also to effectively climb with them, rung by rung, the ladder to eternal life.... Help them to be successful, help them to meet people, help them to teach the gospel, help them to convert and to baptize and to fellowship, and you will see miracles before your very eyes."

On the 23rd of June 1999 Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin told the group:

"Fourteen years ago, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) gave a landmark address in general conference titled “Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon.” In this masterful discourse, he called the Church to repentance and gave us his prophetic vision of the role the Book of Mormon must play in our lives and in the Church. I wish to remind you of that vision. Also, I want to discuss how well we have followed his counsel these many years later. How are we doing in flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon?

President Benson taught:

“The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect.’ (Moses 7:62.) This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary
work....

“The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of electronic media and the mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way....

“. . . We hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved....

“I challenge our mission leaders to show their missionaries how to challenge their contacts to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Missionaries need to know how to use the Book of Mormon to arouse mankind’s interest in studying it, and they need to show how it answers the great questions of the soul. Missionaries need to read with those they teach various passages from the Book of Mormon on gospel subjects. …

“I challenge all of us to prayerfully consider steps that we can personally take to bring this new witness for Christ more fully into our own lives and into a world that so desperately needs it. …

“I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with [marvelous testimonies of this sacred book] so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.

“I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.

“Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon” (Ensign, Nov. 1988, 4–6).

We need to have that same vision if we are to be successful in fulfilling the Lord’s wishes. We may be doing fine in terms of quantity, but how about in terms of quality? I believe there is much room for improvement.

The Power of the Book

In 1839 the Prophet Joseph Smith and several other Church leaders had the opportunity to address a congregation of 3,000 people in Philadelphia who were not members of the Church. Sidney Rigdon spoke first. Attempting to establish common ground, he taught the gospel by referring to the Bible and its prophecies. When Joseph arose to speak, he was displeased. He said that if others did not have the courage to testify of him, then he would testify of himself and of the Book of Mormon. Because of his speech, many were touched by the Spirit and were baptized into the Church (see Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [1985], 260).

You may have many opportunities to teach and to bear witness of the gospel. May I suggest that you emulate the example of the Prophet and take every opportunity to bear witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of the divine mission of Joseph Smith.

When President David O. McKay’s father was serving a mission in Scotland, he encountered antagonism toward the Church. He decided to preach the doctrines of the gospel without mentioning the Restoration or the Book of Mormon. As the days passed, President McKay said, his father continued with this approach until his mind became so darkened and despondent that he felt he would have to leave his mission and go home.

As a last resort, he decided to go into a cave and pray for help. While he was praying, a voice came to him, “Testify that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God.” He consequently changed his approach and began to testify of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result, President McKay said, his father discovered that many were touched by the spirit of his words and believed and were baptized (see David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1976], 11).

I hope we can learn from this experience. If you want to reach people, if you want to change hearts, if you want to be successful in your missionary work, testify of the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

Before we go any further, we must understand why this inspired book of scripture is the heart of missionary proselyting. Conversion to it is conversion to Christ, because this book contains the words of Christ. The very title page of the Book of Mormon proclaims its purpose: “To the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.”

Additionally, conversion to this inspired book is conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it contains the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord told Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants, “And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel” (D&C 42:12).

Finally, conversion to the Book of Mormon is conversion to the divine, prophetic calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is the divine evidence of the truthfulness of Joseph Smith’s calling. Either this is all true, or it is not. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained it best when he wrote:

“To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward.

“Not everything in life is so black and white, but the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its keystone role in our religion seem to be exactly that. Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, a prophet who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from Moroni’s lips, and eventually received at his hands a set of ancient gold plates that he then translated by the gift and power of God, or else he did not. And if he did not, he would not be entitled to the reputation of New England folk hero, or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, nor would he be entitled to be considered a great teacher, a quintessential American religious leader, or the creator of great devotional literature. If he had lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he would certainly be none of these.

“I am suggesting that one has to take something of a do-or-die stand regarding the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. Reason and righteousness require it. Joseph Smith must be accepted either as a prophet of God or else as a charlatan of the first order, but no one should tolerate any ludicrous, even laughable middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically” (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 345–46).

To more effectively flood the earth with the Book of Mormon, we must begin by better preparing our missionaries. We need missionaries who come into the mission field with burning testimonies of it. Even more importantly, we need more missionaries—including member missionaries—who are truly converted and have had spiritual experiences with the Book of Mormon. A missionary will not be effective if he or she does not have a strong testimony of this sacred volume of scripture. Indeed, I believe a missionary’s effectiveness and success is directly related to his or her own conversion to, testimony of, and love of the Book of Mormon.

I have great faith in our young people who are called to serve missions. I believe they are better prepared with greater testimonies of this book. Let me share the example of one young man, Brian Yoho. When Brian was 14 years old, he decided it was time for him to read the Book of Mormon, since Joseph Smith was 14 when he received the First Vision. Brian read constantly, and he loved the book so much that he read it four times in one year.

One day Brian went to the Church distribution center with his mother. As they were leaving, Brian told his mother to go on ahead, as he wanted to purchase something alone. Normally that may be a red flag for a mother, but after all, what could he buy at the Church distribution center that would be harmful?

Brian’s mother respected his wish and waited in the car for him to make his secret purchase. A few minutes later, Brian got into the car with a large box. His mother asked what was in the box. “Oh, nothing,” he replied. When they got home, Brian then wrote on the box the address of his older brother, who was currently serving a mission, and asked his mother to ship it to his older brother. He still wouldn’t tell his mother what was in the box. So she wrote her son in the mission field, asking what was in the box that Brian had sent to him. He wrote back, explaining that Brian had sent him a box of copies of the Book of Mormon to hand out to people in his mission. Brian had been so touched by his reading from the Book of Mormon that he had a great desire to share it. He bought the box with his own hard-earned money and sent it to his missionary brother. Brian later served a full-time mission in Japan.

Is there any doubt that Brian caught President Benson’s prophetic vision of the Book of Mormon? We need more missionaries and members prepared, like Brian, with a great love and understanding of the Book of Mormon.

The proper use of this scripture in proselyting consists of much more than just placing a Book of Mormon in a home. The goal is not simply to see how many copies of it we can give away. The immediate goal when placing the Book of Mormon should be to have the investigator read it and receive the missionary discussions. The ultimate goal is for the book to lead the person to come unto Christ and be converted to the true Church.

This sacred book has been the center of our missionary work in this dispensation from the beginning, as we know from the example of the first missionary, Samuel H. Smith (1808–44), brother to the Prophet Joseph. We learn many things from his story about how to use it in missionary work.

His is a story of great faith and courage in the face of discouraging circumstances. He was not called as the first missionary by accident. After receiving a spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of what his prophet-brother had been telling him, he became the third person baptized in this dispensation—following Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

He began his mission with a sure knowledge of the truthfulness of the sacred work being performed by Joseph Smith and also of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. As one of the Eight Witnesses, Samuel was privileged to be shown the plates by Joseph, and was able to hold the plates in his hands and examine the ancient writing thereon. He was also one of the six charter members of the Church when it was organized on 6 April 1830.

Shortly before he received his formal missionary call, Samuel sold a copy of the Book of Mormon to Phineas Young, a traveling preacher. In this initial encounter he held a book in his hand and offered it to Phineas.

“There is a book, sir, I wish you to read.”

Phineas hesitated. “Pray, sir, what book have you?”

“The Book of Mormon, or, as it is called by some, the Golden Bible.”

“Ah, sir, then it purports to be a revelation?”

“Yes. It is a revelation from God.”

The young man showed Phineas the last two pages of the book and had him read the testimony of the witnesses. The young man continued, “If you will read this book with a prayerful heart and ask God to give you a witness you will know of the truth of this work.”

His earnest demeanor and forthright manner impressed Phineas, who told the young man he would certainly read it. Phineas asked his name; he told him it was Samuel H. Smith.

“Ah, you are one of the witnesses.”

“Yes, I know the book to be a revelation from God, translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and that my brother, Joseph Smith, Jun., is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator” (quoted in S. Dilworth Young, Brigham Young—His Life (First Half), Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [17 Mar. 1964], 3).

When Samuel left on his first mission, shortly following the organization of the Church, he was armed with a testimony of the truth and little else. But he needed little else. He had a testimony, and he had copies of the Book of Mormon—the missionary tool for conversion. He carried a knapsack with him that he filled with as many copies of this book as he could carry. He probably even carried one in his hand.

You have to remember that this had never been done before. He didn’t have a companion to show him how to use the Book of Mormon. There was no missionary training center for this young man.

So Samuel left Palmyra to travel throughout the countryside, seeking converts and interested individuals who would purchase a copy of the Book of Mormon. He walked 25 miles that first day, and upon reaching an inn, he asked the innkeeper if he would buy one of the books. When the innkeeper learned more of his mission, Samuel was forced to leave and spent that first night under an apple tree.

The next day Samuel met a Methodist preacher named John P. Greene. Mr. Greene was not personally interested in reading the book, but he said he would keep it to see if anyone else wanted to buy it. Samuel did not give up. He called again on the Greene family and found that Mr. Greene’s wife, Rhoda Young Greene—a sister of Phineas Young—had read the book. She later convinced her husband that he needed to read it as well. Samuel did not baptize one soul on that first mission, but those two copies of the Book of Mormon that were given to Phineas Young and John P. Greene eventually were the means of converting a whole neighborhood, including Brigham Young and his family and Heber C. Kimball and his family.

I love the story of Samuel Smith. He overcame great odds and used the Book of Mormon effectively. He bore testimony and invited the people to read from its pages. He then followed up with them as best he could under the circumstances to encourage them to read more. He never gave up. He had faith that God was in control and would use him as He needed. Lastly, he carried copies of the Book of Mormon with him. Like Samuel, we should see to it that we always have copies of this book ready to give away.

The Needs of Prospective Converts

Remember, prospective converts are like sprouting plants. They are all sprouting, but at different stages and degrees. Some are still seeds planted far beneath the ground, needing lots of sun, water, and time to grow. Such prospective converts may need years to sprout and blossom. Others are very close to the surface and only need a little sun, water, and patience to poke through the ground to the full rays of the sun. These prospective converts only need someone to love them. They only need to hear the truth as taught by the missionaries and gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. They only need to make and keep the commitments that will lead them to conversion and baptism. Others, of course, are sprouting and blossoming when missionaries contact them, and they are fully prepared for the message of the Restoration. The Doctrine and Covenants states that such people “are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).

By using the Book of Mormon effectively, we can accelerate that sprouting process. It contains the fulness of the gospel and the greatest witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and His divine mission. Teach of the Savior and His mission from its pages. We must teach of Christ more often. When we do, the Spirit will attend us more often, and true conversion will result.

This book of truth has many uses in missionary work: it helps people feel the Spirit, it helps answer concerns and questions, and it helps people make commitments. I know that as we use this sacred book effectively, our converts will be like those of Ammon’s converts who “were converted unto the Lord, [and] never did fall away” (Alma 23:6; emphasis added). No member of this Church is fully converted until he or she has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon.

The world needs this great book of scripture more than ever. And people are hungering for it. This book is now translated and available in more than 100 languages. We will not rest until every man and woman can read this book in his or her tongue. Many people still do not have it in their own language. We are doing the best that we can in that regard.

Please do not take the Book of Mormon for granted. Pray for a vision of how you can use the Book of Mormon more effectively in your missionary work. I promise that as you do so, your mind will be enlightened with the direction that you should take. I pray that we may catch the vision of this great work, particularly of flooding the earth with this great book of scripture." (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Book of Mormon: The Heart of Missionary Proselyting,” Ensign, Sept. 2002, 13; From an address to new mission presidents, Provo Missionary Training Center, 23 June 1999.)

Encouraging mission presidents to wisely team up missionary companionships, President Monson quoted D&C 84:106: "And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also." He also emphasized the "wonderful, cooperative relationship" that should exist between missionaries and members. "Nothing will bring more joy nor increase success like that cooperative endeavor," he said.

President Monson said that mission presidents "can help make the mission the foundation of a person’s life." Speaking of investigators, he said, "Everybody asks the question posed by Job: ‘If a man die, shall he live again?’" (Job 14:14). President Monson said that as missionaries teach individuals about the plan of salvation and the eternal nature of families, they “are on sacred ground in the soul of that person."

The Church News reported Elder Monson's address in greater detail during the 1999 mission presidents' seminar:

"Continue to make time in your lives and hearts for Christ, President Thomas S. Monson urged new mission presidents and their wives at the opening of the annual Mission Presidents Seminar June 22 at the Missionary Training Center here.

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized that it was the resurrected Savior who instructed, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. 28:19.)The seminar was conducted by Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, who observed: "This seminar is the last one of the century, and it is also the century's largest," with 131 new mission presidents and their wives, who will go to a third of the Church's 333 missions.

Also in attendance were members of the Quorum of the Twelve, members of the Presidency of the Seventy, and of the Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric. During the week long seminar, all the First Presidency and several of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities and leaders in the Missionary Department were to address the group.

President Gordon B. Hinckley's address, which was to be delivered June 25, will be covered in next week's Church News.

Following his address to the mission presidents, President Monson spoke to missionaries at a devotional at the training center's auditorium. He was accompanied at both meetings by his wife, Frances, who bore her testimony at the missionary devotional.

In speaking to the new mission leaders, President Monson spoke of the missionaries, the message, and the members. He drew from his experiences during his 14 years in the First Presidency and 22 years as an apostle -- including 10 years as a member of the Missionary Executive Council and another 10 years as its chairman. He also spoke of experiences that he and his wife had when he presided over the Canadian Mission from 1959-62.

Speaking of the missionaries, President Monson spoke of their call, their arrival, their first interview, their companions, their testimonies and the mission presidents' responsibilities to them.

In quoting the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Monson declared, " `After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.' There is no more important work than to proclaim the message of the Church."

Speaking of the call to serve, President Monson emphasized that the mission calls to both mission presidents and missionaries are inspired. "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies. And when you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help," President Monson said.

"Ours is the responsibility, not only to direct their feet, but also to effectively climb with them, rung by rung, the ladder to eternal life," he continued. "Help them to be successful, help them to meet people, help them to teach the gospel, help them to convert and to baptize, and to fellowship, and you will see miracles before your very eyes."

As missionaries arrive in the field, President Monson told the mission leaders, "Parents place their precious son or their precious daughter right into your capable hands and tender hearts."

He encouraged the new presidents to welcome new missionaries "to the best mission in the world." He asked leaders to send parents a photograph of their missionary's safe arrival.

Speaking of missionary companions, President Monson encouraged the presidents to team up companions wisely. "And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also." (D&C 84:106.)

Among the responsibilities of the mission president and his wife are setting the spiritual tone and being role models for the missionaries, counseled President Monson. "You can help make the mission the foundation of a person's life."

He asked the mission presidents to strengthen the testimonies of their missionaries so that they follow the admonition: "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12.)

Testimony bearing is the key to missionary work, declared President Monson. He then quoted a successful missionary who served in Milan, Italy, Elder Matt Zito, who wrote:

"`I am having the time of my life serving the Lord here in Italy. I love Italy. I love the people, and I love the work. When I think how much the Lord has given and blessed me while I've been here, my heart fills with joy and my eyes with tears. This is the best thing I have ever done."'

President Monson then spoke about the message of the missionaries. Investigators, he said, are particularly inclined to listen to Heavenly Father's plan for their salvation. Among these are people who have recently moved or who have lost a loved one or had a new birth in the family.

"Everybody asks the question posed by Job: 'If a man die, shall he live again?' " he said, noting that as missionaries discuss the eternal nature of the family, "You're on sacred ground in the soul of that person."

In discussing member-missionary work, President Monson said that when members and missionaries work together they create "a wonderful, cooperative relationship."

"Nothing will bring more joy nor increase success like that cooperative endeavor," President Monson emphasized.

He quoted President Spencer W. Kimball, who said, "'We expect to have complete cooperation between the stake and the full-time missionaries, and to involve the members of the Church generally in opening the gospel door to our Father's other children.'

"Will we remember that," President Monson asked, "and will we take advantage of the opportunity of strengthening the members as well as the missionaries?

"A motto relative to relationships with ward and stake leaders is 'Ignore and you injure; inform and you inspire.' "

He encouraged mission leaders, as they travel to meet with their missionaries, to also train the leadership in member districts in helping them prepare for stakehood.

President Monson emphasized that at Church meetings, especially stake and district conferences, missionaries should sit with investigators or new members and not sit as a group of missionaries. Visiting authorities are pleased to meet these investigators when invited, he noted.

In conclusion, President Monson urged mission leaders to love their missionaries.

He recounted, "Several years ago, when I was serving as president of the Canadian Mission, I attended a worldwide seminar for mission presidents. The parents of the missionaries were invited to meet and visit briefly with each mission president. Forgotten are the names of each who extended a greeting and exchanged a friendly handshake. Remembered are the feelings which welled up in within me as I took in my hand the calloused hand of one mother from Freedom, Wyo.

"'Please excuse the roughness of my hand,' she apologized. 'Since my husband has been ill, the work of the farm has been mine to do, that our boy may, as a missionary, serve the Lord.'

"Tears could not be restrained, nor should they have been. Such tears produce a certain cleansing of the soul. A mother's labor sanctified a son's service." ("New Presidents' Receive Counsel," Church News [Saturday, 26 June 1999]: 3).

President On 25 June 1999 Gordon B. Hinckley told mission presidents and their wives: "No other people in the history of the world have received the kind of mandate that we have received. . . .I hope, my brothers and sisters, that you can infuse your missionaries with the spirit of capturing every great opportunity that comes their way....They will have disappointments; you’ll have disappointments. Discouragement can become contagious. You must rise above it and lift those about you....

You go out as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ with full powers, plenary powers, if you will, to represent Him before the world and the fact is that on your narrow shoulders rests the name and the message and the reputation of this Church.... Be happy in this work.... Wear on your countenance the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news which He came into the world to communicate to the world. Be happy about it.... There is no greater message in all the world than this of which you bear testimony. (1999 New Mission Presidents Seminar, 25 June 1999.)


James E. Faust contributed: "Even when someone rejects the message, missionaries need to learn to have a positive attitude because the message is still true whether it is accepted or not. Now I know that tracting isn’t very efficient, but I think it is good for the soul of the missionaries....

Your missionaries should recognize that you are all witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ and that there is nothing more powerful than your own personal witness. I believe we must be prepared for more converts coming into the Church than we have ever had before. Perhaps it may not happen in every country. But in the main, the harvest will increase. The Church is being brought out of the wilderness ‘clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners’ (D&C 5:14).

Missionary work will never be what it might be without the help of the members. Stake presidents need to feel some responsibility and ownership of missionary work. The stake president is the one who has the presiding priesthood keys over both the members and nonmembers in his stake. The missionaries are his helpers."

The Church News provided a more detailed account of James E. Faust's address:

"The word gospel means "good news" and missionaries ought to be radiant and upbeat as they reach out to share the gospel, said President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

"Even when someone rejects the message, missionaries need to learn to have a positive attitude, because the message is still true, whether accepted or not. Now I know that tracting isn't very efficient, but I think it is good for the soul of the missionaries.""In order to do well, missionary work has to be totally positive," he said.

President Faust addressed the new Mission Presidents Seminar June 23 at the Missionary Training Center here. He was accompanied by his wife, Ruth, and a number of General Authorities. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and a member of the Missionary Executive Council, conducted. The seminar began June 22 with an address from President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency (see article on this page), and was to conclude June 25. Most of the new presidents and their wives then departed for points across the world to their missions, where they will spend the next three years.

The newest president was Pres. Leonardo Reyes Ortiz of Guadalajara, Mexico. He and his wife, Xochitl Lidia Gomez de Reyes, were called on Friday, June 18--just four days before the seminar started--to preside over the Mexico Oaxaca Mission.

"All Sister Reyes could say was 'Si, si, si,'" said President Faust, who issued the call. He commended the couple for accepting on such short notice.

He said that the Reyes and the other mission presidents and their wives will find this experience to be the defining experience of a lifetime in the Church. "And for your missionaries, it ought to be the defining experience in their lives," declared President Faust.

He said that every mission president will want to do everything he can to help each missionary fulfill his or her full potential. The Canada Edmonton Mission slogan suggests how that can be done:

"Faith is the power, obedience is the price, love is the motive, the Spirit is the key and Christ is the reason.

"Your missionaries should recognize that you are all witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that there is nothing more powerful than your own personal witness.

"I believe we must be prepared for more converts coming into the Church than we have ever had before. Perhaps it may not happen in every country. But in the main, the harvest will increase. The Church is being brought out of the wilderness 'clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.' " (D&C 5:14.)

He said that missionaries need to teach absolutes about the gospel.

These absolutes, he explained, are:

"First, that Jesus is Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind through the Atonement. Second, that Joseph Smith was the Prophet who restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness and completeness. Third, the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Christ. Fourth, that all the presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith have been successors to the keys of the authority that Joseph Smith restored. Fifth, President Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet, seer and revelator to the world at this time."

He said two principles would lead to conversions of people in any country.

"First, the powerful bearing of testimony and, second, being guided by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."

President Faust told of early leaders baptizing large numbers of converts. However, in contrast to this are many nations where missionaries do not have very many converts. This may lead some missionaries or mission presidents to feel they are failures, he said.

"However, no one fails if they do their best," he asserted. "Brother and sisters, we must take the long view of missionary work; it is the work of God. What is happening in our lifetime is unbelievable. We have missionaries in places that seemed inaccessible only a few years ago. This is an evidence of the fact that the Lord is guiding His work."

He told of his experience as a missionary in Brazil some 60 years ago. "The work was very hard. In all of my mission, I baptized only one person in 33 months. In one year, all 70-plus fine young men in Brazil baptized only three in the whole mission, and these were outstanding young men.

"Now there are 26 missions in Brazil and 186 stakes and over 700,000 members of the Church. Was my mission a failure? I think not. The harvest is the Lord's. Your responsibility is to thrust in the sickle."

He encouraged mission leaders to teach mission rules from the white Missionary Handbook so the mission will be in harmony with Church policy. He also counseled the mission presidents to always speak well of their predecessors.

Mission presidents would do well to express their love, trust, support for their missionaries and tell them that their families, friends, temple patrons, and General Authorities continue to pray for them, President Faust continued.

"We are in the business of communication. Missionaries need to communicate with people if we are to teach them the gospel. . . . But the missionaries still need to have the right attitude in contacting people. They need to cast aside all fear and be positive about the great message which is here."

Missionaries, he declared, should "fear not and doubt not. We have a leader who fears not and doubts not."

President Faust said that he is convinced that "missionary work will never be what it might be without the help of the members. Stake presidents need to feel some responsibility and ownership of missionary work. The stake president is the one who has the presiding priesthood keys over both the members and non-members in his stake. The missionaries are his helpers."

President Faust emphasized that there are not two separate churches--one a missionary church and the other an ecclesiastical church. "There is only one Church, and the responsibility for missionary work is universal. 'Every member a missionary.'"

He urged the mission leaders to keep converts active in the Church.

"President Hinckley's strong, continuing challenge to us is retention, which requires full cooperation between the missionary, the leaders and members. ("President Faust counsels: Have positive attitude in missionary work," Church News [Saturday, 26 June 1999]: 3).

2000 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 2000 in the mission presidents' seminar held June 19th through June 23rd 103 mission presidents and their wives were taught at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. On June 20th Thomas S. Monson spoke on "focusing on the fundamental importance of missionary work. He pointed out that this was what Jesus Christ emphasized at His farewell to His Apostles just before the Ascension." On June 21st

James E. Faust spoke "urging them to 'find balance through seeking the Spirit.' He noted that the Lord directed in 1831 how His servants should proceed in His work: "Conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit"(D&C 46:2)."

President Hinckley told them, speaking at the conclusion of the week-long seminar on 23 June and on his 90th birthday, "You’re headed for great and wonderful experiences, the end of which no one can foretell." He reminded the mission presidents and their wives of the admonition in Doctrine and Covenants 15:6 [D&C 15:6]: "The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people...."You’ll need to cleanse your hearts to feel clean."
He cited the Lord’s words in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 [D&C 18:10]: "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."

Shane Stahle of the Church News gave details of President Thomas S. Monson's address to the mission presidents and their wives:

President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, opened the week-long annual mission presidents seminar June 20 by addressing the 103 mission presidents and their wives who were assembled in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He was accompanied by his wife, Frances. Members of the Twelve and of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric attended. President Monson and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin also spoke to the missionaries at the Missionary Training Center in a devotional meeting.

"The Savior could have said anything to His disciples on His last occasion with them, President Thomas S. Monson pointed out June 20 during the mission presidents seminar.

However, "He chose to say, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway.' "

Setting the stage as the initial speaker for the week-long seminar, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the role of missionary work in the Church. "I love the words of Joseph Smith: 'After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel.'

"In Doctrine and Covenants 18:10 we read: 'Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.'

"Again from the Doctrine and Covenants, 'And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father.' " (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:15.)

President Monson continued, "He has called you because He regards every soul as precious."

After looking over the congregation and considering some of the emotions of newly called mission presidents, President Monson said, "You may have some concerns. Your families will be growing without you. You'll worry about them. At times such as these, I like to read what the Lord told Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon who were concerned for their families after being away for a long time."

Quoting from Section 100 of the Doctrine and Covenants, he said, " 'Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power. . . . Therefore, . . . lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say."

President Monson also drew from his experiences as a young mission president in eastern Canada from 1959-62. Speaking of the missionaries he urged, "Our responsibility is to not only guide their feet, but climb with them, rung by rung, the ladder of success.

"Every missionary has a right to know that his or her president is on bended knee praying over each transfer. Mothers worry about their sons and daughters. They send them out to serve the Lord, and to be loved by a president who will help them become great missionaries.

"I am always inspired by the words of Isaiah: 'How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.' (Isaiah 52:7.)

"President Spencer W. Kimball said, 'My shoes are like my feet; they are to be worn out in the service of the Lord.'" ("Greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2000]: 7).

On 20 June 2000 Dallin H. Oaks addressed the group: "
As missionaries evaluate their schedules and activities, they should ask, “How much effective missionary work is actually being done?”

None of us should be like the fisherman who thinks he has been fishing all day when in reality he has spent most of his time getting to and from the water, eating lunch, and fussing with his equipment. Fishing success is related to how long you have your line in the water, not to how long you are away from the apartment. Some fishermen are away from home for twelve hours and have their line in the water for ten hours. Other fishermen are away from home for twelve hours and have their line in the water for only two hours. This last type may wonder why they do not have the same success as others.

The same principle applies to missionaries, whom the Master called ‘fishers of men.’ A missionary’s line should drop into the fishing water the moment he or she leaves the apartment” (Dallin H. Oaks, Introduction [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 20, 2000], 6).
Shane Stahle reported a more detailed account of President James E. Faust's remarks to the group:

President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, addressed the mission presidents seminar June 21. He was accompanied by his wife, Ruth. Other members of the Quorum of the Twelve attended, along with members of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.

Serving as a mission president, said President James E. Faust, is much like the Chinese wheelwright who was asked how tight spokes in a wheel should be.

"I can't tell you," he said. "If the spokes are too tight, the wheel will be contorted out of shape. If the spokes are too loose, the wheel will fall apart."

Speaking June 21 during the mission presidents seminar, President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, taught the newly called mission presidents how to "Find balance through seeking the Spirit."

"Some sow, and some reap," he said, explaining that numbers do not determine success or failure in missionary service.

"Based on my experience in Brazil where only three people were baptized in a year, and where I baptized only one person in my 33 months, I don't consider my mission a failure. I worked hard. I did the best I could. Now there are 186 stakes and 743,000 members in Brazil."

President Faust noted the tools and resources and instructions provided by the missionary department to aid in their mission efforts, and then suggested "how to put this together."

"We will pray for you, but all the counselors and assistants in the missionary department are merely the coaches. You are the players. No one else can do it for you. The Lord gave the directions in 1831 how this is to be done," President Faust said.

"It has always been given to the elders of my Church from the beginning, and ever shall be, to conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit." (Doctrine and Covenants 46:2.)

"You'll need to put your spiritual houses in order," he said. "Polish the windows of your soul to see more clearly. You'll need to cleanse your hearts to feel clean and pure and worthy.

"A disciplined missionary force is the key to a mission president's success," he continued. "But we should not be so insecure in our leadership to over-control the missionaries and take the joy out of the work. Too many locally-imposed mission rules can send the message that you don't trust the missionaries. This can lead to discontent. Tightening the spokes too tight takes the fun out of missionary work.

"The Spirit flourishes when we enjoy our work. In missionary work, we need to stop and smell the roses. Develop relationships of love and mutual respect and not fear."

Time spent serving as a mission president will be the "most challenging and fulfilling time in your life," President Faust said. "There is nothing quite as fulfilling as missionary work." ("Finding balance in missionary work through seeking Spirit," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2000]: 7).

On the 23rd of June Russell M. Nelson also addressed them saying: "Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God!

Compare this unique accomplishment with that of other scriptural translations. The King James Version of the Bible, for example, was produced by 50 English scholars who accomplished their work in seven years, translating at the rate of one page per day. Expert translators today do well if they can also translate scripture at the rate of one page per day.

In contrast, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon at the rate of about 10 pages per day, completing the task in approximately 85 days! . . .

Such a pace is even more remarkable considering the circumstances under which the Prophet labored. In that same period, while enduring constant distractions and incessant hostility, Joseph Smith moved more than 100 miles from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Fayette, New York. He applied for a copyright. He received revelations comprising 12 sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. Heavenly beings restored the holy priesthood. Yet he completed the translation in less than three months” (Russell M. Nelson,(Helping Missionaries Understand the Role of the Book of Mormon in Conversion [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 23, 2000], 4–5).

Shaun Stahle of the Church News gave a detailed account of President Hinckley's talk:

President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed the Mission Presidents Seminar June 23 in the Church Office Building auditorium as the concluding speaker of the week-long training. He was accompanied by President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, first and second counselors, respectively, in the First Presidency. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve were also present, as well as the Presiding Bishopric and many members of the Seventy who were seated in the congregation.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve conducted the meeting. He introduced President Hinckley by noting that on that very day, 90 years earlier, President Hinckley was born to Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley. Elder Holland considered how much the parents were aware of "the life young Gordon would live, or the prophetic mantle he would one day wear." He then led the congregation in singing a happy birthday song to President Hinckley.

The seminar included 103 newly called mission presidents. They will be among 333 mission presidents throughout the world presiding over 60,500 missionaries.

"You never can foretell the consequence of your work as a missionary in this Church," President Gordon B. Hinckley emphasized during the annual Mission Presidents Seminar. "Doors will be slammed and people will turn you down. At times you may think that you have accomplished absolutely nothing. But miracles come out of these very, very small beginnings."

Speaking June 23 at the conclusion of the week-long seminar, President Hinckley related his experiences as a young member of the Quorum of the Twelve nearly 40 years ago when he was assigned to preside over the Far East Area of the Church, as it was then known.

"We don't need you," President Hinckley was told by the government minister of religion in an Asian country after requesting permission to send missionaries. "Only a small percentage of our country is Christian and we already have 10 churches to handle their needs. There is no need for adding another church," the government minister said to President Hinckley.

President Hinckley and his companion, Elder Marion D. Hanks, and others went to a park where they found a beautiful secluded spot and dedicated the land. Shortly afterward, requests were made for missionaries to enter the country. Three-month visas were granted.

"It interrupted the work and was costly to move the missionaries out of the country every three months," President Hinckley said. But over the years, contacts were made who later became influential friends of the Church. "Now there are 150 missionaries serving without the need to renew visas. On a recent trip, we met with government ministers and were received in hospitality," he said. "It is an unforeseen consequence of that which took place in 1961."

President Hinckley related other experiences dramatizing the growth of the Church from simple beginnings. "I've seen the great struggles of our people in Korea . . . where a marvelous thing has come to pass," he said, recounting the time he was speaking to "a handful of members" gathered in a high school gymnasium and a stove pipe fell, spewing smoke and ashes into the room and forcing the end of the meeting.

"Now there are stakes and missions and a beautiful temple. It's magnificent," he said.

"You cannot foretell the consequences of the great work which comes to pass out of the feeble beginnings of missionary service. Look ahead to the years down the line and see the flowering of your efforts," he counseled the mission presidents and their wives. "As surely as the sun rises in the morning this work will come to flower in the missions where you serve."

President Hinckley recounted the life of Dan Jones, who, by the boldness of his testimony, became a great missionary. Born in Wales where he became a sailor, Brother Jones came to the United States. He learned of the Church by transporting members to Nauvoo on a boat he operated on the Mississippi, the 60-ton Maid of Iowa. He didn't believe the anti-Mormon literature he received and investigated the Church. He was soon baptized on a cold winter's day in the Mississippi River. On a subsequent trip he and Joseph Smith became friends.

"On the 26th of June 1844 he was among those imprisoned with Joseph in Carthage jail," said President Hinckley.

When the others had fallen asleep, the Prophet asked, " 'Are you willing to die for this cause?' " continued President Hinckley. Dan Jones replied that death would be a little cost for a cause such as this.

" 'You will yet live to go to your native land of Wales and preach the gospel,' " the Prophet responded.

In the next days, before the Prophet was martyred, Joseph sent Dan Jones out of the jail to obtain the help of a lawyer. On his return, the mob prevented him from joining Joseph and the others. He escaped after being shot at. "Seven months later, he was called to serve a mission in Wales," said President Hinckley.

"He was a fiery, feisty preacher," President Hinckley continued, describing how Dan Jones would write to the mayor or chief of police of a community to announce his arrival. " 'I'll be there to convert the city,' " President Hinckley said, quoting Dan Jones. "When he arrived the mayor and chief of police would be there to greet him."

Dan Jones baptized 3,600 members while serving. He returned home to later become mayor of Manti, Utah. He was then called to serve a second mission to Wales, this time baptizing 2,000 new members, totalling 5,600 converts.

"Thousands of members joined the Church as a result of his service. He wore out his life in service and died at age 51.

"You're headed for great and wonderful experiences, the end of which no one can foretell," he said, reminding the mission presidents and their wives that "the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people." (Doctrine and Covenants 15:6.)("Consequences of missionary effort cannot be foreseen," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2000]: 5).

Elder Henry D. Eyring said: "From time to time, I would...give an overview of the plan of salvation. I would try to do it a little different each time. You could use different scriptures. You could emphasize different things, but always remembering that the point of it is more than intellectual. It’s not just to know who God the Father is and who Jesus Christ is and who the Holy Ghost is. It’s to feel that is reality and that those individuals—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—-are real, that they know [us], and they love [us] and they are attentive to [us]" ("Teaching Missionaries the Plan of Salvation," Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 22 June 2000).

2001 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In 2001 from June 26th through June 28th one hundred and eight mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "I have no doubt that every day, somewhere in the world, there is a remarkable miracle of conversion taking place, perhaps many of them. You will become acquainted with such [conversion] stories during the years that you preside....This is a Church of miracles. I know it. I have seen so many of them."

Shaun D. Stahle in the Church News added a few details of President Gordon B. Hinckley's remarks to the mission presidents and their wives:

"I have no doubt that every day, somewhere in the world, there is a remarkable miracle of conversion taking place, perhaps many of them," said President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Addressing the 108 newly called mission presidents and their wives as the concluding speaker of the three-day New Mission Presidents Seminar, President Hinckley affirmed the Spirit that attends missionary work.

"This is a labor of wonderful miracles," he said. "This is a Church of miracles. I know it. I have seen so many of them. You will have problems both difficult and perplexing. But overriding all of these will be the sweet and wonderful things, the great feelings you will experience as you witness a conversion here and another there."

To illustrate the joy of a new member and the struggle of gaining a testimony, President Hinckley read a letter from a convert in England. "To me it represents the wonder, the absolute wonder of this service," he said.

Quoting from the letter, President Hinckley read how this sister was happy and contented with her life until one evening when she received news that her husband had died from an auto accident.

She was devastated and during the next months found it difficult to care for her young children. Missionaries knocked on her door one day and, mistaking them for government officials, she invited them in.

At first she didn't accept their testimony of life after death and wanted them to be as miserable as she was. But she listened to their message and attended Church and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. She read extensively one evening and felt to offer her first prayer.

"This book is true," she said out loud after feeling the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. She was eventually baptized and confirmed a member. A year later, she and her children were sealed to her husband and their father in the London temple. Since then, her two sons have served missions.

"I could tell you other [stories], many of them," President Hinckley said. "You will become acquainted with such stories during the years that you preside. They will be inspirational. They will be wonderful and you will never forget them." ("'A Church of miracles': Great feelings attend missionary work," Church News [Saturday, 7 July 2001]: 3).

Thomas S. Monson reiterated principles taught by former president Harold B. Lee: "First, whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies; second, when you are on the Lord’s errand, you are entitled to the Lord’s help; and third, the Lord shapes the back to bear the burdens placed upon it. . . .Put aside any fears you may have, and the Lord will bless you. As you serve, you will learn who He is, how close He is, and that this is His Church. The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him."

Shaun D. Stahle reported in greater details the remarks made to the mission presidents by President Thomas S. Monson:

"If a man dies, will he live again?" asked President Thomas S. Monson, speaking rhetorically to a group of newly called mission presidents assembled in the Provo Missionary Training Center.

"People in the world want to know. It is a profound question that deserves a profound answer. And we have it."

Speaking in his affable style to 108 newly called mission presidents and their wives, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, delivered the opening address of the annual three-day New Mission Presidents Seminar held June 26-28. The mission presidents were called from 12 nations and will preside over missions in 39 countries. They are part of 334 mission presidents called to preside over 60,000 missionaries worldwide.

"You represent one-third of the mission presidents in the world," President Monson said. "When I was called as mission president 42 years ago, there were 50 missions and no seminar for new presidents.

"I remember being called to the office of President Stephen L Richards [of the First Presidency]. He sat me down in his office and asked if I would serve as mission president. I told him we'd serve wherever we were asked.

"He asked if we could be prepared to leave in three weeks. He said he didn't know how long we'd be there. So off we went to Canada — with a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old and my wife who was expecting our third child."

In his address, President Monson emphasized the admonitions of the Savior as recorded in Matthew 28 to preach the gospel to all the world, to baptize and then to continue teaching.

"Those great words, to teach, then baptize, then teach again," he said.

Offering personal advice, President Monson quoted Doctrine and Covenants 100:1 and how the Lord responded to the worries of Joseph Smith about his family when he was away from home.

"Your families are well," President Monson said, quoting the Doctrine and Covenants.

"They'll do fine, and you'll do fine."

President Monson reassured the new presidents that they would be capable of fulfilling their callings by reminding them of three points of heavenly help they would receive.

Quoting President Harold B. Lee, he said, "Whom God calls, God qualifies; and, when on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help; and, the Lord shapes the back to bear the burden placed upon it.

"The Lord will go before your face and bear you up," he said, referring to Doctrine and Covenants 84:88. "Surely, surely with that kind of help we will succeed."

Considering the various natures and personalities of missionaries who will serve, President Monson described the "programmed missionaries" as those eager to obey mission rules and endure a day of tracting with limited success. They retire at night satisfied with their effort, but are not as effective as they could be, he said.

"Other missionaries have personalities that relate well with others. They may not work the hours of the programmed missionaries, but they are generally more effective."

The benefit of these personalities, said President Monson, is to combine those talents in a companionship for greater effectiveness. To illustrate his point, President Monson told of a missionary who was having such a hard time that he "needed his companion's help to match his socks."

The missionary seemed generally ineffective until one day when a visiting General Authority chided the missionaries in a zone conference for not knowing the missionary discussions and the pamphlets well enough.

Calling on a missionary from the congregation to prove his point, the visiting authority chose this particular young man.

But to the delight and surprise of President Monson, the missionary answered the questions one after another to the satisfaction of the General Authority.

"President Monson," the visiting authority said, "I owe you an apology."

"That missionary rose [in stature] in my eyes," President Monson said. He then opened a Christmas letter send by this missionary years later that told of his family and his call to serve as bishop. President Monson said he signed the letter, "From your 'number one' missionary.' "

"Every parent and missionary has the right to know that his or her mission president has been on his knees importuning the Lord concerning transfers," said President Monson. As you do so, continued President Monson, "inspiration will come, you will know your missionaries by name and by personality and by their needs. You will know how to help them achieve their potential."

President Monson then told how he felt impressed to transfer an Elder Smith who was serving in his mission. "It was not necessarily time for him to be transferred," said President Monson, but acting on the impression, the elder was transferred.

In his next weekly letter to President Monson, the elder noted how the transfer took him by surprise, but then noted something that President Monson could not have known. He told how he was raised at his mother's knee learning to speak Italian — something which was not noted on his missionary profile. The missionary then explained how a community of Italians had recently immigrated to his new area and how he was able to help them because of his language skills.

"With their callings as missionaries," said President Monson, "they are not the same boy or girl they were at home. They are servants of the Lord, called with power.

"You will see changes," he continued. "Missions change missionaries. You'll see the Church change." He then told of a mission conference he attended in Salzburg, Austria, where Elder Johann Wondra of the Seventy introduced the missionary who taught the gospel to him and his wife.

"We think of you every day of our lives," Elder Wondra said to the missionary.

In conclusion, President Monson said, "Put your apprehensions aside and plunge in. As you serve you will learn who He is, and how close He is, and that this is His Church. The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him." ("Gospel has what people want: New mission presidents reminded of divinity of missionary calling," Church News [Saturday, 30 June 2001]: 5).

James E. Faust talked about involving members in missionary work: "For full-time missionaries to be fully successful, they need to have the support of the members of the stakes. One of the fruits of missionaries working together with members is that spirituality increases for both the members and the missionary."

President Faust also gave several suggestions for involving members in missionary work. He included the need for bishops to support missionary efforts, effective work by missionaries with ward mission leaders and the bishop, obedient and hardworking missionaries, youth participation, and fellowshipping of new converts.

Shaun D. Stahle reported a few other details of James E. Faust's address to the mission presidents:

"After pausing to look over the newly called mission presidents, President James E. Faust noted how all had been involved in an array of impressive activities in life.

"But missionary work is different," he said. "You have to do it with all your heart, might, mind and soul. I don't think any of you have been, or will be, as challenged as you will be in missionary service."

Speaking to 108 newly called mission presidents assembled in the Provo Missionary Training Center June 27 as part of a three-day seminar, President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized characteristics of missionary success.

"In large measure, the success of the work depends on you," he said. "The key is to know that you are being led by the Spirit under the direction of prophets."

Research suggests that it is not so much the program that determines success, but leadership that makes the difference, he said after referring to the apostle Paul's teachings in 1 Corinthians regarding the different manner of administrations.

"This means that the Spirit adapts itself to our differences," he said. "To me this means you should feel comfortable with your own approach. Success is generally reflected in the faith and diligence of the leader."

President Faust encouraged the mission presidents to foster healthy working relationships with stake presidents. "Missionary work moves forward the best with member involvement," he said.

This relationship improves when members have opportunity to work with the full-time missionaries. It also improves when missionaries are obedient and hard working.

"One fruit of member involvement is an increase in spirituality of the members and missionaries," he said.

President Faust told of two experiences where strengthening the relationship between members and missionaries resulted in stronger wards. In one case, a ward where 65 members were attending was to be closed. But after an eight-month effort of working together, less-active members became active and new members were baptized. Soon 140 were attending.

"Everything else in the ward changed, and with the increase in activity, this ward became the strongest in the stake," he said.

In another ward, where growth had become stagnant, members enjoyed working with missionaries so much that a two-month joint effort was extended another three months. There were two baptisms and the youth of the ward began to feel more pride in their Church membership.

President Faust also urged mission presidents to take advantage of unique opportunities and places that are present in each mission to uplift missionaries spiritually. He told of one mission president who held a yearly zone conference in the mountains where the missionaries considered the great things the Lord wrought on mountain tops.

"All missions have meaningful ways to offer renewal and rededication," he said.

But after considering these characteristics of success, President Faust reminded the mission presidents that there is no way they can know of the width and breadth of the success of their labors.

He compared the membership of the Church in Brazil where he served as a missionary 60 years ago to the Church in Brazil today where his grandson recently served. Where there was once 175 members and one mission with 76 missionaries who baptized three members in a year, there are now 27 missions and 700,000 members.

"Who possibly could have foreseen the result of those efforts?" he asked, after recounting his first day of tracting as a missionary when he didn't speak a word of Portuguese, and how he baptized only one person in 33 months.

"There is no way we could have possibly dreamed."

He promised the mission presidents that blessings would flow down upon them and that their callings would be as rich an experience as they'd ever have in life. (" 'Success of work depends on you'," Church News [Saturday, 7 July 2001]: 4).

An interesting thing was noted in the 31 March 2001 Church News that even a few mission presidents need a little language translation help them understand the messages in English when attending the mission presidents' seminar:

"Though general conference is the most visible of the interpretation work the department does, it is by no means all of it, according to David Frischknecht, managing director of the Translation Department.

"Last year we interpreted for 54 events at Church headquarters," he said. "That includes general conference, but also the monthly Church Educational System firesides. Sometimes we help with regional conferences, and we do interpretation for the Mission Presidents Seminar, Temple Presidents Seminar and Church department seminars put on for international managers who come in from around the world. And we have started helping with the BYU Education Week."

Interpreters come from the ranks of those who work in the department. Others are Church members who live along Utah's Wasatch Front and have developed their skills to the point they can do the work. Interpretation is done into the interpreter's native language. Thus the interpreters are familiar with the idioms and phrasing particular to the language.

It is stressful, demanding work.

"It requires the help of the Lord and the spiritual gifts," Brother Frischknecht said. "And it takes keen mental and personal preparation by the interpreters. It's a talent they have to develop, and they receive divine help to do it." ("Conference Messages in 49 Languages," Church News [Saturday, 31 March 2001]: 11).

2002 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On June 24th through June 27th, 2002 129 mission presidents and their wives were taught for four days at the MTC in Provo, Utah by the general authorities.

President Gordon B. Hinckley instructed them that "grand theme of our message is that God has revealed Himself to men, that He has spoken and introduced His beloved Son. There can be no greater declaration than this....

You follow a long tradition of men and women who, in response to the calls from the Church, have left whatever they were doing and gone into the mission field....Thank you very much for your willingness to serve, for your prayers unto the Lord to bless you and make you equal to the responsibility.

...I’ve reflected on the great sacrifices which have gone into the building of this cause and kingdom." He offered examples of early missionary efforts in Canada and of the 1837 missionary call of Heber C. Kimball, who with a few associates accepted the call from the Prophet Joseph. They undertook the long journey to England, "leaving sick families with practically nothing on their backs and nothing in their pockets."

...the work will not be easy. It will be strenuous. It will be demanding. It will require all of your best efforts and your deepest searching prayers....

This is the work of God in which we are engaged. It is His work, a part of His eternal plan for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations of time....

There is no greater message we can give than of the living reality of God, our Eternal Father, and His beloved Son and that They have spoken again in this time of history. You and I both know these things are true. Now we are sent forth to communicate them to others."

The Church News gave a detail report of Gordon B. Hinckley's remarks at the seminar:

"The "grand theme of our message," President Gordon B. Hinckley told new mission presidents June 25, is "that God has revealed Himself to men, that He has spoken and introduced His beloved Son.

"There can be no greater declaration than this."

Addressing 129 newly called mission presidents and their wives at the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Hinckley was the first speaker during the four-day 2002 New Mission Presidents Seminar. In his remarks, the Church president assured them of his love and of prayers on their behalf. He acknowledged their sacrifice in accepting their calls.

"You follow a long tradition of men and women who, in response to the calls of the Church, have left whatever they were doing and gone into the mission field. Thank you very much for your willingness to serve, for your prayers unto the Lord to bless you and make you equal to the responsibility."

He spoke of the dedication of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, which occurred two days later on June 27. (Please see June 29, 2002, Church News.) "As I've thought about Joseph Smith and his associates who originally built that temple and of the circumstances surrounding its construction, I've reflected on the great sacrifices which have gone into the building of this cause and kingdom."

President Hinckley spoke of early missionary efforts to Canada, then of the 1837 call by the Prophet Joseph for Heber C. Kimball to undertake a mission to England. "A few associates were called to accompany him. You're familiar with that history. Our people were literally in poverty. . . . Leaving sick families with practically nothing on their backs and nothing in their pockets they made the long journey to England."

Great success followed their efforts, he added, speaking of emigrants from the British Isles and from other parts of Europe traveling across the seas to Nauvoo, which was settled after the Church was banished from Missouri. Although Joseph and Hyrum were killed, the work continued. "When the work was established in these western valleys, missionary work continued. Groups were traveling both ways across the plains; missionaries going eastward and converts coming westward."

President Hinckley shared the historical account of a small girl whose father was called to serve a mission in Denmark in 1860. The girl watched as her mother toiled to support her children while her husband was gone for four years. She wrote how her mother wept because the children had nothing for the Christmas of 1862 except for slices of an apple.

"Fortunately, those days are behind us," President Hinckley said. Now, missionaries are relatively comfortable. Those who preside have good homes and apartments in which to live, he added.

"But the work will not be easy. It will be strenuous. It will be demanding. It will require all of your best efforts and your deepest searching prayers. . . . But it is the Lord's work in which you will be engaged, and the enemy of all righteousness will try to frustrate their efforts and will try to frustrate your efforts."

President Hinckley told the new mission presidents and their wives that they will be "part of a great miracle that goes on constantly in this Church. While preparing this talk, he related, he looked out his apartment window in Salt Lake City and saw two missionaries "climbing the hill in the heat of the day. I do not know where they were from or who they were going to see. But it was evident that they were about their duty. The heat did not deter them. The hill they were climbing was not an obstacle. They were on their way to teach somebody, and how absolutely miraculous is the fruit of their service. A miracle which you will see as you serve."

To illustrate this miracle, he related the account of a young mother in England who lost her husband in a tragic accident. A declared atheist, she was in despair and struggled even to care for her children. Then one day two missionaries knocked on her door, bringing her the gospel-—and hope. Gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, she joined the Church. "My heart was filled with joy. I began to live again," she said.

A year later, she and her children went to the London England Temple where she was sealed to her husband and their children to them.

"Now, my brothers and sisters, isn't that a story of miracles? I believe it is," President Hinckley said. "You will see things as miraculous as that. You will absolutely marvel at some of the things you will see and some of the experiences you will have.

"Brethren and sisters, this is the work of God in which we are engaged. It is His work, a part of His eternal plan for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations of time. This is the dispensation of the fullness of times when all of previous dispensations [have] been restored and added to in this dispensation. Jesus Christ is His beloved Son, the first-born of the Father. He left the royal courts on high and came to work, to walk the dusty roads of Palestine. He gave His life on Calvary's Hill to atone for the sins of all of us, to give assurance of the resurrection to all men and to offer a plan under which those who walk in obedience might go on to exaltation and eternal life.

"The Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph, a 14-year-old farm boy and parted the curtains which led to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel. . . . There is no greater message we can give than of the living reality of God our eternal Father and His beloved Son and that they have spoken again in this time of history. You and I both know these things are true. Now we are sent forth to communicate them to others. Most will reject them. But there will be a soul here and a soul there. A family here and a family there will accept the message. With proper teaching, they will enter the waters of baptism.

"With proper nurturing and care, they will become strong and faithful members of this Church, the beginning of Latter-day Saints. Such is our task, such is our responsibility. Such is our opportunity." ("'There is no greater message': 'God has revealed Himself to men . . . and introduced His beloved Son'," Church News [Saturday, July 6, 2002]: 11).

Thomas S. Monson speaking to mission presidents about the success of their missionaries: "Love them, lift them, inspire them...[and] your house will be a treasure house of eternal memories." He then shared with them three M’s of successful missionary labor: the missionary, the message, and the member."The missionary: "If your relationship is sound, that relationship [with the missionaries] will last long after the mission." The message: “You have the answers to man’s search for happiness. The message of the plan of salvation, coupled with your testimony, will touch more hearts and souls." The member: "Use members to help missionaries teach, and you will see membership grow."

The Church News reported in greater detail on President Monson's remarks to the mission presidents' group:

"The responsibility of the mission president is to see that his missionaries succeed, that no one fails in his mission, said President Thomas S. Monson during the 2002 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

"Love them, lift them, inspire them, demonstrate your loyalty to them," he said. "[And] your house will be a treasure house of eternal memories."

Addressing the 129 mission presidents and their wives assembled in the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 26 prior to assuming their responsibilities July 1, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the three M's of missionary labor: the missionary, the message and the member.

The Missionary

"If your relationship is sound, that relationship [with missionaries] will last long after the mission," President Monson said.
"
Every missionary deserves to know that his mission president has been on his knees praying and pondering to determine with whom the missionary will be laboring."

Highlighting his address with many anecdotes from his experience years ago as mission president in eastern Canada, President Monson said, "Your poems will be their favorite poems. Your scriptures will be their favorite scriptures. Listen to them. Respond to them. Show them how."

The message

Considering the message of missionary work, President Monson emphasized, "You have the answers to man's search for happiness. The message of the Plan of Salvation, coupled with your testimony, will touch more hearts and souls."

The member

Recounting pleasant memories of members who assisted the missionary effort in Canada, President Monson said that the best assistance comes from converts. They can relate to the investigator and can help explain the gospel in ways investigators will understand.

"Use members to help missionaries teach and you will see membership grow," he said.

President Monson began his address by commending the mission presidents and their wives for their willingness to forsake the comforts of home and family to heed the Lord's command to go into all the world and teach and baptize.

"When standing before a group of members who leave behind family, home and grandchildren, and grandchildren yet unborn," he said, "one feels a spirit of dedication."

He acknowledged the challenge of leaving comfortable lives, and then offered solace by quoting from Doctrine and Covenants, Section 100, in which the Lord assured Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that their families were well, President Monson said, "The Lord blessed Sidney's and Joseph's families. He blessed us and our family when we served in Canada. And He will bless your families also."

President Monson told of a conversation between Elder Jack Goaslind and his father at the time Elder Goaslind was called as a General Authority. Elder Goaslind asked, "What do I have to give?"

Elder Goaslind's father reached for his scriptures and read 3 Nephi 5:13: "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

"That's what you have to give," President Monson said in quoting Elder Goaslind's father.

"And that's what you also have to give," President Monson told the mission presidents and their wives. "Do it well." ("Three M's of successful missionary work," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 12).

On 27 June 2002 according to the Church News, President James E. Faust shared the following remarks with the mission presidents and their spouses:

""What I want my grandchildren to bring home from their missions," was the theme President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, used in speaking at the Mission Presidents' Seminar Thursday, June 27.

"Over the years, I've seen some strange things that missionaries have brought home from their missions," he said. "I've seen missionaries trying to get a Paraguayan harp in the cabin of an airplane." He said missionaries should rather bring home:

• First, a "firm testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world," and that He is the "head of His Church and directing its growth and development." This, said President Faust, is "fundamental and essential."

• Second, a testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. President Faust said that Joseph Smith brought forth the fruits — "the scripture that he revealed to us, the temple ceremony and all the rest" — that "establish him as a great prophet." He continued, "Now we do not need to claim perfection for Joseph Smith the way we do for the Savior. His humanity is part of his strength and credibility."

• Third, a love for the gospel. "The more you learn about the gospel, the more you will learn to love it," President Faust said.

• Fourth, a knowledge of the scriptures. "Missionaries are asked to have one hour of personal study and one hour of study with their companions daily," he said. "Two hours a day for two years should be a good foundation on which to build and continue to build."

• Fifth, an everlasting love for the mission president and his wife. President Faust pointed out that missionaries look up to their mission president and his wife. "They will become bonded to you through your service," he said.

• Sixth, a love for the place and the people where they served as missionaries. President Faust recounted some of his experiences as a young missionary in Brazil and spoke of revisiting his field of labor while recently traveling in South America for temple dedications. "I felt like I was coming home," he said. "It was a marvelous experience."

• Seventh, an everlasting appreciation for missionary companions. "My companions and their wives have been getting together now for almost 60 years," he said. "There is a great love and friendship among us. . . . I hope this relationship will continue in eternity."

• Eighth, an understanding of the importance and the power of prayer. "Most missionaries have some personal challenges in the mission field such as learning a foreign language, cultural adjustments, problems with food, homesickness, lovesickness, and occasionally health problems," President Faust said. "Prayer should be an established habit for these missionaries which will endure and continue throughout the rest of their lives."

• Ninth, a desire to serve. "For some, the experience of going on a mission may be the first time these young people have really had to serve others besides themselves in their lives," he said. "But it can be the beginning of tasting of the joy of a lifetime of service in the Church and elsewhere."

• Tenth, an enduring faith that will carry them through the challenges of life. President Faust said that future success isn't indicated by Church callings or positions of leadership missionaries and other Church members hold. He said, "The race really isn't to the swift; that bright star everyone wishes they could be like. It is to that persistent, plodding, stubbornly obedient individual who toughs it out through thick and thin." ("What missionaries should bring home," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 12).

"President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of 10 things he hoped his grandchildren would bring home from their missions: first, a "firm testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the world; second, a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith; third, a love for the gospel; fourth, a knowledge of the scriptures; fifth, a love for the mission president and his wife; sixth, a love for the place and people where they served; seventh, an appreciation for missionary companions; eighth, an understanding of the importance and the power of prayer; ninth, a desire to serve; and tenth, an enduring faith that will carry them through the challenges of life."

Elder Boyd K. Packer shared lessons learned through missionary service. "It is a great experience to learn that it is not your mission—-it is the Lord’s mission."

Elder Packer also said during his talk: "By following the rules you will never make a serious mistake...either while you are on your mission or thereafter without being warned. You will never take the wrong road, you will never go around the wrong bend, or make the wrong decision without your having been warned. That pattern is the pattern of the Latter-day Saint. You were confirmed a member of the Church, and you had conferred upon you the gift of the Holy Ghost to be a guide and a companion to you" ("Some Things Every Missionary Should Know," New Mission Presidents’ Seminar, Salt Lake City, 26 June 2002).

Also in the 2002 meeting Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy shared: "Interestingly, often those who struggle the most with issues of perfectionism are among the most talented missionaries and people. They are often ones who have been excellent students and have been model children and outstanding young people. Frequently, they have looked forward to being missionaries, are well prepared, and come with the expectation that they will do everything to be successful. For some, they become so obsessed or consumed with their every thought, action and response, that they may become far too extreme in their own perceptions of what is expected of them" ("Some Things Every Missionary Should Know," seminar for new mission presidents, 26 June 2002, 7).

The Church News extracted a few good quotes from the 2002 mission presidents' seminar from the general authorities speaking:

Lessons learned from missionaries

"It is a great experience to learn that it is not your mission — it is the Lord's mission. . . . You will find through challenge, through work, through study, and through the difficulties and disappointments that you face that it is the Lord's mission. You will come to know that.

"Missionary work is work. . . . You will not be measured by the number of baptisms you have. You will be measured by the amount of work you do. . . . You may go to many doorsteps without having the exultation, the satisfaction of having someone listen to you, but you will have been a success judged by the amount of work that you do.

"You will learn the necessity of obedience. One day you are going to find out that the key to leadership is followship, and it comes from obedience. If you will learn to follow, the rules and regulations [of the mission] are just like an armor. Wear it well, and it will protect you." — President Boyd K. Packer, "Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

The Book of Mormon

"We can, unapologetically, showcase the Book of Mormon much better than we now do. It is, after all, 'a marvelous work and a wonder.'

"As missionaries have even greater confidence in the book, they will have even greater confidence in themselves; investigators will sense both.

"Since this bold 'truth' has come 'out of the earth' so miraculously, let it not be 're-buried' beneath things of lesser significance.

"You can show your reverence for the book as you quote from it and demonstrate your Nephi-like ability to 'liken' the scriptures." — Elder Neal A. Maxwell,"Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

The Atonement

"Before we can comprehend the Atonement of Christ . . . we must first understand the Fall of Adam. And before we can understand the Fall of Adam, we must first understand the Creation. These three crucial components of the Plan of Salvation relate to each other.

"The Creation required the Fall. The Fall required the Atonement. The Atonement enabled the purpose of the Creation to be accomplished. Eternal life, made possible by the Atonement, is the ultimate purpose of the Creation.

"The purposes of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement all converge on the sacred work done in temples. . . . This is the great latter-day work of which we are a part. That is why we have missionaries. That is why we have temples — to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God." — Elder Russell M. Nelson, "Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

Missionary status

"We have all heard the phrase: 'Every member a missionary.' For this purpose I urge the opposite: 'Every missionary a member.' The most fundamental principles of missionary spiritual health are the same as for every member. Foremost among these are: (1) keep the commandments; (2) partake of the sacrament to enjoy the promise that we will always have His spirit to be with us; (3) serve faithfully in your calling; and, (4) get the right spiritual nourishment by faithfully studying the scriptures and avoiding dangerous substances and influences like bad movies or music. The principles are clear." — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

The role of members

"Gathering the harvest of the elect of God is not a task for our missionaries only. It is a task for the entire membership of the Church.
"If our goal is to [bring souls unto Christ], the most productive source is member referrals. . . . We can enlist the help of others and thus multiply the effectiveness of what we do.

"We see an ironic . . . trend in the Church. At the very time we are confirming the importance of members in the conversion process, evidence from . . . studies suggests that members are playing a proportionally smaller role in finding people to teach.

"By increasing the number of ward member referrals each month by only three, we could double baptisms." — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin,"Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

The Restoration

"The simple truth of the matter is that without the Restoration, the great Plan of Salvation would be forever thwarted. . . and the full blessings of the Atonement. . . would have been lost to almost all of God's children, past, present and future.

"Almost all the work for the living and for the dead falls on the shoulders of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Not Adam's time, or Noah's time, or Abraham's time . . . nor Peter's or Paul's in the Meridian of Time. Those churches and those efforts ended in disarray and decay, and they ended quickly.

"Without the Prophet Joseph Smith, we . . . would be left with fragmented scripture, unrelated doctrine, conflicting opinions, uninspired practices that over time became binding traditions.

"This is what existed prior to 1820." — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland,"Quotes by members of the Twelve during new mission presidents seminar," Church News [Saturday, 6 July 2002]: 13).

2003 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On 24-26 June 2003 one hundred and six new mission presidents, who were called in 2003, and their wives heard counsel from all three members of the First Presidency, as well as other General Authorities, at the annual New Mission Presidents Seminar in the Provo Missionary Training Center.

On 24 June 2003 President Thomas S. Monson addressed 106 mission presidents and their wives. The Church News reported:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

"Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

Teaching should precede baptizing, President Thomas S. Monson emphasized as he quoted these scriptures found in Matthew 28:19-20 in the Mission Presidents Seminar on June 24.

"Chaos results when we baptize without teaching," said President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency. "We have baptisms, but we don't have converts, and every president of the Church has extended the plea: Teach, that people may be converted, and then baptized and confirmed members of the Church. I thought it significant, too, that the Lord added, even after the word baptize, 'teaching them to observe all things' whatsoever the Lord hath commanded you."

Noting that joy comes to those who bring souls unto Christ, he said the Lord has given mission presidents and missionaries a promise recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 84:88.

"What more could He give you?" he asked. "He'll go before you; he'll be on your right hand and your left hand, and His angels round about you to bear you up."

President Monson said that while a mission president in Canada, he would look at well-worn shoes of missionaries, thinking, "Ours is the responsibility not only to guide their feet but also to effectively climb with them, rung by rung, the ladder to missionary success."

To the assembled new mission presidents, he said, "You are the model to follow. You are the teacher. You are the exemplar, and you cannot shirk that responsibility."

He spoke of the effort to obtain referrals and gave advice on how to make it function effectively. "There are categories of people and there are circumstances of people that make them an ideal field from whom our referrals can come," he suggested. "For example, the gospel can most effectively be taught where we have a core of active members."

He said some people are more ready than others to be introduced to the gospel. "Wherever there's been a death in the family, they've asked the question asked by Job: 'If a man die, shall he live again?' You've got the answer, and the members can provide the answer, and that's the person who's ready to learn."

Other people, he said, who may be especially ready to hear the gospel are those who have welcomed a new arrival into their home. He said parents of newborns may wonder "Where did he come from? Why is she here?"

"We have the answers to those questions," he said.

Another category of people who may be ready for the gospel are parents who have trouble with their teenage children, he said. "That's universal. And you have the answers. You have the activity program of the youth of the Church, friends to accompany them, events to attend, sociability, seminary, institute and all that goes with it."

President Monson recommended that missionaries "work in an area and not just work through it" and said he told missionaries "Be yourself, be your best self." He told of one elder from Montana in his mission who established an immediate rapport with a contact by showing him a picture of his bay mare back home. The man was interested and invited the elders in. Eventually he and his extended family all joined the Church. ("Teaching should precede baptizing," Church News [Saturday, 5 July 2003]: 4).

Also on 24 June 2003 Boyd K. Packer addressed them saying: "You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost. . . .

. . . The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected” (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 314, 360).

When you are teaching investigators and preparing them for baptism by water, you must also think of the gift of the Holy Ghost—baptism by fire. Think of it as one sentence. First comes the baptism of water and then the baptism of fire.

Someone may ask you, ‘How are things going?’ or ‘Are you teaching anyone?’

You automatically answer, ‘Yes, we have a family preparing for baptism and confirmation, for receiving the Holy Ghost.’ I repeat, to be baptized and to receive the Holy Ghost—link those two together” (Boyd K. Packer, The Gift of the Holy Ghost: What Every Missionary Should Know—and Every Member As Well [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 24, 2003], 2).

On the 25th June 2003 Elder M. Russell Ballard told the group: "Missionaries cannot do this work by just saying, ‘Well, what are we going to do?’ Missionaries have to set goals. In companionship study two missionaries set their goals. They realize that if they have good goals, they will be much more successful in finding, in teaching, in progressing investigators, and in baptizing them so that they can be confirmed and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (M. Russell Ballard, Planning [address at seminar for new mission presidents, June 25, 2003], 2).

On the 25th of June 2003 President James E. Faust, Second Counselor spoke to the group. The Church News summarized his remarks:

"The harvest is the Lord's," said President James E. Faust. "I don't know anything that is more demanding than missionary work. Our responsibility is to thrust in the sickle 'with heart, might, mind and strength.' "

Addressing 106 new mission presidents and their wives June 25 during the annual New Mission Presidents Seminar in the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized the need for missionaries to understand their message and bear a worthy testimony of it.

"For your missionaries to be effective, they must say by way of testimony, as did Jeremiah, 'His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones,' " he said.

Great blessings are promised to the missionaries, he continued. "As your missionaries teach these transcending, eternal principles, . . . they will . . . 'have fire in their bones.' "

With the new emphasis for missionaries to "memorize concepts" rather than "memorize words," said President Faust, there is a great challenge to conform to Doctrine and Covenants 21:11.

"This scripture emphasizes that before our missionaries try to teach, they must first learn these simple, powerful gospel concepts . . .to be able to teach them....

"Even though our children and grandchildren may have been born in the Church and been active in attending seminary and institute, [that] does not guarantee that they know the fundamentals of the doctrine well enough to teach them," he said. "Many do not know the gospel, but all can learn."

President Faust said the high standard for baptism into the Church was set by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants Section 20.

"We must somehow raise the bar because in so many places where many of us have labored we've had too many come in the front door, and go out the back door. . . .

"Hopefully, we can get the members to get more involved in inviting their non-member families and friends into their homes to be taught by the missionaries. Because . . . that's where the real converts come into the Church.

"Ultimately," President Faust continued, "nothing is more effective than the personal testimony of the missionary." To illustrate, he told of a prominent man who heard President J. Reuben Clark bear his testimony many years ago.

"He was touched by the spirit of President's Clark testimony and joined the Church," President Faust said.

"We cannot overestimate the power of testimony," he continued. "It is unimpeachable, . . . and can't be challenged. Mission presidents have the responsibility to strengthen the testimony of each missionary so he can speak by the Spirit with power and authority."

President Faust told of a conversation years ago with a father who asked if his son would be a successful missionary. The father said his son had a great aptitude for mechanical things, but had difficulty with words and concepts.

"Can he bear his testimony?" President Faust asked.

The father stated "unequivocally" that he could.

"He went on his mission and was faithful and obedient . . . and was greatly appreciated by his mission president," said President Faust. "The two keys of his success in the mission field were his obedience and his ability to bear his testimony, even though his words were not articulate and not polished.

"When I think of him I am reminded that 'no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope and charity, being temperate in all things whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.' " (See Doctrine and Covenants 12:8). ("Blessings promised to faithful missionaries," Church News [Saturday, 5 July 2003]: 5).

At the mission presidents' seminar on 26 June 2003 President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed the mission presidents. The Church News reported:

"Every missionary ought to be able to say about his mission president, "He has made us greater than we ever thought we were capable of becoming," President Gordon B. Hinckley said June 26 at the annual Mission President's Seminar.

Saying that he had no formal talk but had made a few notes, President Hinckley seemed to speak from the heart as he addressed the 106 departing leaders. Referring to his recent tour in Australia and New Zealand, he said he could not make that kind of journey without thinking of missionary work and those who had pioneered it.

Fortifying what had been said by others in the seminar about retention of converts, the Church president emphasized that it is as important as baptism.

"When all's said and done, about the only thing that counts is how many we have left who are moving forward in the Church as a result of your missionary effort," he said. He reiterated what he has said earlier about every convert in the Church needing three things: a responsibility, a friend and nurturing with the good word of God.

Reminiscing about his own mission 70 years ago in England and the growth that came to him then, President Hinckley pleaded with the mission presidents to bless the lives of those who work under their direction. He told of a missionary he interviewed many years ago in Japan who had written home to his mother and asked her to find some reason for him to come home so he could do so without disgracing her. She wrote back and said he could not come home, that he was called by the Lord, that somehow he could accomplish the work. "This morning your little brother prayed, and prayed especially for you," she wrote. In response to his request for a blessing, Elder Hinckley blessed him, among other things, to learn the language.

The young man went on to become assistant to the mission president. He later earned a doctorate and became an attache in the U.S. embassy in Japan. Eventually he became a highly successful businessman there, due to his knowledge of the language.

"Teach your missionaries from the scriptures," President Hinckley admonished. "Teach them the doctrine of the Kingdom. It will do wonders for them. They can learn it this time of their lives, and it will become a treasure throughout their entire lives.

"Teach them of the Savior," he said. President Hinckley recounted an experience from his mission when his mission president asked the missionaries, "what's the greatest thing we can do for the people of England?"

"When all is said and done," President Hinckley said, quoting his mission president, "the greatest thing we can do for the people of this land is to teach them that Jesus Christ is the living Son of the living God.

"Bless with example," he said. "Let your example be before them at all times and in all circumstances such that they see in you somebody they'd wish to emulate and reach up to and be a part of."

He told of mission presidents who went tracting with their missionaries on occasion. "And what a marvelous and wonderful difference it made," he said.

"Bless them with love," he said. "Many of them come from homes where they have never known love. Many of them come out of very bleak and difficult and dismal circumstances. Bless them with the spirit of love. Let them really know that you are concerned about them and you wish for them every great and good and wonderful blessing." ("'He made us greater,' every missionary should say," Church News [Saturday, 5 July 2003]: 4).

2004 Mission Presidents' Seminar

President Gordon B. Hinckley had a busy schedule on the 94th anniversary of his birth. He left Salt Lake City early that day, June 23, to fly to Washington, D.C., where President George W. Bush presented him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He returned home that evening. On June 24, he addressed the Mission Presidents Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

On 22-24 June 2004 timely counsel and direction were given by President Hinckley and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, to the 115 newly called mission presidents at the annual mission presidents seminar held at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

The opening address on 21 June by President James E. Faust was reported by Shaun D. Stahle of the Church News:

"In the process of bringing forth the Book of Mormon, the young Joseph Smith learned line upon line the things he had to learn in order to become the Prophet of the Restoration, President James E. Faust told the 115 mission presidents and their wives assembled for three days of training.

Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon "lie at the very heart of what we do in missionary work," he said.

Speaking June 22 in the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, was less concerned with the how to's of missionary work, and instead emphasized the "fundamental consideration in proclaiming the gospel."

"The process of translating the Book of Mormon was an education for Joseph Smith," said President Faust. "Like so many of our young missionaries, when the Lord called Joseph Smith, he was a young man, unlearned, simple and very ordinary in the eyes of the world. . . .

"For him the Spirit had to be the teacher and translating the Book of Mormon provided the schooling."

President Faust said it was interesting to observe how rapidly the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith unfolded after the Book of Mormon was translated and published.

"We can conclude from this that the Book of Mormon is necessary both to weave the threads of the prophetic mantle of Joseph Smith, and also to lay the foundation for restoring the dispensation of the Fulness of Times," he said.

"You and your missionaries can expect increased attacks upon Joseph Smith as a prophet and upon the Book of Mormon. Satan will attack us at the core of our belief."

President Faust told an experience from the life of President David O. McKay's father, Bishop David McKay, who served as a missionary in Scotland in 1881.

Because of bitterness and antagonism, Bishop McKay felt the best way to reach the people was to teach of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and first principles of the gospel and avoid bearing witness of the Restoration.

In a month he felt oppressed with gloom. He lacked the spirit of the work, but didn't know the cause of his depression.

"Weighed down with such heaviness . . . he went to the Lord and said, 'Unless I can get this feeling removed, I shall have to go home. I can't continue my work thus hampered,' " President Faust said.

The discouragement continued for some time. One morning, following a sleepless night, he felt to retire to a cave near the ocean and pray. He heard a voice distinctly say, "Testify that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God."

He then remembered what he had tacitly decided six weeks or more before. Being overwhelmed with the thought, he realized he had not given the Prophet's special mission the attention it deserved. He cried, "Lord, it is enough."

President Faust recounted the work of missionaries in his mission in Brazil where only three people were converted one year. "In 1992, in this same country, more than 40,000 souls were converted," he said. "There are now 184 stakes and 867,000
members. . . .

"What is the difference between then and now?" he asked.

"In large measure it was because the only scripture we had was the Bible. . . . Only after the Book of Mormon was translated into Portuguese and the book published in that language did the great harvest of converts come," he said. ("'Very heart of what we do in missionary work': Emphasizing Restoration is key to proclaiming gospel," Church News [Saturday, 3 July 2004]: 5).

After addressing the mission presidents' seminar President Faust addressed the missionaries at the MTC. The Church News reported: "Everyone who claims membership in the Church must have his own personal witness concerning the truthfulness of the story of Joseph Smith, said President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

After addressing the newly called mission presidents and their wives in the annual mission presidents seminar, President Faust walked several hundred yards around the corner of the complex to address the several thousand missionaries currently studying in the Provo Missionary Training Center. He recounted the life and contributions of the Prophet of the Restoration and said no one can understand this Church without a knowledge of Joseph Smith.

"Joseph Smith will be discussed, debated and challenged, but no one can argue about the success of the work which he introduced," he said. "Few men have had so many detractors and enemies as Joseph Smith, yet his personality was so warm, radiant, forceful and dominant that those who came to know him looked upon him as the dominant personality of their lives and the greatest person they had ever met."

There are many distinguishing aspects of this Church, said President Faust, such as the missionary effort, the great welfare program and the women's organization, "but that which makes it live is the individual testimonies of the members of the Church."
("Every member must have witness of Joseph Smith," Church News [Saturday, 3 July 2004]: 5).

Shaun D. Stahle reported President Thomas S. Monson's remarks made on 23rd to the mission presidents' and their wives:

"Looking over the 115 newly called mission presidents and their wives, who appeared "a little solemn," President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, drew from recent news events and said he felt like President Eisenhower talking to the troops before D-day.

In a hearty voice of encouragement, President Monson told the new leaders, "You will have the treat of your lives."

Speaking to the mission presidents in the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 23, the second morning of their three-day training, President Monson noted that it was President Hinckley's 94th birthday, "a special day."

He told how President Hinckley began his birthday with an early morning flight to Washington, D.C., to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom that afternoon from President George W. Bush. President Monson asked that the chorister, who had just led a missionary chorus, lead the entire group in singing "Happy Birthday" to President Hinckley.

President Monson, who has spent much of his adult life involved with missionary service and who served as a 31-year-old mission president in eastern Canada and as supervisor over missionary work in many parts of the world, drew on his experiences to instruct from the scriptures and through relating personal experiences.

He commended the mission presidents' wives for their willingness to "follow the whisperings of the Spirit" and leave home and family to serve, in some cases, in places where they didn't know the language.

He quoted the Lord's counsel of comfort to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in 1833 after they had been absent from their families and were concerned with their welfare: "Your families are well; they are in mine hands" (Doctrine and Covenants 100:1).

"What better insurance policy could you have than to leave your loved ones to the Lord while you put your hand to the plow?" he asked.

When President Monson was called to preside over the Canadian Mission in 1959, there were 50 missions of the Church in the world, compared with 337 today.

President Monson's recurring counsel to those assembled was the promise that "the Lord will bless your efforts." He quoted 1 Corinthians 3:6, in which the Apostle Paul said that he had "planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." President Monson assured the mission leaders, "The Lord will provide the increase."

He cited the Lord's command to preach the gospel, found in Matthew 29:19: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." President Monson counseled, "Teach first, then baptize, as the Lord said. It's when we reverse the process that we get into trouble."

He reminded mission presidents that every missionary has the right to know that his president has been on his knees praying over transfer decisions.

Concerning new members and the need to strengthen their testimonies, he said, "The way to put roots deep into gospel soil is to have members help others learn the gospel."

Addressing what mission presidents might do to retain new members, he recounted an experience he had in Italy some years ago during an open-air district conference.

"I noticed in that throng of about 500 that there were many wearing a white carnation," President Monson said. "I asked Leopoldo Larcher, mission president, what the significance was of the white carnation."

"These are new members," President Larcher said. "We provide a white carnation to every member who has been baptized since our last district conference. Then all the members and the missionaries know that these persons are especially to be fellowshipped."

President Monson continued, "I watched those Italian members wearing the white carnation being embraced, being greeted, being spoken to. They were no more strangers nor foreigners; they were fellow citizens in the household of faith and in the kingdom of God."

He shared with the mission presidents and their wives counsel he had received many years earlier from then Elder Harold B. Lee: "Whom God calls, God qualifies. When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help," and "The Lord shapes the back to bear the burdens placed upon it." (" 'Treat of your lives,' enjoy your missions: President Monson teaches,Lord will provide the increase," Church News [Saturday, 3 July 2004]: 4).

Shaun D. Stahle reported summarized President Gordon B. Hinckley's closing remarks:

President Gordon B. Hinckley-—fresh back from Washington, D.C.—-declared to the 115 mission presidents and their wives assembled June 24 in the Provo Missionary Training Center that missionary work "is going forward now with a momentum never before reached."

Missionary work is "a basic and fundamental work of the Church," he emphasized.

"It was begun before the Church was organized, and there has never been a period in our history when it has not gone forward. Even in times of world wars, when the number of missionaries was greatly reduced, the work has never entirely ceased."

As the concluding speaker of the three-day seminar, President Hinckley spoke with a vigor and in a spirit of brotherly kindness that encouraged and consoled.

He recounted the events of the day before when he visited the White House in Washington, D.C., to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, on the day of his 94th birthday.

"This remarkable recognition belongs to the Church, which has given me so many opportunities, and whose interests I have tried to serve," he said. "I flew there yesterday morning and flew back late evening. Think of that."

President Hinckley shared how his thoughts went "back nearly 165 years ago when Joseph Smith rode horseback much of the way from Nauvoo to Washington, where he secured lodging in the cheapest place available. He met with President Van Buren to plead for redress for his persecuted people, only to be rebuffed by the President and to return empty-handed. . . .

"How far the Lord has brought us from those dark days to the light and brightness of our own time," President Hinckley said.

He told how he recently stood in front of the old home where he lived in England 71 years ago as a missionary. "I looked up to the bedroom we rented, and I recalled a prayer that I had offered there. It was a prayer and a promise to my Heavenly Father. To that moment, I can trace all of the good things that have happened to me since."

President Hinckley turned his focus to the missionaries and their relationship with their presidents. "How precious they are. How important they are. How much they are worth working with to make of them something that will remain good and strong and growing, not only while they are serving as missionaries, but through all the years yet to come."

He read from a missionary letter recently received by a mission president who is about to be released. The missionary expressed eternal "gratitude that the Lord saw fit to send me to this mission at a time when you would be presiding."

The missionary thanked the mission president's wife for teaching him to play the piano, and for the cookies.

"My mission has been one of miracles," continued the missionary. "I have come to feel, truly feel, the love that my Savior has for me. . . .

"President," he added, "you are the best."

"What a marvelous letter," President Hinckley said. "That's the best paycheck you could get. . . .

"So I plead with you to determine that you will not only instruct your missionaries, but more important, that you will bless them. What does bless them mean? It means bestow upon them some essence of divine power, . . . an intangible thing that will come of your personal relationships, of your individual interview and conversations, or your prayers with them."


* "Bless them with leadership," he said, to "walk out before them as their leader and set the pace for them to follow." Missionaries, he continued, want, once in a while, a listening ear."

He also counseled, "Bless them with doctrine. Teach the doctrine. . . . Teach from the scriptures. . . . At no other time in their lives will they be so involved with the Church as during the 18 months or two years that they are under your direction. . . .

"I think I learned more doctrine while I was in the mission field during two years than I have learned in all the 70 or so years that have passed since then," he said.


* "Bless them with love," he continued. "Sometimes there is a tendency to run a mission like an army. It will not work. The reports might look better. But the end result will not be good. If there is anything this old world needs, it is love. If there is any place where it should be found, it is the mission field. . . .


* "Bless them with faith," he urged. "As they pray, as they immerse themselves in the work, as old interests die and new ones take their place, they will, if directed aright, develop in their hearts a strong and salient faith in the great eternal verities of this gospel. . . . There is no end to their potential when they are blessed with faith."

In conclusion, President Hinckley said, "You never can foretell the consequences of this work. . . . Yours is a mission to bless." ("Yours is to bless, new mission presidents are told: Missionary work is basic and fundamental to Church," Church News [Saturday, 3 July 2004]: 3).

In the June 2004 mission presidents' seminar the new missionary guide Preach My Gospel was unveiled. Acting President of the Twelve Elder Boyd K. Packer said about to the participants: "This is a major change in direction. We know it is the right direction. Where it will lead is on the right course."

"While introducing the new program at the seminar for mission presidents, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why the changes were necessary. "Missionaries have to be prepared spiritually today in order to go into a world that has become as difficult as the one we are now living in. They must be powerful gospel teachers. They must know the doctrine." M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained why the changes were necessary. "Missionaries have to be prepared spiritually today in order to go into a world that has become as difficult as the one we are now living in. They must be powerful gospel teachers. They must know the doctrine.

Raising the standards for missionary service was an important step, but in addition to having "raised the bar," Elder Ballard said, “we have worked very hard in preparing materials that we hope will make a significant difference in preparing missionaries to find, teach, baptize, and retain more of our Father in Heaven’s children.... This manual is a guide to what a missionary needs to know and to become in order to be a teacher prepared to declare the message of the Restoration to the people of the world.

When a missionary..has the Spirit of the Lord with him...the investigator feels something. That’s what Preach My Gospel is designed to do, to prepare the missionaries with that kind of power.... In some parts of the world there are those who just simply are not interested in religion. We have to help people understand the message of the Restoration to penetrate through that.... The only way that that is going to happen is to prepare the missionaries as never before."

Also Elder Ballard said: "We need great missionaries to fight a battle against an adversary that is destroying all that is good....

This is a tough world. Some areas of the world are not interested in religion. We must penetrate (that indifference). The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have prayed diligently to know what to do. We must lift and prepare missionaries as never before so they can bear powerful testimony. They must treasure doctrines so thoroughly in their hearts that they can teach the reality of the Apostasy and the Restoration, and the divine translation of the Book of Mormon and the need to keep God's commandments.

This kind of teaching will lead to a request for baptism. (Church News, [Saturday, 6 November 2004]: 8).

President Gordon B. Hinckley remarked at the 2004 mission presidents' seminar: "Missionary work is a basic and fundamental work of the Church.... It was begun before the Church was organized, and there has never been a period in our history when it has not gone forward. . . .You never can foretell the consequences of this work." (Church News [Saturday, 1 January 2005]: 14).

2005 Mission Presidents' Seminar

On June 21 2005 President Hinckley told 130 new mission presidents and their wives during the week long mission presidents seminar at the Provo Missionary Training Center to "Go forward, nothing doubting." For the first time, President Hinckley's annual message to the mission presidents was telecast by satellite to 211 mission presidents and their wives around the world.

A detailed account of President Gordon B. Hinckley's address was reported by Shaun D. Stahle in the Church News:

"Serving as a mission president is "no ordinary calling," said President Gordon B. Hinckley. "It is a calling of tremendous consequences. Not only will it affect your lives, but it will affect in a very important and inescapable way the future lives of all those who serve with you."

Addressing 130 mission presidents and their wives gathered in the Provo Missionary Training Center June 21 for a week long mission presidents seminar, and 211 presidents and spouses in their missions around the world — for the first time by satellite broadcast — President Hinckley offered counsel and a perspective on the growth of the Church.

"I have had a very long exposure to missionary work since I was called as a missionary 72 years ago," he began. "I have been acquainted with every problem that has arisen, with every plan that has been devised, with every aspect of the work. All of this has made me aware of the tremendous responsibility that you brethren and sisters have."

President Hinckley laid on the shoulders of the mission presidents "the responsibility to see that everyone who serves under your direction grows in spirituality, capacity and maturity. You will have greater influence than anyone else in their growth and development while you are their leader.

"You are responsible for their physical well-being, their safety, their health and matters of hygiene and deportment.

"You are responsible for their emotional well-being, to see that they grow in their understanding of the scriptures, in their prayers and in their service.

"You will be responsible to see that they develop qualities of leadership, which will blossom and grow as the years pass when they will be called upon to be future leaders in the Church and in their vocational pursuits."

President Hinckley spoke of the various plans over the years to present the missionary message and said: "They have all been good. They have all produced results."

Unfortunately, he said, in some instances, the plans degenerated into rote presentations rather than teaching by the Spirit.

"I am satisfied that if missionaries will cultivate the Spirit of the Lord and live worthily of it, they will be guided to say those things and teach in such a way as to respond to the needs of those they teach," he said.

He spoke of the new missionary plan called "Preach My Gospel," and said "it is intended to free the missionaries from memorized presentations and requires that they speak under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Following this process, "investigators will be led to an understanding of principles and concepts which will bring them to conviction, conversion and testimony."

As a general rule, continued President Hinckley, seek to teach families with fathers, mothers and children. He recounted the experience of Bishop Paulo Henrique Itinose of the Santana Ward, Aracatuba Brazil Stake, who was concerned about retention of converts and found that those who are baptized with another member of the family are the most likely to remain active.

" 'I realized,' " said Bishop Itinose, as quoted by President Hinckley, " 'that to teach families, especially parents, we as ward members would have to get more involved.'

"As the bishop worked with the members of his ward they became more involved, and the missionaries became more enthusiastic. Members introduced more friends to them," said President Hinckley.

As a result, 32 converts were baptized in that one ward.

"I commend that kind of effort to you," he said. "It will bring into the Church stronger converts, and they will remain active."

When all is said and done, continued President Hinckley, "this work of the Church is a spiritual endeavor. It is a thing of the heart more than a thing of the head. The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God."

President Hinckley spoke of the early converts to the Church, characterizing them as "poor in the goods of the world," people of integrity, law abiding, and of good intellect.

If missionaries focused more on "those who may be poor, but who are honest and good people," there would be greater progress in the work, he said.

President Hinckley put the growth of the Church into perspective by detailing the meteoric rise in membership during his years of service.

"I have seen the miracles of the great work which you will be doing," he said. "In 1960, I was given responsibility for the work in Asia. . . . In none of these places was the work strong. There were few converts, most of them youth. . . . But I have seen the marvelous changes that have occurred."

He told how the membership of one in the Philippines has grown to more than half a million.

He spoke of the same growth in Mexico, in Central and South America where he had administrative responsibilities. "Miracles have happened in Africa," he said.

"Almost all of this tremendous growth and strengthening is the result of missionary endeavor."

President Hinckley noted that in this anniversary year non-LDS scholars speak of the Prophet Joseph Smith, not derisively, but admiringly and with great puzzlement. "They cannot explain him," he said. "They cannot accept him, but they cannot understand him nor dismiss him."

President Hinckley shared his thoughts of the Prophet Joseph Smith, an "inconspicuous lad," and said, "Can anyone doubt the divine mission of Joseph Smith?"

"My final word to you is: go forward, nothing doubting," he said. "God will strengthen you where you are weak." ("'No ordinary calling': At annual seminar President Hinckley addresses mission leaders," Church News [Saturday, 25 June 2005]: 4).

R. Scott Lloyd of the Church News reported President James E. Faust address on 22 June 2005 to the mission presidents and their wives:

"With an informal approach, President James E. Faust during the Mission Presidents Seminar invited specific mission presidents and wives to read selected passages of scripture to "emphasize the blessings of the Lord which come to us as humble servants in missionary work."

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, gave his presentation June 22 at the Missionary Training Center, using large-screen projected images of the scripture verses, mostly from the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon. In some cases he encouraged his listeners to apply the passages specifically to themselves.

For example, pertaining to Doctrine and Covenants 4, which states, "He that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not," President Faust asked, "Who perisheth not?"

"Us, our missionaries," was the reply.

"I hate to admit how long it was before I realized that Section 4 was really talking to me," President Faust reflected.

Addressing John 4:36, "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together," President Faust asked what that means. He thus elicited the reply that it has deep meaning for those who work hard to introduce the gospel to people but perhaps have never baptized, with others coming along later to reap what an earlier missionary had sown.

"You're talking to the right man," President Faust said, reflecting that when he served his mission in Brazil, in one year the mission total was three baptisms. Told that there are now more than 800,000 Church members in the country, with about 30 percent in Sao Paulo alone, he said, "Well, I used to preside over Sao Paulo, and we had about 28 members."

Later, President Faust asked a sister who is going with her husband to a Spanish-speaking mission to read Doctrine and Covenants 11:20-21, which promises that if one seeks first to obtain God's word, his tongue will be loosed and he will have God's Spirit to declare His word.

"How many of you need now to learn another language?" he asked. "Well, I put this in here to give you some comfort."

Near the conclusion of his presentation, President Faust focused on three scriptures — Jacob 3:1; Alma 29:4; and Moroni 7:29-30, which teach that success comes to those who have "strong faith and firm minds."

"All right, presidents, what kind of a mission do you want?" he asked. "Well, you can have the kind of mission you want, subject, of course, to the will of the Lord, if you have what? Strong faith and firm minds in every form of godliness."

In conclusion, he invoked blessings on the departing presidents and their wives. "Bless you in all your comings and all of your goings. Bless your children and their companions, your children's children. . . . I pray, in your companionships, you will be tender and understanding and sweet with each other. Hold hands together as you say your prayers." ("Scriptural guidance: New presidents, wives discuss selected passages," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 2005]: 4).


President Thomas S. Monson greets President Norbert Ounleau, 35, of the Ivory Coast Abidjan Mission, the youngest president attending the annual training seminar. Photo by Shaun Stahle©Deseret News 2005

Shaun D. Stahle reported in the Church News in detail the remarks of President Thomas S. Monson:

"Having just spoken to hundreds of elders and sister missionaries in a special devotional in the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, were quickly shuttled to a nearby chapel where 130 newly called mission presidents and their wives awaited.

With scarcely a moment to catch his breath, he launched into a discourse of scripture, counsel and personal experience, admonishing the presidents to make the most of this season of service.

The mission field, he said, "is a field of making memories."

To impress the significance of their callings, and the "worth of souls in the sight of God," President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, recounted an experience with President David O. McKay about 43 years ago.

One day, having just returned from serving as mission president in eastern Canada, President Monson was leaving the Church Administration Building when he greeted President David O. McKay, who was leaving the building with another person.

President Monson shared with him the farewell greeting from a French-Canadian sister who said, "I will never see the Prophet of the Lord or shake his hand. However, you will. When you do see him, will you tell him it is in my behalf."

President McKay smiled and took my hand and said, "This handshake is for that dear sister."

After this short conversation, President Monson finished walking down the steps and was "half-way to the rose garden" when President McKay called to him "in a booming voice" and motioned for him to return.

Then, putting his finger near President Monson's face, President McKay said, with a smile, "Remember Brother Monson, once a missionary, always a missionary."

"Yes, sir," President Monson replied.

Because of that admonition, "I try to be a missionary every day of my life," he said.

President Monson spoke to the mission presidents June 23 as part of the annual week long training seminar at the Provo MTC.

Imparting counsel garnered over years of extensive experience as a mission president and General Authority supervising missionary work in many parts of the world, President Monson said, "My philosophy is: No one fails in my class. It's my responsibility to show them how to succeed. . . . Show how (to perform missionary work) by your own efforts. That's how you really teach."

President Monson spoke of the great admiration missionaries acquire for their presidents. "You'll find they pitch their voices like yours. Your favorite scriptures become their favorites. If you are an engineer, they'll all want to be engineers. It's the greatest admiration society in the world.

"Don't let them down," he said.

President Monson spoke of his call as a 31-year-old to serve as mission president in Toronto. He told how he returned home that evening to tell his wife, who was sick in bed expecting their third child, that they had three weeks to prepare to leave. With two young children and a third expected, they left their new home of one year for Toronto, an area they had never seen.

"It turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of our lives," he said.

He assured the newly called mission presidents and their wives, who might be inclined to worry about their familes, that the Lord will do for them just as He did for Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in 1833. Long absent from their families and concerned about their welfare, the two were assured by the Lord that "your families are well; they are in mine hands" (see Doctrine and Covenants 100:1).

"All shall be well with you and yours," added President Monson.

Discouragement can plague missionaries, he acknowledged. "But you don't need to lose them. You need to inspire them. Sometimes that's difficult," he said, telling several experiences of his missionaries and how, when some were discouraged, he invited them to spend several days in the mission home where they could feel the spirit of the mission president and mission leaders.

"The Lord magnifies a missionary if he does his part," he testified. ("'Always a missionary': Pres. Monson details significance of calling," Church News [Saturday, 2 July 2005]: 4).

Shaun D. Stahle also included other information about the 2005 mission presidents' seminar:

During his short lifetime, the Prophet Joseph Smith began a great missionary work that was worldwide in its perspective and visionary in its purpose, said President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"The calling of Samuel Smith in June 1830 as the first missionary was the beginning of a great missionary effort by Joseph Smith. During his lifetime he sent 35 missionaries around the world, including 18 to England . . . and eight to Canada," he said. Joseph Smith also sent missionaries to Jerusalem, French Polynesia in the Pacific, Russia and Australia.

"The remarkable thing about these early missionaries," continued President Packer in a Church News interview, "was that they carried only two things: the announcement of the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. That's all they had. They did not yet have the revelations on the priesthood. Priesthood quorums were not yet organized."

Referring to the early sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that call for the gospel to be preached across the world, President Packer said, "All that we now know about missionary work can be traced to that beginning."

From these early missionaries, continued President Packer, come great stories of the gospel taking root around the world.

This month marks the 175-year anniversary of the first missionary effort. On June 30, 1830, Samuel Smith loaded his knapsack with the first copies of the Book of Mormon and embarked on a 25-mile trek through upstate New York .

Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the work of preaching the gospel has quietly spread over the earth.

Since Samuel slept under the apple tree on damp ground that first night has come an army of more than 905,000 missionaries who have served — including President Gordon B. Hinckley who was part of a missionary force of about 1,000 in 1935.

In 1980, during the 150-year celebration of missionary work, missionaries served in 75 countries with the Book of Mormon translated in 32 languages — then, a cause for celebration and gratitude.

Today, missionaries serve in 160 countries, using copies of the Book of Mormon translated into 104 languages, which includes 32 partial translations. To reach a world that is becoming more and more immune to spiritual things, a finer quality of missionary is being required.

The announcement of two new missions in Africa brings the total of missions to 341, confirming what President Hinckley observed in the October 2003 general conference: "the sun never sets on this work of the Lord as it is touching the lives of people across the earth."

Today, people are becoming more impenetrable by spiritual things, as Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve said during last year's mission presidents seminar.

The conditions of contemporary society have given rise to the most ambitious effort by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in directing the missionary effort of the Church since missionary discussions were introduced in the 1950s.

Raising the bar on the quality of missionaries and introducing "Preach My Gospel," a new guide to missionary service, are improving missionary effectiveness.

"With the increase in spirituality of the missionaries," said President Le Roy S. Wirthlin of the Germany Munich/Austria Mission, "we noticed a new phenomenon; instead of the missionaries doing all the finding, we noticed that people are now seeking out the missionaries.

"They ask, 'How can I get one of those books?' Or 'When are you coming to visit?' Or even, 'What do I have to do to join your Church?'

"Although not record numbers, 30 percent of our baptisms last year were from such self-referrals. It is continuing," he said.

President Jose L. Alonso of the Mexico Tijuana Mission sees an improvement in the quality of missionaries.

"We see new missionaries come from the Missionary Training Center looking enthusiastic, determined to elevate themselves to the magnitude of their calling. We see them eager, with a sincere desire to be His ambassadors."

President Alonso also credits members. "We see success working with members and leaders of the ward. We receive great support to find, teach, retain and invite. We observe that working together we find more families.

"One stake president felt the need to accompany missionaries to teach the lessons. Members of the ward fellowshipped the investigators through their baptism and confirmation and continued watching over them as young members. The father received the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, his wife received a calling. A year later the entire family was sealed in the Hermosillo Mexico Temple."

President G. Ward Taylor of the Toronto Canada East Mission, serving in the mission of his youth when President Thomas S. Monson and President Frank H. Pitcher presided, said, "We have learned firsthand, as the Savior taught, that service is the best way to touch a hesitant heart. Because of English class, many wonderful souls are now numbered among His saints.

"During the past three years converts have come from 81 countries. Many of them were found as a result of missionaries teaching English classes. They were intrigued and remained after class to find out what motivated young men and women to leave home, dress up in suits and teach conversational English."

President Dirk Smibert of the New Zealand Auckland Mission remembers serving as a missionary 30 years ago and giving "wooden presentations," as President Hinckley described memorized approaches.

"Missionaries now realize that in order to teach by the Spirit, they need to qualify for the Spirit," he said. He told of a missionary who struggled to know of his worthiness to serve. One morning, after an earnest prayer the night before, the missionary observed how the beautiful sunrise of morning brought exquisite joy in contrast to the bitter pains of guilt.

The most successful missionaries are those who "treasure up the words of life," said President Lawrence E. Corbridge of the Chile Santiago North Mission.

"The combined effect of the changes of the past three years has been astounding, not only on those being taught, but also on those doing the teaching. The doctrines of salvation are being written in the hearts and souls of missionaries.

"These missionaries are amazing. In some instances I see timid elders get off the airplane, and then, over time, I see valor and courage grow.

"Whatever you parents, teachers, advisers, bishops and leaders are doing — keep it up! Your sons and daughters are truly amazing. If the bar has been raised, the missionaries of this day are rising to meet it.

"I am astounded by how little they complain — and that is not for want of things to complain about. Mission life is not easy, but that doesn't deter them.

"What a marvel and what a wonder, the work of the Lord." ("Wondrous work of preaching gospel: Worldwide in its perspective, visionary in its purpose, missionary work continues," Church News [Saturday, 11 June 2005]: 4).

In the 2005 mission presidents' seminar held in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center, Elder M. Russell Ballard told mission presidents and their wives: "This [Preach My Gospel] manual is a guide to what a missionary needs to know and to become in order to be a teacher empowered to declare the message of the Restoration to the people of the world.

"[Preach My Gospel] will require greater effort on the part of the missionaries,” President Gordon B. Hinckley told mission presidents in a satellite broadcast. “It will require much of prayer and much of study....If there is better teaching in the conversion process, there will be greater retention of those who are baptized."

2006 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In June 2006 one hundred and twelve mission presidents and their wives were instructed at the MTC in Provo, Utah. The conference started with 111 but another couple showed up late.

Shaun D. Stahle reported on President Gordon B. Hinckley's remarks in great detail:

""For us to partake of the sacrament is most appropriate when our message as missionaries is to declare and testify to the reality and the divinity of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ," said President Gordon B. Hinckley in addressing new mission presidents and their wives during a sacrament meeting Sunday morning, June 25.

The gathering was unusual in the fact that in past years mission presidents and their wives haven't been at the Missionary Training Center in Provo on a Sunday; they usually check in on a Monday and depart for their assigned missions before the week ends.

Through June 29, 112 new mission leaders and their wives received counsel, instructions and inspiration from President Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust; President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Elder Richard G. Scott, Elder Robert D. Hales, Elder Henry B. Eyring and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Earl C. Tingey and Elder Charles Didier of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Seventy, and Bishop Richard C. Edgley, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. (Reports on President Monson's and President Faust's addresses are on pages 6 and 7 of this issue; further reports on the seminar will be published in the issue of July 8.)

President Hinckley recalled that when he was a missionary in England some 72 years ago he attended a district conference at which the mission president asked, "What are we here for? What is our message to these people of the British Isles?"

President Hinckley noted, "Someone said, 'We are here to tell the people that a new and final dispensation has been introduced.' Another said, 'Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son.' A third said, 'The Book of Mormon has come to earth.' And so the answers came.

"The president then said, 'What you have said is true. But when all is said and done our most important obligation is to bear witness to these people that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that through His great atoning sacrifice all of us have the opportunity of immortality and eternal life.'

"And so it is with us in this day," President Hinckley declared. "Our greatest opportunity, and our greatest challenge, is to bear witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that He gave His life for the sins of each of us."

President Hinckley thanked the mission presidents and their wives for their "ready response" to the calls they had received, and assured them that the Lord will not forsake them.

"Missionary work is hard. It has never been easy. I suppose it never will be easy," he observed.

He read from a letter from a mission president who has been in the field for a year: "We are growing in this work and are learning to love it. As you predicted at our setting apart, the first six months were somewhat difficult, but I am pleased to report that these latest six months have been sweet, filled with a tremendous joy, as we have come to know somewhat of the responsibilities which are now ours. We are better able to shoulder that responsibility with greater courage and faith."

The mission president then listed some challenges and hardships endured by missionaries, and added, "The miracle of it all, however, is that each morning these young men and women . . . rise up with a smile on their faces. With courage, faith, and testimony in their hearts they return to their purpose and go out to find someone to teach."

President Hinckley read from a letter by a mission president who is about to be released: "You told us that what we were about to experience would be both the hardest thing we had ever done and the crowning experience of our lives. You were completely right on both counts.

"I have marveled over the fatigue we have felt at the conclusion of the day, on many occasions, and the sense of renewal we always experienced as we arose the next day to continue our service. . . ."

President Hinckley said, "This work, as we all know, is a basic and fundamental part of the Church. It is older than the Church itself, and, we may assume, will continue right into the millennium." He further said, "The final words of the resurrected Lord are still binding upon us: 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' " (Matthew 28:19).

President Hinckley spoke of the retention of converts, saying, "Your missionaries should teach them so effectively and be certain of their conversions at the time they are baptized, that they will never fall away. What a wonderful thing it will be if in five or ten years you find the converts of your administration active and happy, full of faith. But what a tragedy if you should discover that the fruits of your work have all come to naught.

"Alma the Book of Mormon prophet said: 'And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them — yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away' (Alma 23:6).

"Think of that," President Hinckley said. "Every convert saved and active.

"All of us are the fruit of missionary work, and our very presence is an indication of the effectiveness of those who are our forebears." ("'Our message': Declare, testify to the reality and divinity of the Atonement," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2006]: 5).

President Gordon B. Hinckley told the new mission presidents and their wives that
" Missionary work is hard. It has never been easy. I suppose it never will be easy.... This work, as we all know, is a basic and fundamental part of the Church. It is older than the Church itself, and, we may assume, will continue right into the millennium....

Regardless of the productivity, our responsibility is to the Lord's people everywhere. We go wherever we can....

You were not called to fail. You were called to succeed. And succeed you will. (New Mission Presidents Seminar Sacrament Meeting, June 25, 2006; Church News [Saturday, 4November 2006]: 2).

Retention

I return to something I have talked about for years, and that is retention of converts....

We have accomplished nothing if the individual we baptize today becomes totally inactive tomorrow. The most serious problem with which we have to deal is the loss of converts.... It must not happen. We can do better.

What a wonderful thing it will be if in five or ten years you find the converts of your administration active and happy, full of faith. But what a tragedy if you should discover that the fruits of your work have all come to naught....

All of us are the fruit of missionary work, and our very presence is an indication of the effectiveness of those who are our forebears. — From Mission Presidents' Seminar sacrament meeting, June 25, 2006; Church News [Saturday, 4 November 2006]: 4).

Bear witness of Christ

Our greatest opportunity, and our greatest challenge, is to bear witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that He gave His life for the sins of each of us. We should constantly keep this in mind and welcome every opportunity to do so. — From Mission Presidents' Seminar sacrament meeting, June 25, 2006; Church News [Saturday, 4 November 2006]: 4).

President Thomas S. Monson addressed the group on 26 June 2006 according to Shaun D. Stahle who reported his remarks in the Church News: "In addressing the annual seminar for new mission presidents June 26 at the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Thomas S. Monson drew from his vast experience in missionary service-—using insightful anecdotes and scriptures-—to illustrate for the 112 newly called mission presidents how they might improve effectiveness.

Missionaries have a call from the Lord and want to serve and honor Him, President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, told the new leaders and their wives. "Yours is the privilege of showing them how to do so. They have the spirit. They just need to be shown and taught how they might be most effective.

"You have a charge, they have a charge," continued President Monson, quoting the Lord's mandate in Matthew 28:18, 20 to "teach all nations."

"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel," President Monson affirmed, referring to the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith (see History of the Church 2:478).

"There is a promise to go with the charge," said President Monson. He then quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 84:88: "'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

Directing his remarks to the personal challenges mission presidents and their wives face, President Monson acknowledged, "You are no doubt worried about your children and your grandchildren. You may wonder how they will get along without you."

Referring to Doctrine and Covenants section 100, President Monson said, "Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith had been long absent from their families and they were worried about them."

Quoting verse one, he read, " 'Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you,' and He called them by name, 'your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.' "

Drawing on his 20 years of experience serving as a member of the Missionary Executive Committee-—having served under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball and with Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder David B. Haight and Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve-—President Monson said, "We personally called every missionary. One of us would read the name and the detail recorded on the sheet — no computers in those days—-and then . . . whomever was in charge that day of assigning would indicate . . . where each would go."

President Monson told of having made one assignment but then didn't feel well about it. After naming a second assignment, he said he still didn't feel well about it. After reviewing the material a third time, he found additional information that had previously gone unnoticed. Once he learned that this young man had learned Spanish at his mother's knee, President Monson felt inspired to send him to a Spanish-speaking country, where "he served faithfully and well."

"This is the kind of call that comes to your missionaries," President Monson testified.

Directing comments to the wives of the mission presidents, President Monson remarked, "You sisters have a most significant role to play." He spoke of having been called to preside over the Canadian Mission from 1959 to 1962. Observing how his wife, Frances, bore her challenges as a young mother with three children while guiding the Primary, Young Women and Relief Society auxiliaries in 56 branches and caring for the concerns of 190 missionaries, President Monson told the mission presidents' wives, "You have the ability, with the Lord's help, to do all that is required of you."

President Monson shared his wife's "special formula" to help missionaries who were discouraged. "Such a missionary would be invited to stay a few days at the mission home, eat at our table, and enjoy some special treats which Sister Monson would cook. Within the mission home, Sister Monson had a small cupboard where the baptismal clothing was kept. She would ask the discouraged missionary if he would help her with a little project-—namely, painting the inside shelves of this cupboard. She kept a gallon of ivory-colored paint on hand for this purpose. The elder would remove the baptismal clothing from the shelves, wash the shelves, let them dry, and then would apply a coat of paint. While waiting for the paint to dry, he would stay a few more days and then would return to his proselyting area, renewed in spirit and ready to resume his labors." President Monson continued, "Of course the cupboard never did need painting, but it saved many missionaries."

Mission presidents build character, explained President Monson. "That's what you are doing. And your missionaries will want to emulate you. Your favorite scriptures will be their favorites. Your favorite songs will be their favorites. You will give a talk and find out that it's been given all over the mission by your missionaries. They will love you that much."

He quoted President Harold B. Lee to offer "a little reassurance to you from an apostle and a former president: 'When you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to the Lord's help.' " ("Preaching the gospel is the greatest of duties," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2006]: 6).

On June 26, 2006 Joseph B. Wirthlin in an address entitled "Band of Brothers" said: "Some of the choicest blessings of my life have been the close friendships I have experienced over the years. Often, these friendships have been forged in the fires of shared experience. I think back with fondness on the football teams I played on, the missionaries with whom I served in Austria and Switzerland, the bishoprics and stake presidencies with whom I served. I think about my family—the happiness and grief we have shared and how those moments of tenderness have amplified the love we have for each other. Most recently, I think about the indescribable bond of brotherhood I have felt within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Though each of these groups was very different, each had common characteristics. Perhaps this is because we struggled so much together, or perhaps because we linked arms together in a common journey where we had to depend so completely on each other. These relationships are the foundation of many of the most precious and rewarding moments of my life.

It is my desire to discuss establishing a bond of brotherhood in your assignments. Please understand that when I speak of “brotherhood,” I include our wonderful and indispensable sisters in that definition.

Establishing a bond of brotherhood is critical. If those who serve with you feel this mutual love and trust, the work of the Lord will thrive and heaven will aid you in your efforts. Fail to establish this bond, however, and you may find your work tedious, toilsome, and unproductive....

Average leaders used the carrot and the stick to motivate those around them. Great leaders communicate a vision that captures the imagination and fires the hearts and minds of those around them. Average leaders inspire people to punch a time clock. Great leaders inspire industry and passion.

You can get people to work by using threats or by promising rewards. But if you want to create a band of brothers, you must inspire those who work with you and encourage them to give their all in a great cause....

If someone were to ask you who we are as a people, what would you say? Who are we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The answer, I believe, is a simple one given to us by the Savior Himself. We are a people who love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And we are a people who love our neighbor as ourselves. (See Matthew 22:37–39.)

This answer satisfies many of the questions asked about why we do what we do. Why does the Church ask so much of its members? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor. Why do we do temple work? Missionary work? Welfare work? Because we love the Lord, and we love our neighbor.

These are the roots of all that we do. We do not send our missionaries out into the world to collect statistics. We send them into the world because we love our Heavenly Father, and we love our fellowmen.

That is who we are as a people. That is why we do what we do....

No great cause ever succeeded without great effort.

One of the reasons the men of Easy Company volunteered for hazardous duty was that when they went into combat, they wanted to be next to someone they could trust—someone who wouldn’t do something foolish that could get them killed. They didn’t want to be next to someone who was lazy or who hadn’t paid attention during training or who wasn’t physically capable of what was required. These men had worked to the limits of human capacity.

From the days of Adam and Eve until now, our Heavenly Father has commanded that we work. Work is the foundation of success and creation. It is the secret of every successful enterprise.

Even so, there are some who go to great lengths to avoid work. In fact, a few people I have known have worked exceptionally hard to get out of work. This is something I have never understood. My father was a hard worker, and he taught me to be the same. Some of the most fulfilling moments of our lives are when we establish worthwhile goals and work to achieve them.

I know that some stop listening when they hear about goal setting. I have found it exhilarating. Each night, I think about my goals and what I want to accomplish the next day. And then I write on a small card the key things I can do to bring me closer to my goals.

Give your best effort. Settle into the harness and work with all your might. As you do so, you will find joy in your service....

Those who will work with you all have within them the potential to be heroes. As you inspire those who serve with you and give them a vision of the great cause, help them set their priorities, and encourage them to settle into the harness, overcome their fears, and press on in faith, you may create your own company of heroes."
(Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Band of Brothers,” Ensign [February 2008]: 28–33).

Dallin H. Oaks also addressed the group, Shaun D. Stahle summarized his remarks: "Retaining new converts in the Church begins with understanding who is being baptized and knowing something of the challenges they face, said Elder Dallin H. Oaks while addressing the New Mission Presidents Seminar June 27.

Drawing upon surveys and statistics, Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve said, "Most of those we baptize are children, youth and very young adults. Most of this majority are very young. Children ages 8 to 15 make up 40 percent."

They are at a much higher risk for inactivity if their parents are not active, he cautioned. And most are not.

"Children and youth converts require special attention by the ward council, which should understand that they need to focus their help on the activity of the parents as well as the child or youth convert."

Another challenge faced by many converts worldwide is that a significant percent are not native to the country where they are baptized, he said. This illustrates "the magnitude of our challenge to see that new members have a friend, a responsibility, and nourishing by the word of God," he said, quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Notice, continued Elder Oaks, "President Hinckley did not say a calling, he said a responsibility. In other expressions, he has referred to this as an assignment. Although he did not say a calling, too often we have taken responsibility or assignment to mean a calling. Certainly a new member should eventually receive a calling, but the timing is critical."

Members shouldn't be surprised, he added, that some new converts who suddenly face a strange and challenging new responsibility, without the close support of seasoned friends, simply quit coming. "How much better," he said, "to begin by giving new members a responsibility or an assignment, rather than a calling."

The best measurement of retention, he said, is the number of males 12 years and older who receive the Aaronic Priesthood within four to six months after they are baptized, he said.

Other important measurements of a convert's likelihood to remain active include attending Church before baptism, the number of addictions, and the source of converts.

"All three of these have important lessons to guide us in our retention efforts," he said. "If investigators attend Church many times before they are baptized, they are a great deal more likely to attend Church thereafter, and therefore, be retained in activity. In other words, pre-baptism Church attendance is closely related to retention."

A serious retention factor for adult and youth converts is conquering their use of addictive substances like smoking, alcohol and pornography.

Most adult converts had to give up at least one addictive substance to be baptized, he said. And most of these, especially smokers, continued to be troubled by their addiction after baptism. In the past, most converts reported that neither missionaries nor members helped with this problem.

"Help is desperately needed if we are to retain," Elder Oaks said.

"Assistance in overcoming addictions is vital, and it simply will not happen if we do not teach and see that our missionaries do all that they can to assist and to get members to assist."

Elder Oaks reported the results of a survey in which converts where asked who helped them live the Word of Wisdom as to tobacco-—the most addictive substance in the survey.

More than 40 percent of the converts said no one helped them.

"These distressingly low figures for member help show how far we have to go in our education and encouragement of members to help in this vital area of assisting new members to stay out of the clutches of their old addictions," Elder Oaks said.

He cautioned that "priesthood leaders and members should not be shocked or discouraged if they learn that an investigator or new member might be struggling with such problems. They should show confidence in the individual and not be judgmental if the person yields to an old craving."

The last vital data he presented on retention stressed the importance of having a friend.

The percent of new adult converts in North America who had close active LDS friends or family before they started their investigation was 69 percent.

"In other words," he said, "our members are participating in the missionary effort by living the gospel and being active in Church and close to their non-LDS acquaintances, even if they do not give their names as referrals." ("Retaining converts begins with understanding difficulties," Church News [Saturday, 8 July 2006]: 4).

On 28 June 2006 President James E. Faust of the First Presidency addressed the group. R. Scott Lloyd reported in the Church News his remarks: " Declaring his belief that "we must be prepared for more converts to come into the Church than we have ever had before," President James E. Faust emphasized two "time-tested principles of conversion": the bearing of testimony and being guided by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.

President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke June 28 at the annual Mission Presidents Seminar.

He said missionaries must teach some absolutes, those being that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind through the Atonement; that through Joseph Smith, the gospel of Christ was restored in its fulness and completeness; that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ; that all of the presidents of the Church since Joseph Smith have held the keys and authority restored to Joseph Smith; and that Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet, seer and revelator to the world at this time.

He cited two incidents from Church history to illustrate principles of conversion. In one, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were addressing a large congregation. Brother Rigdon gave an eloquent sermon but did not specifically preach about the unique doctrines of the Restoration. As related by Parley P. Pratt, "Brother Joseph arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost, spoke in great power, bearing testimony of the visions he had seen, the ministering of angels which he had enjoyed; and how he had found the plates of the Book of Mormon and translated them by the gift and power of God. He commenced by saying if nobody else had the courage to testify of so glorious a message from heaven, and of the finding of so glorious a record, he felt to do it in justice to the people and leave the event with God."

To illustrate being guided by the whisperings of the Spirit, President Faust told of the success Wilford Woodruff had in the Malvern Hills of England, being guided there by the Spirit's prompting even though it might have seemed illogical because it was farm country. There, he contacted the United Brethren "and had perhaps the greatest harvest ever in the history of the Church."

"The principle of being led by the Spirit must guide all of our missionaries," President Faust affirmed. "Otherwise they will not be productive and not be effective."

While many missions in the Church do not have large numbers of convert baptisms, "no one fails if they do their best," President Faust said. "Some reap where others have sown. As we look backwards we can see progress more clearly."

Noting that he baptized one person during his 33-month mission to Brazil over 65 years ago, and that it had only one mission, he said Brazil now has 196 stakes, 37 missions and almost 1 million members.

"Was my first mission a failure? I think not. Looking back at the time it was very discouraging. I repeat what I have said before, the harvest is the Lord's. . . . It is your responsibility to thrust in the sickle."

He emphasized that mission presidents and their wives, as well as missionaries, ought to be familiar with what is in the white missionary handbook and read it frequently. Otherwise, he said, "You may make rules which are in conflict and are exceptions to the policy because you do not know what the rules are."

President Faust said he does not know anything that requires such a total commitment and dedication as missionary work.

He said missionaries need to have the right attitude in contacting people, cast aside all fear and be positive about the message they bear.

"Now, it is my firm conviction that missionary work will never be what it should without the involvement of members both before and after baptism," he remarked, adding that mission presidents should have the closest of relationships with stake presidents, who should "feel some responsibility for and ownership in missionary work."

"The loss of even one convert baptism is a great loss to that person's eternal welfare and to the Church," he said. "We have too many who come in the front door and go out the back door because they have not understood, they have not been taught, not felt the spirit of the guidance of the Lord, not been called to labor in the vineyard, who also have not been able to forsake old habits or conduct that is inconsistent with Church membership."

President Faust shared some scriptures he loves "that open another dimension of missionary work." These included Doctrine and Covenants 75:5; James 5:20; and Doctrine and Covenants 84:61-62. They teach that those who are faithful in the work will be crowned with glory and such faithfulness will go a long way toward having one's sins forgiven. ("Principles of conversion are time-tested: Testify, be guided by the Spirit, Pres. Faust says," Church News [Saturday, 1 July 2006]: 7).

On the 28th of June Elder Henry D. Eyring addressed the mission presidents and their wives:

"Addressing the New Mission Presidents seminar June 28, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke to the theme, "Teaching by the Holy Ghost."

Getting revelation, he said, "is hard. It is not easy. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is possible, but, oh, it is so hard."

In spiritual matters, missionaries "will hit walls," he said. "Missionary work is hard. Life is difficult. And they will come to places where they know that they should get revelation, and they will not find that it comes. They will struggle with that, and you need to know how to help them."

Elder Eyring reiterated the value of prayer and scripture study in inviting the Holy Ghost. "But it is not easy," he continued, recounting how President Spencer W. Kimball said that when he felt that heaven was closed to him, he would go back to the scriptures again.

"You can no more force the Spirit to respond than you can force a bean to sprout or an egg to hatch before its time," he said, quoting a statement by President Boyd K. Packer in the Preach My Gospel missionary manual.

The object of a mission president and his wife, Elder Eyring said, is to create a climate to foster growth, nourish and protect the gifts of the Spirit.

"You want to create in your mission and in the lives of your missionaries a climate which allows them to have the gifts of the Spirit," he said.

Missionary service, he continued, requires the gift to teach, the gift to find, the gift to plan, and other gifts.

"These gifts come in a climate where there is faith, and then hope. A change comes in our hearts and we have a feeling of charity — the pure love of Christ," he said.

"The Holy Ghost will teach you things to do to build that climate which allows the gifts of the Spirit to come, not only to teach, but in all that missionaries do."

Faith, he explained, is a principle of action. "If you want to have a climate of faith in your home and in your missionaries' lives, encourage them every time you can to move in faith when they feel impressions."

Reception of the gifts of the Spirit, he added, comes with a meek and lowly heart.

"Find some way," he admonished, "to give them the assurance that one of the sweetest revelations they can ever receive is the revelation that comes with forgiveness and the feeling that they are clean if they are worthy."

Mission presidents would like their missionaries to speak with everyone they see on the street, he said, to be unafraid, to pray over their plans.

"You want all of those things for them and you want them to go to any length, make every effort they can to take the gospel to people," he said.

Elder Eyring then drew an illustration from the sons of Mosiah who had charity. "The pure love of Christ . . . came out of their faith, enough to repent, and an assurance . . . that the Atonement worked in their lives," he said. When missionaries experience this change, he added, "you could not stop them. You won't have a problem of making your missionaries want to talk to people." ("Create climate to foster, nourish, protect gifts," Church News [Saturday, 8 July 2006]: 5).

On the same day, Elder Richard G. Scott also addressed the mission presidents and their wives assembled at the MTC:

"Each missionary must know more about the Atonement and its eternal benefit," said Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"The deeper the understanding of this consummate act of the Savior, the greater will be (the missionary's) capacity to proclaim the message of the Restoration. The more powerful will be the motivation to serve with all their heart, might, mind and strength."

Addressing the New Mission Presidents Seminar June 28, Elder Scott said,

"Pondering the Atonement always evokes the most profound feelings of awe, of gratitude, of humility. It is one of the most powerful motivations to serve to the maximum of our capacities that I know. It often brings feelings of personal inadequacy when we consider how much the Savior has done for us and, no matter how hard we try, how little really we do for Him."

Noting that the Atonement is the central part of the second missionary lesson, Elder Scott said to the presidents, "You are charged with the responsibility to motivate your missionaries to become acquainted with the nature-—the supernal nature—-of the Atonement and the meaning in their own personal lives. You must help them understand that the Atonement is the foundation of much of which they teach and testify.

"For enduring conversion, an investigator must understand the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ," he said.

"I believe that no matter how diligently we study and ponder that we cannot — with our human minds — fully comprehend the eternal significance of His Atonement.

"We cannot fully understand how it was accomplished. We can only appreciate in the smallest measure what it cost the Savior in pain and anguish, and how difficult it was for His Father in Heaven to see Him experience that incomparable challenge of His Atonement.

"Yet, you and I must do all in our power to understand the Atonement as well as we can. We can learn all that is needful to fully live His commandments. To devotedly serve Him and to qualify with our companions and obedient family members to live with Him and our Father in Heaven forever."

Mission presidents, he counseled, need to show missionaries how to teach investigators how the Atonement permits them to repent and be forgiven of their sins.

Elder Scott demonstrated this process by involving the mission presidents and their wives in a group discussion, promising them that by their participation they would receive increased direction of the Spirit.

Among the several topics that were discussed, he asked the mission presidents to complete the statement, "For the Atonement to have more powerful benefit in my life, I must. . . ." This led to a careful study of various scriptures that provided insight.

"As you ponder this in a sacred way, have discussions about what it means," he encouraged.

"Jesus Christ is at the head of His Church," Elder Scott said in closing testimony. "He is not an absent individual. He is intensely active. You will discover that even more than you ever have before in your life. How He loves your missionaries. How He loves you. How He loves the people you teach, and how He will guide you as you live and trust Him." ("Evokes feelings: Pondering Atonement leads to powerful desire to serve," Church News [Saturday, 8 July 2006]: 5).

Elder Boyd K. Packer also shared some remarks with the group. President Boyd K. Packer's remarks concluded the 2006 New Mission Presidents Seminar. Speaking to an audience of 112 mission presidents and their wives in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, his address was broadcast to mission presidents worldwide. The Church News summarized his main points:

"Endeavoring to "give you a vision of your part in the on-rolling work of the Lord, our Master," President Boyd K. Packer addressed newly called mission presidents and their wives during the New Mission Presidents Seminar.

Speaking June 29 at the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said: "You are on a mission. Except for your being parents, you now stand under the grandest call that has yet come to you in mortality. Like parenthood, you are called as husband and wife together."

Continuing, President Packer explained that from the Old Testament to the modern revelations, "the scriptures are laced with references to the words gather and gathering."

The first gathering in this dispensation, he said, was to Kirtland, Ohio, where the saints built a temple. "There Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery 'saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit' (Doctrine and Covenants 110:2), and He prophesied to them that the work would go forth until it filled the whole earth, and 'the fame of this house shall spread to foreign lands' " (v. 10).

In addition, Moses, Elias and Elijah appeared and committed the keys of gathering which "remain in the Church today."

The saints, President Packer said, were driven from Kirtland to Independence, Mo., and from there to Far West, where they were commanded to build a temple. "But they were not to see it built. The mobs drove them away. The Twelve went back at night to set the cornerstones. Wilford Woodruff was ordained an apostle sitting on one of those cornerstones."

From Far West, the saints were driven to Nauvoo, Ill., where they built a city and a temple. The call went out to gather to Nauvoo.

"The first time the restored gospel was preached on the islands of the sea was on the Fox Islands off the coast of Maine, now called Vinalhaven. Wilford Woodruff walked 10 miles to Portland, Maine, then boarded a sloop which took him over to the island."

Elder Woodruff recorded that the first two baptized were a sea captain, Justin Eames, and his wife. "These were the first baptisms performed by proper authority upon any of the islands of the sea . . . in this dispensation," Elder Woodruff wrote.

About that time, a letter arrived from President Thomas B. Marsh of the Quorum of the Twelve, now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 118, calling John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff and Willard Richards to the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Woodruff continued his mission, and spoke of the work of two other missionaries, Elder Hyde and Elder Herritt, the latter of whom died of typhus fever.

"Then came the call for the saints on the Fox Islands to gather to Nauvoo," President Packer related. "They left Maine on October 4, 1838, crossing part of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and part of New York. They traveled with horses and wagons. . . . (They) finally arrived at Quincy, Ill., on April 18, 1839, after six months of intense trials and suffering — one of the great epochs of Church history."

Again, the saints left their homes and gathered "in a land no one had seen except in vision."

"The spirit of gathering rested upon them," President Packer continued. "And they came, first as a trickle, and then as a stream. The Zion to which they came was again under terrible persecution. It was greatly strengthened by their very numbers. They came across the ocean and prairies and across wilderness. They climbed over and through the mighty, towering Rocky Mountains. They came by wagon with ox teams. Most all who came walked 2,000 miles. Three thousand of them pushed handcarts. The spirit of gathering was in their hearts. The Perpetual Emigration Fund was established to help the poor gather from Europe."

In August 1972, a historic change was announced, "a redirection from the Lord. Gathering was not to continue as it had for nearly 150 years. . . . Henceforth, they were to be gathered out of the world into the Church in their own lands into the stakes of Zion. A stake is a refuge from the world," President Packer explained.

At the next general conference, President Harold B. Lee officially announced that the pioneering phase of gathering was over. President Packer said that President Lee quoted the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve at a Mexico City Area Conference the previous August, in which the apostle said, "(This) certainly emphasizes the great need for the teaching and training of local leadership in order to build up the Church within their own native countries."

"A new direction had now been given to the spirit of gathering," President Packer said. "The gathering no longer was to be to the tops of the mountains. Under the direction of the apostles and prophets, the gathering was to be out of the world into the Church in every nation. Every nation was to be the gathering place for its own people. They would gather to build temples.

"It is clear then that the stakes are to be the gathering place and the place for refuge for the members of the Church.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith said, 'What was the object of gathering . . . the people of God in any age of the world? . . . The main object was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He would reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation.' "

Speaking of temple work and families, President Packer added, "The ultimate end of all we do in the Church is to see that parents and children are happy at home and sealed together in the temple."

Today, he continued, after quoting Doctrine and Covenants 90:11, "The gospel is being taught 'in his own tongue, and in his own language.' Every week one of the Twelve, and sometimes one of the Presidency, speaks to multiple stakes across the earth and speaks in every language through the instrument of those faithful and inspired interpreters."

President Packer declared: "The Church has grown now to cover the whole world. This gathering shall continue until the righteous are assembled in the congregations of the saints in all nations of the world." ('Gathering spirit' still continues,' Church News [Saturday, 8 July 2006]: 3).

In 2006 three mission presidents shared their experiences. John Douglas Whisenant and David B. Iwaasa talked about how they were going home. Peter Leonard Joyce talked about the challenges of serving in Utah. 108 mission presidents were called.


2007 Mission Presidents' Seminar

In June 2007 one hundred and eighteen mission presidents and their wives attended the new mission presidents' seminar in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center. President Gordon B. Hinckley addressed them declaring that one million missionaries have now served: "We have made great progress in our missionary work in recent years....We have more missionaries—-and more effective missionaries. It is reliably estimated that a million missionaries have served since the organization of the Church.” A special press conference was held by M. Russell Ballard who described the missionary program and the sacrifice of missionaries to serve.



President Gordon B. Hinckley's remarks were summarized by Shaun D. Stahle: " "We have made great progress in our missionary work in recent years," President Gordon B. Hinckley said. "We have more missionaries and more effective missionaries. It is interesting to note that nearly 400,000 missionaries, or 40 percent of all missionaries who have served in this dispensation, have entered the mission field since March 12, 1995, the day I became president of the Church."

President Hinckley addressed the 118 mission presidents and their wives during the annual New Mission Presidents Seminar held in the Provo Missionary Training Center on Sunday, June 24.

Acknowledging the work of Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve in his assignment as chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, and his work in the creation of "Preach My Gospel," the missionary study guide, President Hinckley said "missionaries do not speak memorized dialogue as they once did, but rather rely on the Spirit, and the results have become evident.

"It is reliably estimated that a million missionaries have served since the organization of the Church. The Church membership has now reached 13 million residing all across the world. It is only the beginning."

President Hinckley recounted the experience of Joseph Smith as a 17-year-old boy who was visited by the Angel Moroni on the night of September 21.

Reading from Joseph Smith History 1:30-33, emphasizing the details of that glorious experience, President Hinckley said, "Imagine, if you will, the tremendous impact of that statement. Joseph was a farm boy, the son of a farmer. He had very little education. He had no wealth. He lived in a rural community. Nothing could be less promising than his circumstances at that time and the future of which Moroni spoke, and yet it has all come to pass and continues to do so. It is truly a miraculous thing. You and I are witnesses to this constantly unfolding drama."

Speaking in a "personal vein," which, he said, "is an old man's privilege," President Hinckley noted his 97th birthday observance the day before and said, "I have been around a long time. I have seen and experienced much. The wonderful thing is that all that is good that has happened to me has resulted from my service as a missionary."

Recounting events that led to serving a mission, he described his life as a young man during the Great Depression, how it affected countries across the earth, and how unemployment in the state of Utah reached about 35 percent. "Those who had employment worked for reduced incomes," he said.

President Hinckley had earned a bachelor's degree in 1932 and had a little job, "scrupulously" saving money with the hope of going to graduate school. "Then something happened to change my plans," he said. "I received a call to serve as a missionary in the British Isles. Very few missionaries were called at the time because they could not afford to go. The British Mission was then the most expensive in the world at $45 per month."

About this time of the year, 74 years ago, he boarded the train for New York. Not able to afford a Pullman, he and his companions sat up in the coach all the way to New York, where they boarded a ship. After six days of travel, they landed late that night at Cork, Ireland, where a street singer on the dock sang, "Danny Boy." His voice rang through the fog. "It has become one of my favorites," he said.

They continued to Plymouth where they disembarked and took the boat train into London. "No one met us," he said. "We found a hotel and went to bed for the night.

"The next day we somehow found our way to the mission office at 43 Tavistock Square. Here we met the mission president," he said.

His companions were assigned to stay in London, while he was assigned to go to Preston. "I confess," President Hinckley said, "that I was a bit homesick as I made that lonely journey."

Arriving in Preston, he was met by the missionary district president, Elder Kent S. Bramwell. They went to their "digs" at 15 Wadham Road. "My companion said that after supper we would hold a street meeting. I was terrified.

"We took our little stand down to the marketplace and set it up. We sang a hymn. My companion then introduced me, saying that I would pray and be the first speaker. What an experience that was, as I looked into the faces of the rough crowd that had gathered around me."

For five months, President Hinckley labored in Lancashire, walking in the footsteps of earlier great missionaries like Heber C. Kimball and his associates, who, in 1837, carried the gospel to the British Isles, "first laboring in this identical area."

"Vauxhall Chapel, the Cockpit, and Temperance Hall were still standing at the time," he said. "They had many converts in those days, who, when converted, desired to come to Zion. For the most part, they were men and women of faith and testimony.

"I was not well when I arrived in Preston," he continued. "I had terrible hay fever. I could not understand the Lancashire brogue which the people spoke. I was somewhat discouraged.... I wrote to my father and said, 'I am not doing any good here. I think I had better come home and save your money.'

"He replied, 'Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion — forget yourself and go to work.'

"The morning his letter came I read in the New Testament, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).

"I went upstairs in the bedroom, got on my knees, and told the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work.

"That was the major decision of my life," he continued. "I went to work. Everything changed. The grass covered hills of Lancashire became beautiful to me. I learned to love the people."

Elder Hinckley was transferred after five months to London to work in the European Mission office under the direction of Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve and president of the European Mission.

"London became my favorite city in all the world," he said. "I loved it. I enjoyed the work. Each Sunday morning we would take the bus to Hyde Park and set up our little stand and there speak. Later in the day we would do the same at Regents Park. I even learned to enjoy the hecklers who tried to make life miserable for us."

At the conclusion of his mission, President Hinckley made an appointment with the First Presidency to give a report of the European Mission as requested by mission president, Elder Merrill.

"President (Heber J.) Grant said they would give 15 minutes. I started talking. They asked questions. I was there for more than an hour. Incidentally," continued President Hinckley, "President Grant's journal makes reference to this occasion.

"Two days later, President (David O.) McKay called me and said they wished to employ me. I discovered that my salary would be $65 a month. With that, I had to furnish my own desk and typewriter," he said.

He was also asked to teach seminary for $35 a month. "A committee of six members of the Council of the Twelve, with Stephen L. Richards as chairman, were my supervisors," he said. "Brother Widtsoe referred to me as 'the slave,"' he said.

At one point, President Hinckley asked for a ream of paper. The office manager "asked me if I knew how many sheets were in a ream. I told him 500. He grudgingly gave me the paper."

"Well, you know the remainder of the story from there," he said, noting how he served on the Sunday School general board and as counselor, and then president, of his stake.

He was subsequently called as an Assistant to the Twelve, then the Council of the Twelve, as it was known in those days, until called in 1981 by President Spencer W. Kimball to serve as counselor in the First Presidency.

Returning his thoughts to his mission, he said, "I point to my mission as the great directing influence of my entire life. My marriage,... my service in the Church, my activity in a number of business affairs, all have become rich and wonderful blessings.... I feel that no one has had greater opportunities than I have had. They have all been blessings from the Lord; they have all stemmed from the decision I made when I got on my knees in the bedroom of 15 Wadham Road in Preston, Lancashire, and pledged to the Lord that I would forget myself and go to work.

"I have lived to see the day when a million missionaries have served this Church, and its membership has increased to 13 million. And that, as I said, is only the beginning....

"It is the Lord's work. I knew this long ago and have never had any serious doubt about it anytime since.... If it is a fraud, we are engaged in a fraud. If it is true, it is the most precious thing on earth.

"I testify that it is true and most precious...." (Reported by Shaun D. Stahle,"Great progress in missionary work," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 4).

In the 2007 new mission presidents' seminar Elder Thomas S. Monson addressed the 118 new mission presidents and their wives. The LDS Church News reported his comments: "During the Seminar for New Mission Presidents on Monday, June 25, President Thomas S. Monson drew from his wealth of experience to instruct leaders on the keys to successful missionary service.

The 118 new mission presidents and their wives received four days of training and counsel in the Provo Missionary Training Center prior to assuming leadership for their assigned missions.

"Your call and the call of your missionaries come by prayer," President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, assured them. "Each missionary should know that "whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies." The call is "a charge from the Lord, who said, 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: "'Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"' (Matthew 28:19-20).

A few years ago, a missionary was disappointed with his mission call, he related. President Monson counseled with this young man, and he reluctantly began serving. The young missionary experienced a change of heart in the mission field and he later wrote to President Monson: "You provided me with a sliver of hope that this mission really was where the Lord needed me. I want you to know that I am very grateful I was sent to the mission I was, even though it was the furthest thing I had hoped for. It was a humbling experience.... I had the opportunity to teach a few people and see them repent and be baptized. I have truly been blessed."

A former mission president in Toronto, Canada, President Monson told how, during this service, he became well-acquainted with each missionary, knowing his or her home town, the parents' names and what his or her father did for a living. On occasion, he would go into the nearby woods to pray for his missionaries. "There was a lot I needed to know," he said. "I knew each missionary was the pride of his or her parents. I sought to know how to bless them."

Thoughtful gestures also bless the families as they know their missionary child is loved by the mission president. He told how his wife, Frances, sent cards to the mothers of each missionary for Mother's Day, and how much those were appreciated.

Missionaries are also blessed as they succeed, but in order for missionaries to succeed, they need to be able to find people and teach them the gospel. One way this is done is by working closely with members. "No mission achieves full potential without member help," he said. "Seek it consistently."

Missionaries thrive on referrals from members, he said. He quoted President David O. McKay, who observed: "I think this plan of referrals is one of the best plans that was ever instituted in missionary work. It brings into activity every member of the Church and every member should realize that he or she is a missionary...."

President Monson suggested that as mission presidents set the spiritual tone for the mission, they will encourage missionaries to work in an area, not through it.

He encouraged mission presidents to have good relationships with stake presidents, sharing information about missionary transfers and changes in assignments. "Ignore and you injure; inform and you inspire," he said.

"Under the new approach to teaching, your missionaries should be even better prepared with the content of the discussions and their flow," he said.

Serving their missions well will provide lifetime experiences for mission presidents and their wives that will bless them long after their service has been completed. As the poet James M. Barrie wrote, "God gave us memories, that we might have June roses in the Decembers of our lives." ("Set spiritual tone:President Monson draws from wealth of experience to instruct new leaders," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 5).

Julie Dockstader Heaps reported about Elder Thomas S. Monson's speaking to missionaries after the 2007 mission presidents' seminar in the LDS Church News: "Calling them "an army of the servants of the Lord," President Thomas S. Monson addressed young elders and sisters and senior missionary couples in the Missionary Training Center here on June 25.

"You are on the Lord's errand," he declared to a packed auditorium on a warm summer morning. "You've each been set apart, and with that comes a great blessing. The Lord will make you equal to your assignment as you put your trust in Him."

President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, scheduled time to meet with the missionaries after addressing new mission presidents and their wives during the annual New Mission Presidents Seminar, held June 24-27 at the Provo Missionary Training Center. Accompanying him to the auditorium on June 25 were his wife, Sister Frances Monson, and Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Scott also offered brief remarks.



James E. Faust shared with them ideas about what constitutes conversion. The LDS Church News reported "The fundamentals of the conversion process are unique and peculiar to the message of the gospel, said President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.

In the Savior's time, he continued, many believed, but "because of the Pharisees they did not confess him lest they be put out of their synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than they loved the praise of God" (1 John 12:42-43).

An intellectual conversion is important but it is not as committing as a conversion in the heart, he said to new mission presidents and their wives assembled for the New Mission Presidents Seminar in the Provo MTC on June 27.

"A conversion in the heart is fuller, deeper and stronger.... The Spirit is the essence of the conversion process.... So, a convert is converted in the heart."

The first principle of conversion, he said, is that no one can have an understanding of the principles of the gospel except through the Spirit. "How is the Spirit generated?" he asked. "It is by fasting, by prayer and by testimony.

"Your missionaries in their youth, in their inexperience, in their lack of formal training, can be unlimited only in the power of their testimony."

Where do they learn to testify frequently and powerfully? he asked. "They will learn it from you, so you need to be found bearing testimony of the Restoration, that the Father and the Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and that we have a living prophet on the earth today, President Gordon B. Hinckley."

The second principle of conversion, he said, is that converts are converted in the heart by the Spirit. "Our message is proclaimed by the Spirit," he said.

The third principle of conversion, he continued, is that "people are converted in their hearts by the Spirit through Joseph Smith." Noting that it was on this day in 1844 that the Prophet Joseph sealed his testimony with his blood, President Faust said, "Our message is distinctly different because it contains the gospel restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith."

Quoting the Doctrine and Covenants, he said, "This generation shall receive the Lord's word through Joseph Smith" (Doctrine and Covenants 5:10).

"The message is the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by Joseph Smith, not the Readers Digest, not Time magazine, and not from the Bible alone. It means almost everything we have is different from all other religions."

The conversion process, continued President Faust, "is a powerful locking mechanism," locking into place the First Vision, the appearance of the Father and the Son, and the testimony of Joseph Smith and his successors as prophets.

In summary, President Faust emphasized:
1."We must each be converted in our hearts, not just in our minds.
2."Our message is proclaimed by the Spirit which bears witness to us of its truthfulness, very often through testimony.
3."Conversion comes to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith."

Quoting then-Elder Marion G. Romney, he said, membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous.

"'A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion ... is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience."

The three principles of the conversion process are: "Converted in the heart, by the Spirit, through the Prophet Joseph Smith," he said." ("Conversion keys: Process of three principles," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 5).



After the meeting M. Russell Ballard held a special press conference to announce the milestone of the one millionth missionary serving. Shaun D. Stahle reported: "The fact that 1 million missionaries have now been called to serve in this dispensation gave pause for Elder M. Russell Ballard to recognize this unique milestone in history during a press conference at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Monday, June 25.

After paying homage, Elder Ballard lingered to meet the press, then, with other General Authorities, walked back into the MTC to resume training new mission presidents and the first of the next million missionaries.

Illuminated by the mid-day sun, Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and his colleagues Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, stood near the bronze statue of Samuel Smith, who is regarded as the first missionary of this dispensation and younger brother to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Occasionally turning to acknowledge the statue behind him, Elder Ballard noted what has come from such simple beginnings, when, as a lone missionary, Samuel slung a knapsack of 25 copies of the newly published Book of Mormon over his shoulder and, without purse or scrip, trudged across the rural countryside 177 years ago in June 1830.

Today, Elder Ballard said, 53,868 missionaries are serving from around the world, preaching the gospel in 145 nations, in 164 languages.

"This is only the beginning," Elder Ballard said, rehearsing President Gordon B. Hinckley's comment from the day before when he announced during the New Mission Presidents Seminar that reliable estimates indicate that the 1 millionth missionary entered MTC doors in early June.

Elder Ballard, as chairman of the Missionary Executive Committee, marveled that young men and women would put aside the cares of their youth to leave home and family to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world less and less inclined toward spiritual things.

"The only reason missionaries would make such sacrifice is because they know their message is true," Elder Ballard repeated to various news organizations who sought a private audience with him.

"They wouldn't do it for any other reason."

Approximately 40 percent, or 400,000 missionaries, have been called since President Hinckley was ordained president of the Church in March 1995.

An average of more than 30,000 missionaries have been called each year since 1996. The total number of missionaries peaked at 61,638 in 2002, but has declined in recent years due to a demographically diminishing pool of young men and women.

Among those invited to share their missionary experiences during the press conference were Joseph and Gladys Sitati from Bungoma, near Nairobi, Kenya.

He is the first mission president to be called from this east African nation where 7,000 members now reside. He has been called to preside over the Nigeria Calabar Mission.

Their conversion began through a curious set of circumstances when President and Sister Sitati met a fellow Kenyan who had joined the Church in the U.S. and returned to Nairobi.

The young Sitati couple was disillusioned with religion, but accepted an invitation from the man to visit Sunday Church services with about 20 members, including three Kenyan families and about a dozen U.S. expatriates.

They immediately felt comfortable, returning week after week. They completed their assignments to read and pray, and were baptized after six months on March 29, 1986.

To gain government recognition of the Church and be granted permission to have missionaries for Kenya, this small group of then about 14 members committed themselves to fasting, one member fasting each day on a rotating basis. Eighteen months later, in 1991, government recognition was granted.

Kenyans are ripe for the gospel, President Sitati said. "Their hearts are open." The problem, he said, is growth could outpace leadership.

In his comments, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve praised the missionary spirit that emboldens young people to sacrifice to share the gospel.

He recounted a moment recently when he witnessed missionaries in Frankfurt, Germany, singing to people on a busy street while other missionaries met the spectators. Children of these missionaries will eventually become a greater missionary force, he said.

"Missionaries preach, love and have joy," he said. (Missionary milestone: 1 million members have served in this dispensation," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 7).


Thomas S. Monson Greeting Missionaries June 2007 Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps

While addressing the elders and sisters, President Monson displayed his customary warmth and extended it to a personal connection with the young missionaries. After his remarks, he left the stand and walked down a line of missionaries, shaking hands and offering words of personal counsel and encouragement.

During his address, President Monson recounted when he served as mission president in eastern Canada. At the time of their call, he and Sister Monson had two small children and were expecting their third. He described it as a "glorious experience" helping young missionaries "have the full measure of the blessings of the Lord in this particular foundation period when you get closer to the Lord and learn more how to get along with people and how to present the truth of the gospel than in any other way."

President Monson acknowledged Sister Monson's contributions during that mission. "She had overwhelming responsibilities that she handled magnificently. She was a friend to every missionary."

Assuring the missionaries that their calls are inspired, President Monson related how he had participated in the calls of thousands of missionaries. He remembered particularly one young man who had not passed the foreign language test. But after considering several stateside missions, President Monson didn't feel right. "Is there anything else we should know about this boy?" he asked.

Looking at the young man's file, he discovered a small note that said he had learned Spanish as a child at the knee of his Mexican mother. He was sent to Venezuela, where he served honorably.

"You've been called of God by prophecy, by revelation, by the servants of the Lord acting out of His divine authority. Where you've been called to serve, it will be the right place."

President Monson urged the missionaries to write down the following: "Attitude determines altitude. You'll never fly higher in your missionary calling than when you have the right attitude as a servant of the Lord."

Continuing, he offered a "few thoughts:

* "Are you the companion you wish your companion could be?"

* "Do you write a letter home to your parents every week of your mission? That's called the Monson Rule. You're never too busy to write your parents, to the mother who gave you birth, to the father who sustained you and prepared you."

President Monson cited the example of a young man from his ward many years ago who served in Adelaide, Australia. His mother was a member, his father was not. Each week, the young man wrote home. One such letter was to his father, which read: "Dear Dad, today we taught a family about the Plan of Salvation, where we go when we complete mortality. With all my heart I want to be with you and Mother when we go into those phases of eternity.... Dad, please, please, prepare to be a member."

The letter so touched his father's heart that he and his wife traveled to Australia at the conclusion of their son's mission. He was his son's final baptism of his mission.

In offering counsel on good proselyting methods, President Monson urged: "Work from areas of strength outward. Then you build for strength and you have the membership to help you. They are your greatest asset."

The proper way to gain referrals, he added, is to question members on whom they know who might be mourning the loss of a loved one or who may be struggling with rearing a family—-"that's everybody in today's world."

He also spoke of the importance of recent converts as resources in offering friendship and fellowship to investigators.

In concluding his remarks, President Monson referred to the strength of sister missionaries. "In my experience, the elders can look to the sisters in many instances as examples of devotion to the work."

In his brief remarks, Elder Scott urged the missionaries to seek in their personal study of the scriptures a personal witness of the Savior, "that His Father and Jesus Christ did appear to that young man (Joseph Smith). He saw them and through him truth has been restored to earth in its fullness with the priesthood that you brethren hold.

"You sisters, when you were set apart, you were given every authority to testify of Jesus Christ. The scriptures promise you'll be inspired to know what to do and have the power to do it." (Julie Dockstader Heaps, "Missionaries are called of God," LDS Church News [Saturday, June 30, 2007]: 6). One hundred and twenty-four mission presidents and their wives attended the Mission Presidents' Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on 22 June 2008 until 25 June 2008. President Thomas S. Monson kicked off the meeting by addressing them in a special sacrament meeting talk. The Church News staff did an excellent job of summarizing important concepts brought out in the First Presidencies talks.




2008 Mission Presidents' Seminar


Gerry Avant of the Church News reported President Monson's Sunday evening remarks:

President Thomas S. Monson said, "The parents of every missionary kneel each day in prayer and ask our Heavenly Father to bless that son or daughter in the mission field. And in that prayer they ask a blessing upon you, for you in effect become a mother and a father to their child. You help determine the destiny of that young man or that young woman. Someone said, 'The power to lead is also the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.' Let there be positive leading, positive motivation, positive uplift on your part as you inspire your missionaries."

The sacrament meeting at which President Monson spoke was held at the Missionary Training Center in Provo in conjunction with the 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. The meeting was attended by President Monson's counselors in the First Presidency, Elder Henry B. Eyring and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve and Quorum of the Seventy. The seminar continued through
June 25.

Speaking to mission leaders from a practical standpoint about motivating missionaries, President Monson shared counsel which could be applicable also to stake and district leaders, parents of missionaries and the general membership of the Church.

He encouraged mission presidents to have personal interviews with each missionary upon arrival and at given times throughout their missions. He suggested that the approach to the interviews be similar to that which was recommended many years ago by President Spencer W. Kimball, who said: "When I interview a missionary, I don't say to him, 'Are you doing this wrong? Are you doing that? Do you have this problem or that problem?"'

President Monson said that President Kimball would say, "Tell me what you most admire about your companion."

That, said President Monson, will stop the missionary for a moment. "He starts to think about what he admires most about his companion. Then another question of President Kimball's: 'If you had a little brother 18 years of age preparing for a mission, what would you tell him to do so that he might be a good missionary when he goes out to serve?'

"That sets a positive tone for the interview," said President Monson. "My suggestion is that we provide help —that we love, not scold. 'Show how' is more important than 'tell how' in that kind of a situation. We read from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 108, verse 7: 'Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings."'

Mission presidents — as well as missionaries and their families — need to know that the Spirit will guide decisions made in carrying out the Lord's work. President Monson illustrated this by relating an experience he had when he presided over the Canadian Mission and was inspired to move one young man from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario.

"He wasn't due for a transfer, but the impression came so strongly that I made the transfer. The next week when I received a letter from his companion, tears came to my eyes when I read: 'President Monson, I know you were inspired in sending Elder Smith to us in Welland. We are teaching ten Italian-speaking families whose English skills are limited. In my heart I had been praying for a companion who could speak Italian. You found the only missionary in the mission who spoke Italian.'

"I thought to myself as I read that line, 'I knew nothing about whether or not that boy spoke Italian.' With a name like Smith, you don't think he is going to speak Italian. How did I know that his mother was Italian, and that she had taught the boy to speak in her native tongue? In that way he was able to carry the gospel to those families in Welland. That is just one example."

President Monson said that he does not like to see emphasis placed upon when missionaries become senior companion or if they'll remain a junior companion. "I like more or less to treat the companionships equally, even though we know that one of them is in charge. I would show one above the other on the roster, but I would downplay the idea of who was senior and who was junior in that kind of a situation.
"Always select your outstanding missionaries to introduce the new elders and new sisters to the field. I had a young man, James Arnett, from Price, Utah. He never was a district leader, never was a zone leader, never was an assistant to the president; but if I were to name on one hand my most outstanding missionaries, he would be one. The reason was that he was such an outstanding trainer of new missionaries. I would put an elder with him for a month, then I would give him another new elder, then another, and so on. His influence could be seen in almost every missionary whom he had trained and those who had been trained by those he had trained. You will occasionally find that type of talent. Utilize it when it comes. From the Doctrine and Covenants comes this beautiful passage: 'And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also"' (84:106).

President Monson counseled mission presidents about activities they allow on missionaries' preparation day. He spoke of having met a missionary who had a foot in a cast. President Monson thought perhaps the injury had been sustained in a game of football, baseball or basketball, but learned that the missionary had skateboarded down a cement causeway at about 30 miles an hour and smashed into a cement wall. President Monson said, "It's a shame to teach a young man Portuguese, let's say, and have him wait week after week after week for that visa and then finally get down to Brazil, and then get in a game of touch football, break a leg, then have to go home and lose all of that Portuguese training, all of that motivation — all for a game of football. There are other things missionaries might do on preparation day that could destroy and damage the Spirit. We need to be very careful about what activities are allowed on that day."

Missionaries are to be encouraged to write a letter or e-mail home every week, President Monson said. "I call it the Monson Rule of Proselyting. I like to tell missionaries that it isn't so significant how much you write — just be certain to write....Those letters and e-mails from a missionary son or daughter can bring parents into the Church."

He told of a time when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and met a missionary in Los Angeles who, in the six months he had been serving, had never received a letter from his parents. President Monson encouraged him to continue writing every week, and then said, " I promise you, Elder, that if you continue to send a letter home to your mother and father every week, you will see changes."


President Monson said that he returned to California months later and met again with that missionary, who reached into his pocket and brought out a letter from his mother. It said, "Dear Michael, Thank you so much for your weekly letters. You will be pleased to know that Dad has been ordained a priest, and I am taking the lessons with the missionaries, and Dad is going to baptize me. We have figured out that in one year's time we can come out to Los Angeles with the family when you complete your mission, and we can all go to the Los Angeles Temple together and be sealed for eternity. Keep up the good work. Love, Mother."

The missionary said, "'Elder Monson, the Lord fulfilled your promise.' To which I said, 'The Lord answered your prayer."'

President Monson encouraged mission presidents to work closely with local leaders and members. "There is just no substitute for a member-oriented proselyting program. Tracting will not substitute for it. Golden questions will not substitute for it. A member-oriented program is the key to success. It works wherever we try it. I hesitate to deal in dramatic statements, but let me try one: The greatest single thing you as a mission president can do to increase the effectiveness of your missionaries and their productivity is to ensure that the proper relationship is maintained with the ecclesiastical leaders in the area where they proselyte. I can think of no greater thing that you could do....

"It was President Kimball who said, 'No mission can achieve its full potential without member help.' Then President Kimball said, 'We expect to...involve the members of the Church generally in opening the gospel doors to our Father's other children."'

President Monson spoke of the importance of building "mission spirit." Let each missionary, he said, know that he or she "has been called to the greatest mission in all the Earth."

He said he liked the philosophy of a teacher he once read about. She said, "No one fails in my class. It is my responsibility to help each one succeed."


He said that for years he carried in his wallet a photograph of one of his missionaries, Heber Barzee. President Monson held up an enlarged copy of the photo, and said, "Elder Barzee gave me the picture, and on the back he wrote, 'Dear President Monson, I am happy.' When I would look at that smile, I would say to myself, 'It is my job to motivate and demonstrate and to show every missionary in my mission how to be successful. It isn't my job to scold; it isn't my job to berate or to pressure. My assignment is to show each missionary how to be successful so that he's as happy as Elder Barzee.'

"I think one of the best ways we can do that is to remember that 'the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,' and if we should labor all our days and bring save it be one soul unto Him, how great shall be our joy with him in the kingdom of our Father. And if we should labor more diligently and bring many souls unto Him, how much greater shall be our joy (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 15, 16).

"You may sometimes be tempted to say, 'Will my influence make any difference? I am just one. Will my service affect the work that dramatically?' I testify to you that it will. You will never be able to measure the influence for good you will have."(Gerry Avant, "Positive uplift: The Spirit will guide decisions made in carrying out the Lord's work," Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 3).

On Monday, 23 June 2008 President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency addressed the mission presidents and their wives. Jason Swensen of the Church News reported highlights of his address:

Speaking of the blessed opportunities and events awaiting new mission presidents and their companions, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said an ancient missionary-themed prophecy is being fulfilled.


Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah envisioned the present day and the Church's missionary efforts: "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them: and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks" (Jeremiah 16:16).

At the Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 23, President Eyring said that Jeremiah was speaking of the gathering of Heavenly Father's children to His church and kingdom. And he was speaking of missionary work today, and beyond. The fishers and hunters are those involved in taking the gospel to the world. Much of that growth is found in an increase of full-time missionaries. But an increase will also come through rank-and-file members becoming more involved in missionary work.

"The miracle is unfolding slowly before our eyes," President Eyring said.

The Church leader shared an account of one young bishop who met frequently with the full-time missionaries serving in his ward. The bishop learned from the missionaries about the investigators they were teaching. He loved each person who was hearing their message. Enlisting prayer, that bishop pondered the best way to utilize the ward council. Each Sunday felt like a missionary day.

"The bishop sees missionary work as at the heart of his being a minister and a shepherd," President Eyring said.

That bishop would come to know each investigator and their respective needs. Long before their baptism date, the bishop considered their future callings, home teachers and visiting teachers. As much as possible, he ministered to the new members following their baptisms. He tracked their progress.

"He knows that a love of individuals by name always precedes improvement in the numbers of people baptized and those who endure," President Eyring said. "He is guided by a simple rule for holding the hearts of investigators and new members: Give them personal contact early and often.

"You can imagine that in his ward the full-time missionaries get not only referrals but invitations to teach. Every member has an opportunity to love and nurture people being taught and those who are baptized. They have felt the joy of a person who is finding the truth. In time many of the members will themselves have felt the joy of coming into the waters of baptism and being embraced warmly by their fellow citizens in the Kingdom. They will want the same experience for their friends and for every person they meet."

President Eyring spoke of his own experiences as a young man serving as a district missionary in New Mexico, and of the pivotal role that local priesthood leaders played in fellowshipping those that young Brother Eyring and others taught and baptized.

It's natural for new mission presidents to wonder how they can hasten the unleashing of the member missionary power. President Eyring pointed out a few things that won't help. First, don't "nag" the members into missionary duty. And second, don't beg.

"You can build in your missionaries a love of the gospel and of the people," he said. "That love shows when it is deep and genuine. Your missionaries will be trusted when their motive is pure love of the gospel and of people."

President Eyring then reminded the mission presidents and their wives of President Thomas S. Monson's counsel to increase missionary effectiveness.

The "Preach My Gospel" guide to missionary service, he added, also includes several valuable suggestions directed to mission presidents.

President Eyring said the wives of new mission presidents have a special opportunity to give praise and encouragement to the faithful women in wards and branches.
"You know that it is women and girls who issue many of the invitations to friends to be taught by the missionaries," he said. "It is often women, both as leaders and as members, who become the friends and the nurturers of new members."

It has been said that the success of a mission president cannot be judged until "we see the children and grandchildren of his missionaries."

"The likelihood of that success is becoming greater as more members and more bishops become devoted missionaries," President Eyring said. "They will surround your missionaries with examples and influence to lift their hopes and change their choices over a lifetime."

(Jason Swensen, "Pivotal role held by members in work: Mission presidents can utilize 'member missionary power'," Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 4).
Later in the week Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf the second counselor in the First Presidency spoke to the group. Gerry Avant wrote a summary:

The Savior's call to "Come, follow me" set the standard and gave the priorities for the ministry of all His disciples, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.

"Therefore," said President Uchtdorf, addressing the 124 newly called mission presidents and their wives during the annual mission presidents seminar, "it is your responsibility to inspire and encourage your missionaries to become more like Him, more Christlike."

President Uchtdorf said "the Lord does not ask us to merely 'try' to live the gospel or, 'give it a good effort.' His standard is higher than that. He asks that we 'bind (ourselves) to act in all holiness before (Him),' promising that 'as (we) do this, glory shall be added to the kingdom which (we) have received' (Doctrine and Covenants 43:9-10, italics added). Therefore, priceless blessings will attend our faithfulness."

Christlike attributes come into individuals' lives as they righteously exercise their agency, avoiding the traps of Satan and holding on to the will of God. "Christlike attributes are gifts from God, and we cannot develop them without His help. The one indispensable gift we all need is offered freely to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the path of true repentance."

President Uchtdorf said the Christlike attribute of humility — willingness to submit to the will of the Lord, and to give unto Him the honor for all that is accomplished — is of critical importance for missionaries. It includes gratitude for blessings and acknowledgment of the constant need for divine help. "Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength."

President Uchtdorf said that missionaries have been called of God and promised great resources of power, and that God has high expectations for them. "You have been called to help them rise to these expectations. Have faith in the promises the Lord has made to you and your missionaries. The Spirit will guide them, and the Spirit will guide you."

Because the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unclean tabernacles, virtue is a prerequisite to receive the guidance of the Spirit, President Uchtdorf said. "Virtue is a Christlike attribute originating in our innermost thoughts and desires. It is a pattern of thoughts and behavior based on high moral standards. Whatever we choose to think and do when we are alone and no one is watching is a strong measure of our virtue."

President Uchtdorf asked the mission presidents and their wives to encourage missionaries to cultivate and enrich their character, through repeated study, learning and work, and to help them not only to know what to do, but also to know and feel with all their heart and mind what they are to be.

"The Christlike attributes of faith and hope are a key part of this process," he said. "They are very powerful and will lead you and your missionaries safely through unknown territories and carry you across deep and fearsome canyons. Those who have faith and hope receive the Lord's promise that He will bear His servants up as on eagle's wings" (see Doctrine and Covenants 124:18).

The life of a missionary is about growing, having faith and hope, about courage and sweet boldness, about acquiring knowledge and skills, about enduring and trusting that God is always there and that He will bear them up as on eagles' wings, President Uchtdorf said.

He spoke of faith as a principle of power and said, "God works by power, but His power is usually exercised in response of faith. And God works according to the faith of His children."

He said that doubt and fear are opposed to faith. "However," he cautioned, "please do not confuse doubt and fear with having questions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the few churches, if not the only church, that invites questions. Your missionaries need to seek, knock and ask to receive answers from the Lord. This is the way the young Prophet Joseph received instructions and answers. They need to study and pray to find answers to their questions. At times, an answer may not appear right away, but as the missionaries continue to work day by day, they receive more light and knowledge. Until then, they walk and work by faith.

President Uchtdorf reminded the mission leaders that "we are not here on our own errand. We are not engaged in a public speaking competition, religious debate or a sales contest. It is our task and solemn responsibility to proclaim the glorious news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to serve worthily so that the Holy Ghost can accompany us and touch the lives of those we come in contact with. As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, we courageously open our mouths and tirelessly exclaim the truths revealed again through living prophets to the children of our loving Heavenly Father. That is our responsibility, privilege and joy....

"You are on the Lord's errand; it is His work. It is the work of our Father in Heaven. Teach your missionaries to have faith and trust that our Heavenly Father will do His part. Your missionaries need to learn, as did the young man who served Elisha, that unseen hosts attend them and support this wonderful work" (see 2 Kings 6:15-18).

Expressing love and gratitude for missionaries, President Uchtdorf spoke of two missionaries from small rural towns in the United States who served in Germany. They met with rejection as they knocked on doors in a multistory apartment building but, finally, on the fourth floor, at the last door, they were invited in by a widow, mother of two daughters. One of those daughters became President Uchtdorf's wife. President and Sister Uchtdorf's eldest grandsons, twins, recently received their mission calls. "They both have a deep respect and love for the missionaries who came to that fourth floor, last door, in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1954. They have seen only pictures of these missionaries but have never met them in person.

"Now, 54 years later, our grandsons, as newly called elders, have also promised the Lord and His prophet to be missionaries of faith and hope, missionaries of discipline in the work of the Lord, and missionaries who are willing to endure to the end, even to the fourth floor, last door. As grandparents, we pray for their success.

"Please tell your missionaries that the fruits of their labor will reach far beyond their present horizon. Generations to come will be grateful and bless their names for their faithfulness and dedication."

(Gerry Avant, "Christlike attributes critical to missionary work:'You are on the Lord's errand; it is His work'," Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 5).
Sarah Jane Weaver of the Church News reported the remarks of Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quourm of the Twelve Apostles that he delivered on 25 June 2008:

The single most important thing about teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bear clear and pure testimony, said President Boyd K. Packer on June 25.

Speaking at the 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents in the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Packer offered counsel and direction to those who will lead some of the Church's vast missionary force currently serving across the globe.

"You are good enough and your testimony is good enough. It will enlarge and be greater," he told the mission presidents and their wives.

President Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, recalled a time years ago when he met a young, disrespectful missionary. The young man had been referred by the Missionary Training Center to President Packer as a member of the Church's Missionary Committee to determine if he should be sent home from his mission.

The young man was a smart aleck and impudent and rude, President Packer thought. He took the young man to lunch.

"There could only be one verdict," President Packer said. "This young man could not go on a mission."

As the pair returned to the Church Office Building, they saw the Missionary Training Center director waiting for them at the top of the stairs.

"I thought, 'When we get up to the top I will have to send him home,' but I thought, 'I can't do that.' About half way up the steps I took hold of this young man and pulled him around so I was looking him right in the eyes. I said, 'You have been disrespectful and impudent and don't deserve much. But there is one thing you have got to know.'

"Then I bore my testimony to him, clear and pure testimony.

"Then I said, 'Now, don't you ever say you don't know or that you haven't been told, because you have been told. I will bear testimony against you at the judgment seat of Christ that you were told.'

"I have never done anything like that before or since."

When President Packer and the missionary got to the top of the stairs, President Packer simply said, "Take him back and try again."
Some months later President Packer heard a report of President Marion G. Romney's weekend visit to Mexico, where he met a missionary who embodied all that is ideal in a missionary. To President Packer's great surprise, it was the missionary he had sent back to the Missionary Training Center.
"And I had learned a lesson. The single most important thing that can be done is to bear testimony to them so that they will know," he said.
President Packer also told the mission presidents and their wives that they have already passed a major test in mortality, by virtue of their being at the conference.
"If the world asked a couple in the prime of their life to go someplace they have never been, speak a language they may or may not know, put their career aside, miss weddings and funerals and grandchildren, would they go?" he said.
"If asked, 'Who could you get to do that?' The answer is probably nobody," he said.
"But it is different for you. You were not asked; you were called."
"The Lord," he told the couples, "will watch over you."
President Packer then shared with the congregation a truth taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith: "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 181).
"The adversary," he said, "only has power over those that permit him to."
"There are things that are ensnared within our lives and it seems so hopeless, but remember: 'Men,' the Book of Mormon says, 'are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil"' (2 Nephi 2:5).
President Packer said he has learned that "nobody is worthless. Nobody in mortality is totally lost."
"So," he explained, "you are on the winning team."
"Now, unfortunately, the scoreboard will always be in the other direction. You will close each inning with them having more numbers on the scoreboard than you do. But you know that ultimately you are on the winning team. The missionaries need to know that. 'All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.' The devil has no power over us."
(Sarah Jane Weaver, "Most important: Bear clear testimony:'You were not asked; you were called,' President Packer tells mission presidents," Church News [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 6).

One of my good friends from my BYU student days Tim Sloan and his wife were in attendance. It is always exciting to me to see people I know called to serve as mission presidents. I really enjoy reading the quotes and advice given to the new mission presidents and their wives. I wonder how many will put up blogs. I will begin tracking them down in a week or two.



Other Gatherings of Mission Presidents

In 1951 Lucille Tate in her biography LeGrand Richards: Beloved Apostle spoke of his attending a European mission presidents seminar: "A most rewarding part of their journey came near the end, for after forty-three years away they returned to Holland for a twelve-day visit. One of Elder Richards' former Holland missionaries, Rulon J. Sperry, was now the mission president. (He had pleased his longtime friend by sending him the first copy of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder in Dutch. It had arrived just before the Richards' left on the trip.) Now, with President and Sister Sperry, they saw the old places and noted the many changes. The mission headquarters were now at The Hague, but the party went back to the old home at Crooswijkschesingel 7b, and Ina sat on the steps in front, reminiscing, and wondered if they shouldn't ring the bell and go inside.

As her ears and tongue became accustomed to the strange yet familiar sounds of the Dutch language, Ina was able to speak briefly in the meetings without the aid of an interpreter. Elder Richards, however, was immediately back in his element and preached with ever greater ease to the countless Dutch Saints and strangers in both meetings and informal conversation. While there, he dedicated chapels in Zeist, Holland, and in Antwerp, Belgium, from the latter of which, during World War I, the refugees had fled when the German howitzers shelled the city. Belgium was now again part of the Netherlands Mission.

When they had completed their tour, had visited the graves of Elders Welker and Gold in Groningen, and had said good-bye to their hosts, Brother and Sister Richards reluctantly left the beloved little country of their earlier mission experience, with its waterways, windmills, and flower fields, and especially the Saints they found so wonderful. They then traveled to Hamburg, Germany, to attend the European Mission Presidents' Seminar to be held there.

Elder and Sister Marion G. Romney had been touring the missions of continental Europe simultaneously with the Richardses' northern tour, at the conclusion of which the two couples met for the seminar. The meetings were held in the new district (now stake) center, which was dedicated by the visiting General Authorities as part of the business of the seminar. As senior apostle (1951), Elder Romney presided in the joint sessions. Elder Richards conducted and spoke in many of them." (Lucile D. Tate, LeGrand Richards: Beloved Apostle, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, pp. 259-260).

In 1970 William H. Bennett, an Assistant to the Twelve in October General conference said: " The world today is beset by many problems, and mention has been made of this in various ways during this conference. When man unaided tries to solve these problems, he frequently finds that new problems arise, and there is confusion, more confusion, contradictions, strife, and contention. Finally, man may resort to war to try to solve his difficulties. But war does not solve difficulties. This was brought forcibly to my mind recently when I was in Europe participating in a seminar for mission presidents and their wives. The seminar was held in Brussels, Belgium, just a few miles from Waterloo, where the forces of the Duke of Wellington engaged the forces of Napoleon in a great battle, back in about 1815. And it was just a few miles from Flanders Field and not very far from Dunkirk, where other battles and fighting took place at different times in the history of the world."

In 1983 Gordon B. Hinckley shared some details of a small gathering of mission presidents that occurred in Nauvoo: "I remember being in Nauvoo, Illinois, the City of Joseph, with two brethren of the Quorum of the Seventy and twelve mission presidents and their wives for a mission presidents’ seminar. The touch of autumn was on the land—the leaves golden, a little haze in the air, the night cool, the days warm. The tourist season was over, and the city was quiet and beautiful. We held our first meeting in the restored Seventies Hall, where in the 1840s men prepared themselves, through study and through teaching one another the doctrine of the kingdom, to go out to declare the message of the gospel to the world. The work that went on there was a forerunner of the Missionary Training Centers of the Church. As we met in that and other homes and halls in Nauvoo, in our minds and hearts it was as if the figures of the past were with us—Joseph and Hyrum, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, the brothers Pratt—Orson and Parley—and a host of others.

This was indeed Joseph’s city. He was the prophet who planned it, and his followers had built it. It became the largest and the most impressive in the state of Illinois. With sturdy brick homes; with halls for worship, instruction, and entertainment; and with the magnificent temple standing on the crest of the slope up from the river, this community on the Mississippi was put together as if its builders were to be there for a century or more.

There, before that tragic day at Carthage, the Prophet was at the zenith of his mortal career. As I stood where he once stood and gazed on the city, I thought of the events that had brought him there, reviewing in my mind his inheritance. I thought of his forebears who generations before had left the British Isles and come to Boston; of their lives in the New World, through five generations on his father’s side and four on his mother’s; of their labors in clearing the lands of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont to build farms and homes; of their distinguished service in the War for Independence; of the adversities and the failures they experienced in trying to gain a living from the granite hills among which they lived. I thought of the little boy, born in Sharon, Vermont, in December of 1805, given his father’s name. I reflected on that terrifying period of sickness when typhus fever struck the family, and osteomyelitis [bone disease], with great pain and weakening infection, settled in Joseph’s leg. That was while the family lived in Lebanon, New Hampshire; and how remarkable it was that only a few kilometers away, at the college in Hanover, was Dr. Nathan Smith, who had developed a procedure by which that infected leg might be saved.

But the cure was not to be accomplished without terrible suffering. In fact, today it is difficult to conceive how the little boy stood it as his father held him in his arms and his mother walked and prayed among the trees of the farm to escape his screams while the surgeon made the long incision and broke off the portions of infected bone without benefit of anesthesia of any kind. Perhaps remembrance of that intense suffering helped prepare Joseph Smith for the later tarring and feathering at Kirtland, the foul jail at Liberty, and the shots of the mob at Carthage.

As I contemplated Joseph Smith’s life, I thought of the forces that moved the Smith family from generations of life in New England to western New York, where they had to come if the foreordained purposes of God were to be accomplished. I thought of the loss of the family farm, of poor crops in that thin soil, of the great freeze of 1816 when a killing frost in July forced upon them the decision to look elsewhere; then of the move to Palmyra, of the purchase of a farm in Manchester, and of there revivalist preachers who stirred the people and so confused a boy that he determined to ask God for wisdom.

That was the real beginning of it all, that spring day in the year 1820 when he knelt among the trees, opened his mouth in prayer, and beheld a glorious vision in which he spoke with God the Eternal Father and his Son, the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Then followed the years of instruction, the instructor an angel of God who on a number of occasions taught, rebuked, warned, and comforted the boy as he grew into a young man.

And so, while I was in Nauvoo I reflected on the preparation for prophethood; I reflected on this amazing Joseph Smith. I cannot expect his detractors to know of his prophetic calling by the power of the Holy Ghost, but I can raise some questions for them to deal with before they can dismiss Joseph Smith. I raise only three of many that might be asked: First, what do you do with the Book of Mormon? Second, how do you explain his power to influence strong men to follow him, even to their death? And third, how do you rationalize the fulfillment of his prophecies?"

In 1984 Russell C. Taylor of the Seventy shared his experience meeting with a small group of mission presidents: "Within days of arriving in Europe, Sister Taylor and I, still living out of suitcases in a small hotel room in Germany, were scheduled to attend a mission presidents’ seminar in Amsterdam, Holland. As we drove to and from the seminar, as arranged by the Regional Representative, we set out to meet our leaders in western Europe. We drove an hour each way into a small village to bless a leader and his family. We went to their homes. In each home we met a lovely wife and handsome children. We ate at their tables, slept as invited, and in each case knelt in prayer and blessed their homes, their families, their callings, and the area for successful missionary service. I now know our leaders there. I felt a genuine love for them, and I felt the same response from them." (Russell C. Taylor, “The Joy of Service,” Ensign, Nov. 1984,23.)

In 1993 Jacob de Jager recalls a small gathering of mission presidents: "Not long ago I had the privilege of attending a mission presidents’ seminar in San Francisco with Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve. He shared with us some thoughts from an author about growing old.

"Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals, their faith. There is always the love of wonder, a childlike appetite for what is next, and the joy of your life. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear or despair.

"In the center of our heart is a recording chamber, and so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage, and faith, so long are we young" (Ensign, Nov. 1983, p. 25).

In 1989 in his book Faith Gordon B. Hinckley shared the following: " I remember being in Nauvoo, the City of Joseph, with two brethren of the First Quorum of the Seventy and twelve mission presidents and their wives for a mission presidents' seminar. The touch of autumn was on the land-the leaves golden, a little haze in the air, the nights cool, the days warm. The tourist season was over, and the city was peaceful and beautiful.

We held our first meeting in the restored Seventies Hall, where in the 1840s men prepared themselves, through study and through teaching one another the doctrine of the kingdom, to go out to declare the message of the gospel to the world. The work that went on there was a forerunner of the missionary training centers of the Church. As we met in that and other homes and halls in Nauvoo, in our minds and hearts it was as if the figures of the past were with us-Joseph and Hyrum, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, the brothers Pratt-Orson and Parley-and a host of others.

This was indeed Joseph's city. He was the prophet who planned it, and his followers had built it. It became the largest and the most impressive city in the state of Illinois. With sturdy brick homes; with halls for worship, instruction, and entertainment; and with the magnificent temple standing on the crest of the slope up from the river, this community on the Mississippi was put together as if its builders were to be there for a century or more.

There, before that tragic day at Carthage, the Prophet was at the zenith of his mortal career. As I stood where he once stood and gazed on the city, I thought of the events that had brought him there, reviewing in my mind his inheritance." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989.)

In 1991 there was a mission presidents' conference in Guatemala. The Church News related how the country was dedicated the day before: "Some 110 people, mostly stake and mission presidencies and their wives from the vicinity, assembled on the temple grounds on the chilly, overcast day. Attending were Elder Ashton and his wife, Norma, and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve and his wife, Dantzel. Also attending were the Central America Area presidency and members of the Seventy, Elder Ted E. Brewerton, president; and his counselors, Elder Carlos H. Amado and his wife, Mayavel; and Elder Jorge A. Rojas and his wife, Marcela.

The service was part of a continuing effort to individually dedicate each of the countries in Central America that were dedicated as a whole in 1952. Five of the seven Central American countries have been dedicated in the past two years.

The Central American dedication in 1952 took place on a site in Guatemala City not far from where the temple now stands. It was performed by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then of the Council of the Twelve.

In the recent dedicatory prayer, Elder Ashton noted: "We stand . . . on ground which was once sanctified by the presence of prophets. We are reminded of the Savior's repeated visitations to the lands of this region. . . ."

In the prayer, Elder Ashton expressed gratitude for the fortitude of those who pioneered missionary work in the area. He acknowledged the dedicatory prayer offered by then--Elder Kimball, who petitioned that the way might be opened for free, undisturbed and unlimited missionary work among the citizens.

"We renew this prayer and ask this blessing again for this nation and its surrounding countries."

In brief remarks, Elder Nelson commented that remarkable things happen following the prayer of dedication of a country.

"It is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants that `whomsoever you bless I will bless,'" said Elder Nelson in reference to D&C 132:47.

"We have seen remarkable things happen in Eastern European countries following apostolic prayers of dedication. Where once there was no welcome and no established Church in those countries, following dedicatory prayers, missions[0] have been established, recognition has been given to the work, and now it is underway.

"In the country of Guatemala the challenges are different. But just as certainly following this prayer of dedication the country and its people will be blessed in a real way."

In his remarks, Elder Brewerton noted that Guatemala became the third Central American country this year to be dedicated, following Honduras on June 1 and Panama on Aug. 25. Previously dedicated were El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Elder Amado, first counselor in the area presidency and a native of Guatemala City, related with tear-filled eyes how moving it was for him to see the dedication. He expressed appreciation for himself and others of Guatemala - including many missionaries who have served here.

He noted that there are currently 47 stakes and 250,000 members in Central America, including some 22 stakes and 125,000 members in Guatemala.

Elder Rojas, second counselor in the area presidency, interpreted the dedicatory prayer for those present who do not speak English.

Immediately after the dedication, Elder Ashton and Elder Nelson left for a regional conference held in Quetzaltenango. Some 6,000 members attended the meetings held at Quetzaltenango's Salon de Feria.

A mission presidents' seminar for the area presidency and 11 mission presidents and their wives who serve in the Central America Area was held the next day in Antigua, Guatemala. ("Book of Mormon Land, Guatemala, Is Dedicated," Church News [Saturday, 2 November 1991]: 3).

In 1993 there was a special mission presidents' seminar conducted at the Kirtland Ohio Temple. R. Scott Lloyd reported it for the Church News: "The Kirtland Temple-- scene of several divine manifestations to Joseph Smith and other early Church leaders --was the location Nov. 6 for an LDS Church worship meeting, believed to be the first in the temple in 140 years.

The service was in connection with an annual priesthood leadership training meeting and mission presidents seminar in the Church's North America Northeast Area. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which owns and operates the temple, granted permission to the area presidency to hold the worship service in the temple.Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve presided at the service, and Elder Cree-L Kofford of the Seventy conducted. Speakers included Elder Kofford, area president; and his first counselor, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy. The second counselor, Elder Vaughn J Featherstone of the Seventy, also attended but left the area training meeting to conduct a stake conference in the Syracuse New York Stake.

Also speaking at the service were Elder Rex D. Pinegar and Elder Joe J. Christensen, both of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, president of the New York Rochester Mission.

Elder Ballard, the concluding speaker, commended the RLDS leaders for their willingness to share the temple and cited the warm relationship between the two churches. He also paid tribute to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, whose efforts largely resulted in the building of the temple. Elder Ballard is a descendant of Hyrum Smith who was chairman of the Kirtland Temple building committee and older brother of the Prophet Joseph.

The meeting, Elder Ballard noted, represented a major step by the RLDS Church to reach out to other groups and share the building for worship and inspiration.

The service in the temple was a highlight for the 150 leaders attending the area training meeting. Many expressed that the intensity of the Spirit must have been reminiscent of meetings held in the temple a century and a half ago. Leaders at the area training meeting included regional representatives, temple presidents, mission presidents, and stake and district presidents from 108 stakes and districts and 24 missions in the North America Northeast Area.

The area training meeting was held Nov. 5-6. One mission presidents seminar was held Nov. 7-9 and another Nov. 10-12.

Meetings for the mission presidents were held at the Kirtland Stake Center. Afterward, the presidents assembled at the Isaac Morley farm in Kirtland, where Sections 45-48; 52-56; and 63-64 of the Doctrine and Covenants were received. At the farm some of those revelations were read and some of the major events that occurred on the farm were reviewed. The events include a vision to Joseph Smith and two others of the Father and Son in 1831.

Other sites visited during the area training meetings included the Newel K. Whitney Store, which served as Church headquarters for about a year and a half in 1832-33; and the John Johnson home, where Joseph Smith Sr. was called as the first patriarch and where the Evening and Morning Star was published after the destruction of the printing office in Missouri. Tours of the facilities were directed by Karl Anderson, a resident of Cleveland and a long-time student of Kirtland.

Elder Ballard later reflected: "This was a great opportunity for General Authorities to carry the message from the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve to all the regional representatives, mission presidents and temple presidents in the Northeast Area.

"Deep spiritual feelings were felt by everyone as we read from the Doctrine and Covenants at various sites. We felt deeply what the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced as the Church was restored through him."

Elder Kofford pointed out that since the Saints left Kirtland in the 1840s there has not been a meeting in the temple presided over by LDS Church priesthood leaders, and that made for a ``tremendous spiritual experience."

"I think even greater than that,'' he added, "was the opportunity to be in the temple under the direction of the priesthood and partake of the sacrament, which was an almost overwhelmingly spiritual experience."

The sacrament portion of the service was also a highlight for Elder Kikuchi, who noted that Elder Ballard, an apostle of the Lord, blessed the sacrament in the temple as his ancestor Hyrum Smith had done.

Elder Kikuchi, who helped pass the sacrament, said, "We sat, possibly, right beneath the spot where the Savior appeared to Joseph and Oliver."

Significant for him as a convert to the Church born in Japan, he said, was Elder Ballard's reading of D&C 110, particularly verse 9, which states: "And the fame of this house [meaning the temple shall spread to foreign lands; and this is the beginning of the blessing which shall be poured out upon the heads of my people."

Elder Christensen noted, "Visiting the Kirtland Temple and surrounding significant Church history sites expanded my appreciation and testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and what the members of the Church accomplished there against great odds."

Elder Pinegar said, "Being there in that sacred place under the authority of Elder Ballard as apostle brought a feeling of spirit and authenticity to all that has been recorded in the scriptures regarding that temple and its dedication." The emotional impact was so strong, he said, "We were almost unable to speak or sing, although that opportunity was afforded us."

Elder Pinegar said a particularly touching moment came when Elder Ballard, in front of the congregation, embraced Lachlan MacKay, a direct descendant of Joseph Smith and director of the Kirtland Temple for the RLDS Church who attended the service. Thus, descendants of the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum, were united in the sacred temple setting.

The Kirtland Temple is significant in Church history as the place where, wrote the Prophet, "I beheld . . . the throne of God whereon was seated the Father and the Son." During the week of Jan. 21-28, 1836, part of the temple endowment was introduced to key leaders and to Melchizedek Priesthood quorums in an unparalleled Pentecostal outpouring. On March 30 of that year, while approximately 300 Church leaders and stake members were in the temple, the Savior appeared to some while angels ministered to others, the Prophet wrote. On April 3, 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery "saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit," on the occasion of the temple dedication. ("LDS Service Held in Kirtland Temple," [Saturday, 4 December 1993]: 11).

In December 1993 we read in the Church News the following notice:

"Central America Area Mission presidents instructed

TIKAL, GUATEMALA - Central America's nine mission presidents and their wives, and the director and his wife of the Guatelmala Missionary Training Center, attended a mission presidents seminar here Dec. 5-8 under the direction of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve. Also participating in the seminar were the members of the Central America Area presidency, Elders Ted E. Brewerton, Carlos Amado and Jay E. Jensen, all of the Seventy. (Church News [Saturday, 26 December 1993]: 14).

In 1996 Gene R. Cook in his book Receiving Answers to our Prayers wrote: " I went off to Peru for the mission presidents' seminar. On the morning of the fourth day, Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve, who presided at the seminar, told me that I must go home. I said, "Well, the seminar is over tomorrow and then I'll go." He said, "No, you must go home right now, this very morning." He insisted-and it turned out that his direction was pure inspiration.

I found a flight that morning and left Cuzco, where the seminar was being held, and flew to Lima, then made a connection to fly to Quito, Ecuador. I was met there by one "very pregnant" lady. Upon my arrival at home I rested for a half hour; then my wife said, "It's time. Let's go!" Off we went to the hospital where our sixth child was delivered, a baby boy. I had been home only two hours when he was born.

How kind the Lord was to us in that circumstance. What faith was manifested by my good wife and children, despite the trials and seeming setbacks." (Receiving Answers to our Prayers, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996).

In 1997 the Council of the Twelve conducted area training meetings that included all stake presidents and mission presidents and how they worked together on missionary work and retention:

"We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

- Proclamation on the Family, 1995 The importance of the family and the need to retain all new converts within the warmth of gospel activity were recently emphasized in worldwide area training sessions conducted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In the area training sessions held in October, November and December, members of the Twelve ``being sent out'' (D&C 107:35) instructed more than 2,400 stake presidents, 318 mission presidents, 51 temple presidents and 652 district presidents. They also held quorum meetings for the 137 Area Authority Seventies in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Quorums of the Seventy and mission president seminars. The Brethren traveled to 28 countries, covering Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Their "curriculum" for the meetings was the Proclamation on the Family, issued in 1995, and important letters from the First Presidency issued in the 1990s.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve commented on the importance of training in helping to retain each new convert in Church activity.

"Anybody who has been listening to President Gordon B. Hinckley knows that he is deeply concerned--as we all are--over retaining in full activity those who join the Church. For us to lose one convert is a serious loss."

He said that in the meetings, stake and mission presidents were brought closer together and stake presidents were given more responsibility over missionary work.

"Stake presidents will be working hand-in-glove with the missionaries in the whole conversion process. That is going to be a very positive thing," said Elder Ballard.

Ward and stake councils are very important in retaining new converts, he said. Retaining all converts ``is going to take the best efforts of all members of the councils.''

"If the Relief Societies of the Church fulfill their responsibility to see that every new sister who has come into the Church is loved and given a responsibility, and has friends to help nurture and keep her active, and if that could also happen with with every young woman by the Young Women presidency and with every young man by the Young Men presidency, we will make great progress.

"Can you see what could happen with children if the Primary presidency saw to it that no child became inactive because the Primary organization is there to help nourish them.

"Stake and ward councils are very important in retaining new converts and activating the less-active members."

Elder Ballard said that the messages at the area training were received with great enthusiasm. "The mission presidents and stake presidents have always been good friends, but now they see that, together, they need to assure that every convert has a friend, a responsibility and is nurtured by the good word of God.

"There was full commitment on the part of the stake presidents and the mission presidents to teach this to the bishops and to the ward mission leaders and teach it to the full-time missionaries, and they are going to do that together wherever possible. They are going to work as a team in complete harmony and cooperation to see that those who join the Church receive all the blessings of the Church and that we don't lose them into inactivity."

He expressed optimism that this effort will be successful. "I believe that when the president of the Church calls upon the people to do something, that if we go to work and do our part, the Lord will bless that, and consequently we will have great success.

"There is no question that our Heavenly Father wants His children to be baptized, but He also wants them to receive the blessings of the temple, and that can be done only if they are retained in full fellowship."

Area training meetings were started in 1988 when the Church stopped bringing all the stake presidents to October general conference for training. Now, members of the Quorum of the Twelve hold meetings for about six hours discussing ``matters of current urgency'' with local Church leaders at a central location in each area.

Other General Authorities often accompany the members of the Twelve to the training meetings.

According to leaders at Church headquarters, the subjects this year were chosen to follow up on President Hinckley's concerns expressed in recent general conferences and at other times.

"The intent this year was to bring together all the fundamental documents that had been sent out, and bring them again to the forefront and give them emphasis," said one leader.

"It has been a very unified effort this fall, and the intent has been that members of the Twelve would see that each of those documents was read word-for-word in the meeting, and discuss them with those in attendance, and make sure that everybody had the same degree of understanding, and that there is the same degree of unity among the leaders out there on the local level as there is among the Twelve."

Pres. Robert W. Pommerville of the Ft. Smith Arkansas Stake was among those taught by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"We are doing more because of Elder Wirthlin's request that we pay more attention to the Proclamation on the Family," he said in a telephone interview. "We need to make sure our members understand it. We are having all of our high councilors speak on it for a period of six months, beginning in January 1998. We have training on the Family Proclamation in each high council meeting, so they will have fresh material to use every month. You can spend a whole sacrament meeting on just one aspect of any one of the nine paragraphs of the proclamation."

He said local leaders are now making a great effort to carry the message to members. "Do I think we are doing it as well as the apostles? No, but I think we try."

Pres. Pommerville said that the area training sessions he's attended in the past six years have each been uplifting and seemed to address "exactly what I needed to become properly focused on. And focus can be a tough thing sometimes. You want to do something, but you don't know what to do. This training is a very positive thing."

Pres. Anthony Paul Osborne of the Temple View New Zealand Stake was among those in the Pacific Area taught by President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"We were instructed to reclaim our families and we are instructing our priesthood leaders to do the same thing," he said in a telephone interview."

"We also want to make sure we use the Sabbath Day better. We've rearranged our schedules to spend more time with our children. We have a whole new focus on how important the family is."

The second part of the training sessions focused on retaining converts in Church activity.

In the session, stake presidents were notified that they have been given authority to help local mission presidents. Stake presidents may now recommend to mission presidents the number of missionaries to be assigned within their stakes, and where these missionaries are to be located.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve also discussed the activities of a new council, the Member-Missionary Coordinating Council, that was authorized by the First Presidency in a letter to stake presidents on June 13, 1997.

This council is held on a multi-stake basis under the direction of an Area Authority Seventy, who serves under the direction of the area presidency. The local full-time mission president and stake presidents participate on the council. The council meets to coordinate the work of full-time and stake missionaries and members, and to consider other important matters.

The size of the councils depends on the number of stakes in a designated area. At the area training meetings, leaders were instructed about this council. Training was also done to help make stake and ward councils more effective.

The basis for missionary work was also emphasized, as outlined in a June 1991 letter from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, to stake mission and district presidents and bishops, referred to as "Fundamental Considerations in Proclaiming the Gospel."

This five-page letter emphasized the need for a balanced effort between conversion, retention and activation. At this time, all three aspects of missionary work were emphasized equally. These three objectives became the standard for evaluating missionary work.

"Helping New Members," was the subject of another letter from the First Presidency sent May 15, 1997, to be read in sacrament meetings. This letter noted that every new member ``needs three things--a friend, a responsibility, and spiritual nourishment through gospel study."

"This is a work for everyone,'' the First Presidency letter said. ``We ask each member, please help in this undertaking. Your friendly ways are needed. Your sense of responsibility is needed. . . . (See Church News, Nov. 29, pp. 8-9,11.)

Pres. Osborne said that in the meetings, leaders were taught of their responsibility to help full-time missionaries and converts and to be actively involved in convert retention.

"We are going over the program and making sure the stake and ward councils are far more effective, and making sure the bishop is more closely involved.

"We are changing things already. We are telling our people to reclaim their lives and their families. We are asking them to make sure they are worthy, to read the scriptures more."

He said that attending the area training meeting was a great privilege." ("Focus of area training: family, converts," Church News [Saturday, 13 December 1997]: 5).

In 1998 David B. Haight recalled another small mission presidents' gathering: "My dear brothers and sisters, what a wonderful occasion, what a beautiful day, what a glorious time this is, and particularly for me to have an opportunity to stand here following that stirring declaration and testimony of God’s prophet here upon the earth.

As he held up that copy of the Book of Mormon from the first edition, I thought of an experience we had a few years ago as we attended a mission presidents’ seminar. At the closing of the two-day seminar in the Palmyra-Fayette area, we held a dinner in the reconstructed Peter Whitmer farmhouse, that beautiful little building where the Church was organized 168 years ago this weekend. It was such a moving occasion. The only cooking arrangement they had in that little log cabin was the fireplace. We looked at the fireplace, with a pot hanging where they did their cooking. They didn’t have any of the conveniences of today, of course. There was a well outside for their water.

Near the end of that very spiritual meeting with those mission presidents, I walked up the stairs and looked at the two little bedrooms. The Peter Whitmer family lived there. But they turned one of those rooms over to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and there he did some of the translating of the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdery worked with him in that humble little setting. My heart burned with the wonderful feeling I had of just being in that little farmhouse and imagining what took place and the blessings of heaven that had been poured out upon them.

As we left our meeting that evening and left that little farmhouse, there was a full moon shining down through the trees. I said to Ruby, "I can imagine the night of April 6, 1830, after that small group had assembled, the Church had been organized, and six men agreeable to its organization were present to be in harmony with the laws of the state of New York; I can imagine what was said, what was prophesied about the future of the Church, and the testimonies that would have been borne." Then I said, "I would imagine that on the night of April the 6th, 1830, there was a full moon shining, showing that our Savior was smiling upon that occasion and upon that setting."

Later I expressed that idea to a group where Brother Chamberlain, who then was the director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake, heard me say it. He was thoughtful enough to get in touch with the naval observatory to find out what might have happened on April the 6th, 1830. They didn’t have records back that far, so he was thoughtful enough to contact the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in England for records that might have been available over there. He later sent me some documents indicating what was happening in the horizon that week of April the 6th, 1830, indicating that there was a full or beautifully beaming moon those days before and after April the 6th. The glories of the Lord had been poured out upon the occasion."

In 2003 Russell M. Nelson held a mission presidents' seminar in Tanzania at the time he was dedicating the land for the preaching of the Gospel. The Church News reported:

" DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — The East African nation of Tanzania was blessed and dedicated Nov. 18 by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Nelson, who was accompanied by his wife, Sister Dantzel Nelson, gathered for the occasion on a sunny afternoon with some 15 members and Church leaders on a promontory overlooking Oyster Bay on the Indian Ocean, near the capital city of Dar es Salaam.

"It was thrilling to be present as an apostle gave this special blessing to the country of Tanzania," said Elder Steven E. Snow of the Seventy and president of the Africa Southeast Area, who was present with his wife, Sister Phyllis Snow. "While the gospel has been established here, it will now firmly take root and grow and flourish."

Other leaders and their wives present included Kenya Nairobi Mission President Raymond Botterell, Sister Jane Botterell; and Jackson Mbwille, a counselor in the mission presidency and presiding elder in Tanzania, and his wife, Sister Judith Mbwille.

During the evening of the dedication, Elder Nelson spoke to 300 Church members who met at the Kinondoni Branch.

In his remarks, Elder Nelson expressed gratitude for members here sustaining their Church leaders. He assured them: "The Lord honors the blessings of His servants.... When a prayer of dedication comes, blessings will follow.

"A dedicatory prayer sets the direction, but the power comes from you who are here. The power to make that dedicatory prayer become a reality rests with members and leaders of the Church here in Tanzania. . . . The Lord will establish a Church here by your efforts."

He spoke to members about developing faith, and about repentance, baptism and the Holy Ghost, tithing, prayer, missionary work, the Book of Mormon, and holding a temple recommend despite being far from the nearest temple.

Elder Nelson blessed them that "you will be strong in your faith and strong in your conviction of the truth and be willing to share it with your friends and neighbors, loved ones and families."

In Tanzania, there are three branches of the Church, which are organized under the Kenya Nairobi Mission. They are the Kinondoni, Ubungo and Chang'ombe branches with about 480 members. The Church received legal recognition from the government Oct. 8, 1992. On Dec. 15, 1992, the Dar es Salaam Branch was created.

The first Tanzanian citizen to be baptized was Robert Muhile, who joined the Church in Cairo, Egypt, in 1991, before the arrival of missionaries in Tanzania. After the 2003 dedication of the country by Elder Nelson, Brother Muhile said: "Looking back, 11 years we have been requesting this dedication. Eventually the Lord did hear our prayers. Elder Nelson has opened the doors and windows for the Lord's blessings."

Kinondoni Branch President Benjamin Kirato added: "At the dedication, most of the eyes were wet because a great blessing was given to our land. For so long we've waited. Now we are ready to move forward."

Elder Nelson dedicated the land of Tanzania while in the Africa Southeast Area from Nov. 12-23 for a mission president's seminar and other assignments in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa." ("Gospel takes root in Tanzania: Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicates East African nation," Church News [Saturday, 29 November 2003]: 6).

In October 2004 Elder Dieter Uchtdorf shared his meeting with mission presidents in a small gathering in Nebraska. The Church News reported "The other experience was during a recent seminar he conducted for the mission presidents of the North America Central Area at Omaha, Neb. The group toured the visitors center adjacent to the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple, learning about the pioneers and their faithfulness and sacrifices.

He said the story of the Mormon Pioneers was being told to the Uchtdorfs and 17 mission presidents and their wives by a sister missionary from Moscow, Russia.

Those experiences are signs of the growth of the Church he said, then referring to Ephesians 2:19: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Reported by Greg Hill, "German apostle embraces world," Church News [Saturday, 16 October 2004]: 6).

In 2005 "Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Presidency of the Seventy, assisted by members of two Area Presidencies, presided over stake and district conferences, taught mission presidents in two seminars, and addressed members and missionaries in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe during a 15-day tour of Africa from November 8–23."

Shaun D. Stahle of the Church News reported their trip:

"On more than one occasion, Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Merrill J. Bateman stepped off an all-night flight in Africa with just enough time to run a comb through their hair and brush a wrinkle from their suits before entering a meetinghouse to address members or missionaries.

While others slept, Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Bateman of the Presidency of the Seventy boarded transcontinental flights, only to arrive the next morning in time to go back to work.

"The suits actually looked pretty good," Elder Nelson mused in a interview with Church News the day following their 15-day tour of stakes and countries in the African continent.

From Nov. 8-23, Elder Nelson and Elder Bateman, with the assistance of two area presidencies, presided over stake and district conferences, taught mission presidents in two seminars and addressed members and missionaries in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

"There is something about the beauty of these African people that doesn't leave you when you leave the country," Elder Nelson said. "It is a real privilege to serve them."

En route to their first stop in their African tour, with their flight path deflected over Sudan, Elder Nelson marveled at the size of the Red Sea. "Even from the air," he said, "the Red Sea is huge. Parting the Red Sea in Moses' time was no small feat. It was an incredible miracle."

The morning after arriving in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Elder Nelson toured the Megenagna meetinghouse, the first in Ethiopia, prior to being taken to an adjacent grove of trees known to local members as the Sacred Grove. Here, as authorized by the First Presidency and the Twelve, Elder Nelson dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel.

Such events, said Elder Nelson, "are always historic, because it really is a significant step in the Lord's plan for the establishment of His Church in each nation."

After addressing about 200 Ethiopian members and their friends in a devotional meeting that afternoon, Elder Nelson traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, where he presided over the Port Harcourt Nigeria Stake conference, one of 22 stakes in Nigeria, while Elder Bateman traveled to Ghana where he presided over the Swedru District conference.

Both countries are part of the Africa West Area where more than 100,000 members reside.

Joining with Elder Bateman in Accra Sunday evening, Elder Nelson returned to visit the Ghana temple where he was earlier this year during its dedication.

"This is one of the jewels of the Church," Elder Nelson said. "It is simply glorious."

Beyond the grandeur of the building, Elder Nelson told the 1,600 members assembled in the Accra Christiansborg Stake Center on Nov. 16, what a spiritual thrill it had been the day before when he and Elder Bateman with the Africa West Area presidency and eight mission presidents and their wives attended an endowment session in the Ghana temple.

"The thrilling part of that service," he said, "was to see the entire service conducted by Ghanian temple workers from start to finish.

"And were they handsome," he said.

He said he felt President Spencer W. Kimball was aware of the temple proceedings and recounted his association with the 12th president of the Church, which centered on a critical heart operation.

He told how President Kimball, then Elder Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, was meeting with the First Presidency to whom he explained his serious heart problems and how he was not expected to live long. Surgery could be performed, he said, but was not recommended by the doctors.

President Harold B. Lee said that Elder Kimball should do all he could to stay alive because the Lord had more work for him to do.

Elder Nelson, then Dr. Nelson, received a blessing from the First Presidency, saying that he had been prepared by the Lord to perform this special operation. Elder Nelson successfully performed the operation.

President Kimball lived another 13 years, during which time he received heavenly direction allowing all worthy males to receive the priesthood which opened the door for the gospel to bless the lives of the people of Africa.

In his comments, Elder Bateman told of his long association with Africa which began in 1963 when he and his wife, Marilyn, and their two young sons lived in Ghana while he lectured at the University of Ghana.

They were the only members of the Church in the country and conducted their meetings in their home. There they taught their young sons about the truths in the Book of Mormon and Bible. During this time in Ghana, Elder Bateman told how they learned to love the people.

Since that early time 41 years ago, Elder Bateman has returned to West Africa many times where he helped establish the Church in Nigeria and Ghana. President James E. Faust, then Elder Faust of the Presidency of the Seventy, assigned Elder Bateman to locate a few individuals in West Africa who were extremely interested in the Church.

Elder Bateman told of miraculous experiences meeting Joseph William Billy Johnson in Ghana, and Anthony Obinna's nephew in Nigeria, as well as many others. Anthony Obinna was baptized Nov. 21, 1978, the first person baptized in Nigeria following the priesthood revelation.

Joseph William Billy Johnson, who is now a patriarch in the Cape Coast Ghana Stake and serves in the Accra Ghana Temple, had established seven congregations of 1,400 followers who wanted to become members of the Church by the time he heard the announcement on the priesthood revelation on the radio.

Looking back on that recent evening in the Christiansborg stake center, which is located adjacent to the Ghana temple, Elder Nelson marveled at the worshipful spirit of the 1,600 who attended.

"Those reverent people," he said, "on a warm evening sat most reverently and receptively as they heard from five General Authorities, including Elder Sheldon F. Child, Elder H. Ross Workman and Elder R. Conrad Schultz of the Africa West Area presidency."

The choir sang beautifully, singing an opening hymn written by President Gordon B. Hinckley, and a closing hymn written by Elder Russell M. Nelson. "They had practiced and perfected those numbers to the delight of all who listened."

After their time in Ghana, Elder Nelson and Elder Bateman continued to Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in another mission presidents seminar. Also participating were members of the Africa Southeast Area presidency, including Elders Steven E. Snow, Christoffel Golden Jr., and William W. Parmley.

Later, Elder Bateman journeyed to Maputo, Mozambique, where he presided over a district conference.

Elder Nelson continued his journey to Harare, Zimbabwe, where he had visited 30 years earlier as general president of the Sunday School. During the priesthood leadership meeting of the Harare Zimbabwe Stake Conference on Nov. 20, he commended the 258 leaders who attended.

Following the adult meeting that evening, Elder Nelson said, "One cannot describe the feelings of worship that emanate from that congregation. There, it's a reverent, deeply moving, worshipful experience. They speak very well as educated people. They keep the doctrine pure, with much more quoting from the scriptures than is seen in other places in the world."

During the general session of stake conference the next day in the Harare International Center where 2,369 members attended, Elder Nelson thought it interesting that President Edward Dube of the Harare stake apologized that only 74 percent of his stake attended.

In his comments, Elder Nelson invited two missionaries from the Zimbabwe Harare Mission, Elder Landon Munk from Amalga, Utah, and Elder Martin Basalirwa from Uganda, to join him at the lectern.

He asked Elder Munk what he would tell his younger brother at home, who is 14 years old, about missionary work.

Elder Munk said he would tell his brother that missionary work is 10 times more difficult than milking cows, and that everyone in Zimbabwe has a big heart, and that serving a mission was the best thing he has done in his life.

Elder Basalirwa bore his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and told how he had been beaten and left for dead in October while serving his mission. But now he was standing in front of the congregation as a missionary because he has work to do.

During his time in Zimbabwe, Elder Nelson visited the "Prophet's Garden." Instead of lush landscaping that surrounds most Church meetinghouses, land around meetinghouses in Zimbabwe is organized into garden plots where members plant, cultivate and harvest their own food.

Elder Nelson said he watched as a young mother with a child strapped to her back, with another toddler walking beside her, gathered carrots, cabbage, and corn in her apron.

"I have enough food to feed my family this weekend," she gratefully told Elder Nelson.

In a country with explosive inflation and governmental challenges and economic pressures, Elder Nelson told how members are able to meet their needs.

"It's absolutely thrilling to see the welfare program at work," he said, "where nobody is hungry, where nobody receives a dole. They work for what they have."

Elder Nelson said he felt deep gratitude for the area presidencies and mission presidents and their wives who serve the African people with such devotion, competence and love. "We cannot praise them too highly," he said.

He spoke of his love for the African people and said that all Church members who contribute fast offerings or humanitarian aid should know that their contributions "make a real difference."

"The Church is making a great difference in the lives of people," he said. "It's giving light and hope in a world where it's urgently needed. African members," he continued, "understand the gospel very well." ("Growing strength among members in Africa: Elders Nelson and Bateman visit six countries during 15-day tour of continent," Church News (Saturday, 4 December 2004): 3).

In August 2006 for twelve days during a 12-day tour that began Aug. 17, Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council conducted seminars with the 50 mission presidents from the Europe West, Europe East and Europe Central areas, challenging the notion that Europeans won't join the Church. Seminars were held in Birmingham, England; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Dresden, Germany.... Accompanying Elder Ballard was Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Area Seventy. Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy also accompanied Elder Ballard in the Europe East Area.

M. Russell Ballard instructed them in one of the meetings: "Members need to draw close to full-time missionaries and learn ways to share the gospel with more people," he said. "Members should encourage missionaries to go with faith, knowing they can find the honest in heart, to teach and baptize them."

Earl C. Tingey said: "Missionaries are working hard. They are well schooled. They are teaching and serving as directed in Preach My Gospel. New members are grasping their religion, as demonstrated by traveling long distances to attend the member meetings." (Shaun D. Stahle,"Dispelling notions that gospel is hard," Church News [Saturday, 16 September 2006]: 6).

Shaun D. Stahle reported in great detail this trip in the Church News:

"The testimony Elder M. Russell Ballard delivered to members and missionaries across Europe during a recent tour is that these "are fine people who need the values and teachings of the gospel, and when they are taught well, they will embrace its truths."

Aware that some missionaries serving in Europe fear they are not likely to baptize, Elder Ballard declared, "With faith and courage, we can find those who will embrace the gospel. No missionary should go with any preconceived notion that teaching and baptizing is beyond the realm of possibility.

"They should go into the mission field believing they can build the Church."

During the 12-day tour that began Aug. 17, Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council conducted seminars with the 50 mission presidents from the Europe West, Europe East and Europe Central areas, challenging the notion that Europeans won't join the Church.

Seminars were held in Birmingham, England; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Dresden, Germany. He also addressed many missionaries and members in these areas, as well as other member meetings in Ukraine, Armenia and Switzerland.

"Members need to draw close to full-time missionaries and learn ways to share the gospel with more people," he said. "Members should encourage missionaries to go with faith, knowing they can find the honest in heart, to teach and baptize them."

Accompanying Elder Ballard was Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., Area Seventy. Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy also accompanied Elder Ballard in the Europe East Area.

"Missionaries are working hard," said Elder Tingey. "They are well schooled. They are teaching and serving as directed in Preach My Gospel. New members are grasping their religion, as demonstrated by traveling long distances to attend the member meetings."

Elder Tingey said he learned something of the depth of feeling these members, from behind what was "the Iron Curtain," have for the gospel and their newfound freedom. While the Church leaders were in Ukraine their driver told how his grandfather, while serving in the Ukranian military, disappeared during World War II without a trace, and how the gospel now gives his life purpose and joy and the hope of an eternal family.

Elder Tingey noted how two stakes have been organized in former eastern bloc countries with a stake in Kiev, Ukraine, and a second stake in Budapest, Hungary.

Among the highlights of the European tour was meeting Armenia's President Robert Kocharian in his palace in Yerevan. The president is a long-time friend of Elder Huntsman, a friendship nurtured during the past 18 years as Elder Huntsman made extensive humanitarian contributions to rebuild the country following the devastation of the 1988 earthquake that killed, injured or left homeless more than one-third of the country's 3 million people.

The one-hour visit to the presidential palace drew national press coverage as Elder Huntsman updated the president on plans for a cancer hospital to be built in the capital city.

The Church leaders were hosted by the Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, who met them upon arrival. He accompanied Elder Ballard and the others during their stay, which included a visit to the city of Gyumri where school children greeted the Church leaders and showed their appreciation for Elder Huntsman with an enthusiastic presentation. The Church leaders also visited high-rise apartments that were built and donated by the Huntsman family.

Elder Huntsman; and Peter Huntsman, a son; and associate David Horne began humanitarian work in Armenia in 1988. Their efforts helped establish the Church during the Soviet era, leading to the recognition of the Church in 1994. Approximately 800 of the 2,000 members of the Church were able to attend the member meeting with Elder Ballard and Elder Tingey.

Armenia has been long considered a Christian nation. Armenian Orthodox Church members believe their heritage can be traced to the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew, who preached the gospel there in the early Christian era.

Members of the Orthodox clergy invited Elders Ballard, Tingey, Neuenschwander and the Huntsmans to visit their holy shrine where Father Ktrij Devijian led a tour of the grounds and buildings, noting how some foundations are believed to date to A.D. 304.

Elder Neuenschwander, president of the Europe East Area said, "The Church is doing great in Eastern Europe. We just completed an incredible summer of activity for the youth and young single adults. In the 15 years since the gospel has been established in Eastern Europe, there are 26 districts and a stake." ("Dispelling notions that gospel is hard," Church News [Saturday, 16 September 2006]: 6).

In 2006 sixteen missionary training center presidents and the visit center presidents met in Provo at the MTC. R. Scott Lloyd of the Church News reported the proceedings of the seminar: "Next to the scriptures and the Holy Ghost, the foundation stone of missionary service in the Church today is the recently published guide Preach My Gospel.

That was a recurring and prominent message Jan. 10 during the first day of the 2006 Seminar for New Missionary Training Center Presidents and Visitors Center Directors. The four-day event brought together 19 recently called couples, mostly from the United States and with some from Canada, Mexico and Japan. They are bound for Missionary Training Centers in such locales as New Zealand, Peru and Ghana, and Church visitors centers in such places as Winter Quarters, Neb.; San Diego, Calif.; and Independence, Mo.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve emphasized the importance of Preach My Gospel as he taught them about their responsibilities and how they should coordinate with other leaders with whom they will be working.

"What happens if you've had really neat missionary experiences that are different than are taught in Preach My Gospel ?" he asked. The response he elicited is that they are to be "put on the shelf."

"Use the foundational principles in Preach My Gospel and teach by the Spirit," he counseled. "There is flexibility, but not in terms of what we're trying to accomplish or how we're trying to accomplish it."

The new leaders and their wives can find the guide to be helpful in such matters as learning a new language and in helping missionary companions who are not getting along, the apostle suggested, adding that the chapter on developing Christlike attributes can be helpful in the latter event.

"There needs to be some accommodation, but not in the core aspects of what we're trying to do and how well you work together (with others who may have overlapping responsibilities)," Elder Scott explained.

He noted, "I hate to admit this, but when I've given up some of the very deeply held convictions of my personal experience and followed this more precisely, it's worked out a lot better. Things change; the world has changed, and the fact that we have a new emphasis and direction now in no way criticizes what has been done before. This is for our time and our need now."

Elder Scott spoke of a "dual reporting responsibility" that rests upon both Missionary Training Center presidents and visitors center directors. On ecclesiastical matters, the Missionary Training Center president would seek direction from and report to the area presidency, but on matters of administration and operation would go to the Missionary Department for direction. And the visitors center director would go to the mission president (under whom he serves as a missionary) for direction on ecclesiastical matters, while on operational matters, he would consult the Missionary Department.

In response to a question from the wife of a new Missionary Training Center president, Elder Scott said that such a wife typically has such spiritual acuity that she can sometimes sense the needs that a missionary might have and aid her husband in identifying such needs.

Availing himself of his apostolic privilege, Elder Scott invoked a blessing upon the departing leaders, among other things that they would be able to develop latent talents that they might not realize they have. For those who would need to learn a new language, he blessed them with the gift of tongues, and he invoked a protective shield against harmful circumstances that might occur in their lives.

In a session earlier in the day, the new visitors center directors were taught that Church visitors centers and historic sites have a well-defined purpose, that being to support the mission of the Church in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His Church. They heard that such centers are a valuable source of referrals, that research in 2001 showed that 25 percent of all converts to the Church in the United States and Canada said their visit to a visitors center influenced their decision to join the Church.

In a separate session, missionary training center presidents heard that in some ways the missionary training center is a "purifying" experience for new missionaries, consistent with Doctrine and Covenants 112:28, in that it helps them deal with a wide array of conditions, characteristics and challenges." ("Foundation of today's missionary work: Leaders bound for MTCs, visitors centers are instructed," Church News [Saturday, 14 January 2006]: 5).

In the October 2007 General Conference Elder Boyd K. Packer related the following incident: "Some years ago, I was with President Marion G. Romney, meeting with mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, Switzerland. He told them that 50 years before, as a missionary boy in Australia, late one afternoon he had gone to a library to study. When he walked out, it was night. He looked up into the starry sky, and it happened. The Spirit touched him, and a certain witness was born in his soul.

He told those mission presidents that he did not know any more surely then as a member of the First Presidency that God the Father lives; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; and that the fulness of the gospel had been restored than he did as a missionary boy 50 years before in Australia. He said that his testimony had changed in that it was much easier to get an answer from the Lord. The Lord’s presence was nearer, and he knew the Lord much better than he had 50 years before.

There is the natural tendency to look at those who are sustained to presiding positions, to consider them to be higher and of more value in the Church or to their families than an ordinary member. Somehow we feel they are worth more to the Lord than are we. It just does not work that way!

It would be very disappointing to my wife and to me if we supposed any one of our children would think that we think we are of more worth to the family or to the Church than they are, or to think that one calling in the Church was esteemed over another or that any calling would be thought to be less important.

Recently, one of our sons was sustained as ward mission leader. His wife told us how thrilled he was with the call. It fits the very heavy demands of his work. He has the missionary spirit and will find good use for his Spanish, which he has kept polished from his missionary days. We also were very, very pleased at his call.
What my son and his wife are doing with their little children transcends anything they could do in the Church or out. No service could be more important to the Lord than the devotion they give to one another and to their little children. And so it is with all our other children. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church centers in the home and the family.

As General Authorities of the Church, we are just the same as you are, and you are just the same as we are. You have the same access to the powers of revelation for your families and for your work and for your callings as we do. (Boyd K. Packer, "The Weak and the Simple of the Church," Ensign, Nov 2007, 8).

In 2007 Elder L. Tom Perry related an experience with his son who had been called as a mission president: "I was privileged last month to be assigned to attend a seminar with the mission presidents from the North America West Area. Among the mission presidents in attendance was my son, Lee. He had been called to serve before I had completed my yearlong assignment in the Europe Central Area Presidency. It had been three years since I had spent any time with my son, other than a few short visits while passing through his area on other assignments.

After a get-acquainted dinner with all of the mission presidents and their wives, Lee and I, with our wives, went to my hotel room for a visit. Our conversation, of course, centered on missionary work. Lee explained what had happened to his missionaries since President Hinckley asked us to raise the bar on qualifications for missionary service. He reported a decided improvement in the preparation of the missionaries arriving in the mission field."

The mission presidents' seminars are full of doctrine and information that will help motivate us be better at doing missionary work even if we are not called as mission presidents. I feel great confidence in the men and women called to lead our missions throughout the world and know that my children are in the hands of inspired people.

2008 Mission Presidents' Seminar


Photo by Gerry Avant
Mike and Gala Dowdle, center, join with new mission presidents and their wives in singing during the annual seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. President Thomas S. Monson spoke in the meeting on June 22.
One hundred and twenty-four mission presidents and their wives attended the Mission Presidents' Seminar at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on 22 June 2008 until 25 June 2008.  President Thomas S. Monson kicked off the meeting by addressing them in a special sacrament meeting talk.  The Church News staff did an excellent job of summarizing important concepts brought out in the First Presidencies talks.


Gerry Avant of the Church News reported President Monson's Sunday evening remarks:


Photo by Gerry Avant
President Thomas S. Monson


President Thomas S. Monson said, "The parents of every missionary kneel each day in prayer and ask our Heavenly Father to bless that son or daughter in the mission field. And in that prayer they ask a blessing upon you, for you in effect become a mother and a father to their child. You help determine the destiny of that young man or that young woman. Someone said, 'The power to lead is also the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy.' Let there be positive leading, positive motivation, positive uplift on your part as you inspire your missionaries."

Photo by Gerry Avant
President Thomas S. Monson attends Seminar for New Mission Presidents with his wife, Frances, and daughter, Ann M. Dibb. He addressed new mission leaders and their wives during sacrament meeting on June 22.

The sacrament meeting at which President Monson spoke was held at the Missionary Training Center in Provo in conjunction with the 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. The meeting was attended by President Monson's counselors in the First Presidency, Elder Henry B. Eyring and Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve and Quorum of the Seventy. The seminar continued through June 25.

Speaking to mission leaders from a practical standpoint about motivating missionaries, President Monson shared counsel which could be applicable also to stake and district leaders, parents of missionaries and the general membership of the Church.


He encouraged mission presidents to have personal interviews with each missionary upon arrival and at given times throughout their missions. He suggested that the approach to the interviews be similar to that which was recommended many years ago by President Spencer W. Kimball, who said: "When I interview a missionary, I don't say to him, 'Are you doing this wrong? Are you doing that? Do you have this problem or that problem?"'


President Monson said that President Kimball would say, "Tell me what you most admire about your companion."

That, said President Monson, will stop the missionary for a moment. "He starts to think about what he admires most about his companion. Then another question of President Kimball's: 'If you had a little brother 18 years of age preparing for a mission, what would you tell him to do so that he might be a good missionary when he goes out to serve?'


"That sets a positive tone for the interview," said President Monson. "My suggestion is that we provide help —that we love, not scold. 'Show how' is more important than 'tell how' in that kind of a situation. We read from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 108, verse 7: 'Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings."'



Mission presidents — as well as missionaries and their families — need to know that the Spirit will guide decisions made in carrying out the Lord's work. President Monson illustrated this by relating an experience he had when he presided over the Canadian Mission and was inspired to move one young man from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario.



"He wasn't due for a transfer, but the impression came so strongly that I made the transfer. The next week when I received a letter from his companion, tears came to my eyes when I read: 'President Monson, I know you were inspired in sending Elder Smith to us in Welland. We are teaching ten Italian-speaking families whose English skills are limited. In my heart I had been praying for a companion who could speak Italian. You found the only missionary in the mission who spoke Italian.'



"I thought to myself as I read that line, 'I knew nothing about whether or not that boy spoke Italian.' With a name like Smith, you don't think he is going to speak Italian. How did I know that his mother was Italian, and that she had taught the boy to speak in her native tongue? In that way he was able to carry the gospel to those families in Welland. That is just one example."


President Monson said that he does not like to see emphasis placed upon when missionaries become senior companion or if they'll remain a junior companion. "I like more or less to treat the companionships equally, even though we know that one of them is in charge. I would show one above the other on the roster, but I would downplay the idea of who was senior and who was junior in that kind of a situation.



"Always select your outstanding missionaries to introduce the new elders and new sisters to the field. I had a young man, James Arnett, from Price, Utah. He never was a district leader, never was a zone leader, never was an assistant to the president; but if I were to name on one hand my most outstanding missionaries, he would be one. The reason was that he was such an outstanding trainer of new missionaries. I would put an elder with him for a month, then I would give him another new elder, then another, and so on. His influence could be seen in almost every missionary whom he had trained and those who had been trained by those he had trained. You will occasionally find that type of talent. Utilize it when it comes. From the Doctrine and Covenants comes this beautiful passage: 'And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also"' (84:106).


President Monson counseled mission presidents about activities they allow on missionaries' preparation day. He spoke of having met a missionary who had a foot in a cast. President Monson thought perhaps the injury had been sustained in a game of football, baseball or basketball, but learned that the missionary had skateboarded down a cement causeway at about 30 miles an hour and smashed into a cement wall. President Monson said, "It's a shame to teach a young man Portuguese, let's say, and have him wait week after week after week for that visa and then finally get down to Brazil, and then get in a game of touch football, break a leg, then have to go home and lose all of that Portuguese training, all of that motivation — all for a game of football. There are other things missionaries might do on preparation day that could destroy and damage the Spirit. We need to be very careful about what activities are allowed on that day."


Missionaries are to be encouraged to write a letter or e-mail home every week, President Monson said. "I call it the Monson Rule of Proselyting. I like to tell missionaries that it isn't so significant how much you write — just be certain to write....Those letters and e-mails from a missionary son or daughter can bring parents into the Church."


He told of a time when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and met a missionary in Los Angeles who, in the six months he had been serving, had never received a letter from his parents. President Monson encouraged him to continue writing every week, and then said, " I promise you, Elder, that if you continue to send a letter home to your mother and father every week, you will see changes."


President Monson said that he returned to California months later and met again with that missionary, who reached into his pocket and brought out a letter from his mother. It said, "Dear Michael, Thank you so much for your weekly letters. You will be pleased to know that Dad has been ordained a priest, and I am taking the lessons with the missionaries, and Dad is going to baptize me. We have figured out that in one year's time we can come out to Los Angeles with the family when you complete your mission, and we can all go to the Los Angeles Temple together and be sealed for eternity. Keep up the good work. Love, Mother."


The missionary said, "'Elder Monson, the Lord fulfilled your promise.' To which I said, 'The Lord answered your prayer."'

President Monson encouraged mission presidents to work closely with local leaders and members. "There is just no substitute for a member-oriented proselyting program. Tracting will not substitute for it. Golden questions will not substitute for it. A member-oriented program is the key to success. It works wherever we try it. I hesitate to deal in dramatic statements, but let me try one: The greatest single thing you as a mission president can do to increase the effectiveness of your missionaries and their productivity is to ensure that the proper relationship is maintained with the ecclesiastical leaders in the area where they proselyte. I can think of no greater thing that you could do....


"It was President Kimball who said, 'No mission can achieve its full potential without member help.' Then President Kimball said, 'We expect to...involve the members of the Church generally in opening the gospel doors to our Father's other children."'


President Monson spoke of the importance of building "mission spirit." Let each missionary, he said, know that he or she "has been called to the greatest mission in all the Earth."


He said he liked the philosophy of a teacher he once read about. She said, "No one fails in my class. It is my responsibility to help each one succeed."


He said that for years he carried in his wallet a photograph of one of his missionaries, Heber Barzee. President Monson held up an enlarged copy of the photo, and said, "Elder Barzee gave me the picture, and on the back he wrote, 'Dear President Monson, I am happy.' When I would look at that smile, I would say to myself, 'It is my job to motivate and demonstrate and to show every missionary in my mission how to be successful. It isn't my job to scold; it isn't my job to berate or to pressure. My assignment is to show each missionary how to be successful so that he's as happy as Elder Barzee.'


"I think one of the best ways we can do that is to remember that 'the worth of souls is great in the sight of God,' and if we should labor all our days and bring save it be one soul unto Him, how great shall be our joy with him in the kingdom of our Father. And if we should labor more diligently and bring many souls unto Him, how much greater shall be our joy (see Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 15, 16).


"You may sometimes be tempted to say, 'Will my influence make any difference? I am just one. Will my service affect the work that dramatically?' I testify to you that it will. You will never be able to measure the influence for good you will have."

(Gerry Avant, "Positive uplift: The Spirit will guide decisions made in carrying out the Lord's work," Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 3).


On Monday, 23 June 2008 President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency addressed the mission presidents and their wives:


Photo by Shaun Stahle
Ancient missionary prophecies are being fulfilled worldwide, says President Henry B. Eyring at annual seminar for new mission presidents.


Speaking of the blessed opportunities and events awaiting new mission presidents and their companions, President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, said an ancient missionary-themed prophecy is being fulfilled.


Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah envisioned the present day and the Church's missionary efforts: "Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them: and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks" (Jeremiah 16:16).


At the Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 23, President Eyring said that Jeremiah was speaking of the gathering of Heavenly Father's children to His church and kingdom. And he was speaking of missionary work today, and beyond. The fishers and hunters are those involved in taking the gospel to the world. Much of that growth is found in an increase of full-time missionaries. But an increase will also come through rank-and-file members becoming more involved in missionary work.


"The miracle is unfolding slowly before our eyes," President Eyring said.


The Church leader shared an account of one young bishop who met frequently with the full-time missionaries serving in his ward. The bishop learned from the missionaries about the investigators they were teaching. He loved each person who was hearing their message. Enlisting prayer, that bishop pondered the best way to utilize the ward council. Each Sunday felt like a missionary day.

"The bishop sees missionary work as at the heart of his being a minister and a shepherd," President Eyring said.


That bishop would come to know each investigator and their respective needs. Long before their baptism date, the bishop considered their future callings, home teachers and visiting teachers. As much as possible, he ministered to the new members following their baptisms. He tracked their progress.


"He knows that a love of individuals by name always precedes improvement in the numbers of people baptized and those who endure," President Eyring said. "He is guided by a simple rule for holding the hearts of investigators and new members: Give them personal contact early and often.


"You can imagine that in his ward the full-time missionaries get not only referrals but invitations to teach. Every member has an opportunity to love and nurture people being taught and those who are baptized. They have felt the joy of a person who is finding the truth. In time many of the members will themselves have felt the joy of coming into the waters of baptism and being embraced warmly by their fellow citizens in the Kingdom. They will want the same experience for their friends and for every person they meet."


President Eyring spoke of his own experiences as a young man serving as a district missionary in New Mexico, and of the pivotal role that local priesthood leaders played in fellowshipping those that young Brother Eyring and others taught and baptized.

It's natural for new mission presidents to wonder how they can hasten the unleashing of the member missionary power. President Eyring pointed out a few things that won't help. First, don't "nag" the members into missionary duty. And second, don't beg.

"You can build in your missionaries a love of the gospel and of the people," he said. "That love shows when it is deep and genuine. Your missionaries will be trusted when their motive is pure love of the gospel and of people."


President Eyring then reminded the mission presidents and their wives of President Thomas S. Monson's counsel to increase missionary effectiveness.


The "Preach My Gospel" guide to missionary service, he added, also includes several valuable suggestions directed to mission presidents.


President Eyring said the wives of new mission presidents have a special opportunity to give praise and encouragement to the faithful women in wards and branches.


"You know that it is women and girls who issue many of the invitations to friends to be taught by the missionaries," he said. "It is often women, both as leaders and as members, who become the friends and the nurturers of new members."

It has been said that the success of a mission president cannot be judged until "we see the children and grandchildren of his missionaries."

"The likelihood of that success is becoming greater as more members and more bishops become devoted missionaries," President Eyring said. "They will surround your missionaries with examples and influence to lift their hopes and change their choices over a lifetime."

(Jason Swensen,  "Pivotal role held by members in work: Mission presidents can utilize 'member missionary power',"  Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 4).


Later in the week Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf the second counselor in the First Presidency spoke to the group:



Photo by Shaun Stahle
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said much is expected of missionaries who have been called of God and have access to great resources of power.


The Savior's call to "Come, follow me" set the standard and gave the priorities for the ministry of all His disciples, said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.


"Therefore," said President Uchtdorf, addressing the 124 newly called mission presidents and their wives during the annual mission presidents seminar, "it is your responsibility to inspire and encourage your missionaries to become more like Him, more Christlike."


President Uchtdorf said "the Lord does not ask us to merely 'try' to live the gospel or, 'give it a good effort.' His standard is higher than that. He asks that we 'bind (ourselves) to act in all holiness before (Him),' promising that 'as (we) do this, glory shall be added to the kingdom which (we) have received' (Doctrine and Covenants 43:9-10, italics added). Therefore, priceless blessings will attend our faithfulness."


Christlike attributes come into individuals' lives as they righteously exercise their agency, avoiding the traps of Satan and holding on to the will of God. "Christlike attributes are gifts from God, and we cannot develop them without His help. The one indispensable gift we all need is offered freely to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the path of true repentance."


President Uchtdorf said the Christlike attribute of humility — willingness to submit to the will of the Lord, and to give unto Him the honor for all that is accomplished — is of critical importance for missionaries. It includes gratitude for blessings and acknowledgment of the constant need for divine help. "Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strength."


President Uchtdorf said that missionaries have been called of God and promised great resources of power, and that God has high expectations for them. "You have been called to help them rise to these expectations. Have faith in the promises the Lord has made to you and your missionaries. The Spirit will guide them, and the Spirit will guide you."

Because the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unclean tabernacles, virtue is a prerequisite to receive the guidance of the Spirit, President Uchtdorf said. "Virtue is a Christlike attribute originating in our innermost thoughts and desires. It is a pattern of thoughts and behavior based on high moral standards. Whatever we choose to think and do when we are alone and no one is watching is a strong measure of our virtue."


President Uchtdorf asked the mission presidents and their wives to encourage missionaries to cultivate and enrich their character, through repeated study, learning and work, and to help them not only to know what to do, but also to know and feel with all their heart and mind what they are to be.


"The Christlike attributes of faith and hope are a key part of this process," he said. "They are very powerful and will lead you and your missionaries safely through unknown territories and carry you across deep and fearsome canyons. Those who have faith and hope receive the Lord's promise that He will bear His servants up as on eagle's wings" (see Doctrine and Covenants 124:18).


The life of a missionary is about growing, having faith and hope, about courage and sweet boldness, about acquiring knowledge and skills, about enduring and trusting that God is always there and that He will bear them up as on eagles' wings, President Uchtdorf said.

He spoke of faith as a principle of power and said, "God works by power, but His power is usually exercised in response of faith. And God works according to the faith of His children."

He said that doubt and fear are opposed to faith. "However," he cautioned, "please do not confuse doubt and fear with having questions. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the few churches, if not the only church, that invites questions. Your missionaries need to seek, knock and ask to receive answers from the Lord. This is the way the young Prophet Joseph received instructions and answers. They need to study and pray to find answers to their questions. At times, an answer may not appear right away, but as the missionaries continue to work day by day, they receive more light and knowledge. Until then, they walk and work by faith.


President Uchtdorf reminded the mission leaders that "we are not here on our own errand. We are not engaged in a public speaking competition, religious debate or a sales contest. It is our task and solemn responsibility to proclaim the glorious news of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to serve worthily so that the Holy Ghost can accompany us and touch the lives of those we come in contact with. As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, we courageously open our mouths and tirelessly exclaim the truths revealed again through living prophets to the children of our loving Heavenly Father. That is our responsibility, privilege and joy....


"You are on the Lord's errand; it is His work. It is the work of our Father in Heaven. Teach your missionaries to have faith and trust that our Heavenly Father will do His part. Your missionaries need to learn, as did the young man who served Elisha, that unseen hosts attend them and support this wonderful work" (see 2 Kings 6:15-18).


Expressing love and gratitude for missionaries, President Uchtdorf spoke of two missionaries from small rural towns in the United States who served in Germany. They met with rejection as they knocked on doors in a multistory apartment building but, finally, on the fourth floor, at the last door, they were invited in by a widow, mother of two daughters. One of those daughters became President Uchtdorf's wife. President and Sister Uchtdorf's eldest grandsons, twins, recently received their mission calls. "They both have a deep respect and love for the missionaries who came to that fourth floor, last door, in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1954. They have seen only pictures of these missionaries but have never met them in person.

"Now, 54 years later, our grandsons, as newly called elders, have also promised the Lord and His prophet to be missionaries of faith and hope, missionaries of discipline in the work of the Lord, and missionaries who are willing to endure to the end, even to the fourth floor, last door. As grandparents, we pray for their success.

"Please tell your missionaries that the fruits of their labor will reach far beyond their present horizon. Generations to come will be grateful and bless their names for their faithfulness and dedication."

(Gerry Avant, "Christlike attributes critical to missionary work:'You are on the Lord's errand; it is His work'," Church News, [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 5).



Sarah Jane Weaver of the Church News reported the remarks of Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quourm of the Twelve Apostles delivered on 25 June 2008:


Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
President Boyd K. Packer speaks at the 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents in the Provo Missionary Training Center.


The single most important thing about teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bear clear and pure testimony, said President Boyd K. Packer on June 25.

Speaking at the 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents in the Provo Missionary Training Center, President Packer offered counsel and direction to those who will lead some of the Church's vast missionary force currently serving across the globe.


Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver
Choir of missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center sings during 2008 Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 25. President Boyd K. Packer addressed the congregation.



"You are good enough and your testimony is good enough. It will enlarge and be greater," he told the mission presidents and their wives.


President Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, recalled a time years ago when he met a young, disrespectful missionary. The young man had been referred by the Missionary Training Center to President Packer as a member of the Church's Missionary Committee to determine if he should be sent home from his mission.


The young man was a smart aleck and impudent and rude, President Packer thought. He took the young man to lunch.


"There could only be one verdict," President Packer said. "This young man could not go on a mission."

As the pair returned to the Church Office Building, they saw the Missionary Training Center director waiting for them at the top of the stairs.


"I thought, 'When we get up to the top I will have to send him home,' but I thought, 'I can't do that.' About half way up the steps I took hold of this young man and pulled him around so I was looking him right in the eyes. I said, 'You have been disrespectful and impudent and don't deserve much. But there is one thing you have got to know.'


"Then I bore my testimony to him, clear and pure testimony.


"Then I said, 'Now, don't you ever say you don't know or that you haven't been told, because you have been told. I will bear testimony against you at the judgment seat of Christ that you were told.'

"I have never done anything like that before or since."

When President Packer and the missionary got to the top of the stairs, President Packer simply said, "Take him back and try again."


Some months later President Packer heard a report of President Marion G. Romney's weekend visit to Mexico, where he met a missionary who embodied all that is ideal in a missionary. To President Packer's great surprise, it was the missionary he had sent back to the Missionary Training Center.


"And I had learned a lesson. The single most important thing that can be done is to bear testimony to them so that they will know," he said.


President Packer also told the mission presidents and their wives that they have already passed a major test in mortality, by virtue of their being at the conference.


"If the world asked a couple in the prime of their life to go someplace they have never been, speak a language they may or may not know, put their career aside, miss weddings and funerals and grandchildren, would they go?" he said.


"If asked, 'Who could you get to do that?' The answer is probably nobody," he said. "But it is different for you. You were not asked; you were called."

"The Lord," he told the couples, "will watch over you."


President Packer then shared with the congregation a truth taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith: "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 181).

"The adversary," he said, "only has power over those that permit him to."

"There are things that are ensnared within our lives and it seems so hopeless, but remember: 'Men,' the Book of Mormon says, 'are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil"' (2 Nephi 2:5).


President Packer said he has learned that "nobody is worthless. Nobody in mortality is totally lost."


"So," he explained, "you are on the winning team."

"Now, unfortunately, the scoreboard will always be in the other direction. You will close each inning with them having more numbers on the scoreboard than you do. But you know that ultimately you are on the winning team. The missionaries need to know that. 'All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.' The devil has no power over us."

(Sarah Jane Weaver, "Most important: Bear clear testimony:'You were not asked; you were called,' President Packer tells mission presidents," Church News [Saturday, 28 June 2008]: 6).


One of my good friends from my BYU student days Tim Sloan and his wife were in attendance.  It is always exciting to me to see people I know called to serve as mission presidents.  I really enjoy reading the quotes and advice given to the new mission presidents and their wives.  I wonder how many will put up blogs.  I will begin tracking them down in a week or two.  For a review of other mission president seminars please see my earlier post The Mission Presidents' Seminar: A Doctrinal and Historical Bibliographic Review.

2009 Mission Presidents' Seminar

The Church News is one of the few sources for finding out what the general authorities say at the mission presidents' seminar each year in June at the MTC in Provo, Utah. The Saturday, 4 July 2009 issue was full of brief reports of the key talks from the Thursday, 25 June to Monday, 29 June 2009 five-day mission presidents' seminar. Jason Swensen and Shaun D. Stahle gave us fine synopses with a few pictures. I have tried to get the full talks in the past but was rebuffed by J. Roger Fluhman, secretary of the Twelve, who sent me a standard form letter not to bother the Twelve. I feel that any address delivered by the general authorities to mission presidents and missionaries should be reported in a paperback edition like BYU Speeches of the Year for general member reading. The best we can find are brief summaries in the Church News and an occasional Ensign or Liahona complete talk.

This year has exceptionally good quotes and it was good to see it was conducted at all despite the swine flu epidemic that had spread rapidly through the MTC and is barely winding down. Swensen, Stahle and photographer Scott G. Winterton put their health on the line to report for the Church News as did the general authorities. It is not as dangerous for young people as more mature people so it showed their mettle. This week a missionary reported the no handshaking ban has been lifted as the swine flu is starting to abate but that is since the seminar.

Not only the 100 mission presidents and their wives were in attendance but all the members of the 12 and many seventies as well as a member of the Presiding Bishopric to show members the brethren walk the walk and how safe it is to be at the MTC. One mission president reported instead of shaking hands mission presidents and general authorities rubbed elbows suit coat to suit coat. I like to see the talks in sequence so I have arranged them in to one post and found the following in chronological order in the Church News. Enjoy!

Jason Swensen reported on M. Russell Ballard's 25 June 2009 talk Elder Ballard speaks about purpose of missionary work:



Photo by Shaun Stahle
Missionaries training at the Provo MTC pause while crossing campus to greet their new mission presidents who are also being trained.
Elder M. Russell Ballard anchored his June 25 counsel to participants at the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar on the purpose of missionary work.
A member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Ballard began by quoting "the purpose of missionary work" found on the opening page of Preach My Gospel (a guide Elder Ballard played a pivotal role in developing):
"Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."
That purpose statement, he said, reflects the focus and desired outcomes of every one involved in missionary work.
The lessons taught in Preach My Gospel were prepared under the influence of Heaven.
"Thousands of hours were spent by the faithful staff and General Authorities to create the guide — including the purpose statement. This purpose statement is inspired," said Elder Ballard.
When missionaries understand their purpose, they understand they are primarily to find, teach and baptize. Some missionaries regularly stand up in zone conferences and recite their "purpose." But Elder Ballard said living that purpose is far more important than recited words.
"There is a big difference between the ability of missionaries to recite and their commitment to live and practice on a daily basis. They must stay committed to this objective."
Elder Ballard said it is the duty of a mission president and his wife to help the missionaries internalize their purpose to find, teach and baptize.
The missionaries must possess a deep desire to fulfill that purpose.
A missionary's success will be directly proportionate to their preparation, their obedience and their ability as a teacher, he added.
It's important that elders and sisters understand that it's all right to enjoy being a missionary and find joy in their work.
"One of your many challenges is to kindle the fire of a positive attitude and a desire in your missionaries and to keep it burning all the time. When a missionary knows how to teach, all he or she will want to do is teach," said Elder Ballard.
The Church leader said when missionaries teach with understanding and are filled with desire, the great work of preaching the gospel can be accomplished.
"All over the world, even in those areas where baptisms are not anywhere near what they ought to be, there are people who want to know who God is and what the relationship between themselves and our Heavenly Father is," said Elder Ballard. "They seek to know; they just don't know where to find this knowledge."
Jason Swensen reported on President Henry B. Eyring's 25 June 2009 talk Love of God motivates missionary service: Feeling the love of God crucial to missionary work:


Photo by Jason Swensen
President Henry B. Eyring speaks to new mission presidents at the Provo Missionary Training Center on June 25.
The love of God must permeate all missionaries in their charge to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.
That was the message President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, shared June 25 with those gathered together on the opening day of the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar.
"Love unfeigned must motivate all we do in missionary service," he said. "It must lead us in our efforts to find people to teach. It must be in our voice and in our manner as we visit with bishops about their opportunity to lead their wards in missionary work. Our love of the Lord and the love of people must be communicated in every lesson we teach. It surely must be behind our invitation for investigators to make a commitment to repent and do what will lead to their happiness."
It was the Savior who promised rest to all "that labor and are heavy laden." That loving invitation, added President Eyring, runs through all the instructions the mission presidents have been given about how to do missionary work and how to lead.
"Your missionaries will feel drawn by the Lord's love. Love begats love. The missionaries and you will feel His love as the Atonement works to change our hearts. Our love for Him will increase. We come to know the Master as we serve with Him. As we know Him better we love Him even more. That will be true for your missionaries."
Mission presidents can teach their missionaries how to know that their offering of labor is approved of the Lord.
"If the Lord sends them the Spirit to carry their message into hearts with increasing power they can know He loves them and is giving His approval," President Eyring said. "When the Lord increasingly softens the heart of a missionary to love the people he or she can know that God is not only accepting their sacrifice, but sanctifying it to them."
The Church leader instructed the mission presidents and their wives to help the missionaries see signs of the Lord's approval. Always look for ways to build and strengthen them. Repeatedly express love and confidence in them — and help them see evidence of the Lord's love for them. Help them feel that they can succeed.
President Eyring asked how missionaries and their leaders can feel a love of God and for all men, whatever their circumstance or calling.
"First and foremost," he answered, "there is the sure promise that as the Atonement of Jesus Christ works in your life, and the lives of your missionaries, the love of God comes as a crowning gift." Faith begats obedience which then begats charity, the pure love of Christ. Charity allows one to see another as God sees them.
"I have learned to pray for discernment to discern as much as I can what God has seen in the life of the person before me and to feel what He feels for them." Indeed, a valuable gift of discernment is to feel what God feels about people and what He wants for them. It is to know something of their future if they choose the right.
God lives and loves all His children, President Eyring testified.
"He hears every prayer. He loves every one you will ever meet. He knows their hearts and your heart. He has gone before your to prepare the way. He beckons for you to follow."
Shaun D. Stahle reported on Jeffrey R. Holland's 26 June 2009 talk Divine companion Teaching by the Spirit:Key to missionary work is the 'ultimate teacher':



Photo by Shaun Stahle,
Speaking to missionaries and new mission presidents during the New Mission Presidents Seminar June 26, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, "You can't go forward in this work without 'the ultimate teacher.' "
"My assignment tonight is to address the very broad subject of the role of the Holy Ghost in missionary work, with special emphasis on 'teaching by the Spirit,' " said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaking to nearly 600 missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center, and another 100 mission presidents and their wives attending the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar, June 26.


Photo by Shaun Stahle,
Nearly 600 missionaries at the Provo MTC assemble to hear Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who welcomed them to the "work of angels."
"I have entitled these remarks 'The Divine Companionship,' " he said.
"My point tonight is to stress that the Spirit must be with you and you must teach by it when you teach because that is the way the lesson ceases to be your lesson and becomes His, becomes under the power of the Spirit a vehicle for lifting your investigators out of the temporal world.
"We are charged with the responsibility of getting people out of their ruts and routines, out of their problems and their pain, out of their earthly little arguments and ignorance and sins, and take them to the Gods — to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost — ultimately we are to take them toward their own Godhood. In short, we are to take them to the divine. And the Holy Ghost is the connecting link which the Godhead has agreed to give us here in mortality for that heavenly connection. …
"You can't go forward in this work without 'the ultimate teacher.' He must be part of your companionship. … Don't ever forget that the Holy Ghost is the key to that knowledge."
Turning to the mission presidents, Elder Holland said, "You and we have the monumental task of taking these young, bright, willing hearts and minds, and turning them into teachers — teachers whose duty it is to teach, making sure that when they do teach, it is by the Spirit. …
"Teach the missionaries that second only to the responsibility they have to listen to the Spirit is the responsibility they have to listen to the investigator. They must have the patience, sincerity and ability to go where the investigator is, spiritually speaking, before expecting the investigator to come where they are, spiritually speaking. But people won't just leap there simply because the missionaries want them to. The missionaries have to go prayerfully and lovingly out into the highways and byways of these people's lives seeking to discern their challenges and concerns. …
"Once we have found these people, once we know our investigators, then we can find out what they believe and what they enjoy and what they hope for, as well as what they fear and anything they are struggling over. Then we must take them by the hand and lead them with 'that portion that shall be meted unto every man' as the scriptures say (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85). If we will listen with spiritual ears just the way we must see with spiritual eyes, the investigators will tell us what lessons they need to hear! …
"Missionaries today have to study harder, pray more earnestly, plan better, be more pure and teach with more focus and power than they ever did in my day as a young elder." Elder Holland said the discerning missionary will know that his teaching is having the desired effect when one or more of these things happen.
The missionary hears himself saying something he didn't plan to say and learns something from his own instruction that he did not know before.
The Book of Mormon is a pure vehicle of the Spirit because it is the pure word of God. Missionaries must use it in their teaching as often as possible.
The piercing flame of the gospel is felt in the missionary's and the investigator's heart every time a particular point of truth is made.
The investigator honestly admits that "this is a good seed being planted, that he already feels a swelling growth" (Alma 32:28).
There is an awareness by the investigator, spoken or unspoken, that the lesson is showing him a "more excellent way," and that repentance of less noble and less spiritual habits is in order.
Investigator asks soul-searching questions, usually out of this new sense of awareness.
Spirit will prompt testimony and an invitation to be baptized. There comes such joy and peace in the room, such a near-tangible atmosphere of divinity, that neither the missionary, nor the member, nor the investigator experiencing such a moment would choose to be anywhere else in all the world at that time. Sometimes tears will be shed. Always great love will be felt. It is then that the veil is thin, that the Godhead is making its presence felt, and no other time or place would be appealing to those so privileged to be experiencing this. When that moment comes, … the missionary then invites the investigator to be baptized.
"The Godhead will bear testimony of you and your companion — frail, little uncelestial souls that you are — when you have earnestly tried to become part of the Divine Order. You have prayed and studied and fasted appropriately, and have always exerted great faith. You have been obedient to the commandments, to the rules of the mission, and to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You have kept yourself morally clean in thought, in word, in deed, and have helped your companion do the same. You have tried to develop Christlike attributes, have worked diligent hours and have tried to be a witness of God 'at all times and in all things and in all places' (Mosiah 18:9).
"If you try to live this way — try with all the best that is within you — the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost above you will smile and say, 'It is enough. We will let these missionaries and their investigators feel a portion of the power of heaven. We will let them feel the touch of our unity and our divinity. …'
"Welcome to the work of angels," he said in closing. "Welcome to the work of divinity."
Jason Swensen also reported on L. Tom Perry's talk 26 June 2009 talk Missionaries are truly 'their brother's keeper':


Photo by Shaun Stahle
After nearly a month of training at the Provo Missionary Training Center, these missionaries will soon be serving in the Utah Ogden Mission.
When unity is found in missionary companionships, the Spirit is enabled to guide missionaries to find people to teach and enjoy the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve emphasized this principle June 26 in his remarks at the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar.
Missionaries truly are "their brother's keeper," he said. Sharing the gospel "two by two" is a spiritual and temporal principle that has been a part of Christ's church for ages.
"The principle of companionship is an eternal one. It is a critical element of a missionary's experience."
Elder Perry said he recently spoke about the task of assigning companionships with his son, President Lee T. Perry, who presided over the California Roseville Mission. President Perry told his father that the importance of deciding on companionships "was near the top of his list because so many important aspects of a missionary's development depends on companionship relationships and what missionaries learn from their companions."
Mission presidents should place high priority on identifying strong trainers for new missionaries because they can help a new elder or sister start their missions off right, said Elder Perry.
He added that presidents should enlist the counsel of their assistants regarding transfers — but to never surrender the sacred decision process of assigning companionships.
Elder Perry shared this companionship/transfer counsel from his mission president son: "First, block out sufficient time so that you avoid feeling pressure. Second, start on your knees, end on your knees, and when you get stuck, get on your knees."
Have faith, and the answers about transfers will come."
Elder Perry spoke of the pain he and his fellow General Authorities have experienced when they have heard accounts of missionaries who failed to protect their companions from serious transgressions. "If we never again listen to such reports, we would indeed feel blessed."
A missionary should be both a "bodyguard" and a "spirit guard" to his or her companion. It's vital that missionaries alert their president if rules are not being obeyed. "Threats of all kinds can be neutralized when companions understand this key responsibility," he said.
Elder Perry told the presidents to teach the missionaries to humbly seek the Lord's help in strengthening their companionships.
"They should repent of companionship failures just as they would other failings," he said. "What better preparation for a companionship of marriage then to learn that life's challenges are always best met when you seek the Lord's help."
Weekly companionship inventories are also essential to help missionaries build their relationships in a frank but gentle manner.
Strong, unified companionships are blessed with the power to find people to teach, he added.
It is vital that missionaries have as many opportunities to teach as possible. Practice role-playing and utilize service opportunities to help build relationships with others that might provide teaching opportunities.
Jason Swenson reported on President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's 26 June 2009 talk 'You will succeed':
President Uchtdorf uplifts new mission presidents:


Photo by Jason Swensen
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speaks to new mission presidents during a seminar, sharing with them the opportunities that await them as they serve in their fields of labor..
In his June 26 remarks during the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the blessed opportunities awaiting those recently called to lead the missions of the Church.
"Presidents and sisters, isn't it great to be part of this divine and sacred work?" he asked. "You will be wonderful. You are not called to fail; you will succeed because God is with you. You will have great and wonderful experiences as leaders in the Church, as missionaries, and especially — the two of you — as a very unique companionship."
The Church leader told the mission presidents and their wives that, yes, their calling is to increase the number of new members. "But it is also to assist local Church leaders and members in establishing and strengthening the Church. These members represent a vital source of strength for you and your missionaries."
The fruits of the labors of the new mission presidents and their wives will be seen and felt in the lives of their own families, in the lives of their missionaries and in the lives of families and individuals in their respective missions.
"Please help your missionaries to understand that the fruits of their labor will reach far beyond their present horizon," said President Uchtdorf. "Generations to come will be grateful and bless their names for their faithfulness and dedication. As these noble missionaries endure rejection, loneliness, self-doubt, homesickness and exhaustion, the Refiner's fire will purify their souls. They will increase in wisdom and grow up in the Lord, and their confidence will wax strong in the presence of God."
The Church leader reminded the mission presidents to never underestimate their influence on the Lord's missionaries. Mission presidents are teachers and trainers who instruct their missionaries through their examples, through interviews, through effective mission training plans and by applying the proven approach of Preach My Gospel.
Enlisting his experiences as an aviator, President Uchtdorf said that a powerful jet reaches its true potential in the air only after the landing gear and takeoff flaps are retracted. Missionaries might experience a similar experience in their labors.
"[The missionaries] may arrive in the mission field a little clumsy, timid or even cocky, but as you help them to get rid of some early drag, as you guide them to develop some added acceleration and extra lift, they will discover their true potential and become what they were meant to be. They will become true servants of the Lord, following His promptings and magnifying their callings — climbing during their mission to greater spiritual heights and reaching out to faraway divine goals."
President Uchtdorf then shared five observations that can help mission presidents and their companions bring about such spiritual transformations in their missionaries.
1 — What is important to you will become important to your missionaries.
2 — Be an example of Christlike love, and express that love frequently to your missionaries, to the members, and to others with whom you come in contact.
3 — Emphasize that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are the foundation of conversion, retention and activation.
4 — Point your missionaries toward the Savior and His Atonement.
5 — Your primary source of support is from on high.
"One of the great gifts you will give your missionaries, a gift that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, is to teach them how to be close to the Spirit," he said. "Through the Spirit, they become self-motivated and self-directed, and they find joy and satisfaction in continual growth."
Jason Swensen reported on Quentin L. Cook's 27 June 2009 talk Book of Mormon plays vital role in the work:


Photo by Shaun Stahle
Mission presidents and their wives, like young missionaries, spend time at the Provo MTC where they receive training in missionary work.
It is vital that missionaries know that their president is committed to and has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"They must know this first to be effective missionaries, but second, and even more important, they must know it as a fortification for life," he said June 27 at the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar. "It must be so deep in their souls that they can withstand the vicissitudes of life. In a world that is in commotion, they need the protection and armor that comes from a testimony of the Book of Mormon."
Elder Cook anchored his instruction on the vital role the Book of Mormon plays in missionary work. He quoted from Preach My Gospel, saying, "The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the divinity of Christ. It is also proof of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith."
Mission presidents should teach their missionaries to use the scriptures when they speak.
"Some are quoting from Preach My Gospel when they could and should use the scriptures," he said. "No one loves Preach My Gospel more than I do, but it is not a substitute for the scriptures. They should particularly quote scriptures relating to the Savior. The Book of Mormon is truly a second witness of Jesus Christ."
It is the Book of Mormon that answers the questions of the soul: Is there really a God? Did I exist before I was born? Will I live after I die? What is the purpose of life? Is Jesus really the Savior?
The Book of Mormon, he added, also provides answers to the temporal questions of the day.
The power to convert is found in the pages of the Book of Mormon.
"You are all familiar with the numerous accounts of the Book of Mormon being passed from hand to hand and converting many who read it," said Elder Cook. "One of the most compelling is Samuel Smith, brother of the Prophet Joseph, who had nothing but the account of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon to share.
"As a result of his missionary service, future Church leaders Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball came in contact with copies of the Book of Mormon left by Samuel and were baptized."
Elder Cook said he received a personal confirmation that the Book of Mormon was true through prayer when he was 15 years old. "As a missionary reading the scriptures, my testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon was immeasurably enhanced. As I have studied the Book of Mormon throughout my life, the Holy Ghost has continuously borne witness to me that it is true."
Jason Swensen also reported on Bishop Richard C. Edgley 27 June 2009 talk Missionary couple:
Bishop Richard C. Edgley, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke June 27 of the pivotal role that missionary couples can play in establishing the Church.
"These qualified, dedicated missionary couples will be the answer to many of your challenges," he said. "Most of your missionary couples have grown up in the Church. They understand Church government. They understand Church policy. They are good teachers and they have strong testimonies.
"These are capable people."
Missionary couples can provide far-reaching leadership and training in a mission, he added. Their duties can range from holding local leadership positions and assisting in the mission office to serving as examples and a source of support to the young elders and sisters.
"They can make a difference in your missions."
Bishop Edgley said some couples might not fall under the direct supervision of the mission president as they fulfill assignments in the Church Educational System, the temple or perhaps in an area office.
"However, all should have a spiritual mission," he said. "To the extent their other assignments will permit, you can enhance their missions by utilizing them in teaching, reactivating, bearing testimony and building the Church."
Unfortunately, not all missionary couples feel they are being appropriately utilized and thus do not have worthwhile or wonderful missions. Bishop Edgley offered several suggestions on how mission presidents can better communicate with couples while identifying assignments that will help them contribute and find joy in their service.
"I can personally testify that the great majority of our couples have wonderful, spiritual experiences," he said. "That is why they keep coming back, and back and back — making great sacrifices to serve."
Jason Swensen summarized President Thomas S. Monson remarks during a special Sunday, 28 June 2009 Mission Presidents' sacrament meeting talk Build mission spirit, Pres. Monson urges: Love, motivate sacred charges, new mission presidents told:


Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
President Thomas S. Monson addresses more than 100 mission presidents and their wives during the annual seminar at the MTC in Provo.
The 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar offered scores of new mission presidents and their wives a priceless opportunity to come together and receive four days of training prior to embarking on their three-year assignments.
The days were filled with instruction at the feet of apostles and other Church leaders. (See accompanying stories.) The seminar concluded with words of encouragement and counsel from President Thomas S. Monson, himself a former mission president.
The Church leader spoke for almost an hour in a special June 28 sacrament meeting. There he offered the mission presidents and their wives practical direction on how to love and motivate their sacred charges — the full-time missionaries.
"The tears come easily to me when I realize the calls that you have, the experiences that you will have and the influence that you will have," said President Monson, looking out upon a congregation of mission leaders hailing from all corners of the globe.
"I know that you are dedicated to the work of the Lord and to the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ," he said. "I also know that the missionaries who will serve under your direction will be loved and guided by you."
The missionaries, he added, represent "the flower of the Church." They represent the hopes, prayers and dreams of their parents. They represent sacrifice, he said.
President Monson enlisted equal measures of common sense and personal experience in offering counsel about motivating missionaries.
"First, your missionaries can be motivated through your personal interviews with them," he said.
That first contact that a missionary has with his or her president is all-important. President Monson counseled the presidents to greet new missionaries at the airport or train depot. Welcome them "to the greatest mission in the world."
Interview each of the new missionaries and learn about their background, their families and their objectives. Take careful notes.
Those interviews that a mission president has with elders and sisters already serving in the field can also inspire and motivate, he said.
"My observation is that a proper interview should take place at about six to eight week intervals," President Monson said. "If you have them more frequently than that, you will find they become too commonplace. If you wait a more lengthy period, you will probably miss some of the things that otherwise could be learned in an interview."
Interviews should be positive, he added. "My suggestion is that we provide help — that we love, not scold."
The missionary transfer period also offers a mission president a special opportunity to motivate. President Monson reminded his audience that only the mission president transfers missionaries within his mission. Beware of the temptation to delegate that sacred duty to zone leaders or assistants to the president, he continued.
"Every missionary has the right to expect his mission president, on bended knee, to seek inspiration concerning where he should be and with whom he should serve," he said.
President Monson promised that mission presidents would witness the hand of God at work as they seek inspiration in transferring missionaries. As a mission president in Canada, he was once inspired to assign a missionary to an area where a large number of Italian immigrants resided.
President Monson did not know that this particular elder had learned Italian from his mother — or that his language skills would bless the lives of many immigrant families investigating the Church in his new area.
President Monson encouraged the mission presidents to resist the urge to transfer the missionaries too frequently. Be judicious and allow the missionaries to remain in areas long enough to build essential relationships with members and investigators, he advised.
The Church president also said the work of sharing the gospel is best served in areas where the Church is already established. "Put missionaries in areas where there are established branches where we can move from the centers of strength outward.
"In that way, we have access to proper fellowshipping in an established unit where we will hold the fruits of our labors rather than losing them as fast as we gain them."
The personal letters that missionaries write each week to their president and parents can also help motivate the elders and sisters, he said.
"Every missionary should have the privilege of personally writing a letter to the mission president and knowing that the mission president is reading that letter."
He indicated the weekly mission president letter can provide a mission leader with invaluable information with regard to the well being of missionary companionships and the proselyting work in a particular area.
President Monson also stressed the importance of each missionary writing his or her parents every week. He said lives can be forever changed and blessed when elders and sister missionaries dutifully communicate each week with mothers and fathers about their missionary activities.
President Monson also commented on the proper use of preparation day in motivating missionaries. Make certain "preparation" day does not become a "diversion" day that puts missionaries at physical or spiritual risk, he cautioned. "Do nothing on preparation day that would rob [the missionaries] of their spirituality."
Remember, he added, all evenings should be "proselyting evenings."
He emphasized that preparation day ends at 5 p.m.
The missionary meetings are also ideal forums to motivate missionaries, he said. "Let the missionary meetings be meetings which build and uplift and inspire." He urged the mission presidents to utilize zone conferences and other meetings to demonstrate finding and teaching skills, indicating that "show how" is more effective than "tell how."
He encouraged them to share successes and testimonies.
President Monson also spoke of the value of involving members in missionary work. "The greatest single thing that you as a mission president can do to increase the effectiveness of your missionaries and their productivity is to ensure that the proper relationship is maintained with ecclesiastical leaders in the areas where the missionaries are proselyting," he said.
He admonished the mission presidents to build up the mission spirit. "Presidents and their wives can instill in a missionary the feeling that he or she is serving in the best mission in the Church," he said.
President Monson concluded his remarks by testifying again of the influence mission presidents and their wives will have for good in the lives of their missionaries and the members.
"God bless you," he said. "It's a delight to be with you in the service of the Master."
Jason Swensen reported on Boyd K. Packer's 29 June 2009 final day talk Church advances as missionaries perform labor: To establish the Church, begin with family in the home:


Photo by Jason Swensen
President Boyd K. Packer tells new mission presidents that if there are congregations attending meetings and the gospel is being taught, then they have done what they were called to do.
During his June 29 talk at the 2009 New Mission Presidents Seminar, President Boyd K. Packer marveled at the growth of the Church he has witnessed since he served as a mission president more than four decades ago.
"When we were called on our mission, there were 30-some missions," said President Packer, who serves as president of the Quorum of the Twelve.
"There were seven mission presidents that went out at that time. We had what was called our seminar over in the Relief Society Building. Most of the instruction centered on how to keep records. And yet we went into a mission and into a world greatly different from what we have now. That will be your lot."
At the time of President and Sister Packer's mission, the Church was just reaching the 2 million member mark. Now the Church is moving toward 14 million. There has been a great proliferation of wards and stakes across the globe.
"It is a new thought to us across the Church that we are not to be duplicating the Wasatch Front out there with the number of buildings and the congregations and the large audiences and activities that go on and on," he said. "We are to establish the gospel."
President Packer counseled the mission presidents not to be unsettled if they do not, say, bring a new stake into the Church during their tenure.
"If you have congregations of people in branches, and the gospel is being taught, and they are understanding it, then you have done what you are called to do. Building the Church seems to center around buildings and budgets and programs and procedures, but somewhere in the midst of it the gospel is struggling for breath. Get that fixed in the minds of your elders."
New mission presidents go out into a world that has become toxic and poisonous to the Spirit.
"Teach your missionaries that they need not be ashamed to be different from … the general population," said President Packer. "If they are decent, they will stand out."
The Church, he added, will move forward when the missionaries "do what they ought to do." It moves forward through the Spirit.
"If you want to establish the Church, the place to begin is in the home with the father and the mother and the children. Respect them for what they are and what they have. You will be blessed, and they will be blessed, and the Church will grow."
President Packer reminded the new mission presidents and their wives that the Lord would guide them in their sacred duty.
"If you know that, you will not make any mistakes dealing with members, with the Church, with the administration, with anything else, because you are ordained now to have that power with you.
"So we will not worry about you. We will send you out there with impossible circumstances, sometimes dangerous, but the Lord will be with you, and you will be all right."
Even though this seems like a duplication putting it all in one place helps you get a comprehensive feel for the messages and emphasis being placed on missionary service. It must be an exciting calling to be a mission president. If you want to learn about being a mission president I suggest you read the side bar of this blog and see the dozen or so mission presidents and their weekly happenings on their blogs.

2010 Mission Presidents' Seminar


Richard
We entered the MTC on June 23, 2010 for the New Mission Presidents' Seminar (Photograph taken in front of the Wilford Woodruff Administration Building at 9:00 am on June 23). Some 114 new presidents and their wives gathered in Provo for the five day training. They came from across the world, including Europe, Pacific Islands and Pacific Rim, North, Central, and South America. The Missionary Department announced changes in dress for sister missionaries, interview and zone conference schedules, and a new simplified teaching/training plan. It has been a wonderful experience!
My rationale for posting this is that I like to read in one place what transpired. As a service to others who want to  I am putting this all in one place for convenience of those interested.  I link back to the original to drive traffic back to the Deseret News. R. Scott Lloyd and Gerry Avant again covered the talks and activities for the Deseret News giving brief synopses.  This year four of the presiding leaders of the Church, which included the First Presidency and the President of the Twelve Apostles were included in the Saturday, 3 July Church News.  The Mission Presidents' Seminar ran from 24 June 2010-27 June 2010.

R. Scott Lloyd covered the opening day adddress of  President Henry B. Eyring on Thursday, 24 June 2010 who reassured new mission presidents of success:


Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
President Henry B. Eyring speaks to new mission presidents and their wives the morning of June 24.

For newly called mission presidents and their wives, President Henry B. Eyring has a simple message: "You are never alone in the Lord's work."

President Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, expressed that message June 24 at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents held at the Missionary Training Center.

"You will have times when you wonder if the call you have is beyond you," President Eyring said. "You may even wonder, 'Is this too much for me?'



Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
New mission presidents and their wives listen as President Henry B. Eyring speaks during the Annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the Provo, Utah, Missionary Training Center on June 24. President Eyring taught that these new leaders are never alone in the Lord's work.

"I have had such moments. And I have learned to banish them quickly. If you let them linger, they grow, and then your power to serve diminishes. That will be as much a danger for your missionaries as it is for you and for me."

He said the thought that one is never alone in the Lord's work has taken away his self-doubt as he labored in a call from the Lord to serve that has seemed to be beyond him.

Citing Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon, the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, President Eyring commented that the Lord of the vineyard labored with his servants. "If we could feel the reality of what it means to be called into the vineyard to labor with Him, He could replace our self-doubt with courage to go forward," President Eyring said.

He then shared a personal incident that occurred soon after he was called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve. President James E. Faust, then of the First Presidency, told him in private that he had been watching him, and it appeared Elder Eyring was beginning to feel doubt that he was qualified for the call. Anticipating some reassurance, the new apostle was surprised when President Faust answered the expected question by pointing upward and saying, "Don't ask me. Ask Him."

"It has taken me years to see and feel what he was teaching me," President Eyring remarked. "He knew that the only source for the answer to my question was the Lord of the vineyard. ... Only the Lord knew in what way the Atonement and the Holy Ghost had changed and purified me."

President Eyring said he has learned how to seek and then to feel assurance that he is approved enough to go forward in confidence.

"Everyone needs that assurance," he observed. "Your missionaries will seek it from you. They are grateful when you praise them." Such recognition is pleasing, he acknowledged, but added, "Only God is a sure source of the accolade: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.' And the accolade we need is to know that by serving Him faithfully, we have become more like Him."

Such awareness could shape the praise the presidents give their missionaries, President Eyring suggested. "You will tend to praise them more for what they are becoming than for what they have done. You will help them recognize their growth in character. You will note how what they have done has helped you discern in them what God has helped them to become."

President Eyring identified what seemed to him a "disconnect" when he first studied the official missionary guide, Preach My Gospel. Filled with direct commands for action, the book nevertheless states: "Your success as a missionary is measured primarily by your commitment to find, teach, baptize and confirm people and to help them become faithful members of the Church who enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost."
President Eyring admonished: "Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice."

Missionaries and their leaders may be saddened at times when some do not accept their message, saddened because they love them and desire their salvation. "You should not, however, become discouraged," he said.

"Discouragement will weaken your faith. If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit."

President Eyring said he has come to know that the most certain evidence of the Lord's approval is that the Lord trusts him by sending the Spirit to testify, guide and help him in the harvest. "I find that comes only after prayer, searching the scriptures and the words of the living prophets, exact obedience, love of others, humbly listening to the Spirit and long and painful labor."
On Friday, 25 June 2010 R. Scott Lloyd covered President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's remarks about how Christlike attributes are essential for missionaries and their mission leader:


Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf asks for show of hands of mission presidents whom he himself interviewed for their callings.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf focused on the Christlike attributes taught in Chapter 6 of the official missionary guide Preach My Gospel as he addressed the June 25 morning session of the 2010 Seminar for New Mission Presidents at the Missionary Training Center.

"By accepting your sacred callings, you are indeed showing 'the pure love of Christ' you have for all of God's children wherever they live, whatever culture they come from, whatever language they might speak," said President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, alluding to Moroni 7:47.

"The Savior Himself sets the standard and gives the priorities for the ministry of His disciples — back then and now," he said. "To follow the Savior is to learn of Him and His marvelous character. You and your missionaries are truly His representatives. By striving to become more Christlike, your missionaries will discover their true identity."



Photo by Gerry Avant
President Dieter F. Uchrtdorf, right, and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, left, and Sister Kristen Oaks visit with President Richard Holzapfel and his wife, Sister Jeni Holzapfel, during Seminar for New Mission Presidents. President Holzapfel is the new president of Alabama Birmingham Mission.
Acknowledging that attaining Christlike attributes is not easy, President Uchtdorf said, "Prayer or preaching alone will not do the job. Practicing what we preach, or walking the walk, is required. You are the trusted leaders of your missionaries. They will look to you and follow you. Lead them; go with them to find and teach. As you lead by example and follow the Savior's plan, the missionaries will do the same."

Called to teach repentance, missionaries need to apply the principle in their own lives, which will allow them to have the powers of heaven, President Uchtdorf said.

"The Christlike attribute of humility is very important for the missionaries," he said. "Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and to give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished."



Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
Congregation sings opening hymn June 25 at Seminar for New Mission Presidents at Provo, Utah, Missionary Training Center. 
He enjoined the new leaders to help their missionaries to be teachable, accept direction and correction and to pray for Christlike attributes, demonstrating willingness to improve.

"Help your missionaries identify for themselves, individually, which Christlike attributes they specifically need to develop in order to grow, gradually but steadily, into more powerful servants of Jesus Christ."

President Uchtdorf said that the fruits of the mission presidents' service will be seen not only in conversions but also in lives of families and individuals, in the strength of the Church where they serve "and, most important, in the lives of your precious missionaries."

"Therefore," he said, "occasionally ask yourself the question: Are the missionaries being prepared to be righteous fathers and mothers in Zion and to fulfill future leadership callings in the Church? It is obvious that the answer to this question has a lot to do with how your missionaries develop Christlike attributes."

President Uchtdorf said that developing such attributes can be a painful process. "Please don't hesitate to give direction," he said. "You are a light that shows them the way if they wander into darkness, and you are the watchman on the tower. Perceived tolerance for inappropriate behavior has led some missionaries astray where an early, clear signal would have avoided much pain and sorrow."

He said virtue is a Christlike attribute that originates in one's innermost thoughts and desires.

"Virtuous missionaries replace unworthy thoughts, that can lead to inappropriate actions, with righteous and uplifting thoughts," he said.

"Virtuous missionaries obey God's commandments, follow the mission rules and the counsel of their mission president," he added. "They pray for strength to resist temptation and they follow the promptings of the Spirit. They quickly repent of any sins or wrongdoings."

President Uchtdorf identified two Christlike attributes "that will lead you and your missionaries safely through unknown territories and carry you across deep and fearsome canyons. They are faith and hope."

He said faith in Jesus Christ leads to action, including repentance, obedience and dedicated service.
"Faith will refine and enhance the principle of work," he said, quoting the words one of his missionary grandsons wrote in an e-mail: "To bear fruit, my missionary service has to be hard work motivated by deep love for God and His children, not just hard labor without such a love."

President Uchtdorf said faith is like the muscles of the arm: "If we exercise them, they grow strong."
He said hope is directly connected to faith in Jesus Christ. "Hope is the abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that our prayers will be answered."

 On Saturday, 26 June 2010 Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles reminded leaders that the Lord's work cannot be thwarted:


Photo by Scott Lloyd
Addressing the seminar for new mission presidents, President Boyd K. Packer urged the leaders to "be prayerful," and to "worry a little if you want, but only as a gesture."
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve counseled newly called mission presidents and their wives about the need for and nature of revelation.

Speaking June 26 at the 2010 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, President Packer said of revelation, "You are going to have a constancy of it if you will learn to detect when it is happening. It comes so delicately and silently that you may miss the first intimations of that sacred whispering that tells you what to do and tells you what not to do."

He told the missionary leaders they will have many experiences that typify what was reported in Alma 26:27. The chapter relates Ammon's words to his missionary companions, recalling that when they were depressed, the Lord comforted them, telling them to bear their afflictions with patience and go among the Lamanites and they would have success.

"When they were depressed they would simply pray, and the power of inspiration would come to them," President Packer commented.

"You will learn from your experiences, many of which will not be pleasant, that 'it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things,' as Lehi taught," he said.

"When you are looking at it practically, it could be enough to frighten you," he said, "but I think there could not be a confrontation that would give you any substantive fear. If it does, you push it aside."

To mission presidents' wives, President Packer said, "You have that tender heart and you have an insight, a spiritual insight superior to that of your husband. We do not like to admit that, but it is true."

He added, "The power that you bring and the steadiness that you bring will see not only you but also the missionaries and your husband through these very troubled times. You will see what those who have gone before have suffered so much and built for you."

He admonished, "You brethren take care of your wives, and you wives reassure your husbands. You have the steadiness and the power that is going to see you through."

President Packer counseled the couples not to worry about their families and things at home. "Be prayerful and worry a little, if you want, but only as a gesture," he quipped.

He said that when troubled times come in the areas to which the mission presidents are assigned, "you will stand in awe at the power of revelation that you carry with you. We know that you will be a seer insofar as your mission is concerned, but a lot of times you will be able to see more by looking backwards and understanding that that could not have happened unless there was a managing of events bringing it together to cause it so that the Lord's servants and the Lord's work would go forward."

President Packer cited Doctrine and Covenants 88:78, which promises the Lord's servants that His grace will attend them and they will be taught more perfectly.

"How are you taught?" he asked. "You feel it. If you can understand those delicate inspirations that come, you will have a comfort and a power that will cause it to be that you will not fear. Once in a while, a mission president fears more for one of his missionaries or one of the members than for himself. But this is the Lord's work, and it is incredible that as Latter-day Saints we are caught up in the thick of thin things and really are not quite sensitive when the Lord is speaking to us."

He gave this assurance: "The eternal purposes of the Lord will roll on, and they will not be thwarted, and you cannot be thwarted."
 From Left to Right: Brad Brower, Tammy Ballard Brower, Barbara Bowen Ballard, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Julie Greer, Len Greer

There were also other general authorities present including my former mission president M. Russell Ballard.  I believe all of the Twelve Apostles were present and many of the 1st Quorum of Seventy particularly the presidency.  Elder Ballard had two of his former Canada Toronto missionaries attending as newly called mission presidents, his son-in-law Bradford Brower (Canada Toronto West Mission) and Leonard Dare Greer (Washington Kennewick Mission).

On Sunday, 27 June 2010 Gerry Avant reported on President Thomas S. Monson's sacrament meeting talk that includes the mission presidents and their wives, many of the general authorities and all the missionaries currently at the MTC.


Photo by Gerry Avant, Church News
President Thomas S. Monson, right, and his counselors, President Henry B. Eyring, on his right, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf arrive for sacrament meeting during the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 27. During the meeting, President Monson encouraged new mission presidents and their wives on how best to work with both missionaries and members of the Church in their assigned areas.
President Thomas S. Monson gave counsel, instruction, encouragement and assurance to new mission presidents and their wives as he addressed them in a sacrament meeting Sunday morning, June 27.
The service was held on the final day of this year's Seminar for New Mission Presidents, June 24-27, at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.

"I know that you are dedicated to the work of the Lord and to the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also know that the missionaries who will serve under your direction will be loved and guided by you," President Monson told the new mission leaders.

Acknowledging the women who are serving with their husbands, President Monson said, "I am reminded of words from the Book of Ruth in the Bible: 'Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God' (Ruth 1:16).


Photo by Gerry Avant
President Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Sister Frances J. Monson, and daughter, Ann M. Dibb, pause for photo after sacrament meeting.
Then President Monson added, "I pay tribute to you sisters."

He spoke of "that precious commodity" entrusted to the care of the mission leaders — the missionaries. He quoted Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that sayeth unto Zion, thy God reigneth!"

"The missionaries," said President Monson, "represent the flower of youth. They represent the hopes, the prayers, the dreams of their parents; they represent the element of sacrifice. If you as mission presidents can realize the importance of their missions in the lives of these young men and young women, and in the lives of your senior couples, then you will be in a better position to motivate them properly."

Many fathers and mothers have sacrificed so that their sons and daughters "might go forward as a servant of the Lord," he said. "The young men and women have been trained in their Church classes and in seminary. They are qualified by age and by virtue and by experience. They have been interviewed by the bishop and found worthy, interviewed by the stake president and found worthy, and set apart as a missionary in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

Further, he said, "The parents of our missionaries kneel in daily prayer and ask our Heavenly Father to bless that son or daughter in the mission field. And in that prayer they ask a blessing upon you, for you in effect become a mother and a father to their child. You become, as it were, the determiner of the destiny of that young man or that young woman. Someone said the power to lead is also the power to mislead, and the power to mislead is the power to destroy. Let there be positive leading, positive motivation, positive uplift on your part as you inspire missionaries."

President Monson gave instructions pertaining to motivating missionaries. He spoke of the importance of welcoming missionaries "to the greatest mission in all the world," and conducting personal interviews, reminding mission presidents that to "provide help — we love, not scold. 'Show how' is more important than 'tell how.'"

He assured mission presidents that they can receive inspiration in all things pertaining to their calling. As an example, he spoke of having felt the definite inspiration to move one young elder from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario, when he presided over the Canadian Mission from 1959-1962. It was only after he transferred the elder that he learned that the young man was fluent in Italian. In his new city, the missionary taught 10 Italian-speaking families whose English skills were limited.

"I was unaware that [the elder's] mother was Italian, and that she had taught her boy to speak in her native tongue. By listening to the Spirit and transferring him, he was able to carry the gospel to those Italian families in Welland."

Another area of motivation on which President Monson gave counsel was preparation day. He cautioned against missionaries becoming involved in activities that might lead to serious injury, which, in turn, could result in their being unable to perform their labors or even be released from their missions.

"It's a shame to teach a young man Portuguese, let's say, and have him wait week after week after week for that visa and then finally get down to Brazil and then get in a game of touch football, break a leg, then have to go home and lose all the Portuguese training, all of that motivation — all for a game of football," President Monson said. "There are other things missionaries might do on preparation day that could destroy and damage the Spirit. We need to be very careful about what activities are allowed on that day.

"I think a guide that will give you what you need in handling the motivation of missionaries on preparation day is to tell them this: 'Do nothing on preparation day that would rob you of your spirituality.' If you keep that in mind, every elder and every sister will be able to make his or her own decisions. I might point out that we have no preparation evening. Preparation day comes to a close at 5 o'clock. Every evening should be a proselyting evening."

President Monson gave mission leaders "the Monson Rule of Proselyting: a letter or e-mail every week to parents."

"I like to tell missionaries that it isn't so significant how much you write — just be certain to write."

He said that letters and e-mails from a missionary son or daughter can bring parents into the Church or back into Church activity.

President Monson counseled mission leaders to involve the membership of the Church in the proselyting effort. "There is just no substitute for a member-oriented proselyting program," he said. "Tracting will not substitute for it. Golden questions will not substitute for it. A member-oriented program is the key to success. It works wherever we try it. I hesitate to deal in dramatic statements, but let me try one: The greatest thing you as a mission president can do to increase the effectiveness of your missionaries and their productivity is to ensure that the proper relationship is maintained with the ecclesiastical leaders in the area where they proselyte."

He told mission presidents to instruct every new district leader, every new zone leader, that the first thing he is to do when he moves into his district or into his zone is to call on the bishop and the stake president that they might jointly have a successful proselyting program.

"It was President Spencer W. Kimball who said, 'No mission can achieve its full potential without member help.' Then he said, 'We expect to ... involve the members of the Church generally in opening the gospel doors to our Father's other children.'"

Concluding his address, President Monson said, "My brothers and sisters, you have been hand-selected. You have been chosen from among the most faithful in the Church, and now you have the opportunity to go forth in the Lord's harvest field."
 I have covered all the mission president seminars' that I could find from 1960 to the present time. Last year I included a similar post entitled 2009 Mission Presidents' Seminar: A Comprehensive Synopsis and the most complete overview extant  The Mission Presidents' Seminar: A Doctrinal and Historical Bibliographic Review.

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