President Hunter greets 2,200 missionaries, praises their devotion

President Howard W. Hunter was thrilled at the sight of 2,245 missionaries standing to welcome him in the auditorium of the Missionary Training Center, and he praised them and their counterparts in the mission field for their selfless service.

"You look so fine, so wonderful," he said. "I suppose that in all the world there is no group of young people like this."President Hunter was accompanied by President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the first Presidency, and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve, who also spoke. President Hunter was introduced by Missionary Training Center Pres. Charles M. Grant.

A missionary choir performed at the devotional.

President Hunter said the missionary group was among the largest ever to go through the center. He commented on their "fresh testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel." He said it was hard to keep the tears from coming to his eyes when he saw and heard them sing. "This is a glorious day," he said.

President Hunter told of a personnel executive of a major corporation who wanted to have employees as clean cut and talented as those in the Church's missionary force. He doubted, however, whether the corporation had enough money to hire what the Church is given freely by dedicated young men and women.

"It is hard for others to understand what causes. . . young men and young women in the prime of life to be willing to go out into the world and teach the gospel with fervor, and do the things you do."

He said this effort has helped the Church increase in size from 3 million a few years ago to nearly 9 million now, and will help it increase to many times that size in the future.

"I just want to tell you how much we love you. and tell you how certain we are that the Lord loves you, too, and that through your faith and your devotion great blessings will come to you in your lives."

In his remarks, President Monson noted that each of the missionaries present had been called by those in authority, and testified that the calls were issued by prophecy and revelation.

"We go where we are called to serve," he said. "I would plead with you to be yourself - be your best self. You are a son of God, you are a daughter of God and He has endowed you with characteristics and mannerisms and sensitivities. Recognize that He knows your attributes, He knows your qualifications, and He inspired your call to met just the people whom He would have hear your testimony and feel your spirit."

He encouraged companions to get along one with another and to let there be no contention at all.

Discouragement can be countered by reading D&C 84:88, a reminder that the Lord is close to His servants, the missionaries, he said.

Missionaries should serve in such a way as to inspire members to participate fully in the referral program and to be a part of the conversion process.

Elder Wirthlin instructed the missionaries that they are "very privileged this morning to hear our prophet of god . . . President Howard W. Hunter. Truly I have felt President Hunter is much like the apostle John, the apostle of love."

He spoke of the past two weeks, during which the mantle of leadership changed: "I have felt a soothing, wonderful spirit. The Lord is pleased with what has happened. He has called His servant President Ezra Taft Benson home into His presence, and He has put in place President Howard W. Hunter. This Church will grow and prosper under his direction, and you will be part of this great effort to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to every kindred, tongue and nation."

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