Seminar for mission presidents: 'Lord will go before you'

President Packer counsels mission presidents to trust the Spirit


President Boyd K. Packer — president of the Quorum of the Twelve and a former mission president — offered a message of sustaining comfort June 27 to those gathered here for the 2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

"It is going to be all right," he assured the new mission presidents and their wives. "Your affairs are going to be all right. Your children will be all right and your grandchildren and your home and your holdings. All have been placed on the altar, and they are watched over by more faithful servants than we could have in mortality."

President Packer enlisted common sense, humor and his decades of Church leadership to teach the new mission presidents and their companions. He began by reminding the presidents of the priceless opportunity they have been given to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with their wives.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

"You will know if you know me at all that Sister [Donna] Packer has been the major influence in everything that I do," he said. "The blessing that came to me as a mission president was to have the only call in the Church where husband and wife serve together."

Mission presidents, along with married couples, are the only missionaries who can choose their companions. "The rest of the missionaries take what you give them," he said. "And it is a marvelous experience."

President Packer paid tribute to "one of the greatest missionaries of this dispensation" — President Henry D. Moyle (1889-1963) of the First Presidency. He spoke of traveling with President Moyle and learning from that venerable Church leader the importance of answering calls to serve and to always follow the promptings of the Spirit.

President Boyd K. Packer tells new mission leaders, "You will never be disappointed by the Almighty.
President Boyd K. Packer tells new mission leaders, "You will never be disappointed by the Almighty. He will work with you." | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

On one occasion, while serving as a young General Authority, President Packer was assigned to correct a situation involving a missionary who had committed a moral infraction. After meeting with the elder, young Elder Packer spent a couple of hours in prayerful seclusion and reflection. There he received a spiritual prompting on what to do about the missionary — but there remained in him doubts about how to move forward.

He telephoned President Moyle to discuss his dilemma and was taught a powerful lesson. "[President Moyle] thundered over the phone these words, 'Don't you go against the witness of the Spirit! Don't go against the witness of the Spirit!' "

In accordance with that spiritual witness, the missionary was allowed to remain in the mission field. He would faithfully fulfill the remainder of his call and return home clean, worthy and forgiven.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

President Packer acknowledged the concern that a new mission president might have for his family and affairs at home. "You have made the commitment to accept the call, and the Lord will watch over you."

He counseled the mission leaders to "be not afraid" and to have faith that things will turn out all right. He marveled at the spiritual strength of the missionaries and their ability to accept challenges and fulfill responsibilities that may seem to be beyond their capacity.

While presiding over the New England Mission, President Packer learned the value of listening to the counsel of his own missionary companion. "I have learned with my wife to pay strict attention when she says, 'You know, I've been thinking …' " he said. "And I have wanted to know what it is she has been thinking, because very often the revelation came to me through that channel, and it is an easier channel to listen to than it might have been otherwise."

The Brethren do not worry about the new mission presidents as they travel across the globe to their respective fields of labor. "We cannot. There are too many of you and too far away. There are 347 missions now and 110 new mission presidents, and it is just a marvel that the thing works at all."

And why does it work? "Well, it would not work anywhere else. That cannot be understood by those who are not in the Church, but that is the way it is." Mission presidents carry on their shoulders the building up of the Church across the world, "and with our human frailties, we can do what we can do. But you will never be disappointed by the Almighty. He will work with you."

President Packer asked the mission presidents and their wives to consider the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. Ordinary men who worthily hold the Melchizedek Priesthood can place their hands upon a new convert and confer the gift of the Holy Ghost. Miracles can take place through the power of that sacred gift.

On one occasion on his mission, President Packer silently questioned a missionary companionship's decision to baptize a woman who appeared "hard as nails." A couple of months later he was walking into a chapel and was greeted by a woman as he passed by. "I said, 'Hello.' And then I stopped and turned around, and it was the woman. I could not believe the transformation that had taken place. Her countenance was different. She was dressed differently, and the baptism had taken."

President Packer then spoke of the impact the Book of Mormon has had on his own life, saying it has become a part of him. "The Book of Mormon is so profoundly important, so profoundly beautiful, that we should have no hesitancy in causing by one way or another to see that your elders and sisters at least know that much."

The missionary guide, Preach My Gospel, he added, is a marvelous and inspired instrument for missionaries.

Then the veteran Church leader and administrator offered this counsel: "I worry sometimes a bit that we can be too well organized and too directed, too regimented so that we do not leave ourselves in the position where we have to be rescued by the Spirit."

The new mission presidents, he added, can learn much from the people they serve with, just as he learned vital lessons while working with President Moyle.

"Just go with our blessings. The Lord will go before you. He will watch over you. I do not hesitate to promise that. You will have the struggles that you ought to have. They are typical of what is going on. And in this wicked world, you will find your way." — Jason Swensen

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