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."