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Greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel

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.' "

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.

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