Elder Jeffrey R. Holland dedicated three newly renovated buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
The dedicatory prayer was given as part of his devotional address on Jan. 15 to missionaries at the center — including 18 departing couples gathered for a week-long seminar for new MTC presidents and visitors' center directors.
"We have just completed the Matthew Cowley Instructional Building, the Addison Pratt Residence Building and the Dan Jones Residence Building, as part of the upgrading and renovation going on at this center," he said.
"In those three names we celebrate three of the greatest missionaries that have ever served in this dispensation."
He gave brief sketches of each of the three men.
"Addison Pratt joined the Church with his wife at age 36, went to Nauvoo, and at age 41 was called by the Prophet Joseph to leave his wife and go to French Polynesia," Elder Holland said. In 1844, three years before the Saints got to Utah, Elder Pratt began to see the first converts in present-day Polynesia, he said, "and he is to this day a legend, having given his life to service in the Pacific islands."
Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Holland said that Dan Jones was perhaps the single greatest missionary of this dispensation. Young Elder Jones was with the Prophet Joseph Smith when the Prophet was about to be martyred at Carthage Jail, Elder Holland noted. On that occasion, Joseph uttered his last recorded prophecy: that Dan Jones would yet live to serve a mission in Wales and bring great numbers into the Church. "In two missions to Wales in his 40s, Dan Jones saw 5,300 people come into the Church," he said. "Not all of those came single-handedly from Elder Jones, but many of them did."
"Matthew Cowley is the only one of those three that I knew personally," Elder Holland said, having heard Brother Cowley speak when Elder Holland was a Primary child. "I was spellbound by his mesmerizing pulpit oratory and enthusiasm for the gospel," Elder Holland said. At age 17 Elder Cowley went to New Zealand as a missionary, stayed for three years, then went back to serve as a mission president for eight years. "He became a legendary favorite among the New Zealanders," Elder Holland said.
Elder Holland suggested that the lives of those three men could provide inspiration to the missionaries gathered in the Missionary Training Center and that some future day buildings might be dedicated to missionaries just like them.