Ninety new mission presidents and their wives began four days of training at the annual Seminar for New Mission Presidents June 21 and heard President Thomas S. Monson speak of the five "M's" of missionary work.
"In behalf of President [Gordon B.] Hinckley, President [James E.] Faust and all of the General Authorities, I welcome you to the greatest experience of your lives," President Monson told the group gathered for the opening session at the Missionary Training Center."This seminar will be marked by much instruction, little sleep and a spirit of love," said President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency.
He was accompanied to the seminar by his wife, Frances. Also attending were President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, and other General Authorities including members of the Twelve, the Presidency of the Seventy, the quorums of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric.
The new mission presidents and their wives, representing 14 nations, will begin their service about July 1 in 39 countries. They will be among mission presidents presiding over 47,000 missionaries in 308 missions worldwide, according to Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. The seminar will continue through June 24.
In his address, President Monson said the "Five M's of Missionary Work" are:
- The Message.
- The Missionary.
- The Mission.
- The Member.
- The Mission President.
In speaking of the message, he declared, "The holy scriptures contain no more relevant proclamation, no more binding responsibility, no more direct instruction than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the 11 disciples:
" `All power is given unto me in heaven and in 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, even unto the end of the world.' " (Matt. 28:18-20.)
President Monson said the message the missionaries take throughout the world is that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness. That fulness, he explained, includes the Book of Mormon; the true nature of the Godhead; the Church which is built on a foundation of apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone; a living prophet today; the understanding of the Plan of Salvation; and the first vision, which opened the latter-day work of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
"The world hungers for that message," declared President Monson, who emphasized that the personal testimony of dedicated and devoted missionaries accompanies the presentation of each subject of the message.
President Monson then spoke about the second "M" of missionary work – the missionary. He said missionaries are called of God by prophecy and revelation. "The desire of a lifetime is a missionary call."
As he spoke about missionaries, President Monson quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared: "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel." (See History of the Church 2:478.)
"A son, a daughter. What greater gift could be placed upon the altar of God?" President Monson asked. He spoke of what happens as a missionary arrives in his or her field of labor, including the orientation, the interview and the first assignment with a companion.
"Your missionaries," he told the mission presidents, "should hear you bear your testimony as soon as they arrive in the mission field. Let them know you know this work is true.
"Every missionary has a burning – even a consuming desire – to be successful," the first counselor in the First Presidency declared. "The mission presidents' responsibility is to show how this might be accomplished."
Speaking of the third "M" of missionary work – the mission – President Monson, who served as president of the Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959-1962, explained that each mission has its own history and tradition. "Help every missionary," he told the mission presidents, "be a part of such history, such tradition."
He emphasized that mission presidents should build on the foundation of their predecessors.
President Monson then spoke about the fourth "M" – the member – and counseled mission presidents to work with members. "Supervision of member districts is your responsibility. Each member district is a future stake," he said.
Urging member-missionary cooperative efforts, he explained the importance of referrals and open house events. "Members and missionaries are on the same team."
Speaking about the fifth "M" of missionary work, President Monson said the mission president sets the spiritual tone of the mission. "What you do, missionaries will do." He then emphasized that the mission president and his wife are a team. "They are models to follow."
He counseled mission presidents to have missionaries "work in areas – not through them. Too frequent transfers are not good or productive."
He urged the mission presidents and their wives adopt the philosophy: "No one fails in my mission. It is my responsibility to help each missionary succeed."
President Monson told of returning with Sister Monson to Toronto two weeks ago for a regional conference. "What a glorious experience it was to relive the missionary memories." He said 7,000 members from seven stakes in the region attended the conference.
"In the vast throng whom we greeted at the conclusion of the general session was Elmer Pollard, who moved his wheelchair forward that we might greet one another and renew our friendship." President Monson said he became acquainted with Brother Pollard 35 years ago, and then related the power of testimony in his conversion:
He met the missionaries as they were proselyting door to door on a cold, snowy afternoon. He invited the missionaries in, but soon asked them to leave and not return. His last words were spoken in derision: "You can't tell me you actually believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God!"
The missionaries left, but as they walked down the path, the junior companion insisted on returning and bearing his testimony of Joseph Smith. "He mustered up all the strength he had and said: `I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he translated the Book of Mormon and he saw God the Father and Jesus the Son. I know it.' "
The missionary's testimony had a powerful effect on the man. "That night," he later said, "I could not sleep. Resounding in my ears were the words, `Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know it. I know it.' " The next day, he telephoned the missionaries to return and their message, coupled with their testimonies, changed his life and he and his family were baptized.
President Monson said that Brother Pollard told him as they renewed their friendship at the regional conference: "The gospel is true. I knew it then. I know it now."
Concluding his address, President Monson quoted the Scottish poet James Barrie and said, " `God gave us memories that we might have June roses in the December of our lives.'
"Go forward with our blessings," he told the mission presidents and their wives. "Go forward with our love, go forward to your garden of eternal memories."