A look at Mormon missionary training process

Published: Monday, March 21 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

They may go down there with a great curiosity, as you indicate, as to how we teach languages at the MTC. And we have a very, very extensive program, a computer-aided, technology-assisted system there for teaching languages. And they may go down there to study that, but they go into those buildings and they feel something that they have never felt before — they feel the excitement, the enthusiasm, the dedication of these young people. And they see young people who instead of having spiked hair and body piercings, if you will, they're in white shirts and suits and dresses — they look sharp, they're wonderfully groomed, they're happy, they're scrubbed, they're delighted to be there — and they feel the spirit of the Lord and they're not prepared for that. And I think that's the most common comment that we get – "I was not expecting to feel what I felt. Please help me to understand what that feeling is."

Question: You talked about the idea of rejection. What about the idea of something they don't realize they do — they plant seeds. What about when they feel like they haven't done enough — "I didn't baptize that person or that family when I thought I would"?

Elder Hinckley: More of that goes on than we realize. We talk to young missionaries – "you're panting seeds." [They say:] "We don't want to plant seeds, we want to see the harvest." Sometimes they do, other times they don't.

Just a quick story from my mission: We had an appointment with a woman who was a very distinguished woman, she was the public affairs director for one of the largest industrial concerns in Germany … I was transferred, I got a transfer notice, and I wasn't able to be there. So we went by, she wasn't home, we left a card on her door [saying] that I wouldn't be able to make it and future missionaries would – and they went by but nothing much happened. She put that card in a book somewhere on her bookshelf.

Years later, her husband died. She was going through some of her things and his and found that card and thought, "You know, if a 19 year old is responsible enough to write a note and bring it by and say 'I can't make my appointment,' there must be something to this." She joined the church. She came and stayed a month with my wife and me after we were married and living in California – a brilliant and wonderful woman.

And that happens – I hardly remember the event, but she remembered it very clearly. And that happens all the time, in one form or another — the planting of seeds.

Question: What message would you give to young men and young women and older couples — what would you like them to know about missionary work?

Elder Hinckley: The message I would give them is that they can do this, to set their fears aside and develop their faith and to realize that they're going into the world to do something the Lord has asked them to do and they can do it — with his help, they can do it. They can succeed and they will succeed.

I think so very many of our young people go out fearful and they hear that perhaps they're going out to a difficult mission where there are not a lot of baptisms, and they go with this perception. And they don't need to do that. Those missionaries who go out boldly and with faith, with confidence and who work at it and are persistent [will] have success and they'll come home from their missions saying "I'm glad I did this."

If I were to put that into a few words, I would say that when you come home from your mission, I do hope that you will be able to say "I'm glad I did," and not "I wish I had." That would be my message.

email: taylor@desnews.com

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