Drawing from the scriptures, teachings from past prophets, letters from missionaries and his experiences as president of the Canadian Mission, President Thomas S. Monson opened the 2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents during a special sacrament meeting on Sunday morning June 22.
In a large meeting room in the Missionary Training Center, President Monson gave direct, yet tender, counsel to the 129 couples from 20 countries who will take over their mission assignments on July 1.
“You will be in the Lord’s service twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the next three years and will be recipients of His direction and His blessings,” President Monson said.
He referred to the young men and young women entrusted to their care as a “precious commodity,” and shared with the leaders some ways to motivate the missionaries so they might be effective in their responsibilities and have the kinds of experiences that will affect them in a positive way throughout their lives.
Elder Russell M. Nelson told the new mission presidents that “missionary work should begin and end with our minds focused on the blessings of the holy temple,” during his address, titled “Begin with the End in Mind,”
“Missionary work is all about gathering people out of the world, ennobling them, and enabling them eventually to dwell with God forever,” said Elder Nelson, Chairman of the Missionary Executive Council. “This is His divine desire. Simply summarized, God wants His children to return home to Him. What else would you expect from a loving Father?
“Missionaries have a solemn responsibility to act on God’s fondest hope — that His children will return home to Him. If we will help Him, He will help us.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve said that the call to serve as a mission president and the wife of a mission president will so alter and influence “your life and the lives of your missionaries, that your soul needs and deserves assurance from heaven" regarding the calling. He said the purpose of his remarks at the seminar were "to assure you, settle you, and testify to you that your call is from the Lord. He knows you. He knows your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows your abilities and your uncertainties. He knows the needs of the mission and the missionaries where you are going. He has prepared you, and He has called you to His holy work."
Elder David F. Evans, a member of the Seventy and Executive Director of the Missionary Department, said on the day almost two years ago that President Monson changed the age missionaries can begin service — from 19 to 18 for men and from 21 to 19 for women —the Church had 58,500 missionaries. Today, there are nearly 86,000 missionaries, and the numbers continue to grow, he said.
“Because of President Monson’s announcement, the Church has fundamentally changed, and as far as we can see, there will always be more missionaries than there were before the age change,” he said. “Last year at this time, 58 new missions were created. These missions were not created to handle the surge of missionaries. Rather, they were created to handle the number of missionaries who would be serving after the initial wave of missionaries comes home.”
He said it has become clear that members and missionaries must labor together in the Lord’s work.
Summaries of the major addresses given during the 2014 Seminar for New Mission Presidents will be available in coming day on lds.org and ldschurchnews.com.