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Pres. Monson encourages missionaries in their calling

PROVO, Utah -- Help investigators gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Thomas S. Monson urged missionaries at a devotional at the Missionary Training Center June 22.

"The stumbling block for many investigators is to acquire a testimony that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord, translator of the Book of Mormon, and the one chosen to usher in this last dispensation of the fulness of times," he said.President Monson was accompanied to the devotional by his wife, Frances, and Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve, and his wife, Elisa, whose birthday was recognized at the gathering. Addressing a capacity congregation of missionaries at the center auditorium, President Monson spoke of the mission call, supporting and appreciating the missionary's family and getting along with companions. He also emphasized the importance of spirituality in sharing the gospel, and spoke of the importance of learning the discussions well.

Regarding the mission call, he emphasized, "You've been called of God by prophecy and by revelation, and you have been set apart by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."

He encouraged the missionaries to write a letter home each week to their family, and told of an experience of a missionary in Australia whose father was converted by letters home from the mission field. This father surprised the family by taking his wife to Australia to witness his baptism by his son, the final baptism of his son's mission.

"I had the privilege of sealing that family in the temple," said President Monson. "Now the father has gone to his heavenly reward, and I recently went to the mother's 87th birthday celebration. Her son, Craig Sudbury, is president of the Salt Lake Park Stake.

"Companionships should get along well," he admonished. If there is a disagreement, "pass it by." He quoted 3 Ne. 11:28-30, "And there shall be no disputations among you. . . .

"For verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil. . . . " President Monson encouraged the missionaries to become proficient in teaching the key discussions, including the discussion about the Plan of Salvation, known as Heavenly Father's Plan.

He said this discussion is especially meaningful to a family after the birth of "a little child, fresh fallen from God's own home to flower on earth."

"You can't look at the hand of a little child, or feel the softness of his or her skin and not believe the spirit in that little body lived before it came to earth and that a great responsibility falls upon the parents to rear that little child."

President Monson suggested that missionaries, to increase their proficiency, practice presenting discussions to members, setting a goal to have the discussion learned by a certain date.

"When you have a deadline you meet it," he remarked.

President Monson encouraged the missionaries to bring to district and stake conferences their investigators and then "to let the speaker know that there are investigators in the congregation.

"I do not know of a General Authority who would turn down a request to help convert them." He told of the late Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve teaching investigators and helping many of them gain testimonies.

President Monson related the account of a man in a small district with few leaders who was working hard in his calling. He told President Monson of his baptism. "As you can see, I have only one leg," the man said. "The missionaries drove me to the edge of the lake and helped me to waist-deep water where I was baptized."

The missionaries offered to help the new convert back to land, but he said, "The Lord is sustaining me today. So I hopped back to shore."

President Monson closed his remarks by quoting the Lord's promise to the missionaries found in Doctrine and Covenants section 84, verse 88: "And whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."