PROVO, Utah — Marking the conclusion of the three-day 2019 Mission Leadership Seminar at the Provo Missionary Training Center, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf recalled the saying that in the Lord’s work, there are rarely final endings but rather everlasting beginnings.
“As we come to the end of an uplifting time together, it is also the beginning of a great adventure in building the kingdom of God here on the earth,” said Elder Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his concluding remarks Tuesday afternoon, June 25, to the 164 couples of new mission presidents and companions attending the seminar.
The chairman of the Church’s Missionary Executive Council expressed appreciation to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve “for their active and inspired participation” as well as to the Missionary Executive Council, Missionary Department and others involved in the seminar.
Elder Uchtdorf underscored the resources and training materials available to mission leaders soon to depart for their three-year assignments worldwide, including the scriptures, Preach My Gospel, missionary and mission presidents handbooks and the leadership seminar itself.
He encouraged their use over and over by mission leaders, recalling the training materials he had as an airline captain, required to be reviewed again and again.
“Without such reviews, my skills, knowledge and confidence would have been diminished and impaired,” he said. “The safety of the crew and passengers and the jet itself were at stake. Additionally, we would never have fulfilled the work and purpose of our entrusted assignment — helping people to reach their desired and hoped-for destination safely.”
It started an ongoing aviation analogy of mission leadership and duties. “You also are responsible for all those who board your mission airliner,” he continued. “The safety — including physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of your missionaries — is your most important responsibility.”
Like pilots, mission leaders need to be alert, practice approved procedures, observe established polices and continue to train — in this case, in the spiritual and temporal management of each couple’s respective mission.
A mission president and eternal companion are paired, like in a cockpit. “Rely upon each other,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Counsel with each other.”
The crew includes mission presidency counselors, mission office staff and young missionary leaders. And the control tower is the area presidency, infield representatives and various Missionary Department resources.
“Above all, our loving Heavenly Father and His Divine Son are watching over you,” he said. “They will listen to and answer your prayers, and they will bless you through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.”
The Holy Ghost, and not one’s own personal preferences, will help a mission leader conduct the affairs of the mission, he added, stressing the importance of being worthy of such a divine companionship.
Elder Uchtdorf reminded the new mission leaders of additional helps in their calling.
First, they were set apart by a member of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, with the presidents having received priesthood keys.
Second, they have been prepared from the beginning to serve in this call and assignment, he said. “You and your missionaries are among those who received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared for this labor in the Lord’s vineyard.”
He added: “You have been watched over by a loving Heavenly Father. His Divine Son has helped you along the way to this very day. The Holy Ghost has guided you — and will continue to do so — so you are prepared for this very moment!
“Everything in your life has prepared you for this moment to begin this remarkable journey. … Remember, the Lord Himself sees you as good enough to fulfill the required labors in His vineyard, even though you may still have lessons to learn.”
The Lord’s promises
Elder Uchtdorf pointed to the resurrected Savior’s interactions with His disciples as examples of Christ’s promised help to the new mission leaders and their missionaries.
The Savior promised peace unto His disciples, He helped them understand the scriptures through explanations, He promised to always be with them, He blessed them, and He gave them the "Great Commission" — to take the gospel to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
“These blessings for His faithful disciples are wonderful, inspiring and encouraging,” he said. “These blessings will bring you comfort and peace when things seem challenging or difficult. These blessings will bring you joy and true happiness to you and your missionaries when you see the hand of the Lord in your dedicated service.”
Elder Uchtdorf said it is his prayer, blessing and promise as an apostle of the Lord that the mission, service and divine journey of the new leaders will be filled with sacred moments and experiences as well as with love for God and His children.
“Rich blessings await you and your family. When your mission is completed, you will return home with the fondest memories and the feeling that the Lord our God has accepted your service and sacrifice.”
Elder Uchtdorf concluded: “I also testify that the Lord’s promise, ‘I will be with you always,’ is your promise as you fulfill His ‘Great Commission’ to make disciples of all nations.”