Missionary work is thriving, because the honest hearts of sincere missionaries are connecting with the honest hearts of sincere people.
This speech was given on August 6, 1978
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"My beloved young people, you take my breath away. I have been overseas for three and one-half years, and you have often heard missionaries say that the congregations are not quite this size overseas; I want you to know that you have literally taken my breath away, not only because of your numbers but also because of who you are and what you represent. I recognize the great responsibility that devolves on me, that we might be able to discuss together things that would be edifying. And as I think of that, let me just read verses 8 and 9 from the 43rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants:
And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.
And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me.
And so, wonderful young people, we come together tonight to be edified together.
I am not going to dwell so much on instruction; I would like just to reminisce, if I might, about some of the wonderful experiences that Sister Simpson and I have had during the past three and one-half years. You know, we feel right at home here at BYU—all of our children have attended school here, and I believe very firmly that BYU is the number one showcase of Mormonism throughout the world. I hope that you young people can keep it that way and recognize the great responsibility that you play in that role.
In the past we looked forward to this assignment about once a year but, of course, being overseas these past three and one-half years has been a long absence. And I must say that there have been some very significant things that have come to our attention:
First of all, to be laboring in London, that great city of the world, and then just a few weeks later to find ourselves on the island of Haapai in the Tongan Islands—and to find there the same spirit among the people, the same programs of the Church operating, the same dedication in the hearts of the leaders, and, of course, the same problems. People are people; and it does not matter whether one is in Salt Lake City, or in London, England, or on the island of Haapai in Tonga. The Church moves forward, life goes on, and hopefully people can be lifted up and qualified for the presence of our Heavenly Father.
Yes, my young people, the gospel is universal. It is for every race and for every color. And are you not grateful that in Heavenly Father’s admonition, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39) he does not say some men, but says man? And are you not grateful that our prophet has had the courage to listen to the voice of God and make it possible for all men to have the opportunity of eternal life as long as they adhere to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ? What a great day we live in!
What a wonderful thing it is to travel around the world and observe the missionaries! I want you to know that Mormon missionaries are great. I want you to know that the greatest impact in this Church and in the world today is the fact that one thousand Mormon missionaries are returning each month. Can you imagine one thousand returned missionaries being plowed into the leadership and into the membership of this Church and into our communities all over the world—Mormon missionaries taking their place and demonstrating to the world those things that they have been able to teach so effectively during the previous two years?
As a Mormon missionary goes out into the world he seeks to be honest in heart. Let me tell you about a new missionary down in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. It was his first week in the mission field; he was trembling and unsure—not of his testimony, but of his ability. His companion took him out to teach a couple who were having their fifth discussion. He did not have anything to say during the discussion. He was very timid..."