On Tuesday we received a spiritual feast as Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of 12 Apostles was visiting our mission. He was on an 11-day swing through Italy, Romania, Frankfurt, and the Netherlands. Part of the reason for the Rome stop was to talk to government officials about the building of the announced temple in Rome. He said the meetings went very well. But he also asked the church membership here to pray in every prayer that the hearts of government officials would be softened so this work could proceed forward. He was anxious to have a stop in Romania as he has a grandson serving a mission there.
We were able to enjoy Elder Oaks great presence for a missionary meeting in the afternoon, and then for a fireside in the evening for members and investigators. If the elders and sisters had an investigator, they were invited to stay. As office missionaries, we were also asked to stay. About 20 minutes before the hour when the afternoon meeting was to begin, Elder Oaks came into the chapel and President Acerson (our mission president) announced that Elder Oaks wanted to shake every missionary's hand. He specifically asked the 4 couples to go through the line at the end. Elder Oaks was not at all rushed. He spoke to every one individually. He has such a cute grin and winning smile, we all loved him.
(A fun little aside: after shaking everyone's hand, he used hand sanitizer. "This is how we stay well," he laughed, and then added, "What an opportunity to be in your presence today.")
Sister Oaks was with him and what a special lady she is. She served a mission in Japan and was there when the Tokyo Temple was dedicated. She said that when the temple was dedicated there, people changed and were ready to hear the gospel. This is about to happen in Italy, she said.
She spoke to the singles for a minute and told them not to give up. "I married Elder Oaks when I was in my 50's," she said. When Elder Oaks spoke afterwards, he elaborated. "I am almost 77 years old. Single is temporary. I was married for many years. I was single for 2 years. I have been married now for 8 1/2 years. I've tried single. I've tried married. Married is better."
As you can imagine, his message to the members was about the temple. First he spoke about tithng. He said his mother raised 3 children, and he was the oldest. When he was 10 years ld, he saw his mother paying tithing as she did every month, and knowing that they were very poor, he asked, "Why do you give all that money to the Bishop?" Her answer: "When people are rich they don't need to pay tithing. We need to pay tithing because we are poor. The Lord has promised to bless us and we need His blessings."
Then he asked the members, "Who do you think are going to be workers in the Temple when it is built in Italy? Do you think the Lord will send angels? No, he will call Italians!"
Elder Oaks talked about what happens in the temple. There are three things: 1. teachings - we receive knowledge, 2. covenants - they tell us what to do with the knowledge, and 3. promised blessings. You need to prepare yourself for those blessings.
This was where Elder Oaks asked us all to pray daily that the hearts of the government officials would be softened. Pray for the temple! This will frustrate the devil who opposes us. Do not criticize other religions. Elder Faust was a great mentor for Elder Oaks. Elder Faust would say, "Let's bring spiritual power to this solution."
At the end of his talk, Elder Oaks blessed us to remember the teachings of that meeting and left his apostolic blessing with us.