While I should have taken better notes during the Elder Andersen meeting, I was on uncle duty, and mostly my notebook was filled with outlines of small hands and drawings of random animals and trucks. For the YSA fireside, however, I did take some notes - and I figured I'd post them here for whoever may be interested. The quotes that I have here are as I best remembered as I wrote my notes - there may be slight discrepancies.
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
Bishops Stevenson spoke first on the topic of deception. He drew the following diagram:
Here are other points from his talk that I wrote down:
- All the priesthood keys have been restored
- Met his wife in institute while attending USU (Old Testament Class) - referred to his wife as "hot"
- How did the Lord lighten the burden placed upon Alma and his people? He made the people strong
- Ye are little children and cannot bear all things now... - D&C 78:17-19
- He purposely didn't give many references - I think he wanted us to hunt for them on our own??
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Elder Oaks seemed to enjoy himself during this meeting. He was of great spirits, and was smiling if not laughing during most of the talk. Before the meeting began, he went about shaking as many people's hands as he could with a local authority and Bishop Stevenson flanking him as he went along.
During the meeting, I had my little sister Leah's comments about Elder Oaks in my mind. He had attended a Gospel Doctrine class in her ward just a few weeks prior. Possibly on the same day that Elder Andersen spoke in Roseville. Leah observed the following (and I paraphrase):
Every tween [what Leah calls college-aged kids] was edgy! They were all nervous because there was an apostle in the room. So all the comments were spoken really carefully. Some of the tweens tried to sound smart. I felt bad for him. Obviously he wouldn't want people to get all nervous and stuff just because he's there. Think about it.
Anyway - the lesson was on following the prophet. So that only added to the intensity of having an apostle in the room - literally someone we sustain as a prophet. Anyway, I thought of a comment where Moroni said that we shouldn't condemn the writings of the Book of Mormon because of its imperfections - that they're the imperfections of man. I looked for the reference [Mormon 9:31-33], but couldn't find it. So I made the comment anyway. Basically I said that we need to remember that the prophets are still human - that they're going to make a mistake every now and then, and that we need to cut them some slack. Elder Oaks was looking at me the whole time I was saying it. He seemed a bit relieved by the comment.
Right afterward, a neighboring tween found the reference. And it wasn't even in the book of Moroni. So I commented something back like, "What's Moroni doing writing in other people's books anyway? Someone tell him to stick to his own." - I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was something light-hearted and kind of cheeky like that. Right then, Elder Oaks busted up laughing. I wasn't really trying to be funny - I just blurted it out. But I was glad that everyone got to see that he's actually a funny guy, or at least that he can take a weird joke.So I have that experience fresh in my mind while I listen. Interestingly enough - Elder Oaks started out with that same thought...
He first let us stand up and stretch, told us he was excited to be with us, and then said "the most difficult thing about his calling was living up to the expectation of the saints".
His talk focused on opposition. He specifically said "single vs married". He said he has tried both, and "married is better".
He said that if we don't have any external opposition, we tend to create it internally. To me, that thought was really interesting. I've realized in my life that I tend to dial my own stress level. When I have way too much to do, I relax more than I should and keep myself at a specific stress level. When I don't have much to do (or don't have any stress), I create my own worries by letting things go undone until they're past due. Basically - I hone my life's difficulties into a very particular range of worry.
Elder Oaks mentioned that he lifts weights - just enough so he can lift his suitcase into the overhead compartment, he said. He moved his arm like a curl, and told us "This is what I do with 15 lb weights. I don't even know what this one is called."
He quoted President Hinckley as saying "when you get old, some of the rivets come loose". And he told the story of a doctor responding to a missionary who was convinced he was "dying". The doctor said, "everyone is dying. What's you're special problem?"
He then went on to state that each of us in the room had a special common problem. We were single. Being single is being unfulfilled, and it's frustrating. He referred to this article by Kathy Grant in the June 2002 Ensign where she explained that being single is like star gazing without a jacket while everyone around you has one. Her analogy was for singles who were living in family wards. He summarized - "we all have to learn how to deal with our own particular set of adversities".
Elder Oaks told us to remember that "trust is the synonym for faith". I thought that was interesting as I have been mulling over some recent council from my old high councilman about trust. The Lord only trusts us when we've earned it. And the way we earn His trust - according to Elder Oaks, is through faith.
He talked of his new wife (Elder Oaks became a widower when he was 68, and remarried two years later to a lady named Kristen). Kristen once gave a talk where she likened herself to the rich young man who approached the Savior asking the question "what lack I yet?" She said that too often we bring forward this question in prayer "what am I doing wrong?" when we should be bringing forth this one: "what more can I do that is right?" She said that her prays changed as a single to "However Thou wantest to use me, I accept" - essentially asking what more can she do that is right. She then began to involve herself in more ward activities. (I believe she was in a conventional family ward at the time.)
Elder Oaks quoted Elder Maxwell by saying, "Trust in the Lord includes trust in His timing". He then told us that it is not profitable to aspire to "this or that". But that "the best course in our life is to ask the Lord [for you] to do what He wants us to do". He then referred to hymn #270 "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" by quoting the first line, "It may not be on the mountain height..."
As he was reading scriptures and using quotes, he fumbled a bit using his iPad. He said that President Packer made every member of the Quorum of the Twelve carry an iPad which he referred to as "the infernal machine". Elder Oaks prefers paper scriptures, he said. And then he gave this principle, "the scriptures are a personal Urim and Thummim by which we can receive revelation".
Elder Oaks continued his discussion of the scriptures by stating that some are more inspired than others (an Elder Bruce R. McConkie reference). He particularly sanctioned the Book of Isaiah, the entirety of the New Testament, and the entirety of the Book of Mormon. He then quoted Elder McConkie as saying "Songs of Solomon is biblical trash."
Elder Oaks then said that he has recently been reading the letters of Paul, and that he is convinced they were written for us today. He gave the following quotes and discussion points based on some of Paul's writings:
- 2 Corinthians 13:14 - he emphasized that in that final verse to the people of Corinth, Paul outlined the separate nature and function of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Love of God (the Father), the Grace of Christ, and the Communion of the Holy Ghost.
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5 - he couldn't get the "infernal machine" to work, so Bishop Stevenson handed him his paper scriptures. Elder Oaks read through this quintet of verses with a comment after each phrase. He particularly emphasized that we would be "lovers of our own selves", "high minded" and "without natural affection". He referred to our current generation as the "Me Generation". He said that we're "ever learning" the things that are less important
- 1 Corinthians 1:20,25 - Elder Oaks reminded us that our level of thinking is not comparable to the wisdom of the heavens. We need to know our place in order to learn from the higher sphere.
- Colossians 2:8 - he talked of being "spoiled through philosophy" - meaning that we think of ourselves as wise, and of the world's scientific wisdom as authority. He warned us to keep our wisdom seeking after the things of Christ. And he emphasized this with a verse in the following chapter: Colossians 3:2.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:12 - Elder Oaks told us to not take pleasure in unrighteousness. He said that some people want to "serve the Lord, but only in a way that doesn't offend the devil". He reminded us that divided loyalties do not lead to happiness, as a house divided against itself cannot stand.
He paused for a moment and then said, "let me conclude by saying: the most important thing about you, is that you're a child of God". He said that some people don't want the gospel - even when everything is said and done, some people won't accept it. He said this is because those people lack desire. And that the desire they lack is a desire to be like our Heavenly Parents - Elder Oaks stated that this is our purpose: to develop a desire to be like our Heavenly Parents.
He then left a conditional apostolic blessing. Elder Oaks invoked blessings "as we seek to serve Christ".