Personal interactions with Apostles.

October 3, 2009    By: Matt W. @ 11:14 am   Category: Life

It is halftime on Saturday for General Conference. While I watch these great men from afar, it made me think of a few close up experiences I have had.

When I was in the MTC my companion was asked to pray at a fireside. Thomas S. Monson and Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke there. I sat just behind President Monson. When Elder Wirthlin sat down, President Monson smiling said “Oh, is It my turn now?” then got up and spoke to us, the future missionaries. I remember his mentioning he never eats pizza and that his mother would tell her kids never to eat the tip of the ice cream cone, as there might be a fly in it. (He said other things as well, which were very poignant to me as the only member in my family.) I shook his hand. I have little hands, and it felt as though his soft cool hands swallowed mine.

Elder Scott and President Eyring came to my mission and had a meeting with Zone Leaders only. They had come to ask us about the Philippines and what needed to be worked on. I mentioned the practice had become to baptize separated people who could not get divorced, but to tell them they could not go to the Temple. (This had always bothered me). Elder Scott said we should never baptize anyone without putting them on the path to the Temple. At the End of the meeting the apostles spoke to us about our mission. President Eyring said “I have looked each of you in the eyes. I know which of you are sufficiently humble missionaries…” and then he looked me in the eyes. “…And which are not.” I was convicted in my sin of ethnocentricity, my bias toward the very people I was called to teach and be companions with. For the rest of my mission I did everything I could to humble myself and think of those I taught and served as my equals, and not as objects. At the end of that meeting, when President Eyring was leaving, he looked at me again, and waved, and his eyes told me of his love. As a matter of Legend in our mission, that night he went to Family Home Evening with a family in the mission, and sang “I left my heart in San Francisco” as the FHE activity was Karaoke.

While my experiences are limited, they have been life changing to me.

What Personal Experiences have you had with Apostles?


  1. Elders Scott and Zwick came to the São Paulo MTC while I was there. They shook everyone’s hand as we filed into the gym for the meeting. When I got to Elder Scott, I told him that his son had given me my mission suit, which I was wearing. I was shocked when he responded, saying, “Oh, then I better give you a hug!” And he did!

    After the meeting the MTC president quietly told a few missionaries to go to a certain classroom and wait. There were actually two classrooms, with 10-12 Brazilian missionaries in one and the same number of US missionaires next door. Eventually Elders Scott and Zwick came in and asked us for feedback on our experience in that MTC (those of us from North America had spent 5 weeks in Provo and were spending 4 weeks in São Paulo). I don’t remember what the concern was, but at one point Elder Scott took out a pen and paper and made a note, and Elder Zwick said, laughing, “I think it just got taken care of!”

    Nineteen months later, the afternoon of the day before the Porto Alegre temple was dedicated, I was walking into the mission office, and I saw a large, dark vehicle (Suburban?) and a Blazer, and two men in nice, dark blue suits. One had white hair covering his slightly trembling head, and when he turned I caught the profile of President Faust. The other man was his son, who had been a missionary in Porto Alegre some 25 years earlier. I got other missionaries from the office, and we visited with them for a minute and took some photographs. It was interesting to note how much President Faust trembled, since that was not apparent at all from his appearances at the pulpit. But the most striking feature about President Faust was his eyes. They…they shone.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — October 3, 2009 @ 12:14 pm

  2. I’ve met Elder Wirthlin and Elder Holland. I can’t write about it well enough to do justice to those experiences, but I agree that even brief conversations with men like these are memorable and life changing.

    Comment by C Jones — October 3, 2009 @ 12:19 pm

  3. Well, Elder Christofferson is my uncle. Does that count?

    Comment by Tim J — October 3, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

  4. I remember being 12 and giving the opening talk in Sacrament. The other speaker was Pres. Tanner when he was 1st councilor. Wow. Scared the tar out of me and it seemed like he could see right through me. So he spent the time before and after the sacrament whispering that he knew my grandfather (my grandmother was from Pres. Tanner’s hometown in Alberta) and telling me stories about it.

    Comment by Clark — October 3, 2009 @ 2:27 pm

  5. When I was a fairly recent member aged 17, Elder L Tom Perry came to speak at a Sunday evening fireside in our ward (most likely a Stake event, I don’t remember). Our Sunday School teacher spent the morning anxiously prepping us as to the importance of this event, and she called him the smiling Apostle, as he was a fairly junior member of the 12 then and she needed to find some way we could remember him (although it’s not like we had Apostles dropping by every week in south London!). Anyhow just before the fireside started, when the youth of the ward had taken our customary seats in the back row, Elder Perry came down off the stand, walked to the back, and went along our row, shaking hands with every single one of us, talking with some, smiling at others. Then he returned to the stand and took his seat. When he got up to speak, he said ‘I find it always pays to win over my back row!’ I remember his smile, it seemed to radiate from somewhere deep inside.

    Comment by Anne (U.K) — October 3, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  6. I met Elder Eyring while a missionary. After speaking to us, we all lined up and got to shake his hand and say hi. I was feeling very humbled and overwhelmed at the time, and I remember stammering out “Um, it’s nice to meet you”, to which he replied, “It is nice to meet YOU” I’ll never forget how he made me feel. It was wonderful.

    Comment by RJH — October 3, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

  7. I only have two personal experiences with general authorities, and they were from area presidencies while on my mission, and I don’t remember either of their names.

    1. This general authority had only one arm, the left one. We were specifically reminded to put forth our left hand to shake his, as putting forth the right one would be awkward. He never seemed to me to be the kind that would get offended.

    2. There was a note from the mission president that the area authority would be calling upon a couple of missionaries to give talks on faith. After hearing that, I got the impression that I would be one of the people called on. I prepared like crazy for a 5 minute talk on faith. We watched him read names off randomly to call them up to give talks. Thing is, he wasn’t asking us to give talks on faith, he was giving them topics. Sure enough, he called on me to talk on prophets. I got up there and froze solid. I couldn’t think of a single scripture other than Amos 3:7. Finally, he told me I could give my talk on Faith. I think he felt kind of bad and he spoke right after that it was ok for everyone not to know everything, or something like that. Boy was I embarrassed.

    My favorite part about his visit though, was that prior to his visit, the mission had been requiring extra sacrifices. The Zone leaders got up one by one and talked excitedly about all the required extra sacrifices that their zones had made that month. After they all finished with their bragging. The GA got up and reprimanded them/the mission president for making us sacrifice more than what sacrifices we were already making. He said that any extra sacrifices should be decided by the companionships themselves etc.

    Comment by Ian Cook — October 3, 2009 @ 8:44 pm

  8. I went to BYU when Elder Holland was the president there. He team taught an Honors English class, and had us all over for dinner at the president’s house one night. He is both the brightest and the kindest man I have met.

    My wife and I ushered at the dedication of the Las Vegas temple. We were the last to sign up, so we were in the basement. I was down by the underground entrance, so I saw all the General Authorities as they came from their cars to go to the dressing room. My wife was stationed at the stairs by the dressing room. When the brethren came out, many of them stopped for a while before going up to the celestial room. Elder Packer chatted with her for a couple of minutes, which was pretty cool. But my favorite part was when she was just standing there, kind of spacing out. Somebody came up behind her and poked her in the ribs. She turned around, and there was President Hinckley, saying “How’re you doing, cutie?” Yep, the Prophet was flirting with my wife.

    Comment by CS Eric — October 3, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

  9. This general authority had only one arm, the left one.

    Elder Dickson, no? He was in my area presidency, too. :)

    Comment by m&m — October 3, 2009 @ 10:33 pm

  10. CS Eric, that Pres. Hinckley story is great.

    My grandparents were in Elder Ballard’s ward for forever. When they passed away, Elder Ballard spoke at both of their funerals. I was one of the speakers at Grandma’s funeral, too, so that was interesting.

    As a p.s. Sister Ballard was one of the Relief Society sisters serving at the dinner for the family. For all their busyness, they are just trying to serve like all of us.

    Comment by m&m — October 3, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  11. Once had the opportunity to introduce my 6 yr. old son Dallin to Dallin H. Oaks. He got down on his knees and hugged him and chatted with him a bit. Gave him his business card: “Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles”. A few weeks later we received a letter from Elder Oaks that was addressed to Dallin. A brief hand written message attached to an article from The Friend. It made me a better person seeing what kind of person he was. That was 14-15 years ago and my son still has the business card. He was exactly what you would expect him to be.

    Comment by Hal — October 4, 2009 @ 6:53 am

  12. Thanks m&m, that was him.

    Comment by Ian Cook — October 4, 2009 @ 7:21 am

  13. Elder Eyring came to our Stake for Stake Conference. We had an early morning priesthood meeting for the leadership. At the end of our meeting they asked us not to shake hands with Elder Eyring, so when we stood, and all the rest of the Elder’s offered their hands, I didn’t. Later, I went to the rest-room before the meeting, and who’d I meet but Elder Eyring. At the time my hair was fairly long. He asked me if I had served a mission I said yes and where. Then he said, “Don’t return too much from your mission.”

    He gave a great talk that day, which I still share in Sunday School when appropriate.

    Comment by psychochemiker — October 4, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  14. As a youth, Elder Faust came to our stake conference. After the conference, I went to the stand and shook his hand–not a traditional handshake, but like the Fonz would do it. I never got to the snap.

    Comment by jose — October 4, 2009 @ 1:23 pm

  15. jose,

    If anyone else notices, before one of the saturday session the camera view showed the First Presidency walking down the line shaking the other apostles hands and Pres. Monson gave Elder Hale the Fonz shake.

    As for my own personal Apostle story, my wife is from Cokeville Wyoming and every July 24th they have the Cokeville Celebration to which Elder Perry(“L Tom” as he’s refered to here)attends every year (his wife is from there). Typically he brings other Authorities to speak but my favorite memory was when I was able to eat at the table next to him. He walked by (in his cowboy hat and jeans) and said to me “Are you going to eat all of that food!?” To which I nervously stuttered “umm, you can have it if you want”. His reply was “oh you’re giving up that easy eh.”

    Comment by Riley — October 4, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  16. I know exactly who the general authority without the arm is. He is Elder John B. Dickson of the first quorum. I believe he served in the Asia area presidency during the early 2000’s but that is all I know about him.

    Comment by BigD — October 5, 2009 @ 12:55 am

  17. I met Elder Oaks at a stake conference. He asked me where I had served my mission. He told me his son had served in the same mission (though many years before me). He said, “Perhaps you knew him. Did you know an Elder Dallin Oaks?”

    I just thought that was so funny–Had I known his son, it’s quite likely I would have drawn a correlation given the name. “Wait, DALLIN Oaks? You’re his dad?! Get outta here!”

    To me, it just demonstrated his humble nature.

    Comment by Eddie — October 6, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  18. Did you know an Elder Dallin Oaks?

    To which I replied, “Oh, of the quorum of the twelve?”

    Comment by Jacob J — October 6, 2009 @ 8:46 am

  19. 3 experiences meeting apostles–all on a mission:

    First two were at the same time, Elder Eyring and Elder Packer. I went through a receiving line and shook both their hands. Obviously a good experience, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    The third experience was very different. Went through a receiving line again shaking the hands of various general authorities and their wives (all Seventies). Elder Nelson was at the end of the receiving line. When I reached to shake his hand, I was literally stunned–and I mean STUNNED. He kindly asked my name and I barely squeaked it out. I was stunned because I literally felt the mantle of the apostleship upon him when I met him for that brief moment, and I now KNEW he was a special witness of Jesus Christ.

    I had never experienced that before and have never experienced that since.

    Comment by observer — October 7, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  20. My dear friend,an accomplished pianist, was playing background music at an event in the Joseph Smith Building. Many notable people were coming and going through the area where she was playing. Enter Elder Neal Maxwell:he came over to her at the piano, pulled up two chairs—one to sit on, and one to prop his feet up on, leaned back, closed his eyes and listened for several minutes with a sublime look on his face. Her service and talent was barely noticed by many—this attention to “the one,” speaks of kindness,character, soul, and spirit possessed by our beloved leaders—as many have also spoken of.

    Comment by Diann Rasi-Koskinen — October 7, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  21. When I was age 18, President Benson attended a sacrament meeting in my ward (he had a summer home in the area). After the meeting concluded I was one of the first to rush into the receiving line.

    When I reached him, he took one look at me and simply asked, “Coming or going?” I immediately caught his meaning and barked out “Going in eight months!” “Good!” he exclaimed and then immediately moved on to the next person in line.

    Comment by BJohnson — October 7, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  22. Once Elder Scott came to a stake priesthood meeting and after the meeting we all lined up to shake his hand. I was young and a new convert to the church so I was really excited to meet him. But I was also a shy person so I was pretty nervous to talk to him face to face.

    When I got up to shake his hand I meant to say something like “it’s an honor to shake your hand sir” but to my horror I was so nervous that what came out of my mouth sounded something like “wha wha blah blah blah”. I was completely tongue tied. It was also very loud in the stake center so it was hard to hear myself. But it sounded sort of like the people on the phone on Charlie Brown episodes.

    Elder Scott smiled and said “we had a great audience tonight”. I walked away wondering what he was thinking. I’ve joked that maybe he thought I was speaking in tongues or something.

    Comment by Aaron — October 15, 2009 @ 9:54 pm