My father, Lamro Hoopes, was born and reared in Thatcher, Ariz. After graduating from high school and attending college, he served in the Southern States Mission. On his return home he was drafted, as World War II had begun. He was trained as a medic in the U.S. Army and sent to Italy with an engineering battalion.
After the invasion, my father's battalion inched up the "boot" of Italy, spending a winter near Florence. With the fighting less intense, the young medic had time to spend with the Italian people, preferring to do this over entertainment the other soldiers found. Some 30 years later, in a letter to me, his second son, Father related: "As I learned a little about the language, I started to visit with the people. To my surprise, I found that a lot of them . . . were eager to learn about my religion. My Italian was never very good, so I couldn't say all the things I wanted to, and many times I wished for a Book of Mormon, a tract or pamphlet - written in Italian - to give them.
"So, in my prayers I asked the Lord if there was some way that these wonderful people could be shown the light that could bring them out of the darkness. I asked my Heavenly Father to help me that I might be able to help the people of Italy. I thought there might be a way to help them then and there, but like most LDST young men, I thought that if I ever left Italy without doing missionary work then my chance would be gone forever. But this wasn't the way our Heavenly Father wanted it to be. He evidently had a plan, and He knew that the time would come when His plan would do the most good."
After being discharged from the Army, my father soon married and started a family. He pretty much forgot about his prayers on Italian soil many years before until John, his oldest son, was called in 1965 to the Swiss Mission to serve in Italy. Later, I served a full-time mission to Italy. I and my companion taught and baptized Mario Vaira and his wife, Rosa. Brother Vaira later became the first Italian stake president, first native mission president* and is now serving as president of the Swiss Temple.
While Pres. Vaira was presiding over the Italy Catania Mission, my sister Jean's daughter, Aliesa Jensen Nelson, was called to serve under him in 1988.
Sometimes prayers aren't answered when or how we think they will - or should - be answered. But in His way, the Lord will answer all humble prayers.