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On the eve of the temple dedication in Rio de Janeiro, Elder Stevenson answers questions about the gospel path


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – In a long-anticipated meeting with youth in the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple district, Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke Saturday about the new edifice and other “fires of faith” that can help young people find their way on life’s path. 

Recalling a time when he was lost while hiking as darkness fell, Elder Stevenson said that he was guided back to safety when he saw the far off flame of his sons’ campfire.

Just as following the light from the small fire led Elder Stevenson to his campsite, the light of the gospel can guide and direct youth, he said. That light can be found in the scriptures, family, friends, leaders, the Children and Youth program, the For the Strength of Youth booklet, FSY conferences, priesthood quorums and classes — and, of course, the new Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple.

“Doing what you’re doing will prepare you for whatever the Lord has in store for you,” said Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Addressing the youth on the eve of the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple, Elder Stevenson — accompanied by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson — shared his testimony and answered questions.

More than 1,000 young women and young men participated in a question-and-answer session at the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Jacarepaguá Stake Center on Saturday, May 7; many more watched from remote locations and sent messages via WhatsApp.

In addition to Elder and Sister Stevenson, Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Mônica Godoy; Elder Joni L. Koch, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Brazil Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Michele Koch; and Elder Benjamin De Hoyos, a General Authority Seventy, also participated in the youth devotional.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil have anxiously awaited the opening of the country’s eighth temple. Although completed more than two years ago, the temple’s dedication was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. After months-long anticipation for the devotional, youth brought lots of energy and their gospel questions to the meeting. 

Read more: Elder Stevenson dedicates Rio de Janeiro temple — 8th dedicated in Brazil

Attendees wait to ask a question of Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a youth devotional at the temple grounds stake center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Attendees wait to ask a question of Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a youth devotional at the temple grounds stake center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Keeping good thoughts

The first of nine questions gave Elder Stevenson a chance to show something he does to keep his mind focused on good things and to avoid inappropriate or negative thoughts.

“I memorize things,” he said. “A lot of things. Even repeating them as I’m going to bed.”

That last comment brought laughter from both Sister Stevenson and the audience. Sister Stevenson admitted that this habit keeps her up at night sometimes, but she said it is fun to see what he is memorizing next.

He did more than just say he memorizes things. He gave multiple examples. First, he named all the prophets of this dispensation. Then he named all the years during which each of them served. Then he listed the genealogy of some of the Old Testament prophets. The youth reacted to each example, surprised that he had memorized such things.

“We can all think of good things,” Elder Stevenson said. “And when we have so much good in our mind, it’s hard for Satan to put bad things in it.”

On that same topic, Elder Godoy said, “It’s hard to permanently get rid of something bad without something good to put in its place.”

The sky glows as Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles conducts a youth devotional at the stake center adjacent to the temple in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

The sky glows as Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles conducts a youth devotional at the stake center adjacent to the temple in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Ministering to loved ones

One question was asked about how to support members of the family who aren’t members of the Church.

Elder de Hoyos said that those whom we love who aren’t members of the Church “are our best opportunity to minister to.”

“We should ask what we can do for them,” he suggested.

Elder Stevenson reminded the youth that some members of the Twelve faced similar challenges growing up as youth. 

“You are setting a good example by being here at the temple tonight,” he said. “We can always focus on our actions.”

Staying on the covenant path, “will help strengthen those around us.”

Read more: How a death provided perspective as Elder Soares leads out on Rio de Janeiro temple tours

Social pressures

When asked about social pressures, Elder Stevenson encouraged the youth to not overthink the answers. “Look to the gospel of Jesus Christ and His two great commandments,” Elder Stevenson said.

The first of those two commandments is to love Heavenly Father. “How do we do that?” he asked the youth. “What do we do?”

Turning to the scriptures, Elder Stevenson reminded the youth that the Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

“Obedience brings blessings,” Elder Stevenson said. “And when we receive blessings, we receive joy.”

On the second of the two great commandments, Elder Stevenson said, “we should be loving and inclusive.”

“Jesus Christ said to love our neighbors. … everyone, whatever their circumstances.” 

‘Go and Do’

After answering a variety of questions, the meeting concluded with a video from the 2020 youth theme of “Go and Do.”

The youth, who had been full of energy throughout the night, let some of that energy out in the form of singing. As the song progressed, a small hum turned to a full impromptu choir singing along to the video in Portuguese.

“The gospel brings us good things,” Elder Stevenson said after the video. “Good things come from seminary. Good things come from institute. Good things come from the gospel.”

Elder Stevenson acknowledged that more questions had been submitted than time allowed to be answered.

“But there are answers,” he said. “The gospel of Jesus Christ contains all the answers.”

Sister Stevenson reminded the youth to look to the temple. “Be in the temple. Serve in the temple. … Let the temple touch you!” she said. “It will bless you.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, and Elder Carlos A. Godoy, talk to attendees during a youth devotional at the temple grounds stake center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, and Elder Carlos A. Godoy, talk to attendees during a youth devotional at the temple grounds stake center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Youth express joy

Gabriel Soares Rodrigues, 17, from the Macabu Branch of the Macaé Brazil Stake traveled four hours with his sister, brother and friends to attend the devotional. He said it’s important for him to be a good example to his siblings. “They do whatever I do,” he said. “I know if I do something, they’ll do it, too, so it’s important for me to follow the example of Christ.”

The new temple in Rio will cut the distance his family travels to the temple in half and enable them to participate more frequently together in the temple.

Letícia Vilarim, a 17-year-old young woman from the Nova Iguaçu Brazil Stake, spoke during the devotional and shared the things she learned by serving during the recent temple open house.

“God loves all His children,” she said. “No matter how different they are from us.”

She also said that service strengthens her against the influence of the adversary.

 Henrique Caetano dos Santos, a young man from the Juiz de Fora Brazil Stake, also spoke during the devotional.

He focused on the importance of doing work on both sides of the veil.

“Temples are essential to that work,” he said. “And I’m grateful for the temple in Rio and all the Church pioneers who made it possible to be here.”

A choir sings during a youth devotional on Saturday, May 7, 2022, held the night before the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple.

A choir sings during a youth devotional on Saturday, May 7, 2022, held the night before the dedication of the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A youth choir from the Rio de Janeiro Campo Grande Stake sang “Our Prayer to Thee” and “How Beautiful Thy Temples, Lord.” The opening prayer was given by Sarah Rolim Souza de Jesus. The closing prayer was given by Marcelo Mariano Cesar da Silva.

More on the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple

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