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A reunion of friends: Newest Apostle returns to Brazil for first official visit since his call to the Twelve

SAO PAULO, Brazil — When the name Ulisses Soares was announced as one of two new members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the solemn assembly on March 31, 2018, the reaction of Brazilians all over Brazil and in the Conference Center echoed all the way to the pulpit, said President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Brazilian members had a chance to welcome home Elder Soares in his first official visit to Brazil as an Apostle of Jesus Christ when President Ballard and Elder Soares arrived in Sao Paulo on Aug. 24.

Elder Ulisses Soares visits with members in his native Brazil. Traveling with President M. Russell Balllard, Elder Soares returned to Brazil when he arrived in Sao Paulo on Aug. 24, 2018.
Elder Ulisses Soares visits with members in his native Brazil. Traveling with President M. Russell Balllard, Elder Soares returned to Brazil when he arrived in Sao Paulo on Aug. 24, 2018. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

The two leaders first attended a missionary conference with about 800 full-time missionaries from the five missions in Sao Paulo. Elder Wemerson Moreira from the Brazil Sao Paulo West Mission was one of the 800 missionaries attending the conference. “It was so inspiring to listen to an Apostle speaking in Portuguese,” he said of Elder Soares. “I felt the Spirit, and he answered questions that I had.”

On Saturday morning the two Apostles and the area presidency held a leadership conference with the Sao Paulo Interlagos and Sao Paulo West Coordinating Councils.

Born and raised in Sao Paulo, Elder Soares began attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was just 6 years old, eventually serving as stake president and president of the Brazil Area. During the event, he met some lifelong friends who teared up as they heard the apostolic message he had brought to the Brazilian Saints.

Rosvaldo Avelino da Silva, a bishop in the Educandario Ward, Sao Paulo Brazil Rapouso Tavares Stake, attended the meeting.

“When Elder Soares was a stake president here in 1998, ... he called me to serve as a bishop. Now I am serving as a bishop for the second time, so I went to the leadership conference. It was very special for me to see him as an Apostle. When he and President Ballard decided to shake hands with all those attending the conference, I lined up with everyone else. When Elder Soares saw me, I extended my arm to shake his hand, but he pulled me into a warm hug,” said Bishop Rosvaldo.

After leaving Sao Paulo, President Ballard and Elder Soares flew to Rio de Janeiro, where they held another leadership conference, presided over two different stake conferences, and met with the missionaries of the two missions in Rio de Janeiro.

President M. Russell Balllard, with Elder Ulisses Soares, addresses members in Brazil. The leaders arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2018.
President M. Russell Balllard, with Elder Ulisses Soares, addresses members in Brazil. The leaders arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2018. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

In sharing his testimony about the teachings of living prophets with the members at a stake conference in the Jacarepagua stake, Elder Soares said, “We can sustain our living prophets today by incorporating their teachings in our lives. They speak the word of the Savior for our day. Please teach your families that protection in these difficult times comes from following their teachings and from obeying the commandments of God. Every commandment has a promise associated with it. I can assure you that we can’t live without these promises in this life, especially in these challenging latter days we are living in.”

Elder Soares and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, each served a full-time mission in Rio de Janeiro at different times when they were young, so they understandably were feeling emotional to be back with the people they grew to love when they were young missionaries.

“I know how good the people from Rio de Janeiro are. I shared the gospel with them, they welcomed me into their homes, they fed me. I love them,” said Elder Soares in the meeting with the two missions in Rio de Janeiro.

As their last assignment in the country, the two visiting Apostles, along with Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, Elder W. Mark Bassett and Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, addressed all the members in Brazil on Sunday evening through a Facebook live event titled “Family Home Evening with President Ballard, Elder Soares, and the Brazil Area Presidency.”

President M. Russell Balllard, with Elder Ulisses Soares, participate in a broadcast in Brazil. The leaders arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2018.
President M. Russell Balllard, with Elder Ulisses Soares, participate in a broadcast in Brazil. The leaders arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2018. Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc

They were also joined by Sister Soares and the wives of the members of the Brazil Area Presidency — Sister Luisa E. Aidukaitis, Sister Angela B. Bassett and Sister Elaine F. Parrella — with whom they chatted about their family experiences raising children and strengthening their families in the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.

“We want you to honor the Lord, Jesus Christ, and let His love be in your home,” Elder Ballard said. “Be kind to each other, and teach each other.”

“Prayer is just one of the basic fundamentals to the home,” he said, but also emphasized the importance of family councils. “In my judgment, one of the most important councils we have in the Church is the family council,” he added, explaining that a council could also be conversation between a father and daughter, a mother and a son, and other one-on-one experiences with family members one is trying to help.

All over Brazil, stake centers filled with members who watched the event together. The live event reached almost 200,000 people and had approximately 75,000 views on Facebook.

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