‘I’m just looking forward,’ says President Nelson as tour nears conclusion a week before his 95th birthday

BRASILIA, Brazil — As President Russell M. Nelson’s Latin American Ministry Tour draws to a close one week shy of his 95th birthday, the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints briefly reflected on his life and experiences and then — characteristically — looked forward.

“This work is moving forward at an accelerated pace,” President Nelson said in an interview moments before flying out of Brasilia. “I can hardly wait to bounce out of bed each morning and see what the day will bring.”

Brasilia — Brazil’s capital city known for its unique city plan and architecture — was the fifth stop on President Nelson’s five-country Latin American Ministry Tour. Traveling with his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Mary Cook, President Nelson has visited GuatemalaColombiaEcuador and Argentina, meeting with dignitaries and addressing large devotional congregations in each place.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, say goodbye at the conclusion of a Latin America Ministry Tour devotional in Bogota, Colombia, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, say goodbye at the conclusion of a Latin America Ministry Tour devotional in Bogota, Colombia, on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News

There are 1.4 million Church members, 273 stakes, seven temples and 35 missions in Brazil, the largest Latin American nation. “This is a very special part of the world, the American hemisphere,” said President Nelson. “The Lord loves these people.”

Late Sunday afternoon he will address some 40,000 in Anhembi Convention Center in Sao Paulo before returning to Salt Lake City. “There are exciting things ahead,” said President Nelson.

And he promises there is “more to come.”

Sister Nelson said the closer her husband gets to 95 years old, the more he is “enchanted with the future.”

“There is an urgency,” she said. “Yes, there’s an urgency.”

Take global ministry tours, for example. After President Nelson completes the Latin America Ministry Tour on Sunday evening, he will have traveled — as president of the Church since early last year — 98,033 miles to six continents, 28 nations and 43 cities.

“For each country we are going in, there is 199 that we are not in,” said President Nelson. “And they are wishing we could come to them. But little by little, we will do the best we can.”

Elder Cook said something happens when Latter-day Saints see the prophet in person. “They get a sense that this is the Lord’s prophet,” he said. “And what could be more precious than that?”

Read more: Insights into what the apostles learn from traveling with the prophet and what it means for Latter-day Saints

Added President Nelson: “It is not about us. The adulation is not for us. It’s for the Lord. And in the process, you learn to love the people.”

And for his 95th birthday? “It’s just another day for me, I hope I’ll be busy,” President Nelson said. “It is wonderful though to be able to look back and see the various stages of life. …

“But, you know, I really don’t spend any time looking back. I did the best I could in each one of those phases, and I’m just looking forward to the many challenges that lie ahead.”