‘We have a lot to do,’ says President Nelson as Latin America Ministry Tour ends in Brazil

SAO PAULO — Moments after completing his Latin America Ministry Tour — and bidding an emotional farewell to 37,000 Brazilian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints waving white handkerchiefs — President Russell M. Nelson said there is much work yet to be done.

“I want our members to know that the Restoration is a continuing process,” he said Sunday, Sept. 1.

“And we have a lot to do before the Lord will come again.”

President Nelson, who will turn 95 on Sept. 9, traveled 14,779 miles and met with 344,452 people total in Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil during the nine-day, five-nation tour that began Aug. 24.

Accompanied by 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 now logged 98,033 miles to six continents, 28 nations and 43 cities since January 2018.

Never to be forgotten’

Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints filled the Anhembi Convention Center in Sao Paulo — and chapels across Brazil receiving the broadcast of Sunday’s meeting — for the final devotional of the Latin America Ministry Tour.

Bidding farewell to President Nelson, members waved “a sea of white handkerchiefs as far as you can see, almost in every direction,” said Elder Cook. Symbolic “of the great faith of the Saints here in Brazil,” Church members began filling the seats in the venue five hours before the meeting started.

Attendees listen during a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.
Attendees listen during a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

President Nelson, who delivered different messages in each country of the tour, spoke in Brazil without a text. “I think it’s amazing to have President Nelson go up there without any notes, without any scriptures, with 37,000 people and deliver such a sacred, profound message that was completely coherent and absolutely met the needs of the people that were there,” said Elder Cook. “This was an experience never to be forgotten for those of us that were here.”

The prophet asked the children in the congregation to stand and asked their parents to teach them about prayer, temples, tithing, taking care of their bodies, and about the Savior’s Atonement and eternal life. “I think some of these children you have are some of the brightest children that the Lord has ever let come to planet Earth,” he said.

Sister Wendy Nelson speaks during a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.
Sister Wendy Nelson speaks during a devotional in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Speaking of contention and calling to mind Utah’s safe-driving slogan of “Zero Fatalities,” Sister Nelson spoke about having “zero contention.”

“The doctrine of the Savior is ‘zero contention,’ zero,” she said.

Elder Cook asked Church members in Brazil to become one through a shared Church history, making their homes sanctuaries of faith and including others. “We are united by our love of and faith in Jesus Christ and as brothers and sisters of a loving Heavenly Father.”

Sister Cook encouraged members to attend the temple. “Every time we visit the temple and perform ordinances there, we are walking on holy ground,” she said.

Rich history

The Church has a rich history in Brazil, where missionaries first arrived in 1928. The first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed in 1940. Antonio Carlos de Camargo, then 18, joined the Church in 1947.

In 1954, he attended a meeting with President David O. McKay — the first Latter-day Saint prophet to visit the country. The 1954 devotional was held in a small, rented building and attended by about 250 people. 

“You can see the difference — 250 to 37,000,” he said after the meeting. “What impressive progress the Church has made here in Brazil. … I just imagine another 20 or 30 years. This increase is going to multiply itself.”

Those outside the Sao Paulo Temple Visitors' Center wave to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 31, 2019.
Those outside the Sao Paulo Temple Visitors’ Center wave to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Aug. 31, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Glaucia Regina Caverni Barreto’s father, Orlando Alberto Caverni, sang in the choir when President McKay visited in 1954. He taught his children to play the piano so they could help at church.

On Sunday, Glaucia Caverni led the choir during President Nelson’s and Elder Cook’s visit. “I am sure (my father) was here with us,” said Caverni.