Face to Face with Elder Soares takes international approach with Spanish, Portuguese — and yes, even more languages

In response to questions about policy changes in the Church, returning home from missions early and overcoming pornography, Elder Ulisses Soares invited young adults to trust in God’s love. 

“I want you to remember one thing: God loves you. God is there for you. He is there in the moments of sorrows, in the moments of challenges, in the moments of questions, in the moments we are enjoying life. He is always there for us,” he said.

Elder Soares, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was joined by Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy during a worldwide Face to Face event for young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on Sunday, Sept. 15.

In a video invitation prior to the event, Elder Soares and Elder Christensen asked the young adults of the Church to finish the phrase “Living the gospel brings me hope because …” and share their thoughts on social media.

For the first time during a Face to Face event, Elder Soares and Elder Christensen answered a few questions in Portuguese and Spanish. They also greeted members around the world in their respective languages. The devotional was broadcast live from a studio on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, with a young adult audience that represented the global Church.

While clarifying the difference between fixed teachings of the Church and those that are changeable, Elder Soares said, “Changes in policies are not new.”

Elder Soares and Elder Christensen used examples from the scriptures to illustrate core doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ that will never change and policies throughout history that have changed. 

In the New Testament, the disciples were initially sent out to preach the gospel to the House of Israel. The Savior then commanded them to preach the gospel to all nations, including the gentiles, Elder Soares said.

Young adults in the Face to Face broadcast audience asked questions of the two Church leaders on September 15, 2019.
Young adults in the Face to Face broadcast audience asked questions of the two Church leaders on September 15, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“We no longer offer sacrifice of the firstlings of our flocks,” Elder Christensen added. He also mentioned that worshipping on Sunday as the Sabbath Day is a change from Old Testament times.

But Elder Christensen testified that the doctrine, including why we are here, the plan of salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “will never change. Those are the things which are certain.”

Another question concerned missionaries who return home early and feeling the Lord’s acceptance of their service. Elder Christensen described an experience of his father-in-law who was one of the first missionaries who served in Uruguay and Paraguay. He became ill for several months and could not work, so he wrote his testimony on the inside cover of copies of the Book of Mormon for his companion to distribute. 

For 50 years, Elder Christensen said, his father-in-law worried about his mission and felt he didn’t do enough. During the dedication of the Montevideo Uruguay Temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley invited Elder Christensen’s father-in-law to share his testimony.

A priesthood leader in the audience heard the name and realized he had been guided to the Church after reading his testimony on the inside cover of a copy of the Book of Mormon. 

What his father-in-law thought was a failure became one of the greatest successes of his life, Elder Christensen said. Elder Soares encouraged missionaries who return home early to seek the Lord and serve others to find peace. 

Elder Ulisses Soares and Elder Craig C. Christensen answer questions live from young adults during a Face to Face event on Sept. 15.
Elder Ulisses Soares and Elder Craig C. Christensen answer questions live from young adults during a Face to Face event on Sept. 15. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Elder Soares and Elder Christensen also answered a question about what to do when struggling with pornography and losing hope in Jesus Christ.

Elder Soares’ counsel was to humble oneself before God, which means repenting, asking for help from priesthood leaders and accepting their direction. He described God’s perfect love and understanding, compassionate nature. 

Never give up on trying and don’t feel less than anyone else, he said. “Remember, the grace of the Lord is available before, during and after all you can do, because the Lord is there for you — always.”

Overcoming pornography is “more about your relationship with the Lord than your relationship with pornography,” Elder Christensen added. He encouraged young adults to stand in and find themselves in holy places. 

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles introduces his wife, Rosana, to the audience of young adults at the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles introduces his wife, Rosana, to the audience of young adults at the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The two general authorities’ wives, Sister Rosana Soares and Sister Debbie Christensen, participated in answering a question about choosing an eternal companion. Both emphasized the importance of finding someone who would love God more than they loved their spouse. 

Speaking in Portuguese, Sister Soares said she was looking for three things in a future spouse: someone who would put God and his covenants first, someone who had the desire to progress, and someone who had a positive outlook on life and would make her smile. She prayed, fasted and went to the temple, and the Lord confirmed her decision to marry Elder Soares. 

“You both just have to love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength and commit to take each other home to God,” Sister Christensen said.

Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy introduces his wife, Debbie, to the young adult audience at the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019, in Provo, Utah.
Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy introduces his wife, Debbie, to the young adult audience at the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019, in Provo, Utah. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Other questions during the event concerned helping friends who may be dealing with doubts as well as how to make the best decisions and trust in God’s plan. 

God is the source of all truth, and light and darkness cannot exist together, Elder Soares and Elder Christensen reminded young adults. But questions are the way to revelation. 

Revelation comes from praying with real intent and acting in faith, Elder Soares taught. 

As he testified of the power of hope and God’s love, Elder Soares used Nephi as an example. Nephi did not know everything, Elder Soares said, but he knew that God loved him and He loves His children. 

“If we know that, everything will be easier in our lives,” Elder Soares said. “I am sure that many questions will be answered — maybe not in the time limit you expect, but because of His love for you, He will come to you.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles thanks members of the audience for attending the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles thanks members of the audience for attending the Worldwide Devotional Face to Face broadcast on Sunday, September 15, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.