In his own native language, Elder Ulisses Soares testified Sunday to Portuguese-speaking young adults — spread across the world — that drawing near to the Savior and trusting in His ordained servants remedies pandemics, economic hardships and all other tribulations.
“Following the counsel of the prophets will protect us and will cause the heavens to shake for our good,” said Elder Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in a young adult devotional originating from Church headquarters and broadcast to Brazil, Portugal and several African nations.
Sunday’s devotional marked a memorable moment for the Brazilian-born Apostle. It was the first time Elder Soares spoke in an Apostle-led devotional for a global audience in his native language of Portuguese.
He was joined by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares — along with several other couples for a question-and-answer session addressing several questions submitted by Portuguese-speaking young adults from across the world.
It was clear that Elder Soares was both humbled and enthused to take part in a Sabbath Day gathering reflecting the Church’s deep footprint across the Portuguese-speaking world.
“This is the first time that we have a worldwide devotional for all young adults, single and married, Portuguese speakers,” he said in his introductory remarks. “We are very blessed by the technology that allows us to meet with you all over the world from Salt Lake City. We hope you enjoy this unique experience.”
The guiding role of the Savior and His servants, the prophets and apostles, was a central theme resonating throughout the two-hour gathering.
“By offering Himself in sacrifice, Jesus Christ provided us with a means of overcoming both physical and spiritual death — and offered us the glorious possibility of attaining eternal life,” he said.
By following the Lord with faith and obedience, he added, “we come closer to Him and feel more encouraged to face the challenges of our day.”
A few days ago, Elder Soares posted a question on Facebook for Sunday’s audience members: “How did the challenges you faced in 2020 help you get closer to the Savior?”
His query prompted many thoughtful responses — including this observation from a young woman named Cinthia: “Day after day, I recognized that there is nothing I can do without the help of my Savior. He is my strength, He is my way and my Eternal Hope.”
Elder Soares was uplifted knowing that the challenges young Latter-day Saints have faced over the past year “have helped them come closer to the Savior. After all, it is through Him that we receive the peace, encouragement and strength we need to live His commandments and find joy in our journey.”
The Apostle reminded his young audience that they can place full trust in Jesus Christ.
“He has a heart full of mercy and a perfect love for each one of us. As you genuinely offer your heart to Him, you will receive answers to the questions that concern you.”
Today’s young Latter-day Saints, he added, can accomplish seemingly impossible things.
“You can literally help to shape the destiny of all mankind,” he said. “By knowing and applying the Lord’s teachings in your life and drawing closer to Him, you will be able to make history.
“You are extremely blessed. The world needs you and your goodness. Great opportunities await you. Throughout human history, the Lord has done great works through faithful people like you.”
Sister Soares: Listen to the Holy Ghost’s loving promptings
Draw upon the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost, taught Sister Soares.
“We know that the Holy Spirit has many functions,” she said. “He bears witness to the Father and the Son. He reveals the truth. It is He who touches our hearts. The Holy Spirit also comforts us, warns us and inspires us.”
Sister Soares recounted experiences in her life when opportunities to serve others were lost because she chose to ignore the promptings of the Holy Ghost — and, conversely, when she allowed His influence to guide her daily decisions.
The fruits of the Spirit offer all who listen development and growth.
“Everything that illuminates, that builds, that is positive and inspiring and that leads us to have better thoughts, words and actions is of the Spirit of God,” she said.
Follow the direction of latter-day prophets by seeking the “modern miracle” of personal revelation.
“We may not see the lame walking or the blind see, but we can hear and feel the Holy Spirit acting in our lives if we invite Him.”
Thoughtful questions. Wise answers.
Elder Soares invited several couples to share their seasoned insights in response to the many gospel-centered questions Sunday’s viewers offered in advance of the devotional.
Participating from Church headquarters in Salt Lake City was Church educator and former Brazil Recife Mission President Rory Bigelow and his wife, Sister Tammy Bigelow.
Joining virtually from Brazil was Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, Brazil Area President, and his wife, Sister Elaine F. Parrella; along with Elder Denelson Silva, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Sister Regina Maria Silva.
From Portugal, Elder Saulo G. Franco, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Sister Kátia Cristina Franco, were joined by Church educator Joaquim Jorge Oliveira Moreira and his wife, Maria Isabel Carvelho Moreira.
And from Africa, Elder Ciro Schmeil of the Africa South Area Presidency and his wife, Sister Alessandra Schmeil.
The questions focused on a variety of topics — including how to increase our proximity to God and His Son, Jesus Christ; growing one’s testimony during challenges times; finding guidance through prayers; better understanding the Atonement; and, not surprisingly, making wise dating and marriage decisions.
Elder and Sister Soares — along with the other members of the international panel — gleaned personal experiences to share gospel-anchored counsel. Their answers were rich in the Spirit, common sense, humor and wisdom.
Most responses to the wide-ranging questions followed a proven pattern: Trust in God. Draw near to the Savior. Follow the counsel of His prophets. Never give up. And find joy following the disciples’ covenant path.
Sunday’s Portuguese-language devotional was conducted by Elder Soares’ friend and fellow Brazilian, Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy.
Music enriched the Sabbath Day spirit — including performances from Zach Wilson, Beatriz Melo, Mary Griffin, Katie Bastian and Jacob Brown. Elder and Sister Soares’ daughter, Lethicia Soares Caravello, performed a rendition of “I Stand All Amazed” on the harp.
Prayers were offered by Caroline De Maria and Luiz H. Costa e Silva.