In Brazil, Elder Soares addresses 5 concerns from young adults and invites them to put the Savior first

Standing next to the Christus statue in the São Paulo Temple Visitors’ Center on Sunday night, Oct. 31, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified that the Savior’s arms are always open, inviting all to come unto Him. 

“His countenance expresses this profound love that He has for the children of God,” Elder Soares told young adults across Brazil, speaking his native Portuguese. “I hope you can … perceive how much Heavenly Father loves us, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ in sacrifice so we could one day to return to His presence.”

Elder Soares intentionally began the nationwide broadcast in the São Paulo Temple Visitors’ Center before moving to the meetinghouse next door so the image of the Savior’s arms could be a focal point for the devotional messages shared by him and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles begins a devotional for young adults across Brazil, next to the Christus statue in the Sao Paulo Temple Visitors' Center on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles begins a devotional for young adults across Brazil, next to the Christus statue in the Sao Paulo Temple Visitors’ Center on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Credit: Ale Borges, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“I promise you, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, that as you center your life in Him — the Savior — things will happen as they should happen,” Elder Soares declared. 

“We love you, we admire you. You are a marvelous generation. The Lord gave you talents and special gifts for a specific reason: so you can live in the challenges of today and be victorious. The Savior believes in you, we believe in you. We trust you. Turn your heart to the Savior and practice the things the gospel teaches.”

The devotional for young adults ages 18-40 marked the conclusion of a 10-day assignment to Elder and Sister Soares’ native São Paulo, which included a nationwide missionary meeting, stake conferences, leadership meetings, and other activities planned by the Brazil Area presidency.   

Elder and Sister Soares were accompanied by members of the Brazil Area presidency and their wives — Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella and Sister Elaine Parrella, Elder Joni L. Koch and Sister Michele Koch, and Elder Juan A. Uceda — and several local leaders. 

Prior to the devotional, Elder Soares asked the area presidency what the greatest concerns and challenges are of young adults in Brazil. The Apostle then addressed five of those concerns in his remarks, turning each concern back to the image of the Savior. 

1. What are some gospel habits that have positively impacted your children?

Elder Soares highlighted three principles he and Sister Soares learned from the scriptures and Church leaders that positively influenced their lives and their children’s lives. 

First, put the Lord first (Luke 12:31). “When we seek first the kingdom of God in our lives, everything seems to work better,” he said. The Lord takes care of and protects those who seek Him. He gives strength and prepares the way to overcome challenges. 

Second, “do everything you can with joy,” Elder Soares said, referencing Doctrine and Covenants 123:17. “I testify that when we do our best, the Savior completes what we are not capable of doing by ourselves.”

Third, become more like the Savior (3 Nephi 27:27). A disciple is like an apprentice, striving to follow their master’s example, Elder Soares taught. “We are disciples — apprentices — of Christ,” and daily repentance is essential to becoming more like Him. 

2. How can I develop myself spiritually while preparing for marriage?

Many rely on a GPS to help them navigate to a place they have never been to before. “Metaphorically speaking, all of us need to have a vision of what we want to accomplish in our lives,” Elder Soares said. 

God has a plan for each one of His children, but this doesn’t imply that He determines all the decisions one should make. He respects agency. 

Nephi is an example of someone who chose to have faith and be obedient, even when the path wasn’t clear. He was “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). 

“I promise you that the Lord will bless us and help us continue progressing in life when we have a vision of what we want, when we seek Him in all things, when we make choices and are agents in the things that we should do,” Elder Soares said. 

3. How can I maintain balance between work, family and Church responsibilities?

Though there isn’t a perfect way to achieve balance in life, establishing priorities with the help of the Savior can make a difference. Put emphasis on what is most important in each moment, Elder Soares said. 

Elder Soares described an analogy that Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has used to talk about balance: an acrobat who balances sticks on their arms, legs or forehead with spinning plates.

When one plate slows down, the acrobat focuses on it to make sure it keeps spinning and doesn’t fall. At various times in life, certain priorities will need more attention than others, Elder Soares explained. 

The Savior is the stick who helps keep the plates spinning. “It is He who gives us balance in all things. … When we put the Savior as the center of our lives, things fall into the right place and in the right speed,” he said. 

4. How would the Savior want us to include those with same-sex attraction at Church and in our family?

Echoing his message in October 2021 general conference, Elder Soares said one of the most important principles the Savior taught during His earthly ministry was treating others with compassion and love. 

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets young adults following a devotional for young adults across Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets young adults following a devotional for young adults across Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Credit: Ale Borges, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Savior admonished His disciples to “love one another” (John 13:34). He saw and treated others as children of God, regardless of their background, beliefs or actions. Latter-day Saints should do likewise, the Apostle said. 

As the Savior showed compassion, He remained true to His purpose and principles. He taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 

The Savior’s admonitions to “love one another” and “keep my commandments” apply to all, Elder Soares noted. 

5. How can I find strength to stay strong and help others in this troubled and confusing world?

Throughout history, remaining true to the doctrine of Christ amid hardship has been part of discipleship. The 12 disciples the Savior called in Jerusalem were persecuted, rejected and killed for the truth they taught. 

“The life of a disciple of Christ will never be easy because we have promises that are eternal,” Elder Soares said. “We need to have faith in these promises.”

Those who are centered in the Savior will remain strong, he added, underscoring President Russell M. Nelson’s teaching that “God loves effort” and grants blessings according to this effort. 

In a media-driven world that is focused more on reputation than character, Elder Soares encouraged young adults to choose to live a life focused on faith rather than the opinions of others. 

“Through your faith, Jesus Christ will increase your ability to move the mountains in your life … not the mountains of rock that beautify the earth but the mountains of misery in your lives,” Elder Soares said, quoting President Nelson

As he concluded, Elder Soares blessed the young adults with courage and faith to trust more in God and His promises. 

“I also leave a blessing of encouragement, so you can have strength to move forward and overcome this turbulent word that we’re living in today; and a blessing of testimony, so your growing testimony can influence the lives of everyone around you, and your sympathy and your love for them can help them see that the Savior loves them, so you can be an instrument in His hands.”

Obedience, patience and faith

To illustrate the principles of obedience, patience and faith, Sister Soares recounted an experience of her daughter, who was then 15 years old. She was studying Doctrine and Covenants in seminary and didn’t like reading it. Sister Soares promised her that if she read for obedience, a testimony and love for the Doctrine and Covenants would come. And it did. 

“The formula for obedience can apply to any principle of the gospel,” said Sister Soares, such as fasting, the Word of Wisdom, ministering and following the counsel of Church leaders. “Obedience, patience and faith walk hand in hand, side by side.” 

Having faith is a choice, she added. Having hope is a choice. “These are things we choose.”

A young couple and their children in Santa Catarina, Brazil, watch Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak during a devotional for young adults across Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A young couple and their children in Santa Catarina, Brazil, watch Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak during a devotional for young adults across Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“We aren’t perfect but the gospel is, in every way,” she concluded. “We are so blessed to have prophets, seers and revelators on Earth today. I know the Savior advocates our cause, with the Father. He is there. … I know that while we are trying, He is by our side.” 

Counsel for missionaries

During a missionary broadcast across Brazil on Oct. 23, Elder Soares invited missionaries to view their mission as a first step in their personal conversion and spiritual development. He shared two lessons learned during his mission as a young man: exercise faith in Jesus Christ and stay grounded in truth. 

Referencing President Nelson’s opening remarks at October 2021 general conference, Elder Soares encouraged missionaries to look for and learn pure truth, pure doctrine and pure revelation. He also emphasized the truths taught in “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.”

How can one strengthen the pure truth, pure doctrine and pure revelation in their hearts? Pray fervently, feast upon the words of Christ, serve God and His people, live in righteousness, and attend the temple as often as circumstances allow, Elder Soares said. 

“I promise you, in the name of the Lord, if you do these things with faith, your testimony will grow and be strengthened.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to missionaries across Brazil during a meeting broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 2021.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to missionaries across Brazil during a meeting broadcast from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 23, 2021. Credit: Ale Borges, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints