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Elder Soares testifies to French Polynesian Saints of ‘the brilliant future of this gospel in this beautiful land’

Instead of the picturesque scenery, it was the roughly 28,000 Latter-day Saints who live among the dispersed islands of French Polynesia who were the main attraction for Elder Ulisses Soares

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to young adults in Papeete, Tahiti, during a devotional broadcast to chapels throughout French Polynesia on Aug. 16, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Known for their coral-fringed lagoons, warm tropical waters and moss green peaks, the islands of the archipelagos of French Polynesia — which include Tahiti, Mo’orea, Tupuai, Bora Bora and others — draw visitors from around the world.

But instead of the picturesque scenery, it was the roughly 28,000 Latter-day Saints who live among the 1,200 miles of dispersed islands who were the main attraction during a trip by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in August, accompanied by Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy.

During the week of Aug. 15, Elder Soares not only offered counsel to large congregations and met with humanitarian and government dignitaries, but he also made the time in his jam-packed itinerary to minister to individual Latter-day Saints and families.

“What a beautiful blessing to hear the voice of our Heavenly Father through His servants. French Polynesia is blessed,” wrote Tania Temariiauma on the Church’s French Polynesia page on Facebook.

Toward the end of his trip, Elder Soares looked out across a sea of young Latter-day Saint faces and testified, “When I look at you, I see great children of God and a brilliant future of this gospel in this beautiful land.”

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Young adults from throughout French Polynesia gather to hear messages from Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Rosana Soares; Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Sister Mônica Soares Brandão; and Elder K. Brett Nattress, president of the Pacific Area, and Sister Shawna Nattress on Aug. 16, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ministrations of an Apostle

In a meeting with some pioneer members of French Polynesia on Aug. 15, Elder Soares spoke of his deep respect for all Church pioneers. “Each pioneer in his own country contributes to the development of the Church. The inhabitants of French Polynesia heard the gospel when it was preached here in 1844. You have lived the gospel of Jesus Christ in this beautiful part of the world with so much faith. I feel a great emotion in my heart to be here with you all,” he said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Elder Soares met with Manutea Gay, president of Emauta, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Catholic Church that manages a network of six shelters for victims of abuse, according to Pacific Newsroom.

During the meeting, the Apostle presented a donation to help meet the education and personal development needs of young women and children being cared for in the Bon Pasteur (The Good Shepherd) shelter and the Te Maru Pererau shelter.

“We are so appreciative for what you do for the people,” Elder Soares told Gay and other volunteers.

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch and his wife, Angeline Fritch, during a ministry visit August 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Later that day, Elder Soares and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, hosted French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch and his wife, Angeline Fritch, before speaking to young single adults in a devotional broadcast across Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea and Tubuai. 

Elder and Sister Soares were joined at the devotional by Elder Godoy and Sister Mônica Godoy and Elder K. Brett Nattress, president of the Pacific Area, and Sister Shawna Nattress, who all helped answer young adult questions.

Attendees were delighted when Elder Soares addressed them in French, the official language of French Polynesia.

“Miracles are available for each one of us,” Elder Soares assured young adults. He testified that “God will open the doors where it seems there are no doors. He will open these doors because God is a God of miracles. Jesus Christ gave us His life and the capacity to return to our Heavenly Father. He wants us to be back in His presence.”

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Young single adults gather for a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Papeete, Tahiti, in August 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Heimano Turina of Afareaitu, French Polynesia, commented on social media that the young adult devotional was an evening full of the Spirit of the Lord. 

Moïse Aihau Agnie, who also attended the event, commented on Facebook that he was overwhelmed by the Spirit. “Tonight I felt again, that I am a son of God and that I have divine potential” and there is hope for a better future.

Besides President Fritch and his wife, several other government leaders attended, including Chief of Staff Thierry Nhunfat; Yvonnick Raffin, minister of finance; Christelle Lehartel, minister of education; Virginia Bruant, minister of labor and solidarity; and Naea Bennett, minister of youth, and his wife, Daina Bennett.

On Thursday, Aug. 18, more than 1,000 youth, ages 11 to 17, gathered for a devotional at a Church meetinghouse in Papeete, Tahiti.

During the meeting, Elder Soares answered questions posed by a panel of six youth. 

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Youth pose questions to Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Carlos A. Godoy and Elder K. Brett Nattress during a youth devotional in Papeete, Tahiti, on Aug. 18, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Among other topics, the Apostle testified that one of the most beautiful gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is repentance, that those who experience the light of Jesus Christ can light the lives of others and that the youth can trust the Lord and His gospel.

In his remarks, Elder Godoy spoke of his own conversion as a youth and testified of the purpose, direction and joy the gospel continues to bring to his life.

Elder Nattress invited the youth to trust in the Lord. “Remember who you are and always remember Him.”

Elder Soares ended the meeting by shaking hands with each youth in attendance.

During his visit, Elder Soares also visited the Papeete Tahiti Temple, met with more than 130 full-time missionaries serving throughout the French Polynesian archipelagos, addressed families in a devotional, ministered to some members who are facing difficult circumstances in life and attended a cultural event put on by the Faa’a Tahiti Tuamotu Stake, where Church members performed songs and dances expressing thanks and praise for the Lord. 

Tania Lisa Hinehau Torea, who attended the cultural event, said Elder and Sister Soares surprised everyone after the performance by sitting in the midst of the children and joyfully enjoyed that special moment with the performers. 

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