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Find shelter in Christ from life’s tornadoes, Elder Soares tells Portuguese-speaking members in Utah

Elder and Sister Soares speak in first devotional of its kind for Portuguese speakers in the Utah Area

Speaking to many who may be far from their familial and cultural roots, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified that strength — or shelter — can be found amid life’s complexities by focusing on Jesus Christ.

Citing President Russell M. Nelson’s optimism and vision for the future, Elder Soares told Portuguese-speaking Latter-day Saints in the Utah Area on Sunday, Feb. 5: “In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen. Between now and the time He returns ‘with power and great glory,’ He will bestow countless privileges, blessings and miracles upon the faithful.”

Portuguese-speaking Latter-day Saints listen to Sister Rosana Soares, wife of Elder Ulisses Soares, speak during a devotional on Feb. 5, 2023, in the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah. | Provided by Elder Ulisses Soares

In the first devotional of its kind for Portuguese-speaking members in the Utah Area, Elder Soares was joined by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, and Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Monica Godoy, each of whom spoke. About 3,500 attended the devotional at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah.

Two members of the Utah Area presidency were also in attendance: Elder Kevin W. Pearson and his wife, Sister June Pearson; and Elder Hugo E. Martinez and his wife, Sister Nuria Martinez. Elder Martinez offered brief introductory remarks inviting all to open their heart and mind for the messages that followed.

Shelter from life’s tornadoes

Elder Soares started his remarks bringing President Nelson’s greetings and love to that specific audience. He said that in the prayers of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles there is always a concern about how to better serve all members, similar to Jacob’s words in the parable of the olive tree, “But what could I have done more in my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:47)

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a Portuguese devotional at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a Portuguese devotional at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. | Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Using an analogy inspired by tornado shelters he recently saw in the Denver, Colorado, airport, Elder Soares taught that Latter-day Saints can protect themselves from life’s complex tornadoes in the “spiritual shelter of the Savior.” He highlighted three aspects that can help one be under the Savior’s spiritual shelter:

  1. Invoke the Savior’s power in one’s life.
  2. Fulfill and honor sacred covenants with exactness.
  3. Be true to personal and family responsibilities to keep the commandments and teach one’s family the gospel.

Elder Soares cited three specific blessings in the scriptures to those who stay faithful: the influence of the Holy Ghost to guide daily decisions (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77); peace amid the spiritual tornadoes of life (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23, Philippians 4:7); and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

Just as physical shelters may protect individuals and families from the devastation of a tornado, shelter from spiritual tornadoes may be found “as we invoke the divine power of the Savior and His Atonement in our lives,” said Elder Ulisses Soares in a devotional in Portuguese for the Utah Area. 
Just as physical shelters may protect individuals and families from the devastation of a tornado, shelter from spiritual tornadoes may be found “as we invoke the divine power of the Savior and His Atonement in our lives,” said Elder Ulisses Soares in a devotional in Portuguese for the Utah Area.  | swa182 - stock.adobe.com

In his final remarks, he expressed his gratitude and love, bearing his testimony of Jesus Christ and that God lives. He also testified “that if we are constant and unmovable in keeping the commandments of God with faith and diligence, surely the comfort of the Savior’s shelter will replace the pain of our experiences, peace will replace the turmoil, [and] hope will replace grief and trials will turn into blessings.”

The purpose of the Lord’s Church and His gospel

In her message, Sister Soares reflected on a conversation she had with her father — a good, faithful man who isn’t a member of any church — about the purpose of the Lord’s Church and His gospel. 

“The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is our improvement, our progress, our happiness here on earth and that we could return to live with Him again,” she said. It requires more than simply being nice or reading the Bible; it requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost from priesthood authority found in His Church.

Sister Rosana Soares, wife of Elder Ulisses Soares, speaks during a Portuguese devotional for the Utah Area in the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 5, 2023. | Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Sister Soares listed several things she has learned from faithfully attending church every Sunday — “things that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else” — including how to raise her children in the Lord’s way, and how to forgive others and herself by participating in the sacrament each week.

Forty years ago, when Elder and Sister Soares got married, they had a motto for their future life: “‘When the Prophet speaks, the debate is over.’ That doesn’t mean we never had questions. Yes, we did, but no doubts,” Sister Soares said.

“I know this gospel is true and perfect,” she added. “We aren’t perfect, but the gospel is. And we are so blessed to have prophets, seers and revelators in these days.”

Make time for the Lord and the temple

Elder Godoy started by asking the audience’s demographics: “How many here were born in Brazil? In the United States? In other Portuguese-speaking countries? How many have served in a Portuguese-speaking mission?” and so on. The audience demonstrated their excitement for being part of the historical event of having the first Portuguese devotional in the area, with messages tailored to their circumstances and needs.

Elder Carlos A. Godoy of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during a Portuguese devotional for the Utah Area in the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 5, 2023. | Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Recognizing that many in the audience may be struggling to find joy amid their present challenges, Elder Godoy taught that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). As President Nelson explained, “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.”

Elder Godoy invited all to follow President Nelson’s charge to “make time for the Lord.” Those who prioritize the Lord and His commandments have this promise: “And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s … to the third and fourth generation” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:37). 

Sister Godoy referenced President Nelson’s teachings on the temple and testified of the peace and comfort the temple brings. “Ordinances of the temple fill our lives with power and strength available in no other way,” she said, quoting President Nelson from April 2021 general conference

Sister Monica Godoy, wife of Elder Carlos A. Godoy, speaks during a Portuguese devotional for the Utah Area in the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Feb. 5, 2023. | Screenshot from ChurchofJesusChrist.org

What attendees said

Eloise Duarte, who moved to Utah from São Paulo, Brazil, three years ago with her family, attended the devotional with her daughters, Rebeca and Sarah. Eloise told the Church News she was grateful for the opportunity to hear from a living Apostle and feel the Spirit.

She was particularly impressed by the story Elder Soares shared of Jennie Taylor — a mother of seven children who lost her husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, in Afghanistan — and how she has found strength in the Savior by staying faithful on the covenant path. “She realized that no one suffered more than the Savior did,” Eloise Duarte said. “This allowed her to keep going.”

Audience members listen during a Utah Area devotional for Portuguese speakers at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

The music for the devotional was provided by the Coro Luz Divina (Divine Light Choir), created by Elton Luz and his wife, Mila Luz. The choir had about 250 members, mostly Brazilians from various Portuguese-speaking units throughout the state.

The prelude and closing song titled “The Miracle” resonated with Alessandro Fernandes, who is originally from São Paulo. His family participated in the choir.

“I liked the last song because our little one that is inside, he’s a miracle,” Fernandes said, referring to his 10-year-old son Jordan. “We almost lost him last year. He had to have a brain surgery out of the blue.” Jordan’s recovery is ongoing, and he has another surgery next month. The song brought Fernandes peace.

For Camilla Fridley, a choir member from Rondônia, Brazil, attending rehearsals and preparing for the devotional was a “divine and spiritual” experience. A highlight for her was singing with her friend, who is not active in the Church but chose to participate in the choir.

During rehearsals, she said, choir members were often reminded of their purpose at the devotional: “It wasn’t to show that we could sing; the purpose of this was to seek the Savior and have the Spirit.”

The choir performs during a Utah Area devotional for Portuguese speakers at the George Albert Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
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