Elder Soares meets with Tongan prime minister in Nuku’alofa

Elder Soares and Prime Minister of Tonga, Siaosi Sovaleni, present each other gifts and discuss collaboration in humanitarian aid, education

In the third such meeting in the last six months, a senior Church leader met with the prime minister of Tonga. 

While visiting Prime Minister Hu’akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni in his offices in the capital of Nuku’alofa on Thursday, March 16, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, presented the leader with a statuette of a family.

Elder Soares visited the prime minister as part of his ministry tour to Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji, according to the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.

This visit marked the second time the two have met. The prime minister visited Church headquarters last fall. While in Utah, he attended a session of general conference and met with Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Soares and Church education leaders as well as toured the Family History Library.

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Elder K. Brett Nattress, president of the Church’s Pacific Area, also met with the prime minister last September to discuss collaboration in humanitarian work and education.

In presenting the statue on Thursday, Elder Soares explained the importance of the family and how it is important for parents to strengthen children’s faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel so they will know where to find peace and strength, to cope with the challenges of today.

The prime minister, in turn, presented the Apostle with a carved scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ. 

Prime Minister of Tonga Hu’akavemeiliku Siaosi Sovaleni, left, presents Elder Ulisses Soares with a carved scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ, during a visit at the prime minister’s office in Tonga on Thursday, March 16, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“This is a beautiful gift,” Elder Soares said, “and a special reminder for us as Easter approaches and people are preparing to celebrate Jesus Christ’s life that we can always remember Him and have Him present in our lives.”

Elder Patrick Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy; Elder Nattress; and Elder Sione Tuione, an Area Seventy, accompanied Elder Soares.

In a tweet about his meeting with Elder Soares, the prime minister shared that they discussed collaboration during times of crisis and in matters of education and family.

Tonga includes 36 populated islands and about 68,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Following last year’s volcanic eruption and tsunami, the Church sent an air cargo shipment with clean drinking water, face masks to protect against volcanic ash inhalation, and satellite phones to help Church leaders and government officials expand communication.

Later, members from 15 stakes sent 60 tons of food, clothing, bedding and other supplies to islands heavily impacted by the volcanic eruption and tsunami. The Church’s Liahona High School campus and other meetinghouses also served as shelters.

During his Pacific ministry in 2019President Russell M. Nelson and Sister Wendy W. Nelson. and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Gong met His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u in the Royal Palace. It marked the first time in a century that anyone not of royal blood had been given permission to be interviewed inside the gates.

Last November, her Royal Highness Angelika Lātūfuipeka Lavaka Ata Tukuʻaho, princess of Tonga, met with the Relief Society general presidency, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and others of the Tongan community in Utah.

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