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How focusing on their purpose can sustain missionaries in service and life

The Apostle uses touching anecdotes and teaching from scriptures and latter-day prophets to underscore ‘Preach My Gospel’ principles

PROVO, Utah — Combining touching anecdotes with teachings from the scriptures and latter-day prophets, Elder Ulisses Soares promised full-time missionaries that focusing on their purpose can sustain them not only during their missions but throughout their lives.

The member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized some of the principles in “Preach My Gospel” — understanding the nature of one’s calling, knowing what it means to be a successful missionary and acknowledging the Lord’s promises — during the Tuesday, May 9, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center. Conducted before about 525 missionaries at the Provo MTC, the devotional was also broadcast to the Church’s other nine MTCs worldwide.

Accompanied by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, the Apostle offered himself as a witness of the blessings that have come through the application of these principles during his mission and life.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, accompanied by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, points at the missionaries following the Tuesday, May 9, 2023, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Elder Soares emphasized the missionaries’ calls coming by revelation to preach the gospel throughout the world as Christ’s servants and representatives. “You share this responsibility with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” he said, adding “Missionaries focused on their purpose can impact the eternal destiny of God’s children who they will invite to come unto Christ.

“As you learn how to focus on your purpose as missionaries, you are in reality learning how to focus your life on Jesus Christ,” he said.

After citing the ways listed in “Preach My Gospel” that missionaries can evaluate their desires and commitment to the Lord and missionary efforts, Elder Soares reminded his listeners that Christ “went about ‘doing good’ and ‘preaching the gospel’ — as you follow His example, you will find people you can serve and who will receive you.”

A missionary takes notes while listening to a translation of Elder Ulisses Soares’ message during the Tuesday, May 9, 2023, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Elder Soares spoke of a missionary who served in a remote area of his mission, presiding over a small branch where the Church was in its beginning stages and being assigned by his president to baptize someone who could be the branch president of that unit. Committed and working hard, the missionary spent eight months in that area, seeing some conversions; but he left disappointed that no new convert took his place as branch president.

Years later, when attending the temple with his wife in his hometown, the long-since-returned missionary saw the fulfillment of his mission president’s assignment as he met a Latter-day Saint who was the youngest child of one of the convert families from his time in the small branch. That young child grew up in the Church, served a mission, returned home, married, established a family — and became the first bishop when that branch was made a ward.

Said Elder Soares: “My dear missionaries, please remember that when you do your very best to fulfill your purpose, the Lord will — sooner or later — bless you with a feeling of peace and will help you not to feel disappointed in yourself.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

The Apostle continued: “Striving to live by these principles as a young missionary and in my life post-mission has helped me to shape my spiritual character and has been a crucial source for my spiritual survival in the world,” he said. “It has helped me to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and my testimony of His gospel. It has helped me to make and keep my covenants with God, faithfully serve Him and Jesus Christ in His Church, pursue education, grow in my career and focus to build a faithful family to the Lord.”

He then spoke of he and Sister Soares having lost a child born prematurely. “I remember like it was yesterday, taking our lifeless son and putting him inside of the casket and carrying it myself to the cemetery for the burial,” he said, adding that Sister Soares remained at the hospital to recover.

“While walking through the cemetery, pleading for help from the Lord to endure through that trial, a great feeling of love, peace and confidence came from the heavens, telling me that God loved me and that I should put my trust in Him and in His wisdom, and that everything would work out all right.

Elder Ulisses Soares smiles as he leaves the stage with his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, following a Provo MTC devotional.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles smiles as he leaves the stage with his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, following the Tuesday, May 9, 2023, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

“That gave me the courage and the strength to go forward in life and not become a victim of my trials and lose my way. As I humbled myself before God, I was able to receive the strength to carry on and not give up.”

He concluded: “I promise you that as you strive to apply these principles in your mission and carry them into your life post-mission, you will become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, more spiritually resilient and better able to cope with challenging circumstances that will certainly come your way in life.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News
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