Elder Soares shows missionaries how God modeled planning and setting goals

While in Brasília, Elder Ulisses Soares shares unique connection to a convert from his mission. In Maceió, he teaches about representing the Savior

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — When members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak to missionaries around the world, they frequently recount their own experiences as young missionaries. While speaking to missionaries in the Brazil Brasília Mission, however, Elder Ulisses Soares had one of his converts join him.

To the surprise of many of the missionaries, that convert is their mission president.

Elder Soares taught and baptized Eliezer Santos while serving as a missionary in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission. President Santos served a mission of his own after Elder Soares returned home from his mission.

On Thursday, Aug. 3, Elder Soares, accompanied by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, took some time while on assignment at the VIP open house of the Brasília Brazil Temple to speak with missionaries serving in the area. With President Santos on the stand with him, Elder Soares encouraged the missionaries to maintain contact with those they teach. He said that communication can help both the missionary and those they teach to have support throughout life as they progress along the covenant path.

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks with missionaries from the Brazil Brasília Mission before taking a photo with them on Thursday, Aug. 3. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

This counsel came as Elder Soares taught the missionaries that having the Lord involved in their work now will have benefits during the rest of their lives.

“Much of your future depends on what you do now, the decisions you make now,” he said. “The amount the Lord is involved in the rest of your life can be determined, in part, by the decisions you make now.”

Sister Soares told the missionaries that part of learning to make good decisions is learning to repent daily and learn from mistakes.

“We can start today,” she said. “And we can receive the help of God. … Without Him, we cannot do it.”

The efforts needed to become better each day aren’t always easy, she said. But Heavenly Father can help with that, as well.

“In working to be better, we can ask for patience with ourselves, with others who are different from ourselves, and with controlling our thoughts and emotions.”

She told the missionaries that others, like her, look at them in a special way.

Sister Rosana Soares, wife of Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks with missionaries from the Brazil Brasília Mission on Thursday, Aug. 3. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

“When I was young, I always wanted to be a missionary,” she said. “Elders and sisters seemed like angels to me.”

Elder Soares told the missionaries that he and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve know that being a missionary can be challenging. He had a piece of counsel for them to recall in those moments.

“Remember that every Thursday, you have 15 prophets praying for you. I hope that brings you courage and faith,” he said.

Goals and the plan of salvation

Elder Soares taught the missionaries from “Preach My Gospel” about planning and setting goals. He taught that Heavenly Father has given a model of how to do both of those.

“Heavenly Father has a plan — the plan of salvation,” he said. “And He has a goal as part of that plan to get all of His children back to His presence.”

He told the missionaries that focusing on plans in order to accomplish goals sometimes requires sacrifices. He said Heavenly Father modeled that, as well.

Missionaries from the Brazil Brasília Mission sing before a devotional on Thursday, Aug. 3, with Elder Ulisses and Sister Rosana Soares. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

“He wanted our success so badly that He gave His Son because He wanted the plan to work. He wanted you to have every opportunity to return to Him.”

Reading from Moses 3, Elder Soares showed that the Lord knew He wanted plants before plants were created on earth. He said everything was created spiritually before it was created physically.

“He planned everything before it happened here,” Elder Soares said. “Think about the perfection of this model He has given us.”

As he concluded his message in Brasília, Elder Soares conveyed the love the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has for the missionaries.

“We love you. But more than loving you, we trust you,” he said.

Representing the Savior, not a location

Following the first week of the Brasília Brazil Temple open house, Elder and Sister Soares went on assignment to the Brazilian coastal city of Maceió for a series of meetings and trainings with members there. While in Maceió, Elder Soares also met with missionaries on Friday, Aug. 4, and talked with them about the importance of being called to serve in the name of the Savior.

“As an Apostle, I do not represent Brazil. I represent Jesus Christ,” Elder Soares said.

Elder Soares told the missionaries how he had not been called because of where he was from but because it was what the Lord chose through His Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.

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Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches missionaries from the Brazil Maceió Mission on Friday, Aug. 4. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

“When the Prophet called me, he said, ‘Jesus Christ wants you to be a special witness of Him,’” Elder Soares shared.

He then told the missionaries that they are called to assist the Lord’s Apostles in taking the gospel to people around the world and to testify of Jesus Christ as their Savior.

“All you do, all you say, has to represent the Lord,” he said.

Forgiving others and repenting daily

Sister Soares spoke with the missionaries about the challenge that can pose and the pressure missionaries may feel to be perfect. She invited them to remember that becoming perfect is a process and read Psalms 6:2 with them.

“Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak,” the verse reads.

Sister Soares told the missionaries this is an important principle for them to both teach and practice.

“Repentance is a daily practice,” she said. “We can’t stop looking to the Lord.”

As missionaries, sometimes the hardest repentance and forgiveness to ask for and to offer come among companions, Elder Soares said.

“We can’t have divisiveness in our companionships,” he said. “If that’s the case, what do you do? Forgive. Isn’t that what the Savior did on the cross?”

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Elder Soares pointed out that even in one of the Savior’s most difficult moments, and even when those responsible were not repentant, He forgave them. Elder Soares said learning how to forgive as the Savior forgave is a useful spiritual skill throughout life and in the different relationships individuals have with each other.

Forgiving and asking for forgiveness allows for harmony in companionships and creates an environment where Heavenly Father can bless the lives of others by inspiring companionships and trusting them to teach the children God has prepared to receive the gospel or feel the influence of the Holy Ghost.

“Missionaries who want to help others never miss a chance to find people to talk to — in a taxi, on the bus, buying water — whenever, wherever,” Elder Soares said.

He explained that habits sometimes keep people from recognizing when the Holy Ghost prompts them with what to say and whom to say it to. Being too caught up in looking at a phone or finding entertainment by distractions that are all around can limit the Spirit’s influence, he said.

“We have to break habits that keep us from finding those who need the Lord’s help,” he said. “… The Lord depends on us. He depends on us speaking to His children about His plan.”

Feeling the inspiration needed in those moments requires spiritual power, and spiritual power requires making good choices, he said.

“Spiritual power depends on your decisions, but how can the Lord trust you with someone if you have not prepared?” he asked the missionaries.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets missionaries from the Brazil Maceió Mission on Friday, Aug. 4. | Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News
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Elder Soares shared that the missionaries who taught his family when he was a child had to have been prepared before meeting his parents because his parents had questions they wanted answered about God. If the missionaries hadn’t studied and if they didn’t understand the scriptures, they wouldn’t have had the spiritual power needed to answer questions and have the Holy Ghost magnify their efforts and touch the hearts of Elder Soares and his family, he said.

“The Lord promises to magnify your efforts. He will take what you do and make it bigger and more impactful than you could alone,” he said.

What did the missionaries feel?

Missionary companions Sister Sabrina Tapley, from the Laurel Springs Ward in the Coal Mountain Georgia Stake, and Sister Gabriela Araújo, from the Itaquá Ward in the São Paulo Brazil Itaquá Stake, were excited and energized by what they felt as Elder and Sister Soares spoke.

“I felt very strongly the love that the Lord has for His missionaries,” Sister Araújo said. “It made me feel grateful to know that God has chosen us to come here and help people.”

Sister Tapley said that beyond knowing missionaries are called by God, she is grateful for the help He offers as they serve.

“We are the Lord’s hands helping people, but we’re not sufficient on our own. If we study, if we seek His help, He will magnify our work,” she said. “… Maybe we don’t feel qualified to help or teach, but I know that when we do our best and when we love people with the pure love of Christ, we will help them receive what they really need.”

Elder Josiah Daines from the Jupiter 1st Ward in the Stuart Florida Stake is only a couple of months into his mission, and he said he felt impressed to do a better job of talking to as many people as he can while serving a mission.

“We always need to be finding new people, talking to everyone,” he said. “… Before the mission, it was really hard for me to talk to people. I was timid and shy to talk to people. But I know the mission is changing me, and the Lord is overseeing His work.”

Elder Daines’ companion, Elder Aram Doi, from the Bedford 2nd Ward in the Hurst Texas Stake, said the encouragement to find people was important to him because their work is focused on creating a new group of a few Church members in a developing area near Maceió.

“I need to do better. I need to try and talk to everyone. Everyone deserves this opportunity to have the gospel in their life,” he said. “And it’s not fair to them if I don’t want to talk to them just because I don’t feel like talking.”

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