Menu

Elder Soares offers 5 principles to help missionaries find joy — during their missions and after

‘I invite you to embrace this principle right now at the beginning of your mission and feed it in your heart for the rest of your life,’ says Elder Soares at Provo MTC devotional

PROVO, Utah — Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, the nature and purpose of mortal life, and — according to the teachings of President Russell M. Nelson — the key to one’s spiritual survival.

With that definition of joy, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared five principles to help missionaries find joy — not only during their missions but throughout their lives — as he spoke in a Tuesday night, Jan. 9, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. The devotional was broadcast to all MTCs worldwide.

Accompanied by his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, Elder Soares drew from the scriptures, “Preach My Gospel” and President Nelson’s teachings on joy. He also invited three guests — two returned missionaries who served under his direction while he and his wife were mission leaders in Portugal, and a good friend who is a convert — to share their experiences with joy.

1. ‘Feeling joy increases our desire to share the gospel with others’     

Elder Soares quoted Ammon from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God” (Alma 26:11).

Missionaries sing at a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries sing at the start of a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

Added the Apostle: “Joy is at the heart of God’s plan for the salvation of His children. As we experience this joy in our service, we can become modern Ammons and can be instruments in the Lord’s hands to convert thousands of God’s children.” 

2. ‘Joy is a principle of power’

Citing President Nelson’s teaching that joy is powerful and focusing on joy brings God’s power into one’s life, Elder Soares said, “The power of joy can influence the lives of many, the same way it did with Ammon and the Lamanite people.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

Baptiste Prevot, a French convert friend of Elder Soares, shared how he was drawn to the gospel of Jesus Christ by the joy and light some missionaries showed in their countenances. In his own words, Prevot said, “I am so grateful for those two joyful and inspired missionaries who taught me the true gospel of Christ and how to find real joy in life.”

3. ‘Our joy is a choice’

Elder Soares quoted President Nelson: “Joy is the gift that comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life, as taught by Jesus Christ. ... Every day that you and I choose to live celestial laws, every day that we keep our covenants and help others to do the same, joy will be ours.”

Missionaries take notes as Elder Ulisses Soares speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries take notes as Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

Elder Soares added: “Joy is a gift that our Heavenly Father will give us as we ask Him for it. So, cultivating an attitude of joy is a matter of decision. As missionaries, the joy we find in the service of the Lord has the power to influence others during our service on a mission as well as for the rest of our lives. I testify to you that as we choose to experience and radiate joy in the service of the Lord, we can influence and motivate others to experience the same. Our joy must be reflected in all we say and do and in our interactions.”

4. ‘Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause’

“When missionaries forget themselves in the Lord’s work, setting aside their own personal distractions, they will grow and flourish not only in the mission field but also throughout their lives and into eternity,” Elder Soares said. “When we serve in this manner, we will have a greater perspective of our service and we will grow in wisdom, in knowledge, in ability to accomplish great things in life and especially in love for others.”

Missionaries sing at the start of a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries sing at the start of a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

5. ‘We can feel true joy by focusing our mission on Jesus Christ’

Missionaries can’t allow themselves to lose the joy of the gospel when people reject their message or persecute them for being witnesses of Jesus Christ. Losing their joy may weaken their faith and decrease their desire and effectiveness in the Lord’s work. “The joy we feel in the service of the Lord as missionaries has little to do with the challenges we face during this special time of our life but everything to do with our focus on Jesus Christ,” he said.

Invitations and promise

“I invite you to embrace this principle right now at the beginning of your mission and feed it in your heart for the rest of your life. Learning how to rely upon Jesus Christ will help you to rejoice, experience exceeding joy and have the strength to overcome trials and challenges that will certainly come in your life post-mission. If you do so, I promise you as an Apostle of the Savior Jesus Christ that you will become one more witness of the prophetic promises of having joy in your service,” Elder Soares said.

Elder Ulisses Soares speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

He continued by testifying that the application of the principles taught will bring full joy and love to the listeners’ hearts and that the Lord rejoices as His servants find joy in laboring in His vineyard. He also testified that God’s plan is to provide joy, that God lives and that He created “this marvelous plan of happiness” for all His children.

“Jesus Christ lives and is the source of all joy. He gave His life and resurrected from the dead to give us joy,” concluded Elder Soares, testifying of the living Savior leading the Church through His prophets. “Please never forget that as we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we will always find joy, no matter the circumstances in our mission or life.”

Missionaries take notes as Elder Ulisses Soares speaks at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries take notes as Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

What they said

After the devotional, several missionaries spoke of what they learned from the Spirit from listening to Elder Soares’ teachings on joy.

“The Spirit taught me about how important joy is and missionary work and how we need to focus on being happy and joyful at all times and being an example of the joy that you can feel through Christ,” said Elder Strider Chugg of Pleasant View, Utah, assigned to the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission.

Missionaries sing at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries sing at the start of a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

Elder James Wood, of Spanish Fork, Utah, and assigned to the same mission, added: “The Spirit taught me about joy, that men are that they might have joy and that sharing the gospel is one of the greatest ways to find joy. Also, joy is also a mindset — it doesn’t matter what our circumstance is; we can have joy as long as we have that attitude.”

Sister Lydia Moore of South Jordan, Utah, assigned to the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, said Elder Soares’ teaching about forgetting oneself in order to experience joy stood out to her. “I think a lot of people would look at that and say, ‘Oh, if I’m going to be able to find joy, I have to focus on myself and try to find those things that make me happy.’ But it’s so amazing to me that really looking outward and helping other people is really how we find that joy.”

A missionary takes notes during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
A missionary takes notes as Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News

Sister Daffkie Saint Preux of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, going to the Indiana Indianapolis Mission, added: “The Spirit taught me that joy is not something that’s hard to find. We just have to feel the Spirit with us. And if we really follow Jesus Christ and His teachings, and do what He asks of us, we will really feel happy and feel the joy that we’re looking for.”

Missionaries sing at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries sing at the start of a devotional with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, In Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News
Snow falls at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
Missionaries leave a devotional while snow falls at the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Provo, Utah. | Spenser Heaps, for the Deseret News
Related Stories
New mission presidents and companions called to serve beginning in 2024
Elder Soares testifies to youth of Savior in special devotional
What Church leaders are saying about increased missionary numbers and 36 new missions
Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed