Growing up in Argentina, Elder Joaquin E. Costa, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Renee Costa, had very different backgrounds. Elder Costa grew up in a traditional Catholic family while Sister Costa was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a single mother. But despite their different backgrounds, both had a profound desire to seek the love of Christ.
Speaking at a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, Feb. 26, Elder and Sister Costa shared some insights into the things they wish they had known as young adults while seeking their education.
'Give your bishop a chance'
While studying at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Elder Costa lived far from his family home and traveled 45 to 90 minutes on a bus every day to attend his classes.
Like many his age, Elder Costa noted that he often felt secluded from friends and family who could offer him counsel, and because of that, he didn't always make the best decisions. In those instances, Elder Costa described how he wishes he had known about bishops — "someone who is ordained and set apart with special rights to give (individuals) counsel and love."
At that time, Elder Costa had not yet joined the Church and said he did not know that there was someone called "to unleash the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life."
At the age of 19, Sister Costa was similarly removed from her family and friends when she traveled to Utah.
"My English was limited, and I didn't know anybody. I felt lost," Sister Costa said. But in a place far from home, she depended greatly on the love and guidance of her young single adult ward bishop.
"I will never forget my dear Bishop Moody," she said. "I grew up without a father, but as soon as I met him, he become a father figure to me. I am not sure we communicated very well because of language barriers; but I remember the power of the sanctity of his office. I remember feeling so strongly that he was my bishop. I looked up to him, and I never wanted to do anything that would disappoint him."
While some may feel that meeting with their bishops is scary or that because their bishops are less than perfect, it is not necessary to meet with them, Elder Costa cautioned students to withhold judgement. Quoting advice from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Costa reminded students that while God is perfect and His doctrine is true and pure, He chooses to work through "His imperfect children."
"The bishop has the keys to repentance, it is an act of faith to see your bishop. Do not fear meeting with your bishop. You will never find peace without the keys to repentance. He will help you apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life," Elder Costa said. "Trust the keys of the priesthood and give your bishop a chance. I wish I had had a bishop when I was in college."
Prioritize the temple
Whenever he has a challenge, Elder Costa said he turns to the Lord for help by visiting Him in His house.
"I did not know about temples," Elder Costa said, reflecting on his young adult years. "I wish I had known that there was a place I could go for peace, to share my yoke with Him, to learn about the plan of salvation."
Turning to the Lord for help by visiting His temples can help individuals see their problems with greater perspective, Elder Costa explained.
"The temple is the Lord’s classroom," Elder Costa said. "Please, make … temple attendance part of your education."
For many, attending the temple can be a great sacrifice, Sister Costa said. Recalling the early days of when she and Elder Costa began dating in Argentina, Sister Costa shared how she felt heartbroken when she initially declined to marry Elder Costa in order to keep her goal to marry in the temple.
"Buenos Aires in the 80’s was not like Rexburg today; the list of eligible bachelors was pretty short," Sister Costa said. "Imagine then how hard it was when this amazing young man that melted my heart asked me to marry him and I had to say, 'No.' It was painful and heartbreaking. It was a sacrifice, an act of faith."
Go to the temple, Sister Costa counseled. The temple is a key part of the plan of salvation and a necessary part of each individual's earthly education. "Bring to the temple your greatest joys, your biggest sorrows and your deepest questions," Sister Costa said.
Come to know Christ
"Repentance is an act of faith," Elder Costa said. "And forgiveness, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is an act of love."
He explained how, although as a young man he knew about Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, he wishes he had known more about Gethsemane and the true meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "We need to learn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, speak about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives," Elder Costa said. "We need to know Him. Just like any other relationship. The more we know someone, the more we love him or her."
Concluding his remarks, Elder Costa encouraged students to use this year as an opportunity to come to know the Savior better through their study of the New Testament.
"We have now an extra hour every Sunday to gather with friends, roommates, ministering brothers and sisters to learn more of Him," Elder Costa said. "As we invest time in learning about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, we are drawn to participate in another key element of accessing His power: we choose to have faith in Him and follow Him."