Learning to serve God with no hands to do His work or feet to walk His path

He already outlived the doctors’ expectations, but Marcos Rossi still longs for ‘just a few more minutes’ at the Brasília Brazil Temple

The odds weren’t good. Doctors said he might live to see age 30, but his life would be hard. Even making it that many years would require a lot of help from doctors, family and friends. And quality of life would be pretty low, as well, they told his parents.

That’s how life began for Marcos Rossi of Natal, Brazil.

Nearly every parent says their child is one in a million. But Rossi was even more rare than that — just not in the typical way a new parent would hope. Rossi was born with Hanhart syndrome. As a result of that congenital disorder, his arms and legs didn’t fully develop. Other challenges affected his body, too.

“I was born without arms and legs and with a very rare syndrome. The doctors gave me 30 years to live, but they don’t know God.”

Marcos Rossi pictured while in primary school with some of his classmates in Brazil.
Marcos Rossi, middle, pictured while in primary school with some of his classmates. | Provided by Marcos Rossi

Now clear of that 30-year mark and past all of his doctors’ expectations, Rossi doesn’t let Hanhart’s define him or determine his abilities. He navigates crowds quickly in a specialized wheelchair. He manages to drive with the help of special equipment in his car. Communicating on a smartphone? He does that, as well.

And exercise? He might not break the world record for the 100-meter dash, but he still takes his health seriously and does pushups with arms extend only a few inches from his shoulders.

“Now I’m 41, an international speaker, a writer of two books. I’m a surfer, skateboarder, scuba diver. I’m a DJ. I’m a singer. I’m married with two kids. And God is with me all the time.”

A love for eternity

Rossi and his wife, Lucimeire Guerreiro, were married in 2014.

“From the moment I met him, to me, he was perfect,” Guerreiro said as she thought back to that day. “I never saw him as someone who was missing arms or legs. He’s complete the way he is.”

While they are nearing ten years of marriage, the two of them seem to fall in love all over again as they talk about each other.

“Everyone has limitations,” she said. “They might not be physical, but they have limitations.”

Then the two of them talked about the characteristics they see in each other — intelligence, drive, energy, love.

While Guerreiro was smitten with Rossi — the father of two children when she met him — she was also frustrated with God at the same time.

“I fought with God,” she said. “I asked him how He could allow someone to be born into this kind of a condition.”

But as the two of them got to know each other, she stopped being mad with Heavenly Father and started to see how Rossi’s challenges contributed to make him the person she would fall in love with and eventually marry.

Lucimeire Guerreiro and Marcos Rossi at the baptism of Rossi’s son, João Valentin Rossi.
Lucimeire Guerreiro and Marcos Rossi at the baptism of Rossi’s son, João Valentin Rossi, center. | Provided by Marcos Rossi

From inspirational to inspired

Rossi says he has always lived his life the only way he knows how. He didn’t lose his arms and legs; he doesn’t know a life with them. So when people would tell him he was an inspiration to them, he says he didn’t understand why they would say such a thing.

“All my life, people had stopped me on the street and said things like, ‘You’re such an inspiration.’ And I didn’t understand it at the time because for me, I just live my life,” he said.

But at age 26 he found himself asking questions common to many other people. He began looking for his own inspiration and bigger purpose in life. Where did he find it?

“My inspiration comes from God.”

A new father at the time, life was gaining a new perspective. But the fears of the unknown that are experienced by many new parents had a remedy he was already familiar with.

“I have learned that the antidote of fear and anger is gratitude. When you live in that state, no matter what comes, you have a blessed life.”

“I have learned that the antidote of fear and anger is gratitude. When you live in that state, no matter what comes, you have a blessed life.”

That certainly doesn’t mean life hasn’t been a challenge, and Rossi doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, apathetic to pain and unfairness.

“Bad things happen, and we ask why those things happen to us. It’s for us to learn, for us to grow, and this is the plan. So I’m thankful to God for being born in this body because I know the size of the mission He has for me.”

‘Learning never ends’

Grateful for the opportunity to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rossi recognizes that baptism wasn’t the conclusion of his journey to find purpose and understand his place in the world. One of the things he loves the most is how the Church helps individuals learn more about the plan of salvation and about how to serve others.

“Learning never ends,” he said. “Some people go to Church on Sunday, and that’s it. But praying at home and doing your thing, your responsibilities. This is part of living every day like it’s the last. If my story ends today, I’m good, because I know that I did my best.”

Marcos Rossi delivers motivational speeches around the world and has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram.
Marcos Rossi delivers motivational speeches around the world and has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram. | Provided by Marcos Rossi

Rossi said he believes the Church does a great job of providing resources for people to learn about the gospel, how to fulfill their responsibilities and how to overcome their challenges.

“Most of society’s problems today, why people don’t achieve their goals and dreams — including people in the [Church] — is because they blame the lack of resources,” he said. “For me, being resourceful is the key. If you use the things you have around you that God gave you, you have everything you need.”

Resourcefulness as members of the Church could include content-based resources like the Church’s website, Church apps, and physical resources available through Church Distribution and inside resource centers in many chapels. Resources also include the people inside branches, wards, districts, stakes and missions.

“In the Church, we have everything — many resources for members. But you don’t learn if you don’t want to,” Rossi said.

That learning isn’t exclusive to knowing what the scriptures say or what the prophet said at general conference. Rossi means learning how to do new things and how to build new skills, too.

“You have the opportunity to overcome fears when you get a calling or [Church leaders] ask you to speak. You have a chance to grow.”

While many who talk to him express how they have been inspired by Rossi, he has found fulfillment in accepting callings and serving through them. And likewise, he appreciates what he learns from others who serve him.

“Being a part of the Church and being able to serve inside and outside of the Church gives me a full life,” he said.

“Why are we here? Every one of us has a mission. I know things you don’t. You know things I don’t.”

Elder Soares and the Brasília temple

Rossi’s journey led him recently to his home country’s capital city of Brasília where a new temple has been built that will be dedicated in September. Unexpectedly for him and his wife, their visit to the temple’s open house also included the opportunity to meet Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“It was so special. I could feel his energy. I could feel his peace, guidance, knowledge. It was enlightening for me. I’m blessed for this moment,” he said.

Marcos Rossi meets with Elder Joni L. Cook and Elder Ulisses Soares at the open house of the Brasília Brazil Temple.
Marcos Rossi meets with Elder Joni L. Cook, General Authority Seventy and president of the Brazil Area, and Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the open house of the Brasília Brazil Temple on Aug. 3, 2023. | Ale Borges, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

While he lives closest to the Recife Brazil Temple, Rossi enjoyed the chance to see the new temple in Brasília before its dedication.

“To be here was special. It was different … I entered the celestial room and — wow — it was different. I can’t put into words what I felt, but it was a blessed moment for me.”

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Being in the temple also reminded him just how much strength can be gained from focusing on the Savior by being in the temple.

“I want to be here. I don’t want to go anywhere else. Just a few more minutes,” he said, as he looked back toward the temple.

“My schedule is always a mess, but this is an important thing to be present for.”

Continuing conversion

For Guerrerio, learning about the gospel helped her to see God in all the details of her life.

“I understood who God was, generally,” she said. “But the specifics — He’s in the specifics. And He is there with me every day.”

She said remembering that fact helps her stay humble when things are going well and not become discouraged when things aren’t going well.

“He’s always there,” she said.

Looking back at all he has learned since joining the Church, the one piece of the plan that is most significant to Rossi is the part that also gives him the most hope.

“Life does not end here,” he said. “… That helps me find peace each day. This condition I have is temporary. Death will be a pause, and life will continue on in a different way.”

He says it’s the one teaching he loved when he first started learning about the Church. And it continues to be a source of strength today, he said.

“Life is forever.”

Rossi isn’t lost in thought about what forever will be like, however. He said he always has another goal or something to work toward while living this life. Right now, he said his dream is to sing with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

“When I dream, I dream big,” he said.

He read all about the choir’s recent trip to Mexico and said he hopes they will soon come to Brazil, as well. While still at the temple in Brasília, Rossi met a member of the choir. And with the raise of an eyebrow, the wheels continued to turn in his head about how to make the next goal a reality.

“People wait too much,” he said. Money, love, possessions are all things he said people wait for to make them happy.

“But I live with God every single day of my life like it was the last day of my life.”

And that, he said, is a big reason why there is no need to wait for something else to come along to make him happy.

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