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Elder Neil L. Andersen Ministers in Brazil
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Elder Neil L. Andersen Ministers in Brazil
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Recife, Brazil | Monday, 06 March 2023 |
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with Rosângela Lula da Silva, the first lady of Brazil, who spoke with him about her goal to help children in her country who are hungry and lack basic needs.
“As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we certainly want to assist with this effort as well,” said Elder Andersen, noting the Church made a donation “to help with this initiative to help God’s children.”
The Apostle was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, Elder Joni L. Koch, a General Authority Seventy and Second Counselor in the Brazil Area Presidency, and his wife, Sister Michele Koch. Elder and Sister Andersen are in Brazil as part of a 9-day ministering assignment.
Elder Andersen presented the first lady with a personal copy of the Book of Mormon, read a scripture that describes Jesus’s love for little children, and invited her to attend the open house of the Brasilia Brazil Temple later this year.
“We had a wonderful visit and are looking forward to continuing to build this relationship with her,” said Elder Andersen, who posted about the experience on his social media account.
Ministering to Members
The Savior, His Atonement, His gospel and the importance of being in the house of the Lord were among the topics taught by Elder Andersen in four March 4-5 weekend meetings with members, leaders and missionaries in Recife, on the easternmost coast of the expansive South American nation.
Elder Andersen’s Brazilian ministry is a homecoming of sorts for he and his wife, as they lived here when Elder Andersen served in the Brazil South Area presidency from 2001 to 2005, presiding the last years. In their messages, both of them spoke of experiences and learnings from that time and their associations with Brazilian Latter-day Saints.
Elder and Sister Andersen, who spoke to missionaries Saturday morning and then at a special stake conference on Sunday. Joining them in Recife were Elder Koch; Sister Koch, and Elder Gustavo G. Rezende, an Area Seventy.
During a special tri-stake conference for the Recife Brazil, Recife Imbiribeira and Camaragibe Brazil stakes on Sunday, March 5, Elder Andersen said that the temple endowment teaches Latter-day Saints about the Savior and their covenants and gives them a perspective on eternal life.
In preparation for the weekend, he had read talks given by President Gordon B. Hinckley and his First Presidency counselor President James E. Faust when the Recife Brazil Temple was dedicated in December 2000. And he spoke about his personal experiences previously with the 2002 dedication of the Campinas Brazil Temple and the 2004 rededication of the São Paulo Brazil Temple.
Elder Andersen emphasized that “tithing is the way we build temples” as well as merit personal blessings for oneself. He spoke of current temples in Brazil and how living worthy of temple covenants and blessings can help Latter-day Saints “overcome the world and be born again.”
Ministering to Leaders
A question-and-answer portions of Saturday afternoon leadership meetings with Elder Andersen included questions ranging from emotional health and the distractive pulls of social media and technology to temple instruction and dedications.
Elder Andersen helped to underscore the benefits and blessings of focusing on the Savior and his Atonement and one’s covenants with Him through ordinances. “The Church is established, but we need to have more ministering to our members and to our youth rather than merely entertaining our youth,” he said. “We need to have more efforts to bear our witness at home rather than just having it done at Church. … We need more ministering than administering. We need more conversation about Jesus Christ.”
Of members facing challenges and difficulties in their lives, Elder Andersen invited members to consider the struggles of this life with the perspective of the happiness of eternal life. He read from Doctrine and Covenants 121 of Joseph Smith’s pleading to the Lord from Liberty Jail when the Saints were struggling in the Church’s early years as well as the description of paradise and happiness found in Alma 40:11-12.
“Our lives are very short, and eternity is very long,” he said. “Enjoy the short time you’re here. Don’t despair. Everything will turn out of OK — for the righteous, there is nothing but happiness ahead.
“We live in a very wicked world. We do our best, we keep our faith, we keep our covenants, and when we cross through the veil, we hope we are worthy to enter paradise.
He added: “So keep your mind on the beauty of your eternal life. Don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in the difficulties of this life. That’s a lot easier for me to say than for us to do. But our hope in Christ, our love for Christ — that is what drives our lives. And I promise you, you will not be disappointed.”
The Apostle’s messages and weekend ministering in Recife touched all ages. Eleven-year-old Jackson Crane spoke of his strengthened testimony following the March 4 meeting with missionaries from the Brazil Recife North and South missions. He is one of several children accompanying President Mark D. Crane and Sister Cosette Crane of Fort Collins, Colorado, as they preside over the Recife South mission.
“When I met Elder Andersen, it was a very strong feeling that came over me that I knew this was true — I knew that he is an Apostle and prophet of God and that he listened,” said Jackson Crane. “He spoke with the Spirit — he didn’t need a paper, he just knew from his brain and from the Lord. He taught that we don’t need to be hard on ourselves; we need to try our best and know that the Lord will accept that.”
Sister Marta Caetano de Sá, a Brazil Area organization advisor, joined Elder Andersen, Elder Koch and Elder Resende in responding to questions in the leadership session, that included ward and stake Relief Society, Young Women and Primary presidency members.
“I felt the sisters are seeking a lot of help in order to help other sisters because of the challenges they face now are hard and need guidance because of the many personal and family hardships,” said Sister de Sá.
“They have to be the light in their families and hold to the iron rod even more firmly. When they receive guidance from an apostle, they feel more strengthened to face those challenges.
President Fabio Escobar, president of the Recife Brazil Casa Amarela Stake, said he felt the love of God during the priesthood leadership messages and was grateful to have a similar setting to involve the sisters in the combined leadership meeting because of their leadership roles with women, youth and children. “They’re the blessing in our lives,” he said of the sister leaders, “They bring strength, they bring questions, and they bring teachings.”
Laysse Ferreira’s voice choked with emotion as she recounted her feelings of being in a weekend leadership training meeting with Elder Andersen
“I felt loved and embraced by the Savior, that my prayers were answered by coming here,” said Ferreira, the Relief Society president of the Recife Brazil Imbiribeira Stake, after listening to Elder Andersen. “It testified to me one more time that he is a servant of the Lord and that when we listen to the Lord’s servants, we hear the voice of the Savior.
Ministering to Missionaries
Saturday morning, the Andersens and Kochs met with the missionaries of the Brazil Recife North and Brazil Recife South missions — joining for a group photo with each mission before Elder Andersen, Elder Koch and other local leaders personally greeted each elder and sister with a handshake.
Approximately 20 local service missionaries joined in the meeting and had their own separate photo with the Andersens and other leaders.
Elder Andersen had asked the missionaries to prepare for the two-mission conference by reading a multipage handout of scriptures under the headings “12 teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ” and “10 Testimonies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” He invited the missionaries to focus their mission service in helping others and themselves to come to a belief in and knowledge of Christ.
“Each time you speak of Him and you give these people confidence in their own faith, and if you give them confidence in what they believe, even if they don’t join the Church, you have blessed their lives,” he said. “Let your witness of the Savior ring from you every day.”
In a leadership meeting later that afternoon, Elder Andersen spoke highly of all the missionaries and their quickness to respond about scriptures in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. “They were full of testimony, they were very knowledgeable, and I was very impressed with them,” he said of the missionaries from Brazil, the United States and other South American countries.
“As I listened to Elder Andersen, the Spirit taught me that as the study the life of Christ, the teachings of Christ, we can come to know Him and have a love for Him that is deeper than our bones,” said Sister Emma Rowen of San Diego, California, serving in the Recife South mission. “We can really know that He is our Savior as we study his life.”
Her companion, Sister Jennifer Romero, a native of Bolivia and resident of Sao Paulo, Brazil, added: “I was able to feel the Spirit testify of the Love that the Savior has for me, that he will never leave me alone, that He will always, always have this love for me in every moment.”
Elder Talles Pereira, of Guaíba, Brazil, serving in the Recife North Mission, said “I learned through the Spirit that it’s very important because it is only through Him that we can obtain salvation and to be able to help others obtain salvation as well.”
His companion, Elder Troy Hess of Murrieta, California, added: “The Spirit taught me that it’s important to know Jesus Christ through the scriptures, to be able to bear pure testimony of His divinity and His Atonement through the teachings we know and from the scriptures.”