News Release

Elder Neil L. Andersen Ministers in Brazil

The Apostle concludes 9-day ministry of testifying of Jesus Christ to Latter-day Saints and civic leaders

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Updated Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Recife and São Paulo, Brazil —

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles concluded a nine-day ministry to Brazil Sunday, March 12. The Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints met with prominent civic leaders, visited the soon-to-be-dedicated Brasília Brazil Temple, and taught and testified to members, missionaries and leaders throughout the expansive South American country.

Elder Andersen was accompanied by his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, and members of the Brazil Area Presidency.

The leaders started in the northeastern coastal city of Recife, traveled for a day to the capital city of Brasília in the nation’s interior, and concluded with five days in southeastern mega-metropolis of São Paulo, where they lived when he helped lead and mentor Latter-day Saints and leaders during their five-year area assignment.

On March 6, Elder Andersen 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.

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Kathy Andersen present a personal copy of the Book of Mormon to the first lady of Brazil, Rosângela Lula da Silva, during a February 2023 visit to the country.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“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.”

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.

In the two days following the historic meeting with the first lady of Brazil, Elder and Sister Andersen visited several state and city leaders, including Governor Raquel Lyra of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco in the Palácio do Campo das Princesas in Recife, Brazil. Lyra lost her husband to a heart attack during the 2022 fall elections, and the Andersens shared with her their belief of Jesus Christ and the eternal nature of the soul. (See Elder Andersen’s social media post about the experience.)

“We felt that it was a preview for the dedication and open house,” said Elder Andersen of the visits with government leaders that supplemented the usual leadership instruction conferences and devotionals with members and missionaries. “It allowed some preparation for the temple dedication, helping create some connections that we’ll be able to revisit during the open house.”

Over the next several days, Elder and Sister Andersen — joined by members of the Brazil Area presidency and their wives — also met with a national senator, the governor of São Paulo state, the governor of Pernambuco and the mayor of Recife.

Of the meetings with government leaders, Elder Adilson de Paula Parrella, a General Authority Seventy and Brazil Area President, said that “though these are very critical relationships for the Church in Brazil — and we are grateful that Elder Anderson took the time to meet with these government leaders — I want to say that these were spiritual visits and experiences for each one.”

During the visits, substantial donations were made — from medical equipment to a cancer hospital in Pernambuco to playground equipment to 90-plus preschool daycare centers in Recife, from money to help field needy indigenous children in northern Brazil to financial assistance to aid victims of floods and landslides in northern São Paulo state.

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.

“Brazil is going to play an important part to help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior,” taught Elder Andersen repeatedly during his nine-day ministry. “We are preparing a people worthy to welcome the Savior at His Second Coming.”

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.

Elder Neil L. Andersen, right, and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, greet the children of President Mark D. Crane and Sister Cosette Crane, left, leaders of the Brazil Recife South Mission before a two-mission meeting Saturday morning, March 4, 2023, in Recife, Brazil.
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“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.”

President Fabio Escobar, president of the Recife Brazil Stake, asks a question during a priesthood leadership conference with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and bishops and stake presidents from in and around Recife, on Saturday, March 4, 2023.
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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.”

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.”

Elder Andersen’s time in São Paulo included a Friday night, March 10, youth devotional; leadership instruction to stake presidencies, bishops, stake and ward Relief Society presidents and elder quorum presidents from more than a dozen São Paulo stakes on Saturday, March 11; and a special stake conference held Sunday, March 12, at the São Paulo Brazil Guarapiranga Stake and broadcast to two neighboring stakes.

At the youth devotional at the stake center adjacent to the São Paulo temple, adult leaders were asked to move to the building’s classrooms to watch the broadcast and allow the youth to be in the chapel, where young men and young women not only filled the chapel benches and chairs in the cultural hall but also stood along the walls and sat on the floor as Elder and Sister Andersen and area leaders taught principles from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet.

Youth listen and take notes during a March 10, 2023, devotional with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in São Paulo, Brazil.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Speaking of the Temple

“Elder Andersen spoke on ‘more of the temple’ — that the temple is the place we should go to learn more and strengthen our testimonies more, doing just as President Nelson has been teaching us,” said Elder Parrella. “So Elder Andersen’s visit to Brazil, for me, was inviting us to go to the next level of discipleship, obedience and following the Prophet.”

In emphasizing temple covenants, ordinance and worship, Elder Andersen underscored the increasing number of temples in Brazil. “The growth of temples is something very big in the future of Brazil — the temple ordinances and covenants will help solidify this country in the gospel,” he said. “We have nine temples operating now, nine more that have been announced and are in planning and construction, and — as the Lord directs His Prophet — more to come.”

Elder Andersen will return to the nation in September to dedicate the Brasília Brazil Temple.

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