Featured Stories

Elder Soares Ministers to Latter-day Saints in New Zealand

Apostle also visits temple sites in Auckland and Hamilton

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, recently completed a ministering visit to New Zealand, where they spoke about the importance of following the Lord and His prophets and visited two temple sites.

On Wednesday, May 25, they headed across the Tasman Sea to visit with Australian Latter-day Saints. 

Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Marcia Nielson, are accompanying Elder and Sister Soares.  

Members of the Pacific Area Presidency of the Church and their wives — Elder Ian S. Ardern and Sister Paula Ardern, Elder K. Brett Nattress and Sister Shawna Nattress, and Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita and Sister Tazuko Yamashita — are hosting Elder and Sister Soares and Elder and Sister Nielson.

Following is an overview of their visit to New Zealand.

Youth Devotional

More than a thousand teenagers attended a youth devotional on Saturday, May 21, held in Auckland, New Zealand. Some young people arrived three hours early to ensure they had the best seats to see and hear Elder Soares and the other speakers.  

The devotional was broadcast to Church meetinghouses filled with youth across New Zealand and Australia.

At the devotional, Elder Soares told of a tragic airplane crash in the Northern mountains of Brazil, close to the city of Fortaleza, where the pilot failed to heed warnings about flying below the cleared altitude and instead relied on his own expertise. The Apostle likened the experience to the opportunity that each person has — to listen to warnings from God’s prophets to avoid life’s dangers.

Young women from Auckland, New Zealand attend a devotional given by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. May 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download Photo

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen thy heart,” Elder Soares said. “The Lord is the best source to help us fly at the right altitude.”

Paraphrasing a verse in the Book of Mormon, Elder Soares invited the young people to “go and do what the Lord has asked you to do. Light the lives of others.”  

He offered a blessing on the young people of New Zealand and Australia to “have the courage to represent Jesus Christ.”

Elder and Sister Soares, Elder and Sister Nielson, and members of the Pacific Area Presidency and their wives responded to questions from youth during the devotional.

Questions focused on how to know one’s true identity, how to know if God is really there, how to learn more about and follow Jesus Christ, and how to help family members and friends.

Multi-Stake Conference

Members and friends of the Church in Panmure, Auckland, attended a special conference on Sunday, May 22, which was broadcast to meetinghouses across New Zealand.

In his remarks, Elder Soares said, “Walking in the light of the Savior Jesus Christ prevents us from walking in darkness because darkness and light cannot walk together.” 

The Apostle encouraged people to study the messages of living prophets, “starting with a study of President Russell M. Nelson. “We can see modern miracles in our lives when we follow the prophet,” he said.

Elder Soares promised those who would study and heed the words of prophets, “You are going to feel your heart filled with strength. As we follow the prophets, our lives are happier, less complicated. ... Our difficulties and problems are resolved or easier to bear.”

“Following the prophets shows something about our testimony,” he said. “It shows the measure of our conversion and our testimony.”

“President Nelson really loves you,” Elder Soares told listeners. “He is full of optimism and energy. He’s 97 and sometimes comes into a room running. The gospel has made him energetic. He could be spending his time with grandchildren, but he chooses to follow the Lord and what the Lord asks him to do, and he is blessing the entire world. He prays for you and thinks about you. I am a witness of his love for you because I am with him every week. I hear his discussions and feel his love for you.”

As a first-generation member of the Church, Sister Soares said she had never experienced studying scriptures and praying together as a family. When she and her husband married, the couple created their own traditions of studying and pondering the scriptures to “hear God’s voice, know His words and come to know Him better.”

“The scriptures are a book of answers,” Sister Soares declared.

Elder Nielson talked about the role of prophets and apostles in helping individuals, families and communities navigate the challenges of life, including the pandemic. 

He shared a story of how missionaries were approved to use smartphones just a few weeks before COVID-19 impacted billions across the globe. “Prophets of God can see what’s coming and help us make adjustments so we can continue to do the work of the Lord,” he said. 

Missionaries have been able to continue to share the gospel of Jesus Christ using smartphones during lockdowns and other restrictions caused by the pandemic, he said.

Sister Nielson shared a story of an elderly couple at a crowded airport food court. The husband had a tray of food, and his wife was on the other side of the room at their table. They did not know where the other was until she whistled, and he recognized the sound.

Sister Nielson said this story reminded her that the Lord Jesus Christ wants to speak to each of us individually, but we need to be ready to “hear Him.”

Elder Ulisses Soares waves goodbye to the people of Panmure Stake during his ministering visit to Auckland, New Zealand. May 20222022 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download Photo


Auckland New Zealand Temple Construction Site and Missionary Training Center

On Sunday afternoon, May 22, Elder and Sister Soares and other leaders visited the construction site of the Auckland New Zealand Temple and the adjacent Missionary Training Center.

They saw the recently arrived cornerstone of the temple and received an update on the progress of construction.

Hamilton New Zealand Temple and Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre

On Monday, May 23, Elder Soares, Sister Soares, Elder Nielson and Sister Nielson received a traditional Māori welcome — pōwhiri — from the people of Ngaati Maahanga in Hamilton, New Zealand.  

A tour of the Matthew Cowley Pacific Church History Centre included the “Sacrifice and Consecration” exhibition, which tells the story of faithful labor missionary volunteers who built a school and a temple to the Lord in the 1950s. 

The leaders also visited the newly renovated Hamilton New Zealand Temple, which closed in 2018 for renovations and will open to the public for tours from August 26 to September 17. The temple and its grounds will be rededicated (blessed) on Sunday, October 16, by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.