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How a Missionary Area Book Led Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante to Serve the Lord

Sustained as a General Authority Seventy during April 2024 general conference, Elder Cavalcante has learned that discipleship is a process, one ordinance at a time

Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante, a new General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Christiana, pose for a photo at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Monday, April 8, 2024. Photo by Scott G Winterton, courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

This story appears here courtesy of TheChurchNews.com. It is not for use by other media.

By Joel Randall, Church News

At the invitation of his convert cousin, 18-year-old Aroldo B. Cavalcante attended a regional conference with President Gordon B. Hinckley, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, in 1988. “I felt something very strong,” he recounted. “I could see a light in President Hinckley.”

The young man, from northeast Brazil, attended Church meetings throughout the next three years, but he refused missionary visits and was never baptized. On Sundays, he would go to church in the morning, go to the beach, then attend Catholic Mass in the afternoon.

One day, Latter-day Saint missionaries knocked on his door while holding their missionary area book and asked if he wanted to read what past missionaries had written about him. This caught his interest, and he let the elders in. Despite the wonderful things written about him, he was struck by the last sentence: “But he doesn’t want to commit to Jesus Christ.”

He later recounted: “I thought I was very committed to Jesus Christ, and that line was too strong for me. ‘This is what Jesus Christ thinks about me? What can I do to change this, elders?’”

The missionaries started teaching him, and the 21-year-old was baptized just 10 days later. Now-Elder Cavalcante — sustained as a General Authority Seventy in April 2024 general conference — has committed to his Savior’s gospel ever since.

“This is not about us; it’s about the Savior. And I try to do my very best for Him, not for me,” said Elder Cavalcante. He added, “I know this is His Church, and I’m going to put all my efforts to be the best servant that I can be.”

A Mission of Sacrifice and a Mission of Obedience

Aroldo Barreto Cavalcante Filho was born on November 22, 1970, in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. Twenty days before the one-year anniversary of Elder Cavalcante’s baptism, his mom died and his dad left home. The young adult was tasked with taking care of his younger brother and two sisters.

Fortaleza is in northeast Brazil. Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante was born in Fortaleza, Brazil. Graphic courtesy of Church News.Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

Ten months later, while preparing a talk in sacrament meeting, he came across 1 Samuel 15:22: “To obey is better than sacrifice.”

Elder Cavalcante recounted: “I thought, ‘OK, I offered a sacrifice to take care of my siblings, [and now I need] to follow Jesus Christ, to obey a duty for my priesthood.’” He left his job as a bank manager and put a hold on law school to serve a mission.

A 23-year-old assigned to the Brazil Recife South Mission, the new missionary left his brother and sisters with 24 blank checks to handle bills while he was gone. “It was very difficult because they were teenagers, with all the troubles, trials, questions a teenager has — but the Lord took care of them.”

Starting a Family

Elder Cavalcante met his wife, Christiana Ramalho Bezerra Leite, at a symposium in Fortaleza. Aiming to impress the beautiful girl, he introduced himself and proudly declared he was an intern attending his last year in law school. But he was surprised to find that Christiana — despite being five years younger — was already a lawyer.

The two bonded over shared interests and were eventually married on November 22, 2002, in Fortaleza. Elder Cavalcante later baptized his wife, who had been raised Catholic. After she received the endowment in the house of the Lord, Elder and Sister Cavalcante were sealed in the Recife Brazil Temple on January 21, 2004.

“She is the most precious thing that I have in my life.”

Recife Brazil Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Sister Cavalcante worked as a lawyer for three years. She then left the private company that she worked for and studied an additional two years to become a state prosecutor. After those two years, Sister Cavalcante worked as an attorney for Brasília, the capital of Brazil, just months after the marriage.

Elder Cavalcante stayed in Fortaleza, and for 11 months, the separation of more than 1,000 miles prevented the pair from seeing each other more than once every two weeks.

This changed when Sister Cavalcante was then assigned to work as a state prosecutor in Recife, so Elder Cavalcante — then working as an attorney for the city hall of Fortaleza — also moved to Recife to be with his pregnant wife.

“This was the beginning of our family,” Elder Cavalcante said. “A very small apartment, a different place, different people. I just loved it.”

One-by-One Mission Service

In June 2020, the family was preparing for a four-day beach vacation when Elder Cavalcante, then an Area Seventy, was invited to the church for an interview with another Area Seventy.

Elder and Sister Cavalcante were subsequently called as interim mission leaders of the Recife South and Recife North missions, starting July 1, 2020, since COVID-19 restrictions delayed the originally called presidents’ travels to Brazil.

“That time we spent there, I fell in love with missionary work,” said Sister Cavalcante. “Serving others, we can really change our hearts in a way that we can’t change any other way.”

She and Elder Cavalcante were devastated to part ways with their valiant missionaries after two months of temporary service.

However, it wasn’t long before Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called with exciting news: The Cavalcantes were being considered as permanent mission leaders. A week later, they were extended the opportunity to preside over a mission. In December 2020, they were called and assigned to the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission, to start the following July.

Eager to learn from and teach the new battalion of missionaries, the leaders found success by ministering to their sisters and elders one by one. “Serving as a mission president,” said Elder Cavalcante, “I’m always doing this. It is a challenging calling, but you can see a great difference in the life of one by one.”

Giving this personal attention “isn’t easy to do, but you can see the great results. So, the kind of disciple that I’m trying to be is to work one by one.”

President Aroldo B. Cavalcante and Sister Christiana Cavalcante, preparing to preside over the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission, participate in the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders in his law firm office in Recife, Brazil. Photo provided by President Aroldo B. Cavalcante, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

The Temple Was ‘a Milestone for Our Mission’

The Cavalcantes had been serving for almost a year when the Rio de Janeiro Brazil Temple was dedicated May 8, 2022. This temple — the eighth dedicated in Brazil and first in the city — was “a milestone for our mission” and “a real turning point for us,” said Elder Cavalcante.

In the five-week public open house, said Elder Cavalcante, “the Spirit was so strong that the people that were around to visit couldn’t understand what they were feeling. Some of them decided in the celestial room the need to be baptized.”

Before the Rio de Janeiro temple, fewer than 100 people were baptized each month. Yet after the open house, the number increased little by little, up to 200 and then-300 baptisms a month.

“This happened because of the temple, because we could link the temple with missionary work to see the end from the beginning,” said Elder Cavalcante. “So, we have a very strong testimony about the importance of the temple for the missionary work, because it changed our mission.”

Sister Cavalcante said that when Latter-day Saints attend the temple, they receive revelation and are able to better feel God’s presence and trust Him amid trials. “Then comes that peace; things become easier because we have a clearer mind to try to face the issues.”

President Aroldo B. Cavalcante and Sister Christiana Cavalcante, preparing to preside over the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission, participate in the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders in his law firm office in Recife, Brazil. Photo provided by President Aroldo B. Cavalcante, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Discipleship Is a Process

For Elder and Sister Cavalcante, discipleship is a process, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30).

“We need to try to overcome this natural man, natural woman inside us,” said Elder Cavalcante. “It will be a process for all our lives. It isn’t just an event.”

Sister Cavalcante has seen this conversion process in her missionaries. She said: “The mission has a routine, and we keep repeating those things in the mission, and that’s what transforms us. It’s not one day you become a disciple. Every day, you’re getting better.”

Elder Cavalcante has learned the most about discipleship from his wife. In his new calling, “I have the best person in my life to help me — this is my wife. This is the best companion, a real example of conversion for me.”

Rather than stress about the future, disciples of Christ can take conversion one step at a time, thinking about “the next ordinance, next sacrament meeting, next opportunity to go to the temple,” he said. “This is discipleship for me.”

Eager to begin this new journey with his loving companion, Elder Cavalcante is confident the Lord does qualify whom He calls. “I just want to be a good servant for my Lord, try to serve His Church in this world, try to change my life, change my mind, to become a real disciple of Him.”

Elder Aroldo B. Cavalcante2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Family: Born on November 22, 1970, in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, to Aroldo Barreto Cavalcante and Maria Ferreira Freitas. Sealed to Christiana Ramalho Bezerra Leite on January 21, 2004, in the Recife Brazil Temple; they are the parents of four children.

Employment: Worked as an attorney for Procuradoria Geral do Município from 1997 to 2005 and managing partner of Barreto Cavalcante Advogados since 1999.

Education: Received a postgraduate degree in administrative law from the Federal University of Ceará in 1997.

Church service: President of the Brazil Rio de Janeiro South Mission from 2021 to 2024, Area Seventy, stake president, bishop, bishopric counselor and full-time missionary in the Brazil Recife South Mission.

Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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