Behind the Photo: President Nelson and the Faith of a Child

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News editor

  • 3 May 2018

President Russell M. Nelson greets 7-year-old Ella Bautista—the child of Filipino Latter-day Saints living in Tel Aviv—who had previously stated with certainty that she would personally meet the prophet.


Sitting on large rocks in the shade of the BYU Jerusalem Center, John Rey and Mara Bautista of Tel Aviv watch their daughter Ella, 7, play nearby.

A Filipino, Mara came to Israel to find work in 2007; two years later John Rey followed. The couple married almost eight years ago.

Times here have been tough for the family. Mara hasn’t worked since Ella was born. Her legal status—as well as Ella’s—in the country is uncertain.

But today they are not worried about that. They talk of the opportunity to hear President Russell M. Nelson speak as part of his world ministry tour.

As Ella runs over to her parents, she also makes a declaration about the prophet’s visit. “He is going to greet me,” she says with certainty.

Yes, Ella is told, when President Nelson waves to the crowd, it will be like he is greeting you. But the child is resolute in her faith that President Nelson would greet her individually.

Less than an hour later, Ella and her parents joined other members of the Church’s Jerusalem District for a meeting with President Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“I suspect none of us in this room can understand the significance of this day. ... But we will,” said Elder Holland.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Nelson walked up the steps in the center’s auditorium, shaking hands with members.

Then he saw Ella. President Nelson bent down, tenderly placed both hands on the back of Ella’s head, and looked at the child in the eyes.

“We will never forget this moment and this day,” said John Rey.