“Elder Russell M. Nelson’s Visit Historic for Church in Brazil,” Liahona, July 2006, N1–N2
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was hosted by São Paulo city mayor Jose Serra and by São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin, two of the most influential and well-known officials in the country, making February 3, 2006, a historic day for the Church in Brazil.
During the meeting with Mayor Serra, Elder Nelson renewed a friendship that began when they met in Brasilia on August 15, 2001, when the mayor was the health minister for the federal government. During this most recent visit, the mayor showed great interest in the humanitarian aid and community service programs of the Church and expressed his appreciation for that service. He commented that participation by Church volunteers in the fields of education and health makes a huge difference. Over the past several years the Church has sponsored many large service projects in Brazil, such as painting schools, cleaning parks, and sewing gowns for hospital patients.
Elder Nelson had the opportunity to speak with the mayor concerning the basic beliefs of the Church and emphasized the importance of the family. He presented Mayor Serra with a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and bore his testimony of the divinity of the Savior. He also presented the mayor with a small statuette of The Christus, a replica of which stands in a visitors’ center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City; the original by Bertel Thorvaldsen is located in Copenhagen, Denmark.
At the end of the visit, Mayor Serra said, “The purpose of the Church and of the mayor’s office becomes the same—to serve people, to help people, and to improve the lives of those who are in need.”
Later that afternoon, Elder Nelson was hosted in an official audience with São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin, with whom he established ties of friendship and understanding. Known to be a man of high family standards, Mr. Alckmin recalled the teachings of his own father. Elder Nelson then shared a few principles and values of the Church and discussed the importance of the family in the Lord’s plan. The governor recalled that he had attended the open house prior to the rededication of the São Paulo Brazil Temple in February 2004.
“I have been to see the temple of the Church here in São Paulo and have felt a deep emotion in being there and gaining a greater understanding of its work,” he said to Elder Nelson.
The governor expressed appreciation for the visit, saying, “We are happy to see the Church growing here in São Paulo and performing important voluntary work to improve people’s lives. Members of the Church are God-fearing people and families who love their neighbor and who have principles and values to guide them in their lives.”
While recording an interview at the end of the visit, the governor made a point of saying, “It was a great thrill to talk and to listen to Elder Nelson, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and to feel his generous heart.”
The governor also received a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and a small replica of The Christus.
Elder Nelson was accompanied by Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy, Brazil South Area President; Elder Ulisses Soares of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Area Presidency; Moroni Torgan, a federal congressman; and Fernando Assis, director of public affairs for Brazil.
Adapted from Church News, February 18, 2006.