Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares made history during the April general conference by being called as the first Asian-American apostle and the first Latin American apostle respectively. Here are 6 fun facts about Elder Soares.
1. Elder Soares met his wife, Rosana Fernandez Soares, when she was a missionary.
The only difference was that he was also a missionary at the time. The two served in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission and he was her zone leader, but they began dating after running into each other at a stake dance in São Paulo once they were both home.
2. He had begun saving for his mission after his bishop invited him to fill out mission papers when he was 11.
He earned all of the money for his mission by working for a company preparing its payroll and eventually working in its accounting department.
“Each month during the three years before I left, I would buy something I needed—a shirt, a pair of pants, a pair of socks, a tie, a suitcase,” Elder Soares said in an October 2018 Ensign article penned by Elder Neil L. Andersen. The article also recounts how Elder Soares was able to meet his family at the São Paulo Temple during his time as a missionary to be sealed for time and eternity.
3. Together with his wife, he served another mission, this time as mission president and companion in the Portugal Porto Mission.
They were called just six weeks before they were to leave and were miraculously able to obtain their visas.
4. He has a special appreciation for converts to the Church.
Like Elder Gong, Elder Soares is also the son of two converts of the Church and has frequently expressed gratitude for his parents’ decision to be baptized when he was 6 years old. His wife, Rosana, is also a convert to the Church and had begun investigating with her sister, Margareth. Margareth is also married to a general authority: Elder Claudio R. M. Costa.
5. He studied accounting and economics at a respected university in São Paulo, Brazil.
He would go on to receive an MBA and worked as an accountant and auditor for multinational corporations in Brazil before becoming one of the Church’s youngest directors of temporal affairs at age 31.
6. In addition to Portuguese and English, Elder Soares also speaks Spanish and French. He was one of the few people to give a general conference talk in his native language in the April 2015 conference.
In June, Elders Gong and Soares spoke with media about their first few months as apostles. Both took the opportunity to speak highly of the other.
“Elder Soares is a man of great experience and great compassion. He is loved wherever he goes, and that’s in part because he loves people wherever he goes,” Elder Gong said. “Wherever they are in the world, the people understand that he represents the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“What really affects me is his wisdom,” Elder Soares said of Elder Gong. “And his worldwide experience that brings a lot of background, a lot of wisdom in the way he expresses himself. He’s always right in what he says.”