Speaking to his largest gathering ever outside the United States, President Russell M. Nelson urged more than 37,000 Brazilians on Sunday to teach their children and help them achieve the “highest blessings” in Latter-day Saint temples.
“Some of these children you have are some of the brightest children that the Lord has ever let come to planet Earth,” the 94-year-old head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in his final sermon of a five-nation Latin American tour.
Thousands of church members lined up for eight hours to hear the man they revere as a “prophet, seer and revelator” before filling Sao Paulo’s Anhembi Convention Center, according to a church news release. Once inside, many of them waited for up to five hours to hear him speak.
An 800-member choir performed at the devotional, which was broadcast to tens of thousands of additional members meeting in congregations throughout Brazil.
Temples emerged as a common theme in their speeches along the way.
On Saturday, the release noted, the delegation attended the Sao Paulo Temple, dedicated in 1978 as the Utah-based faith’s first in South America.
Brazil has nearly 1.4 million Latter-day Saints, ranking behind only the U.S. and Mexico, and boasts seven temples, with plans for four more.
“I do know the Lord has given [Nelson] guidance with respect to temples that are blessing us,” Quentin Cook told Sunday’s crowd.
His wife, Mary, praised the faithfulness of the members and the efforts they undertook to see their church leader.
“They sit. They wait. They’re showing such respect for the prophet and the Lord,” she said. “ … It’s been so incredible and so sweet.”
Nelson and his companions will return to Salt Lake City on Monday in time for a Friday gala at the downtown Conference Center celebrating his 95th birthday, which is Sept. 9.
Farther north in Latin America on Sunday, apostle David A. Bednar dedicated the faith’s first temple in Haiti.
“The house of the Lord is the place where members receive the highest and most important ordinances and covenants. They produce changes in individuals. [They] change communities, nations, starting with individuals," he said in a news release. "In these ordinances, the power of divinity is manifested. [It] strengthens people, gives them a vision of who they are and why we are here; it gives them hope. That is the reason why, throughout the Earth, the Lord reveals that temples must be built.”
With the 10,396-square-foot temple in the capital of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nations with a poverty rate approaching 60 percent, now can offer its 23,000-plus Latter-day Saints the richest blessings of their faith.