Brazilian LDS Youth Complete Their Own Olympic Relay

Contributed By By Rachel Sterzer, Church News staff writer

  • RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Nicole Luz performs during a special devotional prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro as missionaries present the “Erguer-se e Brilhar” (“Arise and Shine Forth”) banner.  Photo by Bruno Lima.

Article Highlights

  • General Authority Seventies spoke at a youth devotional in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Several youth performed musical numbers from the 2012 and 2014 Mutual theme albums.

Just as the Olympic torch made its Brazilian journey to eventually light the cauldron in Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the XXXI Olympiad, LDS youth in that country participated in their own Olympic relay.

A banner titled “Erguer-se e Brilhar”—Portuguese for “Arise and Shine Forth”—left the Church area offices in São Paulo on July 27 and was passed through 11 Brazilian cities. After making its way through Florianópolis, Anápolis, Cuiabá, Belém, Teresina, Natal, João Pessoa, Feira de Santana, Belo Horizonte, Vitória, and Birigui, the banner reached its final destination in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, July 30, during a special devotional attended by Elders Jairo Mazzagardi and Marcos Aidukaitis, members of the Brazil Area Presidency, and Sister Luisa Aidukaitis.

The devotional was held in the hills high above the city, which afforded a panoramic view of the cityscape, including views of Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest, and the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue atop the Corcovado mountain.

In welcoming listeners and introducing the theme, “Arise and Shine Forth,” Elder Aidukaitis noted that athletes from around the world would soon be competing for great honors or the awarding of gold, silver, and bronze medals. Sons and daughters of God, he said, should be searching for awards of even greater value.

On Saturday, July 30, youth listen to messages offered by the Brazil Area Presidency during a special devotional titled “Arise and Shine Forth” prior to the world convening in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo by Bruno Lima.

He then turned the time over to his wife, who spoke of the medallion given to 12-year-old girls as they enter the Young Women program—another torch but this one represents the Light of Christ, Sister Aidukaitis explained. Just as the Olympic torch is a symbol of unity to the world, a young woman shows the world that she is willing to be a representative of Christ when she wears her torch pendant.

Because Sister Aidukaitis joined the Church at 19 years old, she did not participate in the Young Women Personal Progress program until her own daughters entered Young Women at age 12. Sister Aidukaitis said as she and her husband have helped their three daughters make and complete goals for each of the Young Women values, they have seen them learn and grow.

Sister Aidukaitis explained that as young women complete the Personal Progress program they receive a medallion, which they can choose in either silver or gold. She challenged the young women to earn their medallion, then keep going and earn it in the other color. As they do so, they will feel themselves growing in the gospel and in their testimonies, she said.

In keeping with the Olympic theme, Elder Aidukaitis spoke of his experiences as an athlete in his youth when he won many trophies and medals. Even with his accomplishments in sports, Elder Aidukaitis shared the prizes that he considers the most precious of his life—the medallion he received upon completing the Young Men program Duty to God and his missionary nametag.

Elder Aidukaitis said fulfilling his Duty to God helped prepare him for life and for a mission. He served a full-time mission in São Paulo from 1979 to 1981 and invited listeners to achieve the honor of having a missionary tag with their name next to the name of the Savior Jesus Christ.

In his last address before becoming an emeritus Seventy, Elder Mazzagardi spoke of having the strength to conquer fear. He shared his experience of learning to go deep-sea diving despite not knowing how to swim and told the youth they can overcome challenges if they become what God expects them to become.

God has a plan and a work for each individual, he said, and encouraged the listeners to prepare to be an instrument in God’s hands.

He then quoted the scripture from which the theme was derived, Doctrine and Covenants 115:5, which states: “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations.”

The Church leaders’ messages were reinforced by musical performances of several youth, including Nicole Luz, 14, who became well-known in Brazil by wearing her Young Women medallion while competing on the television show The Voice Kids Brazil. Nicole, as well as Nicholas Shigekiyo, 17, André Reis, 17, and Beatriz Marmelo, 16, performed songs from the 2012 and 2014 Mutual theme albums and were accompanied by a live band.

The Brazilian LDS youth Facebook page, Jovens SUD, posted the devotional and received thousands of likes while hundreds of individuals also shared and commented on the devotional.

Eliana Lima Macario Pereira posted that it was the most beautiful meeting of young people she has ever witnessed. Maria Eulayla Lima expressed her gratitude for having the gospel in her life. Emerson J. Silva said he loved hearing Elder Aidukaitis’s message, including his laughter.

Måbël Ålvës wrote that the devotional shows that the Church cares about the youth. Her own daughter will soon be a youth and she wants her to “arise and shine” and follow the paths of the Lord.

The Facebook page, Jovens SUD, includes links to the full devotional as well as links to videos of the different musical performances.

Missionaries bring the “Erguer-se e Brilhar” (“Arise and Shine Forth”) banner to its final destination at a special devotional in Rio de Janeiro after it traveled through 11 Brazilian cities. Photo by Bruno Lima.

On Saturday, July 30, LDS youth in Brazil attend a special devotional titled “Arise and Shine Forth” in preparation for the world convening in their country for the XXXI Olympiad. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Andre Reis, accompanied by a live band, performs during a special devotional on July 30 titled “Arise and Shine Forth” prior to the world convening in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Nicholas Shigekiyo performs during a special devotional on July 30 titled “Arise and Shine Forth” prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Nicholas Shigekiyo performs during a special devotional on July 30 titled “Arise and Shine Forth” prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Beatriz Marmelo, left, performs during a special devotional on July 30 prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro. Sister Luisa Aidukaitis, Elder Marcos Aidukaitis, and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi offered remarks at the event, which was held in the hills above Rio and broadcast throughout Brazil. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Beatriz Marmelo performs during a special devotional on July 30 prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro. Sister Luisa Aidukaitis, Elder Marcos Aidukaitis, and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi offered remarks at the event, which was held in the hills above Rio and broadcast throughout Brazil. Photo by Bruno Lima.

On Saturday, July 30, youth listen to musical performances as part of a special devotional titled “Arise and Shine Forth” prior to the world convening in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Elder Marcos Aidukaitis, seated center, offers remarks at a special youth devotional held in the hills above Rio de Janeiro and broadcast throughout Brazil. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Youth listen as Sister Luisa Aidukaitis, seated left, offers remarks at a special youth devotional held in the hills above Rio de Janeiro and broadcast throughout Brazil. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Elder Marcos Aidukaitis, center, offers remarks at a special youth devotional held in the hills above Rio de Janeiro. Sister Luisa Aidukaitis, left, and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi, right, also spoke during the event. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Elder Marcos Aidukaitis, center, offers remarks at a special youth devotional held in the hills above Rio de Janeiro. Sister Luisa Aidukaitis, left, and Elder Jairo Mazzagardi, right, also spoke during the event. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Nicole Luz performs during a special devotional prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Bruno Lima.

Nicole Luz performs during a special devotional prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics convening in Rio de Janeiro as missionaries present the “Erguer-se e Brilhar” (“Arise and Shine Forth”) banner. Photo by Bruno Lima.