Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all around the world held their breath as they awaited the announcement of two new apostles, and they weren’t disappointed. Elders Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares were sustained as the newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Saturday, March 31. You may have seen their faces before. Now, enjoy reading a few fun facts about these outstanding brethren!
Elder Gerrit W. Gong:
- Was born to Chinese parents but born and raised in California.
- Was named after Gerrit de Jong Jr., the first dean of the College of Fine Arts at BYU (and the namesake of the de Jong Concert Hall on campus). Elder Gong’s mother had lived with the de Jong family while attending BYU.
- Served a mission in Taiwan
- Received a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from BYU, a Master of Philosophy degree from Oxford University, and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University.
- Met his future wife, Susan Lindsey, while teaching future missionaries (including Susan) about Taiwanese culture. Their courtship began several years later, and the two married in 1980.
- Is the father of four sons and has three grandchildren.
- Served as the Area President of the Asia Area headquartered in Hong Kong and, later, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy.
- Worked as a special assistant to the undersecretary of state at the US State department and a special assistant to the US ambassador in Beijing.
- Had given two talks in General Conference before being called as an apostle, including “Temple Mirrors of Eternity: A Testimony of Family” in 2010 and “Always Remember Him” in 2016.
Elder Ulisses Soares:
- Was born in São Paulo, Brazil, to a nonmember family. His family joined the Church when he was about five years old.
- The first branch the Soares family attended met above a bakery. Elder Soares remembers smelling delicious, fresh bread during church meetings.
- Met his future wife, Rosana Fernandes Morgado, when they were both serving in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission.
- Is the father of three children and has three grandchildren.
- Earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and an MBA from the National Institute of Postgraduate Study.
- Worked as an auditor and accountant for many years before becoming the director of temporal affairs for the Church’s Brazil South Area and, later, a senior auditor for the Church.
- Served as President of the Porto Portugal Mission before being called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and then Presidency of the Seventy.
- Is the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from Brazil.
- Had given five talks in General Conference before being called as an apostle, including “Be Meek and Lowly of Heart” in 2013 and “Yes, We Can and Will Win!” in 2015.
Excited to learn even more about our new leaders? Review their General Conference talks and stay tuned for a future Living Scriptures quiz to help you become experts on Elders Gong and Soares!
Pictures from Rick Bowmer of Associated Press and lds.org. Sources: lds.org, //ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/Gerrit_W._Gong.html, //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulisses_Soares