Ensign College Devotional
Elder Godoy received a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Pontifícia Universidade Católica in 1987. In 1994 he received a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Brigham Young University. He worked as the regional sales manager and national training manager of Johnson & Johnson. After he received his master’s degree, he became the human resources country manager for United Technologies–Otis Brazil Elevator. Following his employment with United Technologies, he worked as the South America human resources manager for Dow Corning. He then became a senior member of the board of directors for ZF Sachs in South America. In 2004 he started his own consulting company, CHANGE Consult–Organizational Development, specializing in organizational changes and restructuring.
Since joining the Church in 1977, Elder Godoy has served in numerous Church callings, including full-time missionary in the Brazil São Paulo South Mission, Young Men president, elders quorum president, missionary training center branch president, bishop, high councilor, regional welfare agent, president of the Brazil Belém Mission (1997–2000), and Area Seventy.
Carlos Augusto Godoy was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on February 4, 1961. He married Mônica Soares Brandao on March 31, 1984. They are the parents of four children.
You Can Do It, Too!
Thank you very much for that beautiful music and for me to be part of this. Hearing this hymn and in this place, I feel like we are going back to the 1900’s to those conferences that probably were held in this place so many, many times so what a privilege to be here in this sacred place, this historical place and to be here with you. Thank you, President Kusch for your kindness to receive me here, open your doors and help me to understand a little bit more about this great school and great college. It is a unique opportunity always to speak to any congregation and even more to this one here today so thank you for being here, all of you, faculty members and students and I think we have some audience through Zoom. Sometimes when I am speaking through Zoom, because of my strong accent, I can see those on the other side of the camera looking for the translation. Where is the button? Where is the English button? This is it. That’s the English with a Portuguese accent. As was mentioned, I am from Brazil, from south Brazil, Porto Alegre and Monica and I have four children and seven grandkids. Four of those seven are here today in attendance. There they are.
So, it is always as I say, a privilege to address any audience. As General Authorities, we are always in some way doing this. Different places, different languages, different audiences and different purpose. As I was preparing myself for this moment here, I was wondering, first of all the audience that I would encounter here and secondly what was the subject and the message that would be nice to address. I was praying about it, I was asking President Kusch some information about your culture, your program, your profile as students so I think I know a little or enough hopefully to address you in a way that I pray, I prayed and I pray will be helpful for you in some ways. I think we have here and on the internet also, a good mix of students. Just maybe to understand a little bit more who are here, at least in this sample of students, how many of you are international students? Wow, ok. We have that in common when I was here as well as an international student. Let’s see what else we have in common. How many of you are first generation as members of the church so your parents were not members of the church when you were baptized? Ok, we have a few here. Another question. How many of you are first family members with a college degree? Your family, your parents or anyone in your family have a college degree before? That was my case as well. How many of you are here looking for a better life? Ok, that we have in common, that’s for sure. How many of you are married? Single? Let’s see, married with children? One child, just one? Two? Three? Wow. Four? Five? Five! Six? Well, probably more than that, they are home taking care of the children, but we’ll stop here. Thank you, thank you for being here. Hopefully, this will be also good for all of us as parents, as singles, as students, as faculty.
I want to share a little bit about my background so you will understand when I’m giving you my message from where these experiences are coming from. As I say, I am from Porto Alegre, in south Brazil and I was not born as a member of the church. I found the church when I was 16 years old and it was just me. My parents and siblings were not interested at that time to attend
the discussions so I attended the discussions in the chapel in the stake center in the corner. A huge chapel, for me it was huge, really a unique building. That was in 1977. So, I was there for a month attending those discussions with two sister missionaries. I don’t know if you remember, some of you remember during General Conference, two or three General Conferences ago, I mentioned those angels, those two sisters who taught me the gospel. That place for me is still a special place. That chapel and that small classroom, when I go to Brazil and I go to the south and I have the chance to go to that chapel, I always go to that corner, to that small room that I consider my Sacred Grove where I learned about the gospel, I learned about the Savior and that changed my life forever. My parents at that time were not interested, my siblings, as I said, took a little longer for them to join the church. My siblings did not. My parents, my father, five years or six years later and my mother, 27 years later, it took for her to join the church. It was a blessing for me, changed my life. I came from a humble family. My parents from the southern part of Brazil, they were struggling to raise their small family, my older brother, myself and my younger sister. Schooling for them was something out of their reach. When they were children and youth, my father had just four years of school, primary school, my mother only two years. What was their dream? To have their children finish high school because that was not possible for them so in their minds to work and do whatever was necessary as parents to help their children finish high school and they did well. With a lot of sacrifice, the three of us finished high school mainly in public schools as we have in Brazil and those public schools are not, some of them, as good as they could or should be. Those international students here probably have some understanding of what I’m saying.
Sometimes we were studying in private school, but was when my father was the bus driver for the school, so because he was the one driving the students, they got some kind of scholarship so I was lucky to be in a private school, a good school because I was the son of the driver. I remember that I didn’t fit well in those schools because there was a lot of differences in terms of the way we lived and I could see it in the neighborhood because I was the first one to be taken from my home, my dad, early in the morning would take me and my siblings from our humble home, humble neighborhood and then he would drive to those more up level neighborhoods to pick up all of those other children. I could see the difference. And then go to school, good neighborhood and then back to their neighborhoods to take them home and then back to our humble neighborhood and I was sometime wondering, “Why? Why we have these differences? And why we could not have that kind of a life.” And that’s what I learned from my parents. You have to work really hard and you have to study. That was their message- study. Finish high school. There’s something about schooling because that will change your life, your future. So, I am so grateful for my parents. For their example of hard work and their vision about school. They even finished junior high when they were adults, later in their lives and they finished high school when they were even in their more senior or adult years. That didn’t change much their life in terms of economic situation, but changed, I think the way they saw themselves. They felt good about it. There was a goal of their lives, good example.
So, we finish high school and then I was blessed to find the gospel and through the gospel of Jesus Christ I learned that there was more to go and to achieve. The vision of my parents was limited because of their own experiences as a child or as a youth. They thought university would be something impossible, but when I became a member of the church, I saw that it was more common among the members, my new friends than my old friends. So, that became a dream that maybe could happen. Also, to learn another language, that was out of the question. No way, Jose, because in public school that doesn’t happen. You just have those classes to fulfill some checklist and you finish high school with no language at all, second language. So that was the background, so you know from where I’m coming from and why to be among you, addressing college students, it is for me just a privilege, a blessing, to be counted as one of you here today.
Well, why or how the changes or some changes took place that I’m able to be here now addressing you. Many changes happened and I was thinking about it and mainly key points was of course my conversion to the church. There through the gospel of Jesus Christ I learned that I am a child of God. There was more to expect in this life. There was a plan of salvation that we are not just here to work, eat, get old and die. There is a big plan! That was the gospel of Jesus Christ as a new member of the church. Second, I think, was my patriarchal blessing. I was seventeen when I received my patriarchal blessing, one year after being baptized. That patriarchal blessing gave me also the understanding that the Lord has a plan, but not just a plan for everybody. He also has a plan for me! Carlos! He was expecting something from me. He has blessings ahead in my life that He was reserving if I was faithful in looking for them. So, a patriarchal blessing was also for me an eye opener, Wow there is something even for me, personally!
Another thing that also helped me was a mission. I had the chance to serve a mission in Sao Paulo. That was something different. The first time leaving my home and going to Sao Paulo and see that big city and everything else, but the mission helped me learn about my potential. I learned as a young missionary that I had talents. That I could do stuff, that I could be a leader. That I could progress. I think I learned more about me in the mission field than anything else and the potential that I could have.
Another thing that was a big change, a key point, was marrying the right person. With her help, with Monica’s support, be able to go through challenges. Each one of us, all of us, we have challenges. It is part of the package, but to have someone on our side, to hold hands, to pray together to look for counsel to receive support, it is key throughout our life’s challenges. Marrying Monica, one of the angels in my life, was also a key point.
One of the big points or highlights was this BYU degree that I would never imagine to be able to have, never. Remember, high school was already something big, but I remember as a missionary, working with American missionaries. They were talking about University degree like a normal business. For me it was like I’m going back home and I’m going to work. This is it! I’m going to work and find a job, get married and survive. And all those American companions were talking about university, university. This was kind of a common thing. So that got me thinking, maybe I could do that. So, when I went back home, again, with the support of my young wife, decided to make whatever sacrifice, whatever necessary to have a degree. PUCI, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, is not an easy university. Those from Brazil or even some other countries know that PUCI is kind of a hard place to get in and is a really good private university. So, I was lucky to get in. It was really hard to keep moving, with a young family and a Bishop, I was called to be a Bishop at the same time I was accepted into university, and Monica and a new baby, but I was able to pay for that university with a scholarship similar to what we have now, the perpetual education fund. It wasn’t that name in those days. It was actually linked to the church educational system, they were the ones managing it. I applied for that loan, actually, it was not a scholarship, and I was able to pay the four years of university in Political Science, economics. So, thanks to that church fund and support.
So, there at the beginning there was a blessing coming from the gospel, from the church, from the Lord that helped me to finish. Something that was not part of my reasonable plan before just as it never was for my siblings. So, we did it. Finished school, but then I learned from my mission president, when I was in the mission field, that there was a scholarship for MBA at BYU and I thought, well, that’s just for smart people and I don’t have a chance so I went back to Brazil after finishing school and that was just fine, having our young family and serving as a Bishop, it was just fine. Going back to my patriarchal blessing and using a general conference talk years ago. There was something there about schooling or intellectual development and that was for me the Lord saying, “Carlos, there is more. Why are you stopping? You can do it, try it.” So, again with the support of my good wife with small children at that time, three, I decided to work my way to BYU and it was really, really hard. I think they accepted me there because I was knocking their door for so many years that they said, OK, let’s bring that Brazilian to the program to get rid of him. I was studying like many of you here are doing and couldn’t get the grade. Even harder was GMAT. A dream or a nightmare, actually. Really a nightmare and never getting to that point and one year after one year, just not there, and thinking, just give up. But there was something inside saying keep going so I kept going and with some sacrifices, many of you probably know what I’m talking about. Personal sacrifice, family time sacrifice and I was able to get to that minimum acceptable. I remember that phone call, back then there was just one scholarship per year for the MBA program for the international students and I was always not there. After three years I received that phone call and the person in charge of that scholarship said, “Carlos, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is now you are among the three finalists! The bad news is the other two competing with you, one is the son of a general authority, and the other one is the son of a regional representative and you and I said, “And I am a son of God.” My father was, I think, not even a member of the church or inactive, so chance on that side, but I got the scholarship that year and came to BYU to do the MBA program with those three small kids, two of them are here today. I don’t think I had any idea how hard it would be, but we were happy to be here just like you are, just how blessed we are to have this opportunity to study here and have the chance to be in this place, among this culture, in the church, Zarahemla, as they call it, in Utah.
So, this is my background and if you went through a similar process, I think we are normal. I think it is possible and I am so glad you are here just like I was many many years ago in one of those beautiful great universities that the church has. Well, let me finish this experience part before I conclude with some other thoughts. To get in was hard, but not the hardest part. The hardest part was to conclude, two years was really hard. Especially with my English. I had a really good work experience so I knew the business or the MBA topics, but I couldn’t participate as much as I should because I was able to do just enough to get in so all those classes and all those subjects and everything else, I was just lost. I was so lost that the program realized that I needed help, extra help. They invited me to do English classes parallel, normal English classes, writing classes, 201 or something and then speaking classes so I was doing parallel classes through my first semester and I was able to survive. Then the second semester came and I was becoming more comfortable. I don’t know if they were comfortable with me, but I was more comfortable with the program. Then the second year came and I was learning the way. So, if you are having a hard time, welcome to my world, with your degrees or you GPA. That was my case, I was always below the average in my GPAs. Always below the curve. That curve was my, WEW! Always below the curve. But I think we are normal and there is a way to improve. There is a way and that is what I want to share with you, the way. At the end of the program, my GPA was above the average and I got a really good job, being able to go back to Brazil and serve there. Remember those groups? I was never the favorite member to be invited because I was not helping because of my poor English. I was impressed with Caique. His prayer in English was better than my final paper in my MBA! It’s so nice to see how common this is becoming among our young men and young women in our international countries.
So, lessons I learned from all of this because I’m not here just to entertain you with my life experiences, to laugh and cry with me, although I’m grateful you are here taking the time to hear. I want to share three lessons learned that I think can be applied to anyone here. First, the Lord has a plan for us in this life. It doesn’t matter where we are coming from. It doesn’t matter how many generations we have in the church. Seventh or you are just a recent convert. The Lord has a plan, an individual plan for each one of us. A scripture I think helps us to see this is Moses 1:3, 4 and 6. “And God spoke unto Moses saying, “Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty and endless is my name for I am without beginning of days or end of years and is not this… It looks like the Lord was telling Moses, “I’m a God, a powerful God.” And Moses was, “Yes”. And His second point was, “And behold, thou are my son.” We are sons of a powerful God. Sons and daughters of an endless and powerful God. This is a message for us. I think that is why God started that way, “Moses, I am God, the Almighty Lord and you are my son. Do you understand that?” I think this is for us. We are children of a Heavenly Father, a Father with power. And then in verse six He says, “And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son.” So, He was stressing here to Moses that one, you are my son, second, and I have a work for you.
This is valid for each one of us. Maybe you are thinking it is because this is Moses or it’s just for General Authorities or Apostles. Let me read what President Kimball, one of my favorite prophets when I was a missionary and actually when I was baptized. Look what he said about having a mission, each one of us. “In the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments, while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. We don’t remember, but we got some assignments before this life, men and women. While we do not remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to. We agreed to do it. To achieve, to become, to do something. You are accountable for those things, which long ago were expected of you just as those are we sustain as Prophets and Apostles. So, it’s not a privilege of apostles and prophets, for them to have a personalized plan in this life. We have also and this is something that I learned. It is part of my life and fighting for it. I hope when the veil at the end of my life when the veil will be taken off of my eyes I will see and hopefully the Lord will say, “Well done. You did what was expected from you in this life. Now, next!” And then starts the next phase. So, that’s the first lesson that I want to share with you: We have a plan. Sometimes when we are with the youth or the young adults they ask, “But how to get to this whatever the Lord has for me? How can I know? What can I do to get there? And I always hear from the Apostles and those leaders we are following, simple answers saying, “Just keep doing the right things that we know what we need to do. We know! No one needs to tell me what we need to know. Prophets are telling us in General Conference. We have them teaching us on and on, pay your tithing, honor your Sabbath day, are you serving the best that you can in the assignments you receive, are you looking for service opportunities, are you studying the scriptures, are you praying individually and as a family, are you doing family home evening? It’s just the small things. When this question comes from the audience during questions and answers, “Elder So and So of the Twelve, what can we do to fulfill our purpose in this life?” or how have you become an Apostle?” And the answers always go to, “Just keep working on the covenant path and then the opportunities will appear in our path in a natural way. Just keep pushing forward doing the small right things, follow the prophets and you will get there.
The second lesson that I learned was, the right purpose will bring you to the higher blessings. I’m going to say that again because I have to rewrite a few times for me to understand what I was trying to say here. The right purpose will bring you to the right blessings. So, why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you looking for that degree? Why? Why are you looking for a better career, a better life. What’s the purpose of this? What is the end purpose, the final purpose, your heart purpose? What is it? The right purpose will bring you the right blessings. So, is it wrong to want to make money, to have a career that will succeed in the business world or the medical world or whatever it is? Is it wrong to want to be a successful man or woman in this path? No, but it depends on why you are doing this. Let me read another scripture as a message from the prophets. This is Jacob 2nd, saying, “But before ye seek riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God and after ye have obtained a hope in Christ, ye shall obtain riches…” So, it’s not wrong to look for riches, I hope you are looking for that, but for the right purpose. “and after ye have obtained a hope in Christ, ye shall obtain riches if ye seek them and ye seek them for the intent to do good.” Is that the purpose why you want to progress in your life, to do good? To clothe the naked and to feed the hungry and to liberate the captive and to administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. So, if we have this “deal” with the Lord, that I will do whatever I need to do to help others, to serve Thee, to help your Kingdom, and please help me in my own plans. Help me to succeed in my life so I can be a better instrument in thy hands. Help me have the resources for me and my family so we can share those resources. Help me to develop my talents and attributes so I can serve better in whatever I need to serve. That’s a higher purpose. If you have a higher purpose you’re going to have higher blessings. That is the second learning that I’ve had and it is real.
And the third to finish is, with the Lord’s help, we can do anything, anything. This is why I’m serving and I’m doing whatever I’m doing. I know it’s Him and probably one of the reasons, I think, how the Lord calls regular people to serve as General Authorities is to show that He is the one doing it. Cannot be me. It’s Him, through me. So, I know there is a power available for anyone of us to do whatever we are required to do in our professional life, our emotional challenges, our school goals, service opportunities, there is a power. And what is this power? I’m going to use Elder Bednar’s message here. He talks about the Atoning Power of Jesus Christ and I want to finish with this because I think it is the source of any blessing, of any success we can have in life. Elder Bednar, in this message actually uses the words of President David O. McKay. “The purpose of the Gospel is to make bad men good and good men better and to change human nature.” That is why we have the gospel and that is the purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. To make bad men good and good men even better. And then Elder Bednar uses Mosiah 3:19 to explain a little more this process, bad to good and good to better. This scripture says, “The natural man is an enemy to God”, we know that, “and has been since the fall of Adam and will be forever and ever unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.” Now comes the power source. “and putteth off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” It is a powerful source, the Atonement, that we don’t understand. We understand just half or part of this and that’s where Elder Bednar keeps saying the first part in put off the natural man, make the bad a good person. It is the repenting process, it is the cleaning power of the Atonement, it is the redeeming power of the Atonement that all of us know that very much.
Through our lives, every time we do something wrong, we use the Atonement to clean our sins. The redeeming part is also well known to all of us. But there’s another half and the other half is,
“and become a Saint,” and in his words to make good men better. So, the Atonement, Elder Bednar is saying here, is not just for sinners or for people who are doing something wrong if they want to fix it, but it’s also for good people if they want to do better, they want to accomplish something they can’t do by themselves. That’s the other part of the Atonement is not used and it is available. And so he is saying here that we are much more familiar with the redeeming power, bad to good, than we are with the enabling power of the Atonement, good to better. We are not using that. “Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners, but I’m not sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints, for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and who are striving to become better.” He’s talking about all of us here, trying to become better, to do better, to do something that we cannot do it by ourselves. Then he says, “Brothers and sisters the gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives, it is also essentially about doing and becoming better. There is help from the Savior.” In our entire different life experiences. And then he says something I think is also important, “…will power, personal determination and motivation, effective planning and goal setting are necessary.” I think some of us, especially those in the business, goal setting and using motivation and planning are necessary, but is sufficient to successfully complete the mortal journey.
Truly we must come to rely on the merits and mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah.” So, it is good to have goals, it is good to have personal motivation, plans and everything else, but it’s not enough. We need the grace because by ourselves we can reach just a certain level. I know that, we know that. By ourselves we can work really hard and reach this point. We need the grace and this grace is available even in the school challenges, family challenges, not just for sinners. For good people trying to do better. So, he says here, “This grace, as defined actually in the Bible dictionary saying, “It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to do it…” This is my personal experience. This for me is the secret. I know I cannot do it by myself. I know that I need to do my best, work hard, have the support of my wife and family, but whatever we do, there is an extra power available and this comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Not just to fix our problems, but also to help in our personal progress and goals. Do you know what I mean? Is it clear? I hope it is because it is there. It is available, but it is not used as it could be.
I used to tell my kids that we are Jedi to try to help them understand. We are like Jedi, we have power within us, we have power available to us that we’re not using, but it is there. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ there is a power that can help us to be clean from our sins, but even more, to achieve things that we wouldn’t be able to it without the Lord Jesus Christ. That is my personal testimony and that is, I think, the story of my life. That’s why I put this message connected with my personal story because I wouldn’t be able to do whatever I had to do or what I’m now doing or will be doing without the Savior. I know this power is real because I’m weak. That’s why I know it is real and it is there for each one of us. I know the Lord lives. I know He’s our Savior. I know this is His church, this is His Kingdom established on earth and one day He will come back and then we will understand so many things and He will take us back home to our Heavenly Father. It is my testimony that I share with you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.