Growing up in Argentina, Elder Joaquin E. Costa, a General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Renee Costa, had very different backgrounds. Elder Costa grew up in a traditional Catholic family whereas Sister Costa was raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a single mother. Despite their different backgrounds, both had a profound desire to seek the love of Christ.
Speaking at a BYU–Idaho devotional on February 26, 2019, Elder and Sister Costa shared some insights into the things they wish they had known as young adults while seeking their education.
The Important Role of Bishops
While studying at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Elder Costa lived far from his family home and traveled 45 to 90 minutes on a bus every day to attend his classes. Like many his age, Elder Costa explained that he often felt secluded from friends and family who could offer him counsel. Because of that, he didn't always make the best decisions. At that time, Elder Costa had not yet joined the Church. In those years, Elder Costa described how he wishes he had known about bishops—“someone who is ordained and set apart with special rights to give [individuals] counsel and love … to unleash the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life” (see 1 Peter 2:21-25).
At the age of 19, Sister Costa was similarly away from her family and friends when she traveled to Utah: “My English was limited, and I didn't know anybody. I felt lost.” In a place far from home, she depended greatly on the love and guidance of her young single adult ward bishop. She explained, “I will never forget my dear Bishop Moody. I grew up without a father, but as soon as I met him, he became a father figure to me. I am not sure we communicated very well because of language barriers, but I remember the power of the sanctity of his office. I remember feeling so strongly that he was my bishop. I looked up to him, and I never wanted to do anything that would disappoint him.”
While some may feel hesitant to meet with their bishops or might critique their bishop’s flaws, Elder Costa cautioned students to withhold judgment. God chooses to work through imperfect people. He quoted counsel from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “You will find that this Church is filled with some of the finest people this world has to offer. They are welcoming, loving, kind, and sincere. They are hardworking, willing to sacrifice, and even heroic at times. And they are also painfully imperfect. … Regardless of our differences, we seek to embrace one another as sons and daughters of our beloved Heavenly Father” (“Believe, Love, Do,” Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Elder Costa clarified, “The bishop has the keys to repentance; it is an act of faith to see your bishop. Do not fear meeting with your bishop. You will never find peace without the keys to repentance. He will help you apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your life. Trust the keys of the priesthood and give your bishop a chance. I wish I had had a bishop when I was in college” (see Doctrine and Covenants 107:74).
The Importance of the Temples
Whenever he has a challenge, Elder Costa says that he now turns to the Lord for help by visiting Him in a holy temple. Elder Costa reflected, “I wish I had known that there was a place I could go for peace, to share my yoke with Him, to learn about the plan of salvation. The temple is the Lord’s classroom. Please, make … temple attendance part of your education.” Turning to the Lord by visiting His temples can help individuals see their problems with greater perspective.
Sister Costa recalled the early days of when she and Elder Costa began dating in Argentina. Initially she declined to marry Elder Costa in order to keep her goal to marry in the temple. She explained, “Buenos Aires in the ’80s was not like Rexburg today; the list of eligible bachelors was pretty short. Imagine then how hard it was when this amazing young man that melted my heart asked me to marry him and I had to say, no. It was painful and heartbreaking. It was a sacrifice, an act of faith.”
After Elder Costa received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1987, he proposed again. In September 1989, Elder and Sister Costa were married in a house of the Lord.
The temple is a key part of the plan of salvation and a necessary part of each individual’s earthly education. Sister Costa added, “Bring to the temple your greatest joys, your biggest sorrows, and your deepest questions.”
The Importance of Repentance
Elder Costa next emphasized that, “Repentance is an act of faith. And forgiveness, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, is an act of love.”
Although Elder Costa knew about Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary as a young man, he wishes he had known more about Gethsemane and the true meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He recommended, “We need to learn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, speak about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and apply the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives” (see Topical Guide: Jesus Christ, Atonement through).
Concluding his remarks, Elder Costa encouraged students to use this year as an opportunity to come to know the Savior better through their study of the New Testament: “We now have an extra hour every Sunday to gather with friends, roommates, ministering brothers and sisters to learn more of Him. As we invest time in learning about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, we are drawn to participate in another key element of accessing His power: we choose to have faith in Him and follow Him.”