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Elder and Sister Gong Uplift Cebuano Youth in Devotional


Elder Geritt W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spooke to more than 500 youth ages ages12-17 about the value of a name, emblems of belonging, and their “very bright future”  in a devotional held in Cebu City, Philippines, on February 19.

Elder Geritt W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan L. Gong joined young men and women, ages12-17, in a devotional held in Cebu City, Philippines on February 19. 

Accompanying Elder Gong were his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong; Philippines Area President Elder Taniela B. Wakolo; his wife, Anita Wakolo; and Area Authority Seventy Elder Edmarc Dumas with his wife Sister Donna Dell Dumas. About 555 young men and women from Talisay, Mandaue, Cebu City, Cebu Central and Liloan Stakes (dioceses) in the island of Cebu attended the devotional. 

Elder Gong’s visit was the first time since Elder Quentin L. Cook’s visit in January 2020 which was cut short by the Taal Volcano eruption in Batangas, Philippines. It came at a time after travel restrictions in the Philippines were eased following a period of heightened security because of the surge in COVID-19 cases and the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (International Name: Rai) late last year. 

Value of a Name

Elder Gong shared how he got his name and then asked some of the youth to share the definition and origin of their names. “Make your name a name that people respect,” he said.

Explaing that “when we are baptized, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ,” Elder Gong asked, “What does that mean to you?”

One youth responded that “[she is] a precious daughter of God,” while another answered, “It means I am saved through His Atonement.” Elder Gong then taught, “Your name is attached and connected to Jesus Christ.” 

Emblems of Belonging 

When Elder Gong asked the young women, “What does your [Young Women] medallion mean to you?” several expressed that idea that the medallion is a symbol that they are daughters of God and a reminder that they should be an example to everyone. 

Elder Gong held up the emblems given to young men and women, including the temple recommend holder with Christ’s image, and said, “There is a theme in these emblems. It is the temple and Jesus Christ.” He then encouraged the youth to be part of the #4600 who will serve a mission within the next four years as he showed his “I Will Go, I Will Serve” wristband. 

A ‘Very Bright’ Future

“The decisions that we make open the future and close it,” Elder Gong said. “Decisions to pray open the future. Decisions that lead you to commit sin, close it. Choose things that will open your future. For example, gaming is fun. Too much gaming is a decision that will close your future. Choose the things that will give you limitless possibilities.” 

He related the story of Nephi and the broken bow. Nephi had so much faith that the Lord had commanded him to make just a single arrow, he said. “He may tell you to make many arrows, but sometimes He will tell you to make an arrow.” 

Sister Gong’s message focused on trusting the Lord. Trust that answers to our prayer come in Christ’s way, she said She shared a story about a friend’s daughter who was having a difficult time making friends after their family moved to a new state. The girl prayed that she would not have to go back to school, but her mother suggested changing her prayer. At her mother’s advice, she then changed her prayer for her to make just one friend, which was fulfilled instantly. Sister Gong said, “Prayer is not a vending machine. It is a conversation with God.” 

Reflections from the Youth 

During the devotional, several youth were given a chance to speak to Elder Gong and share their testimonies with him, and several expressed their joy after they participated in the devotional. 

Kit, 18, from Lapu Lapu, said, “What I learned from Elder Gong is that we choose what opens our future."

Leah, 18, also from Lapu-Lapu shared, “I learned a lot. I learned that the symbols and emblems point directly to Jesus Christ.” 

Samantha, 15, from Talisay reflected, “Prayer is very essential in our lives. Like Elder Gong mentioned, by choosing the right choices, we open doors. I am so grateful that I grew up in the Church because it has helped me choose the right and has protected me from worldly things. I know that the Savior’s standards are true and exact.” 

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