Elder Gong’s Central America visit includes focus on children and youth

Elder Gerrit W. Gong meets with Panama’s vice president, and Sister Susan L. Gong delivers a donation in Guatemala

While ministering in Central America, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with the vice president of Panama, José Gabriel Carrizo, on Nov. 15.

They discussed humanitarian projects and the importance of caring for and strengthening Panamanian youth, including helping them in their intellectual, emotional and spiritual development, reported the Church’s Panama Newsroom site.

Elder Gong showed Carrizo the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide, explaining how it empowers youth to be better people and citizens. He also presented the vice president with a Christus statue and expressed his appreciation for the meeting and for the kind people of Panama.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, presents a Christus statue to Panama Vice President José Gabriel Carrizo on Nov. 15, 2022 in Panama. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Carrizo thanked Elder Gong for his visit and the valuable humanitarian work of the Church in Panama, especially what was provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elder Gong was accompanied in Panama by his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong; Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Elder Taylor G. Godoy, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Central America Area presidency.

The ministry tour also included Guatemala. While there on Nov. 14, Sister Gong helped deliver a donation made by the Church to Guatemala’s Centro de Atención Integral, or CAI, which offers free childcare and services for low-income families.

The donation included refrigerators, stoves, mixers, blenders, food carts, food processors and large colored foam mats, reported the Church’s Guatemala Newsroom

Sister Gong was joined by Sister Teixeira and Sister Godoy, as well as Sister Jill Taylor, wife of Elder Brian K. Taylor, General Authority Seventy and the president of the Central America Area; and Sister María Eugenia Giuffra, the wife of Elder Patricio M. Giuffra, second counselor in the Central America Area presidency and a General Authority Seventy.

The organization said the donation will help the staff prepare food for more than a thousand babies and children cared for in the daycare centers and who receive education and food.

Sister Gong told the CAI authorities she felt honored and grateful to be with them. “You are doing a great and important job blessing so many children, and we know you are doing God’s work.”

Newsroom reported that Sister Gong spoke about how Jesus Christ blessed the children one by one during His visit to ancient America (3 Nephi 17:11–12), adding that research shows that the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual care children receive in their younger years lays the foundation for the trajectory of their lives.

“Your work helps children reach their full potential. ... Thank you for your good work, your service, your example, thank you for all the good you do, and thank you for letting us be a small part of the good you do,” Sister Gong said. 

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