‘This is the time for Mexico,’ Elder Gong tells young adults in Cancún

Elder Gerrit W. Gong invites young adults in the Yucatán Peninsula to build spiritual foundations with faith in Jesus Christ and look to a bright future

In a Mexico Area young adult devotional on Sunday, Oct. 23, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the Savior’s love and desire to bless every one of Heavenly Father’s children.

“It does not matter if you are the first generation or the fifth generation in the Church. Each of us can be a strong welding link in our eternal family.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles listens to the response to a question at a young adult devotional in Cancún, Mexico, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The event was broadcast from Cancún, Mexico, and viewed by more than 11,000 young adults around the country.

Elder Gong shared the conversion story of his mother, who is now 96 years old. She was the only one in her family who was baptized. Yet she has been faithful and steadfast all her life, he said. 

Elder Gong told the young adults who may be the only members of the Church in their families that they should continue strong in the Church and bless both past and future generations. 

Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy said close to 2,000 young missionaries will be called to serve from Mexico this year. 

“We can feel your faithfulness as we watch you with each other today,” he said. 

Elder Teixeira reflected on the progress that has been made in Mexico and said there is even more to come down the road. 

“And you are a part of this great miracle,” he said. 

Elder Gong introduced three themes for his discussion with the young adults – spiritual foundation; faith, family, and future; and this is the time for Mexico. 

Spiritual foundation

Elder Gong asked what the young adults do to strengthen their spiritual foundations. 

Answers included reading the scriptures, attending the temple (the nearest temple to Cancún is in Mérida, four hours away), and doing family history work.

Elder Hugo Montoya, General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Mexico Area, said he and his wife, Sister Carmen Montoya, had to either travel to Mexico City or Mesa, Arizona, to go to the temple when they were newly married. 

They traveled with other couples who also saved up to make one temple trip per year.

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Elder Adrián Ochoa, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Mexico Area presidency, said he would pray for strength every morning after he and his wife, Sister Nancy Ochoa, were sealed.

“Thinking about eternity gave me the energy I needed to be a better spouse and listen to my wife and become one with her.”

Elder Sean Douglas, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Mexico Area presidency, said he and his wife, Sister Ann Douglas, try to read at least one verse in the scriptures each day together. They have made it a priority for the 37 years they have been married. 

Serving in the temple and doing family history work stood out to Sister Susan Gong.

“I am so excited about family history. It is a kind of service,” she said. “Many kinds of service help us understand ourselves better, other people better, and our relationship with Heavenly Father. 

“Service with our families is always a priority and always brings blessings.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong greets a young adult at a devotional in Cancún, Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Gong taught about spiritual muscle memory and the benefits of making good choices before a temptation comes. Whether the decision involves pornography, alcohol, cigarettes or other temptations, Elder Gong said knowing the right decision beforehand is better than choosing in the moment. 

“If there is something in your life where you need to fix the memory in your spiritual muscle, will you decide to do it today?” he asked. 

Recognizing that others are fixing their spiritual muscle memory, as well, Elder Gong invited kindness in interactions with others.

“In the Church, we must be the most kind, the most open to everybody,” he said. “We judge less and forgive more, while obeying the commandments and sharing the blessings of doing so.” 

Faith, family and future

Elder Ochoa talked about the day he and his wife were sealed in the temple. 

“That moment helped me to recognize that our family wouldn’t be until death when we would part. It would be eternal. ... 

“This made me trust much more in God and have more strength to move forward and do the things I needed to do.”

Elder Gong invited an attendee to read Doctrine and Covenants 38:30: “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” 

To illustrate how preparation can work in one’s life, Elder Gong shared a story about moving as far as the headlights on a car illuminate the path ahead. The headlights provide light only so far down the path, he explained. But as the car moves forward, the light also moves forward to light the path ahead, he said. 

Eternal identity

Elder Gong talked about some characteristics to look for in a potential spouse.

“If you want to know what someone’s heart is like, watch what they laugh at. Humor tells you much about a person. Choose someone who laughs with you, not someone who laughs at other people.”

Elder Gong told audience members that they also need to be kind to themselves. 

“When you go home tonight and you look at yourself in the mirror, please see yourself the way the Lord sees you. 

“And then, when you look at each other, can you also learn to see each other the way the Lord sees us? We judge too much on the outside.”

Elder Gong shared the words from 1 Samuel 16:7 where the Lord teaches that He “seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 

“When you go to look for your companion, look at the heart, look at their potential, look at their love for the Lord, look at their desire to serve.”

This is the time for Mexico

Elder Montoya said he understands that some in Cancún wonder why they don’t have a temple closer to them. 

Twenty-three temples is a blessing for Mexico, Elder Montoya said. And regardless of how close one lives to a temple, it is important to follow the commandments and be worthy of a temple recommend, he said. 

As he closed the meeting, Elder Gong shared his testimony in Spanish with the young adults. 

Young adults in Cancún, Mexico listen at a devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“God is our Father. He lives. He loves each one of us, one by one,” Elder Gong said. 

He invited the young adults to draw closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through serving and worshiping in the temple. He said the temple is truly the Lord’s house and that He says to all, “Mi casa es su casa” (“My house is your house”).

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