Elder and Sister Gong host RootsTech follow-up through Instagram Q&A

Elder Gong talks about ancestral lands, accepting ordinances and other answers about temple and family history work

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, held a live Q&A on Instagram on Thursday, March 9. 

In their 19-minute question-and-answer session — a follow-up to the devotionals and classes at RootsTech 2023 — they answered questions about how to make temple and family history work more meaningful.

Here are some of the questions they answered:

‘Is it valuable to visit ancestral lands?’

“It’s not always possible to go to your homeland,” admitted Elder Gong, “but I think when it is possible, it’s very meaningful to be on site of places that have been important for your family.”

Earlier this year, Elder and Sister Gong traveled to Hawaii, where his grandparents lived, and Ireland, where Sister Gong’s ancestors lived. The opportunity to discover their heritage, she recounted on Instagram Live, was a “magical moment” that deepened their connections to family.

“Family identity,” Sister Gong said, “is enhanced by all those experiences.”

‘Do you have any tips to avoid making temple service feel routine when you serve often?’

Sister Gong has found uniqueness in each temple session by recognizing the power in going through the temple for the first time: “This is a whole new experience for them. This is not something they’ve ever done before. ... [Remembering that] makes it more personal and meaningful.”

“The ordinance is universal,” said Elder Gong, “but the accomplishment of the ordinance is individual.”

He said that completing temple work is not something that just happens to the deceased individual. Rather, “It’s something that they get to choose because someone was willing to give them that opportunity.”

‘How do you think we retain the spirit of the temple in our lives if we are currently unable to attend?’

“I love the idea that you can have a picture of the temple,” Elder Gong said, “and feel close to the Lord through the temple, wherever we might be.”

Other ways to feel close to the temple from afar, he said, include connecting deeply with family, remembering the ordinances that draw someone to the Savior and recognizing that life continues on both sides of the veil.

“There are more and more temples around the world,” Sister Gong added, “and if distance is the thing that’s keeping you from the temple, that won’t always be the case.”

The Lord’s role in temple work

To close the internet devotional, Elder Gong responded to a commenter whose parents passed away within the last couple of weeks.

“Sometimes our families are not as harmonious as we would like,” he said after extending condolences. “And I’ve really come to feel and believe and know that the Atonement of our Savior makes it so we can reconcile and find peace with each other. ... Even across the veil, the Lord helps us.” 

To hear more responses about temple and family history work, watch the full Q&A video on Elder Gong’s Instagram page.

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