This Week on Social: To teach about faith in Jesus Christ, share stories from your ancestors

This week on social media, Church leaders shared how examples from family can build faith in Jesus Christ, and why an Oreo cookie and chocolate cake are so important to them.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, encouraged parents to share stories with their children that show faith in Jesus Christ and connect them to their ancestors. In a Jan. 14 Instagram post, President Oaks wrote about a family storybook he and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks, had created with accounts from extended family and ancestry.

“We invite you to create your own compilation of examples from your family history of those who acted on their faith in the Savior, in His leaders, and in the principles of His gospel,” he wrote. “Doing so can help you and your family turn your hearts to your ancestors.”

Sister Lisa Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, shared in a Jan. 11 Facebook post that oftentimes when her children were young, they wanted their dad to put them to bed because he told them stories.

“He would often tell them about a challenge, a success, a failure or a difficulty. By example, he showed that when you go through life staying connected to God, things always work out — even, and especially, when things are hard,” she wrote. “His example was a strengthening influence for our children.”

Each person has stories from life’s experiences that are examples of faith, repentance, endurance, trials and hope. “As we share them with our children and grandchildren, we also ‘talk of Christ [and] rejoice in Christ,’ thus teaching them ‘to what source they may look’ for their salvation” (2 Nephi 25:26).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, shared a short video of him visiting his childhood home with his son, Elder Matthew S. Holland, General Authority Seventy. The video, posted on Jan. 13 on Facebook, is an invitation to join the Holland family virtually for the RootsTech Family Discovery Day on Feb. 27.

“Families are indeed an eternal blessing from our loving Heavenly Father,” Elder Holland wrote.

Several years ago, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, visited people living in the Cara Tepe refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece. One of the children he met was a 9-year-old boy named Amer. 

President Ballard was there when Amer’s family arrived after a trip across the Aegean Sea in a rubber dingy. Volunteers handed Amer’s family snacks after their difficult journey. Amer received a roll of Oreo cookies.

In a Jan. 12 Facebook post, President Ballard wrote, “In what was one of the most selfless acts I have ever experienced, this sweet boy offered me the first cookie. In fact, he refused to eat anything until I first took one. I couldn’t help but be profoundly touched by the selflessness of one so young who had so little.”

President Ballard now keeps this cookie on his desk “as a reminder to reach out to those who struggle around the world.”

In a Jan. 12 Instagram post, Sister Cristina B. Franco, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, wrote about a Primary teacher who left a lasting impression on her life: Sister Victoria Antonietti.

Each time that Sister Franco and her Primary class gathered, Sister Antonietti brought a chocolate cake. Years later, Sister Franco learned that her Primary teacher had to make the choice between paying for a bus to take her and her family to Primary or for the ingredients for chocolate cake. 

“She always chose the chocolate cake over the bus, and she and her children walked more than two miles each way, regardless of the weather,” Sister Franco wrote.

Primary teachers today don’t have to make a chocolate cake to be successful because what matters is the love behind the action.

After speaking at a worldwide devotional on Sunday, Jan. 10, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared his invitation for participants to take actions “that will help each of you as you strive to be valiant in your testimonies of Jesus Christ,” in a Facebook post that same night. 

Wanting to improve can feel overwhelming at the start of the year, but it’s important to be patient and understanding.

“Too often we are too hard on ourselves,” Elder Gong wrote. The Lord “does not expect us to run faster than we have strength, even as we are diligent and valiant.”

The year 2021 lies ahead like a journal full of crisp, blank pages waiting to be filled. With that thought in mind, Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, shared in a Jan. 11 Facebook post what she wonders will unfold this year.

“What will I learn about myself, about others, and, most importantly, about Jesus Christ?” she asked.

The start of a new year often leads people to pushing a personal reset button. Sister Craig thinks that they do this because of an innate desire for growth and to become more like the Savior Jesus Christ. 

So, “at the beginning of this new year, I find myself filled with hope because of Him, because I know that good things are coming.”

President Joy D. Jones, Primary general president, shared about her love for the many opportunities she’s had to serve in Primary. In a Jan. 14 Instagram post, she wrote, “I have always come away feeling that the children have taught me more than I could ever teach them.”

Serving in Primary, even before she was called as Primary general president, “taught me early on how blessed we are any time we have the privilege of building relationships with children. My experience growing up in Primary and later serving in Primary assures me of Heavenly Father’s love for His little ones.”

President Russell M. Nelson shared a tweet on Jan. 14 about progressing on the covenant path.