Elder Gong gives 3 invitations to Winnipeg-area youth to discover faith, ‘enduring joy’ in Canada’s newest temple

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is extending three invitations to Latter-day Saint youth in Canada’s Winnipeg area who are counting down the days until that city’s first temple is dedicated.

The Apostle issued the trio of temple-related calls during a Sunday, Oct. 24, devotional broadcast for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district. Elder Gong was joined by his wife, Sister Susan Gong, along with Elder Kevin R. Duncan and Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong, both General Authority Seventies, and their wives, Sister Nancy Duncan and Sister Carol Wong.

Elder Duncan is executive director of the Temple Department; Elder Wong is a counselor in the North America Central Area presidency.

The General Authorities and their wives also participated in a lively discussion about temple blessings and opportunities with six youth from the Winnipeg area.

An exterior view of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple in the morning.
An exterior view of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple in the morning. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Gong’s first invitation: If circumstances permit, please plan to attend the Oct. 31 dedication of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple.

“In these dedicatory sessions, we will sing the traditional hymn ‘The Spirit of God’ and participate in the Hosannah Anthem and Shout,” said Elder Gong. Elder Gong has been assigned by President Russell M. Nelson to offer the dedicatory prayer.    

“If your circumstances permit, we warmly invite and welcome you to talk with your bishop or branch president so you can come be part of this historic dedication of a temple in Manitoba.”

The recommend desk at the entrance of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple.
The recommend desk at the entrance of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Gong’s second invitation: Commit today to live worthy to hold a temple recommend — then use it to bless others.

“You will find enduring joy as you come with your family or your class or quorum or other friends to bless others by performing proxy baptisms and confirmations. There is so much you can now do as you serve in the temple.”

The Winnipeg-area youth, he added, can continue to find names of family members who are waiting for temple ordinances that they can choose to accept.

FamilySearch and other useful tools for family history and genealogy can help locate this important information. We always welcome you to come to the temple, but you will find your temple service is especially meaningful when you come with name cards to perform ordinances for your deceased family members.”

Elder Gong spoke of the joy he has found discovering the names of some of his own distant ancestors through family history research.

“Please let the holy temple be your guide and goal as you look forward to being married and sealed for time and eternity,” he said. “As we say, temple marriage with the right person, at the right time, in the right place, by priesthood authority from God is joyous.”

The celestial room inside the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple.
The celestial room inside the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Gong’s third invitation: Let the holy temple “draw you close to God our Eternal Father and His Beloved Son, our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.”  

He counseled the youth to live with faith in every footstep — and always have clean hands and a pure heart.

“Written above the entrance of the temple are the words Holiness to the Lord, House of the Lord,” said Elder Gong. “These words invite us to center our faith and lives in Jesus Christ, to speak of Him reverently and fondly, and to live with gratitude as we seek to follow His example.”

The temple helps one become more spiritual, sanctified and holy. The temple helps one become more like the Savior.

“Our families and precious relationships can continue beyond the grave,” he said. “Sacred ordinances and covenants are open to all who love the Lord and obey His commandments. These sacred ordinances and covenants found in holy temples, including in the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple, make it possible for you and me to return to the presence of God and for our families and dear ones to be united eternally.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Sister Susan Gong share counsel during Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Sister Susan Gong share counsel during Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district. Credit: Screenshot

In her brief remarks, Sister Gong spoke of how personal sacrifice has always been a defining element of temple worship. She shared the account of a Latter-day Saint woman in Asia who pawned her precious wedding jewelry to raise money for a pair of friends to make the costly trip to be sealed in the temple. That selfless woman understood deeply the importance of her loved ones’ entering into sacred covenants in the temple. She willingly parted with her material valuables so others could know the joy of such priceless covenants.

Other Latter-day Saints, Sister Gong said, make sacrifices to serve in the temple by following the Lord’s commands and giving up pride and contention with others. Such sacrifices help place people’s lives in harmony with Him.

“I am grateful for temple covenants and temple blessings that help make us His people,” said Sister Gong.

Sister Nancy Duncan and Elder Kevin R. Duncan participate in Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district.
Sister Nancy Duncan and Elder Kevin R. Duncan participate in Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district. Credit: Screenshot

Serving in the temple brings joy to ancestors who have passed through mortality, taught Elder Duncan. Joy is synonymous with a dedicated house of God.

The temple, he added, “is a manifestation of His love for each and every one of us.”

Sister Duncan spoke of the joy she feels now that she can again worship in the temple following the pandemic-prompted temple closures. She promised the youth that miracles “will fall from heaven” when they are involved in temple and family history work.

Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong and Sister Carol Wong participate in a Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Canada Temple district.
Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong and Sister Carol Wong participate in a Oct. 24, 2021, devotional for youth residing in the new Winnipeg Canada Temple district. Credit: Screenshot

Sister Wong testified that temple service blesses the lives of others and brings them closer to salvation. Temples allow Latter-day Saint youth to become more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Elder Wong promised the young people participating in Saturday’s devotional that they would be the “pioneers of using the temple in Winnipeg.” Decades from now, they will share their memories of serving in the temple with their children and grandchildren.

Temple talk with Winnipeg-area youth

The youth panel, which enjoyed a wide-ranging, thoughtful discussion about temple work with the Gongs, Wongs and Duncans, was composed of Maria-Claude Palmer, Thomas Cormack, Wyatt Holmes, Emily Sanchez-Aldana, Rebecca Christensen and Ethan de Guzman.

Elder Gong asked his young friends several questions about the new temple — including their thoughts about having a temple opening in Winnipeg, how the temple helps them draw closer to Jesus Christ and how they are sharing the temple with their friends.

Having a temple in Winnipeg, said Rebecca, “feels like such a blessing to have it so close. Now we can go whenever we want.”

A collection of youth from the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district participate in a panel discussion with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and several other Church leaders during Oct. 24, 2021, youth devotional.
A collection of youth from the new Winnipeg Manitoba Temple district participate in a panel discussion with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and several other Church leaders during Oct. 24, 2021, youth devotional. Credit: Screenshot

Thomas added that the Winnipeg temple will provide “great missionary experiences” and opportunities to invite curious friends to learn more about the purposes of temples.

Emily observed that the temple is where she can step away from the world’s distractions and become closer to the Lord. “In the temple, it becomes so much easier to speak to Him.”

Marie-Claude testified that sacrificing things in order to make the temple a priority brings peace and “shows Heavenly Father how much we love Him.”

Ethan smiled as he spoke of his enthusiasm for serving in the temple. “It feels so good just walking in the front door,” he said.

Wyatt was one of the younger panelists. But he shared a mature witness of making temple service a priority in his life. “The temple,” he said, “will come first.”

The baptistry of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple.
The baptistry of the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Correction: An earlier version of this article had Emily Sanchez-Aldana’s name spelling incorrectly.