Friday, April 22, 2022

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on connecting roots and branches

Elder Gerrit W. Gong (born December 23, 1953) was called as a Seventy in April 2010, then to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in April 2018.
"Ask friends or family to draw a living tree. As President Russell M. Nelson teaches, living trees have roots and branches. Whether you are your first or tenth known generation, connect yesterday for tomorrow. Connect the roots and branches in your living family tree....

"Still very much alive, our ancestors deserve to be remembered. We remember our heritage through oral histories, clan records and family stories, memorials or places of remembrance, and celebrations with photos, foods, or items which remind us of loved ones....

"We honor our ancestors by opening the heavens through temple and family history work and by becoming a welding link in the chain of our generations.

"In this age of 'I choose me,' societies benefit when generations connect in meaningful ways. We need roots to have wings—real relationships, meaningful service, life beyond fleeting social media veneers."

"Connecting with our ancestors can change our lives in surprising ways. From their trials and accomplishments, we gain faith and strength. From their love and sacrifices, we learn to forgive and move forward. Our children become resilient. We gain protection and power. Ties with ancestors increase family closeness, gratitude, miracles. Such ties can bring help from the other side of the veil."

- Gerrit W. Gong, "We Each Have a Story," General Conference April 2022, Saturday afternoon
Click here to read or listen to the full discourse

Elder Gong spoke about the power that exists in identifying, and "connecting," our ancestors and our descendants. I loved the personal stories he told, both of his own family and of others who shared insights on the power of making those connections.

I have appreciated that in my own life, since I lost my father at a young age. Learning more about who he was has been very meaningful and powerful to me. And I have felt that with grandparents, and others further back in the tree. Recognizing that each one was an individual, with personality, hopes, desires, dreams, challenges, disappointments - all the things that I have felt in my own life - has made me grateful for my heritage and desirous to pass on the best to those who follow.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)

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