Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been ministering in Central America this week.
While there, he met the vice president of Panama, José Gabriel Carrizo, on Nov. 15. They discussed humanitarian projects and the importance of caring for and strengthening Panamanian youth, including helping them in their intellectual, emotional and spiritual development, reported the Church’s Panama Newsroom site.
Elder Gong showed Carrizo the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide, explaining how it empowers youth to be better people and citizens. He also presented the vice president with a Christus statue and expressed his gratitude for the meeting and for the kind people of Panama.
Carrizo thanked Elder Gong for his visit and the valuable humanitarian work of the Church in Panama, especially what was provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elder Gong was accompanied by his wife, Sister Susan L. Gong; Elder José A. Teixeira of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Filomena Teixeira; and Elder Taylor G. Godoy, first counselor in the Central America Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Carol Godoy.
The ministry tour also included Guatemala. While there on Nov. 14, Sister Gong helped deliver a donation made by the Church to Guatemala’s Centro de Atención Integral, or CAI, which offers free childcare and services for low-income families.
The donation included refrigerators, stoves, mixers, blenders, food cars, food processors and large colored foam mats, reported the Church’s Guatemala Newsroom.
Sister Gong was joined by Sister Teixeira and Sister Godoy, as well as Sister Jill Taylor, wife of Elder Brian K. Taylor, the president of the Central America Area; and Sister María Eugenia Giuffra, the wife of Elder Patricio M. Giuffra, second counselor in the Central America Area presidency.
The organization said the donation will help the staff prepare food for more than a thousand babies and children cared for in the daycare centers and who receive education and food.
Sister Gong told the CAI authorities she felt honored and grateful to be with them. “You are doing a great and important job blessing so many children and we know you are doing God’s work.”
Newsroom reported that Sister Gong spoke about how Jesus Christ blessed the children one by one each child during his visit to ancient America (3 Nephi 17:11–12), adding that research shows that the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual care children receive in their younger years lays the foundation for the trajectory of their lives.
“Your work helps children reach their full potential. … Thank you for your good work, your service, your example, thank you for all the good you do, and thank you for leaving us a small part of the good you do,” Sister Gong said.