Monday, September 29, 2014

9-29-14 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

This past week I had to opportunity to interview a member from one of the stakes in our mission. He was baptized several years ago and has remained fairly active in the Church. He was fellowshipped by the members of his ward and given opportunities to serve others. He has established friendships that have helped him and blessed his life. He expressed to me his belief that the gospel is perfect and the Church is true. At one time he was strongly considering serving a full-time mission. Despite all of this, he has been troubled by nagging feelings that he had been pressured and manipulated at the time of his baptism. He has been so consumed by these intense feelings that he is actually contemplating leaving the Church. As he related to me his recollection of the events at the time of his baptism, I could understand why he would be struggling with such feelings. In his mind, the missionaries had treated him more like a statistic than someone they loved.

Since our recent zone conference, many of you have commented in your letters about my invitation to “measure all that we do according to our missionary purpose.” I have appreciated your thoughts and insights. I would like to share with you two excerpts from emails that I received this week:

“Drawing from my own experience as a convert and the perspectives expressed to me by other recent converts I have befriended … I think nearly every convert at one point or another of their conversion will wonder if they are being manipulated or tricked in some way. This question will persistently hang in the back of their mind, even if they are not constantly thinking or wondering about it…It's unfortunate that in my correspondence with some of my convert friends (who were at one point or another struggling to adjust to our faith) some of them have expressed contempt at techniques used by their missionaries which they have felt were dishonest or coercive. Unfortunately fixation upon these unpleasant and unnecessary experiences have become for them stumbling-blocks, detracting them from tasting the goodness of the gospel and enduring on the simple path paved by Christ.”

“It has been such an honor and joy to serve with Sister ________.... She has inspired me to be a better missionary, and a holier person. We have actively worked together to focus all our thoughts on Christ and our mission. To not compare to others, to say nothing negative or sarcastic, or about the past or future (on or off mission). I've truly felt numbers become simply a measurement, nothing that controls us nor we try to control. The lessons and new investigators have just happened by the hand of the Lord as we try to keep our spiritual eyes and ears open.”

When Sister Blickenstaff and I attended the mission president’s seminar in February, Elder Holland reminded us that, “this work is a labor of love, and must be a labor of love.” On page 10 of Preach My Gospel we learn that one of the ways we can know we are a successful missionary is if we “love the people and desire their salvation.” Moroni taught that charity is the “pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47) and invited us to “pray unto the Father will all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love” (Mor. 7:48).  We learn in PMG that as we strive to develop charity and live righteously, our “love for all people will increase, especially those among whom [we] labor” (PMG, pg. 118).

We will find greater fulfillment and joy in this work as we strive to serve in the Lord’s way and to follow His example in all things. Thank you for your faith and diligence and for striving to let the pure love of Christ be your motivation for all that you do.

President Blickenstaff

Mentor of Champions

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September 2014 Baptisms

Wuquan 1, September 28
Yuanlin 1, September 27
Miracle Baptism!
Wuquan English Branch, September 21
Dakeng, September 13

Guiren, September 13
This sister attended church for the first time at her brother's baptism five weeks ago on August 9.
After she gained her own testimony of prayer and the Book of Mormon, she readily accepted baptism!
Taiping, September 13
 Yuanlin 1, September 13

If you would like to see your missionary's convert baptisms here, please email me the photo. 
Be sure to include the ward and date of the baptism!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

9-24-14 New Arriving Missionaries!

We are so grateful for our Taiwanese missionaries! If it weren't for these three young servants of the Lord, we wouldn't be picking up any missionaries due to visa delays. All of our 21 American Taichung missionaries have been reassigned to other missions in the states, but hopefully only for one transfer! We have hope and faith that they will come soon! Please keep them in your prayers!
 Saying goodbye to their translator in the Philippine MTC:
Morning mile run at the track:

Buddha claps:
 P90X Yoga:
 Warrior One:

Ready to start the day!
Morning Orientation:
Lunch from Thefreen Burger:
 APs train on contacting:
Practicing with their trainers:

 President hands out the red envelopes with the names of their first companion and area:
Dinner with their first companion:
 Our newest missionaries:

9-24-14 North Training Follow Up Meeting

Wuquan Chapel

Monday, September 22, 2014

9-22-14 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

It was great seeing you this past week as we held zone conferences. I love the quick moment that I had with each of you as I shook your hand and looked into your eyes. I asked for the gift of discernment to know how you are doing. I loved the opportunities that we had to share our thoughts and learn together as we discussed the various topics. I always come away with a feeling of gratitude and reassurance after zone conferences. I am grateful to have so many missionaries who are faithful, dedicated, and understand their purpose.  I feel reassured that so many of you are doing and learning great things as you serve the Lord and the people in your area.

As I prepared for our meetings last week, one phrase stuck with me. It was something that Elder Bednar said in his talk in this year’s seminar for new mission presidents. He said we should “interact to edify.” As I talk with you and read your letters each week, I love hearing of instances where missionaries courageously stand for what is right. It is not always necessary to “wield a sword” or do something dramatic in order to stand for truth and righteousness. Sometimes just a kind word, a dignified manner, or refusing to argue, criticize or engage in negative talk is a powerful means of inspiring others to be their best self. I am so grateful for missionaries who interact to edify others.

As I read your emails each week, I find some of your insights, experiences and comments so inspiring that I save them for future use. A paragraph or a few sentences saved each week…now the document is 21 pages! My only regret is not having started keeping this record earlier in my service. Here are two excerpts from last week’s letters:

我上個禮拜所讀到的經文、利阿賀拿、宣講我的福音,都剛好談到我要如何幫助我的傳道事工,有的時候我們會看這些小小的規定可能違反一下沒什麼大不了,可是,如果這是為了幫助我們傳教士更能專注於神的事工的話,讓我們更知道服從的祝福,那這些都會是幫助我們成長的好事情。天父希望我們可以變的跟耶穌基督一樣,但是如果我們沒有努力去做,那天父會看不到我們的成長,並且我們也無法得到生活上良好的知識。  抱歉這次幾乎都是用中文寫信,因為我今天花了很多的時間在思考著要怎麼寫這封信給你,因為我真的很不希望每位來傳教的傳教士們,他們的行為跟思想還是跟傳教前是一樣的.....我真的很想要幫助他們每一位,但是我自己的能力也很有限,他們每一位其實都有很棒的部分,只是有的時候會沒什麼信心。雖然我知道可能我自己也需要做些改變,但是我知道如果這是聖靈在告訴我的事情,那我會努力地去做.”

“As I have recently started the Book of Mormon over again I just wanted to share a couple things I learned from the first chapter of Nephi about How to become a better person or moreover becoming a man of God. So what I learned from chapter one is a man of God respects and praises others and his parents, recognizes his trials and seeks the Lords help to overcome them, receives inspiration and listens, is learned, makes records of his dealings, prays unto the Lord in behalf of others, Praises God!, Follows orders from on high, does not fear men, and is chosen by the Lord. I personally want to also focus on the last one, being chosen of the Lord, after all we are all called on by the Lord to serve him, but being chosen I feel has a deeper meaning and takes more action. Just a few insights from my personal study.”

As I read these emails, I saw missionaries who are growing, learning and yearning to edify others. I hope that we can interact to edify in all that we do.

President Blickenstaff

Mentor of Edifying Champions

Friday, September 19, 2014

9-18-14 Gaoxiong East and West Zone Conference

New Missionary Introductions:

Special Musical Number:
Departing Missionary Reflections:
District Leaders Meeting:
Gaoxiong East and West Zones:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

9-18-14 Zhongxing, Jiayi, and Tainan Zone Conference

 New Missionaries Introductions:
 President instructs on Our Missionary Purpose:

 President introduces his newly called Second Counselor:
 President Chen addresses the missionaries on Taiwanese culture:
 Learning about Apartment Cleanliness and CO Monitor Safety through Jeapardy!


 APs train on Focusing on the Fundamentals:
  Beautiful musical number:
 This convert of two years (on left) was taught the gospel by this sister (on right) while she was serving as a short-term missionary in Taipei. Short-term missionaries are usually youth who serve for a week during their summer vacation. The sister went on to serve a full-time mission, during which she was able to go through the temple with her new convert who was preparing to serve a mission. 
The new convert submitted her mission application and received her call to the same mission! 
There were many tears shed for joy as they were able to see each other for the first time, both as missionaries for the Taiwan Taichung Mission!
 These lovely sisters helped me in the kitchen afterwards!
 District Leaders Meeting
Zhongxing, Jiayi, and Tainan Zones