Thursday, April 30, 2015

4-30-15 Mission Leadership Council

Introducing our newest missionary to our mission leaders:
Presenting zone stats:
President instructs:

Lunch for a crowd:


APs instruct on effective planning:
Conducting a group discussion by our District Leaders:
Many of our most experienced missionaries were asked to serve as District Leaders this transfer:
Closing with the mission song:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

4-28-15 New Missionary Arrival - My Mother!

Our longest visa waiter has finally arrived in Taiwan:
Sis. Chao was so happy to finally shake hands with her Mission President, and son-in-law:
We are so excited to have her serve in the Taichung Mission!
Bus ride back from taking our departing missionaries to the temple:
Up early the next morning to exercise…her first time on an elliptical machine!
The restaurant waitresses are always a little dismayed that so much food is left over after our orientation dinners. Not this time! 
Mom is already making friends with my friends:)

4-29-15 Departing Missionaries

Twelve stalwart missionaries gathering at the mission home for their last evening in the Taiwan Taichung Mission:
Sharing their testimonies with each other:

Watching their farewell video:
We love them so much!
Sharing some thoughts with each other on the bus ride to the temple: 
1) What was their favorite area
2) What will they miss the most about Taiwan
3) What will they do first when they get home!
 This sister's family was waiting for her!

 Looks like she has a twin now:
 We love to attend the temple with our returning missionaries before the depart!

 Families Can Be Together Forever:)
 Outside with our APs:
Perhaps the last time these twins will see each other while on their missions:
 Handmade noodles for lunch before saying goodbye:

We will miss these valiant missionaries!

Monday, April 27, 2015

4-27-15 President's Weekly Letter

Yesterday was one of the great days of my life. I felt so privileged to attend an historic stake conference held in Taichung during which a third stake was created in Taichung. Our Area President, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, presided over the conference and his first counselor, Elder Randy D. Funk, was also in attendance. In addition to these two general authorities, three Area Seventies and the Taipei Temple President and Matron attended and shared their testimonies. During the conference, we were reminded that the Asia Area contains half of the world’s population and that Taiwan contains half of all of the stakes of Zion in the Asia area. We are so blessed to live and work in such a remarkable place. I love it here!

Last week we welcomed 30 new missionaries to our ranks, including 7 local missionaries, 13 who had been reassigned to temporary missions in the US while awaiting their visas, and 10 who came directly from the Provo MTC on their original assignment date. Our mission currently consists of many newly arrived as well as nearly finished. We have many great and experienced missionaries nearing the end of their service. We also have 54 companionships involved in various stages of training. It is an interesting and exciting time to be in the Taichung Mission. We hope to learn as much as we can from those who will soon return home. We need to continue to establish, preserve and improve our mission culture of worthy, obedient and diligent missionaries who know what to do to accomplish our purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.

We currently have 212 investigators with baptismal dates. I am very pleased that you are responding to the invitation to become “Challenging and Testifying” missionaries, as per the talk by President Alvin R. Dyer that we studied during our last zone conferences. We are struggling, however, to help those with baptismal goals progress, keep their commitments, and actually receive baptism. Too many are not “rolling over” each week in order to continue to progress. I believe that we need to give greater attention to helping our investigators keep their commitments to attend church meetings. I also believe that we need to contact every investigator daily as instructed on the back-inside cover of Preach My Gospel. Please consider these two aspects of our work, and perhaps others that I have not mentioned, during personal and companionship study and planning to see what you can do to improve. I believe that as we continually study the scriptures and PMG and seek inspiration as to how we can do things better, the Lord will reveal unto us our weaknesses and instruct us as to what we need to do to become strong in His hands (see Ether 12:27 and 2Ne. 32: 3, 5).

President Blickenstaff

Mentor of Champions

Sunday, April 26, 2015

4-2015 Historical Taichung Stakes Reorganization!

An historical event took place this weekend in Taichung! The Taichung and Taichung North Stakes were divided into three stakes: Taichung West, Taichung South, and Taichung East. Preceding this division, several new wards were recently created: Qingshui Branch from Shalu Ward, Wuquan Third Ward from Wuquan First Ward, Dali Ward from Wufeng Ward, Houfeng and Dongfeng Wards from Fengyuan Ward. 
While Elders Gong and Funk conducted interviews on Saturday as part of the calling process of the new stake presidents, Sisters Gong, Funk, and I joined our sisters for a lesson with one of their investigator who was preparing for baptism the very same evening. They actually had two sisters who were baptized Saturday evening!
With our beloved Taichung North Stake President Kuan being called to serve as an Area Seventy, two new stake presidencies were called. Both of Elder Kuan's counselors are now serving as stake presidents, over the Taichung West and East stakes! 
The stakes were reorganized by our Asia Area Presidency members Elders Gong and Funk, assisted by our Area Seventies Elders Chow and Kuan. 
Grateful for all the wives of these dedicated leaders! Also in attendance was our recently released Area Seventy Elder Ruan and Taipei Temple President and Matron. It was an amazing conference!
The Asia Area (10 missions: Taiwan Taichung, Taiwan Taipei, China Hong Kong, Thailand Bangkok, Cambodia Phnom Penh, Indonesia, Singapore, Mongolia Ulaanbaatar, India New Delhi, and India Bangalore) includes over half of the population of the world. There are currently 26 stakes, 13 of which are in Taiwan! Taiwan is truly a special place in the hollow of the Lord's hands, and we are so grateful to be serving here with our missionaries!

Recognize this sister and her husband, now serving in the Taichung South stake presidency?
My trusted and dedicated housekeeper! So happy for her family!
After the conference, we witnessed a little miracle. I have known this sister since our first day in Taichung almost two years ago. She greeted me after the conference and told me she had wanted to visit me but her back had been hurting for the past several weeks and she had been in extreme pain. She could barely walk, and could not bend or rotate at the waist. I asked her if she had seen a doctor or taken any medication, to which she replied that she had, to no relief. Then I asked her if she had received a priesthood blessing yet. When I found out she hadn't, I sought the elders in her area. We retired to a classroom and with great difficulty, my friend sat down in the chair, wincing in pain. President anointed her with consecrated oil, after which the senior elder offered a blessing. After the blessing, my friend was surprised that she felt much more comfortable! As she leaned forward and backward, her back loosened. She stood up slowly but felt no pain. Then she sat back down and no longer felt pain either. She was amazed at the power of the priesthood! It was then that I remembered the first day we met. We had attended the open house of the brand new Taichung North stake center, after which the sisters and I met together with her in the very same classroom. Our lesson was on the temple, and we had testified to her of the sealing powers of the temple. We encouraged her to receive her own endowment and be sealed to her deceased husband. Today I promised her again that if she set a goal to go to the temple, the Lord would provide a way. He had already granted her a miracle!
After the conclusion of the conference, it was a privilege to have these great men and their wives in our home. Joining us was Sis. Funk's sister, who had just come to Taiwan with the BYU Management Society Asia Pacific Leadership Conference as one of the speakers.
We love them and are so grateful for our association with them!