Monday, September 28, 2015

9-26-15 Families Can Be Together Forever!

What is better than a Temple Day with your missionaries? 
Attending a sealing of a beloved family for time and all eternity!
This family was baptized last year. To their right is their bishop and wife, and his brother and wife!
 And so grateful to see so many of our returned missionaries serving in the temple!
 It is such a joy to see them coming back to the temple...
...over and over again!

 We often meet their parents, and many of them serve in the temple too!
 And we are especially happy to see recent converts coming to the temple to worship the Lord!
 Love seeing elders from the Jiayi District serving their mission in Taipei! He and his companion happened to be at the Taipei train station when we arrived the night before, and offered to take us to the temple. His father is serving as branch president in one of the Jiayi District branches and has another daughter serving in the Taipei mission as well!
We were able to celebrate August Moon Festival with our family members before we left Taipei:)

Monday, September 21, 2015

9-21-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We began another round of interviews last week with missionaries in the Taichung West, Tainan and Gaoxiong West zones. I love missionary interviews. Although the days are long, I find myself uplifted by your faith and your expectations. I am humbled by the hope and desire that so many of you have to improve and make your mission experience all that you had dreamed it would be. I know you look forward to your interview with anticipation and hope that you prepare yourselves by pondering what you hope to learn or receive from the few minutes that we spend together. If a missionary will open his or her heart to me, I can often discern much about how they are doing and what they might need in order to improve. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost, who helps me to understand and know what to say in many instances. I testify of His reality and availability if we are worthy and willing to seek for inspiration and guidance.

Last night I had the great privilege of being invited to a stake bishopric training meeting. In addition to all of the bishoprics in the stake, the ward mission leaders were also invited. We spent two hours discussing the topics of hastening the work of salvation and members and missionaries working in unity. These dear brethren care about missionaries and missionary work. They understand their responsibilities and desire to do all that they can to carry them out. They had many great questions and suggestions. Based on our discussion, here are a few things I would like to clarify:
  1. Missionaries may split with members in order to visit LA members (see PMG, p. 215). Ordinarily this would not occur more than once per week.
  2.  Companionships should not split up on Sundays during the meeting block in order to accompany investigators to different classes. You should sit next to your companion during Sunday meetings.
  3. You should attend ward/branch council every month. Do not wait to be invited. Come prepared to discuss the needs of your investigators. Find out how much time will be allotted to the discussion of missionary work and do not exceed the time you are given.
  4. If the bishop, or another ward leader, gives you an assignment, do it as soon as possible and report back on what you have done. Such assignments are a sign of trust and are a great opportunity to build more trust if handled appropriately.
  5. You may plan an English party with a Halloween theme in October. Missionaries should not wear masks or dress up like monsters or dead persons, skeletons, etc. This is a fun opportunity to share a part of our American culture that is interesting to our Taiwanese friends.

Learning to work with members is one of the key ways to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your labors. President Thomas S. Monson has said, “There is no substitute for a member-oriented proselyting program. Tracting will not substitute for it…. A member-oriented program is the key to success, and it works wherever we try it” (Mission President’s Seminar, 2008).  I hope that you will strive to understand how to include members in your proselyting efforts. I know that as we do so, we will be blessed with even greater opportunities to help others come unto Christ.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

PS. We have 15 baptisms so far this transfer. With three weeks left in the transfer, we have 11 week A, 10 week B, and 29 week C baptismal goals for a total of 65. We have 97 companionships. Let’s exercise our individual and collective faith and strive to help these people, and any others the Lord has prepared, to progress and receive the ordinance of baptism.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

9-20-15 Gaoxiong West Stake Conference

Our first day in Gaoxiong was spent interviewing missionaries in the Gaoxiong West zone. 
We were anxious to see this sister serving with her recently arrived younger brother in the same mission!
The stake conference was presided over by Area Seventy Elder Khanakham, of Thailand. 
The inspiring Saturday night adult session focused on Sabbath day observance. 
After the session, this sister, recently returned from serving in the Korea Seoul Mission, introduced herself to me and let me know she had been my niece's companion in the MTC! Such a small world!
 The general session of stake conference the next day focused on Christlike attributes.
During the conference, our very good friend and recent convert was sustained in receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. We were so happy for him, what a blessing to his family!
The Gaoxiong West Zone, together with Elder Khanakham and President Yang:
 Elder Khanakham wishes these two elders (newly arrived missionary and his trainer) a Happy Birthday!
Their birthdays were one day apart this week:)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

9-19-15 Preparation Day to Xiao (Little) Liu Qiu Island!

What a gorgeous day to ferry out to Xiao Liu Qiu:
 Rented an electric scooter!
 Miao overlooking the ocean:
 Flower Vase Rock: Little Liu Qiu's most famous coral limestone landmark!
 The water was crystal clear and warm as the waters in Hawaii!
The first lookout we came upon had over a hundred children and parents eyeing the beautiful waters patiently...
 until they all broke out in squeals of excitement, pointing out to sea...
Can you see the sea turtle swimming around, ready to surface for air?
A light brown dot to the right of the light green leaf-shaped coral bed!

Fishermen overlooking fish farms in the distance:
 Cute little diner with awesome mango smoothies!
 Afternoon snack:
 When we have more time, we'll be back to see the rest of the island!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 2015 Baptisms

Zhongming Ward, September 6
Do you know what is the BEST? Family baptisms! This brother (in white) was baptized about three years ago. Earlier this year, his mother was baptized. Then this month he baptized his father! 

9-12-15 Kaohsiung East Stake Conference

It was SO awesome to see them all in attendance tonight at the Saturday night session of stake conference! It made up for the fact that we both were assigned to speak...jk:)
We are excited to see them again in a couple of weeks for interviews!

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 2015 Visitors

What a blessing it was to return to the temple for a second session with one of our new missionaries, during our six-hour wait for the second new missionary to arrive at the airport. As I sat down in the session, the sister next to me told me I looked a lot like Sis. Blickenstaff of the Taiwan Taichung Mission. Indeed I was, and I was overjoyed to meet the mother of an amazing sister missionary!
We were so happy she came down to Taichung to visit us later in the week. 
No surprise...amazing missionaries have amazing mothers too!

August 2015 Visitors

This family is neighbors with one of President's APs!
August 24
Returning with her aunt and uncle who supported her throughout her mission:
Coming to visit and bringing another former Taichung missionary to meet us.
August 22
Surprised with so many visitors on the same day!
 So great to all have lunch together at President's favorite hole-in-the-wall place:
While this elder was serving his mission, we used to see his parents in Hong Kong every time we traveled there for the Mission Presidents' Seminar! Recently moved back to their homeland, we are grateful they came from Singapore to visit together with their son.
August 22
 President just shared with our newest missionaries how dedicated this elder was to being a Preach My Gospel missionary. He brought home with him about 10 worn copies of PMG, studied in detail throughout his mission, each time focusing on a different aspect of being a successful missionary. He was a powerful instrument in the Lord's hands in bringing dozens into the kingdom of God. 
He served for many months in Chiayi as a zone leader.
August 23
Love to have our Mission Recorder and Short-term missionary come back for a visit!
August 18
 We love meeting parents of our missionaries!
August 15

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

9-9-15 New Arriving Missionaries!

After visa waiting four months in the Australia Brisbane mission, he's finally here!
With a six hour wait before the second elder would arrive, 
we went back to the Taipei Temple for an endowment session:
 Then took the HSR back to Taoyuan Airport:
 To pick up our second elder from Arizona!
 On a shuttle bus to the HSR to head back to Taichung:
 Finally at the HSR station in Taichung!
It was well after midnight when the APs picked us up and snapped this photo.
Breakfast at the mission home:
The moment they've been waiting for...meeting their trainers!
 They received an abbreviated orientation,
to return in four weeks for the remainder of new missionary activities:
 Lunch with their trainers:
 APs trained on contacting, demonstrated by their trainers:
 The new missionaries giving it their first shot:

 Our newest Taiwan Taichung missionaries!
That's 35 new missionaries this transfer...that counts for a record!