Monday, May 30, 2016

5-30-16 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

This past week was a great one for Sister Blickenstaff and me. We enjoyed attending the 60th Anniversary of Missionary Work in Taiwan devotional last Saturday. It was very nostalgic for me to reflect on the many changes that have taken place and the tremendous growth of the Church that has occurred in the last 60 years. It could not have happened without the consecrated service of many missionaries and leaders and without the help and guidance of the Lord. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend 5 years of my life serving in Taiwan. I am so grateful for all that the Lord has given me: a great companion, a wonderful family, health, strength and emotional stability, opportunities to serve in the Church, and the blessing of being able to be a missionary.

I love Taiwan: I love the people, the language, the culture, the food and everything else about it. I love being involved with missionary work and missionaries. I love seeing firsthand the changes that come into people’s lives as they accept the restored gospel and come unto Christ. I will be forever grateful for the blessing and opportunity to serve in this remarkable place.

Yesterday Sister Blickenstaff and I attended the branch conference in the Xinying Branch of the Chiayi District. It was a beautiful day. The chapel was full. The branch president gave a great talk about the children of Israel as they prepared to enter the land of Caanan. He talked of the faith that they needed to follow Moses and leave their homes in Egypt. He talked of their struggles and suffering in the wilderness as they learned many important lessons and prepared to receive the blessings that the Lord had in store for them in the promised land. President Liang, first counselor in the district presidency, then spoke and further elucidated the lessons that the children of Israel learned as they wandered in the wilderness. His talk was a very powerful and doctrinal lesson on the blessings of keeping the commandments. Both of these great leaders bore testimony of the power that comes into our lives as we exercise obedience.

As I listened to the talks yesterday I could not help but think that Chiayi is well prepared to become a stake of Zion. I hope that it will happen while Sister Blickenstaff and I are still here, but “it mattereth not” (Ether 12:37) as long as we have been faithful and have done everything we could to bring it to pass. We should hear back in the next week or so whether the application has been approved. Please keep the members and leaders of Chiayi in your prayers this week.

I also could not help thinking that the talks given yesterday also applied to each of you as you serve your missions. Sometimes a mission can seem like wandering in the wilderness and facing many trials. As we learn to put our trust in God and keep His commandments, greater strength and power come into our lives to help us do the work to which we have been called. We learn many important lessons in the process and prepare ourselves for greater blessings (and trials) that lie ahead in our lives. The only difference is, we have already reached the promised land! Taiwan is truly a land of milk and honey!

I am grateful that each of you have chosen to serve a mission and for the opportunity that has been mine to labor alongside you. I know that you will be happier and have a greater sense of fulfillment as you work diligently and faithfully and learn to be obedient.

President Blickenstaff

Mentor of Obedient Champions

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