Dear Elders and Sisters,
It was with joy and gratitude that I received the news last week that the application for the Chiayi District to become a stake was approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Shortly after arriving in Taiwan almost three years ago, I established a mission goal of helping to create three new stakes during the time that I would serve here. As you know Chiayi is the last of the three stakes to be created.
The new stakes in Taizhong and Gaoxiong were created by dividing two stakes already in existence into three stakes. However, in Chiayi it involved helping a district prepare to become a stake. In a district, the mission president is the presiding priesthood leader and, as such, is responsible for temple recommends, priesthood advancement, training of district priesthood leaders, planning of district conferences, etc. There is a district presidency that also helps in many of these tasks but the mission president is ultimately responsible. It has been a great blessing to have these responsibilities in the Chiayi District. It has allowed me to become well acquainted with the leaders and members in Chiayi. I have great love for President Du, President Liang and President Rao and for each of the branch presidents. I have seen firsthand that you come to love those whom you serve and I have been blessed to serve the members in Chiayi.
I am very grateful that I could be here to participate in the upcoming district conference during which the Chiayi stake will be created. However, if it the proposal had not been approved by the First Presidency, and additional preparation was needed in order for Chiayi to become a stake, I would not have felt like my efforts were less successful. I trust the Lord’s timing in these decisions. Most importantly, I could say to the Lord that I had done my best. I would have been satisfied to see Chiayi become a stake at any time, whether or not I could have been there to personally attend. I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to labor in this choice part of the Master’s vineyard in this “last time” of preparation (see Jacob 5:75), it has been an honor and a privilege.
This week one of our newer missionaries wrote to me, “One particular day this week I was really struggling just with everything. I felt like I couldn't understand anything that was going on, I wasn't being patient at all, and just silly things that people would do were just driving me crazy. We were on our bikes a lot and every time we were riding I was having a prayer with Heavenly Father. I probably said more than 20 prayers that day. I just told Him everything I was feeling and begged Him to help me have the strength to have patience, hope, faith, and charity. I have never struggled so much in one day and felt so strengthened by the powers of Heaven. I know Heavenly Father is aware of me, my companion, this mission, and all of His children. It may seem silly, but it was a miracle to me.” I have felt that way many times in my life and have also felt the power of prayer to help calm my troubled heart. I am grateful for my mission experiences in helping me learn to turn towards heaven in time of need.
I testify that Heavenly Father is indeed aware of each of us and knows exactly what we need at all times. We have to trust in him and press forward with faith in order to accomplish our missionary purpose and become who He would have us become in the process. Remember: you can do this! You are not alone in this work. He stands ready to help us at all times.
Mentor of Champions