Thursday, January 29, 2015

1-29-15 Arriving Missionary

We are ever so grateful for our native Taiwanese missionaries! With U.S. missionaries still serving in temporary assignments awaiting their visas, our newest missionary arrived solo to the mission office, accompanied by his loving family.
 We conducted a personalized training in the mission home:
 Assistants to the president helped our new missionary develop some contacting skills:
 His trainer arrives and both are given an introduction to the First Twelve Weeks program:
 Departing lunch at TheFreen Burger:
We will welcome both back to the mission home when our U.S. missionaries arrive and further training is conducted!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January 2015 Missionary Meetings

Taiping English Class, January 29
 Tonight's activity brings a crowd: How to Plan a Party!
Teaching about having an ice breaker activity:
 Party members break the ice with impromptu jokes:
 Gotta have lots of refreshments at a party!
 Fun games and music too:
Check back for more pictures forthcoming, with these toys in use!

Daya District Training Meeting, January 28

 Tainan Stake Conference, January 26
 Love seeing our returned missionaries back in Taiwan. This brother is a great asset to our missionaries serving in Tainan, volunteering a lot of his time to helping them teach investigators!
 Zhongxing Stake Conference, January 17
English Class in Chiayi, January 10
Advanced English Immersion Class
 Group Discussions
 Childrens' Class
 Learning names of animals...
... and racing!
 Lots of attenders in the Beginning English class:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1-26-15 President's Weekly letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

A few weeks ago you received a laminated card in your zone training meeting that contained some reminders of things that will help you to be a “more effective advocate and messenger of the truth” (Missionary Handbook, p. 4). On the white side of the card is a list of characteristics of missions that have increasing numbers of convert baptisms. This list was provided by the Missionary Department and was developed by studying missions throughout the world. I believe the entire list is worthy of our careful consideration, however this week I would like to focus on just two of the bullet points. Missions with increasing numbers of convert baptisms:

1)      Set realistic and challenging standards of excellence and mission and companionship goals for baptism. As you know, we recently adjusted our mission standards in an effort to inspire more companionships to use the standards to set goals and then to work diligently to hit their goals. I felt that the addition of weekly active member lessons required time resources that made it difficult to achieve other teaching standards. Only about 35-40% of our companionships were hitting standards regularly. Now that Active Member Lessons count towards Peike’s and Total Lessons, which have been reduced to 18/week, I am hoping that everyone can exercise their faith that they can hit standards. Do you use mission standards when setting your weekly goals? Our mission vision, goals and plans includes a goal for baptisms. We can hit our mission goal for baptisms if every companionship baptizes once every move call. Recently, a missionary shared with Sis. Blickenstaff that they had a baptism planned for January, a solid investigator with a February baptismal goal, and they were praying to find an investigator to be baptized in March. They had a companionship goal to baptize each month and had set plans to accomplish that. Do you set a companionship goal to baptize each transfer?

2)      Are united in their vision and goals and talk frequently about them. Last month, we had a remarkable month of baptisms. As a mission, we were excited about our goal and it was a constant focus. We prayed for, encouraged and helped one another in many ways as we worked toward our goal. We need to maintain the excitement and focus to achieve our goals each and every month. This begins with each companionship and district. Do we talk about our goals? Do we pray for and help one another? How can we improve in doing these things?

I believe that our mission exemplifies many of the characteristics of missions with increasing numbers of baptisms. There are, however, some important areas in which we need to improve. I believe that we will see improvement as we give attention these details and as we more fully consecrate and dedicate ourselves to the work to which we have been called. I love and appreciate each of you for the effort and sacrifice that you put forth in order to serve the Lord. I know that He is aware of who you are, what you are doing and what you need. He will bless you accordingly.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

P.S. Sister Blickenstaff and I have really enjoyed reading the Christmas book that you so lovingly prepared for us, and presented in such a surprising manner. Thank you for your expressions of love and support.

Friday, January 23, 2015

1-19-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

This past week we had only two baptisms in the entire mission. I’m sure that many of you were disappointed as things you hoped and planned for did not materialize. I know that many of you are working with people that you feel could be baptized this month. Recently a missionary wrote to me, “At the beginning of this week we were really struggling to hit some of our weekly goals. I remember on Friday we were far from hitting any of them. We had no new investigators, only one goal, and no one really scheduled for church. I remember praying long on Saturday morning that the Lord would bless us.”

Actually, I receive letters similar to this each week. As I think about how to respond to these letters, I am reminded of two of my favorite quotes from people that I love and trust. The first is from Elder Jeffery R. Holland, "The test of a missionary is what he or she will DO after being weighed down with sorrow, rejection, or tribulation." I am always inspired by Alma, after the people of Ammonihah “reviled him, and spit upon him, and cast him out of their city” (Alma 8:13),. He was walking, evidently alone, and experiencing sorrow and  “anguish of soul” when an angel appeared unto him and said “Blessed art thou… lift up thy head and rejoice… thou has great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful…”(Alma 8:14-15). The angel then commanded him to return to the city of Ammonihah and preach to the people again. How do you think he felt when he heard this? The scriptures do not say how he felt, but they do record what he did. “He returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah” (Alma 8:18).

The second of my favorite quotes is from President Gordon B. Hinckley, “It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. Put your trust in God and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. If we put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” We can see a great example of this from Nephi, “O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God” (2Ne. 4: 34-35).

Consider what we can accomplish  as we focus on talking with everyone – individually, as a companionship, and as a mission. Last week a missionary wrote to me, “[We] are remaining busy and continuing to bear testimony to everyone we come in contact with. Right now we just need to get some more baptismal invites out. So we will hopefully be inviting lots of people to baptism this week. We found a family that lives in our apartment complex. We bore testimony to them while we were in the elevator ready to end our day, and the next day as we walked out the door, our Guanli said, "Here's a number for a lady that is interested in your message, she left me this paper this morning." So we got to meet with her and her daughter. Hopefully we can invite them to be baptized this week. We seeing great miracles right now, and I am grateful for God and his awareness. I have learned that there are hundreds of prepared souls around us; we just need to not fear, open our mouth, and bare testimony.” Many of the miracles that we see each week are a result of talking with everyone.

What happened to the missionary who prayed so long on Saturday morning? “[My companion] and I both prayed for miracles and an ability to hit our goals. Over the following two days we saw so many miracles. We found 6 new investigators found 3 more goals and found someone for church. Simply said, the Lord answered our prayers.” We have 2 more weekends in the month. Let’s redouble our efforts to pray harder and longer than ever before, talk to everyone with faith, and trust that our God is a god of miracles!

Lastly, please keep our visa waiters in your prayers. We need them to come this month and replenish our mission! Our last mission fast in their behalf brought miracles to help resolve concerns with the government. We need another miracle to get them here speedily! Please join us in fasting as a mission this Sunday, January 25.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

We hope that all our missionaries' friends and family will join us in our mission fast this Sunday!

Shrimp Fishing P-Day!

One of our native Taiwanese sister missionaries told me she had fond memories of her father taking her shrimp fishing when she was a little girl. In Taiwan, you can go shrimp fishing 24 hours a day, so the office decided to take a P-day and make our own memories, never to be forgotten!
 First one to pull a shrimp out of the water!
President sat on my left and caught two. The guy on my right caught at least a half a dozen. 
I was the only one in our group not to catch any:(
 One of three!
 A broken ankle didn't keep this elder from catching shrimp. What was my problem?
 One of two:
 Too much fun!
 Now to rinse the live shrimp in water and coat in salt:
 Skewer them. Ouch, pain in the butt...
 A few minutes on the grill:
 Fresh off the BBQ!
I was grateful President shared his catch with me, because it was the BEST shrimp I'd EVER TASTED!!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

1-12-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

The excitement and glitter of the holidays are behind us. Although it is fun to participate in the many activities and traditions of the holiday season, this year you will have remembered the season for the faith and diligence you exemplified in bringing souls unto Christ. Quickly approaching is another holiday season, Chinese New Year, with its unique traditions and customs, but without the significance of being centered on the Savior. As such, it is a fun and interesting time of the year but presents some challenges, as well as some opportunities, for missionary work. We need an increase of focus and diligence in order to continue baptizing prepared souls throughout 2015.

I am grateful for the faith and effort that we, individually, as companionships and as a mission put forth in December as we baptized more than 60 people. Heading into the last week we needed 23 baptisms to reach our goal. We had 26 week A goals and ultimately helped 25 people be baptized that week. That is a remarkable accomplishment that required (forgive me for being repetitive) a lot of faith, a lot of energy and a lot of focus in helping your investigators keep their commitments to the Lord. It shows what we can do when we are united and motivated in bringing souls unto Christ. I am grateful for each of you and the prayers, work and sacrifice that you rendered in behalf of the Savior.

As we have settled back to work after such a great month, some of you have remarked in your emails that the work is challenging right now. An inevitable result of baptizing so many people is that our investigator pool is depleted! In addition, our baptismal goals are down. We need to continue with the same zeal to help our current investigators keep their commitments, find new investigators, and invite them to be baptized. This is the time for us to respond in faith and let the Lord work His miracles on our behalf. Two important characteristics of missions that have increasing numbers of baptisms are 1) the missionaries have a firm belief that they will baptize and 2) they pray for and expect miracles. From our experience just last month, you have demonstrated that we have these characteristics in the Taichung Mission!

Two weeks ago I asked our missionaries to send me the names of those who they thought could be baptized in the month of January. I now have a list of over 80 names! Of course Satan is surely intensifying his forces and all 80 may not be baptized this month, but we have people who are earnestly engaged in the process of conversion and the potential is there if we exercise sufficient faith and diligence. You are the “chosen vessels of the Lord” who have been called to bear witness of Him (see Moroni 7:31). You are an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan to, “bringeth to pass… the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33).

Let us press forward with continued faith, energy and focus, believing that we can accomplish all that the Lord would have us do. I have the utmost confidence in you.

President Blickenstaff

Mentor of Champions

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

1-7-15 Taipei Temple Trip

It's always such a spiritual boost to be at the temple with our missionaries...
and we all love when our former Taichung missionaries join us, and them some:)
 Bus ride home:

Monday, January 5, 2015

1-5-15 President's Weekly Letter

One of the many great blessings of serving a mission is the time that we take each day to study the Gospel ~ personal and companionship study. There may never be another time in your life in which two hours of gospel study will be so naturally and easily incorporated into your daily schedule. I hope that you will take this time to truly strengthen your knowledge of gospel doctrines and your love for the scriptures. I hope that you will develop a greater love for the Savior as you learn more of His life and teachings.  As you have more effective gospel study, “Your faith in Jesus Christ will grow. Your desire to repent and improve will grow” (PMG, pg. 18).

In order to have the best possible experience with your gospel study, remember the following:
  • You must be awake and alert. Follow the missionary schedule, get up on time, exercise, get dressed, sit at your desk. Get up and walk around if you find yourself getting sleepy.
  • Always begin with prayer. Ask Heavenly Father to enlighten your mind and to help you learn what you need to know. “Study is an act of faith requiring the use of personal agency” (PMG, pg. 17).
  • Write down what you learn. As you show Heavenly Father that you value the things that you learn, He will teach you even more. Pay particular attention to ideas that come to your mind that have not occurred to you previously.
  • Apply what you learned. I encourage you to share what you learned with your companion during companionship study. Ponder it during the day, and use it as you teach. The most effective study is planned in advance and revolves around the needs of those with whom you are working.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has blessed my life in countless ways. As I study the gospel, I feel a greater desire to serve the Lord, I am more confident that I can do what I have been called to do, and I receive comfort, strength and inspiration. As you face trials and challenges as a missionary, and throughout your life, you can come to understand their purpose, what Heavenly Father desires you to learn, how you can change, and how to overcome by applying gospel principles through receiving and acting upon personal revelation. The Lord told Hyrum Smith to “obtain [his] word” before trying to “declare [his] word” (D&C 11:21). In that same revelation, He also promised, “I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive” (D&C 11:13-14). I testify that this promise will be fulfilled in your life as you apply yourself in your personal and companionship study.

President Blickenstaff

Friday, January 2, 2015

1-2-15 Mission Leadership Council

AP conducting for the first time:

So many souls preparing for baptism!
 Zone leader presenting at MLC for the first time:
 What wonderful progress!
 Great leaders leading great missionaries!

 We hope to keep the work progressing:
 Always thankful for Costco lasagne:

 Strawberry season is just starting:
 Wonderful help behind every good meal at the mission home:
 It was a White Christmas!
 Evaluating what made the difference in December:
 Examining and emulating what successful missions do:
 Closing with the mission song:

Our mission leaders starting off the new year, 2015!