Monday, November 30, 2015

11-30-15 Departing Missionary - Visa Granted!

Our missionary's visa arrived, and he is headed to the Oregon Salem Mission! At the mission home for a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner:
 Then very early Monday morning (6:00am), his family arrived at the mission to pick him up and take him to the airport for a send off! 
He had a wonderful four weeks! His companion was a missionary who had served in his ward earlier this year. His family was so excited that President assigned them to serve together. Of course, President had no idea of the circumstances, but the Lord knew:)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

11-30-15 President's Weekly Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We had some wonderful experiences in the mission last week. We always love gathering the mission and seeing all of our missionaries! Of course it was an amazing privilege to be taught by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Sister Blickenstaff and I were also blessed to attend Elder Gathright’s family sealing, officiated by Elder Stevenson. Yesterday we attended a great district conference in Jiayi, where 10 MP holders were sustained, reaching the number needed to establish a stake! Thank you so much for your fasting and prayers! We heard once more from Elder and Sister Stevenson. To coin a phrase from Oliver Cowdery, “These [are] days never to be forgotten” (JSH 1: 71, footnote).

Although it was a busy week, I was grateful that I took the time in my personal study to review some of the talks from our recent general conference, taking several pages of notes. I was looking for teachings that are particularly relevant to missionaries and missionary work. For example, I was encouraged by President Uchtdorf’s teaching, “God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 23).  This reminds me of the Lord’s statement to Joseph Smith, “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64:34).

Elder Richard J. Maynes used the analogy of students attempting to make a pottery bowl for the first time to teach us the importance of having Christ at the center of our lives. He said, “If our lives are centered in Jesus Christ, He can successfully mold us into who we need to be in order to return to His and Heavenly Father’s presence in the celestial kingdom. The joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered on the teachings, example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 28).

Many of you mentioned in your weekly emails how much you enjoyed Elder Larry R. Lawrence’s admonition for each of us to ask the Lord in sincere prayer, “What lack I yet?” We can receive direct and straightforward inspiration on how to improve. He also taught, “When we read our patriarchal blessings, we are reminded that our Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward. To Him, our direction is ever more important than our speed” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 35).

Think about how your mission is a time of preparation in light of Elder Robert D. Hales’ counsel, “Your responsibility now is to be worthy of the person you want to marry. If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 46). And this timeless advice from Elder Dalin H. Oaks, “The healing and strengthening power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is for all of us who will ask” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 64). As well as from President Monson, “When we keep the commandments, our lives will be happier, more fulfilling, and less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear, and we will receive His promised blessings” (Liahona, Oct. 2015, p. 83).

How blessed we are to have prophets, apostles and other Church leaders to give us inspired counsel and direction, tailored to our needs and our circumstances. How crucial it is to have eyes that see and ears that hear. It is my hope that we will study these teachings and use them to improve ourselves and to help others more fully come unto Christ.

President Blickenstaff
Mentor of Champions

11-29-15 Chia Yi District Conference

It was a historic day! Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and acting Asia Area Presidency second counselor Elder Pon attended the Chia Yi district conference! 
 There was a record number of members in attendance today!
Chapel photo taken by permission for the Liahona magazine:
 The Stevensons with a few of our Chia Yi District young women:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

11-27-15 Elder Gary E. Stevenson Mission Conference and Thanksgiving

 So wonderful to have our missionionaries all together! What a great Thanksgiving!
President and his counselors with Elder Stevenson:
Singing Happy Birthday to our newest missionary! He said it was his best birthday ever!
 After carving the turkey, on to the ham!
 Thanksgiving dinner at the mission home. 
 We were so happy to have our Magong Elders join us!

 When there are so many choices, why choose? Just try all three!
 Sis. Stevenson was so tickled seeing my mother enjoying herself with all the young elders:
 Many thanks to my wonderful housekeeper for all her help!
And a deep-felt gratitude for the priceless gift from the Stevensons:

11-26-15 Families Can Be Together Forever!

The richest blessings come from serving a mission! Our only native Japanese missionary joined the Church when he was twelve years old, through the friendship and example of the Stevenson family. His father had served a mission in France, his mother was not a member. His younger brother was baptized as well. When one of his best friends was later called to serve in the Taiwan Taichung mission, he never dreamed he would serve here too! But when his call came, he too would serve on this beautiful island. Blessings already were coming to pass: his first convert baptism was his mother, just prior to leaving on his mission! Today, the dream of his eternal family came true. His parents  and younger brother flew in from Japan and arrived at the Taipei Temple to be sealed for time and all eternity!

On the way to Taipei, our Japanese elder and his companion found opportunity to talk to everyone:
 It was a beautiful and sunny day:)
 Embracing his parents, who have missed him dearly this past year:
 And younger brother:
 Elder Stevenson performed the sealing for their very close friends:
 The Stevensons were gracious to take photos with everyone coming to the temple to serve the Lord, including one of our returned missionaries:
 And a missionary from the southernmost area in our mission, serving in Taipei:

 I remember when this sister was waiting to start her service in the Taipei mission. She was recently released and felt inspired to come to the temple today. My how time flies!
 We can see the love of the Lord in everything around us!
 Celebrating an eternal family!
 A brief tour of Chiang Kai Shek Memorial:
 The dome above the memorial hall:
 Saying goodbye until next August:
 Another hug:
 Or two! We hope his younger brother will have a chance to serve a mission in Taiwan!
If you would like to read an inspiring story of courage and faith, watch this video about the father of this family from Japan (when he was in college), as told by Elder Stevenson in general conference:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

11-25-15 Departing Missionaries

Before returning home, our missionaries all interview with President and then attend a 
Career Workshop to help them prepare for the future:
Taiwanese and foreign missionaries get specialized training:
30 seconds to present their qualities to others!
Gathering in the mission home for their last supper!
Always the first to return for seconds:
As well as the last!
Fireside afterwards to share what they've learned on their mission and how it will help them be successful in the future...
as well as sharing their closing testimonies with each other.
Our Operations Manager always prepares a special departing video for them:
Departure to Taipei early in the morning:
To attend the Taipei Temple together:
Reunited with Mom and Dad!
Such sweet emotions!
Such an excited family to see their son, brother, cousin, friend, uncle...
Young Elder Stevenson wants to see if his cousin serving in the Taipei mission has grown while he's been away for two years:
While his father, Elder Stevenson of the Quorum of Seventy, meets another of our returning missionaries:
We see this elder's mother in the temple all the time, she serves as a temple worker!
We are so grateful to meet our missionaries' family members:

Our office couple will be departing next month:
They will be SO sorely missed!
Our departing missionaries with the Stevensons:
And with all their family and friends:
Such a treat to always see our previously returned missionaries at the temple!
Lunch afterwards with Taipei mission President Jergensen, their Elder Stevenson as well,
and both mission presidents' wives' parents!
Such a delightful lunch prepared by Sis. Jergensen:)