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At last, it happened: the Hualian stake was established yesterday. Everyone’s efforts have paid off. Taidong’s three branches will become wards.

From President Day’s email:

Under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Gong and Elder Guan of the Seventy traveled to Hualien and organized the Hualien Stake. President Tsai Wen Fang was called as Stake President, and his two counselors are President Kim Saunders (1st counselor in the Taiwan Taipei Mission Presidency) and President Hou Xin-Yu (President of the Taidong 3rd Branch).

As part of setting apart President Tsai, Elder Gong conferred “the keys of the kingdom” related to the Hualien Stake upon President Tsai. He now sits as the presiding high priest in that area of God’s kingdom and will assist in further building the that kingdom on the earth.

On behalf of myself and Sister Day, as well as all of the Saints in the new Hualien Stake, we thank every single missionary who played any part, no matter how great or small, in helping this historical event to take place.

On June 21, 2015—a day never to be forgotten in the Taiwan Taipei Mission—the last member district became a Stake of Zion. The Saints there now have a “refuge from the storm” with all necessary priesthood keys. They now have a High Priest Quorum with functioning high priests to further bless the lives of the Saints. Upon approval from the Quorum of the Twelve, they will have a patriarch who can bless the Saints through patriarchal blessings. What a major event in the history of Taiwan.

Elder Stephens and I rode the train from Taidong to Hualian on Saturday morning. We attended a meeting at 6:00 PM and a cultural celebration from 7:00-9:00 PM. Many of the members of the newly-established Hualian stake sang, acted, and danced, many wearing the traditional clothing of various aboriginal tribes. We missionaries sang, along with all returned missionaries from the congregation. I met and talked with one of my father’s friends, Brother Staten, who once served in Taidong. He flew over from America to attend this special event.

After staying the night in Hualian, we attended the Sunday stake-establishment meeting. We listened to the testimonies of many members who had labored long for the creation of this stake. President Day also spoke. This will be his last week in Taiwan. He was very grateful to be able to witness the realization of this great and long-awaited milestone.

My companion and I also saw great results in our personal missionary endeavors this week. Brother Gao, our young 12-year-old investigator, is doing great, and is well-prepared for baptism. Brother Zhou, another 11-year-old young man who is also a member’s grandson, has also been progressing excellently, and will almost definitely be baptized on the 4th of July. Chances are that I won’t be able to see their baptisms personally. Nevertheless, it is great to know that I have played a role in their conversion.

On Monday, we went with the other Taidong elders to Tasty, an expensive (for missionaries) steak restaurant, to celebrate the imminent departure of Elder Boyd. Today is his last P-day in Taiwan.

The food was pretty good, and included everyone’s favorite bloody hunk of cow. It was one of those restaurants where you choose one of several options for all eight courses of a meal and the price is fixed. The price tag was pretty high, enough that I was almost dissuaded at first. When we sat down, however, we realized that President Lai of the first branch was on a date with his wife in the next booth over! Surprisingly enough, he was very happy to see us. Without telling us, he payed for half of our fee when he left. Then, Elder Boyd used some of the cash he accumulated over his mission to pay for a proportion of the remaining charge, so we ended up only having to pay $250 NTD per person (about $8.25 USD). So, it ended up being a pretty good deal.

Fancy food.

Then, today, our district president and new stake president, President Cai, invited all of us missionaries to eat at the fanciest restaurant in Taidong. It’s actually in a nice hotel.

The hotel lobby. Those sculptures are really expensive, too; they cost about $1M USD.

Sitting in the nice hotel.

The interior decoration was pretty good. That blocky sculpture on the table costs $500K USD.

Interior decoration.

The restaurant was all-you-can-eat, with hotpot and many types of exotic seafood, including pickled jellyfish, mashed squid paste, and salmon-skin jelly. There were also a ton of desserts, which we sampled liberally, despite my resolution to avoid sweets. Oh well. I heard that the cost exceeded $50 USD per person, so I figured I might as well make it worth the price.

Standing outside the restaurant.

All of us with President and Sister Cai.

It’s been a great week of finding, fine dining, and miracles. I may or may not move to a different place this week. It’s great to have been here in Taidong!

Love,
Elder Elliott

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