Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Letter to Missionaries, December 16, 2010

December 16, 2020
Dear Missionaries of the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission:
Sister Taylor and I and our family and the Senior Office Missionaries wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.  Enclosed with this envelope you will find a mission picture taken at our Temple Christmas Zone Conference in early December.  This is our Christmas gift to each of you.  Excluding eight of our senior couple missionaries and President and Sister Johnson who were unable to attend the Zone Conference, this picture includes every missionary currently serving in our mission. 
When we look at this picture and each of you we are reminded that we are all united in purpose, the purpose of "inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."  (Preach My Gospel p. 1).  This is the purpose of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and we are united with each other and with them in this divine purpose. 
We look united, framed by the Temple, the House of The Lord.  High above us standing atop the temple set against the beautiful Oklahoma sky is the angel Moroni.  We are reminded that John the revelator saw "another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."  (Revelation 14: 6-7).  You too are angels of God armed with the purpose of proclaiming the everlasting gospel to the people of Oklahoma and north Texas.  From atop the temple and from the Book of Mormon Moronitrumpets your sacred purpose and message. 
Each of you has consecrated his or her life to sacred purposes for the 18-24 months you are here in Oklahoma as a set apart, full-time representative of Christ.  Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of The Twelve taught "To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes.  True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives--that is, our time and choices--to God's purposes.  In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny."  (General Conference, October 2010).  Through the consecration of your time and choices for the period of your mission you are helping to lift others to their "highest destiny."  In doing so, our Father in Heaven is lifting you to your "highest destiny."  You are becoming the men and women, the husbands or wives, the mothers or fathers, the church and community leaders God intends you to be.  You are becoming "true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we [you] shall be like him, for we [you] shall see him as he is...."  (Moroni 7:48, modified as noted). 
Near the end of his record, Moroni quoted his father Mormon teaching "And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me...Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved."  (Moroni 7:33-34).  Mormon and Moroni taught there is a connection between our faith and the power of God given to us.  Moroni warned us to "...deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men...."  (Moroni 10:7, emphasis added).  In other words, it is by God's power that His work is done and His purposes are fulfilled.  He does not force His power upon us.  He invites us to receive His power through faith in Jesus Christ.  As our faith in Christ grows, our access to the power of God increases.  Our faith in Christ and God's power allow us to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel...."  Prophets have promised us that "as our understanding of the atonement grows, our desire to share the gospel will increase."  (Preach My Gospel, p. 2).  God's purposes include each of us as well.  Through our faith in Christ and God's power we are each changed and become "as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit."  (D&C 97:9). 
The truth of these principles is evidenced by what The Lord has done in our mission since July 2010.  The Lord through His prophets and apostles asked us to increase the effectiveness of our teaching and gave us tools to accomplish this.  These tools are the "Fundamentals From Preach My Gospel:  Teaching More Effectively."  By applying these fundamental principles in faith you have done miracles here in Oklahoma and north Texas by the power of God.  You have become more converted to the Doctrine of Christ and more connected to your purpose.  You have learned to rely more on the Spirit when you teach, trusting that it is the Spirit that converts us and our investigators.  You have learned to seek and receive revelation through prayer, the Book of Mormon and attending church and you have learned to teach this to others.  You have learned how to begin teaching so you invite the Spirit and set expectations.  You have learned to invite, commit and follow up on commitments knowing that it is by making and keeping commitments that our faith and our investigators' faith increases.  You have learned to teach these good people of our mission according to their needs, not just teach "lessons."    
Since you began applying these principles in faith, 133 people have entered into sacred covenants of baptism.  This is enough to create a new ward in our mission!  If we add to this number the number of people committed to baptism for the rest of December and annualize this number, total annual baptisms would exceed totals for the last eight years.   The most dramatic growth has occurred during the last few months as we have risen together to a new level of commitment.  Building upon what He has done with missionaries and Mission Presidents before us, The Lord has given us power according to our faith to do His work.  The wonderful members of the church here in our mission have likewise been blessed with power according to their faith to establish The Lord's church in the stakes of our mission area.  We enter 2011 with great momentum fueled by our increasing commitment to follow The Lord in faith and do His work in His way.   
We pray for each of you and for your families.  We pray this experience will be all The Lord intends it to be for each of you.  We pray each of you will become the person your Father in Heaven desires and knows you can become.
With Great Love,
President and Sister Taylor

Letter to Missionaries, December 2010 Emergency Procedures

Dear Sisters and Elders:  Sister Taylor and I would like to thank each of you for the good you do here in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission .  Your selfless ministering blesses the lives of your companions, the members of the Church and those who are not of our faith.  We think of you constantly and pray for you throughout each day.  We want you to be happy andsafe.  We desire that each of you experience all our Father in Heaven desires for you.  We are grateful to serve with you and have been inspired by your righteous desires and actions. 
Emergency Preparedness
We have enclosed some materials designed to protect you while you are here in Oklahoma and North Texas.  These materials include a copy of the mission emergency response plan, the evacuation plan and severe weather plan.  We have also enclosed some important information regarding carbon monoxide risks.  Please read these materials and post them in your apartments.  During Elder and Sister Mehrings' apartment inspections they will be checking to make sure these materials are posted and understood.
Please notify us or Elder Mehring if you have any gas appliances and do not have a functioning carbon monoxide monitor.  We delivered new monitors to each apartment four months ago so each apartment with gas appliances should have a new monitor at this point.  Make sure it is plugged in and operating.  Remember, if this monitor is "beeping" please do not ignore it.  The beeping sound is warning you that carbon monoxide levels in your apartment are too high and you should get out of your apartment and contact us immediately.  We are asking that each District Leader review these materials with all district members in a District meeting in early December. While we have not experienced problems with carbon monoxide in our mission, other missions have.  We intend to keep every missionary in our mission safe.  In December we will be having a mission-wide emergency response drill to ensure everyone knows what our emergency response and communications plan is and what role and responsibility each missionary has in case of an emergency.
Developing Personal Capacity in the Strength of The Lord 
 Each of you has faced or will face circumstances that challenge you and expand your capacity.  These circumstances may be testing or will test your patience.  You may want them to end.  That is certainly understandable because often these circumstances are painful or take you out of our comfort zones.  We are sure each of you is learning of ways to make the best of the situation you may face.  We expect you have each learned that The Lord can accomplish His purposes with any of us regardless of our circumstances.  He said "all flesh is in my hands."  He can somehow develop us individually while He builds His people collectively and He can do all this at the same time!  The prophet Joseph learned this while he sat suffering in Liberty Jail while the Saints were being driven from their homes and persecuted wondering why their leader was left imprisoned when they seemingly needed him most.  The Lord taught Joseph and the early Saints that He was directing His work and that He has the capacity to develop a prophet and a people all at the same time.
You are not in Liberty Jail but the principles taught there still apply to you.   Joseph experienced things and learned truths in Liberty jail that led to him "becoming" the prophet and the man The Lord needed him to be.  Similarly, under The Lord's tutelage, you will learn truths and develop qualities here as missionaries in Oklahoma and North Texas that will allow you become the missionary and the man or woman The Lord intends you to be.  His vision of you extends far beyond this time in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission--it extends to the 60-65 years of your life after your mission and far beyond.  That is why your vision which is often limited to the present may confuse you.  You do not see what you are "becoming" or how your present circumstances are shaping you into the person you will need to be in years to come. The Lord sees in you the returned missionary student, the newlywed, the young mother or father, the church leader, teacher, professional, wife or husband, father or mother, grandmother or grandfather you will become.  He knows what qualities and characteristics you will need to accomplish your mortal purpose and He knows how to help you "become" who you will need to be.
With these truths in mind, you may want to consider the following as you labor in your present circumstances:
1.  Regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in ask yourself "how can I make this situation better?"
2.  Ask yourself "what is hard for me about the lesson I am learning and how can The Lord help me with this lesson?"
3.  Ask yourself "is my capacity to do hard but worthwhile things increasing?  How might I use this increased capacity in the future in my life?"
4.  Look at Alma 26.  Ammon knew that "in the strength of The Lord" he could do all things. Alma 17 describes how Ammon and his companions received "the strength of The Lord." 
5.  Stay "connected" to your purpose of "inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."  Apply the Fundamentals from Preach My Gospel and keep the commandments for missionaries in the Missionary Handbook and receive the promised blessings.
Temple Conference
As you know by now, we will be having our Temple Zone Conference December 2nd and 3rd at the Surrey Hills building next to the Temple.  Your Zone Leaders should have communicated the details of the conference to you by now.  Let your Zone Leaders know if you have any questions regarding the conference or which day your zone will be attending the conference.  We look forward to greeting each of you at the conference.
You are prayed for every day in our home and in every temple in the church (and in the temple of your respective family homes).  Thank you again for serving the good people of Oklahoma and North Texas and your companions.   You may never know the impact you are having on them and on us but it is real and it is good.
Your fellow missionary servants,
President Nolan S. Taylor and Sister Rhonda H. Taylor

Letter to Parents, November 2010

Dear family and friends of the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission,

    Thank you for your patience.  It has taken four months, but we finally have some pictures on the blog.  You can find it at  We will probably update it on our preparation day--which is different every week!  Please don't be disappointed if we don't update it more than once a week.  We will be doing really well if we do it every week!  We hope you will find some interesting things there about our mission.  At least you will get to see what big meetings your missionary attended that week.  We love the missionaries and look forward to seeing them as often as possible.  We will try to take lots of pictures when we are with them.  

     We are running as fast as we can here.  The missionaries are doing well and baptisms are up.  We all love to see people here make sacred covenants with The Lord and receive blessings.  Please know how important your love and support are to the missionaries.  They LOVE to get "real mail" in addition to email.  Please remember to help them stay focused on their purpose here--"inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end" (see Preach My Gospel, page 1).  It is easy to get distracted by events outside the mission.  Remember to direct them back to their work when you write them.  They have such a short time to be a missionary--and their whole life to do "home things."  Thank you for helping them stay focused on their purpose as full-time missionaries.  That is when they are the most happy and it is the best gift you can give them.  

     Speaking of are a few thoughts on Christmas gifts.  Most of you are not far from Oklahoma.  You shouldn't have too much difficulty getting things here on time.  Packages have to go through the office, so try to have things here by December 1.  Just be aware that we have a few dates coming up when it would be easy to deliver packages to your Elder or Sister.  On November 24 we will be having a transfer.  We will take any packages that are in the office to the church for the transfer so that zone leaders can pick them up there and take them back to their areas.  We will also be having two multi-zone conferences at the Surrey Hills Chapel (next to the temple) on Dec. 2 and 3.  Every Elder and Sister in the mission will be there on one of those days.  We  will deliver any packages we have to the chapel so they can pick them up and take them home with them.  Please remember to send gifts that are not too bulky--they don't want to haul too much "stuff" around with them every time they are transferred.  Please keep in mind as well that this is a unique opportunity for them to have a truly spiritual Christmas with very little "stuff".  Sharing messages about the Savior at Christmas time is a very rewarding experience.  They will be content with very few presents on their mission.  As well, try to be sensitive to their companion who may not receive much for Christmas.  Please remember to send them only things they are allowed to have.   When they are obedient to the missionary handbook they are more protected, happy and blessed.  As we are sure you have already taught them, obedience brings them more blessings than they can imagine--including great joy.

    We have been emphasizing greater obedience to the missionary handbook lately.  We have found that many missionaries have gotten casual about some items in the handbook.  As they decide to change and try to be completely obedient we have had elders bring us things that are distracting to them and not permitted such as electronics (including iTouches), big elaborate board games, portable hard drives and digital picture frames.  Digital picture frames can be used to view downloaded movies as well as those wonderful family pictures, so they have been misused.  Any device that has internet capability is not appropriate on a mission--specifically iTouch or other electronics.  They are not supposed to listen to rock music either--so iPods with inappropriate music are distracting as well.  They are supposed to listen only to music that helps them feel the Spirit.  Many missionaries have told us they have gotten rid of CD's of music that is not approved.   Some families have actually shipped saddles, chaps, cowboy boots and lariats to missionaries--inappropriate items that have caused great problems.  To better support your missionary we ask you to go to a distribution center, or the on-line distribution center, and get a copy of the little white missionary handbook.  We invite you to read it carefully and be aware of the rules your missionary agreed to obey while a full-time missionary.  The contents of the white handbook are not commandments to any of you--but they are commandments to full-time missionaries.  Look at page four of the handbook for the promises made by the First Presidency to obedient missionaries.  The work here is hard.  To be successful, our missionaries must rely on The Lord and do His work, His way.  As you become more aware of what their rules are we hope you will be able to encourage and support them as they try to be completely obedient.  They will receive great blessings from obedience--and you will be thrilled to see them become stronger and more spiritually mature each week. 

     Young men and women can be transformed by a mission.  They have the opportunity to become the people God knows they can be.  They learn more about themselves and the Savior.  They spend most of their time working selflessly for the salvation of men.  They come to understand that their purpose while on a mission is to invite others to come unto Christ by developing faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  They are not the same people you sent on a mission.  They are more brave, confident, bold and righteous.  We love every one of them and count it an amazing blessing to serve with them.  Please enjoy the changes in them and encourage them as they grow and mature.  That is one of the greatest blessings parents receive while their child is serving a mission.  We appreciate all of you.  We appreciate the love and support you give your missionary.  We are gratetful for the prepared, confident young men and women you sent out on a mission.

     Please contact us if you need to discuss any problems or concerns.  You can call Sister Taylor at 405-519-6455, or leave a message for Sister Taylor at the mission home, 405-692-2040.  You may email us directly at  We love your sons and daughters and want to help them and you in any way we can.  Thank you again for all you do.  Love, President and Sister Taylor                        

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thanksgiving "Turkey Bowl" Elders and Taylors (Sister Taylor's Touchdown)

Elder McKenzie throws a long pass.

It is MUCH easier to score when you have no flag and everyone knows they aren't allowed to touch you!

The teams: (l to r) Elders Keil, Anderson, Michael Williams, Chipman, McKenzie, Call, Quinn Taylor, Kyle Williams, Wilson, Preston Taylor

Temple Christmas Zone Conference December 2-3, 2010

Elders Atkinson & Frampton

Sister Glenn, Elder Olinger, Sister Houston

Elder Clark, Elder Endicott, Sister Clark, President Taylor

Elders Goronson, Riggs, Christenson

Elders Measom, Origer, Mortensen

Elders Chew, Limb, Harman

Elders Stagg, Duke, Riches, Crump

Elders Call, Lewis, McKenzie, Downs

Elders Dewey, Empey, Smith, Call

Sister Porter, Sister Grant

Elder Hamner, Elder Lambert

Elders Jackson, Palmer, Chun

Elders Curtis, Egbert, Rivas, Peper

Elders Hutchins, Cook, Woolley

Elder Jaynes, Elder Burnett

Sister Maynard, mission office secretary

Elders Jensen, Madsen, Olsen

Elder Chriss, Elder Ellsworth

Sister Jenson, Sister Maude

Elders Chronister, Kimber, Hansen

Elders Soto, Baker, King

Elder & Sister Elmer

Elders DeWitt, Allen, Boswell, Mairs

Elders Hansen, Lewis, Frampton, Olinger, Atkinson

Sisters Moss, Pace, Taylor, Davey

Elder Miner, Sister Bennett, Sister Lamb, Elder Richards

Elders Wilson, Forsyth, Grover

Elders Keil, K. Williams, Wilson

Elders Ramos, Garner, Linford

Elders Whipple, Adair, Timoteo, Phillips

Elder Mudaliar, Taylor, Anderson

Elders Parke, McMurray, Nordstrom

Elder Ortiz, Sister Goodell, Sister Mansfield

Elders Christian, Harless, Remund

Elder Hawker, Elder Crawford

Elders Brough, M. Williams, Hamblin

Sisters Goodell & Mansfield

Elders McGill, Glazier, Chipman

Elders Hatch, McKenzie, Schleitwiler

Elder & Sister Clark, mission office finances/vehicles

President & Sister Applegate

Brother & Sister Luke, office secretary

Elders Damon, Anjain, Yu, Talbot, Motey, Lang, Francis--Marshallese speaking Elders  

Front row (l to r): Elder Anjain, Elder Yu, Sister Mansfield, Elder Lang, Elder Timoteo, Elder Ortiz
Back row: (l to r) Elder Damon, Elder Motey , Elder Talbot, Elder Francis, Elder Mudaliar, Elder Ramos

Sister Taylor leads the mission in singing "Army of Helaman/Thank you for the food!" song.

Singing Christmas carols