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Weldon Kitchen and the baptismal waters of Taiwan's Wu-lai Canyon

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9 2014 8:00 a.m. MST

“We went down to the water’s edge and took out the pictures to look at the rock formations,” Kitchen said. “There it was, the same formation from 50 years earlier. The water was still crystal clear. The water looked exactly the way it did in 1957 when I walked out into the middle of the stream to perform my first baptism. We were absolutely able to 100 percent confirm that was the spot.”

Donna Kitchen said the Spirit led the way.

“I felt like one of the reasons we were called to Taiwan was to bring back the history and share with the people. Weldon had the opportunity to go all over the island and tell his early experiences,” Donna Kitchen said. “Finding it was the last thing Heavenly Father wanted us to do.”

Double 10 Day

In Taiwan, Oct. 10 (10-10) is a national holiday. In 2013, the date became more significant to church members for another reason.

As a convert, Bishop Arnie Chen of the Taoyuan 3rd Ward, just west of Taipei, has always admired and respected those pioneers who helped to build the church in Taiwan. He was thrilled to learn the Kitchens had finally located the Wu-lai Canyon baptismal site.

While planning a ward activity last year, the bishopric thought it would be meaningful for the members to visit the special area. But the other leaders of the ward took the idea a step further — why not set a goal and hold a baptismal service there? The idea was accepted, and Oct. 10 — “Double 10 Day” — was circled on the calendar.

The missionaries were alerted, and excited about the plan and goal, the entire ward began inviting non-member family and friends to church meetings. As the date drew closer, positive things began to happen.

One young woman had attended church for many years with her aunt’s family, but her mother would not allow her to be baptized. The ward reached out to the mother and invited her to a barbecue activity, where she was able to observe how much the ward members cared about her daughter. This softened her heart, and she eventually consented to let her daughter be baptized.

As Oct. 10 drew closer, it rained for several days and there were concerns about an approaching typhoon. Bishop Chen said the ward members and missionaries prayed fervently for good weather. On the morning of the baptism service, the weather was beautiful.

Nearly 130 members and investigators, along with Taipei Taiwan Mission President David Day and 15 brand-new missionaries and their trainers, participated in a baptismal service for six converts.

President Day said the missionaries were thrilled to be part of such a remarkable event. It was not only historic but also an incredible way for several young elders and sisters to start their missions.

Because of recent rains, the river was high and the current swift. For safety, a rope was tied around the elders and new converts as they entered the water.

“Each baptism was a sweet experience,” President Day wrote in an email.

One baptism in particular touched many, President Day said, as a recent convert was able to baptize his fiancee.

With such a large crowd standing next to a rural river, many vehicles passing by stopped to see what was going on. The new missionaries, “full of gospel zeal,” mustered their best Mandarin Chinese as they spoke to the onlookers and handed out missionary tracts, President Day said.

“This was a day not soon to be forgotten by those who made their first covenants and by those of us who experienced it with them," President Day said.

Bishop Chen said the experience was special and the ward is looking forward to returning in 2017 to mark the 60th anniversary of the first baptisms.

“All of the attendees felt it was a sacred and unforgettable experience for them to be at this site with its historical value,” Bishop Chen wrote in an email. “We all feel that it is a holy place to the Saints in Taiwan.”

Email: ttoone@deseretnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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