TAIPEI, Taiwan From the southern tip of Taiwan, an estimated 2,500 members, their friends and missionaries rode up the entire east and west coasts in a bicycle relay as part of the ongoing celebration of the 50th year of missionary work in the country.
Riding north, the cyclists relayed in 10 daily segments carrying flags bearing the logo of the jubilee celebration.
Eager crowds of Taiwanese dignitaries, friends and members lined the routes to witness the Olympic-torch-like passing of the flags to waiting cyclist teams who continued the relay for five days through Aug. 5. All three Taiwan missions Kaohsiung, Taichung and Taipei joined in the relay. As riders traveled, they expressed good will and handed out brochures sharing the message of the gospel.
Among the member families who participated, David and Huei-Hong Kao Lee and their children, Benjamin and Becky, now living in Provo, Utah, returned to their native Taiwan and rode the entire 220 miles. Many parents said their children "felt a strong spirit for missionary work."
The relay concluded as riders from the east and west coasts converged at the historic Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial Park in central Taipei. Three hundred-plus riders led by Taipei City Council Vice Chairman Hsin Lee, and Taiwan Taipei Mission President Norman S. Nielson, and his wife, Mary Louise rode to the Taiwan Taipei Temple/Church Administration Building courtyard to a waiting throng of community dignitaries, Church leaders, returned missionaries, members and friends. Presiding over the event was Elder Jared Yang, Area Seventy, accompanied by four stake presidents.
The closing ceremony included posting the 50-year anniversary flags and brief addresses by Taipei City Commissioner of Social Welfare James Hsueh, former Chinese Muslim Association leader Dawood Ni representing the interfaith community, and Tomming Lai, Chairman of the International Good Neighbor Foundation. Hundreds of balloons were released as the audience sang the missionary hymn "Called to Serve."
In the post-ceremony photography session, several former Taiwan mission presidents gathered with returned missionaries to renew their acquaitance.
The jubilee celebration will conclude with two island-wide events: a three-day youth conference and a special service project."