Tuesday, February 24, 2015

GuoNian KuaiLe!!

Chinese new year was this past week as I'm sure you're all aware. Let me tell you it was OUT OF THIS WORLD!! this past week was soooo sick. I'm also sooo sick of eating. where does all this food come from? Guess thats just how Chinese New Year is..

the sacrificial altar at its finest

We went to one of our members' houses this week for lunch, and she invited over her two older sisters who are both i think Presbyterian?? (whatever zhanglao jiao is... not sure on the english anymore unfortunately) But one of them was a very special spirit :-) as we were getting to know her, one of the sisters asked her what her hobbies were and her reply was as follows: "Oh I love to read books, believe Jesus, and play basketball and I'm very good at it! What do you like to do?" hahahaha now when people ask me to introduce myself I'll be sure to throw in there that I love to "believe Jesus" as well. so cute.

This week was one of the most culturally rich weeks I have ever experienced. Also one of the most beautiful. I will never forget these experiences. Nothing is like a mission.

This past Sunday we were headed out to the other side of ZhongLi that I am very unfamiliar with so it happened that we ended up arriving about 15 minutes early to our dinner appointment. 

We turned off the super busy and loud street onto a smaller alley where our Ward Mission Leader lives and parked our bikes in front of his house. There was a farm next door and since we didn't know what to do with our next 15 minutes, we decided to go take a short walk to see what was over there. 

We walked down a bamboo lined alley through the super thick fog that has been hanging over ZhongLi this past weekend. We came to the small house with a bunch of lively people standing out front and asked the man of the house who was a little high on the beetle nut he was chewing if we could go take a walk through his farm. Tells us yes so we start walking to his backyard past an open door where there's 3 or 4 people inside singing the most tone deaf karaoke I've ever heard and into the fields of vegies. 

Cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, turnips, carrots, green onions, sweet potatoes, guava, broccoli, to name a few... 

It was actually quiet enough out there in the fields that you could hear the birds singing. And the occasional single loud pop of these chinese firecrackers going off about every 1 to 2 minutes.

There was a lite breeze as we walked up to a woman out there working the ground and called out to her, scaring her to death that we were two white people who spoke chinese haha. She asks if we are Christian, we say yes, and she walks off muttering something to the effect that Christianity is nonsense and she believes in Buddha. 

We finish up looking around and head back to get out and pass by the high guy again and he tells us its too cold to wear short sleeve shirts. My comp tells him he's crazy, its super hot outside side. (hot in chinese sounds kind of like "ruh!") but this guy laughs and says "ruh!" back but ROLLED HIS R!! That is the first time I have EVER met a Chinese person that can roll their R's. Maybe the beetle nut (similar effects to marijuana) gave him that ability, not totally sure...

farmlands of Taiwan

i love this man. he is our Ward Mission Leader and he has influenced my life so much

Then yesterday, (monday) we get done with studies, and head outside into the SUPER thick fog and super light rain for the last day of Chinese new year. We start heading up the alleys by our house into this super thick cloud of smoke. Nearly every business will put this little fire pit thing outside their store and offer sacrifices to their ancestors by putting a bunch of fruit on a table and then burning this huge box of "money" to their ancestors to have money in the afterlife. Unfortunately that just means lots of extra pollution in the streets for us here.
some intense fog...

We get to the park where we wanted to go contacting and start off into the super light rain. It was a cool sensation. I could feel my hair getting very very heavy but not really wet, like all the rain was collecting on my head and just sitting there. Like every 5 minutes or so there was this really loud noise that sounded much like a dump truck unloading a huge load of gravel or something. Finally I asked my comp what that was all about. They buy this huge box of a super long line of firecrackers that when they are done offering sacrifices, they will light off and the point i guess is to scare away all of the evil spirits from their businesses for the year.. Really it was just scaring me haha. Outside was completely silent except for these sudden and random bursts of an array of noise.

the "dump trucks" dropping off their load hahaha.  these are SO loud!!

After living this past week. I learned a bunch about Chinese culture and why they are the way they are. I can see why they are superstitious as well too now, the fog here really is super spooky in a way.

I am well taken care of. Sorry for such a long email. Hopefully this helped you see a bit better of how Chinese New Year is the real way.

Love you all. Keep it all up!!!

our beautiful chapel here in ZhongLi

the crew at the indonesian dance festival

here is my house

check out where I was last Monday :-)

GuoNian KuaiDaole!!

Chinese new year is this coming week and I am so stoked to party it up the Chinese style!! And eat till my stomach explodes :-)

Again, I don't have much time today, sorry. Just been playing too hard lately I guess. Today it is into the mountains and to a gnarly looking waterfall that you can hike around. Super stoked. And it is a lovely day to make things all the better.

Taiwan is gorgeous. Hope you all know that.

This week I bagged the scrips for a personal study to read over a bit about what Chinese religion and thinking is all about and I discovered it is a very beautiful thing. But also very hard for us Westerners to understand because it is basically 100% different from our culture. But hopefully with my new enlightenment I can go about teaching in a different style and a different approach to things and people around me. I'll let you know how that goes.

They send us on missions to teach the people. We come home being taught by the people.

This week has been really tiring for me, maybe because my diet this past week has sucked. So that is my goal for the rest of the mission, hold off on the chocolates and weird fried stuff and stick to my guavas and oranges and eggs!!

Life is great! Love you all!!

Taiwan has these dope fisherman. And this is a cool picture. So yeah.

this is my companion. and this is my photo that will be starred on the front cover of the next vogue magazine. :-)

made it out to the coast for the first time on my mission. too bad it was dark..

coldstone tastes so much better in Taiwan..

nothing like them chinese temples!!

Monday, February 9, 2015


Translation: Bottleneck.

Yeah I had no idea what that meant when I learned it either. Bottleneck represents the narrow part on like a flower vase, meaning trying to pass through a tight space or in other words running into a sort of roadblock.

This week has been beautiful. Freezing cold, but good. The bottleneck simply means it has been a little tough number-wise lately. ZhongLi was going so strong, then last week it kind of felt like a lot of our numbers started falling fast.. Praying that I can do something to turn that around somehow haha, that's actually a really common thing on the mission, praying for things to get better.

But that being said. I learned a valuable lesson, actually am still learning, that sometimes on the mission it is easy to be really caught up on numbers. Really concerned about your results of your efforts. Because every missionary wants to feel like they are one of those success stories that will get talked about in conference or in the Liahona or something. But those super success stories are far and few between. And even then, those missionaries and every missionary that has ever been out needs to remember that they cannot expect to hit their marks every week. Not everyone can have the success they feel they deserve everyday. If it was that way, then missions wouldn't be hard. And probably not worth it. Missions teach you how to face adversity (like legit adversity) and continue onward with your head high and your confidence up. Missions make you tough so your future life will seem easy haha. But aside from all that, when you get caught up on all the little things like "numbers" and "success", you miss out on a lot of the beauties of being on a mission or just living life in general. Taiwan is a beautiful place, Chinese culture is a beautiful thing, and life is a beautiful opportunity. I learned that I need to put those little things off to the side, yes focus on what I need to be doing when I need to be doing it, but don't be out in the streets of Taiwan looking at people and time periods as numbers. Slow down a bit, listen to the bustling city, see the cars get through traffic on Taiwan's lawless streets, watch the vendor Ama's cook their food, notice how the mom is patiently chasing her kids around the street, and watch the Taiwanese people that are sitting in the park enjoying the trees and the birds. There is much to be learned from doing such. Life is much more than just numbers. Even mission life. Your success is measured in more ways than one.

I went on exchanges this week to Bade, another area in the Taoyuan zone with Elder Wayment from my generation. And it was the time of my life. Haha. It's something that will actually probably stick in my head. Bade is much more rural than ZhongLi and is much quieter on the streets. Lots less people. It was raining that day. And very foggy. And very cold. We were riding our bikes along this street when some woman I called out to started talking to us. She was hysterical. It was semi scary at first. But just really really lively to put it nicer. She proceeded to tell us that she didn't know much about the "Amen's", that she sees ghosts, and how the crop of the land was doing. This is pretty typical of Taiwan. I finally realized that image of being in a foreign, very superstitious and semi spooky land. Almost like being in a novel..


me, Wayment and this hundred year old Ama!

We had a speaker in church yesterday get up to the pulpit and start speaking at the top of his lungs, to the point that bishop got up and told him to quiet down and then our 2nd counselor turned the volume down as low as it would go. ZhouDX was just so excited to tell us that we can feel the Spirit when we keep God's commandments. It was honestly hilarious!

That sums up my week. Not too eventful. Just very average.

Love you all. Miss everyone, keep smiling.

randomly ran into this guy, apparently he is pretty famous in taiwan for fencing. which is actually a sport here...

we found a really good looking Buger place here in Taiwan I'm pretty excited to try out!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Meiyou Kong!

Meiyou Kong is the most over-used excuse we hear out on the streets of Taiwan. It means "no space" or "no time". But I'm going to go ahead and be very Taiwanese now when I tell you my emailing the past few weeks has sucked bad because I have also had "no time". Too busy having fun. Sorry everyone hahaha.

This past week had some cool things happen. Last week, i forget what day exactly, but one of them we were walking out of a 711 right after a lesson and we were about to go finding or contacting whatever you call it, and I went and talked to the very first person I saw outside sitting on his scooter. Went through the motions and asked who he was and how he was doing like normal and then he's like "Hey! I know you! I'm a member!" bahaha so that night we found a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who hadn't been to church for like 8 years or something. But better yet, turns out he is HILARIOUS and took us out to eat sushi later in the week. I won't forget that experience, that is for sure. It went something along the lines of this:

We get to his house and I call him up to see where he's at and the first thing he says basically translates to "oh my gosh you guys are soooo slow, ok i'll be down in a second" and hangs up. So that puts me in a good mood hahah I love people like that. We get to our dinner place and sit down and suddenly he just starts grabbing all the food he can see, including like 20 packs of wasabi and squeezing it all into my soy sauce and telling me I have to eat it because he wants to see my reaction to the heat! I almost cried I'll admit. Dang it I gave him the reaction he wanted.. but it was soooo funny to watch this almost 70 yrold act like he was still our age. He's a goon. But on a very honest note now though, wasabi will clear out your nose and your brain and the air surrounding you. that stuff when you load in 5 packets becomes pretty potent.. Then to top everything off, Fan DX starts going off on how he wants my nose so badly, apparently he thinks his nose is too fat and flat. So for the first time in my life, someone (him) asked if he could squeeze my nose.. I was like "What the heck!" at the question and he just thrusts himself forward nearly over the table to hand-rape my nose. hahahahahaha i honestly have no other way to describe it!! He tells us on the way back to our bikes that I needed to thank my ancestors for being perfect in this life and not getting cursed with a bad nose... 

We'll be seeing him again soon, but I'm not sure what to expect next time I'll be honest...

Our man FanDX, funniest guy of my life

Last Monday was one of the best days of my mission. Sorry for the short email. But now I'll share with you now that I have some more time. My RC LaiJM took us down to her hometown for the day to pick strawberries. I call LaiJM my Taiwanese mother. And she has really taken it upon herself to be such. Of course she'll never replace you my beloved mother. But I'm being honest when I say my every possible need is being met. And exceeded. I have plenty of motherly care don't worry. 

She takes us down to Miaoli which is probably one of the most beautiful places on this island to be honest. Super mountainous and super green. The whole ride down I'm literally dying of laughter the whole time and enjoying her liveliness. Then we pull up to her Aunt's strawberry farm and Gugu was so happy to see us! super nice too. She got us right to picking and told us we didn't have to limit ourselves. So I had myself some fresh strawberries off the vine, oranges off the tree, and hot peppers off the bush. Then to make it all the better, we were right next to this huge bamboo forest so i realized my dreams being able to go through that and imagine i was one of those ancient Chinese ah-gongs going through the forest.

dreams come true

The crew and Gugu

biggest oranges I have ever seen. hands down!

fresh off the tree

getting my basket filled up

So that about sums up our time there. Soaking up some very beautiful scenery.

The ride home, everyone was tired and half sleeping except me and LaiJM in the front. I just started talking to her about my life. As if she was one of my best friends and also like she was my parent at the same time. Just kinda told her all my life goals plans and whatnot and she started giving me this motherly advice and like talking to me like i was her son. It was an hour that I legitimately felt at home, like legit home-feeling while simultaneously speaking chinese and looking out at foreign scenery. That was one of those hours that you sometimes get that you'll always look back on the rest of your life. Like one of those major moments, i don't know how to describe them. It was so nice. It ended too soon.

Since then LaiJM has brought me boxed lunches of homemade curry and bread and calls everyday its really cold to make sure I'm wearing my jacket haha. Stuff like that. She is one of my favorite people I've ever met. I'm going to be sad when I move next month. Like saying goodbye at the MTC kind of feeling I'm anticipating.

So to sum it all off. I'm doing very well. Life is very good. Thanks for all your prayers and support. I love you all!!

bringing the good word to a huge buddhist festival! haha not so successful ... but good scenery!

the cherry blossoms here .....