Monday, August 31, 2015


How is everyone's tan coming along? I looked at myself in the mirror the other myself a pretty good quality farmer's (missionary's?) tan going that I would be willing to put money on being the best looking!

Actually I haven't seen the sun for 10 or so days now... Part of living on a sub-tropical island I guess...

Last week was fun. On our short hike last Monday, I ran into a man from Germany. We talked for nearly an hour. It was crazy, it made me so dang happy to talk to someone who knew about things going on in the outside world and could express it in perfect english. It's interesting to hear European's take on the mess that is ever present in American politics lately. His comments were cracking me up. Perhaps my roots are stronger in me than I supposed. I want to live in Europe for a while. I love them Germans!!

This week I devoted myself to eating orange chicken and moon cakes. Chinese food is so dang good. Whoever comes to Taiwan to pick me up, I can hook you up with an extra couple inches on that waist size for sure haha. Taiwanese food, it's so good it kills me.

Elder Brandley loves the Indian/Pakistani place thats in our area, so we ate there probably every other day. I was down. Indian curry and chapati is to die for.

We went to visit an LA this past Saturday. She lives up on the mountain. Her home is the super old traditional Chinese home style. It was so dang dirty and gross!! I loved it. :-) Like walking back into time 500 years to old China. But this lady is already a crack up with how forward and honest she is, there are no limits with her, but then to add to it she invited her friend over so we could have another male present. He is the skinniest man I have ever seen. And he REEKED of rancid alcohol breath. My eyes stung when he spoke. Between this man living in his drunk fairyland and our loud and nagging LA, there were some good conversations going. And better for us, we managed to get some gospel in there as well. I left that room having seen a drunk man pull some Kungfu moves on our LA, our LA say some things to me that almost shocked me out of my missionary self, and soaking wet because of the leaking roof. It was the best visit I have made on my mission yet!

There was a break in the clouds last week. We sat on a bench outside for dinner and watched a street performer cover songs by Coldplay and Ed Sheeran on his guitar. I was surprised to see I could still remember the songs! It was nuts. But what a sureal moment that was for me. I'm in Asia. I'm speaking Chinese. I'm eating legit Asian food. Life is a dream, just as I said last week. I love it.

Taiwan is the place to be. Hope you all aren't too jealous. Have a good week!


Some people weren't so lucky this past typhoon....

The coast line that I preach to every night.

my favorite shaved ice in the world!

the Wang family

hiking again!

Monday, August 24, 2015

This week was a dream.

Sometimes I forget I'm alive. I don't know how to explain it.

I have been reading The Miracle of Forgiveness lately. President Kimball illustrates a convict's life a little as part of explaining our potential bondage to sin. In his tangent, I got distracted on the fact that I really have been living outside of reality for a while, much like convicts do in a prison cell. Of course its different though. I'm not sure what it is like to be released after a 10 year sentence to jail, but I'm sure it's much like waking up from a dream. Walking off the plane has got to be similar on a much more minute scale. Those were my thoughts this morning.

Good news is my "dreams" have been awesome lately! 淡水 is the place to be in Taiwan. Everyone and their dog comes here to play. I can see why, it's gorgeous. Along that same note, I have met people from nearly every city in Taiwan and every country in Asia. It's cool. Best part is the different ethnicities of food around here. There is a Pakistani place next to where we go contacting. I love it to say the least.

So, we don't meet a lot of people from here, thus finding investigators is tough. However, we find so many awesome people for other missionaries, already some missionaries have gotten back to us that they are having success with the people we are finding. I remember what it felt like to be on that receiving end in my other areas. It feels even better to be helping others out now. Giving is better than receiving as the old maxim goes.

My English slowly gets awful. Which is ridiculous because sometimes I get stuck on the Chinese, so I go to say it in English, but I still 說不出來. (to give you an example.) 

Taiwan was skirted by a Typhoon again this weekend. No damage done, but lots of wind and drizzling rain. Weather in Taiwan is much different from home.

This past week we made it out to 三芝 which is part of our area along the Northern coast of Taiwan. I saw the ocean during daytime. It was nuts. It's been a while for me. We have some nice deserted beaches available to us on P-days to come. We also ate at a Texas BBQ place that was like walking into America for an hour. It was a surreal sensation.

After going to Frank's Texas BBQ, however, I decided I am not in Taiwan forever. I ought to eat Chinese while I can. So I formally gave up on my quest to find Mexican here in Taiwan. Cafe Rio will be there when I get home, right?

Have a good week!

PS Shout out to my cousins in Central America, Grand Tetons and Mt. Rainier. Thank you for living my dreams for me. LOL

Taiwanese nachos still don't compare to Mexican nachos

Indian curry chicken rice

Elder Brandley

My home

Monday, August 17, 2015


I moved. 

I remember my breaker Elder Miller once told me I would be going to 淡水 for sure, never did it occur to me that someone could prophesy quite like that.

Leaving 新莊 was bittersweet. I could never attempt to sum up the things I learned while being there. I could never put my experiences down into words for you to read. Perhaps simply put, my time in 新莊 was, "beautiful." I learned a lot about life. I will be forever grateful for my time there. But if I was asked about going back to 新莊, I would probably plead the 5th.

So here I am in 淡水. It is so beautiful it kills me. And so touristy. In the past two days alone, we've run into members from Mexico, San Francisco and all over Taiwan. As far as nonmembers go, name every Asian country you can and then add most of Europe and the Americas. It's fun to be amongst some diversity again.

Where we live here is sort of not in our area just like it was back in 新莊, so we have to ride our bikes about 20 min everyday just to get where everything is happening. The way to get there is a bike path along the river/bay thing that 淡水 has going on here. Last night in particular, we were riding out to a members house. Along the way, I look out over at the setting sun reflecting its deep orange light off the ocean. I see 觀音山 (GuanYin Mountain)'s silhouette lit up against the orange light. Then I look behind me into the Taipei area and surprisingly see all the way to the main mountains of Taiwan maybe 20 or so miles away with the rolling clouds surrounding them lit up pink with the sun. It was a sight. 

I'm sure all of you back home know what a sunset looks like, but I have forgotten since being surrounded by skyscrapers all day every day. Such that it was almost a spiritual experience to remember.

I am no longer a District Leader anymore. I am simply a normal missionary. I think I actually really like it! Missionary leadership just means being on the phone an extra hour at nights and then doing trainings once a week (which is actually enjoyed honestly). Now I understand that those high and mighty DL's and ZL's across the world really aren't much more important than the average missionary. LOL (I don't know much about what AP's do so I can't say anything about them.)

The ward here in 淡水 is super supportive of us missionaries from what I can gather thus far. I am looking forward to working with them.

Today we might be going to the beach. Or just people watching. I'm excited.

Love you all!

PS I will try to have some pictures of 淡水 for you next week.

PSS How could I forget? I moved into a baptism. But I feel like a chump taking any credit. Here's a picture.

already fitting right in with all the members.....

Monday, August 10, 2015


I'm sure for all of those who saw on the news are wondering about the Typhoon was that we encountered last week. It was fun. :-)

This week got off to a great start last Monday as I was finally able to go watch Taiwan's "Changing of the Guard." It was in the beautiful part of Taipei. DC was probably still more impressive, although in Taiwan they allow you to get as close to the man with the rifle as you possibly can without touching him. Most the people there with us were Koreans going wild and the security guards were having a panic attack about all the swarming Koreans. That was entertaining to watch.

emptiest place in Taipei, go figure!

Chinese ceiling paintings, beautiful in my opinion!

Almost perfectly symmetrical.  Is Christina impressed??

following them the whole way down, gotta get that perfect view!

The next day we got to ride our bikes forever away to a meeting. We took the sister's along with us. It was 90 degrees and 100% humidity. (there about at least) The good news is we did not get lost. Getting lost just means more sweat time for us.

We still made it to Ikea on Thursday night luckily.

But the climax of the week rests on Friday/Saturday of course. We had a Typhoon hit Taipei about a month ago, and it really wasn't super impressive. Which caused me to think all typhoons weren't much of anything. On Friday as we were doing our service, the winds really started to kick in. That night we went out, attempting to contact people. We had one woman stop. She was tiny. However, I was impressed as she held her ground while we still spoke to her in between the gusts that nearly carried me away. It was entertaining for us, she didn't accept anything, but still worth it.

Saturday morning we woke up to a storm. A mean storm. Elder King starts doing some crunches as I call out to him that we are going to run the mountain near our house. He looks up with a priceless expression asking, "Are you crazy?!" I am. We ran through those streets dodging the many street signs flying around and random tree branches being tossed at us. Once on the mountain in the thick forest, we almost couldn't even get anywhere because 100's of trees were uprooted or snapped blocking the path. We made it about half way up when the winds got so intense that I may have been a little scared for my life. We ended up standing behind a big tree for 5 minutes while the hellish winds were going wild before we ran right down and got right home out of the mess. I was soaked as you could imagine.

Typhoon Soudelor

Before church on Sunday I was handed a saw and got to chop up a massive tree that had blown over on top of the gate to get into the chapel. It felt really good to "roll up the sleeves" so to speak.

We had our last investigator confirmed on Sunday. It was a good one. We also were able to set two new baptismal dates. 

Pretty much this week was what any mission could ask for. I am very content. Peace is a good feeling as a missionary.

Until next week!

Monday, August 3, 2015


Baptisms are pretty much the highlight of a mission. They are even more of a highlight when you are outside, way up in the mountains, in a huge river, with two awesome people you love dearly. This past weekend was a memory I won't forget.

Before I mention too much about the baptism I have some other fun stuff for y'all. I got in another bike wreck. But I tell you, angels support me every time because I have only actually tipped over twice. This past week, I'm riding downhill and of course my brakes just happen to have worn out a little recently to the point that as I'm taking a fast left turn down an alley, there is a man chewing BinLang that ignores the stop signals and hauls forward to where we literally hit head on. Although my back tire flew up 10 feet in the air, I landed on my feet and this man sat undisturbed. Elder King got a good kick out of the scene. Sometimes I wish I was my companion so I could see some of these things happen instead of experience them. However, I would take experiencing over spectating any day.

I need to replace my unbalanced back tire now. That is $600NT ($20) I don't want to pay...

Taiwanese people as a whole have the highest moral code of any people I have ever witnessed. As we were walking down a crowded street (no one understands "crowded" till they come to Taiwan), I get a call and sit down at a table and set my water bottle on the table. I forget about my water bottle for the rest of the day until 6 hours later I realize I don't have it. We go back to this place and lo and behold it is still sitting on the table amidst the crowds of thousands walking past it. This isn't the first time something like this has happened here. I am very impressed by the way these people govern their lives.

Another shout out to my Taiwanese family, last Wednesday we are on the subway headed for Taipei. Luckily because of where we live, we are at the end of a subway line so it is usually pretty easy to get seats as not many people have got on yet. I cannot wait for my family to experience the subways here. The only other place I've been so smashed in a crowd of people is at the front row of a concert. It is insane. Yet, if it weren't for the rumble and screeching of the railroad, I could hear a penny drop. People here are so unique. The thing I noticed that was most intriguing as I sat there was the subways here are color coded, light blue for anyone and dark blue for disabled and elderly. Regardless of how packed those cars can get though, those dark blue seats are always either filled by elderly or empty. This culture has many virtues to it.

After the temple on Wednesday, we were invited up to President Jergensen's home for brownies where him and Sister Jergensen all talked with everyone and served us ice cream. They are so cool. I didn't think that being one of 220 other missionaries would allow you to get to know your mission president too well, but I want to give them a shout out for how well they treat us. We are family and everyone can feel it. It's so awesome.

As for 烏來, we woke up and got dressed right into our suits. Ran up to the chapel up the street and boarded a massive bus full of our ward members. Drove an hour or so up into the mountains. Beautiful scenery, dramatic landscape. I get dressed into my whites. Jump down into the river in front of a crowd of the 300+ spectators from the entire stake. I could actually see my feet standing in the river, the water was that clear! Somewhat chilly, but just about perfect. I look up as our two investigators are standing there. I catch a glimpse of one saying a quick prayer and the other smiling bigger than his mouth could go. Although it was a quick instant, the memory drags it out a bit. It was a unique experience. I was a lucky duck for sure.

swimming against the current but staying in the same spot is the taiwanese style of swimming laps.  it's smart really.



烏來 is where the first baptism in Taiwan was performed as well. Fun fact.

caught in the very act.

Life is about experiences. Going on a mission is an experience you couldn't forget even if you tried, no matter how you felt about it over all. I'm just glad I actually really like mine.

Keep smiling!