Monday, February 29, 2016


Happy Chinese Lantern Festival to you all! It was really fun here in Taiwan, hopefully someone somewhere in America was able to celebrate it just a little...

These Chinese holidays are super epic here, there are always these super massive and crazy loud rallies that go on all across the city. If I wasn't in the most peaceful and law-abiding country in the entire world, I'd think that these were on par with the riots in Egypt a few years ago. They are super exciting stuff. We went to a Chinese temple that has a market surrounding it to pass out fliers. We watched as a parade of loud speakers and huge drummers passed by in their trucks and people blowing giant horns and marching all through the streets, then the traditional dancers performing on the stages set up in the plaza and all the extra street vendors selling special Chinese snacks. We even ran into the temple and got some cool pictures of all the random lanterns everyone had made and decorated the inside of the temple with. It was super pretty!

We went up to Taipei twice this past week for meetings and exchanges. I went with Elder Huntsman again. I've been able to make some pretty awesome friends on the mission, he's definitely one of them. But while we were up there, we had a member take us to another Chinese Family restaurant where they served us plate after plate after plate of absolutely delicious food. There was one kid there that showed up though who was much much darker skinned (notice how I've picked up some of the racist Chinese spirit unfortunately...) than the parents there who took us out to eat. I was super confused and had to ask him where he was from or if he was adopted. He told me he was Mexican. I wish I could've seen the look on my face at that moment! A Mexican kid speaking fluent Chinese?? I didn't believe him but it took him nearly an hour to finally tell me he was one of the Natives, like our Indians, who had just got back from his mission in Indiana where everyone told him he looked Mexican LOL. He did have the look. I would've never guessed Taiwanese..

On this past Saturday, we had 4 lessons in a row fall through before even 2 pm came. It was fun. And it was pouring rain outside. I finally gave into getting a Coldstone. When I went to pay for the super expensive ice cream, the guy told me it was Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Miracles happened to make up for the loss with the lessons. Elder Gray and I lucked out and celebrated to two huge ice creams!

This week had some interesting experiences.. One of our very best investigators who was right on the path towards baptism dropped off the map and blocked everyone's numbers. So that might not happen with her anymore unfortunately... Then there were a few lessons in particular where it was nuts, I had the point I was getting at right on the tip of my tongue. I knew exactly what I wanted to get at. But I felt like I was chasing that main idea the entire time throughout the lesson. I just couldn't ever catch up to it, even though I had it right there. It was a weird sensation. Poor Roy, he said he understood it all, but I'm not sure if he was serious or just trying to be nice..

This past week went super quick. I am super happy to have another new start again though. Monday is always the brightest day of the week. Which is a good attitude to keep for the future. Excited to hit it hard every week! 

Love you all!

PS I cut my hair again. I like it longer..

Some of the cool lanterns up close

Inside the Daoist Temple (the smell of incense thick as black smoke)

This one was also a fountain.

Remember Chinese reads right to left, meaning "Celebrate Lantern Festival"

For Lisa. The Sakuras are everywhere here in Xinzhu

More lanterns

Sunday dinner crew!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The week after Chinese New Year. Typically there is a bit of a "blues" that comes the week after the New Year because it's hard to get back into the swing of things. However, luckily for us, getting back into the swing of things was a bit easier. We didn't have many trials trying to get our people to meet back up with us again. And Elder Gray and I are doing very well together. We get along great.

This week was a bit a shorter with the Temple Day thrown in there again. That was a fun treat. Exhausting though.

This week we had a few lessons set up. Two in particular that illustrate the kind of Christian I want to be afterwards. 

The first was a member from the church that is centered in Anaheim, it doesn't have a name so I can't explain it too well. He was really nice to us. Except it didn't matter what we said, he would say "So where is the difference here?" To which no matter how peacefully we replied to him he would freak out and start yelling at us that "We were not to argue! I simply want to hear what the differences are." I lost my patience at the end. If you ask what the differences are and get a super friendly and informative answer from someone, first don't yell at them that they are trying to argue with you, and second don't ask again what those differences are LOL.

The second was a member of what I believe is the Victory Church? She was so nice. So pleasant. So willing to listen. She knew exactly what we were going to do when we met with her and agreed to it fully. Then peacefully listened and enjoyed it. She still went to her church on Sunday. But she was so kind to us. And I left that lesson with my own faith in Christ strengthened. 

How these people treated us has everything to do with who they were as a person and not anything to do with what church they belonged to. However, I want to be that Christian that when I run into the JW's or some other sect, I can strengthen their faith the same way this lady last week did mine. That is what we ought to do as good Christians anyways right?

Two days ago I had a funny run in with an LA. We stopped on the way to his house and picked up some Red Bean cakes, mom and dad you're going to love them, and brought him one. I was particularly hungry though so I bought myself two. When we got there, we gave him his and we all ate ours and I hid my extra one hoping he wouldn't see that I still had one, but he downed his so fast. Then he looked up and said "I'm so hungry! Can I have that other one?" I hesitated for a few seconds because I really didn't want to give him it but I didn't want to say no. Cat caught my tongue pretty good lol. Finally I caved. Handed it over. But when he saw what flavor it was, he gagged. I was relieved! I went to grab it back from him. Told him we'd get him two next time. Then he shoved it in his mouth and literally gagged it down. I was ticked inside. LOL

This week I felt on top of it. Then incompetent. Then exhausted. Then energized.
The emotions are many. The thoughts are more.
All lead to such a great amount of growth though. These two years have been so worth it.

Have a great week!!

They had a Frozen exhibit in Taipei. Cool stuff. The other is some good tasting dumplings and also some Indonesian curry made by our Indonesian member.

Temple day photo from last week

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Sorry everyone, not much time to write this.

Last week was Chinese New Year. I was amped to celebrate it a bit. And to make this year's new years even more memorable, I got Strep throat.

This week was great and very full. But due to time I'll elaborate on this one story.

On Monday, as it was Pday, I figured I just need to rest what I was feeling off, so we had a good relaxing day. But then Tuesday came and my throat hurt like crazy and was super red and swollen and full of white puss. Go see a doctor, the answer is simple right? But don't forget that Tuesday was the third day of Chinese New Year. Every clinic and hospital was all shut down for the entire week...except the ER. I talked to the President's wife to see if I could try to just tough it out for a week and then see but she didn't like that idea with lots of strep all back up in the throat the way it was. So Tuesday afternoon we made it to the hospital ER. I stood in line for 15 minutes to register. Once registered we were put on a waiting list. After almost two hours, I still wasn't called. A car came flying up in the drive way and an entire family sprinting all over the place barged into the room. Then we had tons of medical assistants shouting and sprinting out to the car to get the dead man out of the car and flew him into the resuscitation room! That craziness went on for a solid 30 minutes as they tried to bring the old man back, finally they got a pulse. What a stressful sight that was even for a bystander.. When it died down a bit, I went and checked to see where my name was on the list. I still had another 20 or so names ahead of mine. At this point we threw in the towel and left.

Went back the next day and made it through a bit faster, but not much.

Socialized healthcare systems during the longest holiday break of the year are a nightmare!

In the end, I saw the doctor for a total of 2 minutes. She wrote a prescription I could've forged myself in two seconds.

Don't get sick on Chinese New Year if you're in Asia, you'll regret it.

But I ate a TON of food to make up for it :-)

So I will be working that off now. 

Love you all!!

Here are some pictures of the food for your enjoyment.

A family we ate a dinner with.

A man we love who we've been seeing in the hospital.

And the last one is proof that there are no thieves here in Taiwan (the owner left his keys in the ignition and everything..)

Monday, February 8, 2016


Chinese New Year began yesterday! But as it will carry on the rest of this week as well, I will write more about it next week!

New Year Decorations lighting up all the streets here
This is our apartment, refurbished hotel.
We have mastered the mosquito hunting tactics.

Our apartment has a funny little ecosystem of its own. As we are working on killing all the little blood suckers, the ants come in and devour their carcasses. Roaches come in summer and mosquitos in winter, but ants year round.
There were some other epic occurrences this week! And good news is I survived them all!

First off and least interesting, I found the best restaurant in all of XinZhu. It is a Singaporean place with the best tasting curry ever. Literally all I've ever wanted lol. But the interesting thing about this place, and I forgot to snap a picture which I'm pretty bummed about, is that Taiwan is SUPER tiny for how many people live here and you have to take advantage of every little bit of land you can find here. So along the street, this is literally this little patch of dirt, like 5ft by 5ft, like nothing at all, completely cultivated with cabbage, spinach, and other little tasty vegetables. Probably no wonder the Singaporean restaurants veges tasted so fresh?

The second was two days before Chinese New Year, I'm not sure what happened, but my throat lit up bright red with soreness. It's incredibly inconvenient to have swallowing troubles right as you prepare for the holiday of the year for the best food. And to be better off, because of the holidays, there were no people on the streets, like at all. It is amazing how quickly this place becomes a ghost town. Spooky almost. But either way, with the throat throbbing and no people to talk to, I wanted to call in sick. But fortunately for me, my companion is super excited about always working, so I never said anything for fear of making him slow down. We kept going hard. And funny as it is, it really does feel so much better when you just stick it through the pain and work anyways. There were some many small moments I would've missed if I had called in sick. Life is short. Get out and live it. We can recover from our illnesses and weaknesses in the Spirit World.

My mother is a shining example of how to live life. Making it to the top of the Rockies and across the ocean only weeks after surviving the gnarliest surgery ever. I'm lucky to have such a role model of a mother aren't I?

The third and best of all was to start off a great Chinese New Year, we had a pretty intense rumbling in the earth. That drum roll to usher in the New Year must've been too loud or intense or something? I was sleeping Friday night and had an intense nightmare when I was being shaken ridiculously hard. I woke up thinking it was my companion, but realized my whole bed and entire room was bouncing around like crazy. So there I was, laying in bed, shaking harder than I have ever before, when the thought occurs to me, "I really ought to jump under that desk in my room. Or under my bed. Or just do something when the ceiling falls then it won't crush me." As I'm considering my next move, I roll over to look at Elder Gray and first see what he does. He is sound asleep!! Snoring away!! I keep watching as we are both bouncing up and down waiting for him to flinch. Not a thing. Then I lay back down. I think when you are sleepy, your logic isn't as good. I reasoned that my bed was at least warm and comfortable, the ceiling was only dry wall, so nothing too intense if it were to collapse, and then if Elder Gray did eventually get up, I would then consider moving. So I went back to bed and enjoyed the remaining 3 or so minutes of super intense tremors watching the lights on the desks and ceilings shake like crazy.

It was when I woke up in the morning and heard just how intense it really was that I think I learned my lesson that if I'm ever back in the that situation again that I probably ought to get up and get to safety just in case.

Next earthquake I will duck for cover, don't worry.

Fun experience.

I'm super excited for a fun New Year! Hope you all are as well!!!

The Lin family

Cute little missionary Amah with a fun little demo.

New Year feast. To die for!!


Taiwan Taipei Temple

Textile life

Chinese markets

Monday, February 1, 2016


As I was riding to the chapel just barely to send my emails, I almost got blown away off the road. The wind here is ridiculously strong and super obnoxious. I had a very clear and distinct sign from the Spirit that "Wind Cities" are not for me in the future. I'll still visit Chicago for the holidays, but done with any thought of living there ever.

That said, the weather has been fairly decent lately. Sunday morning it was even hot! Somehow I'm learning to like this hot weather! Perhaps I am really into this tropical zone climate? No wonder so many people live here. Lol.

This week was a beautiful week. It was an ordinary one. Nothing too special happened. But, one thing, I was at peace about my future life. On the mission it is such a pain because you have no time to think about those upcoming things. And it is very real that you do feel pressure about what is to come all the time. However, this week I was able to put those burdens up on the shelf. Just focus on Taiwan. It was a great relief. And for that I am so grateful.

As such, I don't have any major stories.

But I will describe to you one day this past week, Thursday.

Every RM knows that there are many days on the mission where you feel incredibly blindsided by all the crazy things that can suddenly come crashing down at you at once.

It was transfers. And transfers changed drastically for us with the beginning of the new year. It really isn't that huge of a thing, however, any time you implement something for the first time, there will always be lots of confusion and anxiety about the turn outs. Bright and early in the morning, Elder Gray and I had to be to the train station to pick some elders up and send some other off. We had to bring an extra bike with us as well. That was quite the walk trying to juggle so many bikes and possessions and whatnot. Once there and getting that all settled, we had to ride straight to the hospital to be with some sisters who are pretty sick and needed help translating and such. Taiwanese hospitals are nuts!!! I am so happy I have not had to go to any. Thank you America for having somewhat decent health care. Social healthcare is a nightmare. Once those few hours were over, we headed right back to the train station to drop more elders off. Then walked all the bikes and equipment back to the house and had 3 hours to plan out our week. But it started pouring rain during that time. And our next lesson ended up being a disaster trying to get there. We had to ride far in the rain. My shoes got wet. My athlete's foot got worse. And the heater at home felt real nice right before bed.

Thus is mission life.

It is a good one.

Love you all!

January 24, 2016

If you haven't heard yet, it snowed here in Taiwan! Yesterday after church got out, we nearly had the entire ward out the doors dancing around like little children as the snow flakes fell. We had some 70+ women telling us it was the very first time ever in history that it snowed on the flat lands of Taiwan. Nuts huh??

None of it stuck, but watching it fall was entertaining and crazy nonetheless.

Last week I forgot to include this, but as we were riding to the church to email, we went to turn left at an intersection and I turned to look back right at the perfect second! My poor companion flipped HARD off his bike onto the payment right as the light turned green to oncoming traffic. I was dazed for a second thinking he just got nailed or t-boned or something, but I realized that there were actually no vehicles of any sort around him. I run out to help him get up and gather all his stuff and ask what happened as cars are starting to come at us. (The cars all went around, that really wasn't any issue) Turns out his front tire went over a foot-deep pothole as he was making the turn and also only had one hand on his handlebars.. Bike wrecks.. They happen all too often here lol. Good news is my companions and I have never gotten more than a scratch or two!!

Front row seat

This week was frigid cold. I had a few nights where my shoes were soaked and rain water had dripped off my rain clothes down my neck and into my pants and then XinZhu is as windy as Chicago. Although it wasn't walking through snow, it was what it was. One night, after finding for many hours, we went to a steamed buns shop and got a cheese bread roll then got a large ginger tea and went to the deserted convenience store next door and sat upstairs in the dark eating and watching the crazy traffic outside. It was pretty memorable.

Flip through those quick, gives you an idea of how the traffic works here..

Also, alongside all the funny occurrences that happen in a week, we had many awesome mission miracles as well. (Miracles surround us, isn't even something as small as every time we take in a deep breath a miracle?) We went up to a college campus to contact a bit for a while. We stopped a kid who at the start said "No thanks" but after talking to him a bit, we gave him our information and some material and set up with him. Two days later he showed up to that lesson! And then he came to church even in the freezing cold. And liked it. We won't meet with him for all of Chinese New Year coming up, but afterwards he'll be good to go. 

This parking garage at the college had four or five flours to it just like this one.
We are sent on missions probably not to prove what true religion is to the world and certainly not to fight with anyone about anything, but to invite those who actually do want it. And the miracle of my mission and some of these past weeks is that there actually are some people out there who do still want religion and a moral standard in their life. Sometimes you just have to get past that first "No thanks." 

I've been lucky to meet a lot of people here who have a desire to be in our church. It strengthens my desire as well.

I hope not everyone froze to death over on the other half of the world!!

Love you all!