Monday, August 5, 2013

Aug 5, 2013 - First Week in Taiwan

Ok so here goes. There is so much to say and to tell, I hope I can cover everything!

So I am doing good. Like there are many different emotions I have experienced and felt over the past week. It definitely doesn't feel like a week. It feels much, much longer. But there has been so much to keep busy and to keep preoccupied that I really don't have much time to think.

So, first impressions are that Taiwan is freaking awesome. There is so much, so new, so different, it's all just great. Much more urban and not so much green open areas though.

The flights weren't too bad. I didn't sleep much on the flight to Tokyo. I can never sleep much on flights. But even worse is that two people around me watched The Hobbit, two people watched Star Trek, three people watched GI Joe, and other movies as well. It was torture to just have to sit there. I was pretty much wiped out on the flight to Taipei. I actually slept for a good part of that flight.

Of course, I have seen people since I have been here that I have known. As soon as I came out of baggage claim the first person I saw was Elder Forbes (he was in the older generation in the MTC, he is the operations manager) and gave him a big hug. Then next was Elder Allen who was holding the Taiwan Taizhong mission sign. I gave him a big hug as well and actually was talking with him a lot that night and sometimes being his companion, momentarily, if he needed to go somewhere. Then at the Dan Jones Experience I saw Sister Mack, Sister Smart (from the older generation), Elder Robison, and Elder Hellberg (from the older generation). Handshakes and hugs were given respectively. Then finally when it came Friday to get our trainers (I already had seen who the trainers were going to be because Elder Allen showed me the list), we went into the chapel to have a meeting and learn who would be our trainers (both the greenies and the trainers were sitting in the meeting). The trainers were already in the chapel and they had us new missionaries walk in so that the trainers could grab us and have us sit by them. So as I was walking in, Elder Purser was shaking the hand of a missionary in front of me but when he saw me, he pretty much ran at me and hugged me. I ended up sitting by Elder Erikson, Elder Purser, and Elder Robison during the meeting. I also saw Elder Magnuson there as well.

President Blickenstaff and his wife are very nice and are really great people. They will do a very good job directing us and guiding the Taizhong mission. Yeah, our group was there first batch of new missionaries and they handled it very well. It was also probably difficult for them because we were the biggest group to ever come through at one time; a total of 33 of us.

The numbers next to
Chinese words indicate
different intonations.
So you will probably never guess who my companion is. No, it's not anyone you know or that I knew previously. I will be his last companion and I am the first companion he will train. It is Elder Dailey. Yeah, insane right? Two Elder Dayley/Daileys. Both of our Chinese names are Dai4. So we will now be referred to as Da4 Dai4 (for Elder Dailey) and Xiao4 Dai4 (for Elder Dayley) meaning big and small or Gao1 Dai4 (for Elder Dayley) and Ai3 Dai4 (for Elder Dailey) meaning tall and short (I am taller than him). He is from Bluffdale, Utah. 

Kaohsiung County
So what has made our last few days since Friday even more interesting and fun is that we are whitewashing the Fengshan area (it might be Fongshan on Google). So that means we are new to the area. We don't really know where anything is. We got to the Fengshan area (it's in East Gaoxiong, which might be on Google as Kaohsiung) at about 7:30 on Friday night. We took a train down from Taizhong, which was about 2-1/2 hour ride, and we had to stand because there were no more seats. That was fun. We talked with people, one of which was a lady who had studied one year at a university in England. So she spoke flawless English. Also to interject, Elder Turner (my MTC companion) was on the train with us along with his companion, Elder Vandiford. So we were all talking with this lady and passed along information and got her contact information. After the train, we took a subway system called the MRT. Then Elder Dailey and I walked to where, supposedly, our apartment was (it took a while since we had no idea really where we were going because we were new to the area). We also don't have a cell phone right now because the missionaries before us lost that one. We have the new phone, but we are waiting for the new SIM card. So we have been going to 7-11 a lot (which there are tons of here, they are your basic convenience store) to use the phones and contact people on our APR list (active progressing investigators). So Saturday came and my luggage and bike as well as Elder Dailey's luggage and bike had not been delivered yet. We had an appointment set up with an investigator who is pretty much golden and we were wanting to meet him and get to know him. The appointment was at noon and we had been told that there were some old missionary bikes at our apartment complex. We found one, but not the other. So we had to get a taxi to go up to the church (it's a 30 minute bike ride to the church). We were a little late, but we were able to eat lunch with our investigator. He is 18 years old and will be going to Taibei in September to start college. The only thing holding him back from getting baptized is parent fandui, which is parent opposition. He has to have consent from his mom (his parents divorced when he was young, his dad being Catholic and his mom Buddhist). His mom is afraid that if he is baptized because he will leave her, not love her any longer and possibly move away from her. But he loves his mom more than anything. After eating lunch with him, Elder Dailey and I taught him about having faith, acting on that faith, and also fasting. He has pretty much had all the lessons taught to him. We invited him to join in fasting with us on Sunday that his mom's heart would be softened and that he could further explain to his mom that he loves her so much and how being baptized wouldn't cause problems or change anything. He came to church and also to the family home evening activity on Sunday night, which was really good for him. Keep him in your prayers regarding his mom giving consent to allow him to be baptized.

I love being in the middle of this whole different culture. It is so much fun and so many things to see and are different.

The language will simply take time. Its just something that is here a little and there a little. So this made Church fun when everything was in Chinese. But my testimony I shared touched a lady who bore her testimony later and said it was an answer to her. During the third hour block, the Young Men's president had me come with him to Young Men's while Elder Dailey stayed in Elder's Quorum. There were, I believe, 4 young men there and then also the Presidency. They taught about chastity and allowed me to introduce myself to them and they introduced themselves to me. Apparently, Elder Dailey was telling me that, I guess, the Young Men's President, Frank, is a translator for the Church. You would be surprised at how much people actually know English. Its really cool.

People do speak fast, but the thing that is hard and will take time is listening as well as more common everyday language. So like scooter contacting, there was stuff I didn't even know how to say that Elder Dailey has been teaching me. It's always interesting, and also kind of nerve racking and scary to contact.

So now some more interesting and funny things. The scooters here are nuts!!!! There are so many and they pretty much don't obey any rules at all. Also they have scooter boxes because they can't make left turns, its illegal. So when a light turns green, they drive forward into the intersection and there is a box they stop in that is in front of the traffic into which they will be going with. Same goes for bikes. Apparently, Elder Dailey was telling me that the cops don't care much about traffic laws around here. Sometimes scooters just run red lights, or if we are trying to talk to someone and they don't want to talk, they may just run the red light so not to talk with us.

Some of the funniest things I have seen here though is that first it's ridiculous what the Taiwanese people put on their scooters. Sometimes families have the mom and dad sitting on the seat of the scooter and then have their little kid standing where their feet are supposed to go and have the kid hold the handle bars. Or I have seen a number of dogs that sit where your feet go on the scooter. The funniest one was a weiner dog that was sitting there (another funny thing is that a weiner dog is called a regou which literally means hot dog). I have also seen a tree that someone was carrying on their scooter.

Next, is Elder Dailey explained this more to me, but it still is so funny. There are so many Playboy accessories and clothing here. They have Playboy stores that sell all this merchandise, but none of their magazines or other pornographic stuff. So even members wear Playboy stuff. For example, glasses frames that have the Playboy bunny logo on it. Elder Dailey says that when he has asked members, "Do you know what you are wearing?". They don't even know.

Next, is that I totally agree with Elder Dailey. I feel like I am in Pokemon. There are buildings here that literally look like stuff out of Pokemon. One building definitely looks like a Gym. Then there are stray dogs, and other animals all over the place. Then we are sitting here riding our bikes all over the place. We run into all these different unique, peculiar, and individual people. And then even doors to places, like the 7-11 make little jingle sounds that sound like the noises out of places on Pokemon.

Uhmm, so I have had so much good food since I have been here. One meal with the Mission Prez and wife was a hot pot. Another was a round table meal with traditional food (the best being peiking duck). And so much other good authentic Taiwanese food. The most interesting I have had so far is fish eye and then also blood cake (which is quagulated pig or duck blood mixed together with rice). Today for lunch we are going to go get some dumplings. But we had really good stir fry on Saturday for dinner (mine had bacon in it :) ).

So it's funny is that the internet cafe where we are emailing at is just full of computers with people playing so many different video games. Some are playing Star Craft, others War Craft, others Magic the Gathering, and others either Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. It's kind of funny.

Well so, that is just a bit of a taste of what my first several days in Taiwan have been like (of course, the first few days I was crazy tired like none other, but I am starting to adjust more). I will try to remember throughout the week what I want to share. Tonight after dinner Elder Dailey and I plan to visit less actives. So pray and hopefully some will answer and be home so that we can teach and help them. Last tidbit is that it's funny that Elder Turner, my MTC companion, is in the same district as I am. I have seen him every day so far except today. So I will be seeing him more. And then Elder Teerlink is in my zone as well. So Elder Dailey and I are planning for some P-days to go to Monkey Mountain and the Lily ponds as well. So that will be fun in the future.

I love you all and hope the best for you!!! :)

Love ya!

Elder Roo