Yeah it deserves that many exclamation points. This week has been a pretty freaking awesome week! It seems like so much has happened and so many experiences and so many miracles. I will try to share as much as there is to share. I really need to be better about writing in my journal. You will find out in a bit why it is difficult.
So first off neither you or Mom shared about Fast Track as Dad calls it and Mom calls Test Track. I believe Mom is correct in that it is Test Track. Fast Track is the little tickets you get to come back at later times and bypass all the people waiting in lines. But I did see the few pictures that Mom sent. I am surprised that Marty didn't die from the amount of princess stuff he had to sit through and deal with. I will still always remember him saying his girl was not going to be a princess girl. Well what now Marty? You have a little princess girl on your hands. It's alright he still has Zeph that he can always play with.
Stopping off in the China area of Epcot? Sounds like it was fairly educational and fun. You know there are some differences from China and Taiwan, but there are also many many many many similarities and things that are the same. Some of the craziest feelings I have sometimes but I actually have really liked and cherished as some of the sweetest feelings while being on my mission is that while I am biking along stretches I just think Wow I am living in a different country. All I do and focus on each day is talking with people, getting to know them, helping them, teaching the gospel. That's all that I do. It's such a weird but awesome feeling that really can't be described unless you yourself have experienced it. Just thinking it that I am actually living in a different country. That I can actually speak Chinese. That I can actually handle myself, teach people, buy things, order meals. Over the next month my Chinese will even soar higher as I am really buckling down on learning the flashcards of Phase 3 using the Tunnel Method which will help to really lock things into long-term memory. But definitely each day is an adventure and that the people of Taiwan are so unique and so special. There is just a whole different world over here that you never can fully know of or appreciate or understand until you are in the heart of it and living it like a missionary (since by far due to God's blessings and help we learn the language quickest out of any foreigners that come to Taiwan).
Alright so now to share about my new area and companion. So as I said Elder Mudrow is my new companion. And what is awesome and best and also kind of creepy how well the Lord really knows us is how well right off the bat Elder Mudrow and I have gotten along. Like not just as friends and goofing off with each other, but as well as in contacting and in every aspect of missionary work working together. Like last weekwe went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders (Elder Ripley and Elder Chia. They also gave us a short notice of one day to do the exchanges. Silly ZLs, this is within a one week span that two different set of ZLs have done this), and after Elder Mudrow and I got back together we of course talk about how things went and what it was like. When I was with Elder Ripley he is a great guy and everything, but I just felt like that if I were his companion it wouldn't work, just wouldn't mesh. Elder Mudrow said the same thing about being with Elder Chia. So definitely the Lord knows us and knows that Elder Mudrow and I need to be together.
So to introduce the district. Our district consists of the Jiayi city (with secondary areas to the north and east) as well as Taibao. The Zone Leaders (Elder Chia (from Singapore, 15th move call) and Elder Ripley (from Arizona, 17th move call)) and the Sisters (Sister Chen (from Singapore and starting the 2nd movecall with her trainee) and Sister Mangelson) make up the Jiayi First Branch so they serve in the west half of Jiayi city and then have secondary areas a little to the south and a lot to the east. Then there are the Jiayi Third Branch Elders. That is Elder Mudrow (on his 8th move call and is our district leader) and me, and then Elder Chan (on his 17th move call and staying with his trainee) and Elder Ng (just started his 3rd move call). We are all together in a four man apartment which makes everything a blast and a half. Literally. So that is why it is really hard at night to actually sit down and write in my journal as we are always playing and having a good time every night. But so we have secondary areas (like 4 I think) mainly all to the north of us. Lastly in our district is the Taibao Elders. That is Elder Fiso and Elder Lazenby (he is my generation). Lastly lastly is the senior couple we have that are simply amazing. They work and serve in both the First and Third Branches. That is Elder and Sister Kailiponi. They are from Hawaii. They are very funny and make the mission so lively.
But so yeah there has been so much happening and so many good times. To startcame and I am still fairly new, but we find that that night Elder Mudrow needed to do a Baptismal Interview for the Zone Leaders' investigator. It was at the exact same time as our ward correlation at the church. As well on that day Elder Chan and Elder Ripley had gone up to Taibei with the departing group to attend the temple since they are leaving to go home half way through this move call. So Elder Ng and I are the ones attending (p.s. when I came to Jiayi the 3 Elders put the trick on me thinking that Elder Ng is a native missionary, which I just took for granted since I just came from being with a native. What threw things off a little bit though was that he was wearing a BYU shirt the first night and Elder Mudrow told me the truth that Elder Ng's dad is from Hong Kong, his mom from Taiwan, but that he has grown up in Provo. So Yeah for the next couple days Elder Ng still thought I thought he was a native but I knew and Elder Mudrow and Elder Chan knew that I knew the truth. So that was fun). So I pretty much get thrown into the deep end sharing about our investigators and such that I haven't met yet at all (pretty much sharing what Elder Mudrow shared with me as well as if Elder Ng had anything share). So to share a bit more about the Elders I see every day. Elder Mudrow is from Orem, Utah. He has an older sister and brother, both are married. He has been in Zhonghua before as well as Magong (the little island off the coast of Taiwan). Elder Chan is an English man (and pretty funny, especially with his little English wit). His dad I believe is from Hong Kong but Mom is from England. He has grown up in England. He is on his 17th move call (had his date extended to go home half way through this move call), so he is old! But it is great fun times always making jokes about Britain and America. Elder Ng is 100% American, born and raised in Provo. Elder Chan is his trainer. He just finished training and is starting on his 3rd move call. He is cute in his own little way and has a funny personality. Definitely there are still some parts of me that are adjusting to the new area, adjusting to a 4 man apartment, and just feeling like I fit in. I know I shouldn't care for the praise of man. But I also at times feel like I still haven't fully fit in yet (Elder Mudrow and Elder Chan already had a connection before Elder Mudrow moved in to Jiayi on Christmas Day. Both Elder Mudrow and Elder Chan had the same trainer).
One of the coolest miracles I have seen through this past week is a guy that had come to English (first time) and that Elder Mudrow had set up (Elder Mudrow and Elder Chan are the doormen; Elder Ng and I are the Intermediate class teachers) to meet the next day. We met with a new investigator and taught him the full first lesson as well as he accepted a baptismal invite for 2/22. We had invited him to come to church, butnight he said he might only be able to come to the last hour due to family things. came and he couldn't come to church but he did come to the baptismal service at that the Zone Leaders had. It was really great for him to see that and we will be able to build off that. What was even greater a miracle was that the Brother who said the closing prayer the new investigator recognized as a friend and a previous peer from down in Gaoxiong. He didn't even know he was a member. But so he has a friend and that will be great to help in his progression.
So crazy thing from the week.after weekly planning all four of us Elders were standing around getting ties on and talking about actual lengths to do ties at (because Elder Mudrow had retied his tie since it wasn't at a good length) and Elder Chan joking about fat people it doesn't really make a difference since it will always be way out in front on the belly. But so as soon as Elder Chan was saying this the floor ride underneath him starts hissing. Elder Chan gets this look of terror on his face and we are all freaking out going oh man what is happening. Elder Chan and Elder Ng book it out the door running down stairs to see if the neighbors down stairs are poking into the ceiling while Elder Mudrow and I are kind of trapped in the apartment and backing down the hall poking our heads around the door frames. We watch as it continues to hiss and all of a sudden the tiles in a straight line push up. So we get this ridge now in our apartment. It was so funny though because Elder Chan with his look of terror (since it started happening right under him) and Elder Ng booking it out the door and running down stairs banging on the door. And then Elder Mudrow and I stuck inside poking our heads around expecting some pipe to explode (we really thought it was a pipe). We later found that because , , and were butt nipping cold and then it turned around pretty warm, it messed with the concrete (which by the way the Taiwanese people love in making their buildings) so that it contracted and expanded so quickly it pushed up on the tiles on our floor. Some guys just came today and replaced the tiles and put new ones down. It was just a really funny experience because of the perfect timing of all us 4 Elders standing around right on that spot.
So this next week mark the start of Chinese New Year. It startsand goes through to the next week. I don't know what quite to expect, but it will be a lot of fun. Since pretty much everything closes down, us missionaries are getting qinged (or basically having meals made for us) every day. We have been told though as part of courteousy and politeness to bring small gifts to the families that will host us as well as we are given up to 2 hours for the meal times as it could be rude to leave early from festive times like these.
Well as I remember now, Happy Birthday Allisa! Judi Shengri Kuaile! I hope you have a great birthday!
As for myself for birthday, anything that you know can bring a smile to my face or make me laugh or just make me happy is good. There really isn't any need for possessions now because there is no time and is secondary to my purpose and my life right now as well as moving gets to be hastles. Like I am seriously thinking of just dumping some of my MTC books in the Jiayi apartment since I already have them all at home in Utah and they are a pain to move with with the weight and the space they take up.
I already told mom about the medicine. Deodorant is ok. Vitamins will last me through the mission. I am thinking garments will be for sure ok through to Christmas or I am hoping and banking on to the end of the mission. Shoes are doing great. I mainly wear the one Johnston & Murphys because they are the most comfortable and I like the most, so they are getting nice and worn. But I still have two other pairs. So shoes will be ok. I would say if you are going to send any candies or yummy stuff send things that are not in Taiwan. Like Reeses or Rolos for example. Just try and think of stuff that is not in Taiwan and that is comfort to me, reminds me of home, makes me appreciate what I have and love you all the more!
I love you all with all my heart and more! I miss you all all the time and wish you all the best! Happy Chinese New Year!