When Elder Bean arrived on island, he did a short activity with Elder Hellberg, in which Elder Bean had his first experience contacting people in Taiwan. According to his rendition of the event, the experience was marred by Elder Hellberg's ridiculously good looks. Many people approached them, asking excitedly if he was the actor that played Peeta in the recent movie The Hunger Games. They then insisted on having pictures with him. Poor Elder Hellberg, he's just too handsome for his own good.
You know how students in Asia are very diligent? I've always known it was because much pressure is put on them by the schools and parents, but I just learned of a particular strategy they use: Every student's test scores are posted in the local newspaper. Its main purpose is for the advertising of schools (IE, "Look at our school, our student's score the highest!"), but this naturally puts a ton of pressure on the individual student because they don't want their family name to "lose face". Nuts.
The rain has really kicked in. We've been having severe thunderstorms and floods recently, and one morning we woke up to the sound of the loudest thunder I have ever heard in my life. Imagine a body builder slamming a cake pan against tile floor as hard as he can, and amplify that by 1000. And then do that over and over and over again. It lasted for a good hour. When it rains out here, the city basically turns off. Nobody is out on the streets (understandably: when it rains, it rains). So we end up making a lot of calls and tracting. The hope is that somebody will take pity on you and let you into their home. In fact, a lot of people become investigators because they usually have had an experience where they have seen the missionaries riding their bikes in a typhoon, so they really come to respect us.
I am still English Leader. They're doing pretty well, we had another attendance spike from 24 to 37 last week, and I'm hoping a lot of those new students carry over into the next week. I think I've really earned a lot of the missionaries trust, which is absolutely crucial to a program's success. We are just one big round of sharing and receiving ideas and constructive criticism, so we are improving a lot! I'm glad to be working with so many fantastic missionaries.
We picked up an investigator this week, his name is Kevin. And talk about SMART. My father has been sending me letters that have talked about science and its relationship with religion, so I was more than ready when Kevin started pulling out things like "Occam's razor" and Pascal's theories on economics. Clearly, my dad was inspired to write about that stuff, because I was able to address all of his concerns and perfectly understand where he was coming from. In the end, he actually agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Pretty amazing.
Elder Erekson got a call the other day from four girls on a conference call, asking if we could go to their party. When we said no, they asked us for our personal Facebook addresses. "Um, here's our English Class Facebook!" They weren't thrilled about that. To add on to that, there was a member family trying really hard to hook us up with their daughter and niece: "I want them to go to America because I like American boys better."
On Wednesday, all four of us local Elders were biking home, when suddenly this guy in a van drove up beside us and started shouting through a megaphone, "Go go go go go go go GO GO GO!" He started accelerating and we found ourselves in a really fast van-bike drag race. And I'm happy to say we beat him. Take that!
Brother Shi got baptized!!! Woohoo!!! Because our church building is so weird, we do not have a baptismal font, so we used a puny swimming pool instead. Because Brother Shi is so tall, he had to basically crumple himself into a ball to go all the way under the water and fit in the pool. Regardless, I'm super happy for his decision. I hope he continues on to be an active member, as I know he will be very blessed if he does so.
Elder Erekson is the bomb! I'm so grateful to be working with him. This is his first movecall as District Leader, let alone senior companion, so we are having a great time figuring things out. We laugh and sing a lot together, we get along well. We are trying to write a few songs right now; we'll try to get the album published by the end of next month. First things first: where can I get a good tape recorder?
Hope all is well back at the home front! I love you all! Stay cool (It's too hot here! Appreciate the cold weather while you can!).
“My desk space.”
“Elder Erekson photo-bombing my camera.”
“Brother Shi and party.”
“Sister Christensen and her new trainee, Sister Burr.”
“Brother Wu, our Ward Mission Leader.”
“Brother Yang, a super super nice guy who is a ward missionary.”
“Baptism font, so puny!”
“The Gangshan crew.”
“It's Adventure Time! This cartoon is incredibly popular in Taiwan.”