You know you are in Taiwan when you feel like the inside of your apartment is cold, and when you look at your thermometer it reads 83 degrees Fahrenheit. You know you are in Taiwan when you walk into the jungle to find an investigator for a couple minutes, and you walk out absolutely covered in mosquito bites. You know you are in Taiwan when the women at church are asking you how you use an oven. You know you are in Taiwan when you go biking with a bunch of kids through the jungle to play baseball at the Elementary School with a plaster bat and duct tape balls. You know you are in Taiwan when you can't enter a house without being commanded to eat an extraordinary amount of food. You know you are in Taiwan when you see this old guy on a bike every single day and all he does is shout at you, "Very good!" in English. You know you are in Taiwan when people are surprised that, despite being American, we actually eat other foods besides hamburgers and pizza.
I LOVE TAIWAN!!!
Let me just say that Hengchun is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. As we ride from one area to another, we get glimpses of stunning vistas of mountains and jungle. Occasionally we may bike by an endless field of rice or grass, with a few older woman tilling the ground off in the distance. The breezes are heavenly, and the colors are vibrant. It truly is a land of milk and honey.
The branch in Hengchun has about 40 active members in attendance. The Branch President actually lives outside its boundaries, a 2 hour car ride away. The people are very friendly and welcoming, and they make lunch for the missionaries after church every week. It's been wonderful visiting them and getting to know all of them.
The work is strikingly different here. Everyone on the road is a tourist. Contacting is no longer an option. Door to door tracting has produced much better results, and we have to be a little more creative since most of these people have been visited by missionaries before, many times. Ukulele comes in handy! It's been a struggle to adapt, but luckily I have a terrific companion, Elder Palmer, to show me the ropes. Thanks to him, I've been learning fast, and we are seeing successes. We just picked up a new investigator, and he committed to be baptized at the end of July. He came to church too, so he's looking good to hit his goal! We are excited to be seeing these blessings already, and we hope to see many more throughout the course of this following week.
There was a worldwide broadcast for all members of the church last week, and I just got to see it yesterday. How exciting to see the changes happening in the way we do missionary work! I can't wait to see how the missionary efforts in the church transform over the next few months. I was also really happy to see my friend Tiffany Campbell in some video clips during the broadcast. I've always seen her as a terrific example of someone who exercises faith and charity in everything she does, and I was happy to see her joyfully carrying out the Lord's work in her capacity as a missionary.
We also caught a few glimpses of our new Mission President and his wife, the Blickenstaffs. They were the couple that were always excitedly talking to each other and smiling. They looked like the most animated listeners in the entire audience. It made me really excited to meet them. He's already here! President Bishop and Sister Bishop left two days ago, and now the Blickenstaffs are up in the mission office. I talked with Elder Forbes today who works in the office, and he said that President Blickenstaff is "so much fun!" I will miss President Bishop, but I can't wait to work with President Blickenstaff over the next year.
I love you all, and I hope all is well! Thank you for your emails and letters, I love hearing from you!
“Mr. Wang in Gangshan, whom I presented with a Certificate of Advancement for his faithful attendance to English. He is 83 years old.”
“Our four man in Gangshan.”