Ni hao! Ni hao! Zhe shi Wu Zhanglao!
Oh! Dui bu qi, wo wangle, ni bu hui shuo Zhongwen. Dui bu dui? Hao...meiyou guanxi. Suoyi, wo hui shuo Ingwen. I forgot that you don't speak Chinese! Kaiwan xiao. Hehehe....anyway....I'm alive! Your son liveth!! I have an eternity's worth of things to tell you! Your email kind of asked about everything, so I'm going to start from when we got off of the phone to know and if I forget something that was in the email, I'll write about that afterward. Hao bu hao?
So...the ten hour flight to Tokyo....ha ha ha! SOO much fun! Bu zhende. It was...fine...for the most part. So we got put into flight groups for each plane we were on and they didn't necessarily include our companions. So, basically, I wasn't with my companion. :( Instead, I got to sit with ELDER TAYLOR!!! :D For the long flight as well as the flight from Tokyo to Taibei. That was awesome!
So I got on the plane kind of late like I mentioned on the phone. I then realized how strange it was to be a missionary because of how many people gave me very strange looks. For example, one man, looked up at me and told me to pray for him, then the man next to him shook his had in a ludacrous (zenme shuo?) fashion. It just seemed really strange to me how much people dislike me for what I'm doing and they don't even know me. On top of that, the most surreal factor is that I carry our Lord Jesus Christ's name on my chest. But, as I've been told, if it wasn't easy for Jesus Christ to spread His gospel, why should it be easy for me?
Anyway, so I got on the plane late and I COULD NOT find a spot to put my bag. A flight attendant came up to me and told me that I'd probably have to check it. :,( Luckily I didn't have to, but we did have to put it in first class...meaning, I couldn't access it for eleven hours. No snackages for me! Ha ha! It was actually ok. Meiyou wenti! Airplane food is pretty bad I've come to find out. It's edible, but it was the peak of bad food I've had in the last three months. I suppose the Lord wanted to "polish" me just a little bit more before coming to field. I also sat with Sister Romanello, who is my old AP Physics teacher's daughter. She is tai bang le, so that was sweet, but for whatever reason, during the flight, she switched out with Sister Ochoa (whose dad is Adrian Ochoa who spoke in the Priesthood Session). The three of us (Elder Taylor, Sister Ochoa, and me) talked for hours straight which made the flight bearable. :D There's not much else to say except that we sat RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION. We could not be closer if we tried. No one sat in front of us, it was just a giant television screen. They showed X-Men, Ides of March, Mission Impossible 4, and Tower Heist. All movies I would have totally watched had I not been a missionary. That sure took will power. Umm...yeah...so on the landing, I was writing in Elder Long's journal (we just did that kind of stuff toward the end with Elders and Sisters we really liked), and it made me ridiculously sick. I turned white and was sweating like crazy. I almost lost it. This set my feeling for the rest of the day (oh yeah, I only slept for thirty minutes). Oh yeah, we also contacted a nice Taiwanese lady on the airplane who is totally golden.
In the airport, we talked to the lady again. Luckily, I placed a "mormon.org" card with her so she has the opportunity to learn more. We didn't have time to do much else than go to the bathroom and talk to her. We got onto the next plane (the 747) and left to Taiwan. I sat next to Matt AGAIN! But we were both feeling very sick. We got more food, but I just straight up couldn't eat it. I really tried to sleep as much as possible but it was nigh impossible. Someone next to me was watching a really inappropriate movie to top it all off. I was so miserable.
We landed in Taiwan and I felt like the Brother of Jared landing in the promised land after 344 days on a turbulent sea. Yeah...then we helped that lady I mentioned get her luggage and got our own and then met the mission president. By this point it's about 11:00p.m. Taiwan time. I was pretty wiped out. We said goodbye to our Taibei comrades and got on a bus for orientation for about two and a half hours. We had to fill out a ton of information (which made me ridiculously motion sick again) and introduce ourselves. The Assistants to the President were also there. What stellar missionaries! They're so wonderful! The bus was hilarious when it pulled up. It was a massively tall bus with colored lights and things. I thought it was a joke at first! Ha ha!
We spent the night in an apartment (yes, all fifteen of us plus the two zone leaders in this area). It was a tight fit, but we were all so tired that it was fine. :D The next day began my first crazy day. So we woke up and got ready, then met the President for breakfast. We ate traditional Taiwanese food all day. For breakfast we had some fried bread with some other bready stuff, soymilk (the Taiwanese don't eat or drink dairy products here much at all), and FRUIT. The fruit is...in...cred...i...ble!! Seriously. The pineapple nearly blew my socks off. Wax apples. Papaya. Yellow Watermelon. And something else. So good. Then we went to orientation for a while, then ate again. We went to a place called the HOT POT. It's cool. You basically get a pot full of hot broth and you pick whatever you want, as much as you want, and cook it in there, then you partake! There were a lot of strange things, but I played it pretty safe. I put pig belly, noodles, tons of veggies, an egg, and things like that in. SO GOOD. I also had these dumplings that make me want to do back flips they're soo good. After that, I got to meet with President Bishop one on one. He tried finding my poem that got published in Euphony, but he wasn't allowed access. So I told him that I would ask you to send me a copy somehow (digitally preferably). Please send it to me so I can proofread it! H aha! He's an ENGLISH major!! Ha ha! He's an extremely intelligent man. He really wants to help the people here. He and his wife are very sweet and extremely spiritual. They've lived devout lives. I'm so grateful for them. They're wonderful. Let's see...after more orientation we went out to eat a multi-course meal. There was Peking Duck, tortillas, lettuce wraps, more dumplings, and loads of other things. Some people ate the fish eyes, duck brains and the other nasty things. I didn't want to try. They're all so good though! ha ha! Now....we get to the infamous "DAN JONES" experience. Just as a background on him. He is the missionary that Joseph Smith's last prophecy resulted in. Joseph Smith said he would still see his native Wales and he did. he served a mission there and baptized somewhere around 3500 people over two missions. Anyway, he would tell towns in advance that he was on his way, then when he got there, he would stand on a box and cry repentance. So....that's what we did. We went to a night market (a very popular spot where you buy and eat a lot). We sang "Love at Home" in Chinese, then bore our testimony on a box with a BOM in hand, then ran around with a temporary companion and contacted for an hour or so. I was nervous, but it was actually a lot of fun. A lot of people stood around and listened (many laughing). Even President Bishop, his wife, and the assistants did it with us. They're such great people! I was It was wildly successful. I don't remember how many contacts we got, but it was well over 150. We reviewed the day, then went back to the sushe. I tried writing in my journal but was so tired that I fell asleep in the process.
Now for two days ago. We woke up and went to the church at the mission home. They fed us more breakfast. This tortilla breakfast thing, a hamburger, and soymilk. Very strange, but yummy. Then we went into a meeting in which we were assigned our Trainers. A random trainer was assigned to us for the time being during the training and information meeting. We discussed the what, how, and why of missionary work. Great lesson by President Bishop. Following that we opened "Lucky Money" that told us who our companion would be. I opened mine last with Elder Taylor and found out that my companion would be Elder Haag (pronounced hayg). He is off the charts awesome!!! I'm so happy to be with him. He's really trying to teach me to "be a leader" and a "great missionary" he says. I love him to death already. He's very spiritual and everything. I'll send pictures next week. We then ate at TGI Fridays (which was weird for me). It's a total crack up because of all of the American decor. We then headed out to Shalu, which is where we are now serving. It was about an hour by bus from Taizhong city. It's the north west part of the mission by the coast. We taught three lessons the very first night. The work had really begun! ha ha! We taught an insurance agent first. He loved to talk, which made it hard, because it's difficult to focus on the lesson. He fed us hot water (they know we don't drink tea, but they always have hot water boiled for tea so that's what they give) with a plum seed inside. So yummy actually. He had just gotten back from Germany too so we had some cake things. We taught him an unsuccessful lesson. He has smoking and drinking addictions. We also taught a family who was really receptive except for the main investigator who is an intellectual and doesn't understand why God won't just tell him that he is his Father (zai tianshang de fu). His mom (who doesn't normally visit with us did and said she believed our words). We then met with a recent convert who is Crazy solid. He's going to go on a mission. His mom who isn't also met with us when I asked her (she doesn't normally do that) and we got her to pray and supposedly she prayed again that night. No answer though. The next day was general conference (again, I know, ha ha!). It wasn't crazy productive, but we still managed a lesson with two kids. This is where the first MAJORLY NOTICEABLE miracle happened (aside from those other two small ones I mentioned). We were late because it took us two hours to get home from conference, so we had to cruise to get to our appointment. I also had to get a helmet for my new bike (which somehow ended up being an Azzuri...oh well!). We pulled out, already late, to grab a helmet and ride to our appointment (a forty minute venture that we were going to try to do in twenty. Anyway, we left and my companion's tire was flat. My butt hurt like CRAZY from the day before (P.S. All we do if it's not spiritual stuff and sleep is ride our bikes and sweat. It's incredibly hot and I think the Lord is teaching me a lesson because of my attitude toward biking). We ride for hours daily. Our area is huge. (We live with two other missionaries which isn't typical, but it's fine). Like, my butt hurt so bad that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make it. I was also incredibly sore. We are servants of the Lord however, so we went on our way. As we did so, a man pulled up from our ward! Like instantly! Asked what was going on. We told him and also told him our peike fell through (member for lessons), and he was our peike and he gave us a ride in his car!! There aren't many cars here!! It was a miracle! We also challenged them to baptism, they accepted, and their dad said it was Ok!!!
The next day we taught those kids twice more. It was all awesome. Anyway, now is preparation day and I really have to go. I've wasted a lot of time. Last thing is that the traffic is nuts. If mom saw what we do daily she would freak out. We just pull up to cars and bikes in the middle of the road and talk to them. People just go around us and stuff. It's...funny...
Anyway. The church is ridiculously true. I'm safe. I'm happy. And I love it. I love you all so much. Zaijian.