Yes. Banjia Tian. In ramping up to the end of the transfer, it’s strange the range of emotions you feel. One morning last week, as we were running to the park at 6:30 am, it hit me that I might leave ShiLin. Though our generation’s situation is tebie and we’ve already been told we’ll be with our Trainers until they go home (two weeks from now). Running time is quickly becoming my favorite time of day — watching the sun come up, thinking about yesterday and prepping for today, listening to the water run in the bayou, and watching the little old Asians do their stretches. That morning quickly became nostalgic, as I pictured a day in the life of Sister Oler… all the people I know and love eventhough I’ve never had more than a “zao an!” conversation with them.
So… in the spirit of fenxiang-ing… here’s what a typical day for Tan Jiemei and I looks like:
6:30 am — stumble out of bed, pray, and head out the door. Chen Dixiong is usually out sweeping our hao’s street, scaring the crazy cats away. Once we’re out on Dexing Dong Lu, we hook right and head to the park. At the intersection where we enter the park, this cute little street sweeper has a legit rice-field hat from the country, but covered in neon-stripped plastic. He’s legit and says hi to me every morning. In fact! One morning, we crossed at a different intersection and he ma-ed me out the next morning! Haha! Anyway– this park, there’s a beautiful path that runs along… I would say river, but it’s really a bayou (thank you, Houston!)… it’s a favorite of hard core runners, old people, and now missionaries. The first week we ran there, people just gave us strange looks. Now, they can’t get enough of us! One man in particular, loves us. He wears the same red baseball cap every day and starts waving way before I can really pick him out of the morning haze. We have yet to get him to give us a high five, though! We’ve recently made friends with a few hard core runners and they tell us to “jia you” as they fly by. Thanks, y’all! On our way home, we see the Ama with the Burberry bag, and swing by my favorite breakfast place. They know what I like — one green onion roll, in a bag. The dad that ows the place thanks me profusely, and I tell him it’s the best in all of Taiwan. His son just laughs at us every time. 😀
7:00ish Back to the flat for stretching, showering, studying. Because of this new training program, studies last forever. Not gonna lie, this is my least favorite part of the day. Not because of the material nor my companion (she’s great and it actually does fly by… especially when we do role plays with the fan… hahah!), but I love mid-morning and I want to be out finding then. Ah well. One more Banjia Tian and I can leave the flat at 10:40.
12:00 Some kind of eating lunch, usually still at the flat, and then rushing out the door for a set up from the Elders. They haven’t quite grasped that I’m not allowed to be out until 12… which really means 12+lunch. Ah well. Gotta love they’re nuli.
Lunch — Dinner is always a good mix of lessons and finding. At least two or three races with buses (jump starts my poor companion’s heart every time I switch gears and look to my left for the closest gong che), one close call with an expensive car (don’t worry… the Ferrari didn’t have any noticable damage to it…. :/), and two building guards who know and love us (usually in Tian Mu).
5:00 ish ShiLin Zhang! This is an MRT station with the greatest collection of street food and our absolute favorite zhuabing stand. This cute couple own it and run it. They make the dough fresh every night, start cooking around noon (yes, sometimes we hit it up for lunch… may or may not be an addiction), and keep going through the night. They can’t be more than 30 years old, have at least one adorable son, and know our order like the back of their hand. Sweet potatoe crust, egg, la, basil. And while they start on that, we head to the 7 to get some dong gua cha. The man with redish hair who is one of the managers of that 7 loves me. The first time we went there, he said “zenme ban” to another customer and I just laughed and said “liang ban chao ji dan.” The whole place was up in fits of laughter and he’s remembered me ever since. If it’s not zhuabing, it’s shuijiao across the way… When you walk up, you fill out a ticket with what you want, they give you a coordinating order number, then you just stand back. I never have to remember my number… because we’re always just the “waiguoren.” The first time I heard them say it, I called them out on it. “Ni kan de chu lai, ma?” They laughed and let us use their bathroom whenever we’re in the area. Cheng gong!
6:00 is when the rush hour intersection guards come out and start whistling like mad at everyone. A couple really hate us and a couple really love us… don’t worry, we avoid the former like the plague. There’s usually some bike contacting at the “Home Depot” intersection. Love that place. Love the waves of high school students. They’re strangely shy, but when you get one kinda shuai kid who gives into peer pressure and calls out in English — it’s a pot of gold. Contacts and set ups and English class attendees like crazy.
Pretty sure the best thing is running into other missionaries on the road. Remember — no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you are not alone!
8:55 usually finds us rushing home from some last minute chao menning, or some lesson that ran long, or a contact that was beautiful… but either way, we make time for two things: 1) scaring cats 2) plucking out hymns or Christmas songs on my bike’s bell. The turns into our neighborhood are crazy tight, so we just put everyone on alert by ringing the bell from the entrance, all the way into our flat. Good times! There’s also a host of neighbors we see each night and love complimenting them on their varied wardrobe.
9:00 praying and planning. Reviewing and fenxianging. Espeically the reconciling of the schedules and funny stories from contacting, when we’re not side-by-side the whole time. This is sometimes the most entertaining part of the day. Hahah! And the day’s not complete until she’s said, “Wait!? When did that happen!? Tongban!”
9:30 reporting to the District Leader on miracles, which usually means funny stories… and a good round of receiving contacts (and more funny stories) from the other Elders in our District. Tan Jiemei is on the phone to Investigators and Peike’s for the next day’s activities.
10:00 the calling madness is ended… and it’s gushi shijian. This is akin to watching late-night TV sometimes, and usually involves some scandalous pre-mission life story from one or both of us. We’re slowly but surely helping Tan Jiemei remember her pre-mission life in hopes of easing her transition back into it. So far, no trunkyness from her. In fact, I think she has the opposite problem: she forgets she’s going home so soon. That’s great for the work in ShiLin and I love her for it more and more every day.
10:30 sleep….. and then start over.
I’m sure I forgot some people… sorry! But for now, that’s a day in the life.