The Zao Gao Week

The Terrible Week is how the title is translated. I got credit in this one! Yay me! Lisette

First, lemme just say that emailing at 6am is beautiful. The regular’s are not used to us here this hour, though. While I’m pretty sure they’re all hung over from last night, they’re really nice and keeping the WOW music down. Xie xie nimen! πŸ˜€

Second, this week has been a total disaster. Let’s start from last Monday….

We left emailing and headed to the MRT. Went into Taipei to the Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Took some legit photos, saw the changing of the guard, squeezed into an Asian-sized photo booth, and generally had a blast. Kind of an overcast day, but that turned out really well for photos. Maybe next week I’ll send some along. πŸ˜€ Hopped back on the MRT and went further South to Longshan Temple.

Longshan is legit. And such a refreshing break from Tian Mu. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here… just sometimes feels like a dream. Perfect weather, beautiful people, new buildings, BMWs, etc. We came up from the MRT platform to insense and bing lang (beetle nut…. look it up. It’s gross and against the Word of Wisdom) and old people and grit and grime and gambling and raw meat…. and it was beautiful. There were hundreds of little old men, squatting around the MRT station, playing ma jiang or cards, wrapped up in — for lack of a better term — old school Mao jackets. They all belonged to the equally old ladies manning the bakeries and bai bai tables in the markets nearby. Last Monday was January 2, which marks the beginning of renzhen prep for Guonian. This is the Year of the Dragon and Longshan, while being incredible famous miao all on it’s own, is particularly special this year because it is “Dragon Mountain Temple.” Translation: there were tons of people milling about that day, getting in their last prayers for a good year. It was a rush!

Meanwhile, Gao Jiemei and I are wandering the streets looking for food. Maybe one block off the MRT station, so not particularly far nor secluded, we looked down an alley. She said, “This looks promising.” I agreed and we turned left. Turned out to be a bad idea… it was very clearly a place missionaries should not be. We kept moving, turned right to get out of the alley and were immediately back in the buzzing mess of Longshan. We just looked at each other, laughed, and agreed: ‘It’s wouldn’t be a day in Taiwan without at least one sketchy alley.” P-day adventures contined through the rest of the day, including meeting one of the Presidential Candidates (I’ve now met them both… they’re very good at Grassroots campaigning, ps), and we made it to English Contacting in one piece.

Tuesday was spent still recovering from last week’s head cold for Gao Jiemei. This meant lots of sleep and lots of “hot pot.” Wednesday we had District Meeting, which was really good. After District Meeting, I planned to teach the District Leader. That was a mess. Lot’s of bad Chinese and pressure because they had a lesson right after that and the peike’s were early…. so lot’s of bad Chinese infront of natives. I was a stress case. Our District Leader is a gem, though, and stopped me to give me a quiet pep-talk in Chinese. We continued and pushed through. Left me emotionally drained, but with some parts of Phase 1 (insert rant) passed off.

That night, it got cold and rainy. We were pulling into the Church for English Class Meeting and I totally ate it. Not sure how it happened because I take that corner in the rain all the time… but there I was, flat on the sidewalk, bike on top of me, Elders rushing over then awkwardly stopping because they didn’t know if they could touch me. Kind of painful. Mostly entertaining. No blood, just lots of bruises. I definitely taught English Class sitting down. My students were so cute, though, they all volunteered to take me to the hospital right then…. and speak English the whole time so it could suan as English Class. πŸ˜€ I’ve trained them well.

Thursday I woke up to every muscle in my body screaming at me! My head hurt like it’d just… dunno… hit the pavement the night before. I downed some pain killers and went out the door. What else was I gonna do? πŸ˜‰ It was a pretty slow moving day, thankfully, lot’s of teaching. That was a blessing! We were sitting in McDonald’s making phone calls (me! on the phone! in Chinese! ah!) and finishing a board for English Contacting when the Tian Mu Elders called us. They sounded desperate. And a little dead. Apparently one of them had the flu, couldn’t get out of bed, had no medicine, and (to top it off) had no food. We just laughed at them and took it as a service opportunity. Wandered through the Carrefour drug store (our favorite and most-helpful Pharmacy tech was there!), grabbed some instant-curry pouches that had “Elder food” written all over them, and headed towards they’re apartment. Don’t worry, we got lost several times. Delirious Elders with no real address are not the best direction givers. We made it, pretty sure we saved their lives, and got home as fast as possible…. :/

Friday, my body was more than half recovered from Wednesday’s Wipe out and it turned out to be a really productive and useful type day… full of good missionary work. Headed home that night, we both had a sense of accomplishment and purpose again. The week was looking up! Then… I see a car door open to our right and in an instant, we’re both smeared all over the black top. Headlights. Screeching tires. Rain. Pain. Blood. Broken English. It was a legit crash. Gao Jiemei’s handle bars clipped a man’s car door as he was parked on the side of the street, opening the Driver’s side door. I swerved to miss her, but didn’t succeed. I ended up in front of her, my handle bars parallel with the bike frame. The car behind came to a halt just behind my feet, without touching me. The man whose car door we hit looked horrified until he realized we could speak Chinese. He made sure we were okay, asked if he could take us to the hospital, was incredibly nice, etc etc. We got up off the ground, definitely wounded, and trying to gather our thoughts. Assessed the situation. Everything still worked, just a little beaten up. Called the Mission Nurse … and then everyone else that needed to get called. Walked home, obviously got there late. Called the Temple Sisters to tell them we’d be late arriving the next day.

We hobbled into the Office the next day, looking completely aweful. We were both limping, had obvious bandages and injuries. (thank you, Lisette, for the INCREDIBLE first aid kit!) Our Mission Nurse just looked at us and laughed: “I knew putting you two together would be dangerous… but I didn’t think it would include self-injury!” He’s Scottish…. so that’s actually funnier when read in a Scottish accent. πŸ˜‰

Serving at the Temple that day, though, I realized two things: this week has been the most zao gao of my mission so far… and probably ever. But, through it all, this feeling of security and protection prevailed. I thought back to that alley in Longshan. Not a single person even talked to us, no cat calls, no nothing… which is not the scenario either of us imagined. It’s like they could see us, but could’t pay attention to us. And lemme tell you, two white girls in that alley command attention. So… moral of the story… God protects His missionaries. Not sure how, but He does.

Much love!

Sister Oler


2 thoughts on “The Zao Gao Week

  1. I cringed as I read your accounts of wiping out on a bike. I’ve only done it once – bad (knock on wood) and it scared me to death and I wasn’t in the line of traffic. I hope you have taken pictures of your injured bodies and the bruises.

    Yes, the Lord does protect his missionaries – it could have been so much worse!

  2. sister Vilbaum says:

    Sounds like a very adventurous week indeed! Glad you are only getting bruises and nothing more serious in your crashes. Keep up the good work, by the way you look wonderful in your pic with this post.

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