Sorry for being so late. This is for three weeks ago. Lisette
That seems to be the question everyone is asking me this week…. hai xi guan ma? Are you used to it yet? I just look back at them, confused…. I ting de dong, but I don’t understand what’s so hard to get used to here. Hot. Humid. Rainy. Asian. Greasy. Sweaty. Stinky (mostly the doufu). And absolutely wonderful! So, yeah. I just laugh at them and remind them that I’m actually Chinese. They laugh with me and we get back to discussing weightier matters: what’s for dinner? 😉
This week has felt like an eternity, simply because the Taipei Temple is open again and when the missionaries have a Temple day the cosmos get reordered and preparation day happens on Wednesday. Problem? Not at all. Just more miracles to report. Last Tuesday, Tan Jiemei and I took our turn at the Temple, acutally, doing Temple Tours. This is a bit of a misnomer, because we can’t actually give tours of the Temple… but in 2008, they remodeled parts of the Jin Hua Jie chapel to include hallways with specific paintings, outlining the Life of Christ, the Pioneer Heritage, and the importance of Temples in Latter-day worship. It’s quite interesting, actually. It was a slow day, which allowed me to get acquainted with the paintings and make some plans for possible tours. In the course, of that, however, we ran into two very cool guys, one from India and one from Bangkok. They were both in town for some CES/Institute Training. We ran into them several times in the Chapel and on the street (lunch break!). At one point, we all realized that it was useless to not have a conversation… so we did. Mid-street. Only one taxi driver and three scooters got mad at me… record! More importantly, though, we discussed challenges facing Latter-day Saints in different parts of Asia. It was an incredibly intimate look at cultural differences around the world but also how the Gospel of Jesus Christ overcomes such boundaries and chasms. Their testimonies of the difference a Temple makes to an area were moving and I wish we could have them recorded. The man from India said when he walked into the Institute room at Jin Hua Jie, he saw the wedding announcements on the board and broke down in tears. Dating is so taboo still in India, and the custom of arranged marriages makes Temple marriage incredibly difficult. The man from Bangkok outlined a similar situation, but was pleased to report that there are four countries citizens can go to without visas… all of which have Temples. So, the situation is not as dire, but still. They pray for a Temple to be built in their home countries soon. I was reminded of them this morning, as I and 40 other missionaries entered the doors of the Taipei temple.
As far as the Work is concerned: chengong! Success! Everywhere we look, prepared people are popping out of the wood work. Sisters are spread a little thin (ladies, put those papers in!), so Tan Jieme and I cover two wards, which is actually four different cities. We realized last week that each of those towns has a completely different attitude and personality, so we spent some time just exploring them and discussing finding strategies. As much as it’s crucial to “Teach People, Not Lessons” you need to get a feel for the microchosms of your area… the different parts of town, divided by invisible but ever-so present socio-economic boundaries. This often do not align with mission boundaries, which is something missionaries forget. However, as Tan Jiemei and I have given more love and attention to the outer areas, God has blessed us.
Shezi is still my favorite, but this week was all about Tian Mu. Tian Mu is (almost) a stereotypical ExPat community. Too many foreigners for my taste, and we definitely live around the corner from an Aston Martin Dealership. However! The area we live in (across the street from the dealership) doesn’t feel like Tian Mu’s public face. In fact… it feels like original Tian Mu, pre-Westernization. We’ve taken a liking to walking the streets, letting the shop keepers get to know our faces and by doing so building the foundation on which trust is built. Missionaries are incredibly transient by nature, but we’re trying to change that. With that change will come the ability to reach and teach prepared people… no?
Tian Mu has allowed us to develop a bad habit, though…. singing American Rock and Roll at the top of our lungs while biking home down the crowded main drag. One night we were flying down this hill (in the rain, of course!), and I started signing “I believe I can fly!” Tan Jiemei picked up with the next line and it was glorious. About two lights later, a foreigner on the side walk chimed in with the first line of the second verse. Music to our ears!! We all had a good laugh, as we stopped for a light and he carried on. We changed the song to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ and when we caught up to him again, he belted out the chorus with us. This is our new finding technique when it comes to foreigners. Needless to say, the English Ward loves us. 😀
That’s all for now…. love ya! Work hard. Say your prayers. And don’t look back.