Da jia hao!!!
Well I finallly made it to Taiwan!!! It was so great to hear from all of you on the phone. I wish I could have talked longer but with blasted calling cards and limited time it wasn't possible. Our flight left LA at 5:50 in a huge EVA airways plane. Our seats were preatty good sized. I sat next to two missionaries so I didn't have the opportunity ot share the Gospel with anyone. The flight was so long 14 hours in all. It was hard because we couldn't watch TV. With everyone around us watching movies like Toy Story 3 it was hard to not sneek a peek at the screen. We landed in Taiwan at 10:30 and after getting our passports stamped, getting our luggage, and going through customs I finally met my mission president President Grimley and his wife. I already love them. They are so nice. We also met the assistants to the president and some of the new local missionaries who arrived today. The weather here is hot and humid but not too bad. We rode a huge bus to the temple housing where we would stay for the next two days. While on the way President Grimley explained about the area and a little of his mission here in Taiwan years ago. That night I crashed. All of us were so tired. The next day he explained we would have orintation, a tour of the temple grounds, and in the evening we would do the imfamous Dan Jonesing. For those of you who don't know who he is I will explain. Dan Jones was one of the greatest missionaries in this dispensation. He served a mission in Wales and brought many people the Gospel. He would often stand on a soap box and just teach to the masses. So with that spirit of missionary work we did the same.
The next morning at 6:30 all of the new missionaries with the mission president and the assistants went running to the Chang hai Shek (Jiang Zhong Zheng) memorial and the park that it is in. It was beautiful!!! At the MTC I saw pictures everyday of it but I never dreamed I would see it my first full day in Taiwan! It was beautiful!! We also at a traditional Taiwan breakfast of sandwiches that are a lot like Egg McMuffins. It is a layered sandwich with ham, egg, hamburger meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Their mayo here is sweeter than American mayo. It was really good! Orintation was long but great.I was able to call home for 5 mintues to tell you that I got here safely and that I love it here but guess what... you didn't answer!! haha oh well. We talked about the area and what the main way of contacting is which is on our bikes! We also did a scavenger hunt around the city. While we found the things that were on the list we were suppose to contact people and give away pamphlets and a Book of Mormon. Sister Bready and I didnt' do very good at the contacting part. That night after eating a great dinner we met with some of the area missionaires and split into groups to Dan Jones. YIKES!!! actually it wasn't too bad. We stood in a busy intersection of a market place and just started talking. I was with Sister Steinquist who is really nice. When Dan Jonesing didn't work we just stopped people on the street and talked to them. We also knocked on door. It was at first very nerve racking but I slowly got used to it. We did that from 6 to about 8:30. Sorry I didn't get any pictures. I will get plenty of pictures here in my area.
On Friday I found out who my companion was and where my first area would be. We went early in the morning to the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel is the location where Mark E Peterson dedicated Taiwan to the Preaching of the Gospel. There President Grimley expained the history of the church here in Asia which is a miracle! In just a short amount of time the church has grown so much here in Asia. We then read the dedicatory prayer for Taiwan. It is amazing to see the blessing that are promised in that blessing and how they have come to pass. President then gave us the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the work. Each of us found a quiet spot and read our scriptures and prayed. It was a great experience. I really felt the Spirit so strongly. We then took a picture in front of the hotel. I will send you that picture hopefully in next week's e-mail. At 11 I met my companion and found out what area I would be "born" in or start my mission in. My companion is AWESOME!!!!! Her name is Sister Chang and she is a Bendiren or native. She is a convert to the church and the only member in her family. She has been out on her mission for about a year. When I first met her I was really hoping that I would get a native as my trainer. I am so excited to work with her. My first area is called Xinzhu. We then left that afternoon for Xinzhu.
Let me tell you about Xinzhu. Its a big city!! Not as bit as Taipei but bigger than any city I have lived in. There are 3 wards here with we are over all three. There are 3 sets of Elders also serving in this city. We ride our bikes everywhere. At first it was crazy riding my bike everywhere right next to cars and big buses but I have started to get used to it. The new bike that I got is really nice. It is a mountain bike with a white frame. On the frame is printed the name of the church in Chinese and a great quote that is very popular around here. It is by I think David O McKay and it says "No amount of work can compensate for failure in the home." The members have bummer stickers of this quote on their cars, bikes, and motorscooters. We also pass it out to people. Unfortunately I have to paint over my bike so that it doesn't get stolen.
This weekend we had the opportunity to hear conference. For me it was the second time. I also got to meet the people in the three wards we are over. This one sister Sister Lin is so nice. She invited us over to her house my first night here in Xinzhu for dinner. She has a contagious laugh and a big heart. I love her already. She has only been a member for 2 years and is married to the ward mission leader. Many of the people I met are converts only of a year or two. All of them have such great faith. I can't wait to get to know them better and to serve them.
I already had my run it with nasty food that kind ward members have made me. Oh man it was gross!! It was a noodle soup with pig intestines and oysters in it. One of the ward members made it for me and my companion for us to eat during the hour break between sessions. I tried to muscle it down but I only at about a quarter of it. It tasted no joke like rubber or the way that breaks smell like when they are over heated. I gagged a few times but I kept smiling and trying to eat it. My companion finally took pity on me and told me it was ok if I didnt' finish it. Sister Lin and the other sister both said I was very brave for trying it.
Well thats my first week in a nutshell. I love it here in Xinzhu. There are a lot of people here in this city and I am very excited to teach them the Gospel. We have already had a few lessons. My Chinese is not that great but I am excited to have a Taiwanese companion to help me. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission here in Taiwan. I love you all so much. Next week hopefully i will be able to send you pictures!!!!!! Wo ai nimen. This Gospel is true and I am so grateful to have it in my life.
All my love,