This District’s on Fireeeeeee (More Like Drowning)

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Back row: Elder Holloway, Elder Van de Graaff, Elder Anderson, Elder Swank, Elder Ren. Front row: Elder Giordano, me, Sister Apsley

Back row: Elder Holloway, Elder Van de Graaff, Elder Anderson, Elder Swank, Elder Ren. Front row: Elder Giordano, me, Sister Apsley

Why hellooooooo everyone! I hope you are all having a great time wherever you are in the world. I personally am enjoying Taiwan and this week we have seen a TON of changes!

Transfers

So, Sister Apsley and I knew that transfers would do nothing to us since I am still in training but this past week President (and the Lord) basically decided to do a HUGE switcheroo in the entire mission! Every single elder except Elder Giordano has left the Zhubei district and we’ve got a bunch of new people.

The Tuesday before ibon code day (I’ll explain a little bit about that in a second) was our last district meeting where Elder Anderson went off about how the transfer was pretty slow for the entire district but how the next transfer we would rise from the ashes. He did this as he happily took us all into the parking lot of the chapel where he burned the piece of paper with the numbers for the transfer on it. We also had a fun little round of “Move-call Madness” where we wrote down where we thought everyone would be going on one of the whiteboards in the chapel.

They call the Wednesday the day before transfers “ibon code day.” Basically every companionship that’s getting changes will get a text with a code on it. You take the code to a 7/11 and print off these little papers that tell you who your new companion is, if/where you’re moving to, and very specific instructions for how to get there or where to pick up your new companion. The texts come during study time and everyone drops what they’re doing, bolts to a 7 and spends the rest of the morning not-so-sneakily calling district members to find out where everyone’s going.

So we found out Wednesday morning that basically our entire district FAILED Move-call Madness because everyone was going to places we didn’t expect. Our entire zone was changed up. One of the craziest things was that Sister Richards (who I was with in the MTC) and her trainer were leaving my zone to go whitewash an area in Taoyuan which hasn’t seen sisters in a long time. This is super crazy because they rarely move people when they’re in training. It made me super sad because it was nice having a fellow sister from the MTC in my zone…well I still have Elder Kleine who was in my MTC district I guess haha.

Wednesday night we all got qinged (taken out to food) by this fun member named Julian at this place with pretty hai-hao (so-so) steak. (Julian comes to our English meeting every week and gives us Twix haha. And he always gives us suggestions on how we can improve English class.) What’s cool is at the same place some investigators had also decided to qing our STLs Sister Bain and Sister Lin so we got to see them, Sister Bain (the one I went on exchanges with) for the last time because she got transferred to Taidong (which is the southernmost area of the mission) for her VERY LAST TRANSFER. She’ll be going home at the end of December.

Had to take a selfie

Had to take a selfie

 

The New District

So I suppose our district needed some FIRE because we got some pretty cool new people. There’s Elder Griffin who was a zone leader in Hualian last transfer. He’s training. Also Elder Hammond who was just a zone leader in Taoyuan and is also…now training haha! And then our new district leader is named Elder Welker and he is with Elder Giordano. It’s crazy for two companionships to be training but also taking on other crazy responsibilities.

So in the 3 Zhubei wards last transfer, there was 1 set of elders in the 1st ward, 2 sets of elders in the 2nd ward, and us sisters in the 3rd ward. But this transfer the 2nd ward only has one set of elders and Elder Hammond with his trainee, Elder Erickson, have now joined us in the 3rd ward! So they’re basically opening up this area for Elders which is super hard but I know they’ll do great. Elder Griffin is whitewash-training (whitewashing is when both companions are new to the area.)

We ate curry together as a district on Friday night and we are all SUPER pumped for this transfer. The elders are definitely ready to work super super hard and I’ll just be trying to catch up while trying to do my very best 🙂

Fun while Finding

We’ve had some fun time to go finding this week. We’ve found some cool parks in our area that have tons of people which is a blessing.

One night as we were parking our bikes in Liu jia this cute amah came out from her restaurant and invited us to come in and talk to her a bit. She let us teach her a little bit and even read a few pages aloud from the Book of Mormon we gave to her. And she went on a little rant about how we shouldn’t just go out talking to everyone we see about the gospel because evil people will get us haha. And then she gave us warm soy milk. And we taught her how to pray and she prayed that more people would eat food at her restaurant.

We decided to go in Xinpu one afternoon which is the funniest little Taiwanese town. People there are so chill and there’s lots of little plots of rice fields, lots of old buildings. Lots of mosquitos.

One night we saw all these people entering this park in the center of Zhubei and we were like “what the heck is going on” and we found out that there was this a capella group singing in the park. There were so many families just watching and clapping along with them. Pretty funny.

Okay so Sister Apsley really loves socks and Taiwan has some really cool stores that sell socks. And we found some Anne of Green Gables socks. Like what?

Okay so Sister Apsley really loves socks and Taiwan has some really cool stores that sell socks. And we found some Anne of Green Gables socks. Like what?

The Taiwan Taipei Mission

I got a request from Dad to explain a little bit about the areas of the mission/what’s next to what, which I am super happy to do!

Yeah Elder Coletti (who I grew up with/graduated with), I heard is now a ZONE LEADER in Taoyuan! That’s cool for him, I know he’ll do great. It’s pretty funny because he has a pretty big reputation in the mission as being one of the best, brightest, hard-working, funnest, happiest missionaries.

So the mission has nine major areas: Xinzhu, Miaoli, Taoyuan, Taipei, New Taipei, Jilong, Hualian, Yilan, and Taidong.

Miaoli, Xinzhu and Taoyuan are on the west coast of the island/west side of the mission. Miaoli borders the Taizhong mission and is the furthest west you can go in the mission. It has 1 zone (I think.) If you follow the west coast of the island up a bit, then you’ll get to Xinzhu which is where I am–I’m part of the Zhubei district in the Xinzhu zone. This district has some areas that go all the way to the ocean.

Mine and Sister Apsley’s area has a little part that’s in the main city of Zhubei. We also have a city called Liu jia which is full of huge, SUPER fancy apartment buildings and has a Sheraton hotel. There’s also Xinpu and Guanxi, which are GIGANTIC rural areas. We have never been to Guanxi and never plan on going out there unless we have a referral investigator. It takes like 2 hours to bike out there and there’s only like 50 houses. Once last transfer the Zhubei 1 Elders biked out there and it was totally not worth their time, they said there’s tons of hills to bike over and they got chased by some dogs haha. Our area is so big that it goes all the way to Taoyuan.

Taoyuan is between Xinzhu and New Taipei. We ride the train through it every time we ride up to Taipei. Taoyuan and Xinzhu missionaries often get together for P-days. Me and Sister Apsley have talked about going up there one P-day because it was her last area where she stayed for 6 months. (She LOVES Taoyuan. Everyone loves Taoyuan.)

And then you get to the gigantic New Taipei/Taipei area (which also includes Jilong I think.) It has at least 5 zones, they’re called Central, South, North, East and West.

And then Yilan is the farthest east you can go in the mission without going south.

And then the Taipei mission has 2 areas that are a strip along the east coast of Taiwan. Hualian is north, and then as you go further south you get to Taidong. Whenever people get transferred down there we normally call it being “banished.” It takes so long to get there that they don’t come up for temple days, and when they do come up for activities in Taipei they have to come up the night before and stay in Taipei for the night. And missionaries that get transferred there normally stay down there for a super long time. Missionaries that get transferred to the Taipei area normally stay there for a long time too. So at some point I’ll probably either get sucked in to the Taipei area or the east coast haha. Or maybe I’ll stick it out here in the west for a while, it’s pretty fun. 🙂

Looking off the bridge between Xinpu and Liu jia

Looking off the bridge between Xinpu and Liu jia

 Questions From Mom

Thanks for giving me some questions to answer, Mom! It’ll be my pleasure to answer them. 🙂

  1. How’s the weather?   The weather is partly responsible for the “drowning” portion of the title of my email haha. It was super hot at the beginning of this past week. The Taiwanese have been saying it was unusually hot for this time of year. But starting yesterday night it started raining SO HARD. As we went out finding I got pretty dang wet biking, my skirt got soaked. This morning was SO bad too. Before we came to the chapel to do emails, all we did was take a quick trip to the grocery store, but on the way there and on the way back I basically got BATHED in rainwater. So much rain that the folds of my coat and the rifts in my helmet and the insides of my shoes filled with water. Haha…
  1. Travelling to Taipei. I think we’ve been travelling up to Taipei a little bit more than most missionaries because of Sister Apsley’s sickness. But in general I think missionaries do head up there a lot, because they have lots of training meetings, activities, etc. up there. This transfer we’ll be headed there a ton for at least 1 more hospital visit, Trainer-Trainee follow up and plus the big CHRISTMAS PARTY! Should be fun.

On a side note: Trainer-Trainee follow up will probably be on Thanksgiving day so as all of you Americans reading this are enjoying time with family or eating Turkey, we’ll be having fun doing roleplays and discussing how the past transfer went. 🙂 I am SUPER excited because I get to see all of my MTC friends again!

  1. Bugs. Bugs aren’t too too bad here. The thing that sucks the most is MOSQUITOS. Earlier this week when it was hot I got a few bites. They mostly get my legs. Don’t worry I’ve got bug repellent though. Lots of the apartments get cockroaches pretty bad. Our apartment is as of right now 100% cockroach free although there was a dead one in a bowl under the sink (ew.) I’ve heard horror stories from Sister Apsley’s first ever apartment when she began her mission in Taoyuan. Missionaries had been staying in that apartment as early as 2002 and there were so many cockroaches they’d have to keep their dishes in the fridge and basically just kill like 50 in the kitchen every night. LUCKILY though we have Sister Vatcher, the mission nurse. As I’ve mentioned in past emails, the Vatchers have been going to all the apartments and doing inspections. And we found out that she walked into that Taoyuan apartment, took one look and was like “first things first, you guys are moving” to the sisters that were living there last transfer.

So if I ever go to Taoyuan I’ll know I won’t have to suffer through that apartment 🙂

  1. Who are some of the people we’re currently teaching? So we have some pretty cool people we are teaching. We have an investigator we call Chen mom who REALLY wants to be baptized–but she never has time because of work, plus we recently found out that she is pregnant and her doctor wants her on bed rest. We are hoping to get her baptized this transfer though! She is so prepared and has the desire, we just need to get those lessons taught! We also got two referrals from Sisters Richards and Cullen right before they left Xinzhu. It’s a boyfriend/girlfriend duo who we haven’t gotten the chance to meet with yet but we heard they’ve been taught through the third lesson and have a baptismal date for December 10th. Pray that we’ll be able to meet with them too! We are also teaching this family called the Li family. They have 1 little daughter and they are super cool. So far we have taught them the first lesson–they are Christian but do not know anything about our church. Our first couple times meeting with them have been SO GOOD with the restoration. We hope they read the Book of Mormon–they definitely have the desire to learn, we just hope the spirit will really speak to them as they keep commitments so they can keep progressing.

We also have an investigator named zhang jie mei who has been meeting with missionaries for SO long. She loves everything we teach to her and she accepted a baptismal date with us, but does not want to come to church. You see, she “found God” at a different Christian church in Taipei and doesn’t want to stop going there. We’ve taught so many lessons about the sabbath day/how going to church is super important/ We’ve brought it up in literally every way we can but she just won’t come! We decided to drop her after our lesson last week, but we’re thinking of continuing to meet with her because of a cool miracle.

The other day we got a text referral from the mission office about a zhang jie mei who went up to Taipei and did a temple tour with the temple sisters, willing to meet with missionaries. We checked and the investigator’s number they gave us was the same as the zhang jie mei we’ve been teaching. This is crazy because if she got herself up to Taipei and took a temple tour of her own free will it could mean that she might be willing to attend the chapel right next to it on Sundays. (We can’t get her to come to church up here because she goes up to Taipei every weekend.) So we’re praying that her heart will be opened to come to church!

We are also meeting with a Wang jie mei who is a referral from the Stake President’s wife, Cai jie mei. Every lesson she really loves to talk and is only willing to keep little commitments as a time so we’ll have to take it pretty slow with her. After our first lesson we never thought she would want to keep meeting with the missionaries (neither did Cai jie mie) but she was very surprised to hear that after the lesson Wang jie mei was really excited to keep meeting with us. Haha, we’ll see how things shape up in the following weeks 🙂

  1. What we do on P-days.  We try to do as little on P-Days as possible because being able to do nothing is a great luxury/blessing on the mission. 🙂 Normally we just chill in the chapel with our district and play different kinds of games/board games whatever. Elder Anderson really likes Settlers of Cataan so we played that a lot last transfer. Sometimes I’ll bring my music to the chapel and will play the piano in the relief society room, the only place that has a real piano and not just a keyboard.
  1. Me and Grandpa Kent. Every once in a while Grandpa Kent will come up in conversations with members/native missionaries and they all know him haha. They all know the name sun xiao shan for sure! And then the longer they look at me they’ll tell me that they can see a family resemblance which is cool.
  1. Have you got your skirt caught in your bike at all? Any bike accidents yet?   I got my skirt caught in my bike once. Only once yay, hoping it will never happen again. Haven’t gotten in any accidents, either, although I’ve tripped, slipped, and fallen off of it plenty of times. It has also fallen over like a million times because the kickstand sucks. And because of wind.
  1. No squatty potties to be seen 🙂 I’ve been in some pretty weird bathrooms of various states of cleanliness but no squatty potties.

9. Pretty dang happy! Every day is an adventure and it’s really hard but I know I am super blessed.

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