Hi everyone! So because this week was Thanksgiving, Christmas festivities are officially under way for the Church all over the world, and here in Taiwan it’s no exception! It’s a pretty good finding tool because most people here know very little about Christmas. There are Christmas trees here EVERYWHERE though already. Christmas seems to be only a commercial thing here so we get to bring the Jesus part of it to everyone!
Now Here’s the Low-Down
We are switching wards! We just got moved from the zhubei 3rd ward to the zhubei 1st ward. Sister Apsley got a call from President last night and he told us to move to the zhubei 1st ward. We already work a ton with members in all the wards (because we have to teach all the female investigators) so it won’t be too hard of a transition, it’s just gonna be interesting whitewashing.
I think we’ll love the first ward. Get this: It’s actually a bilingual ward! English and Chinese. Super duper cool. We were at their sacrament meeting yesterday because we had an investigator. They said the prayer on the bread in Chinese and the prayer on the water in English. All the English speakers wear an ear microphone and when Chinese talks are given in English, Abish, this AWESOME Taiwanese lady in the ward who also speaks fluent English, will interpret for them in a little microphone. Her name is Abish. I love Abish. So in sacrament meeting on Sunday, they had one Taiwanese member speak and then a cool Filipino member named Fid spoke in English. Abish went up to the stand with him and interpreted for all the Taiwanese members. We’ll be working with Elder Griffin who was just a zone leader in Hualian and his trainee Elder Hyde.
Trainer-Trainee Follow-Up Meeting
On Thursday, Thanksgiving day, we got to go up to Taipei for the one and only Trainer-Trainee follow up meeting! The last time for the entire mission that everyone in my generation from the MTC got to get together. We got to Taipei at 8:00 AM, chilled for a little bit and then the meeting started at 9:00. The assistants did some training and then we split up into two groups of trainers and trainees and just talked about the cool things and challenges we had experienced in the first transfer of training. And we had PIZZA for lunch. And we finished up by having a gigantic role-play session. It was so loud in that room with 50 people role-playing but it was kind of fun.
And after the meeting I found out that I had a PACKAGE! So yes, I got my Christmas package on Thanksgiving. I was so happy but it was kind of a struggle carrying the huge box to the train station, and then trying to fit it on my bike with all my other stuff as we hopped off the train. I was so thankful that I didn’t mind it at all, though.
We went straight from the train station to the chapel for a thanksgiving feast provided for our entire district by one of the members. Mostly all of the food was from Costco, believe it or not! It felt so American. It was so cool because the cute member, zhang jie mei, that made it for us had never cooked a turkey in her life but did it because she wanted to give us Thanksgiving. 🙂
I opened my Christmas package at night after we got home and Sister Apsley said, “Sister Watson, why are you opening your Christmas package?!” haha. But I needed some of the stuff in there. Don’t worry there’s some stuff I’m saving to take out until later. But honestly that gift was so cool, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and just how thankful I am for my family and their love for me. Thanks so much for supporting me every second of my mission so far and I know you will continue in that way for the rest. I honestly cannot express my thanks enough, it made my year.
From Friday to Saturday we had exchanges with the xinzhu Sister Training Leaders. I learned so much! I was with Sister Li, who is native Taiwanese! Oh man it was so weird speaking 100% Chinese for an entire day. I began being super nervous but the language barrier was barely existent. And I love Sister Li! She is so chill. Mostly we just went finding for the entire exchange because a bunch of lessons went through but I definitely learned a lot from her. She gave me a lot of confidence about my Chinese skills. Even though it’s still hard to understand some things, I can totally survive…and even thrive!
Questions from Mom
- This Week’s Weather It’s definitely been getting colder here in Taiwan! There have been a couple days where it’s been pretty dang rainy–especially yesterday (Sunday), we were at church all morning and all afternoon and it was raining the entire time. It had stopped by night but then it got pretty dang cool. Like we did English boarding at the night market at 7:30 last night and it was super windy and most people were wearing coats or sweaters. Today is sunny but still rather cold. There have been a couple pretty warm days this week too. The weather hasn’t quite decided to be winter yet but I think it’ll be coming up pretty soon.
- Bedbugs? Haven’t had any problems with bedbugs at all. Haven’t even heard anyone having any problems with bedbugs in Taiwan. Which is funny because one of my friends on the mission in the US wrote an email the other week about having bedbugs. Nah the only thing you have to worry about here are mosquitoes and cockroaches. I bet there’s other big creepy bugs in the summer but they won’t be in the apartments…or at least I don’t think.
- Taiwan’s Best Foods Let’s see we eat TONS of dumplings and curry. Tons haha. I love getting dumplings because they remind me of home gyoza 🙂 Taiwan also has strangely good bread. They have all these cool bakeries and stuff that sell all kinds of interesting pastries. Even the 7/11s/other convenience stores sell chocolate and buttermilk breads that missionaries like to get. They also have tons of fruit here that we don’t really eat in America, like dragon fruit and guavas and stuff. Beef noodles are pretty good. They have these meat places where they just bring out plates of raw meat and you cook it on your table–at those places they also have unlimited ice cream and sometimes drinks! Yummmm. We really like to get zhuabings in Taipei, which are like these onion pancake things…I don’t really know how to describe them. Maybe I’ll take a picture of one next time we have them.
- How’s the Chinese going? The Chinese is going great! The hardest thing is finding things to say in contacting situations because everything just happens so fast. But I’m making real progress in the mission’s language program (where they have different tasks that you can accomplish.) I’m hoping that this Wednesday or sometime I’ll be able to move onto the vocab track. First I’ll have to take a little test with one of the assistants (which shouldn’t be too bad–they’ll just ask me to teach them a couple of the principles in the Preach my Gospel lessons randomly.) And then I’ll get 3 gigantic boxes which add up to several thousand flash cards to help me learn several thousand more Chinese words! (To be used in daily conversation/non-gospel conversation.) They also give you this gigantic book with thousands of additional vocab words in addition to the flashcards. Sweeeeeet. The language program is really awesome. I have fun passing stuff off.
- Do I have a washer and dryer? Yeah most of the missions in the apartment have washers and dryers now! Or at least that’s what Sister Vatcher told us the very first day we were here. I think all apartments at least have a washer and then all apartments have at least a place to hang your clothes to dry. Sister Apsley likes to hang some of her outfits up outside but I’m to skeptical so I just dry everything in our little dryer.
- Do we eat out all the time or make stuff at home? In Taiwan it’s just so much more convenient and cheap to eat food out so that’s what we do most of the time. It’s a pain to make stuff in our little kitchen, plus I don’t trust lots of the dishes that are in there haha. We also get fed by the members a lot. We call it getting qing’ed. (Chinged.) Missionaries also qing each other a lot. This week we got qing’ed by the bishop. And there’s also the Thanksgiving dinner. And last night we got qing’ed by our AMAZING stake president (President Cai) with the Xinzhu zone leaders Elder Alder and Elder Miller, plus the Zhunan zone leaders (they’re south of us.) They have 5 or 6 daughters and they’re all absolutely adorable.
CHINESE CHARACTER OF THE WEEK
希望 – xi wang
This means “hope.” Every day on the mission you face a ton of hard situations and a lot of dead-ends. You are put face to face with all of your challenges and it’s easy to feel useless, discouraged, abandoned….
But the Christmas season especially is a time of hope and even when things aren’t really going the way I want them to, if I lose hope than nothing will happen. We are all children of Heavenly Father so we are all entitled to His blessings. This week in my Book of Mormon study I’ve been reading in Alma 18, and I really liked verses 32-35. It talks a lot about how our origin is from God. And I can be entitled to a part of His power to preach the gospel, and so can all people who choose to have faith and desire to carry out His will.
So I’m going to work really hard on having hope this week. Discouragement and disappointment suck but every low point can be seen as a place to build up from instead of a punishment or something to be miserable about.