Turning into a Tortoise and Back Again

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Us at Banqiao library before heading out for dinner
Us at Banqiao library before heading out for dinner

Us at Banqiao library before heading out for dinner

Dear Everyone,

The most interesting thing that happened this week was a big Daoist parade that marched RIGHT by our house when we went outside for the morning, complete with drums, dragons, floats, statues, costumes, firecrackers, crazy Chinese instruments, and other weird things (like literal pole dancers.) I never get tired of seeing those things.

For P-Day last week we went to the missionary Christmas Choir Concert practice. I am SO excited because they are letting me play the piano for parts of it! I haven’t been able to play this much my whole mission.

And then, because Taiwan does not celebrate Thanksgiving (and literally no one knows what it is except the members), Christmas decorations and trees have already started to go up in the stores. Outside Banqiao station they set up this huge light display, and one night they had a big screen broadcasting the Yuletide log over the New Taipei City government building.

It has gotten SO cold this week and that has been really fun. I LOVE cold weather! It’s really starting to feel like Christmas now!

This week was the big reveal for our mission’s new CELL PHONES! We bought them on Monday night at the end of P-day with a bunch of other missionaries, although it ended up taking a bit longer than we thought it would because of having to take out money from the ATM. I did, in fact, buy the cheapest phone that was available to us missionaries because I am planning on getting a new one when I get back. I personally don’t think there’s that much of a difference between mine and the more expensive ones. In total, everything cost exactly NT $5000.

(And sorry everyone, I am going into a lot of boring detail mostly because maybe my Dad will think this is interesting…let me just say that I thought about him a lot as we were exploring all the new technology this week. Yay for my wonderful Dad who is a lot better with technology than I am.)

And so most of this week has been a BEAST trying to figure out the new phones and trying to switch all of our contacts from the old phones to the new ones. The set-up is that every missionary has their own phone, but there’s only one SIM card per companionship. So Sister Huang can only use the internet if I set up a mobile hotspot.

On Wednesday morning we had a several-hour training with the Zone Leaders at the chapel where we set everything up. The last item of business was that we had to set up LINE, the main social media app everyone uses here in Taiwan (our mission won’t be using Facebook because President thought it would only be distracting.)

And that ended up taking several hours longer than anticipated because, for some reason, the internet wasn’t letting us finish setting up our accounts. After the problem still wasn’t figured out, everyone just decided to give up and leave and try it another time. And in the end, the only problem was the church wifi, so in the end we just went to a Starbucks and it worked out all right.

Many fascinating phenomenons have occurred as a result of the mission making a sudden switch from Nokias to smartphones, and I have been having a blast just observing it all go down.

First of all, the mission has instructed us that now we need to use LINE for most of our communications because the phone plans we have don’t allow for free texts, and we only get 60 minutes worth of calls a month. So we are trying to add the LINEs of all the members and our investigators, although it can be a little bit frustrating because we have to go in and call them first. It’s also a little bit of a pain because of transfers, so members will have to add the new missionary’s LINE every time someone moves into the area.

Part of the Christmas lights display by Banqiao station

Part of the Christmas lights display by Banqiao station


And then, the mission made a LINE group for ALL for the whole mission so they can put out announcements easily. Let’s just say that a little bit of mischief went down before they laid down the rules that it was only for mission-wide news and not discussing where the best WiFi is, etc.

And because we also don’t have a ton of data per month, missionaries in the Taipei mission have now become WiFi-finding experts. We are searching out all the places with WiFi so we can study in those places. Our favorite haunt has become Banqiao library because of their free, unrestricted WiFi. Starbucks and other government buildings are also pretty nice.

Probably the biggest change is that now all of our teaching records and things will be going on a digital app instead of on paper, so for the next few weeks we have to spend 2 HOURS every day transferring all of our records onto the app. We can also use this app to do our daily and weekly planning, too, (although Sister Huang and I are still using our paper planners for a bit since we have been struggling to enter in information quickly enough for our plan using a digital format.) The past few days have been especially…difficult for me and Sister Huang because the app doesn’t come in Chinese so I have to explain everything to her.

We probably will be dealing with all of the complications of this big change until the end of the transfer next week. I just want to get it all done as quickly as possible.

SORRY all that stuff probably sounds so boring, but it was sure an adventure for me, because I haven’t even TOUCHED a smartphone for more than a year. The first day of phones I felt like a hermit who had just wandered out of extended seclusion to the modern world.

In addition to that, on Friday morning I did this REALLY intense leg workout so on Saturday and Sunday I was basically limping around the streets…

And so THAT’s the complete story of how I became an 100-year-old tortoise for a little bit this week.

In other news, we also finished translating the document the area mental health adviser Elder Vatcher gave us so now we just need to type it up for him and maybe give it to another missionary to translate.

This email literally sounds SO boring so I promise I will have more interesting stories for next week.

my breakfast

my breakfast

But to wrap everything up on a more spiritual note…

On Tuesday during our weekly planning session, Sister Huang shared with me that her desire to do missionary work had gone WAY down since the beginning of her mission due to all of the disappointments we have seen and how hard it all is. We had a great talk and in the end we learned together that when our desire goes down, all we have to do is work HARDER because hard work truly feels SO much better than giving up. Sometimes as missionaries, we definitely see a lot of sad things as people use their agency to reject the gospel, but when we let these experiences drag us down into discouragement, we will feel even worse than before. Sister Huang also said this week that she thinks the adversary has been working SO hard to make us not want to do missionary work.

So we made a goal to talk to everyone that came into our path this week, and in the end we FEEL really successful because of it, even though we still got rejected for the most part. In Preach My Gospel it says that we can know that the Lord is pleased with our efforts when we feel the spirit testifying through us, and we have definitely felt that a lot this past week. God must have something huge in store for me and Sister Huang this week since the adversary was working so hard on us last week.


Sister Anne Watson

Mom’s Questions

  1. How are the gyoza in Taiwan? Can you find out any tips from anyone there to make mine better?

Taiwan has really good dumplings and potstickers. Only since coming here have I realized that the difference between the two is actually pretty big–potstickers are really crispy because they’re fried and then the dumplings are just boiled in water and are a bit healthier. The ones you make at home are kind of in between, they’re about as good as homemade dumplings you can get from any member here (at least from what I remember. I’ll have to test your dumplings again when I get home.)

  1. Are there any clothes that you brought to Taiwan that you have never worn? Why or why not?

There was this really comfortable gray sweater I brought but I left it at some other apartment because it was too “nice” to wear as a missionary. It was a little too thick and didn’t match any of my shirts.

  1. How has your camera held up that we sent you with? I’ve heard stories about missionaries in Taiwan that have to get new ones because of the rainy weather.

My camera is doing well. Other missionaries that have to buy new ones probably were just stupid and took pictures in the pouring rain. It’s also useful to have a little camera case like the one you sent me with.

  1. While you’ve been out, what is the most interesting thing that someone, other than us, have sent you?

I honestly don’t get sent that much stuff, but there was that Christmas letter the ward sent me last year. I’ve also gotten some nice stuff from Grandma. And right now I am in a correspondence with one of my friends from the Taizhong mission. It’s fun because sending letters around to each other is really cheap. It’s fun to compare between our mission experiences. The Taizhong mission is an interesting wannabe version of our mission, basically.


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