Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Made it to Taiwan!

Greeted by President and Sister Bishop at the Taipei Airport
Hello family and friends,
Holy cow! I've had a crazy week.  So I'll start with waking up last Tuesday for my flight.  Woke up at 3 am to finish getting everything ready and then boarded the bus to come to salt lake.  It was so refreshing to leave the MTC and see familiar things.  I felt so free! Boarded the plane and headed to Detroit.  Cool story, there was a little baby who was freaking out on the plane: screaming, crying, being loud and everything.  It was bugging a lot of people so I decided to say a pray to calm here down.  The moment I said "Dear Heavenly Father" she immediately stopped from here screaming.  Pretty cool story how the Lord answers prayers. Sorry we had so much trouble with the phone cards.  In Detroit, the only people I could get a hold of were the kids and mom.  Everyone else didn't answer.  But I finally tried Aunt Paulina and Uncle Mike and was talking with Benjamin for like 20 seconds and then my money ran out so it disconnected me.  Sorry!  Then boarded the plane for Tokyo.  Longest plane flight ever!  Took a few pictures for you mom and dad, but it wasn't much.  Got back on a plane for Taiwan.  Finally got through and picked up our luggage and met President and Sister Bishop, along with the APs.  Walked outside and this big rush of humidity hit me.   It is so hot here!!! Even at midnight!! We then took about a 2 1/2 hour bus ride down to Taichung. I forgot to bring my cable to upload pictures so I'll send them next week.  They have the sickest buses.  That night we stayed at the zone leaders home for our orientation the next few days. 
Thursday morning we woke up went on a nice, extremely hot, humid run.  It felt so good though.  I am so out of shape but with the Taichung exercise schedule I'll be in shape in no time.  Running every other morning, lifting weights every other morning, and then biking everyday.  Had our orientation about everything and then headed to lunch.  Right before we left Brother Nield walked in the mission home door.  So weird to see an old member from our ward in a random house in Taiwan.  We had a nice chat haha.  We then went out and had a hot pot lunch.  Pretty much what you do is you pick a broth type stuff, then you grab everything else you want: clam, beef, pork, squid, pig intestine, noodles, and tons of other stuff and you cook it in this broth.  SO GOOD!! And yes, it was my first time trying squid, clam, and pig intestine.  They weren't that bad.  Went back and continued the orientation and later went back out to dinner.  They never stop feeding you here.  At dinner we had some more amazing food.  First time having herbal tea and Beijing Pecking Duck.  Right after I had to use the bathroom, sorry this may be gross, but I had to go #2.  Walked in the stall and saw a squatter toilet.  I didn't know how to use it so I just held it until we got back to the mission home haha.  After dinner we went and headed out into the night market and did the "Dan Jones."  So scary! Didn't know what I was saying or anything, but I did it.  Then they took us around and had me start talking to people.  Even scarier!  I talked to a bunch of people and got contact info from 13 people.  So not bad for not knowing the language.  I was so tired that when we got back home I just dropped on the bed and fell asleep. 
Friday was the day we found out who our trainer was, but not without eating another filling breakfast.  They never stop feeding you here.  Finally we walked in the mission home and all the trainers met us there, but we didn't know who we had.  There was some more orientation and then I finally found out who my trainer was.  Elder Blake Johnson, who is from Mapleton, Utah.  We were assigned to the Fengjia area, near the mission home. All the missionaries then went to T.G.I. Fridays and had our last hamburger for a while.  We left and finally got to our apartment, dropoped my stuff off, and went straight to work.  Met and taught a man at McDonalds.  The spirit can truly teach anywhere, well mostly anywhere.  We stopped back off at the apartment and picked up my new bike.  Lookin’ so sweet, I don't wanna paint it.  Went right back out to work.  We headed to a park and went contacting.  I met my first Yi guan dao person.  They pretty much believe that any road leads back to God, something like that.  I'm sure Uncle Mike would know so ask him for a better answer.  He was the craziest, weirdest guy ever.
Saturday was my first full day in the mission field.  After studies, my companion called the APR list while I contacted.  Pretty much I just road from each side of the road to the other and talked to people.  SCARY!  Oh I gotta tell you about the traffic here.  Their laws are weird to me.  Pretty much everyone here in Taiwan owns at least 5 motorcycles/vespa.  They are everywhere!  They are the ones who own the street.  Anyway, they are the ones I contacted. Stopped to eat lunch and a young man sat down next to us and asked if he could talk.  He said he had seen us riding around, talking with people and wanted to know what we were all about.  So we told him.  He has definitely been prepared by the Lord.  We left and went and contacted some more.  We had a lesson with a man who is a hair cutter, and we met at his salon.  Couldn't hear anything in the lesson cause of the music playing, and the baseball game that was going on.  Afterwards went and contacted some more and then headed to a baptismal service.  Even though I didn't understand a single word, the Spirit was still present and I definitely felt it. 
First Sunday in the field, and first entire church meeting in Chinese.  After sacrament meeting I got up and introduced myself.  Very intimidating thing when there are like 30 Asians staring at you and you have no clue what to say in a native language you hardly know.  It went well though.  We then went out and tried to get a few less actives back to church.  We met with this old man who is originally from Hong Kong and has a terrible accent.  He served a mission, served as a branch president, and now doesn't believe there is a god.  It's sad to see how a testimony can be shattered like that.  We searched and searched for less actives, but none were home.  We were thinking they were all with family because nearly every family was out in the street with food on a table, burning paper money for their ancestors.  Don't know exactly what it is called.  Then we went to the singles FHE.  It is a fun activity and we had a bbq.  Bbq'd meat, green peppers, mushrooms, bacon!  YUM.  
Crazy first week.  Well, I'm doing well!  Hope you all are as well.  Its rough serving a mission, being expected to bring others unto Christ even though I don't know the language.  But, I do know that through the Lord all things are possible, even learning Chinese.  In Preach My Gospel it says that in order to have the gift of tongues one must work their hardest and struggle with it.  Something along those lines.  Look it up.  I know it'll be rough, tough, and I'll hate it, but I'll love being a missionary.  I love you all and just know I am in the best hands I can possibly be in.  With all my love, Elder Smith