An Ephah

“Ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath, and the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah.”

That’s what the work is like in Zhonghe.

There are an extraordinary number of people here. Missionary work feels like holding a sieve in a raging river and occasionally catching a leaf, pebble, or other particulate matter. Based on my experience so far, there’s probably 100 ppm of prepared people here.

As a result of the abundance of people here, we can afford to be direct with everyone. When we talk with people while proselyting, we touch our nametags and tell them that our purpose is to prepare people to follow Christ and accept baptism. If they aren’t willing to do so, they’ll let us know immediately, and we’ll move on to someone else. If they are, we’ll teach them and prepare them for baptism.

Our time is spent:

  • Talking to people on the street;
  • Handing out free English class pamphlets in busy areas (think hot-dog salesman);
  • Contacting people on scooters while waiting for stoplights;
  • Teaching English classes (there are three levels; we teach the advanced class); and
  • Teaching investigators at Maidanglao.

The Golden Arches of Ophir

Unsure whether this counts as a selfie.

Teaching is interesting. My Chinese has improved a lot, and I can carry my part of a conversation well. The only obstacle remains understanding other people. I just use the old “nod and smile” strategy.

This week, I had a few unique teaching experiences. During a lesson with one of our investigators named Lin DX, I seemed to recall that he had already set a baptismal date. I whispered to Elder Gibson: “What’s the date?” He replied, “November 22.” So, I told Lin DX: “Well, your baptismal date is set for November 22. What can we do to help you prepare for this date?”

Elder Gibson suddenly interrupted me.

It turns out that Lin DX hadn’t even committed to baptism yet. He was quite confused. Thankfully, Elder Gibson was able to backtrack. He extended the baptismal commitment, and Lin DX accepted. He then followed to commit him to November 22.

Another investigator we taught was so interested in talking about the history of specific Chinese characters that we could barely fit in any of our own words at all. She started talking about how Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon of the fall of the great and spacious building was a prophecy of 9-11. Elder Gibson tried to commit her to baptism–six times–but she wouldn’t give a straight answer. Finally, I decided to share a scripture with her. I located the verse in my Chinese Book of Mormon and was about to give it to her to read. Just as I extended it to her, Elder Gibson nudged me and told me that she was blind.

On the whole, though, the work is going well. We work very hard every day. Two of our investigators are ready to accept baptism soon. I love the people here and the place.

My tongban on the street.

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Our area’s gritty and dystopian scenery.

A very upscale neighborhood we found in the middle of nowhere.

Typical scene in our apartment. Elders Gibson, Clark, and Cheung.

Typical night traffic.

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My companion in some traditional garb that our roommates, Elders Clark and Cheung, found while doing service at a recycling plant.

The Words of Them Which Have Slumbered

Other cool experiences this week:

My bike arrived! I fixed the horrible derailleur adjustment, so it shifts smoothly now. It’s brand new and pretty. Unfortunately, it can’t stay that way or it will be stolen shortly, so I’m going to paint it today to make it as ugly as possible. Here’s the before:

“After” to be sent next week.

I saw my first gigantic spider while walking down an indoor stairwell. It was about as big as the palm of my hand, and it ran along the walls around us so fast my eyes could barely track its motion. Needless to say, it caused me to hasten my pace significantly.

During one of our lessons at MDL’s, a guy sitting at the table behind us suddenly started screaming as if in agony and hitting himself. A MDL’s employee stood by to prevent him from harming anyone, but was powerless to remove him from the restaurant. Ten minutes later, he suddenly leapt to his feet and half-fell down the stairs, howling and screaming.

I’ve eaten some weird food, including duck blood bars (decent) and pig foot (not so much). Here’s the pig feet:

I found them pretty gross. They tasted like sticks of butter covered in thick and hairy skin and filled with tendons and pig toe bones. My companion thought they were good, though, so I’ll probably get used to them. On the whole, I really like the Taiwanese food I’ve eaten.

Until next week: adieu!

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