Schroedinger’s Prodigal Son

On Monday, I at last found the long-sought Holy Grail of my quest. Stowed away on a crowded shelf in a grungy auto repair shop, it caught my eye as my companion and I biked past: a dented can of pink spraypaint. After seeking so long in vain, I didn’t believe my eyes at first; I thought it was purple or maybe magenta. However, a quick purchase followed by a trial spray proved that it was indeed the vivid color I was looking for. My companion and I sped home. Thirty minutes later, my masterpiece was at last complete:

Now featuring #FF00FF: my CGA-palette bicycle.

The other side.

A more artistic angle.

On Tuesday, I retrieved my Phase 2 language study cards from the mission office! Here’s a thick deck of flash cards:

I hope to have memorized these 2,000 everyday-use words before Elder Gibson returns home on the 6th of December. So far, it’s going pretty well; I’ve memorized 600 to date.

Unfortunately, Elder Gibson was afflicted with the malaise this week: a complete loss of energy, coupled with diarrhea and generalized body pain and sensitivity. Sister Day hypothesized that he had a parasite. Since we have very few progressing investigators, we’ve had to spend the majority of our time street finding, which can be a fairly taxing proselyting activity. On Wednesday, to avoid the pain of an entire day of nothing but street contacting, we decided instead to visit Elders Clark’s and Cheung’s favorite recycling plant to do service.

I was expecting a grimy industrial park, but this is what it actually looked like:

A very aesthetic recycling plant/Buddhist temple.

We walked around to the rear of the enormous building, where overflowing trucks pulled in and out of a sorting warehouse.

All of the volunteers were speaking Taiwanese, so my companion and I had no idea what they were saying. They first pointed us to a truck that had backed into the loading area. We started lugging bags of trash to the truck and hefting them up to a volunteer who stood perched atop the overflowing mound. When the truck was heaped with bags until it could accommodate no more, it finally drove off. We moved to the plastic bottle area.

Our first task was to unscrew the caps of plastic bottles, empty whatever dregs were still present into a bucket, and then sort the capless bottles into various bins. For an hour, we unscrewed, dumped, and tossed. It was enjoyably monotonous work. We surrounded ourselves with bins of uncapped bottles. At last, we unscrewed the lid of the very last sports drink, dumped its contents into the sloshing bucket, and placed it into the appropriate bin. We felt very accomplished.

After we took a brief interlude of tossing masses of mildewing clothing into the back of a truck, the supervisor barked again in Taiyu. He handed us two small, curved blades, and gestured toward the heaping bins of bottles. With a sinking feeling, I realized that we had to cut off the little plastic seal ring dongxi from every single bottle. We set about this gargantuan task. It was actually pretty fun. We didn’t get even close to finishing, though.

Service at the recycling plant: cutting off those bottle-cap ring seal things.

After finishing our service and an hour of handing out English tracts, we ate some deliciously greasy jipai (a giant piece of deep-fried chicken, pounded flat and sprinkled with salt and seasoning), fries, and watermelon milk. It was a pretty good day.

Thursday: after several days of patiently enduring his ailment, Elder Gibson finally decided to go to the doctor. We biked to the local hospital, where I was provided with an enlightening glimpse into the inner workings of socialized healthcare. When his number displayed on a screen, Elder Gibson and I walked on queue into one of many doctor’s offices situated around the central waiting room. The doctor listened to his symptoms for ten seconds and told him he had gastroenteritis. We walked back out of the office and to a pharmacy counter where a clerk handed him four bags of various pills, some unlabeled. We left.

Elder Gibson took some of the pills, but they made his stomach noticeably more painful rather than less. Upon reading their Chinese directions and labels, he was convinced that the doctor had randomly prescribed him various anti-diarrheals. I gave him some of my pepto-bismol instead, and he felt better within half an hour. Since then, he seems to have mostly recovered.

Aside from the complications in Elder Gibson’s health, everything’s gone well this week. It’s been raining unceasingly, but the temperature is quite comfortable. I accidentally told a man that Jesus ordained rocks to guide his church (I mixed up the similar-sounding words for "apostle" and "rock"). I’m trying to learn the geography of our area better. It’s quite small but easy to get lost in because it’s so dense with streets and small alleys. There’s a lot of variety for such a small area. One part of our area even has a little Myanmar-town. Our bishop warned us not to eat any of the food there, since it made a previous companionship sick. There are also a lot of street markets, which are always interesting to bike through.

Typical Taiwanese meat stand. Love these places.

That’s all for now. Bye!

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