Rabbinical Dictum

View of Taipei from an apartment balcony.

This was a relatively uneventful week, so my email’s going to be succinct.

On Monday, we didn’t do too much on P-day because of how tired we were. We went as a district (minus Elders Clark and Cheung, who stayed behind playing board games) to a local hamburger restaurant. Hamburgers in Taiwan are not cheap, and hamburger restaurants are generally some of the nicest establishments around. At this particular joint, I ate one of my favorites: a bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter. Do cheeseburgers in America often have peanut butter on them? I don’t recall, but I think they usually don’t.

Tuesday: we set up a lesson with a guy we met on the street who was probably jingshenbing (mentally ill) and seemed like he was likely to fang us gezis. (To "fang one’s gezis" literally means to "release/place one’s pigeons" and means to not show up to a previously-scheduled appointment). Sure enough, at the appointed time he was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, Elder Gibson had the foresight to set up his lesson for lunchtime at a buffet, so we just ate lunch instead.

We’ve found a few excellent new investigators: Brother Xie, Brother Lai, and Brother Lai’s girlfriend. Also, we taught Brother Tang the first half of Lesson 4. He’s an amazing investigator; he’s actually willing to make and keep commitments, and he has a strong desire to know whether our message is true.

This week, we were qinged chi (invited by a member to eat) thrice. The members here love the missionaries. One sister always takes us to eat at hot pot restaurants, which I’ve come to love, particularly because they almost always have complementary all-you-can-eat ice cream. In front of the patron is situated a burner, upon which is placed a pot containing a miscellany of random fungi, meat, vegetables, duck blood bars, and seafood. One must retrieve items from the pot and place them in a bowl of rice, then eat them together with the rice. In addition to the standard curry pot, spicy pot, seafood pot, and various other meat pots, these restaurants usually have what my companion translated as a "stinky intestine pot." I haven’t had the guts to try it.

On the whole, though, I’ve adjusted really well to Taiwanese food; I think I’d even like stinky tofu now if I tried it again. At first, I disliked barley tea, but now I love it. It tastes like dilute liquid Honey Crisp.

I still haven’t learned to use chopsticks very well, though. I’m always dropping food on the table and the floor between my feet. At a member’s house, I dropped my chopsticks on the floor three times, and each time they gave me a new pair. It was quite embarrassing.

We’re trying to use service and English classes to garner more new investigators. My companion and I went to the Buddhist recycling plant again. This time, we used heavy hammers to smash apart coat hangers and separate the plastic and metal components. It was good old-fashioned, destructive fun.

After studies on Thursday, we helped Wu Mama, a member and one of our neighbors, by chiseling away a thick layer of grout that was left on her floor after she pried up the floor tiles. We were worried what the downstairs neighbors would think, but she reassured us that she’d notified them in advance. Freed of all reservations, we pounded away for an hour, chipping off huge slabs until the floor was clear of all grout.

The language is going quite smoothly; I’m already through 1500 of the 2000 flashcards of Phase 2, and hope to pass my Phase 2 test with the assistants to the president during Elder Gibson’s exit interview. The only problem: my English seems to be retrograding directly proportional to the progression of my Chinese. In an effort to counteract this trend, I’m reading a chapter of Jesus the Christ every day and reviewing all of the vocab I don’t know. The only detriment of this otherwise effective method is a marked shift of my diction towards the ornate and latinate.

Check out these exclusive Taiwanese designer T-shirts, courtesy of Elder Clark:

"Treasure map. There is a local legend of the sea / There are countless treasures ,Zhang will lead you to the treasure map"

"Hammer style / And lion"

"Canadian Snow / Ince 15 / There is always welfarism"

Same picture as the header, but featuring my poorly-lit visage.

That’s about it for this week. Bye!

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