The Sons of Thunder: James and John, the sons of Zebedee; and a third personage, briefly noted only in the Septuagint, most likely a scriptural rendering of a type or shadow of the Holy Ghost.
On Tuesday, we finalized the combination of our area with the Shuanghe 2nd sisters’ area. This combination gave us responsibility over the densest portion of Yonghe in addition to Zhonghe, effectively quintupling the size of our area. The sisters are responsible for teaching women in the area; we are responsible for men. I couldn’t wait to find and teach the inhabitants of our newly-acquired territory. Little did I know exactly how much our territory would soon expand.
Elder Gibson’s exit interview was on Wednesday. During his interview, I passed off the Phase 2 test with the Assistants. Now, I’m onto the hard part: Phase 3, consisting of 2,533 characters, organized by their frequency in the Book of Mormon, which I must learn to read and write. I’ve began chewing my way slowly through the accompanying bushel of flashcards, memorizing each character and its pronunciation.
The English party went quite smoothly as well. I taught people how to make snowflakes by radially folding a piece of paper and using scissors to excise various shapes from the resulting triangle’s edges. After the games, we conducted a white elephant gift exchange. Finally, we four elders sang a selection of Christmas hymns in our signature quartet.
Our ward mission leader gave Elder Gibson a parting gift (and gave me one as well, to avoid engendering envy): a tube of White Man toothpaste. He said he was going to get us the Black Man stuff, but decided against it to avoid racism. I’m trying to decide whether I trust it enough to actually use it.
Whitemen: Guardian of Tooth.
On Elder Gibson’s last day, he and I went to the recycling plant to serve together one last time. We unscrewed bottle caps and cut the seals off, just like the first time, but this time we were provided with food as well! A woman offered me a plate of amoeba-like blobs of gel. Elder Gibson refused, saying that he was allergic, but assured me that the unidentified substance did not violate the Word of Wisdom. In the interest of politeness, I accepted, and the woman used tongs to place the gelatinous substance into my mouth so as to allow me to keep my hands free. It was sweet, and quite excellent to the taste. Later, Elder Gibson told me it was xiancao (grass jelly) dipped in peanut powder.
We took a last photograph of our roommates, anticipating the impending departure of Elders Gibson and Cheung.
Then, on Friday, Elder Gibson left. My new companions were revealed. Both of them.
New companions: Elder Montierth and Elder Clark.
Areas: Shuanghe 2nd and Shuanghe 1st.
Elders Clark and Montierth are great. They’re probably the 2nd and 3rd nerdiest elders in our mission, respectively. Elder Clark is dual-majoring in physics and philosophy at BYU; Elder Montierth is majoring in computer science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Together, we can opine at length on a wide variety of interesting topics.
We’re now in a very complicated situation, responsible for two wards–and two areas–at once. We cover 3/4 of our entire district’s terrain; only one companionship remains outside of our domain. We devised a very complex Sunday schedule, involving multiple exchanges with ward members, to allow us to study and avoid staying in church meetings for six straight hours. We report two sets of numbers and set two sets of goals, one for the first ward and one for the second. Hence, my already-convoluted planner system of number tracking and reporting became even more abstruse:
54 numbers to write daily.
Despite the additional complications posed by this very unique situation, it’s also proven to be one of the most fun times of my mission so far. Contacting is awesome: three crazy white guys speed around on bicycles and accost innocent Taiwanese bystanders. We’re always busy because of the sheer number of investigators and members we need to coordinate.