We rode the train all the way up to 關山 last Monday! 關山 is a very small and relatively remote village north of 鹿野. Years ago, it had its own pair of missionaries. Now, it serves as yet another odd appendix to our branch.

At 關山.

Our purpose in visiting such a distant locale was to call on several less-active members who live in the neighborhood and haven’t been to church in years. Upon knocking their doors, however, all but one remained silently closed. The outlier was opened by our target, who promptly informed us that it wasn’t convenient for us to visit her because of the conflict between her mother’s traditional beliefs and ours. Oh well.

Because trains only pass every few hours, we and the sisters rode our bikes back to 鹿野 for the rest of the day. Our hour-long journey is chronicled in the below photographs:

Rice paddies.

Rice paddies.

Rice paddies: aqueduct edition.

Rice paddies, houses, and mountains.

Rice paddies and a lone yellow house.

Rice paddies and our bicycles.

Railroad tracks and crumbling apartments, bisected by a swath of rice paddies.

Mountains, trees, a shack, and a foreground of scenic rice paddy.

This rice paddy holds a special place in my heart.

There was also a large dip in the road, bridged by a trussed aqueduct.

In 鹿野, we visited the same members as usual. Outside of 周弟兄’s (Brother Zhou’s) house, we were greeted by a new sight:

It’s what’s for dinner.

A cage occupied by oodles of giant snails! 周弟兄 confirmed that these invertebrates would, indeed, furnish their afternoon repast.

Recently, Elder Illu and I are worried that our LAs are stagnating. When he first began visiting them, it seemed as if they were progressing, but we think that this may have only been an illusion due to him never having met with them before. My impression is that most of these people aren’t even aware that they’re considered “less-active.” They assume that, because church is so distant, it only makes sense to attend once every month or so.

As we sat talking with 周弟兄 inside his house, Elder Illu and suddenly spotted a large mass scurrying past the door in the bedroom facing us. Elder Illu abruptly stopped teaching the lesson and told 周弟兄: “I hope you aren’t afraid of spiders.” He told 周弟兄 about the arachnid we had caught sight of.

With Sister Zhou, we cautiously approached the bedroom door. Elder Illu spotted the arachnid crouched next to a large mattress and pointed it out to Sister Zhou, but, with her elderly eyesight, she didn’t see it. Thinking it was underneath the mattress, she lifted it up, but the furry and extremely fast spider ran right underneath! It scurried about. We both tried desperately to indicate its location to her, but alas, our efforts were in vain. The creature scuttled into a dark corner and disappeared among piles of heaped textiles. Sister Zhou replaced the mattress. “It’s OK,” she told us. “That kind isn’t poisonous, anyway.”

In preparation for our Easter-themed English class party, I drew a tract we can photocopy and hand to members and people on the street.

The original. It features a malicious-looking rabbit firing an egg from the mouth of a chicken.

The tract as it appears when photocopied in black-and-white.

There had better be a lot of students at our party!

On Friday, it was raining again in 鹿野. Within a few minutes, I was wetter than if I’d jumped into a swimming pool in my white shirt and tie. In times such as these, there’s nothing to do but to grit one’s teeth and pedal furiously, oblivious to the water and mud splattering abundantly onto one’s glasses, face, and clothing.

Lastly: I’m not one to number my oolocytes prior to the cracking thereof, but it seems probable that the creation of our stake will be realized. We’ve exceeded all of the requisite numerical requirements, and the application has already been created and submitted to the Asia Area Presidency. Yeah!

-Elder Elliott


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