Sister Zhang was baptized on Tuesday:
It was an excellent baptismal service. The Spirit was uninhibited by the frigidity of the baptismal font’s water, which I saw coming from miles away. Baptismal font water heaters, like chapel sound systems and wireless internet, never, ever work when they’re supposed to. Notwithstanding these outward inconveniences, the service was a great success. Sister Zhang has a firm testimony. We are very happy to welcome her into our branch.
On Wednesday, I left for Taipei. I spent most of the seven-hour train ride up sharing the gospel with a Buddhist nun who sat next to me, reading the Book of Mormon in Chinese, and getting really carsick as a result.
Upon reaching Taipei, we began our journey to Sanxia, where we were to stay for the night. An unexpected surprise: we transferred from the MRT to the bus at Jingan, right in the middle of my last area!
Arriving after nightfall, we ate dinner at a member’s home in Sanxia. This upscale district, with its broad spaces, fountains, and tall uniform apartment buildings, is most definitely an outlier in Taiwan.
View from the roof of the Sanxia apartment building.
On the roof.
The next morning, we made our way over to Taipei, where all trainers and trainees enjoyed a day of meetings. At night, I babysat Elder Brandley (“babysitting,” as part of the familial-metaphorical jargon of missionary genealogy, describes bringing a newly-arrived missionary who has not yet been assigned a trainer out finding for a night). We went to one of my favorite places:
With Elder Brandley at the base of Taipei 101.
After spending a night in Wanda, I returned to the chapel with my temporary companion for Friday’s transfer meeting. The PowerPoint presentation was projected upon the wall, and the suspenseful meeting began. The waiting was intense. One by one, each trainee was paired with a trainer. At last, only me and one other trainer were left. Two nervous trainees stood opposite us on the other side of the room. I stared at the screen. At last, our paired images materialized, and I beheld: Elder Stephens!
Elder Stephens and I in the MRT station.
Elder Stephens is an excellent companion, very diligent and dedicated. He is from Utah. He previously served in Arkansas and Mississippi while awaiting his visa. It is a great privilege to serve with him.
So far, I’ve been speaking pretty much nothing but Chinese to him (with his permission, of course). When he doesn’t understand, I repeat myself in English. In order to meet him more thoroughly, I asked him a question of personal opinion:
Me: On a scale of one to ten, how terrifying are the carbonated bubbles of soda?
Elder Stephens: Two. They aren’t very scary.
Me: Why not a one?
Elder Stephens: Because, if the soda were to explode, that would be pretty messed up. That’s scary.
It’s a really cool experience to train. Everything you do makes a big influence on your companion’s future as a missionary. It also brings back great memories of when you were a “baby.”
Anyway, this week has gone quite fabulously, despite me catching a cold. We drafted a new branch mission plan with our branch president, which I believe has a lot of potential to invigorate the missionary work in our branch. Elder Stephens and I are excited to implement it.
A group of about three plumbers unexpectedly burst into our apartment this morning, brandishing an assortment of wrenches and other tools. They proceeded to dismantle our water heater and then left, leaving it spouting forth gallons of water onto our balcony. We think they were probably sent by either the landlord or the mission office. Either way, I just hope they come back at some point.