Hiking

Several members united to transport most of us Taidong missionaries to a hiking location on Monday. We drove along a very narrow and steep road to the base of 四格山 (Sihge mountain), where we disembarked and began walking up the road/trail to the peak.

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Water lilies.

Looking up towards the mountains.

Walking uphill.

View from close to the top.

Our party, viewed from the front.

Elder Boyd strumming on a guitar as he walks past a power tower.

Along the way, we confronted a gigantic banana spider (the first really big one I’ve seen) and a rotten coconut, which Elder Stephens promptly hurled at the ground. It shattered and spewed vile liquid everywhere. I was thankfully spared from most of the deluge.

Stairs near the top.

Upon finally reaching the peak of the mountain, we were treated to a pristine vista, both subtle and sublime.

Looking out towards the ocean.

Elder Stephens and I relish the view.

After we walked down from the top of the mountain, we began the drive back, but our driver took an unexpected turn. We rattled off up a tiny dirt road. As we bumped along, a small shack emerged from the mist ahead of us. Approaching the deserted structure, we found…a bizarrely remote, fully-functional ice cream store. The owners told us they made the ice cream using ice made from the hand-collected water of the clear mountain streams, which doesn’t make sense because the ice doesn’t end up in the ice cream anyway. I enjoyed a waffle cone of their signature flavor, burnt bamboo. The black substance had the appearance of charcoal, but was quite pleasant to the taste.

Other notable events of the week:

On Friday, the branch held a family home evening activity in 鹿野, which was great. Everyone was treated to a plethora of native foods, including snails, which I ate for the first time. Many less-active members were present, and even one of our investigators came! We ate, sang a Mother’s Day song, and listened to performances on Taiwanese aboriginal drums These consist of hollow bamboo tubes of various lengths, which are clapped on the ends by handheld foam paddles, causing the air column within to harmoniously resonate. Each tube is tuned to produce a different note. My companion took the paddles himself and enthralled the crowd with his drumming skills.

Brother Yang and his wife playing the drums.

Closer view.

Kids playing around with the drums.

All of the members dancing around, aboriginal-style.

Yesterday, Elder Stephens and I had the opportunity to Skype home for Mother’s Day. We can call twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day. As usual, the process was rife with stress and last-minute technical difficulties, but a stable line of communication was at last established and conversation exchanged. It was a great conclusion to the week.

Sincerely, Elder Elliott

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