This was quite an eventful week. On Wednesday afternoon, I was informed that I would move. I packed on Wednesday night, simply dumping my clothing and numerous study materials back into my suitcases and finishing within an hour.
Last picture with the Taidong district. I was supposed to wear a blue tie.
Our bicycles in front of the Taidong mountains.
Then, after studies, I lugged my suitcases, one of which weighed over 150 lbs, to the Taidong train station, rode the train for eight hours, and reached Taipei at night.
Wearing hats from people on the street.
Tucheng, in New Taipei City, to be companions with Elder Huntsman as leaders of the West Zone!
It’s awesome to be here. Elder Huntsman came to Taiwan at the same time as me, and we were friends in the MTC. He is an outstanding missionary, and he and I get along really well. Our area is also fantastic, with one of the most rapidly-growing wards in the whole mission. I actually miss the city a lot after spending so much time in the rural expanses of Taidong. It’s good to be back.
After eating together and returning to our area on Friday, we contacted on the busy Taipei streets for two hours. The number of people on the street was shocking after spending so long on the deserted crossroads of the east coast. We saw a good deal of success as we talked with the bustling passerby, including several America-obsessed teens with DIY tattoos. They said they’d come to church with us, although they were strangely absent at the commencement of the Sunday meeting.
There are many differences between Taipei and Taidong, which have only become apparent after spending time in both areas. Taipei is way more convenient. There are probably more restaurants, supermarkets, and convenience stores within a three-minute walk of our apartment than there are in all of Taidong. The people are also a lot busier.
Saturday consisted of a lot of finding. We walked everywhere, because the people on the streets are so dense that it’s more convenient to contact on foot. We found some awesome new investigators, including a cool guy named Dennis who we contacted near our apartment. We ended up meeting with him on Sunday as well and extending a baptismal invite for the 15th of August, which he accepted.
Elder Huntsman is a great missionary and leader because he’s loving. He always compliments people on what they do well. I know I have much to learn from him. Together, we can accomplish a lot in our area and zone.
Our time is very scarce because we are always calling and taking phone calls from missionaries in our zone. It’s been an interesting adjustment. Three times a week, all missionaries in our zone report their key indicators (numerical progress indicators) to us via text message. We then compile these numbers, writing and totaling by hand; analyze them and take notes; and fax relevant documents upward to the mission president’s assistants. Once a week, we call the district leaders in our zone and discuss with them the progress and needs of their district. We then call and report to the assistants.
This entire process, including waiting for everyone to send a lengthy key indicator report to us, must take place within an hour. It’s very tight.
To make matters worse, our old, reliable phone broke and was replaced with a new model, a gimmicky touchscreen "dummy phone" which can only display about ten English characters at a time on the screen. Reporting is very painful. I still need to find some ways to streamline the process.
Sunday was great as well. I met many of our ward members, who all love the missionaries and are very willing to help us. We went to visit our ward mission leader, one of the nicest members I’ve ever met. His kids served us some lemonade they made themselves. It was unnervingly warm and salty, and very dilute, but we kept on taking sips to be polite. They kept pouring our gigantic mugs full as soon as we neared the bottom. It was hilarious seeing my companion struggling to swallow the vile liquid with a straight face. Oh well; I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
All in all, this has been a great week. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve in Tucheng with Elder Huntsman.