Carl Jr.’s Science Park

Monday of the tsunami, I left my companion in Elder Scovel’s care, stuffed a laundry bag with five days’ living supplies, and rode the subway with Elder Azua to Taibei. During our remaining preparation time, we took a bus to the National Palace Museum, one of my favorite Taiwan locations.

Back at the National Palace Museum.

It was a great outing. The museum is even more fascinating now that I can read all of the information in the original Chinese. I perused their displays of ancient nephrite, jadeite, and quartz carvings, and learned the techniques used in ancient Chinese bronzework. I noted all of the characters used to describe different jade varieties. I could probably spend an entire P-day in just one room of the museum, but because our time was limited, I tore myself away from the exhibits and rode the MRT with Elder Azua up to headquarters in Taibei.

At a mock transfer meeting, I was assigned a temporary companion, Elder Welch, and area, Toufen. We rode a bus for an hour along the highway to Toufen. Then, President Jergensen drove us in the van from the bus station to the Toufen elders’ apartment.

The tsunami was an amazing experience. Elder Welch and I spent two days finding with President Jergensen. We rode in the van to the Zhunan Science Park, where we began our search for those prepared to accept our message.

The streets were deserted. It was midday, and nobody but amas and their grandchildren was outside. Everyone rejected us, despite the towering presence of President Jergensen. Then, it started raining. Typical worst-case finding scenario: initiated.

Elder Welch and I, drenched after a hard day of work on the streets. Elder Griffin, one of my friends from the MTC, is on the right.

Then, we started finding on a more bustling section of road, where many workers from the huge factories were walking. President Jergensen brought no magic, but he was sincere and genuine and bore heartfelt testimony. It felt like doing missionary work with my dad. We showed some Filipino factory workers the “Because He Lives” video, and some were very touched. It was a great time. President Jergensen loved it, and we had a great time.

The science park was like nowhere I’d ever seen before. It was a vast, deserted plain, its endless flatness broken by monolithic factories and great cubic warehouses. We saw them standing dimly in the distance like obelisks. There was not a single person to be seen. We rode bikes along disused sidewalks matted with weeds. Everyone was inside of the factories. Sometimes I could see them through the distant windows, filing through the spotless interior like lines of beetles. Most of them were Filipino.

Deserted Science Park street.

Only those too young or too old to work lived in the villages clumped around the perimeter of the park. Everyone else ate, worked, and slept within the looming city-size monuments.

During the night hours, however, most of the workers were released, and we found many very prepared people on the streets after dark. We gave away almost twenty Tagalog copies of the Book of Mormon. Everyone was Christian, which felt weird. Almost everyone knew about our church. Most had left their families for years to work in Taiwan and support their homes in the Philippines.

After the tsunami, I finally returned to our area–only to find our tiny two-man apartment occupied by four elders! A companion in our zone was expelled from their apartment after the lease expired, so they’re staying over until a new apartment is found. It’s cool, though; I had forgotten the social atmosphere of a four-man apartment.

In Banqiao on exchanges, Saturday.

There was a lot of change this week. It was a good week. I’m not feeling as tired now that I’m getting up at 6:20 instead of 5:30. I feel like my increased mental clarity should make up for the loss of additional language study.

Love,
Elder Elliott

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