A beautiful day in the 土城 ‘hood.
"Another typhoon’s coming," our ward members told us on Sunday. "It’s going to be even bigger than the last one!"
I was skeptical, given the proven tendency of Taiwanese meteorologists to exaggerate. Nevertheless, I was a little worried. On Monday morning, President Jergensen’s assistants told us to expect a regular preparation day. It was raining by the time we left our apartment.
A member had originally planned to bring us to an astronomy museum, which I was super-excited for, but it was closed because of the typhoon. We went with some church members and the other missionaries in our district to a McDonald’s in 板橋 [Banqiao], where the other missionaries ate doughnuts and chatted. I read my dictionary and bombarded Ely, my best taxi-driver friend, with hundreds of Chinese questions.
When everyone was bored, we went to a local mall to walk around and gaze at the overpriced clothing products. It was not as interesting as a museum. From the second I walked in the doors, the workers started following me suspiciously and treating me like a potential thief. It was still interesting to look at the vivid exercise shoes pinned like beetle specimens to the walls. The colors that people find stylish in clothing change constantly, and large clothing and design companies actually hire "color-ologists" to predict which colors will be in demand in the future.
By the time we left the mall, the storm wall had hit Taipei, and the winds were ferocious. I donned a plastic bag to protect my scalp from acid rain. I personally don’t believe the rain will actually cause baldness, but enough Taiwanese people have warned me to inspire caution.
Displaying my headgear at the mall.
Several minutes later, the assistants called us and told us to get everyone in the zone indoors ASAP. We rode the MRT back to our apartment, making constant phone calls to other members of our zone to ensure their safety. We stayed inside and made phone calls and organized paperwork for the rest of the night. The wind was screaming past outside, and our building shook and rocked in the gale.
On Saturday, Elder Roe and I hitched a ride in Ely’s taxi to 木柵 [Muzha]. Two of Elder Roe’s investigators were to be baptized, and President Jergensen gave Elder Roe permission to return to his previous area to baptize them. It was a cool experience. One of the two investigators was the father in a family with two toddler-age sons, and Elder Roe had baptized his wife before he left. It was great to see both adult members of the family baptized and to hear their testimonies.
We were able to attend Jedi Council [Mission Leadership Council] on Friday. The assistants told us to come early; I wondered why. When we walked into the doors, it hit me: they needed me to fix last-minute technical difficulties. It was the dreaded "incompatible video/device" snafu. They were trying to play a PowerPoint presentation on a DVD machine. I frantically exported every slide as a JPG, used a video editor to string them together with the music, exported the result as a .avi (arghh), downloaded every low-quality video converter I could, and the video finally came out grainy–but compatible. Later, I uploaded it to Dropbox so it could be emailed to everyone.
The video was basically a compilation of every missionary’s own photos from when he or she was baptized, usually at the age of eight. It was really touching to see all of the missionaries around me when they were kids.
Elder Roe and I near our apartment.
This morning at 6:30, we were walking out the door for exercise when I noticed something unusual. The inner door had closed with a click when Elder Roe shut it. When we were halfway down in the elevator, a thought suddenly nagged at me, and I hit the button to send us back up to the eighth floor.
Sure enough, the inner door–to which we have no key–had locked, shutting us outside the apartment with nothing but our exercise clothes.
We haggled with an uncooperative gatekeeper, who refused to call a locksmith on the grounds that "they haven’t opened yet." He finally let us use his phone. Elder Roe had memorized the missionary phone number of his first area. They miraculously answered, and provided us the number of the mission headquarters. Unfortunately, nobody ended up able to do anything, because even headquarters didn’t have the inner key. We ended up just wandering around on the streets in our exercise clothes until we found a locksmith who had opened shop. He ran over and coaxed the door open in a matter of seconds for $6. By the time we finally got back into our apartment, it was 9:30.
That’s about all for this week. It was a pretty crazy week. I’m looking forward to this next one!