The 台東 [Taidong] elders asked me to ship an unused bench press from 新竹 [Xinzhu] to their apartment for them to use. President approved, so I set about finding a way to ship the unwieldy exercise apparatus across the country.
The shipping company told me the weight wouldn’t be a problem, but insisted that the bench press had to be packaged in some way before they could ship it. I searched far and wide for a supplier of super-voluminous cardboard boxes or plastic bags, but could find none near the 新竹 missionaries’ apartment. I called plastic companies, camping supply outlets, and storefront equipment retailers, but to no avail.
Finally, one plastics company told me that, although they didn’t stock bags that large, they could manufacture and ship a custom-sized bag for me (!). I was hesitant, but they offered to give the bag for free and only charge the shipping price. It was a deal too good to turn down. So, I’m going to ship a custom bag to the west coast of Taiwan so I can ship a bench press from the west coast to the southern end of the east coast.
In other news, I have a new companion! By the rules of missionary genealogy, Elder Smith is my son, and I his mother, because I was companions with his trainer Elder Montierth immediately before his "birth" on the island of Taiwan. Elder Smith and I both began our missions in 中和 [Zhonghe], and now we’re in the same place again. Elder Smith’s computer and Chinese skills are great, and we share a common love of Minecraft. It’s going to be a great time!
Elder Elliott, Elder Smith, and Elder Ure.
The one unfortunate consequence of having a new companion is that he doesn’t have his international driver’s license yet. Yesterday, we had to close an apartment in 木柵 [Muzha], swap a dryer in 三重 [Sanchong], and clean out extra furniture in 松山 [Songshan]. Elder Ure had to hold down the fort in the office, so I was left to drive the monstrous diesel van through Taiwanese traffic, in the rain, during rush hour. It would be my first time driving in more than a year and a half.
Keys in hand, I tentatively approached the hulking beast. I inserted the keys into the door, turned them, and gently pulled on the handle.
A deafening alarm shattered the silence of the parking garage. I slammed the door closed, but the alarm continued! "Put the keys in the ignition," Elder Smith hollered. I fumbled around in the dark, and finally found the hole where the key was supposed to go. The engine roared to life, but the incessant honking continued. We tried to call Elder Ure, but realized that Elder Smith was carrying his cell phone.
After about a minute, Elder Ure strode into the garage. He had heard the alarm and came to help. We figured that the batteries in the key fob were dead. After switching to the other set of keys, I was able to open the door without the alarm sounding.
After two prayers and several circuits of the parking garage, I cautiously throttled the van up the ramp and into the pouring rain, and we were off!
The traffic was horrible, the rumbling van wide and sluggish. I had never driven a vehicle larger than a station wagon before. The GPS took a while to load the satellites, so I drove in the wrong direction, made a bunch of U-turns, and went around a roundabout before it finished recalculating. It was nerve-wracking at first, but I adjusted after a few minutes, and it was slightly more tolerable. I just went slowly and tried not to hit all of the taxis and scooters that zoomed in front of me.
We spent almost five hours driving around Taipei in the rain. I drove over freeways and bridges and coaxed the great lummox through mazes of tiny alleys so narrow it fit with only inches to spare on each side. I knocked over a scooter (parked), but Elder Smith stood it back up with no damage. At one point, I drove into a dead end and had to make a several-dozen-point turn.
The old 木柵 [Muzha] elders’ apartment was overgrown with mold. Black mold plastered the damp walls, and even the boxes left on the floor were moist and slick with a frosting of noxious growth. I was glad we were getting rid of it.
To close down the apartment, we had to remove a washing machine from the balcony. Upon dismantling the machine and lifting it up, Elder Smith and I realized it wouldn’t fit through the door frame back into the house. So, I used a screwdriver to remove the door hinges, and we put the door back up after carrying the washer through.
With one apartment contract terminated, we headed over to 松山 [Songshan], where we hauled a bunch of extra shelves and desks down and loaded them into the van. A Buddhist monk saw us taking the shelves away and said he would take them, so we gave them to him. Last, we drove to 三重 [Sanchong], where we carried a new dryer up and an old dryer down.
I was exhausted by the time we returned. Elder Smith says he enjoys driving, so I hope he doesn’t mind doing all the driving once he gets his license.
Good news: we found a paper supplier for the old testament language study edition. It’s coming soon!
That’s all for this week.