Brother to dragons

Elder Smith and I decided to go to 九份 [Jiufen] for P-day. We were planning on taking a bus and walking (about 2 hours), but we met a very persuasive taxi driver at the bus station. Forty minutes later, we both arrived in Jiufen $200 NTD poorer.

It happened to be a holiday of some kind. There was a parade of costumed giants, accompanied by the blaring of 嗩呐 [Suona, which sound like a bagpipe-vuvuzela hybrid] and an overabundance of firecrackers. A drunk guy ran among the exploding pyrotechnics, swaying and weaving as he clutched a flask of alcohol.

Tall guy and firecracker guy.

Looks pretty safe.

The tall-costume guys walking down the street.

We walked around the narrow alleys in Jiufen and had some stones engraved with our names. Elder Smith spent an hour trying to come up with a suitable Chinese name for his brother when he realized that the original name he’d chosen sounded like the Chinese for “blind” (and thus carried negative associations, making it an invalid candidate).

Alley in Jiufen.

Elder Smith ate one of the black squid ones and said it was pretty good.

When it was time to go back, I realized a small snafu: the taxi drivers on the way back charged by car, not by person, and it was $1,200 NTD per car. I found a group of foreign men and asked them in English if they wanted to go back to Taipei. They did, so we rented the same cab and split the cost equally, $200 NTD per person. The men turned out to be electrical engineers from Mexico.

Since Sunday was Mother’s Day, we were able to Skype with our families on Monday. It was really awesome. My brother’s almost as tall as me now, and his voice is crazy low. We had a great time talking with our family members. For lunch, 陳媽媽 [Sister Chen, who missionaries affectionately refer to as “Mother Chen”] took all the missionaries from the area to hot-pot buffet.

We went on exchanges with our zone leaders, which hasn’t happened in a long time (in the past, it was rare for office elders to go on exchanges with their ZLs). Elder Zhou and I went finding in a downpour, and we met a Chinese-speaking minister from Turkey. His Chinese was pretty decent; he could read some of our tract, but rejected it anyway (“I already believe in Jesus,” he told us). I told him he could at least practice his Chinese by reading the tract.

In a restaurant with the district, prior to our exchanges.

I was editing the three-column Old Testament and encountered the following verse:

I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. (Job 31:29)

Needless to say, I was disappointed to find that “dragons” was just a bad translation of “wild dogs.” I searched the whole Old Testament, and not a single instance of the English word “dragon” was actually translated as 龍 [dragon]. They were all just bad translations of either “big fish,” “big snake,” or “wild dog.” (“Fiery flying serpent,” on the other hand, is translated as 龍, so there may still be hope).

It was a great week. That’s about it for now!

Love,
Elder Elliott

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