Circle Mountain Big Rice Store

There’s a new senior couple, the Vatchers, coming into the mission tonight. I had originally planned to have them stay in the apartment left behind by the Hsiaos, a couple who were planning to leave this month, but the Hsiaos decided to prolong their stay in the mission by two months. With no time to spare, I had to find a new apartment within a week!

After an intense online chase, I hunted down a suitable target and arranged a time to go look at the apartment an hour later. Elder Smith and I both headed over, and found the apartment excellent. Hours later, I went over a second time with President and Sister Jergensen. They loved the apartment, too, so I made the rent arrangements on the same day! The apartment search concluded faster than any other I’ve made. All the furniture was brand-new, and I even haggled new cupboards, a dining table, and a set of four chairs into the deal.

When we went over to sign the contract, the apartment looked great, except for an odd plywood scaffolding of sorts that was partially obstructing the entry hallway. It hadn’t been there the day before, but it was now screwed into the wall. Little piles of sawdust lay beneath the holes where it had been mounted to the newly-painted drywall.

"What’s this?" I asked the agent, pointing to the hastily glued-together lattice of splintery plywood.

"It’s a decoration," he said. "The landlord came in and installed it the other day."

"Uh, is he going to do anything else with it?" I asked.

"No, he just made it himself as a special decoration."

Elder Smith and I doubled over trying not to burst out laughing. The flimsy structure looked like a third-grade art project, held together with staples and drippy brown glue. We’re probably just going to take it down and hide it behind the couch for two years until the Vatchers leave.

Many other things happened this week. We finished the Old Testament, and submitted the files for printing. I changed the cover from yellow lettering on a violet background (the unpleasant color scheme the mission has used in the past) to pure white lettering on a dignified navy ground, a palette I hope to adopt for the other three-column pinyin standard works we print.

Elder Smith and I rode out to 淡水 [Danshui, or Tamsui if you like Wade-Giles pinyin] for P-day. We sat with our feet in a pool filled with fish that eat the dead skin off your feet. They use their raspy mouths to scrape your feet, producing an unusual tickling sensation. People claim this procedure removes large amounts of epidermal detritus and contributes to improved podiatric health. I carefully observed my feet before and after, and there was no visible difference, leading me to believe that these claims are bunk.

Standing in front of the brackish water at 淡水, which literally means fresh or non-saline water (it’s where a river empties into the ocean).

We ate a local delicacy known as an 阿給 [agei]. It’s a tofu bag stuffed with clear noodles and submerged in what seems to be tomato sauce. The texture is similar to guts in the belly of a leathery critter, but the taste is good.

An agei.

Afterwards, we rode the ferry out over the water (with President’s permission).

I bought a towering ice cream cone, then struggled to eat it faster than it melted.

The ice cream had a very stiff consistency to maintain its structural integrity.

There were some cool street performers. This gold-painted man moves in a convincing clockwork fashion when passerby insert coins into a box.

Yesterday, we helped set up for the 60th-anniversary devotional for missionary work in Taiwan. The first missionaries set foot on this island in 1956. This morning, sixty years later, we sang in a choir with local members to commemorate their efforts, and one of the original four missionaries (Elder Kitchen) spoke about his experiences–in Chinese! President Jergensen, several local stake presidents, and an area seventy also provided remarks.

Elder Smith and I inside the meeting hall, after hauling in the piano with a van and a dolly.

The venue was the Grand Hotel, an imposing structure Elder Smith and I refer to as the "Circle Mountain Big Rice Store" (its Chinese name translated over-literally into English).

Elder Smith and I pose in the front room of the Grand Hotel with the APs.

That’s about it for this week. It’s been a great week!

Love,
Elder Elliott

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