Having thoroughly exhausted the entertainment potential of central Taipei, we decided to visit some geothermal points of interest in 北投 [Beitou] for our P-day.
We rode the elevated MRT out into the boonies, and disembarked at the 新北投 [New Beitou] station. We walked through a grassy park, our path paralleling the thermal stream running down the valley. It was blazing hot, but there were still many old people soaking in the steaming hot springs.
We passed the Beitou library, an aesthetic structure reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic style of architecture. Elder Smith and I walked around and explored the interior, which was quiet and air-conditioned.
I had intended to go up to the thermal valley at the top of the park, but a zealous guard forbade us entrance, telling us the scenic point was closed. We walked back through the park, and scrambled over some rocks down to the side of the river. I stuck my hand in the flowing water. It was hot and smelled vaguely sulfurous.
We took the MRT back to Taipei to start working on transfers in the afternoon.
Transfers went well for the most part. Elder Smith finished filling the spreadsheet in on Tuesday night, so we generated and uploaded the instructions files according to schedule on Wednesday morning. Several departing missionaries’ parents came to pick them up, but the arrangements quickly complicated when a torrential downpour caused the airport terminal to flood with thousands of gallons of muddy water!
One elder’s parents had planned to arrive at the office at 8:30 that night, but we couldn’t get in contact with them and the member who was going to pick them up at the airport couldn’t find them anywhere. Their phone was turned off, and the member had arrived half an hour late to the airport. After nearly an hour of searching the flooded and chaotic airport, the member finally located the elder’s parents, who we contacted over Skype. They finally reached the office at about 10:20 PM, and were reunited with their son.
The next morning, we walked into the mission office and found everyone on a desperate hunt for a returning missionary’s lost passport. After taking the passport from the office safe the night before, she couldn’t find it when she started boarding procedures at the airport! I called the bus driver, who thoroughly searched every inch of the bus that had delivered the missionaries. President Jergensen scoured the temple housing where the missionaries had stayed and, failing to find the lost passport, dug through all the returning missionaries’ bedding in the laundry room. Meanwhile, Elder Smith and I turned the office upside down, frantically sifting through filing cabinets in our search for the priceless document. The plane was departing in an hour, and the chances of the sister making it on board seemed impossibly slim. The police at the airport started screening everyone entering and leaving for a stolen American passport.
At last, President received a call from the Vatchers at the airport. Elder Vatcher had said a prayer and had a prompting to search the sister’s handbag again. He found the passport in the handbag, where it had been all along.
Like all transfers, it was stressful, but everything worked out OK in the end. It was great to meet the new missionaries coming to Taiwan and to see the old missionaries returning home after their service. It’s hard to imagine that my generation of missionaries is now the oldest in the mission.