Hello all!!! I FINALLY MADE IT TO THE PROMISED LAND OF TAIWAN!! I honestly don’t even know what’s going on with my life… seriously this all feels like a dream and that there is no way its real… BUT IT IS.
So let me set the scene for you… I am currently sitting in an internet cafe surrounded by like 100 Taiwanese people all going crazy playing League of Legends. The culture is so weird here, lemme tell ya. We are also soaked because we rode our bikes in the pouring rain for like 30 minutes to get here. Also I’m covered in mud because my bike likes to always kick that stuff up, so that’s fun. Oh also by the way I DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING HERE. Seriously I “Ting Bu Dong” just about anything anyone says to me, and I can barely read characters, and EVERYTHING IS IN CHARACTERS HERE even this freaking keyboard I’m typing on right now.
So we arrived in Taipei last Wednesday night after flying for like 16 hours BUT WE FINALLY MADE IT!! At the airport we literally had no idea what we were doing because EVERYTHING HERE IS IN CHARACTERS, LITERALLY NO ENGLISH! So we were like little lost sheep going through customs. But we found our way and made it out ok! At the airport there was this security guard who yelled at us in English “Hey no missionaries here!!” and we were freaked out but then he came up to us and told us that he was just messing with us and that he served his mission in Seattle which was way cool! We then proceeded to hop on the bus to the mission home in Taizhong and just completely crashed from exhaustion when we got there. The next day we had a LONG orientation and DAN JONES NIGHT! So basically we were going to that restaurant where they serve the duck brain and fish eyes, and as we walked there we had to street contact people and talk to them and it WAS CRAZY! I actually ended up getting like 2 people info so that was sweet!
At dinner I was challenged to eat the fish eye AND I DID. It was disgusting pulling it out like as you reached in with the chopsticks and pulled it out, you could see all the nerves and veins and things that were behind it and STILL ATTACHED. But I put it in my mouth and ate it anyways. Definitely gained some street cred with the mission president for that one, lol. When he asked who wanted to eat the other eye, IT WAS ALREADY GONE, and one of the native elders from Taibei had already eaten it, BECAUSE HE LIKE THEM AND THINKS THEY ARE THE BEST PART. WHAT. From dinner we proceeded to walk to the night market and do the Dan Jones thing which was way awesome!! I just stood up on this stool in the middle of like 1000 people and just shouted out my testimony of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon in Chinese! I wish I had a video because it was way cool. We then proceeded to contact in the night market and I somehow managed to give away 3 Book of Mormons… so that was sick! We went home and passed out again because we were dead lol.
The next day we got our areas and trainers! So my Trainers name is Elder Nelson and he’s from Texas! He has been out for just over a year and his Chinese is INCREDIBLE! Seriously he saves me like 100% of the time on a daily basis. Such a stud. My area now is Anding! It’s pretty rural actually, and it’s like on the very outskirts of the suburbs of Tainan. It’s weird because our apartment is in Yong Kang, which is like a 45 minute bike ride away from Anding, which kinda sucks, but I’m gonna get freaking ripped riding my bike forever every day so that’s sick! Our apartment looks like a bomb went off in it and it probably the dirtiest place I HAVE EVER BEEN IN. Taiwan is super weird in the fact that, over the years it has slowly become more and more advanced, like you’ll see like Maseratis driving around the streets and stuff, but they never updated their infrastructure and every building is super old from like the 50’s and just dirty and decaying.
Oh so on the way down from Taizhong we had to take about a little over a 2 hour long train ride, which was AWFUL. So we get on the train and THERE ARE NO SEATS. So we literally sat on the metal floor of this passenger train… It felt like being in a cattle car from the holocaust, and I wanted to throw up. Oh also I’m like freaking out at this point because I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and Taiwan is wrecking me. (Still is)
BUT we made it to our area and actually had a lesson planned for that night! So we go to the lesson and it’s this old Taiwanese grandma. I’m thinking “alright I can do this… maybe chime in every once in a while and say some good stuff”. NOPE, NICE TRY ZACH! She spoke a mix of super fast Chinese and Taiwanese, which obviously I can’t understand at all. So I basically got nothing out of that and pretty much just cried all the way home because I’m in this foreign country and I BARELY understand ANYTHING and I’m just getting wrecked.
Fast forward to the next morning, we had finished my personal studies and went out to buy a bike. While we were at a 7 (which is what they call 7/11 here, like they literally say “seven” in English). These two ladies came up to us and asked what we were doing. At this point we were trying to plan a lesson, and had our bibles open to James 1:5. We explained to them what we were doing, and it turned out they were JEHOVAH WITNESSES and they tried to wreck us with some scriptures and trip us up on some doctrine, but in reality they just made themselves look dumb when we flipped everything against them and they didn’t know how to answer HA. 1. I didn’t even know there were Jehovah witnesses here. 2. They literally stalked us to the 7 because I remembered seeing one of them on the street like an hour earlier. 3. This happened on my very first day in the field. AWESOME. Also I didn’t understand a word they said and my comp had to translate.
Oh one of the weird things about Taiwan is that EVERYBODY IS SUPER RACIST. Like there are NO white people here this place is 99.99% Asian, so people never see other races, and when they do they don’t know how to act. Like literally little children who see us always say to their moms with shocked expressions on their faces “Bai Ren” which means white people, and literally EVERYONE stops what they’re doing and stares at us when we walk down the street. Also people will randomly come up to us and ask to take pictures, so that’s way weird. But the people here are so hard to teach the gospel to, so it’s not all easy…
THE FOOD HERE IS INCREDIBLE AND SO CHEAP!!!! Seriously like a huge meal is like 60 Kuai which is like a little less than $2! So we hit up the street vendors and little shops for about every meal. It’s actually cheaper to eat out than it is to stay in and cook, so that’s nice. Also our apartment doesn’t have a table or ANY chairs at all, so there’s really no place to eat there, lol.
The grossest thing so far is definitely the dirtiness of Taiwan, but also the Stinky Tofu vendors… like they have these fans that blow the scent down the street and it literally smells like a landfill, so that’s always nice.
All in all THIS PLACE IS CRAZY!!! But I’m super overwhelmed and have cried just about every day here… definitely the hardest week of my life. But I know that the Lord will help me, and I will be able to overcome all the challenges. THE CHURCH IS TRUE AND THE WORK IS FLOURISHING IN TAIWAN! Sorry I don’t have a ton of time to write this up, and I hope it gives y’all a little taste of my life! Keep it real in America and don’t take anything for granted… I have been sooooooooooo humbled by the people and their circumstances, this week. But I know it’s good for me.
I love you all! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE SEND LETTERS! I definitely could use some encouragement right now… My new address is
# 498-11, Wu Chuan Road
Taichung, Taichung 404-46
THANK YOU!! HAVE A GREAT WEEK AND DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED