WHITE PEOPLE ON ISLAND (Week 11)

This week was a week of miracles!! We were so discouraged after last week, but we kept working hard and the hard work paid off!

So I got to experience the “Běndì life” or what we say when you have a local companion from Taiwan! I got paired up with Elder Chen on exchanges this week and it was an eye opening experience! Elder Chen is actually visa waiting in our mission, but he will go to San Diego after this move call when his visa comes in. ELDER CHEN SPEAKS NO ENGLISH. So it was a test of my Chinese and patience for sure! My Chinese is actually better than I give myself credit for, because I didn’t have as hard of a time with him as I thought I would! It was definitely a hard 24 hours though, because not a word of English was spoken hahah! We managed to teach a successful lesson together and to contact a ton of new people!

7-25-16 Chen

Elder Chen and I!

We contacted this SUPER golden dude this week!! He is 20 and his English name is D.! He said he wanted to join a Christian church, and we were like yeah we can help you with that! He is off of school right now, but goes to cram school every night, so he has unlimited free time! We had three lessons with him in 3 days last week! He does his HW and is reading and marking us the BoM on his own! We put him on date for baptism 8/28! I can’t wait to see him progress!

In our stake there is a girl whose English name is T. who is 25 and speaks fluent English, so all the missionaries like to have her “PeiKe” or be our member present for lessons. She put in her mission call like a month ago and it finally came!! SHE GOT CALLED TO THE TAIWAN TAIZHONG MISSION. That is like me being called to the Florida Orlando mission! We don’t even know how it is possible, but it happened! We were all super shocked because she speaks fluent English and we all thought she would go to Australia Chinese speaking, but we were wrong! So that is super weird.

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Giant random snail we found while biking in Anding, which is one of our super rural areas!

We got a referral from America this week!! First of all we never get referrals, second of all, they never come from America, but this one did! The dude lives in Qigu which is one of our farthest areas, and I had never been there before, but we went to go see him this past week! We had our ward mission leader and his wife help us “Peike” because they live in Qigu as well, but nothing went according to plan of course. We showed up at the dude’s house and it was just this rundown shack in the middle of nowhere. There was an ama sitting outside and we had T. JM., the mission leader’s wife go talk to her because we don’t speak Taiwanese, and almost every ama doesn’t speak mandarin.. It was super obvious that something was wrong because the ama started going crazy, so we went over to check it out. We got out of the T.’s car and we just heard screaming in Taiwanese. There was an a’gong, or Taiwanese for grandpa, who was just screaming his head off from inside the house at T. JM., and we had no idea what he was saying because it was Taiwanese. T. JM. speaks Taiwanese, so she told us that they were that dude’s grandparents and they hate any religion that isn’t idol worshiping basically, so we were a little disappointed. The funniest part was that the ama was deaf, and the a’gong was blind, so it was just one big mess hahaha. He said he would sic the dogs on us, so we left quickly haha.

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Not one of the dogs that was going to be “sic’d” on us, but another “sick” (translate: awesome!) husky that I took a picture with! Pretty sure this dog was dying in the heat, but it was happy, so maybe not?

CRAZIEST THING OF THE WEEK. There was a singing and dancing group called Synergy, who are from SLC, that came to perform in Tainan Seeing white people who weren’t missionaries was one of the weirdest things of my life. Not even kidding. They did a Broadway style show on Saturday night, and then they did a fireside at the stake center on Sunday night. All their songs were in English, so pretty much everybody else had no idea what they were saying, but the people freaking ate it up! We brought an investigator and an LA to both of the things, and luckily both of them have pretty good English, so they loved it! The fireside had a ton of awesome testimony translated into Chinese, and the Spirit was so strong there! THE WEIRDEST THING was that after the fireside they were taking pictures with everybody, and I honestly don’t know how to talk in English to people who aren’t missionaries anymore. Like it’s so hard to describe, but my brain wants to slip into Chinese in every conversation, and fighting that was super hard. I probably seemed super awkward to them, but its whatever. I’m gonna be wrecked when I get back to America in a couple years…

But anyways… this week was a big testament to me of how hard work pays off. We worked our butts off this week and we finally saw some success! The Lord is blessing us and it’s cool to see the effects of our work! It was weird to be in Taiwan for Pioneer Day, because Pioneer Day in Utah is soooo much fun, and absolutely nobody here knows what it is, but that’s ok! We had our own Pioneer Day by biking like 5 hours in the hot sun that day! I love you all and hope your weeks were good! Until next time!

Love,

Elder Stroud

One Crappy Week (Week 10)

Zach’s Mom’s Note:  Here’s the last one to catch up, dated July 18, 2016.  Sounds like bizarre foods have caught up with him.  😦   Our friend Dr. Lisa blames the pig butthole from last week.  That sounds about right to me.

This week was definitely one of the worst of my life.

I managed to contract Dysentery, which I thought only little African children get diagnosed with, but let me tell you… it’s a very real thing. Basically, I had bloody diarrhea 15+ times a day for entire last week. It got so bad at a point that we had to have one of the members in our ward drive us to the hospital to get my body checked out. The hospital was crazy! Taiwan has socialized health care, and once you’ve been on island for 4 months you get this card that lets you use it, but since I’ve only been here for 2 months I got to pay full price at the hospital. Guess how much that was?? 1080 Kuai or about $33 USD which is completely nuts. Seriously, I got checked out by a specialist and a TON of medications for that cheap, and that’s without the health care. The craziest part was that I got through the hospital quicker than everybody else because they were making more money off me. So it definitely opened my eyes to how ineffective socialized medicine is.

July 18 2016  hospital

Taiwanese hospitals

Other than to go to the hospital, we didn’t leave the apartment until Saturday night, so it was a long week of dying on the toilet and getting no sleep. I lost 10 pounds in six days. The members at church on Sunday all told me how I looked like death, so that was fun!

July 18 2016 lacrosse

I FOUND A DUDE WEARING A LACROSSE SHIRT!!! Taiwanese people have no idea what lacrosse is, and this is the first lacrosse thing I have seen since being here! He didn’t want to take a picture, but his mom (who is the owner of a restaurant we eat at a ton) made him hahaha. He had no idea what lacrosse was, smh.

Our new Mission President Teh and his wife are here and the changes are HUGE!!! The Taiwan Taizhong mission had an extra rule book that was like an extra 40 pages of rules on top of the Missionary Handbook, and he completely threw it out the window. Basically his philosophy is to follow the Spirit on everything, and not to even need tons of rules because we should be using our agency on everything. He is probably the most spiritual man I have ever met. He came and visited me in the apartment while I was dying, so we got to do interviews with him and got to know him a little better. The dude was/is literally a General 70 in the church, so it’s pretty incredible we get to have him as our mission president. We are all really confused as to why he is here though. Obviously there is something big in the works, because otherwise The Church wouldn’t send a 70 who doesn’t even speak the language to serve as a mission president for only 2 years instead of 3, like he is going to do. My guess is that the church is going to announce another temple in Taiwan. The church already has a plot of land purchased in Gaoxiong, which is south of where I’m at, which is definitely going to be for a temple, it’s just whether that time is within the next two years or not.

But anyways… this mission just took a huge change in direction that it’s going, so it should be interesting to see over the next couple years how that affects Taiwan! Sister Teh came as well and wrecked our apartment for basically everything she could see. Thankfully she didn’t see any cockroaches, or else she would’ve flipped, but we’re lucky they only come out at night. Our apartment in infested, so we kill 10+ cockroaches a day. It’s fun!

Earlier this morning we went and did a “bing” or Taiwanese ice challenge which was completely nuts. Obviously my body can’t handle a food challenge at this point, but my comp, Elder Nelson, and Elder Spendlove, who lives in the other half of our 4 man went to go do it! The challenge consisted of eating this enormous 15 pound bowl of stuff with 2 people in 2 hours. Well the owner of the shop said only 2 other people had finished the challenge before, and how there was no way they were going to do it, BUT THEY DID IT. It was hilarious because their strategy was to throw everything up basically. They were allowed to “go pee” but the dude obviously didn’t follow us in there, so they would go in and puke their guts out and go back to eat more. Both of them made 3 separate trips to the bathroom each and puked every time hahaha. At one point Elder Nelson and I were on a trip to the bathroom, and he said “Dude I’m not gonna make it” and I was like “dude the bathroom is literally 10 steps away”, and he stopped and puked EVERYWHERE on the ground. This “ama” watched it all go down and was completely unfazed, and just whipped out literally a fire-hose and sprayed off the ground. Super funny. Pic below!

July 18 2016 Bing

Bing challenge!! (This thing is all over two bathroom stall floors in XinShi hahahaha)

Don’t have a ton to write about this week, since I didn’t do much, but know that I love you all!! I love the Lord, and I love the people of Taiwan! Until next week!

Love,

Elder Stroud

 

Typhoons and Pig Buttholes (Week 9)

Zach’s Mom’s Note:  This letter is from July 11, 2016.  Oh, and seriously… when the missionaries you are with, that are from Taiwan, won’t eat something… that’s a clue you shouldn’t either!!

Well this week was a pretty crazy! We had definitely our lowest numbers for our key indicators because we just had such an abnormal week…

Well, definitely the biggest this that happened this week was the SUPER TYPHOON that pretty much just wrecked all of Taiwan. We weren’t allowed to leave our apartments until the storm blew over, so it was pretty dang boring!! We did go up onto the roof of our apartment during the eye of the storm and that was way cool! The day the storm hit Tainan (where we live), we pretty much made calls all day long trying to set up teaching appointments, and we got like one add because people were just going crazy about the storm. Like all week people were telling us we were crazy being outside because of the weather, even though the storm hadn’t even hit yet. Taiwanese people are super scared of the rain so it’s super funny!

Anding July 10 2016 Crocs

Typhoons call for Crocs everyday!

We got qinged like crazy this week, I don’t even know why hahaha! I went to probably one of the nicest restaurants I’ve ever been in in my life on Thursday with our LA, L. J. It was at least a 1000 kuai buffet in this super nice hotel, so they had unlimited sashimi and basically anything you could want. We ate so dang much I didn’t even eat at all the next day haha. A couple funny things happened there.. the first thing is that one of the sons of L.J.’s  friend who is like maybe 7, went hard like the first 15 minutes of the buffet and ended up throwing up all over the table hahahah. Like I had eaten maybe one plate, and this kid puked everywhere. Well he looked super embarrassed, and then he ran downstairs and got like 3 more plates and kept on going hard the rest of the night hahaha. Also I ate jelly fish for the first time at the buffet and it was pretty flavorless! Pretty much felt like eating snot, but that’s ok! Also I made the most awkward eye contact ever with this white dude, who was clearly a businessman, at the restaurant. It was like… both of us don’t belong here, so that was funny.

We got qinged to another chidaobao the next day which is literally ridiculous. The Stake First President took us and the Yong Kang 1 elders out to ShiTou, that place where you grill meat on the table in front of you. It was super good and we ate a ton, but the funniest part happened when we tried to order this specific kind of pork to grill up. Basically the way the place works is that you ring this bell at your table and give the waiters these slips of paper that have a ton of options on them, and they bring you out what you marked. I was sitting next to Elder Spendlove, who has been on island only like 6 more weeks than me, so we didn’t know what each of the options were, because we can’t read all the Chinese yet. I know what the character for pork looks like, so we just decided to order all of the pork stuff and we were bound to get the right one. So they brought out this plate of meat and we started grilling, and they had these weird looking cuts of meat, and one definitely looked like a butthole. Well we decided to try this strange meat and what do you know… it was 100% pig intestine, and we just happened to get the very last piece of intestine which is the butthole. LET ME TELL YOU, PIG BUTTHOLE TASTES EXACTLY LIKE YOU THINK PIG BUTTHOLE TASTES LIKE. Probably the grossest thing I’ve eaten in Taiwan thus far. I swear I can still taste that aftertaste. Another funny thing is that Elder Lai (the missionary from Taibei) literally refused to eat it when we offered it to him. Chen HuiZhang, the guy who took us out to dinner, ordered a ton of different organs and stuff to grill up, and he kept putting them on Elder Lai, and Elder Nelson’s plates because they were right in front of him at the table, so those dudes got way more than they bargained for hahaha #XingKuTamen

All in all, another great week here! Today were going to go to YuJing, which is the mango capital of Taiwan, and hopefully have some fun eating some mangoes there! I currently have the stomach flu, so that sucks, and I got about 2 hours of sleep last night, but that’s ok! I LOVE TAIWAN!

I hope y’all had a great week! This week I challenge you all to serve somebody else, however that may be, but I promise that if you do, you will make their day! I don’t have a ton of time to write, so this email is pretty short, but I love you all!

Love,

Elder Stroud

Fourth of July in Formosa (Week 8)

Zach’s Mom’s Note:  Here’s the next week’s catch up post.  Dated July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July from Taiwan!! Not even gonna lie, I feel like today is gonna be one of the most trunky days of my mission. It’s pretty dang hard not being able to celebrate America and all the fun things there. It was super sweet because today we went to a Costco here and ate hot dogs for lunch, and that’s pretty much the only American thing I’ve eaten here on island other than the very rare pizza, so we kind of got to celebrate? But anyways it was good! I almost felt like I was in America, until I looked over at the table next to me, and the lady had cut up her Costco hot dog and was eating it with chopsticks… so the magic was kind of ruined hahahaha. But it’s ok! I love Taiwan!

July 4 2016 b

This dude was driving this truck around in this super rural area yelling about how he was selling brooms, so I had to get a pic.

Another great week full of miracles here!! This week I totally felt like a stateside missionary.

A couple of super cool miracles happened back to back this week which was awesome! On Tuesday we went out to go contacting at YunDong DaXue, a college in part of our area, and the absolute first person we went up to talk to ended up having free time, and we taught him the first lesson and gave him a BoM on the spot. Pretty much that never happens. Right after that we went tracting and ended up having another lesson with this dude who was a Christian, which also never happens! He was a bro and it was so weird to finally teach The Restoration instead of “There is a God”. Afterwards we laughed because we felt like stateside missionaries lol.

July 4 2016 d

Super random giant dinosaur that I had to stop and get a picture with!

I got a super short haircut because I still don’t know how to tell them to cut my hair in Chinese…

The R. family in our ward had us over for dinner, and it was the first time I had a family do that for me since being on island. The dad is American, like born in Hawaii, but both his parents are Taiwanese, so he looks 100% Taiwanese, and he went to BYU-H. The mom is full Taiwanese, but went to school at Denver University, so they both speak fluent English which was super weird for me! But they fed us pizza hut and they got cans of root beer for us at this American store in Tainan, so that was way cool! I’ll probably never drink root beer the rest of my mission because they literally have none here.

The third stateside missionary thing I did this week was do service! Everyone in Taiwan is super “ke qi” and they won’t accept help from people, so service opportunities are super rare here! But our ward mission leader needed our help to caulk and paint the walls of these dorms that he rents out to college students, so we went and helped him out for like 6 hours and it was awesome!

Oh there’s this curry restaurant that we love to eat at in Yong Kang because they have really good curry, and they also sometimes play American music. I swear they see us coming and switch to an American station or something. But anyways… this week they straight played Taylor Swift’s album, and it was the first American music I’ve heard in a long time, and all of us who were there were straight jamming out. I don’t even really like TSwift, but that day I loved her hahaha!

July 4 2016 c

More terrible English signs, hahaha!

We for the first time ever we went out to our farthest away area ShanShang, which was like a 2 hour bike ride, and it’s basically in the mountains. (ShanShang means “mountain top” in Chinese)

But anyways we were biking around and this super old farmer man yells at us in perfect English “Hey the Mormons!!”, and we were like what the heck and swung back around to go talk to him. In Taiwan, in the rural areas, most of the old people don’t even speak mandarin, they all speak Taiwanese, so usually we can’t even talk with them… so the fact that this dude knew English was crazy! But we went and talked with him, and he took us to his guava farm and gave us free guavas which was super sweet. He ended up telling us that a long time ago he was a middle school English teacher, and he was so cool! He also said that he has only spoken English 3 times with other people this year, so it was awesome to see his face light up when we told him about our free English class!

July 4 2016 a

Mr Z., the 77 year old guava farmer with fluent English

Taiwan is so freaking awesome, I love it!! Every single day people stop me and take selfies with me just because I’m white. I always let them, but I tell them they have to take a pass along card in exchange, so it’s a great finding opportunity! Also another weird thing is the fact that people creep shot me, like take my picture when they think I’m not looking like at least 3 times a day lol. But it’s cool and I love it and the people here! I bore my testimony in church for the first time yesterday and it was so awesome. My Chinese is pretty “HaiKeYi” at this point, but the Spirit is the real teacher and not me. The Gift of Tongues is a very real thing, and I can feel The Lords power when I speak. My Chinese is slowly improving, but I know that it will get to proficiency one day!! I love the work, and I love the gospel!

I hope you all had a great week! Enjoy America and the freedom that we all take for granted every day! Being in another country has made me come to realize that I took so many American things for granted.

Be safe and count your blessings! I love you all!!

Love,

Elder Stroud

Magic Pills and Dolla Bills (Week 7)

Zach’s Mom’s Note:  Sorry everyone for the delays in getting these up.  Left home on vacation without the password… but now we are home again and back in business 🙂  This letter is from June 27, 2016.

Well welcome to another edition of Elder Stroud’s weekly emails! Hopefully this week entertains you! Let’s get to it!

Last P-day our district went to a place called “ShiTou” which means “The Rock” in Chinese. It’s what’s called a “Chi Dao Bao” which literally translates into English as “Eat Until Full”. Well it’s this restaurant where there are these grills on the table and they bring you unlimited meat and other stuff to grill up and eat. You have a two hour time limit, and then you can’t order anymore food, but the way it works it’s that you pay upfront 500 kuai which is a ton (hence the dolla bills), and they bring you unlimited food for 2 hours. SO in preparation to eat all this food, Elder Lai, the missionary from Taibei in our 4 man apartment busted out these “magic Chinese stomach pills” that basically allow it so that you don’t feel full even though you are. I was a little sketched out at first, and I was planning on taking just 1, but HE SAID TO TAKE 8. So we took 8 magic stomach pills and ate so much dang food and didn’t feel full, even though I probably ate 10,000 calories of meat in 2 hours… like we literally ate steak for 2 hours straight, and steak is super expensive here, so we had to take advantage of the 500 kuai up front price! Well our time limit was closing on the 2 hours, and we decided to go big, so we ordered like 100 more pieces of steak to grill up and managed to stay for an hour after the 2 hour limit. WELL that night my stomach hurt SOOOOO bad because the pills wore off and I still had all the food in my over expanded belly… That was lunch on Monday, and I didn’t eat again til dinner on Wednesday lol.

June 27 2016 a

The gang at ShiTou.

We met with semi-crazy D. J. M. again this week and this week’s topic with her was once again aliens and teleportation. She was telling us how there is an advanced alien race with advanced technology, who are closer to God’s level because of that lol. She’s nuts, and even our member present was like “she’s nuts”, but every soul is a soul worth saving, so we keep trying!!

I’M HALF WAY DONE WITH TRAINING!!! THE FIRST MOVE CALL IS DONE!! This week we had the half way point follow up meeting with the missionaries that I came on island with, so it was fun to see all of them again and do a little catching up! Also I passed off Lesson 3 and can now teach that in Chinese perfectly!

June 27 2016 b

My MTC companion, Elder Horton and I, at the follow up meeting! He’s down in Gaoxiong right now.

This week in English class we saw a ton of miracles! We had 14 students in our advanced class which is the most they’ve had in a long time, and we had like 4 students come back after not attending in like a year, so that was cool! This week’s topic was “diversity” and we were talking about people from different countries and places and one of the countries was Kenya. Well I asked the class “who knows anything about Kenya?”, and one of our students screams out “OBAMA’S HOMELAND” and this is like a 24 year old Taiwanese dude, and my comp and I look at each other and just started dying laughing hahahahaha.

We got a referral for this 70 year old “ama” (which is Taiyu for grandma) who lives in our area and owns a tea shop, and we went to visit her a few days ago. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Mulan”, a the very beginning of the movie where her grandma is walking through the street with the cricket and is just oblivious to everything else going on around her, that’s exactly what “amas” are like around here. Like not even kidding they are just like that. We have a saying “Ama don’t care” when every we see them walking in the middle of the street oblivious to the cars and scooters and us. Like I have almost run over amas multiple times on my bike, because they seriously don’t care hahaha. Well we went to teach her and she just didn’t care for our message and it was definitely a trial to try and teach her about Christ when she’s super Buddhist.

June 27 2016 c

Chinese knock off KFC

Another weird thing about Taiwan is how every person here is so “ke qi” or basically like they won’t accept anything as a gift and they always have to look like the more charitable person. For example, this week we had a lesson with Liu Jiemei, and we had out ward mission leader and his wife “peike” or be members present for us. Well they brought this watermelon drink for everyone, and when they offered it to Liu Jiemei she just goes “NOOO Bu Yong” (which means “no use”) and she sprinted to her kitchen and brought us out a different kind of drink and offered it to us. It’s super funny to see cultural differences like that.

I made it my goal to read through the Book of Mormon at the very beginning of the move call and I finished it this past week! My testimony of the truthfulness of that book has only skyrocketed since I got on island. It seriously is the word of God, and another testament of Jesus Christ. I’ve made it my mission goal to focus on and completely read through the BoM every other move call, so that should be fun! I have had so many prayers answered and so much revelation received through my readings every morning, so that has been super awesome! Seriously I love that book and I just want to share it with the people of Taiwan to have it bless their lives as well!

June 27 2016 d

Us at the ward primary activity a couple days ago! The kids in our ward are nuts hahah!

I hope y’all had an awesome week and are enjoying the summer! The high here is 98F today, so things are pretty dang hot, but I love it! Enjoy life and if any of you are looking for answers, I promise they can be found in The Book of Mormon! The Church is true! I love you all and miss every single one of you! Keep it safe and keep it real this week!

Love,

Elder Stroud