Monday, November 15, 2010

What's Your Name?


Shenghuo hai bu cuo. Hen duo shiqing guode hen hao. Meiyou shenme bu hao de bu fen. Souyou de mudaoyou dou you kuaile de ganjuele. Wo de mingzi, you keneng, deng yi xia hui gaibian. Keshi, wo yao zunjing wo MTC de yixie laoshi, suoyi, gaibian mingzi... yidian nan zuo de dao. Meiyou guanxi!! Gaibian mingzi gen chuanjiao meiyou shenme guanxi, erqie, meiyou shenme yong! :P 
(If you happen to know any Mandarin Chinese, I’m sure the rest of us would love a translation!)

Anyway, back to English.
Keepin' my feet dry. No worries. Not like that's hard. There's no water anymore. It's all sun, clouds, and cold. Then hot again. Winter has started, and there wasn't any sort of fall. That's disappointing. But, no worries, I'm going down to Nantou next week to go hiking, so all is well. I haven't hiked in FOREVER. Coming on my mission, I've realized, hiking was literally my favorite thing to do. At least one of them. So excited!!!
Not much goin on this week. It was power week, and I learned a lot. Humbled a lot, and learned more about my companion. I don't think I've ever been closer to any one companion other than Elder Huang and Elder Pei. Maybe it's because I HAVE to get to know them quick just to get over that initial feeling at the beginning of every move call. Don't know. Meiyou Guanxi.
The bike is fine. The bike needs oiling probably every week or so, literally. It gets rusty like that quick. New chains aren't exactly that expensive, so if something happens, no worries! I've got my emergency cash stowed away... Plus, I've already had the experience of getting a nasty flat tire about 1 hour away from our apartment (that's one hour on bike), and about 2 or 3 hours walking distance. Luckily there was a bike shop around the corner. It was about 8:00 when the flat tire happened, and we were on our way home. Bu hao. That bike shop fixed the tire for less than 6 bucks american. The next morning it went flat again. Lol. At least I got home on time. :D
Power week just about killed me. Yesterday, I woke up the most exhausted I've ever been, and that wasn't even a real, true power week. Ugh.... I could barely get up, and could barely see anything for the life of me.
Our apartment is funny. It's situated right next to a University apartment building, and the windows in our apartment that look that way (the only windows with any view, if you call it a view) look towards the girls dorms. Weird feeling, and they're less than 10 feet away so we hear everything they say. And we avoid those windows, lol. Also the other windows look out towards the other people that live in our apartment complex and they're mostly all old couples or middle-aged couples, and they aren't very good about closing windows, or wearing more than underwear. It's just cause it's hot, and more than once we've knocked on doors and had mom and dad answer the door in their underwear. Lol, it's just funny. At least winter has come and everyone wears long pants and sleeves, so all the girls are now modest. That's SUPER nice. It really makes me appreciate the girls back home who dressed modestly. And it's a lot easier to focus on contacting instead of focusing on avoiding.
It's also super fun to pretend like I don't know Chinese, and hear all the people talk about me all around me like I can't hear or understand. It's really funny what they say, too. Then the random guy (students usually) comes up and asks a really simple question, and then I respond like I've been speaking Chinese for years, and they're all surprised. Then I invite them to church. And they actually accept! :D Not all of them come, but I've helped a lot of people be baptized using this method. Lol.
One of my favorite questions to answer is "How many years have you been in Taiwan?". I don't think my Chinese is very good. In fact, I feel like it's digressing lately. But that might just be my local companion talking. But the people on the street always ask how many years I've been in Taiwan. It's fun to say, "5 months" quickly and then move on. But lately, I just tell them that it's not important, they need to focus on what I have to share, and move on. The people that aren't interested are really easy to find using this method. but I'm not looking for uninterested people!!! If the person continues to listen, and ask pertinent questions, then I know I can pull the huge building crane driver over (to the inconvenience of everyone, but no one in Taiwan seems to care, or, at least, won't say anything) to the side of the street and give him a baptismal commitment. If I'm lucky, he gives me some Winter Melon tea, his info, and a OnionOil cake. (SO GOOD. I'm learning to cook these. AMAZING. And, surprisingly healthy, given the name.)
My favorite restaurant is a Japanese restaurant that sells Taiwanese food and Japanese food. So I don't get the guilt trip from my Dad TOO heavy by going there. The food is GREAT, and I have now eaten everything my Dad ever gave us to eat at home that had anything to do with Japan. Dad's curry, I found out, seems to be more of an Indian variety. I can cook real Japanese curry (or so I'm told) and it's very different, but still good. I'm not sure if you'd all like it though... It has coconut milk in it. That might be the only difference. Dad? Do you know?
The people here are blown away by the environment I used to live in. Where nearly everyone is a member, how easy it is to keep commandments, because not a lot is open on Sunday, not a lot of places sell Word of Wisdom stuff, and how many chapels/temples you can see from a hilltop. They're amazed at how small our stakes are (boundary wise) and how many people attend church. Our ward at home (Utah) has about 100 families, right? That's 300 to 600 people. And a 90% + attendance at church, right? Well, here, there are 600 to 800 members of one ward, and 140 coming every week is a TON to them. They are overwhelmed by the fact that a ward clerk might say, "oh, today we only have 400 in attendance". 400?!!! They want to live there so bad!! Count your blessings everyone...Here, it's pretty seldom that you run into a member randomly on the street. Granted, it's a city, but still. You can feel the light shining from it's source in the middle of some out of the way "living alleys" from that one member that lives there. We, as missionaries are drawn to that light without even knowing it. It's like following a scent, LITERALLY.
Mosquitos EVERYWHERE. And I have a million bites, again. ugh.
Dogs, everywhere. And it's not too hard to find a small store somewhere that will sell dog meat to eat. They just pick up those dogs on the street, and ... well yeah. The small street markets are uncertain whether or not you want to eat there. It's good food, but you don't quite know where it came from, what it is, or how it was cooked, cleaned, prepared, etc...
The banana farmers, or farmers in general that are old men are super funny. I'll give you a video of Zeng BeiBei (grandpa) soon. Their hands are huge, because of how many times they've been broken or bruised, and when Zeng BeiBei takes the sacrament he just sticks his finger in the cup to pick it up. He can't quite dial a cell phone, and he's just hilarious. When he takes pictures, he's got the best smile. He's got the best laugh, and only speaks Taiwanese. I've learned most of my Taiwanese from him, if I can hear him clearly that is. He's hilarious, and his Chinese is even funnier to listen to.
Shi Baba is still forcing food down our throats, along with scarves, mittens, more fruit, using excuses from everywhere to everywhere to get us to take his food. He's got a new excuse every time, and makes us feel terribly guilty if we don't take what he offers. Ugh.
Bishop forgot my name last baptism... (yesterday), and it was a huge laugh. 'Cause everyone in the ward yelled up at him (in English), "ELDER CARTER!!!" And then he had to read my nametag to remember my Chinese name. Lol, I've been at his house multiple times, borrowed his bikes, introduced plenty of investigators to him, presented new members for Priesthood interviews, etc. You'd think my Bishop would remember my name... lol. Sara and her mom seem to know me the best. They're great! I make really good friends with all the youth, it makes for a fun Sunday, and lots of great member lessons with a lot of fun on Preparation Day. My flirty self has taken a long trip to a dark, consigned to silence type place and won't be coming back anytime soon, but in this culture I really have to lock that down. If you even ask a girl "How've you been recently?" when she doesn't know you or she's not an adult, she thinks your flirting. Flirting here means you have marriage interests later. Yikes! Run away from the females!!! Eeek!! Freaky situations.
And we can't eat at any single restaurant too many times in a row, or the girl waitresses will try to get our number. Ugh. This applies to most of the girls that we see on the street or at intersections, and does not include the members or girls in the ward if they even contact us. The members are all much more mature and understand why we're here. 
Anyway. Life is good. gotta go. Sorry there wasn't a lot of preaching, and I've gone over time a little, so I gotta go..
Love ya

-Elder Carter

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