Ni Hao Everyone!!!
This has been the longest week ever. I feel like the MTC was 6 months ago, not last week. Just so much crazy stuff happening. I don't even know where to begin. So I'll begin with Tuesday morning when we woke up to catch the shuttle up to the Salt Lake City airport. Woke up at 2:30 a.m., went to the travel office and got the ticket and boarded the bus. We passed Salt Lake City en route to the airport and I missed it so much. I'll take this opportunity to give you my last Elder VandenBerghe update. When missionaries leave for the field, they throw things they don't want to take with them or send home in a "free box" on every residential floor of the MTC. Elder VandenBerghe LOVES free box items. He grabs things that are of absolutely no worth, but he loves them. So it was 3 a.m. the day we depart and of course the Chinese Elders' free box is stuffed since we're all leaving. Elder VandenBerghe is stressing because his bag is 3 pounds overweight, and then he see's that someone has added some new things in the free box, so he stops to sift through it and starts grabbing stuff even though his bag is already overweight. One of the Taichung Elders pointed this out to him and he was so torn as to what free garbage he should take and what he had to part with.
Anyway, we got to the Salt Lake airport and boarded our flight bound for Detroit. In Detroit I was trying to get ahold of Mom on the phones there so I didn't have time to go get a lunch. I gave a couple of the Taichung Elders my card and said pick me up a meal wherever you go. As the flight was boarding I was brought back some Taco Bell. That's right, my last American meal was Taco Bell, my least favorite joint in the U.S. But beggars can't be choosers. I just thought it was ironic.
The Detroit to Tokyo flight was LONG, really LONG, and I didn't sleep on it. I wasn't able to sleep on the flights at all except a little bit from Tokyo to Taibei. The Detroit flight I spend most of my time standing in a back area by the bathrooms. Me and a Taichung Elder named Elder Hermanson just made conversations with everyone. It was really cool. It was so different being a missionary. Before, I would've still talked with everyone, but it was different because I was seeing everyone more as God's children. We had some great conversations and met some great people. There are several Taichung Elders I really wish were coming to Taibei. The flight took forever but we eventually touched down in Tokyo. In Tokyo we had a longer layover. I found a vending machine that had a bunch of things I'd never seen and had to try them, so I found out where I could exchange money and went and exchanged for the Japanese yen. When others saw this, they too wanted to taste the foreign beverages and went to exchange their money. I tried two beverages. The first tasted like Airborne, the second tasted like Smarties. Needless to say I got a horrible headache and I loved it. Then we boarded the flight en route to Taibei. I was so excited. When we'd say things like hello or thank you or politely decline things on the flight, the Chinese speaking people loved it. We started our trek 2:30 a.m. Utah time, March 22. We touched down in Taibei and got to the mission home at 11:45 p.m. March 23 Taiwan time. Almost 48 hours of travel with 14 hours subtracted for time differences. Still crazy long flight! But I'm in Taiwan.
The temple is absolutely gorgeous, The mission home is right across the street. We stayed there that night and I got to bed at 12:30, woke up at 2:45, went back to sleep and got back up at 5 a.m. for good. So between my inability to sleep on airplanes and my excitement the first night I was not getting the z's I needed, but I didn't care. I was in Taiwan. Taibei is absolutely gorgeous!! The first morning we ran at Chang Kai Shek memorial which was absolutely unbelievable. So gorgeous. None of the pictures I've seen do it justice, and while we were running I saw all the old people in the park doing the funniest exercises!! It was so great! Then we went and I ate my first Taiwanese food, a breakfast sandwich that was unreal! Loved it. Next I we went back to get ready for orientation. It was my MTC district and a Taiwanese Elder that spent his first 6 months of his mission in Hong Kong but had to come back for government reasons and will finish his mission here. He wore a t-shirt with a wolf on it running, so I immediately knew we'd be friends. I hurried and showered quickly and asked him if he wanted to go spend 10 minutes with me contacting on the street before orientation. We did. I didn't know what I was doing, but it was fun. We had orientation and ate a bunch of delicious foods, then that night was AWESOME.
Some of the Elders currently in Taipei came and we went on splits with them. Luckily I got paired up with an Elder Rasmussen who was awesome, set the perfect example of everything I want to be in the mission, the epitome. He was really really hard working, but really funny. His Chinese was unbelievable and he was so great with the people. He promised me we'd see miracles before we started and we really did. We started by going and teaching a lesson first thing that he had. We went upstairs and he said to me be prepared to share a testimony on faith. So here I am getting geared up to share about faith, and twice during the lesson he turned to me and asked me to share a testimony on other things, but it went fine. Then we took to our bikes and after praying and goal setting we hit the streets of Taipei. Riding bikes in that traffic was nuts! I just stayed on his tail and was fine but I had no idea what was going on. It was crazy. He talked with EVERYONE!! It was so great, such a great example. We got a lot of information and people said that we could call them. I got 3 that I actually initiated the contact with, we got 3 set ups for him and his companion to go teach, and we taught one lesson to a random lady on the street. We taught an entire lesson including teaching her how to pray. She said that her daughter was down at college and is actually interested in our church and we ended it with her praying how we taught her, I was able to share a scripture about prayer and bear a testimony. It was really cool and definitely a miracle to run into this lady.
Then Elder Rasmussen took me to "Dan Jones" which is basically just street preaching. He took me to an overpass that a bunch of scooters were stopped under, and I got up there and just started yelling about the Book of Mormon! It was so funny. Then I came back to where he was at and he said "you've got 35 seconds go stand in the cross walk in front of all these scooters and just hold up the Book of Mormon and start yelling. I did and it was really fun. Another missionary later told me that Elder Rasmussen "dan jones" a lot. He said his district will get together and one person will go in the cross walk and scream their head off, while the others go weave in and out of the 40 scooters giving out tracts and contacting. It sounds so fun. After that we returned to the mission home. Each missionary was supposed to buy their assigned new missionary their favorite drink in Taiwan. He bought me his 4 favorites. He was a great guy, and a real example of how mastering the language can really become an amazing contacting tool.
The next morning we woke up and went to the Grand Hotel and the site where Taiwan was dedicated. It was so cool. Taipei is so beautiful. I hope I get to spend some time there on my mission. I have pics but I forgot to bring my camera with me to email, so I will send them next week. We read the prayer and had a cool little meeting at the dedicatory site and then president invited us to have a dedicatory prayer dedicating our lives to the mission and stuff. It was really cool and so spiritual. I really love our mission president and his wife! They're great. President is really serious about missionary work but has a sense of humor at the same time. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
At 10:30 we met our trainers and found out where we were going. The anticipation was insane, but I'll be kicking my mission off in Zhubei. It's in the west and up until a year ago it was in the Taichung mission. We took a train down to Zhubei, the windiest city in Taiwan, and it was freezing yesterday!! My trainer is Elder Erickson. I'm really excited. I think we're going to do great things here. The last two days his last comp was with us and we were in a tripanionship, so I was sleeping on the floor. We just dropped him off at the train station so I'm excited. I feel like now it really begins. The only negative is my 2nd meal here my trainer took me to McDonalds, and today he talked about going to a western restaurant. I love him so far but he's not a fan of the culture, and I don't plan on being in Taiwan and eating at McDonalds everyday, that's for sure. I'm excited to start submerging myself in this culture, and getting to work.
Friday night we met with a guy named Scott. He's an awesome new investigator who's recently married and all about families. I'll tell you more about him next week as we teach him this week but I'm excited for him. Sunday we went to church. Church here is SO different. It was really funny. I, being a new missionary, got to bear my testimony. I hope I did all right. In Sunday School we watched the Jesus movie in Chinese and an investigator got up and said the closing prayer (in this area there are a lot of investigators who are like completely active and some of the best members. They just haven't been baptized because they have 1 or 2 commandment things. It's interesting) Anyway, this investigator's prayer was so awesome. She started thanking Jesus for all the things he did in his life that we had just watched in the movie, and she was listing them off, saying and.... and... and... then she said and... I forgot what else, actually I don't know your life that well. I will learn and I will repent. Sorry. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. It was so great. And then in priesthood they started the lesson with asking who had been to the temple. All the people that had been raised their hands and thought they were so cool. It was really funny. The conversation went to the sealing and the discussion was how many of yourself can you see in the never-ending mirrors. It was competitive as to who could see the most of themselves. It was hard not to laugh.
We then ate at bishop's house that night and went tracting. Tracting is awesome. I really love tracting, but without my trainer I would have no idea what's a home door or not. We walked through tiny alleys and knocked on some crazy areas. I absolutely loved it. I'm so excited.
This is going to be great. I'm finally here, got my trainer, ready to work!! so excited!!
Love you all and look forward to hearing from you.
Do your best and good things will happen.
Love Elder White