I finally MOVED.
And guess where I am?? HUA LIAN.
That probably won't mean anything to anyone except for the Faj Mahal, but you guys can google it. It's one of the most beautiful, coolest areas in the mission. It's on the east coast of Taiwan - our apartment is about a ten minute run to the beach (haven't been yet, but I'll report when I do). It's about a 3-ish hour train ride from Taipei, so it's really far from the mission office. There are only 4 sisters in the whole zone - me and my companion and then two hours south from us, there are two more sisters. You guys, this place is a dream come true! For reals. It's so laid back and quiet and peaceful. Everywhere else in Taiwan (atleast in my last zone and in Taipei) is jam packed with people and cars and always really noisy. Hua Lian feels like a little mountain city - like Boulder or Park City, but not as ritsy. But then it's on the coast, so it also kinda feels like California in summer time. Most people are really willing to at least talk to you. People are smiley and happy. And I feel like in other areas, it's always so crowded and when other people get in your way, you get ticked. But here, when you get in peoples' way, they just slow down and smile at you. It's a super cool area. I'm super grateful I get to serve here. Not just because it's beautiful and wonderful, but also because the members are so great and this area is just a good one.
My companion is Du Jiemei. She is Taiwanese from Jia Yi and she is awesome and adorable! I love her. She is on her third transfer, but I feel like she is the big companion. She works so hard - all the time. Never quits. I love hanging out with her and speaking Chinese all the time. But, we're going to speak English more to help her English. Oh, I heard this area has scary dogs because it's more rural. (does rural = scary dogs?) We've already had a couple sort of scary dog encounters. One day while we were biking (my bike is not here yet, so I've been using this little yellow beach cruiser from a member in the ward. I want to be just like this member when I grow up. On Sunday, we were waiting on the front porch of the church, and he and his family all rode up together on their bikes. Like four children, and the mom had a little guy on the back of her bike. Cutest/coolest thing in the world.) Anyway, biking, and on the side of the road, I saw a big dog with a muzzle and he had tackled another dog and was just hovering over him. Scary.
We went to mm meeting on Saturday night (we cover two branches), and one of the bishopbric members talked to me about being outgoing and friendly with the members and also told me to call leaders and members and tell them what we need. He said wanted us to be fun missionaries and find fun, new and happy ways to share the gospel. Cute. The ward was really welcoming and nice.
Yesterday at church, I got to meet some more members. Sunday night, we had a little fhe at the church. Mostly a bunch of Young Men and Young Women came. We all ate dinner together. A really ghetto potluck because we don't except young men/women to bring food - so it was random stuff the missionaries and mm leader and another church leader brought (instant soup with noodles, peanut butter mixed with noodles, bread, 2 chocolate muffins, canned smoked eels). It was great fun. Then we shared about what the Liahona is and shared a talk from last conference. (the young men/women here are sooo good! They are totally into the gospel. There is one boy who just joined the church in the summer - he is 14 and only member in his family and he is so cool and such a stellar member. He always does all this stuff to help the church and wore his white shirt and tie to the meeting last night. So impressed with all of them.) Then we played this game we can only play in Chinese because it deals with their classifiers. For example - you can't say one book, you say one classifier book. Anyway, so you do this clapping thing, and then you say a noun and the person next to you says number and classifier and then it goes up higher. So hard. Faj, you should play it with your students. I can totally see you leading this game - clapping and snapping while speaking Chinese. Totally your thing.
So, to back up. Yes, I finally left Zhong Li. When they told me I was moving, I was 99% not surprised, because a. obviously there forever and b. I had been feeling like I would move. I super love sister Crofts and super trust her to take over the area. At first I was kinda bummed because Chen jiemei wasn't leaving (we've been there sooo long together), and at first I was having super fomo (fear of missing out) because we all have so much fun together. But then I decided that it's actually really good and a cool experience to leave behind really good things. Anyway, my last couple days in Zhong Li were crazy, especially the last day. It was super sad saying good bye to some of the people, but also awesome because I know we'll be forever friends. Thursday, my last day there, was super crazy. This was part of the schedule:
lunch - eat curry with Cai jm - the recent convert with two little boys. I LOVE HER.
do some other stuff
3:30 eat dou hua with our beloved soon to be baptized mei jun. SOOO full.
5:00 go visit Luo jm (member) - I already told her we had a 6 o'clock dinner appointment, but when we got there, she fed us. Ohmygosh so full.
6:00 rush to our member friend Phoenix's house to eat a fancy Christmas feast with her. She had sugar cane smoked chicken and potatoes and other delicious things.
Me and Sister Crofts were DYING of fullness and cracking up because we always eat so much and are gaining weight, so it was so perfect. We couldn't think of a better way to end our transfers together. Painfully full.
Had a lesson with Qian jiemei. She was precious and talked to me about how grateful she is to know the gospel and it made me feel so great, knowing I could help her with that. Then they left, but Yun En (her little boy) ran back in and in his cute raspy voice, told me he was grateful to know the gospel and he knows Heavenly Father loves both of us. Precious.
Then we rushed to the Wu's so I could say bye to Brother and Sister Wu - looooove them. So, so much. Wu jiemei told me if I go to Hua Lian, she'd come visit me. Ha, hopefully she'll stay true to her word!
Then I stayed up so late packing. Yes, Father, I have too much stuff. Friday morning, I was scrambling around (miscalculated my time) but everyone helped me stuff stuff into my bags. Okay, this email is getting boring. But, I was so excited when I found out I was moving to Hua Lian and would be with Du jiemei. We tried to do weekly planning on the train back to hua lian, but I kept getting so distracted by the ocean and trees and mountains outside my window. I keep having to talk to Sister Crofts about stuff and she was telling me how much she missed me and I was like, "It's hard to miss you when I'm running along the beach." She was like, "Oooo, I hate you! I am so mad right now!" I thought I was so funny.
All right, finally peacing out. Love you all dearly. Love this gospel dearly. So grateful every day I have this oppotunity to be a missionary.
Addison! I loved your email and your pictures! I loved seeing Grandpa and Grandma. Who's with the grandparents in the last picture? Also, look at your matchy-matchy hipster. Cute.
ARIEL. need you address. love you.
CELIA. need your address, too. love you.
kimi - writeeee meeee.
kayla. you too.
Analyn. I love love love getting your letters.
allison. update meeee. love you. did you get my letter?
the funny one - me talking to cai jm at lunch
wu jiemei at our little christmas dinner
me with qian jiemei and yun en and daughter yi qin.
window outside my hua lian apartment - the mountains are so pretty here.
me and du jiemei!