Monday, September 19, 2011

Adjusting to the Food & Culture

Hey there,
Things are still going great here. This week was definitely interesting. It was the mid autumn festival, a relatively big holiday here, so we were invited over to eat a lot. I've been told missionaries eat so much they can barely move when Chinese new year comes. We went to a couple of ward bbqs in the area, which was fun because we got to get out of the city and up into the mountains a little, so pretty and green.

Had some good/weird stuff, I really liked the grilled bamboo stalks, but the one thing worth mentioning is this strange looking black/dark red nugget on a stick, the other missionaries made me eat it before they would tell me what it was. It was really odd, kind of glued my teeth together. Turns out it was blood --somehow they get it into a gelatinous form to eat.  It tasted/felt about how I would have expected coagulated blood to feel/taste, maybe a little sweeter I guess. Whenever we are invited over to eat, they just won't stop feeding us. Really nice, but just too much food.
The little kids here are great, they love to play with us, really think arm hair is cool since they don't often see it. This one boy played with mine for like a half hour straight. Last night after dinner at our branch mission leaders house, he took us up to the floor above him and made us do some karaoke with all his drunk neighbors, which was certainly a funny experience.

I did get my bike - painted it up real ugly.  It is such a blessing to be on a bike mission, I think that is one of my favorite parts so far, just getting to bike around the city or the more rural parts, it really lets you absorb more. 

Work is going fine. Still working hard on the language, it will just take a while. But our investigators are all doing pretty well, we are really pleased with their progression. We are working  hard to increase our teaching pool, which means a lot of street contacting. I think this will be true no matter what area I am in in this mission, because there are always so many people around in these cities. There is nothing more awkward than missionaries, I think. It is so great -- I walk up to strangers and ask, Are you happy today? What are your thoughts on God? I can imagine what I would do if I were Taiwanese and a tall white sweaty guy with an almost unintelligible accent did that to me. I love it though.
   I got to see some pretty cool lessons this week, people really understanding why this might be important. It is interesting, people here don't really think about "deep" things as much as westerners (for the most part),  like the purpose of life, or where we go after death. Mostly they care about what can help them now.
  I went on exchanges with my zone leader, so I had to take a train up to Zhubei, about 30-45 minutes away. The train ride was pretty, we got to look out at the ocean for part of it. It just kind of hit me that China was about 80 miles in that direction. They put you to work so fast, I didn't really have time to sit down and think about where I am. But I am so lucky to be here. I love talking to people, I know that by spreading this message I will be able to help others. I see the blessings it has brought to the members in our little branch here and it makes me feel so happy. A lot of the families live in these dinky little apartments, no nice things, no space, but they are so happy. Just cover the walls with pictures of Jesus or the Temple and you won't notice that they are old and dirty. Still willing to share what they have with the missionaries. A nice reminder of what will really bring happiness. 

   Thanks for all the support and love. If you want to send me everyone else's letters, through email would be best. I love you all so much.
Elder Braithwaite

From my apartment window
Elder Childs & me

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