Monday is my P day, but I guess you will be getting these emails Sunday afternoon or evening. Anyway, plan on that.
Taiwan is great so far! The flight over was very long, but it was also a good experience We had a handful of successful contacting experiences. This one family really loved everthing we had to say, they were so great. And I was happy with the amount of my words Chinese people were able to understand. It is crazy, I talked to a man from mainland China, and he had literally never heard of Jesus Christ. I understand not knowing much about Jesus, but not recognizing the name? I thought maybe they at least knew about that from a history class or something, but nope. That place is nuts.
Anyway, we arrived here, spent a few days in the mission home right next to the temple in Taipei. President Grimley is great, he is going to be a really awesome mission president for me. We got to visit some different places with him, the Chang Kai Shek memorial, Taiwan Mission dedicatory prayer site, etc. Plus we got to contact in the city some, it is crazy there, but so fun. Taipei is just like you would expect any tropical crowded Asian city to be; a million scooters and people and just stuff going on everywhere. The people are what has made it great so far, they are so polite. They will stop and talk with you a lot more often than I expected, and they are never rude. The meanest rejection I have gotten is they pretend like they can't hear you. They really are just kind people here.
My area is Toufen, about two hours southeast of Taipei. Everyone told me I was going out to a rural area, but I found out that just means not as crazy big as Taipei. There are still a million people and buildings and stuff. Our area does include a bunch of the mountainous parts though, so maybe sometimes we'll be out there. My trainer is Elder Childs. So far he has been great, he really knows how to teach and contact and I will be able to learn a lot from him. He happens to be possibly the only other redhead in the mission, so of course we are companions. We live on the seventh floor of a building, right above the strip club owned by the mafia here.
Our little branch here is wonderful, I love them already. I got up on Sunday to introduce myself and bear testimony and I couldn't help but smile. As I'm speaking my awful Chinese there is a sea of Asian people just smiling up at me, trying to encourage me, giving thumbs up and just being so friendly. All the kids want to play with me and the people will sit by me and tell me how good my language is. I think kindness comes before honesty here sometimes, but that's okay. Today we are going to some sort of barbeque with our members, for the mid autumn festival. Apparently they love to feed the missionaries here too, so don't worry. One man already brought over stinky tofu for me to try, just this hunk of warm tofu in this brown broth stuff. It really wasn't too bad tasting, but it definitely does smell like an open sewer or a garbage disposal or something, just awful.
We have some good investigators, a lot of hope right now. The main difficulty is with the su brother and sister. They are super Buddhist and so they have this belief that everything is good, any good path leads to God, etc., so we need to help them develop faith in Christ. Apparently that is pretty common here, believing that any way is good. If you try to talk to the Buddhist monks they will basically tell you that. This one would not stop talking to us about it - we had to just walk away. But I have been told I am in a particularly Buddhist area, so I will probably have plenty of experiences with that.
It is still hard to believe I am here. Riding our bikes through the streets and dodging the traffic, just seeing that everything is in Chinese and that I don't know what people are saying to me -- I can't really take it all in but I love it. Definitely haven't stopped sweating since I got here, it has been cloudy and a little rainy, but so warm and humid, pretty much what I was expecting. Food has been good too, it is super cheap so we just eat out every meal, saves time and money and is better than what we could cook ourselves. And don't worry, there is plenty of normal stuff like peanut butter and milk and whatever, so I'll be fine. The fruit is delicious, probably the best part. There are fruit stands all over the place.
If anyone wants to write me, my address is just the mission office, and postage should be a 98 cent stamp:
Elder Braithwaite #10642
Taiwan Taibei Mission
4F #24 Lane 183 Jinhua Street
DaAn District Taibei, Taiwan
Okay I feel like I have a million things I could say but that is enough for now. It is going to be a long time before I feel comfortable with all this, it has definitely been humbling to finally get here, but I have faith that I will slowly get better at all this. Thanks for keeping me updated, I am allowed to get and answer emails from family, so feel free to send emails before today for me to read. I love you!