Monday, February 27, 2012

Hey
Sorry this is late. Been on trains/buses/subways for 9-10 hours. You guessed right, about time for another transfer! I am really excited about my new area. I am in Taoyuan, a city on the northwest coast, up by Taipei, in an area of the city called Nankan. It feels pretty much like any other big city I have seen in this country, just a ton of people and cars and tall buildings and concrete. I don't know why, but getting here I just felt really good about the area. It is super gray and rainy like I expected the north to be, and there isn't (as far as I know) anything super special about this city or my area. But I feel good here, like I can help someone who is here. Being in the city again feels good too, which is odd because I wouldn't think I would miss the business of it. But being constantly surrounded by people I can talk to is a blessing. 
 
Last picture from Taidong. Rainy day on the beach. Goodbye South.
 
Having said that, I am really going to miss Taidong. It was a special place, and I am super lucky to have been sent there. Being there for twelve weeks, I think I took for granted the fresh air and the big spaces and rice fields and stuff, getting back to Taibei was a sharp reminder that cities smell like pollution and cigarettes. I figure I should just be glad I got to spend any time at all down on the southeast coast, it was such a blessing. Now its time to get back to real work in the cold rain like the majority of the missionaries here.
 
Sorry I don't write too much about the investigators we have. This has a purpose: I feel like they all have these complicated backgrounds and situations and that trying to spend my short time explaining them would be boring for you and wouldn't really be able to explain them anyways. As a missionary, you spend all your time thinking about these people and talking to them and becoming their friend and just trying to understand who they are.  It isn't easy to communicate all that through a several paragraph email. I can give you a list of who I taught in Taidong, maybe a little about them: Li, a college student with physical disabilities who is great and I think will get baptized someday; Zhou, a real Buddhist kid who is super polite with extended relatives who are members; Zhuo, an English teacher who reads the Book of Mormon like nobody's business and tells me (and not my companion) about his girl problems; Zeng, a kid with depression who needs a lot of help but is so great underneath the tattoos and sad face; Wu, a college soccer player who we think gets made fun of by the other jocks in the dorm for meeting with us but likes us anyway; Gao, a 14 year old basketball star who loves to pray, and is going to be the next Jeremy Lin (yes they do love him here, too. they've all got the t shirts); a bunch more but I am already running out of time so that is enough for now.
 
The thing that happens on a mission is you really spend all your time focusing on these people and you have relationships with them that are unlike any other relationships, at least that I have ever had. There is something special when you are teaching a person something with the sole purpose of changing their life. I don't know how to write most of the stuff I think about or experience so usually I don't try and just tell you about the easy things like describing where I am or inspiration I have had or whatever. I will try to do better with this. The point is, I feel like I can't explain what I'm doing, if you want to get it come and try I guess, I don't think there is another suitable way to understand.
 
I am really psyched for the new area and the miracles we are going to see here. My companion is Elder Clifford, a kind of geeky white guy from Provo, as Mormon as they get and the first non-native Chinese speaker I have had since my trainer. The streak of Taiwanese had to end sometime. I am loving what I'm doing and I will try to write more next week.
I love  you all, thank you for everything you have done!
 
Elder Braithwaite

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