Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ben's son's B-Day; Chinese NewYear

After the first piles of ashes had been cleaned up, the procession came around the block again, so more strings of firecrackers were set out in the middle of the street and they repeated setting them off, ahead of the "god of the land" float, with the drummers still beating their drums and the horn blowers blowing as loud as they could. The firecrackers were set off to scare the evil spirits away this year. During and after the time the float passed by, they set off the fireworks. They were beautiful! We stayed and watched this procession go by twice and then we left. It was supposed to continue on for about four hours! We have never seen so many firecrackers and fireworks! They would make a big pile of firecrackers in one spot and when they set it off, it looked as if the hydrogen bomb had just been dropped, with mushroom-shaped, red-fringed smoke as high as the apartment buildings on both sides of the street! I can't believe that the apartment and store windows did not shatter. All in all, it was a most interesting evening, thanks to our dear friends, the Lins, the Tans and Arnie and Jen!

Sweeping up the ashes of the thousands of strings of firecrackers that were laid in the middle of the street here in Neihu. They had to douse the fires with water and then raked the ashes into cardboard boxes! It got so smoky!!

It is hard to tell, but this chicken was roasted with its head on! This is a table filled with "delights" for the business owner's ancestors. What the ancestor's don't eat-the Chinese will take inside and "finish" eating!

Arnie and Bro Lin in foreground, Sister Seow, Sister Tan, President and Sister Walker and I and Arnie's son, Samuel. If you are wondering what the little dots are, they are cinders! Hot cinders everywhere! We wore masks when the smoke got really bad, but there was nothing to keep our eyes from burning!

The fires that burned in the middle of the street after they had set off thousands of firecrackers at one time. It was unbearable to not cover your ears, and you had to watch that you were not too close -- the policemen left it up to you, how close you wanted to be. We thought we were back far enough on the sidewalk, but found out we were still too close when we got "cindered"

Some of the crowd that followed the procession around the blocks, taking pictures of all that was going on!

This was the beginning of the Chinese New Year parade of welcoming the god of the land into Taiwan. Five or six men dressed in full Chinese costume were walking alongside and blowing horns that sounded like bag-pipes playing only one, sustained note, and banging drums. The small, ornate, temple is in the background.

This was a car all decorated up to advertise that the panda bears were coming from China to the Taipei Zoo! We need to go and see them! Everything around here has panda bears on it!

Arnie, the Temple engineer, invited us and the Seows to a special Chinese New Year dinner. I have never seen so much food! Arnie's mother and wife must have cooked ALL day to get things ready! Arnie and his wife, Jen, have been so good to us and helped us so much! Just TRY to pay him when you go to dinner with him!

Tony, our Temple assistant engineer, invited us for a special lunch, two times during the Chinese New Year celebration. His wife is the best cook! We had beef noodle soup, a specialty of Taipei. The man on the left is someone he freindshipped into the church when he was his Bishop! They have four daughters and one son. The oldest daughter had not returned from work yet, and his son was still at school! School here comprises many hours a day, even for the smaller ones!

Our Ward clerk gave the son he had not seen for 20 years, a birthday party at Bishop Chiles' home. He cooked the main part of the meal - Chinese roll-ups with peanut powder, and the rest of us brought the other part! What a reunion he and his son had. His son is living with his mother and going to University of Minneapolis, studying bio-chemistry and physics! He is one very smart kid. His taxi driver father is very proud of him! He had not met his half-sister before, either, so it was quite a reunion!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Joyce likes to show interest in what people are eating at the Temple lunchroom. As a result people like to share their stuff with us(her). Yesterday she received a sack of stuff; about 5 hardboiled eggs without egg shells. Anyone that doesn't care for egg whites would love these. The whites are not white; they are brown. I think they are cooked in brown shoe polish. She also received some Tofu squares that likewise were cooked in the same brown shoe polish. After trying one of the eggs she pulled a round thing out of the sack; I think it is meat, also cooked in shoe polish; about the size of a small softball that looked like Matt had hit it over the fence, wet several times. As she was looking this over I mentioned that 'I had not seen one of these since I left the farm.' ----She returned it to the sack.
Awhile ago a lady was eating one of the famed 'chicken feet'. She only took a couple of bites and the thing disappeared. I wanted to tell her that it had been cleaned since it was attached/detached from the chicken so the flavor had been washed away.

Living in other cultures does indeed broaden ones horizons.

Until next time Elder Miller

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trip w/ brother Liu & Seows - East coastline!

Can you tell that we had a wonderful time? It is so nice to see these places with my favorite person, even if the road along the seaside was winding and scary! Thanks, brother Liu!! We love you!
On our way back home, we visited a dairy farm called "Rareseed Ranch". Not only did they have cows and all kinds of foods and products made from the milk, but they had polywogs and ostriches! We brought home some nougat candy that is scrumptious!!

Our "mountain homestead. The info is below because I do not know how to get this info up here where it belongs.
Christmas Eve was spent in the most different way ever. After traveling to a community Christmas program, that had fireworks, and a preacher, shouting praises to Jesus Christ and encouraging the crowd to shout back, we were delighted to find brother Liu and his single adult friends at a member's restaurant, caroling to the people there. What a stark difference in the Spirit felt at those two places! One really good thing happened at the community Christmas affair, though. We sat next to two men who were interested in knowing what Jesus Christ was REALLY like, and we took their email addresses to give them more info. It was so loud at the program, we could not talk to one another, only between "acts". This was our "homestead" in Tai Tung. Wow! We had the whole home. We stayed on the second floor where the left gable end is, in a bedroom that had a little window, out of which, we could see the sea and all the beautiful mountainside on the way down! The landscape was gorgeous!

We stopped at a place where the water ran uphill! It was surrounded by a nice little park and some beautiful, colorful flowers and bushes. They called it "water running up" - very original!

I wish we would have had time to go to the end of this "8 arches bridge", but they said it would take 2 hours to make the trip. It truly was a bridge to nowhere. We went to the third arch and watched a fisherman cast in his line about three times. It took less than one minute for a fish to bite. It was really something to watch him real the two-foot long fishes in. They were fierce fighters, long and very slender, (almost eel looking) - with super long noses like a swordfish!

We stopped along the coast near Hualien and bought some lunch. Can you believe these "flying fish" - deep fat fried - head, wings and all - to eat like that? They love it!!

The sea coast was beautiful! I'm so grateful we had the privilege of seeing it before we left Taiwan. No wonder so many people like to live along this coast - even though it is where the thypoons hit the hardest!

Here is a sample of the marble furniture in Hualien. Everything is made of marble because of the supply from the "marble gorge". This is lobby furniture in the "army barracks' hotel we stayed in the second night. What an army barracks! This was once a very plush hotel. Then social unrest and the Japanese army came in and divided it up into small rooms for their army. Now it is a nice hotel (and not as expensive as it appears).

Our hotel in Ilan, where we spent the first night, was right in the middle of rice paddies. For some reason, the owner of this nice place wanted to take our picture with his sweet, little Indonesian hostess.

At the Traditional Chinese Cultural Center, we saw a performance that we will never forget. This guy did cartwheels and jumped over people with these "stilts". It was amazing!

Here's the group: Sister Seow, brother Seow, their son, brother Liu and Elias in the last row. Matthew, his mother and I on row two, and the three little girls in the front row. The first day was pretty cold and windy! We stopped at a park in Ilan and had a picnic lunch here.

What a great trip over Christmas, thanks to Brother Liu and the Seows. The Seow's son, Stephen, his wife and four children were so fun to be with - even if the little ones were challenging at times.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nov - Dec doings

Mary and Joseph - the Brimley's - best friends of Nicole and Brian Heplar, Nancy's daughter and son in law. It is a small world!!
Even the costumes were elaborate, and the set was refinished again so beautifully by Elder Bouvai, who originally built it eight years ago.

The Pageant Choir. I am on the second row in the middle, with a pink scarf and blue robe. The pageant was really a miracle this year as we didn't know until the day of the first performance whether the city would let us use this place as a venue again. The Lord's hand was pretty evident in the way all things worked out so that it could happen --even the weather mellowed for it. The last day, it was balmy and nice! In the eight years they have performed the pageant, they have never gotten rained out, although it is the rainy season!!

On to the annual Christmas Pageant put on by our Ward. This is the part the Primary children played in it. They sang "Away in a Manger"

We visited a night market where this group of high school girls "interviewed" us for their school project. They were so darned cute! How my heart ached to tell them more about our reason for being in Taiwan! I felt so much love for them!

Wow, I cannot believe it has been so long since I've entered pictures here. So here we go --

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Some of the latest pictures

Here we are after the Children's Sacrament Meeting presentation. Leonora and her two charges, whom she brings to church each Sunday. They took part today and did so well. It made me homesick, realizing that the grandchildren were taking part in their Sacrament Meeting presentations as well! This is one of the best Sundays of the year. The Spirit is always present and you can just feel the love of the Savior and Father for these little ones! It was such a choice, spiritual experience! Leornora is giving them such a gift by bringing them to church, where they can learn and experience first hand, the love and peace and happiness the gospel brings into the lives of those who live it!!

With the 101 Tower in the background we are looking at a road construction area down one of the main streets of Taipei, where they put flowering plants to make the area "pretty". They must have spent a lot of money here because there were hundreds along the street! In this case, they are building an undergound MRT railway system, with malls, shops, restaurants, and we have even seen a bowling alleyin one that we visited! There are usually three levels of these - all under the main street that Elias is standing on!

The group pose before having a wonderful Filippino dinner to celebrate the birthdays of two of the sisters! Left to right: Erlinda, (I can't remember he name), me, Leonora, Daisy and Sodad!

This is the area between the Temple and the Service Center. Many people from all walks of life like to come here because it is beautiful and peaceful. Sometimes, we will sit on one of the benches here and eat a sandwich or fried rice before we begin our work in the Temple.

The Chinese use very unique wording to advertize and promote what they are selling.

This is a huge park about a twenty minute walk from our apartment that we go to when we want to get some more walking time in away from the noise of city traffic!

We walked home a different way one evening and found this beautiful, "garden" alley. This picture does not do the scene justice.

Some of the latest pictures.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spiders, Danshui & Argentinians!

Now to our favorite part of Taiwan -- the Temple and the people we meet there! This Saturday we are privileged to work nearly eight hours in the Baptistry and had a glorious experience with some people from Argentina. (Take note, BJ!) Brother Moise's is the Branch President in Hsinchu, which is an hour or two south of Taipei. He has been here for three years, is married to an English girl and has two adorable girls! The couple met at BYU Hawaii. He hopes to go to BYU Utah next March and pursue a career in Law or Business. The girl on my right is his sister, Heva Marie Moise's and has been a member of the Church for two months! Brother Moise's wanted his sister to experience the feelings of happiness that are found as we serve in the temple, so they came and did baptisms for the dead. All of the other baptismal patrons had left, so there was just Dad and I and them and two of the Baptistry workers there. Brother Moise's decided it would be more meaningful for his sister if he could baptise her and pronounce at least one of the baptisms in her native tongue of Spanish. He had to think hard for a minute to be sure he could remember the right words. Then he began, and all of a sudden I could hardly hold back the tears of joy! Here they were, from Argentina, doing work for Chinese sisters and brothers that would bless them for Eternity! and doing it in the English and Argentine language!! Where else but the Temple could something like this happen? Nowhere else in the world!! I looked at Dad and he was feeling the same, for there were tears in his eyes as well. The Spirit was sooo strong and feelings were sooo sweet. It felt as if we were experiencing a little of what heaven might feel like! Needless to say, we all bonded, and exchanged email addresses so we can invite them to dinner when we get home from our mission here! I am so grateful for these beautiful experiences. We have many like this each week! I cannot keep up with writing about them all! The Lord has been so good to us. We feel so very blessed. I pray that we can carry this sweet Spirit with us always, as we reach out to help others, no matter where we are!! The work of the Lord is beyond description and beyond any other "highs" or happinesses we could ever feel. We LOVE it!!
This is the scene of a mountain across the Danshui River. We have ridden on a ferry boat to the other side and shopped in the small shops over there. The Taiwan Straights are where this river empties into the East China Sea, on the right side of the picture.

Fishing boats docked inland off the Danshui River. Note how bow and aft are curved upward.

Just a sample of the gorgeous flowers that lined the walkway by the Danshui River.

We took a day trip to Danshui (pronounced Dawn shuaye). It was great to walk around and just relax and take in the beauty of this quaint town on the Danshui River. This is one of the huge Banyan trees that line the river walkway.

Dear Blog, here is just a few of the things we have experienced lately. We'll begin with this picture taken on the second floor of our apartment building. I'm glad we live on the third floor. After Elias saw this, he began spraying around our door and windows! I'm glad I didn't see it!