Monday, February 25, 2008

The Great Chinese Restaurant Fraud

We have all gone to and enjoyed the food at a "Chinese Restaurant" but it ain't Chinese. That is one thing we have learned while on this mission. You can get 'beef and Broccoli'; 5 taste shrimp, sweet and sour this and that. The one dish that is Chinese is rice (and noodles); but that is about all. We wanted to include a picture but we felt uncomfortable taking a picture with the server watching. There was not much that we could identify anyway. Some of the menu items that we see here 1)boiled Cabbage, 2) seaweed, 3)dumplings (some kind of meat wrapped in a dough), 4)whole fish, 5) chicken feet, 6)whole prawns, 7) French fries (actually deep fat fried sweet potatoes), 8)holeless doughnut filled with whole corn. 9)sweet potatoes served in variety of ways, 10)some places have a burner at the table and you go to a rack of food items and take to the table and cook them in boiling water; different kinds of meat and veggies plus tofu and some prepared stuff that we can't identify. For desert there is ice cream toped with corn and beans. Plus lots of other stuff that we have overlooked.
One thing we do appreciate is the pastries; very good and a lot less sugar.

It has been a glorious, warm, p-day for us! We have eaten a leisurely breakfast and lunch, something we don't get the privilege of doing usually because we eat on the run a lot! Then, our drain hose under the kitchen sink broke loose just as I began pouring rice water down it, so after we mopped things up, we walked nearly to the temple, to a little hardware store and got the things Dad needed to fix it! Thank goodness Dad is so good at fixing everything! He also mopped the floors for me and did up the dishes after lunch, while I cleaned the rest of the house, so we could go to SYS Memorial Hall, and a beautiful park surrounding it, where about 15 elderly men performed a concert of banging on some kind of drums! It was cool!! They even had a "banging master", who was conducting them, so they would keep together with their banging! After watching a couple feed the gigantic fish in the pond, and walking around the beautiful grounds, we went over to the New York New York mall and found a great American restaurant called, "Cowboy Steak House", where we had an eleven ounce rib eye steak and all you could eat salad bar, drink and dessert for $12!
Earlier, we talked to a little lady while we were waiting to cross the street! She was from Indonesia and has been here working for 2 years! I wish we would have had more time. I would have liked to have given her some pamphlets about the Church. Maybe we will see her again, coming and going! Well, we have got to get to bed! We promised Father we would get up Monday through Friday at 5:30 am to have the time to study the scriptures before going to work at the Temple! It helps us feel much more prepared spiritually, to be there! Good night!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wu lai - pronounced "oooh - lie"

Saturday's adventure was so neat! Sister Xia from the temple took us on a train ride to the city of Xin dian and then up the mountain by bus to a place called Wu lai. It rained the whole time and was cold, but it was worth it, for it was soo beautiful. Wu lai Falls is breath-taking, and the shops quaint and interesting. Our first stop after purchasing what I thought was a big piece of pineapple on a stick, which turned out to be a yellow rice cake, (I should have known - EVERYTHING here has to do with rice), was an aborigine museum where we were allowed to practice weaving! There were several different tribes that inhabited Taiwan years ago. Most of the tribes were head-hunters!! They believed in a world of spirits after our death and that in order to enter that world, the men had to have killed and put up in their home, the head of the deceased! The more heads, the better status you would have in the world of spirits because, the spirit of the headless one, instead of seeking revenge on the one who killed him, was subject to him and would help him from that time forward! The "coming of age" advent entailed the boys being able to get a head, and the girls being able to weave and make an intricate article of clothing with the cloth! I"m glad we live in this day and age!! We then had a lunch of fish from the Xin dian river, which ran from the waterfall and our dear friend told us of her conversion. She had been converted by missionaries some years before, but had become inactive. Then her father died and she became very impressed to go back to church. Since then, she has had his Temple work done and has a solid testimony of the Savior now! She is the only member in her family and hopes to bring them to the knowledge of the gospel some day! She loves working in the Temple and helps there whenever they need her and she can! Her mother is supportive of her work in the Temple, too, which is very encouraging! She then took us to see the hot springs and as we passed the Chinese people who were bathing there, she had us wish them all ," Xin Nian Kuai le" (pronounced sheen nee 'n' kwi la). You should have seen their response - they laughed and waved and clapped their hands for joy!! These people are really nice!! We finally took a mini-train up to the base of the Falls and more souvenir shops. It was a really nice day together. I'm so glad we get to wear our badges because a lot of people look at them and want to let us know that they are Christian, too, which gives us opportunities to give them a pamphlet or talk about our wonderful beliefs! Here's the pictures:

We are ready to go for a walk in the rain. This is the beginning of the shops here at Wu lai!

On the bridge, crossing over the river to the other side where more shops were, and the museum of the Aborigines!

This was so cool! The lady showed us how to weave those beautiful Indian blankets on the big looms! Dad would not do it because he said they would kick him out if he tried to make them!

Sister Xia took such good care of us! She would hardly let one drop of rain get on either of us! This is on the bridge crossing over to the mini-trains that took us to the base of the Wu lai Waterfall!

The bridge where we were standing, in the photo above! The water was the prettiest color of green, but it doesn't show in the picture.

The "bathers" who clapped and waved at us when we wished them "New Year Happy!!" Notice the lady who is holding her umbrella - she doesn't want the rain to get her wet!

Sister Xia, on the mini-train! She had me put the plastic curtains back so we could smell how nice and fresh the mountain air was!

Here's a better picture of the mini-train. We decided not to ride it down the mountain. Instead, we hiked down! It was very invigorating!

A very nice Chinese couple and their son took this of all of us at the base of Wu lai Falls! We then, took their picture for them!

We are so grateful to be able to do these things every once in a great while. We talk often of the wonderful people and experiences we would have missed had we not served these two missions! Father has blessed us so very much!! Not only with a great family, but now with the opportunity to love many people and cultures in other parts of the world!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chinese New Year 2008

The Temple is closed for Chinese New Year so we have had some time to play. Last night we thought we would have dinner at Chilli's. As we walked to the train it was apparent that most shops were closed. The traffic was much lighter; it is a tradition to go home for a family dinner so the streets are about empty. The few people we did see were burning play money so their ancestors will have money in heaven. Sometimes they burn cardboard cars and houses to accommodate family members. We found Chilli's and they were closed so we had our big New Years Eve dinner at McDonalds.

Arnie Chen invited us along with Pres. and Sis. Walker, Pres and Sis Nielson, and his parents to go to The Hyatt Hotel for the Lion Dance. Afterward he took us to Holiday Inn for dinner.
The dinner was about 12 courses; including beef, fish, pork, ham, some kind of sausage, duck (in a crepe roll), chicken, shrimp (whole) plus shrimp (diced in a lettuce roll up) plus some vegies., coconut geletin desert, tripe soup, some kind of noodle, a fruit tray. The drink--grape or orange juice. No rice!!! He would not let us help pay the bill; all this on church salary.
At the Lion Dance 5 strings of huge firecrackers; 2 stories high (doubled) were set off together. The noise was unbearable. Arnies Mother covered her Grandsons ears; I was standing right behind her so I lifted the hood of her coat and used my fingers to hold the hood against her ears and used my to cover my ears.

We have some pictures now so we will include pictures and brief descriptions.

This is Arnie Chen and wife JenJen and son Samuel; with his parents. The father was in the army and came to Formosa with Chiang Kai-shek thinking they would be able to return to China.
They were never able to return so he has a wife in China. He married here and Arnie is one of the children from this marriage. Arnie was quite a wild teenager; with bad hair, earrings, bad language and attitude. The Elders met him at 7-11 and he joined the church; his change for the better was so profound his parents had to find out how a church could change him so much. They also joined the church. That is the power of the gospel fully lived.

This is President and Sister Nielson, the Mission President, and their two daughters in the middle. They had 6 children of their own and then felt inpressed to adopt Mary, a little Chinese baby who was orphaned! She finds it a little hard here, because everyone expects her to speak Chinese, but she grew up in USA and so is just learning Mandarin now! He was an Emergency room doctor in Vernal for many years, ending up the last four years in Monticello, before he was called as Mission President! Wonderful people!

Ty and Spencer, this is for you!! These are the Lion Dance
drummers; they were worth going to the lion dance for. They were as one in every movement. Every Chinese performance I have seen has been outstanding. In Malaysia I saw gymnasts do unbelievable stunts.

Firecracker strings were hanging behind these pillars; five strings, doubled. Each firecracker was about the size of my thumb. I have never heard such a loud noise; it was unbearable; every one was covering their ears.

The Lion dancers are two young men with a lion costume over them, one at the head and one at the rear. They do a lot of parading around and then the front guy gets on the back guys shoulders like the lion is roaring on his hind legs. Then they jump on pedestals about 4 feet apart and jump from one to the other.

This is a bad picture of the pedestals. All the other pics. are so blurry we could not use them.
but you can see the pedestals on the left edge. There were a long double line of them, at different heights, that the "lion" would hop to, sometimes doing double hops at a time! When he reached one end of them, he would throw candy to the children, then turn around and hop back to the other end and throw more candy! The kids were delighted!

Carrie, remember my brother, Gary's, string instrument that I let you take to show your piano students? The middle instrument here looks a lot like it, except this one is sooo long! With a flute and the instrument on this end, which sounds like a violin, they make up the very Chinese sounds of most music here!

Dragon dancers, hopping in and out and through, a 30-40 foot "dragon"! Boy! they worked hard! They had to move the dragon and hop over it at exactly the right time or they would have messed up the whole dance!

Arnie, Jen, Samuel and the masked, Chinese man, who walked around with a large, golden bowl full of candy for all to take!

Us, Jen and Arnie's parents at the Hyatt Hotel waiting for the Lion Dance to begin!

The whole group, with President and Sister Walker on the left of Dad and I, along with Arnie's parents! What a pleasant day together! These are choice people whom we get to associate with!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Joys and disappointments -- that's life!!

Well, Chris did not show today, so we were very disappointed, but by the end of the day and after President Hinckley's funeral broadcast, we feel better! I'm so grateful for his uplifting, positive- thinking life and teachings! He has made a real difference in the lives of thousands! I loved what his daughter said of him when she wanted so badly to know the key of raising children who loved the Lord and looked to her father and mother to see what they had done to be successful in that endeavor with their children. Finally it dawned on her that all it she had to do was put the living of the Gospel "in her heart", and her children would do the same. Isn't that true for the most part? Of course, because of the principle of free agency, many good parents sometimes lose a child or two to the worldly influences of the day. Even our Heavenly Father had to let his beloved child chose to become Lucifer!

On a brighter note, as I have been thinking about President Hinckley lately, I thought about when Celeste got us tickets for the first conference in the Conference Center, and she and I went together. It was so special for me to be with her at that time. I will never forget the experience we had together when President Hinckley entered the Center, the room became quiet and then everyone began singing "We Thank Thee, Oh God For A Prophet"! The Spirit was so strong!!

We learned from John about Porter's baptism Saturday! Porter, we are so proud of you! Chet was probably baptized then, too. We still have to hear it from Jen, though! Three grandchildren should enter the waters of baptism this year, with Rachel's to happen probably in June!!

We had such a sweet experience this morning as we entered the classroom to teach our last Temple Preparation class. All four of the Philipino sisters sat anxiously waiting for us! Your father conducted, and at the last of the class, expressed his heartfelt feelings about having the opportunity to teach them! As they left, they shed tears of joy and thankfulness and each one gave us a big hug! We will treasure their friendship forever, and are looking forward in the next month to going with them to receive their Endowments in the Temple!! We are so excited for them!!

During our temple prayer meetings this week, President Walker talked of his experiences with President Hinckley. He was a young missionary in Taiwan when President Hinckley came over to visit the Asian countries as his first assignment as an Assistant to the twelve apostles. Then ten years ago, President Hinckley gave him the power to be a sealer in the Dallas, Texas temple!
Now, he is the President of the Taiwan temple!! We are so blessed to associate daily with such good people. This week of Chinese New Year, the temple is closed, so we have time to go with the assistant Temple recorder and his family, President and Sister Walker, and our Mission President, President Neilson and his wife, to see a Lion dance at the Hyatt Hotel and have lunch with them there! We are going to purchase a new, small camera and take some pictures!

John, it is so good to hear from you weekly and love to hear what the children are doing! We are so dang proud of the good things they do and all they are learning! We love you all! Mom & Dad