Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trip with Brother Lin - Tues July 15th, 2008

Here is the best part of the whole trip. We miraculously met Jerry and Minnete Chen, who wanted to have us tell them how they could receive the blessings of being together forever! Jerry had been baptized a little over a year ago, but had not been active in church and had a lot of questions. His wife is Catholic. We did not have time to talk to them while we were with Brother Lin and the Seows, but went back down to FengYuan on the train two days later and had dinner with them and talked for a couple of hours with them. Now they know about the Temple and the committment they will have to make to be a forever family. Now it is up to them to chose how much they want this great blessing from the Lord. We pray for them to make the right choice and go to church and have the missionaries give the discussions to them, so that they may have the desire they expressed to us!! They are really a great little couple. Their first baby is due in October! I need to tell you of the great, many miracles that had to happen to have us meet them. First of all, we would not have stopped in their town at all if it hadn't been that Brother Lin and Dad were talking about what kind of food Dad liked and he told him he liked pie. When Dad said this, Brother Lin asked him what kind of pie and Dad responded with - "hot or cold". So, to please Dad, Brother Lin stopped in FengYuan, the town he grew up in as a boy, and bought us something "hot" (wonton soup), something "cold" ( an ice slush drink), and he was leading us to a pie shop for a piece of pie when we had to stop for Jerry, who was parking his motorcycle on the curb and he noticed our missionary badges. Had he come a second later, we would have been past him and he never would have seen our badges! Also - when we came back down two days later, we did not know exactly what train to catch or how to do it, but there was a very sweet man we sat by as we waited for the train, who not only told us which track it would come on, but went and bought us two bottles of water to drink and just happened to be going the same way and stayed right by us on the train until he had to get off one stop ahead of ours! Then as we got off and began looking for Jerry's optical shop, we could not remember which way to go! As we stood on the corner, wondering, a motorcycle drove up beside us with a young man and his mother on it. He recognized us because he had been to the temple doing baptisms for the the dead and had seen us there! Then they proceeded on their motor bike to lead us to Jerry's shop! Another amazing "perfect timing" incident occured when Minette and Elias and I were waiting for Jerry to bring his car around and pick us up to go to dinner, two missionaries just "happened" to be going down the street across from us and came over and made themselves acquainted with us and Minette! So now they are aware of the situation and can take over where we left off with them! How the Lord must love these two! The many "coincidences" that He orchestrated to have this all happen in such perfect timing was almost unbelievable! Oh, another miraculous thing that happened was that we were three hours earlier getting to Jerry's than we said we would be. We actually had bought tickets on a faster, much more expensive train that brought us to FengYuan in one and a half hours rather than three to four hours, yet Jerry and Minette were able to leave his shop at that time and spend those two hours with us. And had we been later we would not have had the help of the kind man at the RR station, nor the guidance of our friends on their motorcycle, or the Elders coming by at that particular time to meet Minette and us! I know the Lord loves His children and I know more now than ever before, to what extent He will go to to see that they have every opportunity to hear what He wants them to hear - WHEN He wants them to hear it!! We feel very humble to have been a part of His plan for them! The Buddhist Monastary we stopped at on our way home.
Further on down the road, we stopped at this huge Buddhist Monastary. It was massive. Across the valley, there was a golden Buddah that was so big that you could see it for many miles! We did not go over there, however.
Brother Lin and the Seows - patiently waited for us to hike down and back up those 366 steps to the water below! I can't imagine why they didn't want to come.Dad and I would have liked to have stayed longer at Sun-Moon Lake, but our driver and the Seows did not want to take the time to find the Aborigini Village we were hoping to see, so the next best thing we could do was hike down to the water. They had 366 steps with each one having the date carved in it. You could pay money and buy a "prayer" to hang on the wrought iron fence on either side of your step. Hiking down and back up these steps took a lot more effort than I anticipated! We really had a work-out!After a couple of hours driving, we came to Sun-Moon Lake - still high in the mountains - a gorgeous place which now is quite a tourist spot. This lake received its name because the major part of it is round like the sun, but one part of it is crescent-shaped like the moon.After the "sunrise" tour, having taken our pictures, we packed up our things, had breakfast, and headed down the mountain. Right along the side of the road were some aboriginal "sales persons" selling their wares - All in tribal dress! There you have it - complete sunrise!! It was worth getting up at 3 am for this event! I forgot to tell you that we stopped on our way up here, while it was still pitch-dark, and looked at the stars, and our guide pointed out some of the constellations to us!The first shaft of light breaking over the mountains even though we could not see the sun yet.A little brighter picture - a little more daylight - the pinkness of the clouds now gone.The beginnings of the sun hitting the cloud in back of the mountains and making it a pink color.Here we are - (it was cold just before sun-up) - waiting to catch those first rays of the sun over the mountain. Brother Lin is in the forefront in the white jacket. I was surprized at how light it was even though the sun was not up yet!
As I mentioned yesterday, we did not have to sleep in our hard beds very long, for we had to get up at 3 am to catch our tour bus to the top of Ali Shan so we could take pictures of the sunrise. Here are some of those pictures:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trip with Brother Lin Mon & Tues July 14th & 15th

I could not take a picture of the hotel where we stayed because it was inside a restaurant and didn't have an outside entrance. (I guess I could have, but what we had to walk through to get there was not very pretty.) So this was on the outside of the area around the restaurant. Our rooms were sort of like log cabins, with beds with no mattresses and only a pad of about an inch or two between us and the board! It worked fine for the short time we had to sleep!
In front of the Railroad Station at Ali Shan. We did not take the train for our tour up the mountain to get pictures of the sunrise because we were told by friends that many times you cannot see it because of the clouds. So we joined a bus tour that took us up above the clouds - where the train could not take us.
There was a mural of small tiles - millions of them, that told the story of what one could see at Ali Shan. It was on two sides of a tile street and must have been one hundred feet long on one side and fifty feet on the other.

Here's an ornate pagoda that must have taken a long time to make because of the fine sculpturing on it. It was just there in the middle of the forest!

I had to show the sign because of the wording of the "Golden Pig" story. I love the way the Chinese express themselves in English! They are trying to talk exactly like us, but I hope they don't change the many signs we see that are so charmingly and sometimes humorously put.
For some reason they called this the "Golden Pig" It looks more green to me, but definitely a pig!
Having one of those "little rests" with the Seows. I don't believe we have walked and hiked that much in years! But don't we look happy! It was really fun!
So here are the "Four Sisters". They sprouted on top of the massive tree that had been cut down! You can get a feel for how big they were by looking at their size as compared with Sister Seow.
These three trees together were called, "The Three Brothers"
Dad and I relaxing for a moment as we hiked around the Ali Shan area by our hotel. This was unbelievably lush and beautiful. In the background is a thatched roofed pavilion we walked out to and sat and watched the fish in the water and a little bird flying all around the water.
Dad and I playing with the Aborigini maniquins at a place we stopped on the way to Ali Shan
We saw so many orchards and tea plantations on the way to Ali Shan. They were beautiful themselves. Here we are with our dear friends, the Seows - the new temple couple from Singapore! If it hadn't been for their translating for us, we could not have understood a word that Brother Lin said!
Sweet Brother Lin works in the Temple with us and is a Sealer there and also a Stake Patriarch! He wanted us to see the beautiful mountain called Ali Shan and take pictures of the sunrise from the top! He is quite a photographer himself!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

/Trip with Chinese WArd - day 3 July 12, 2008

We then drove to more of the marble canyons and hiked down to the clear, blue water below. Everyone took off their shoes and socks and enjoyed playing in the coolness of it. We had planned to hike up to a valley called Secret VAlley, but it was so hot and this water so much fun to play in, that we spent our time here and did not continue up to the Secret VAlley. No one complained about cooling off instead of hiking more! All were so happy to be able to do and see all that we did together. What a great group of people. We enjoyed them and the entire trip immensely. When we finished playing in the pool, we climbed on the buses and headed home, stopping one last time for dinner at a steak house. Can you believe all this cost Dad and I $100 each for EVERYTHING! THe best part, though, was being with these dear CHinese brothers and sisters!!
This is brother and sister Tan, washing their hands at the entrance of the small Buddhist temple. There were a lot of other people there so we didn't get any more good pictures.
We next stopped to visit a Buddhist temple and found this antique truck while walking on the way. BRother TAn hopped inside and we got a good picture - don't you think?
Our BIshop and his family in their paddle boat, after he had driven his kids around the lake on his portable bicycle. It folds up so little and is so easy to take places! I took a picture of it, but am not sure I can find it again.
This morning after our devotional and exercise, we headed back to Li Yu Lake for paddle boating and motorboating. Our group chose the motorboating. Here is our boat driver!! Isn't she cute?
I'm so sorry this blog is backwards, but I don't know how to make it frontwards, so please bear with it and just read it from the bottom up. Here goes again:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trip with CHinese Ward 2nd day - Friday July 11 "08

That evening we drove down the mountain to a place called Li Yu Lake and saw a "water dance" light show. It was beautiful! Then on to our hotel and bath and bed! We were ready by then!
Two of our "teen" friends wanted to have their picture taken with us at the snail pond. They were so sweet and made us feel so much a part of their Ward!
I believe the next stop was for the "children". It was at a resort where you caught your own snails and then you could have them cooked for your dinner. Dad and I decided to fore-go this activity and just had fun watching the kids as they "fished" for snails

Taiwan's newest and best University was where we held a fireside, played games and toured the campus. This is one of the interesting signs put on the lake. (We love the way they express themselves! They are trying to change to better English, but I hope they don't, because the way they express things is really quite charming!)
An old logging camp was our next stop. This is an ancient fire engine that was used in the forest whenever they had a fire.
As we walked around the little shops, we all of a sudden came to about a dozen beehives, loaded with bees flying here and there along the sidewalk. I can't believe someone didn't get stung as we passed by!
Our next stop was where an old sugar factory used to be. It has now turned into a tourist attraction and we were lucky to get this picture of the oxen pulling his cartload of tourists!

Day #2 of our Hualien trip with the Ward was very interesting. Everyone got a "wake up" call from the hotel at 6 am, so they could make it to the morning devotional by 6:30 at a park close to the hotel. There we had Ward prayer, sang hymns and did aerobic exercising together. It was not easy! Then, back to the hotel for breakfast before heading off on the bus for the "wetlands". This was the only part of the trip that wasn't that exciting. However, there were some pretty lili pads!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trip to Hualien with Chinese Ward July 10-12 2008

These dancers were really talented! They entertained us royally! And it was all FREE!
After going to our hotel, the Seows and the Tans and us went to a Cultural show that evening. Here is brother and sister Tan. He just learned how a new husband carries his wife into their home after they are married. Sister Tan does the laundry for the temple. What a job - especially on Saturday when we have so many baptism clothes to wash and dry and re-use the same day!
Can you tell that these gigantic cliffs and rocks are marble? They are quite a sight - especially with the blue or emerald ponds below.
The overhang of the cliffs can be dangerous if the rocks come loose. Every once in a while, we saw where a pile of rocks had tumbled down the mountain on the pathway!

On up the Gorge was 9 hole caves. You can see some of them in the background. This is Sister Seow, our other Temple missionary, and myself.
I cannot begin to pronounce the name of our good friend who helped interpret for us so we would know what was going on and where to be at what time. This little girl was adopted just 2 months ago by them.
Further up the canyon we stopped and hiked the Bai Ying Trail to the "water stream cave"!. Raingear was necessary as we walked into the cave. Streams of water were falling everywhere. Lots of people took their umbrellas, but the rest of us donned ponchos, took off our shoes and had a "cooling" walk . This is Sister Wang, our dear friend who works with us in the temple. Can you believe she is 82 years old and not only could she keep up with us all -- she usually was AHEAD of us all!

Our next stop was a hike, taking us up the Taroko marble gorge to Swallow caves. Below was the bluest pond of water I have ever seen.

Thursday, July 10th we rode the MRT to meet the Ward at their church house. There we caught one of the two buses that were rented to take us around for 3 days. The first place we stopped was at an Aborigini Village and saw how they wove the beautiful material for their handbags, shawls, and clothing.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation time!!

Dear blog, We have had a marvelous vacation seeing more of the beautiful island of Taiwan and its culture and people. Many miraculous things have happened, for which we are most grateful to Father. In writing about them I'll organize the events into days beginning with Tuesday, July 8th, 2008.

The first leg of our trip was given by Brother Lu, who comes every Friday and does sealings and temple work. After picking us up at the Tao Yuan train station, he took us high in the mountains to a beautiful dam and reservoir, which provided power for the city below. This is our other temple couple, the Seows, of Singaport, who enjoyed all the trips with us and made it possible for us to understand what was being said and going on. Another view of this beautiful reservoir called Tsmun Reservoir. Next we headed for one of Chaing Kai Shek's residences and his tomb and memorial gardens. His body lies in this tomb. Now we head to the Lalashan National forest in the very tops of the mountains. What a gorgeous place! Can you believe, this tree is 2800 years old! Making designs in a Japanese Sand Garden in Lalashan. This garden was supposed to depict the sea and islands in it! We lost our picture of our hotel, but this is called a "staircase" fountain at the side of it. It is so cool here - so lush. I can see why many love to vacation here. I guess we didn't lose our picture of the hotel after all! It was called the Ming ch National Forest Hotel!
After arriving at the hotel, we took a walk around the Japanese Gardens. Boy! the Japanese are so good at landscaping! Another scene of ponds and landscaping around our hotel in Ming ch Forest.
Walking on the rocks going out to an "island" in one of the ponds. Brother Lu, Sister Seow and BRother Seow! Just an example of how lush the forest plant life is under the trees!
This is now Wednesday July 9th. We stayed overnight and the next morning explored some more of the ancient trees and forests. This tree was sproute4d in 145 BC!
The sign signifying how old this tree is.
The ride down the mountains was hair raising! The road was so narrow and we felt like we were clinging to the edge of the sheer drop off cliffs! Brother Lu is not a slow driver!

As we got down from the mountain, we saw much agriculture and farmland. To the left of the green patch in the forefront, is rice that has been put into bundles in rows! Thanks, Brother Lu, for a wonderful time and your kindness in spending two days and a night showing us these things!