Yo yo yo yo, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

In my hometown, there’s a church that my family calls “the fish church” because there’s a big metal fish on top of it. Some churches put crosses on top of their buildings, others put angels; this one has a fish. (Maybe fish are God’s favorite animal? idk.)

Even though my family is Mormon, the fish church is an important landmark to me because it’s where my mom went to church when she was younger. I wouldn’t describe either of my mom’s parents as super religious, but they were good Americans who made sure their only child had a Christian baptism.

Mom says that on the day of her baptism into the fish church (whatever religion it was), she prayed beforehand and asked God that she would be baptized the way he wanted her to be baptized.

Obviously super introspective and super spiritual (but still super young), Mom went to the fish church when possible and read the Bible.

It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she found the Mormon church and started going to church there. After several years of attending, she decided that she’d found the baptism God wanted her to receive and was baptized a Mormon, along with her mom.

I’m very grateful for my mom’s example of faith and searching. Because of her, I know the importance of prayer and finding a personal connection to God. Because of her, I know that God listens to and answers prayer. Because of her, I know that I can read and study to find answers to my own questions instead of wandering in doubt and hopelessness.

She was just a little kid and teenager when she made the most important decisions in her life, but it turns out that these decisions have not only blessed the rest of her life, but have also blessed the entire lives of me and all my brothers and sisters (there are 7 of us — oh boy!).

When I see the fish church, I think of my mom’s faith and how it started at a young age. I think of baptism and searching. I think of love and family. I think of my own spiritual journey. And I think of fish.

Love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!

   also can i borrow/have $200?   

MOTHER_BOY2

Sorry I couldn’t crop out my ugly brothers without it looking weird. :\

She met with Mormon missionaries and then what happened?

After she went to church, Taiwan Grandma started meeting with missionaries. Taiwan Mom had been asking her to meet with missionaries for forever, but Taiwan Grandma had never accepted the invitation until she came to church in September.

After a couple weeks of meeting with the missionaries, Taiwan Mom told me that Taiwan Grandma had decided to be baptized in December. I was surprised.

To be honest, I had been skeptical while Taiwan Grandma was meeting with the missionaries. From what I’d seen of her, she was an aloof person who liked to do her own thing. The people I’d taught and baptized on my mission were open and curious, excited to learn more about God and faith. When I’d gone to church with her, Taiwan Grandma hadn’t seemed very interested. So why was she getting baptized? I figured she was probably doing it to make Taiwan Mom happy.

So last weekend, Taiwan family and I drove down to Kaohsiung (where Taiwan Grandma lives) to see her baptism.

Turns out, I didn’t know the real Taiwan Grandma. At the baptism, she was bubbly, huggy, and super friendly to everyone who came. Taiwan Mom said she’d always been that way. I just hadn’t seen it because of the language and cultural barriers between us.

Her baptism was very cool. She said that she chose to be baptized so that she could be with her family for forever.

I think that people who aren’t familiar with Latter-day Saints assume that missionaries are basically salespeople taught how to give a sales pitch about joining the Mormon church.

But, in reality, the only way to be an effective missionary (or be an effective ANYTHING) is to be yourself and care about other people. I think in the past missionaries were pretty wooden, but nowadays, there’s a huge emphasis on being natural, really believing what you’re teaching, and listening to what people say. (To watch a cool documentary about what it’s like to be a Mormon missionary, click here.)

The missionaries who taught Taiwan Grandma were both Taiwanese, which is super cool since she speaks more Taiwanese (a dialect widely spoken here) than Mandarin.

What a good way to start out the New Year! Taiwan Grandma got baptized and I realized that even though I’m a “world traveler,” language and cultural barriers still prevent me from seeing some really cool things. I still have so much to learn, man!

Taiwan_Grandma_Baptism_Selfie

That’s me, Taiwan Brother (he baptized her), and Taiwan Grandma.

To read the Taiwan Grandma Saga, click here:

She told me I smell weird.

Let’s be Catholics.

MONKEYS GOT HATERS TOO

Bye, Grandma

 

Fancy in Taiwan

Life here in Taiwan is just like life back there in America. I have a Taiwan Mom and a Taiwan Dad and they feed me and take me places and tell me I’m the most handsome. We live in our Taiwan house, which is really a two-story apartment on the top floor of a really tall apartment building, just the three of us. We just need a Taiwan dog and Taiwan 4 cats and everything will be perfect.
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fancy
Me, Taiwan Mom, and Taiwan Dad (I’m the one in blue).
I got here Saturday and things have been going 100%  smoothie … smoothly. Taiwan Mom and Dad’s kids are all grown, so it’s just us in the apartment. “Mom” is the lady who had me and some other white kids come in July to teach English for a couple weeks. She’s hecka nice and so is her husband and they’re legit like my real parents (Taiwan Dad gave me dating advice the first day I got here).
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Taiwan church is nift. It’s all in Chinese, so I don’t understand 100% of it, but I do understand the words wo men (we) and nu-guh (um), which they say A LOT, so I’m getting there.
hymnspinyin
An LDS hymnbook with characters and pinyin.
Today I found out what my job is. I’ll be teaching six classes of kids aged kindergarten to high school how to read, write, listen to, and speak English. The teachers have given me my textbooks and lesson plans, but they’re basically like, “You’re gonna mess up a lot, so just send the kids to us when they annoy you.”
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teachingenglishbook
They’re going to learn the best, most useful English from me.

So I’m nervous butt excited to start my new life. It’s raining a lot, I’m exploring a lot, and I think my hair looks great. Things are A++++.

abandoned
The rooftop of an abandoned building I found on my morning run. Did *not* get locked up here.