elder Matthew Jones
Taiwan, Taichung mission
Mom's note: Taiwan is 14 hours ahead so we will hear from Matthew on Sunday nights. With a few days under his belt, he is working through a lot of changes and things are improving every day. For p-day they are going to the Bat Caves and McDonald's for dinner. He says it's a 'luxury place' there. Go figure!
nǐ hǎo wǒde jiātíng hé péngyǒu!!
Holy cow, this week has been the craziest week of my life. I can't even really believe I'm in Taiwan haha it's so crazy. Everything is completely different. It's a mix of so many different places that I've been, and nothing like Utah haha. The food is different, the weather is different, but hey, I am growing to love it more and more each day. The people here are awesome so that definitely helps with everything. Getting to talk to them each day is awesome and so much fun. I am doing my best to be friendly and smile and wave to everyone, since that is about all I can do right now haha. I'm doing my best to ask questions and bear simple testimony, and just contribute any way I can.
First, just some things I've noticed about Taiwan. It is always humid. No matter what kind of day it is, sunny, cloudy, rainy, it is always humid. My skin is almost always moist and I sweat a lot, but not as much as most of the other missionaries so that is a relief haha. Some of their shirts are so nasty from sweat and such, so hopefully I can avoid that as much as possible. The weather isn't as rainy as I expected, although I've only been here a short time and we are mostly past the rainy season. Taizhong is also in a bit of a Rain shadow, so it gets generally less than the rest of the island. The food here is really different from American Asian food. They cook with a lot of pepper and different kinds of seasonings, so that is something I'll have to get used to. The streets are crazy, there are lots of small shops, probably owned by families, everywhere. At night, everyone goes out on the streets to eat, chat, etc. There are about 5 mopeds for every car, sometimes even more haha It's crazy. Lots of people here love white people and wave and practice their English with us. One guy even gave us free mango ice cream so that was awesome haha. My bike is really nice for missionary work. I'm a pretty good biker and I usually want to go faster than everyone else so I mostly just take it easy and cruise around.
Monday September 12th: This was our last day at the MTC. It was one of the longest days of my entire life haha. In the morning we had half a Pday. We had to say goodbye to some of my favorite Elders, including Skon, Tanner, Lij, and Boss (good luck in Argentina/Paris/Tahiti Boys you will all kill it). We had 6 hours of class during the night, which is regular but kinda crazy for a last day in the MTC when no one wanted to do anything or focus or anything like that. We got to say goodbye to everyone that night which was sad but kinda cool. Elder H, Elder G, and I took a final walk around the MTC to reflect on our friendships and how much we've learned and grown. It was awesome.
Tuesday and Wednesday September 13th and 14th: This was our huge travel day. Full of delays and such, but we made it safely. Talking to my family was amazing. It was great to hear their voices and get to talk to them a little bit. When we got to Taiwan, we had to wait for the native Elders coming, so we had like 2 hours to walk around and practice contacting people. It was crazy. Our Chinese is not nearly as good as we all thought it was haha but we did our best to communicate with those around us and share this gospel!! We got to the mission home at 2:30 in the morning, so it's safe to say we were all gonna be super tired the next day.
Thursday September 15th: First full day in Taiwan. It didn't really consist of much. We did a lot of orientation classes and just got familiar with everyone and what the standards and procedures of this mission were. I've tried lots of new food including dragonfruit which is one of my new favorite fruits so everyone try to get some of that. The fruit here is a lot better than the fruit in America, I love it so much. At about 5:00, they threw us on the streets with some more experienced missionaries and we tried some contacting for an hour. It was really hard but really fun and a great experience. We actually got 6 adds which is amazing for an hour so that was really cool. We went to dinner at a place where they just bring out a ton of food and everyone takes from the middle. It was very different, and we were all falling asleep while we were eating haha. President understood how tired we were, so he let us go to sleep at 8 which was amazing.
Friday September 16th: This was the day we got our trainers! My trainer is Elder Jackson, he's awesome and has a great work ethic and desire to serve. We are also living with two other Elders, Elder Duffin and Elder Chen. Elder Chen is also getting trained but he is native to Taiwan so he already knows Chinese lol. We biked to our area, set some goals and expectations, and went out and about contacting! Our area is Taiping. It's an awesome area in Taizhong. The streets are great for contacting, and everyone is awesome here. I love contacting and trying to talk to everyone. We are white washing this area, which means we are both new here, so we have no investigators and basically have to start fresh. We still don't have any investigators, but we are working really hard and talking with everyone, so we have a lot of different people we are calling and trying to set up with. One funny thing is all the Asian girls love us and want to talk pictures with me hahaha it's weird but hey whatever.
Saturday September 17th: We really hit contacting hard today. We tried a few different methods, including biking, walking, surveys, etc. We got a couple more adds and tried some calls to get some people to come to church. It's tough but we are both working hard and staying really positive and it really helps make the days enjoyable. We have study from 8 in the morning ‘til 12, and then we head out for the day. This gives us time to do Personal, Companionship (we get an extra hour), and Language. These times are really good and I progress a ton spiritually and get in the right mindset for the rest of the day.
Sunday September 18th: Today was my first Sunday in the mission. Our church is at 9 am and it's a really awesome ward. Everyone is friendly and strong in the Spirit. I had to get up and introduce myself and bear my testimony. I was so nervous and shaking haha but I did the best I could and I think the members could really see my intent and desire to learn, share, and serve. They all come up to me and tell me how strong I am to be learning Chinese. I just laugh and say I should be better haha. I don't understand much at church, but it's still great to be with the people. We had a ward dinner and an FHE activity with the ward which was really awesome. The ward has about 115 active members. I love the ward and working with the people.
I really love my mission. I know that when I start feeling down, the Lord knows what I'm going through and can help me get through anything. This has really helped comfort me. Well, this was a nice English break, but it's back to the immersion. I love you all so much! Have a good week
zhōng zhǎng lǎo
Matthew is currently serving a 2-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This Blog is for family and friends interested in following his adventures for the next 24 months.