Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Adventure to Taiwan!

This post has been long over due, but this summer has been so busy I'm afraid the blog fell to the back burner. I have created a slide show of some of our images from Taiwan and posted it to the side so I wouldn't have to load so many pictures. I did want to post some of our favorites now though. As for telling about the trip im just going to copy and paste some of the e mails i sent home to my family while I was there.

Waiting at the airport, this picture describes our feelings pretty perfectly!
Taibei Temple!
Taibei 101 - It was once the tallest building in the world!
Shang Hai Shek monument with our friend Adam.
Taroko National Park outside of Hualian

Wow we have been super busy the last couple days! Today we got to go to Sun Moon Lake and it was gorgeous. Sadly it was cloudy most the time but I prayed really hard and Heavenly Father blessed me with a good 10 minutes that we could see the beautiful lake and parts of the mountains! It was incredible, and I cant wait to show you the pictures. I have been bummed with the rain and clouds that last few days but i guess they have been in a small drought so they really need the rain. You would never be able to tell though because it is so incredibly green and lush here! We got to see an incredible temple today and Pagoda. They were some of the prettiest i have seen so far!

Sun Moon Lake

Yesterday we got to go feed the monkeys. I was surprised at how nervous I was. Some of the big ones were really scary, and tried to steal the bag from Jason! The babies were really cute though and we got some good pictures. Oh and guess who we saw there on their P day? haha i bet you guessed right, the missionaries with some members. So we got to walk up to the monkeys with them and Jason had a good time talking to them. They seemed like a really good group of elders.

After we fed the monkeys we went to this city called... hold on let me ask Jason...Lugang. One of Jason's old members he knew here was nice enough to drive us. He is 23 and his name is Witness. He knew a ton about the temple and streets around it, so he was a great tour guide. Jason had to do a lot of translating for me though. While we were walking around the streets of this city we went into a fan shop where the owner hand paints them. Somehow he new we were LDS and pulled out all these pictures of different LDS temples and I guess he painted a lot of the work in the Taibei temple. Amazing huh? He also had a ton of pictures of missionaries that come and buy fans from him with temples painted on them. It was really Amazing, i couldn't believe we ran into him.

Witness was nice enough to drive us all the way back to Taizhong! I was happy we didn't have to get on the train again.

So far I am loving it here. It is very different but in a good way. I am amazed at how nice the people are. Jason especially has a gift to make them fall in love with him. They are kind of serious when they first see us, I think they are nervous when they think they have to communicate in English with us, but as soon as Jason starts speaking Mandrain they are his best friend. I have noticed if I make an effort to talk to the people they are especially nice to me. I had one of the girls at our hotel even give me her number and tell me if I ever needed someone to do something with she would get off work and come with me. She was so nice.

Also our hotel staff in Hualian was incredibly accommodating. They did so much to help us and everytime we would get back to the hotel they would all come out to greet us and ask us how we liked everything. I got a picture with them because I liked them so much!

I can not emphasize how cute the clothes and shoes are here. They have a ton of cute dresses and almost everything is modest because they don't like to show their shoulders! I love it, I wish I had extra money just to go shopping. Their clothes are really good quality too and tailored really cute. Mom we have to come back here some day together! you would love it!!! Oh and I found two dresses for Halle and Alyvia. They are darling and very traditional. I just hope they fit.

They food is pretty different here. Lets just say I have not seen one Chinese dish here that they have in America. There is so much I don't even now what most of it is.   

Today was our last day in Taizhong. Tomorrow we are off to Gaoxiong. We had an incredible day today though. A family Jason helped baptized came and picked us up and took us to some fun places. There last name is Zou I think. The mom and Dads name was Michelle and Castor, they are both 39 and their two daughters Jenny, and Penny. Jenny turns 8 in November and will be baptized and Penny is 4. They were such a fun and outgoing family. We had such a blast with them today. I can't believe how accommodating and how much everyone does for us that we meet out here. I definitely have a lesson to learn about hospitality because these people out do anyone I have ever met. Everyone that has took us around has taken off work and school just to be with us. It is incredible! So this afternoon they took us to the Earthquake museum that was built after the really bad 1999 earthquake here. It was a really cool museum with lots of interactive stuff for the kids. My favorite was the exhibit showing the new technology they have created to make the cities safer in case of another earthquake. Their technology is truly amazing here! The museum was built around an old elementary school that was destroyed in the 1999 earthquake and they preserved some of the destruction so you could see the damage. We also watched a 3d movie on the earth and it's weather. It was terrifying about the destruction storms can do to cities. Basically what I got out of it is mother nature will destroy anything in it's path and were all doomed. It was all computer digitized but they had cars and buildings be destroyed very graphically. I was surprised the children weren't more scared because i was terrified.

In the middle of our museum visit the family brought a little pic nic. (in my mind I'm like "uh oh..".) The family whipped out all these different types of Sushi, and not the kind we like back home in America. So Jason came to the rescue and somehow downed enough it looked like both of us ate at least a little! Man I love that boy!! I couldn't believe how those little girls loved the sushi and all these crazy foods that make me so nervous. So after our museum visit we went to Michelle's sisters restaurant for dinner. Again I was way nervous but it was really good! I had some type of beef noodles and I liked it a lot. I understand how missionaries feel having to go to members houses to eat and not knowing what your going to get. I admire those boys for being brave and downing what is put in front of them. I am not as tough! The funniest was when they asked us if we wanted cheesecake, and we were like yeah we like cheesecake. So they sister brought out this cake and it was literally cheesecake. The cake part was like angel food cake and than right in the middle was this slab of cheese baked into it.
After the dinner the family took us to this park where all these Chinese soldiers live just outside of Taizhong in Jason's second area called Nantun. There is a retired Chinese soldier here who spends everyday painting the walls of his and his neighbors houses. It was really cool, and we got some good pictures. While we were there this old man came right up behind Jason and started talking very loud. I guess he was saying, "your not Chinese, what are you?" At first Jason couldn't understand him and thought he was mad at him but when he realized what he was saying he said we were American and the old man just started laughing with us. It was very interesting.

After that we were off to the night market and had a lot of fun with the little girls looking at everything. They are so stinking cute, I wish I could bring them home! Jason said they kept calling me their older sister in Chinese. AWwww! I was so in love with that family by the end of the night.

So there is this dessert thing here that everyone loves. Adam got it for us in Jilong (outside of Taibei) and the Zou family got it for us tonight. It consist of ice, brown sweet liquid, small round jelley things, and various colors of jellied fruit...(I think) oh and red beans. They are always so excited to get it for us and the first time I had it I thought I was going to throw up! I did a little better this time but I about died when I saw they were in line to get us one. Haha luckily Jason and I shared!

Speaking of food there is the funniest Domino's add by our hotel. It has this family eating pizza and guess what the toppings are??? ugh shrimp, crab, and Pea pods! And this is like a huge add half the size of a billboard. I guess their pizzas here are a little bit different!

Well since this post has a ton about food and I forgot to add this in the e mail yesterday I have one more story. When Jason went and visited the monkeys and before we went to that old city we stopped in one of his old areas called Zhanghua. There is a couple there that owns a restaurant that has the most amazing fried rice! Jason said Pres. Watterson would stop there every time he passed through that area to have their fried rice. Jason and Tyler Crandall were blessed to take part in helping one of their sons get baptized in to the church a few years ago. When we first got there the dad didn't recognize Jason but as soon as the mom came out it was a whole new story. She was super outgoing and remembered Jason, and was so excited to see him. She talked to us the entire time and was hilarious. I wish I could have talked to her more, the language barrier is killing me! They were so nice though and when we tried to pay they told Jason, " NO you come all the way from America and came back to eat here you no pay!" That has happened with everyone we have met that Jason knew on his mission. They never let us pay and want to get us all this extra stuff. I am really touched by all the hospitality we have been shown here! These people are truly amazing!

To answer your question Mom no Jason did not serve here, so he was nervous about what to do and getting around. But remember Adam from Taibei that helped us there and was our tour guide? This is his hometown so he met us here and picked us up at the train station yesterday and was our tour guide again! we are so lucky to have him because he also had a car this time and that was so nice! Last night his mom gave him money to take us to this really nice restaurant at a beautiful hotel. It was buffet style and was very good! We also went to the "love river" and took a little boat ride. It was kinda of cool because they are preparing for the dragon festival that was coming up and we got to see all the boats and some of the props they will use! We also have met more people Jason met on his mission and just done some small things here. I haven't been feeling up to speed lately, I think I am just exhausted from all the traveling we have been doing and running around! There are so many changes with the time, food, moving cities all the time! I am just that much more excited to get to go to Kending and relax!

Tonight was really cool too, we went to Adams house and his Mom made us dinner! She had Jason's favorite meal, duck wrapped in this rice tortilla thing with a special sauce so Jason was in Heaven! I tried it and it was actually pretty good. She also had dumplings, pumpkin soup, a vegetable that I'm not sure what it was, and some type of noodles. It was all pretty good and I am really glad because I was super nervous going their and just telling myself I have to at least eat a little bit so I don't offend her! So dinner was a success! She is a very interesting lady too. She is an engineer and works for the military doing missiles and stuff.
Delicious Chua bing!!! It is a milky type of ice covered in fresh fruit and a sweet syrup!

Last few Days in Kending

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jason's Graduation

So I finally made it...I graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Mandarin Chinese! I know this is a little late post but I definitely was not going to do this while we were in Taiwan! Seriously though from the atmosphere, students, food, activities, faculty, games and so on USU is the best place to get an education in Utah! I loved being up here and going to school soo much! I will definitely be a season ticket holder for Aggie basketball..and um hopefully football - we will see how that goes in the coming year (I have HOPE)!!!

I am so grateful that I chose this road and the many incredible, priceless blessings that following from coming all the way up north to Logan, Utah! Shortly before I returned home from my mission..I started getting feelings that going back and playing football @ Snow college would have been good but not entirely where I needed to be and what I needed to be doing at that point in my life. As an earnest 21 yr. old that was hard but it felt so right when I made my first trip up to campus shortly after coming home from the mission. It was amazing having 10+ cousins up here, mission buddies, and the ladies to choose from. Luckily, as I am still counting my blessings I met the best one of all just a couple weeks into my first semester and we are loving every bit of our journey together! Life is absolutely amazing and I am so happy and full of gratitude for all I have and have been given in my life! Enjoy some of the pics from this special day!

Gotta love the pics @ the "A" on the Quad! So many memories up here at USU..I am glad that I made the right decision and came up here to gain so much more than an education!

Dept. Head Ted Pease - I think they all need new would have been awesome if Harry Potter Part 2 came out this same weekend, then it would have all made more sense.
Rhett and many memories and us not believing we actually made it this far ha. Love this kid!
The Hurtado Family - So glad they were able to make it!
Nelsons...Dad and Paul - Love you guys
It was awesome having President Watterson (My mission president) at both the commencement and our college ceremony. He is one incredible person and it was such a blessing and fitting that he was right there.
I could not have done any of this without her..she supported me so much through everything - I love you sweetheart!!