Monday, November 24, 2014

Tons Of Motorbikes, Great Food, Fish Eyes, And Squatty Potties...

 Ni Hao Everyone,

Well, I finally made it to Taiwan and it's amazing! I feel so privileged to be serving in this beautiful place! I didn't get to take a bunch of pictures of the city or country because we've been a little busy. I'll be sure to send some that I have though, because it is awesome over here. Right now I'm serving in Tainan, which actually means, south Taiwan, so as the name implies, I'm in the bottom part of Taiwan. We're in the city. It's a little smaller than Taichung, but it's still a fairly big city. It's crazy to ride around on your bike through the streets. There are tons of little motorbikes all over the place! Literally thousands of them! They always weave their way through the traffic and I've almost been hit many times already haha. (maybe I shouldn't say that...I don't want to scare you. I'm actually fine, don't worry) Taiwan is so different from the US, and I couldn't write down all the cool things in one email.

We got to Taiwan at like 12 am and we were all exhausted. We had a 2 hour bus ride to the mission home, and then we spend the night at some apartments nearby. We had a lot of training! It was so awesome to see all my friends from the MTC. It was like no time had passed at all since we left the MTC. We ate at a lot of cool restaurants. Actually every place we go here is pretty good. I really love the tea! (Don't worry, it's legal haha) There's tea called dong gua cha and it's amazing. They  have tons of different flavors and I'm going to have to try them all. The food is really cheap here too so we just go to any random place and get a pretty big meal for like 2 maybe 3 bucks. I'm getting pretty good at chopsticks already! The restaurants are actually more like eating inside someone's garage with some tables and chairs. We went to a nice place for our last dinner with the mission president though. They had a lot of interesting foods like some shrimp with sweet sauce and sprinkles on it. I also tried some duck brain and fish eyes....they aren't my favorite so far. All of the other food is good though.

My companion is great. His name is Elder Smith and he's been here for a little more than a year. His Chinese is really good and he can speak really well with all of the natives here. I hope I can learn a lot from him. You can tell that he really cares about the people he teaches, and even about me for that matter. He's a good trainer!  The missionaries in the Taichung Mission are really smart, musically talented, and dedicated to their missions.
My Chinese is alright. It's really hard for me to understand what everyone says, cuz they speak really, really fast. They also have an accent and pronounce words differently than what I learned in the MTC. I think it'll take a while for me to understand people. Apparently a lot of the missionaries are saying that my Chinese speaking ability is really good for how short I've studied. They might just be being nice, but I'm really working hard to improve!
Our apartment is huge! It's just Elder Smith and me in the apartment, and it's twice as big as the one back in Utah that I shared with 4 other Elders. I love it. The only problem is that we only have squatty potties....not a big fan. I really hate using them.  It reminds me of Africa, and I look for every opportunity to use the restroom outside of the apartment haha. At least you get done really quick! Well, there's just so much to be said, but I'll wait and say more next time. I just want to say how happy I was to talk with everyone! I really enjoyed that, and it was especially nice that I could talk to everyone one on one. It was great to hear everyone's voice again. Alexa and Ian both sound older already! And when Eric answered the phone, he was speaking in Japanese and I thought he was a random old Japanese guy that I called on accident haha. I almost hung up, but luckily he said my name and I realized it was him. It cost me 20 bucks to talk for just 20 minutes!!! But it was worth it. I love you all very much. I hope you enjoy the winter in Ohio ;)

 The Great Mission Of Taichung, Taiwan
President and Sister Blickenstaff, Center
Last Leg Of The Trip.  Total Travel Time 24 Hours
Boarding Bus At The Airport

Bus Ride From Taipei To Taichung

New Missionaries And Their Trainers


Exercising After Big Delicious Meals!

Looking Out The Door Of The Mission Home In Taichung, Taiwan

Missionary Friends From The MTC

My Apartment In Tainan

A Little Gift From My Trainer, Elder Smith

Elder Stevens With Trainer, Elder Smith

Family Home Evening At The Local Chapel

Monday, November 17, 2014

Off To Taiwan!!

  Well the time has finally arrived! I got my visa, and I'll be leaving for Taiwan tomorrow morning at 8:30am. I'm so excited to finally be leaving and going to a new country! Especially because it's starting to get really cold here and I'm already tired of it haha. Hopefully the weather will be a lot warmer over there. I think it will definitely be warmer than 0 degrees with the windchill like it is over here. And hopefully I won't have to wear my suits anymore! Actually it's not to bad wearing them. I guess I've gotten used to wearing them so they don't feel uncomfortable anymore. 
 I ran into Bishop Hale's dad after we finished with the Summerwood meeting and I didn't even know who he was until he asked if my bishop back home was doing a good job. Luckily I said that he was doing a great job haha. I've also talked with the Marshells who lived in our ward a while back. It's nice that I've seen so many people here, but I doubt that will be the case in Taiwan. Oh well, I'm still excited!
  Some good missionary news, W... and J... are both on date for baptism on the 6th of January! They are both progressing very well and are really excited to learn more and to read the Book of Mormon. They are fantastic. It's too bad that I'll be leaving them, but I know that my companions will do a good job teaching her more. C... is still doing well, and really enjoys it when we stop by. I'm sad to leave her too. She's a hair stylist and just got out of beauty school so I'm going to have her get some practice today when she cuts my hair. I gotta look good for when I arrive in Taiwan haha. We've also found tons of potential investigators, and a lot of people that are telling us that they want to be baptized and that they want their family baptized as well! Too bad I'll be missing all of that, but the Lord needs me in other parts of the world.
  I really hope that I get your package in the mail today! Otherwise I may not get it for a while haha. The mission office would send it to me if I had already left before I got the package.  I know it will work out. I'm going to be sending home some of the things that I don't need so keep your eyes peeled for a package with a bunch of cool missionary stuff in it. Well I gotta go now. I'm so excited to talk with everyone soon!! Alexa and Ian, hopefully I'll be able to talk with you in a few hours! I love you all very much! Talk to you soon!
I decided to add a special email for this momentous occasion.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!!! You're still looking good even at your age haha. When I get to taiwan I'll try to find some cool things to send home for you and mom for your birthdays. Don't think that I've forgotten about that!
Love you lots! and I'm looking forward to talking with you!

Taipai, Taiwan

New Companions For A Short Time
Elders Walker, Amone, and Stevens

Final Night In Layton, Utah
I Will Miss The Many Friendships I Have Developed

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Birthday!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Monday, November 3, 2014

Halloween, and Transfers...

  Well this week is transfers and it looks like I will be staying here for at least another 6 weeks! This is a great area so I'm glad that I'm staying. Unfortunately my companion is leaving for Kaysville. I'm really going to miss my companion because we worked really well together and got along great. We also were getting a lot done, but I guess there's other work to be done for him. Our roommate, Elder Palhegyi is getting transferred too, but Elder Firpo is staying.
   That's so exciting that Tim got his mission call to Portugal. He will have a great mission!
   I talked to the doctor yesterday and he said that I would probably be fine to wear contacts again. He didn't check my eyes or anything but he said it's been long enough. Hopefully they'll be alright.
   It was a lot of fun teaching the exchange students from Taiwan. It's too bad they've already gone back home because it would be nice to be able to teach them some more. It was really a good way to practice my Chinese.
   My week has been pretty good. W... and  C... were both really sick this last week so we weren't able to teach them or invite them to church, but hopefully we can this next week. Since I will have a new companion to the area, I need to really step up and take charge during all the lessons and the work, especially because I've been in the area longer and know people better. Maybe it will be a good learning experience for me. 
   It's starting to get really cold here though! It was snowing a little bit yesterday. It's crazy because the day before it was 70 degrees! That's a huge change! I'm borrowing one of Elder Carlin's coats for a while and I'll just give it back before I leave, which might not be until a while;-)  I heard Janae is getting a temporary call to Arizona. That's a great place to go though. She'll have perfect weather! I want to go there too haha.
   I'm glad everyone had a good Halloween. We had to stay in our apartments after 6 pm so we didn't get to celebrate too much. We got to just relax for the rest of the night so that was nice. We only had one set of trick or treaters stop by, and that was D..., J..., and his two girls A... and S... That was nice of them to come by cuz it's a little out of their way from other places for getting candy.

We attend 4 different wards.  We are in the Valley View Stake and we go to the Peacefield, Adamswood, Oakhills, and Summerwood Wards. We meet a lot of people every Sunday. 
   I got a letter about a week or two ago. Was that a different one than this one? We lost our key to the mailbox so we can only get in if we wait for the mail truck and grab the mail when the mail lady opens the mailbox. It's at a bad time because it took a week to be able to get Grandma and Grandpa's cookies that they sent. Luckily it's been so cold anyway that they were still good. Thanks for sending them! They taste great and my roommates love them as well!

  I can't believe I didn't mention this earlier, but we had a baptism this last Saturday. J... is 9 and his cousins R... and V... are both 8 and they were all baptized together. We started out teaching them but then our area split and the other Elders finished teaching them. I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost at the baptismal service and I used a Kendama as an object lesson. I said that without the string (Holy Ghost) we can't do any of the tricks i.e. have a happy family, go to the temple, make correct decisions.  I had J... come up and demonstrate using the Kendama for us and it worked out really well.
   Well I hope everyone has a great week! Hopefully it doesn't snow yet! If it just snows on Christmas and then melts right afterwards I'll be okay with that haha. I love you all very much.