Here’s part of my journal from our first couple days there:
Our airplane flew right over a day as we were en route to Taiwan because of the 16-hour time difference. We arrived groggy but excited…just the three of us finally in Taiwan.
As I mentioned before, we landed on the most Northern tip of this long island (Taipei) and took the high-speed train down to the Southern tip: Max’s first area.
I loved how my tour-guides knew just how to get us around:)
Our sweet long-lost friends met us at the train station (DY and Ann…a Taiwanese couple…Dave used to work with DY importing gear boxes when we lived in China that one summer when I was pregnant with Lucy and they seriously took the most amazing care of us). We hadn’t seen them in eleven years and they were just the same…would give us the shirt off their backs if they felt like we needed it. Max had served close to where they live but never right in their area so he never got to hook up with them there.
Their son was with them as well…he’s now married with a couple kids. It was a joyous reunion.
They took us to DY’s factory, which has gotten huge since we saw him last. I fell in love with gears and how they function watching all those precision machines working to build them.
Newfound appreciation for those beauties that make so many things work!
Then they took us to a nice lunch and then off to see the Fo Guang Shan Buddha, a place Max had visited on a p-day during his mission. It was beautiful and so calm and peaceful…loved learning more at the museum there.
They were getting ready for the lantern festival that evening which I’m sure was beautiful.
DY and Ann insisted on driving us to Max’s mission area instead of letting us get a taxi, about 30 minutes away.
Tough to explain the excitement going on inside me as I walked those streets with my boys, to see Max’s apartment, where he sometimes ate, where he fell off his bike once (ha!), the scooters and street vendors and commotion all around.
I loved thinking about how he felt as he adjusted to that Taiwan life those first few months…he and his awesome “trainer” walking around those streets, talking to everyone, letting go of insecurities and just living life to the fullest.
We walked all the way to the church:
…mingled in with life and scooters and people as the sky softened and the sun went down, then to the Bishop’s house where his wife was cutting hair (they have a salon downstairs) and they were just glowing, goodness.
That sweet bishop drove us to see another two members who adore Max, one who just got baptized in a little storefront type of house that is really common here, a car parked right inside the front room.
At both places (the hair salon and the store front) we sat and ate chunks of pineapple and I listened to them all talk a million miles a minute in Chinese, laughing their heads off here and there wishing I could speak that language but so happy that both my boys can, smiles stretched across their faces and love glowing through them.
Sad to say goodbye…we waved until we were out of sight:
I loved walking by these houses, all filled with people, all people Max may have come across at one time or another over there.
…some with creative gardens in front.
The Bishop took us to get “cold/hot ice” (really interesting soup with shaved ice on top):
…and then he insisted on driving us all the way back to Gaoxiong to our hotel even though he and his ward were doing a temple trip at 5:30 the next morning.
People are just so good.
The next morning, since we were only in that area just that one more morning, DY and Ann took us to “Monkey Mountain” and a beautiful memorial overlook of “Love River.”
It took my breath away it was so beautiful.
And then they drove us all the way from Gaoxing to Gaonshan.
I love them.
Bid them goodbye and met up with Max’s old ward mission leader in this next area, full of smiles and no English over a BBQ lunch in this coolest restaurant where you have your own little grill in the middle of the table and you cook a variety of meats just how you want them.
He is the only church member in his family and was pretty awesome to take Max (and lots of others) under his wing while he was there. I couldn’t understand anything he said, but I was just so endeared to him.
We walked around after lunch…love that as we were getting ready to take a picture Max spotted another friend riding his scooter down the street:
We saw one of Max’s old companions there. So fun to put real faces with all the names and random pictures Max sent.
Then we bid goodbye to this sweet man. Just look at this body-language:
So much love.
Walked the city rolling our bags behind us…the church, the bike shortcuts, melting in the humidity to get to the train station…off to Chiayi: my favorite night….
More about that tomorrow.