, this night was my favorite part of our trip. Here’s how I wrote about it in my journal:
We walked through the pink sunset sky, rolling our bags and dodging scooters and cars, steaming dumpling stands, the smell of fried food filling the air, and lucked out to find enough spots at a hostel for us to sleep (it was the lantern festival so we hadn’t been able to find anything online). Dropped off our bags and walked, just HAPPY through those streets that are chock full of Max’s memories, and as we walked he spilled them out to us.
We stopped for dinner at one of the places Max used to eat all the time:
…and got a smoothie at his favorite place for dessert.
Loved imagining him on those streets as a missionary. He said it was so different to be there without a nametag on.
Made it to the church for part of the ward talent show that happened to be that night
(this good friend with the American name “Kobe” because he loves Kobe Bryant so much had texted him to give him the heads-up 🙂
We hit the jackpot with that talent show, filled with SO MANY PEOPLE who love my boy, and who he loves. Cutest bishop, kids clinging to his legs as he announced some things at the end. Here’s the bishop:
Dave reunited with a guy (Taiwanese) who was in
his mission all those years ago…such a good guy we later found out is the stake president.
Loved being in that room with all those wonderful people singing, playing the piano, telling jokes…you name it.
We stayed late, well after everything was done, just basking in the beautiful spirit there. Met one of Max’s old companions:
Happened to meet my friend’s nephew who is serving over there:
…and just basked in all that love.
Not much could beat a night like that for a mother I tell you. Give me diamonds and Broadway plays and the most fancy entertainment in the world and I’d trade them all without batting an eye for a night like that one soaking in various talents there in that small church building filled with goodness and light in that muggy city in Taiwan.
Walking back to our hotel, talking out so many things, it was a good night.
March 4, 2018 –Sunday
Max wanted to take advantage of the only Sunday we had there so we got to go to a morning branch as well as an afternoon ward.
Early morning taxi to Taibao to meet with the morning branch there, snuggling the branch president’s new baby and trying to get Max or Dave to translate the testimony meeting in that small room with about twenty members…two youth and I think one Primary aged-child.
Then we got back to Chiayi in time for a quick visit to a “long-term investigator” kid Max wanted to invite to church before the afternoon ward meeting there.
Loved walking these streets to and from his house:
…and loved having Kobe there to greet us when we got to the church…
…as well as other members from another area who were in town visiting and wanted to take pictures with Max.
Another testimony meeting in Chinese, including Max testifying of the simplicity of the essence of the gospel and his love of the Savior (translated by Dave) and the cute bishop who spoke in English just for us at the beginning of his testimony.
Here’s Max with this cute girl who got baptized not too long ago:
…and with so many of those good people we got to meet:
After that we bid goodbye to that great city and took a train to Taichung, then taxi to our next hotel in the big city.
It was a long ride and standing-room only a lot of the time. When I finally got a seat, Dave told me he’d give me 10 minutes back rub if I’d reach in and take a chip from my neighbor. Oh man it was tempting…ha! 🙂
We went to dinner at the home of the sweetest member who was the ward mission leader when Max was in the toughest part of his mission: when he served in the office. This guy with a tough life (wife left him, stubborn older son and down syndrome teenage daughter) made us a beautiful meal at his home.
Such a good man…he couldn’t speak a lick of English but he just glowed with goodness. So grateful for his kindness and wished we could do something for him in return for that beautiful meal.
As we left I told him I loved his woodwork (he works in the wood industry) and admired a vase he had made. Little did I know he would just take out the flowers in it, and hand it over to me as a gift. Oh boy, I felt awful, but also grateful for his kindness.
That vase sits in my bedroom now, a memento of kindness, and a reminder to strive to be like that good man over there in Taiwan.
He drove us to the church where we happened to see Max’s last companion getting ready for a ward correlation meeting, SUCH a great kid who was such a perfect companion for Max at the end of his mission.
March 5, 2018
Worked out all three in the craziest gym, then walked to meet up with another recently baptized church member for breakfast.
That kid is pretty fabulous. He’s working on his doctorate degree right now and could speak perfect English and was just as bright as could be. Had such an interesting conversation with him about the relationship of China and Taiwan over breakfast.
Then we walked to the mission home/mission office on a small triangle block in the middle of the bustling city. First we met the Warners who Max trained to take over his office job, this awesome older couple full of goodness and max’s salvation right when he needed it.
Then other missionaries including Max’s last companion came in (happened to be their p-day):
Then the Tehs (mission president and his wife) came to meet up with us, hugs all around…so good to see them again! (We had quite the surprise when they happened to come to our ward here in the desert two years before when Max was still in the MTC…talked about that back HERE.)
We headed off to the seafood market, long drive that gave us time to talk and talk.
So interesting to be able to pick their brains about so many things. One thing that stuck out was Sister Teh’s comment about the confidence of the sisters…(so much more in another post about that next week).
Here’s the fish market:
This guy LOVED Dave and Max’s height (as do so many people there), and really wanted to pose like this with them lifting him up:
The Teh’s picked out some beautiful fish…
…and then we walked across the parking lot to a nearby restaurant where they cooked up our purchases so perfectly flavored and delicious.
It was sooo good!
Mission presidents are busy. How grateful we were for that time they were able to take out so much time to spend with us, and show us more of Taiwan, and just to be together. Mission presidents play such a huge role in the lives of missionaries…we have been thankful over and over for these two!
Back to mission office, tour of mission home, goodbyes all around to the Tehs and the office staff (including another great older couple and the APs).
Train to Taipei…off to Dave’s mission world, sadness welling up in my heart for Max leaving his mission boundaries one last time, who knows when he’ll be back to that land he loves? But also SO MUCH GRATITUDE that we got to be there and experience that with our boy.
Taiwan continued HERE