For the last two years Max sent us fragments of his life…bits and pieces filtering in through email, voice memos, and pictures.

A couple weeks ago Dave and I got one of the best gifts parents could ask for since we got to go back to that place he fell in love with, to visit those wonderful people, and to put so many of those puzzle pieces he sent back together:

The Branch President from Taibao who looked so young in the pictures can speak English and has a sweet wife and a darling new baby girl.  The Bishop with the buzz cut who helped Max so much when he was in Chaozou can’t speak much English, took Max under his wing when he started his mission there, and owns the hair salon Max called us from that first Mother’s Day in the mission field.  The pet store Max sent us a picture of and we didn’t quite know why turned out to be the building where the chapel in that area is (just above the pet store).

So much came together over there in Taiwan, and all of it with constant Chinese floating around me, Max talking to everyone.  Not just the beautiful church members and investigators, but the taxi drivers, the dumpling-makers, the hotel managers, the strangers on the train…and Dave can speak Chinese as well (we got to see part of his mission at the end).

I was lost in translation much of the trip.

But it’s weird how being lost in translation can feel so good.

Also, not only can Max speak in Mandarin, he can type in Chinese.  He can just text back and forth on the phone with people IN CHINESE.

That baffles my mind.

I loved listening to him carry on the most beautiful conversations with everyone we met; glowing with love matching the glow of love they have for him.  I am telling you, not many things can make a mama happier that experiencing that.

He navigated us around that country of his like nobody’s business.

We followed him like little ducks in a row, sometimes, (often-times actually), rolling our bags behind us, sweating in the tropical humidity, just loving life over there on that boy’s island that he loves.

And did I mention he can type in Chinese?  Seriously, I’m in awe.

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.  Then made our way back up, stopping in every one of the areas where he served.  The red arrow shows our journey:

We saw the details…like this little alley where he rode his bike a hundred times as a shortcut:

We ate at his favorite places:

One of my favorite meals was in one of these little dumpling places where Max ordered, they brought us the food, and Max was deep in conversation with us about something or other as he unwrapped his chopsticks and started rubbing them across each other over and over away from the table.
Dave and I just busted up laughing…what on earth was he doing?  I guess that’s what you do when you don’t want those little fray things cleaned off chopsticks.
There were things like that every day that made us realize how accustomed he had become to life over there.

We got to meet countless people who shared their lights with him as he shared his with them:

…and got to visit many of their homes.

Taiwan is a gorgeous country…the people and the land.

I’m excited to take you there with me next week and share a little of my journal from when we were there…and a lot of pictures 🙂

More Posts about our time in Taiwan:


  1. I can only imagine the happiness brought to your heart and the excitement for Max to show you where his heart would grow to love beyond anything he could imagine !!!

  2. Ah I can't wait for the next chapter in this adventure story! Thank you for sharing with us Max's mission, in tidbits, over the last couple of years. I am not LDS, but I love the culture and tenets of your faith… and reading about his mission has been really special 🙂


  3. So, SO cool for you to get to experience a little of his past two years with him! Is it customary for returned missionaries to take their families back to where they served, our just worked for you all?

    1. It isn't really customary, but if possible a lot of parents do try to make a visit…either picking up their missionary or going back to where they served. It's a great opportunity to see up close and personal what they've been doing for two years. We feel so grateful we got to go!

  4. What a neat trip!
    I have a Chinese friend that taught me to do that with my chopsticks! I wonder if people wonder what I am doing when I do it.

  5. This is off-topic but I am searching for advice on modesty and teenage daughters. I don’t know how to reconcile my standard and values of what i think is modest with what my daughter thinks is fine. I would say the most contentious conversations surround this topic and while i would rather we rather avoid the topic altogether i am not okay when she comes home from the mall having purchased clothes that don’t cover enough. I also struggle because little sister watches her example. Please share your insights and perspective! Maybe I’m way off?!? Help!

    1. Modesty is a tricky one with teenagers because think it's so important for them to be able to start making those decisions on their own. But guiding them on that is much easier said than done. If you are the one buying the clothes, you obviously have a lot more say, but if they are buying things with their own money that's kind of another story. Most important thing is to communicate the why's as to how you feel and let them express how they feel to you and try to come to an agreement you both feel good about. Not sure if that helps or if I'm just rambling, but good luck figuring it out!

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