Familes are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts

So, I didn't get a lot of good pictures at the family reunion this year but I did get these, including the first one of Abbie's birthday. It was a fun reunion up in the Ketchum area of Idaho. Thank you Brett and Leslie for organizing. It turned out grrrrreat. 

The Taiwan Lantern Fesitval

The annual Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in Taizhong this year and David and I got to go on Thursday night. The Lantern Festival is traditionally the 15th day after the New Year. This particular festival however lasted for 10 days. The lanterns and lights were amazing both in number and craftmanship. We first arrived when it was still light and everything looked colorful and fun. However, as darkness came and the lights came up it was truly amazing.

 The festival covered at least 1/2 square mile. I could not walk the entire thing and we missed a lot on one side. I heard we missed the huge castle complete with dragon and the pirate ship in the sky.

This bird's wings flapped.

I was informed this was Not a fish. It is a Carp!

This reminded me of the festival of trees in that each company, organization, religion or business designed and put together their own display, some small and some huge. I could not tell if there was a theme for the festival. The motto was "Tiawan and Tiazhong rise together" (rough translation). There were awards given though we did not understand how they were judged.

 I liked the phoenix. Notice the people in the foreground to get some idea of the size of these displays.
David chose a picture with a typical Chinese look.

He was appalled that I chose mine with a minion.

 There was a large stage in the center and different acts and performances all evening. I enjoyed the dragon though we only saw the rehearsal. The performance was later, after dark, when the dragon lit up and breathed fire.
 After it was totally dark the fireworks started. Happy New Year every said. The Chinese know their fireworks!
David and I worked at information booth #9. Sister Xie and Elder and Sister Jan worked with us (and 5 Chinese volunteers). I got to wear a "Helping Hands" sticker. So fun, though I didn't do much because of the language barrier. David was more useful.

This is the Year of the Goat so this HUGE goat was in the center by the stage. It lit up before each performance as seen in the video below.

The many faces of missionary service

Everyday we have a chance to serve someone.
It is a great life!

Serving at a Senior Care Center

Holding a baby at a member visit

Helping to teach a Relief Society class

Teaching a Relief Society class

The children loved the cooking class

They did not think the apple filling was too sweet

English Proselyting - we handle English just fine

Lots of fun!

singing in a choir

Teaching English classes

Christmas decorations in Taiwan

These men were putting up the tree for our Ward Christmas party. It was fun to watch. I don't even think they got the tree put together correctly let alone any rhyme or reason for how it was decorated. They never found a top on the tree.

Young Carson wanted to help - he did as well as anyone else

This is the tree in our apartment complex lobby. David asked if one of the gifts was for him and they said sure.
 I took photos of all the Christmas decorations I have put up in my house. I actually have more then I expected and I love them. They make me feel good.
/My tree. It stands about 5 feet high. It makes me happy!

This is the tree Shanalee's family sent me.
It hangs on the dining room wall. It makes me happy too!

My nativity shelf. I have 3 nativities. I brought two from home.
I haven't found one to buy here, but I keep looking!

My advent calendar this year

 Shanalee made me a two sided Christmas stocking. It hangs in the doorway between our living and dining rooms
David's side

My side

The nativity I made this year.
I made some and gave them away also.

The book I bought this year is also a decoration
and has wonderful paper cuttings.

I found this angel music box and had to buy it.

A Ward member was selling ginger bread houses so I bought one.
It isn't decorated quite up to my normal standards, but it is a
gingerbread house. It smells good!

The Harvest Moon Festival and the Temple

In September Taiwan celebrated the Harvest Moon Festival. That morning we were invited to watch the building of a traditional stone oven. They build a framework with cinder block and iron rods and pile the rocks on top and around, leaving an oven cavity. Then they build a very hot fire inside the cavity and let it burn for a long time until the rocks are very hot. They then quickly but carefully clean out the leftover fire materials and put whole stuffed chickens and yams inside. With shovels they then smash the oven stones down over the food so the hot stones are directly on the food. Last they cover the entire thing with sand and let it cook for several hours. I'm sure it is an efficient way to cook a meal, but it was already 95 degrees outside and I had a hard time appreciating a hot fire. 

completed stone oven

The fire burning inside the oven

Putting sand on the hot rocks

The Taiwan Taipei Temple

A good place to go

Here we are with Sister Liu
Also in September we were able to attend the Taiwan Taipei Temple with our Ward. We left super early in the morning on a bus from our church house. We arrived in Taipei around noon. Sister Liu met us there. She owns our apartment and is very nice. She plans to attend the temple with us each time we go. She also treated us to lunch. It was a very good day.

On the ride home we got to watch the sun set over rural Taiwan. It is the first sunset I have seen in Taiwan. You just don't see the sun set in a big city. This is the best picture I could get from the bus window. David was thrilled to see the country side because it reminded him of how Taiwan looked when he was here 42 years ago.