Familes are like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts

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.

Food in Taiwan

So, Food in Taiwan is different. I like some of it quite a lot, and some not at all. And some of it I just can't bring myself to eat. 

Our hosts showed us how they stuff these chickens for roasting. They are stuffed with herbs and vegetables. Notice the claws are still attached. They eat these after they are cooked. And I always complained that the wing didn't have any meat on it.
Taiwan people are not camera shy. 

Every meal includes soup of some kind and they are usually quite good, though mostly vegetables. This is a fish soup containing several kinds of fish balls and formed fish. They color the formed fish lots of colors like the pink and yellow below and put it into different shapes. Strange colors to have in a soup, but it all tastes just like fish.
This is my bowl of soup.
One night we had soup at a little restaurant down the street. They had us pick out the fish we wanted and then they made it into a soup for us. The head, including the eyeballs, and the tail were floating around in the soup. I just didn't look at it while I ate. It tasted good. David thought we should have chosen the squid instead of a fish. I have a hard time with the tentacles on squid and octopus.
Kaohsiung is bordered on one side by the ocean, so seafood is prevalent in their meals. The fish at left were being grilled. The fish is always cooked with head and tail attached. Sometimes it hasn't even been cleaned before cooking.

This is Hot Pot. You start with a bowl of broth and a plate of vegetables and the meat of your choice. The broth is on a hot plate and you control the temperature. You put whatever you want into the broth and eat it as it cooks. When you finish, you have a yummy broth soup to finish off your meal.
the soup at the end of my meal.

Taiwan pot lucks are great. The Ward finds an excuse to have one about twice a month. There is always lots of food, but there is seldom a dessert table. There may be a few cookies but that's about all. They like meat and vegetable dishes. We've learned that everyone brings their own bowl and chopsticks from home. When we didn't have any, the members insisted on us using theirs. That was rather awkward. This particular potluck was for the Women's broadcast. 

They have wonderful bakeries here. Most of the bread has some kind of filling and we never have any way of knowing what it will be. We always get surprised. I think that is rather fun, but David has ended up with too many raisins and blueberries and red beans and is getting kind of leery of the breads. The only one I haven't liked so far is the the shredded pork filling.

Mostly, the food is very good. I don't have pictures of the pot stickers and Shui Jiao. They are absolutely wonderful. Also the fruit milk drinks make a great meal all by themselves. I'm having a hard time keeping my calorie count in check.

P-day at Zouying and Lotus Lake

Dad and I took a day trip to Zouying to see where he served his mission 42 years ago. He didn't find much that was the same. However, Lotus Lake was still there with it's pagodas. 

The Lake was quite pretty, especially in a sea of city high rise buildings. It was like a breath of fresh air. It was nice to see many people just enjoying nature here at the lake.

This is the Tiger pagoda - one of the twin pagodas. They sit out in the Lake and you walk a zigzag pathway over the water to get to them. Dad says the path used to be more simple.

Here are the twin pagodas; tiger on the right and dragon on the left. You enter and exit through the mouths of the dragon and tiger. That is totally for tourist sake and have been added on.

Incense offering inside the pagoda.

Interesting view of the seven level pagoda - this is the dragon side.

I like the hanging lanterns. I would like to see them lit at night.

So, the paintings tell the Taoist story of their "plan of salvation". I don't think too many are "saved" however. It seemed everyone had something awful in store for them in eternity. I like our plan better. 

Across the street from the pathway to the pagodas was this functioning Buddhist temple. The inside, above, was totally ornate with red and gold everywhere. We saw two little girls baibai-ing their ancesters, and then their fathers did likewise. I thought it would be inappropriate to take their photos but the little girls were adorable.  Below is the front of the Buddhist temple taken from out at the pagodas - you can see the zigzag pathway rails. 

This is written above the temple entrance. Dad figured out the writing. It says "defend life great god". The words above this, which you can't see here, say "loving beneficial temple". That must be the name of the temple. It was an interesting place.

This is the old city gate to Zouying. It is much older than the Chinese culture on Taiwan and dates from the old native culture. The architecture is very ancient (there was no date given). Of course it was attached to a wall that ran around the old city but all that is left is this gate. David remembers this from 40 years ago but also remembers that part of the wall was still visible then. Now it sits in the middle of a busy hi-way round-a-bout.

This might have been the best part of the day: Manguo Bing (mango ice).
It is really very good and consists of a shaved frozen sweetened ice milk concoction- similar but not the same as ice cream, with mangoes and sweetened condensed milk on top.  Very good!

Photos from Taiwan

Our first baptism in Taiwan. Sister Wu is in a wheelchair so these three elders figured out a safe and ingenious way to baptize her. It took all three of them using a chair placed in the water, but she is now baptized and happy. Her returned missionary daughter is thrilled.

This is the parking and entrance to our church house. It is very nice, but very small.

Here is David waiting at the bus stop. You can see the potted plants that are often in front of businesses and along the sidewalks.

The bus arrives. I almost missed it taking this photo!

Sister Mancilla had a birthday and the elders found this big cream puff for a cake. It was quite good. Sister Mancilla is called our "secret weapon". She is a very positive influence for good. She is always happy, funny and positive. Sometimes investigators seek her out instead of the other way around. 

Our apartment in Sanmin, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

This is a long post, but I want to show everyone my Taiwan apartment. 

This is our apartment complex. We are in the closest tower with the Chinese characters on it. If you look above the yellow sign at the bottom left and below the double wires going across the photo, that is our apartment. You can see an open window at the left. That is on the enclosed balcony off the master bedroom. If you come forward around the building and to the far right of that tower, you will see our laundry balcony. This balcony is not enclosed but has a high wall so it is safe. Our clothes washer and dryer and clothes rack are out there. I like doing my laundry up that high and outside. It feels safe and secluded in a very big un-secluded city.  Sister Ji, a neighbor and friend lives in the tower just visible at the far right of the photo.  

Again you can see our open bedroom balcony window just above the roof of the low building in the lower left corner of the photo. This balcony wraps all the way around the bedroom. If you could follow that balcony to the left you would come to our music room balcony, but it is not visible in the photo. When I say we are the entire 12th floor, I mean we are the entire 12th floor of this particular tower. We have our own elevator just for this tower.

This is the view from the laundry balcony. 

This is the view from the bedroom balcony
Here is Dad studying in the bedroom we have turned into a study. We each have a desk.

Here is the dining room looking from the kitchen door toward the living room. The door of the apartment is on the far right at the back of the photo. We have lots of shelf space but it is all glass and I don't have anything nice to display there. Notice the refrigerator is on the far right. Our microwave is here also. There is not room in the kitchen for either.

Here is the kitchen looking from the doorway toward the laundry balcony door. We have a double gas cook top and we bought the rice maker. The kitchen in just a corridor with a counter on one side.

Here is looking at the kitchen from the laundry balcony door toward the kitchen door. You can see the sink and the toaster oven we bought. Dad is going to broil some pork chops in it tonight. We will see how that works. You can also see the Nutella we bought. Things are okay if we have Nutella.

The laundry room from the balcony doorway. We put the dryer up on a stand so I can get things out of it without kneeling down. It is very small. Our gas water heater is also out here. This is why we do not have to worry about what happened to the two Elders in Taipei last weekend. Their water heater was inside their apartment. That is a terrible tragedy and is already having repercussions in housing throughout the mission. 

This is our living room. The dinning room is right behind the wall and these are the same shelves you can see from the dining room picture. On the right is a partition that closes off the the music room, but since the air conditioner is in the music room, we never close it off. There is a balcony outside the music room. The sofa, love seat and chair had no cushions when we arrived. I bought the red ones you can see here and had to order the rest of them which we pick up later tonight. They don't quite fit but they are the best I could find and they are much more comfortable then hard wood. I'm going to try to make ties to hold the back cushions up where they belong. In this photo you can kind of see the ceiling. This apartment has very high ceilings and they have some very fun architectural moldings - different in each room.

Here is looking into the music room. The piano is draped with a big black cloth that is lined with thick flannel. This is to protect the piano from the humidity. The cloth splits in the center and I just move it to both sides to play. There is also an electric powered dehumidifier inside the piano which must be left on at all times. Without these the humidity would make the keys stick and warp the hammers. Even the piano in the primary room of the church has one. I'm sure all the church pianos have them.

There are 4 bedrooms in the apartment. We use the largest one for our bedroom, and it is huge. It is also the coolest room in the house (I'm talking temperature here). One bedroom is our study and the other two are just storage rooms. We have 3 bathrooms but we only use 2 of them, one for showers and the other for everything else. We have not seen any insects so that is Great!!! I'm not sure how long we will be here. Originally they said our entire mission, but I'm sure the utilities here have to be way high so we will see what happens.