Original article posted by Greg:
Hello friends, romans and countrymen. Not my country, of course, since my country is currently Taiwan. This is Elder Greg Hamblin.
Well, I’ve safely arrived here in Taiwan and have begun the real missionary work. It’s pretty incredible here. Some things are very different, some are very much like the US of A.
I’ve nearly overcome the habit of waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning thinking it’s time to get up.
My first area is Tucheng. It means dust city, or as we call it – Dirt City. It is about 50% industrial. If you’ve ever had anything that was made in Taiwan, I’ve probably seen the building it was made in.
I live with my new companion, Elder Smith, on the tenth floor of a big pink tile-covered building right between the industrial and the residential parts of town.
There’s a little river outside that changes colors every day. My first day it was denim blue. Yesterday it was green. Today it is clear for the most part.
Taipei is a strange city. It is a lot like New York in that it has fancy fancy buildings right next to buildings that just barely qualify as shacks. Sometimes we’ll go into the ugliest looking building and find a beautiful home inside. It’s weird.
I spend my time wandering around not understanding what is going on around me. Mostly because of the language, but also because of the motor scooters which are numerous and quick like lightning. It’s great. I have my bike now and weave perilously through traffic. Actually, that’s not true. Traffic is great here. Everybody gets out of your way. My companion says you can ride down the wrong side of the road and people just move over for you.
Not that we would do that.
Don’t worry mom. I’m fine. Really.
I’ve had an interesting couple of days here in Tucheng. All the missionaries keep saying “Don’t get used to it, it’s not going to be like this every day.” But I’m kinda thinking that it might be for me. Cause I’m special like.
I go tracting sometimes. Which is basically me telling people that we have a message we want to share with them and when would be convenient, that sort of thing. To which they reply in Chinese – and I don’t understand – and I keep talking at them till they walk away or write down their name, phone number, and address.
I’m told this method doesn’t change once you actually understand what they are saying to you.
My first day I actually baptized two teenagers. So that was one thing they say I shouldn’t get used to. They may be right about that. (It might not always be teenagers) I also sang a duet with my companion for them. Everybody is pretty amazed at how willing I am to help out and participate and open my mouth. Which is good, I think. It makes me feel like I’m doing well.
I can’t recieve email from anybody but my mom. Sorry. So still just written mail. I believe my mom will post my mailing address on here for all to have and enjoy.
I’m currently in a gaming center. The sounds of Chinese flavored CGI carnage surround me. It’s wild.
The language remains hard. I hear things and don’t understand them. Then I say things and they don’t understand me. But… I keep practicing. And every once in a while somebody understands me perfectly. And even more rarely I understand what somebody is saying to me. Wootski!
Another great first I had here was my first earthquake. On day 2 we were making some phone calls and I thought I was getting sick. I thought “Wow, I am about to fall over here. I feel like I’m swaying.” Then I saw the lamp was swaying. Then I saw my companion smiling. Then I saw the big pink building next door swaying. Wild.
My companion is a lot like Jared Richards, but with dark hair. And less appreciation for Dune. Otherwise pretty similar. It’s eerie. I act a little more familiar with him than I probably ought to just because he seems like my good friend all ready.
The people in the branch here have a few funny tastes in music. For instance at our mothers day party last Saturday, a couple of girls did a dance to “God rest ye merry gentlemen.” It was fun.
Then, because Elder Abbott was leaving (he’s the elder whose place I’m taking) one of the members, who we call “The Colonel” decided he wanted to sing him a song. So he took Elder Abbott, myself and my companion aside and sang “When I Fall in Love” to Elder Abbott.
We call him the Colonel for a reason. This is not a guy you want to laugh at. It was both hilarious and terrifying.
Well, my time is up. I love you all, and I hope to recieve letters some time. I leave you with a sentence I read at a 7-11 here: “Pure Egg Roll – so crispy rolls that you never want to stop chumping them.”
I’ve actually never considered chumping an egg roll before, but Hey, maybe sometime. right?
Lots of love,
Elder Greg Hamblin
Taiwan Taipei Mission
4F, 24, Lane 183, Chin Hua Street
Taipei Taiwan, R.O.C.