This is how I was feeling about 10 minutes ago when I received two pieces of Very Good News.
Then I learned that for these next two Fridays I'll be teaching for 9 hours instead of 7, and that kind of put a damper on the celebration. Still. One piece of good news far outweighs the semi-bad news.
Although, Jessica's face when she heard the "bad" news is making me really nervous, so, we'll see how this goes.
I've been slowly typing all of my notes up onto my computer, but it's taking a while. Even after spending a good 40 minutes on this, I'm still way behind.
(74) Alma 41:2 “I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.” The Church, in a way, can be seen as being resurrected. For a time, it was no longer on the earth (dead), but it has now been “restored to [its] proper order,” or “resurrected.”
(75) Alma 43:50 “And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them…”When we pray to the Lord for strength against or freedom from temptation and the devil, He will help us as long as we have been living our lives in accordance with His will.
(76) Alma 46:18 “And he said: Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.” Isn’t this comforting to know? The only way we can be destroyed is if we bring it upon ourselves.
(77) Alma 47:3-6, 18 “And now it came to pass that the king was wroth because of their disobedience; therefore he gave Amalickiah the command of that part of his army which was obedient unto his commands, and commanded him that he should go forth and compel them to arms. Now behold, this was the desire of Amalickiah; for he being a very subtle man to do evil therefore he laid the plan in his heart to dethrone the king of the Lamanites. And now he had got the command of those parts of the Lamanites who were in favor of the king; and he sought to gain favor of those who were not obedient; therefore he went forward tot eh place which was called Onidah, for thither had all the Lamites fled; for they discovered the army coming, and, supposing that they were coming to destroy them, therefore they fled to Onidah, to the place of arms. And they had appointed a man to be a king and a leader of them, being fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites… And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.” Notice that there is no neutral ground between good and evil. In verse 6, these Lamanites did not want to fight the Nephites, but they would not join them, either. I suspect that if they had joined the Nephites, they would have been offered some protection. Instead, their newly appointed king was “poison[ed] by degrees” and died.
(78) Alma 48:7 “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” The devil tries to tempt us into claiming a false power whereas when we rely on God, it is then that we are given true power, as long as we live righteously and only use that power to act in His name.
(79) Alma 56:8-9 “But I would not suffer them that they should break this covenant which they had made, supposing that God would strengthen us, insomuch that we should not suffer more because of the fulfilling the oath which they had taken. But behold, here is one thing in which we may have great joy…” God will not make us to suffer for keeping our covenants. IN stead, he will find ways to strengthen and protect us. It is in keeping our covenants and the oaths that we make to God that we find great joy.
(80) Alma 56:46 “For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall, then let us go forth;” I really like this reminder that God does not and will not set us up for failure. If he asks us to do something and we go forward in faith and righteousness, we will succeed.
(81) Alma 56:47 “Now they had never fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” My mother has tried to teach me this, too.
(82) Alma 57:21 “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith was it done unto them; and I did remember the words which they had said unto me that their mothers had taught them.” It is good to remember that with faith and complete obedience we can be preserved.
(83) Alma 58:35 “Behold, we do not know but what ye are unsuccessful, and ye have drawn away the forces into that quarter of the land; if so, we do not desire to murmur.” I learned two things from this: sometimes you just really don’t know why things are happening, and, secondly, it is not murmuring to ask for help.
(84) Alma 59:9 “And now as Moroni had supposed that there should be men sent to the city of Nephihah, to the assistance of the people to maintain that city, and knowing that it was easier to keep the city from falling into the hands of the Lamanites than to retake it from them, he supposed that they would easily maintain that city.” It is easier to remain on the straight and narrow than to fight your way through to get back on it after you’ve strayed.
Attention: This is another picture-heavy post. Enjoy, especially since I didn't take any pictures last week and since these are the only pictures I took this week (which is a real shame, actually, because in AK we were playing pin the ___ on the ___. Monday was pin the nose on the pig, and I told the kids they had to tape their pig noses to their faces before they could have a turn. I am SO SAD I didn't have my camera with me that day!).
Yesterday was our Stake Temple day. Because I had to work in the morning, though, I wasn't able to leave Feng Yuan until after all the other girls who were going up to Taipei. This meant I was traveling by myself! Was I worried? Yes. Very. I can't even begin to tell you how anxious I was feeling. Kylie gave me a ride to the UBus station on her scooter, though, and then I was off on my own! Thankfully, Jenny had written me several very detailed instructions on how to get to the temple so that I wouldn't get lost. Because of that, it was a piece of cake! There was only one part when I wasn't sure which direction I needed to head, and that was when I first got to the MRT station (the MRT is like the BART in the Bay Area or the Subway in NY). I was able to spot a couple of guys wearing MRT uniforms, though, so I just went up to one of them with my MRT map in hand and pointed to the stop where I wanted to go. He spoke enough English to direct me to my platform, and I was set! The last session at the temple on Saturdays starts at 3:00, and it takes quite a while to get up to Taipei by bus. So by the time I got off of the MRT, I was a little pressed for time. I practically ran past the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to the temple. It's a 15-minute walk from where the MRT lets off to the temple gates, but I made it in 7 minutes. And I was dying by the time I got there, but it was fine! I also took a few pictures (as I was running) so that I had something to refer to if I started to question myself about the direction I was heading when I left the temple.
The MRT station: The According Man was there ALL DAY. Heather said he was there when they arrived in the morning (they would have gotten there around 10 or 11), and he was still there as we were leaving last night (at about 7:00). He was kind of amazing. I cut him out of this picture, but there was a guy video-taping According Man at the same time I took the picture.
Then there were a bunch of random pictures on the wall, so of course I had to keep record of the cat pictures. I didn't have time to read what they were all about (yes, there were signs in English).
Running past part of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial
Don't worry. Still running past. Also, that building in the background is where I was going to meet the other girls.
I had 10 minutes to get dressed before the session started; I don't think I've ever changed so fast in my life! ALSO, Jenny was still there! She told me later, "Rachel, I've never been so happy to see your face!" She was pretty worried I might get lost somewhere, too (there are valid reasons for these worries; even though it's been two months -almost to the day!- I still don't know where I am half the time when we go out). Anyway, it was a very nice session, but also very full. They actually had to bring in 2 or 3 extra chairs because there weren't enough seats for everyone. A lot of prayers have been answered for me this weekend, and I'm very grateful for my Heavenly Father's ever watchful eye.
After the session, Jenny and I bid each other farewell. I was supposed to meet with Heather, Kaylee, and Jessica at the main Chiang Kai-shek monument at 5:30. I left the temple at 5:00, but I took my time getting there. First I took a few pictures of the temple. There was a little family there taking pictures of their son, too, and it was kind of adorable.
The backpack is mine. I was too lazy to lug it around the temple grounds with me.
Pretty sure this is the smallest temple EVER (OK, I haven't checked the statistics; there might be smaller temples, but it's by far the smallest one I have ever been to), but I think it is still by far my favorite place to visit in Taiwan.
I wish I would have written down what this sculpture was called. It's kind of pretty (albeit very abstract), and there's even a waterfall!
Ginger plants grow in a planter on the sidewalk. I love the purple in this one.
Then I saw this building. Alright, so most of the buildings in this part of Taipei look kind of run-down. This one, though, was extra special. Can you tell what's on the roof? Here. Let me enlarge it for you:
Yup. Statues of Buddha. I don't even know.
So, the grounds for Chiang Kai-shek memorial is HUGE. There are botanical gardens and a park, and just all kinds of gorgeous scenery. I wanted to make sure I got to the top of the monument at least fairly-close to our meet-up time, so I didn't spend very long walking around. I did, however, take a few pictures before I got to the actual monument.
A cat, just taking it easy. There are stray animals everywhere in Taiwan, but most of the ones you see are dogs.
A really cool tree
Some purple flowers growing on some type of vine (I know; I'm great at this description thing!)
And the monument itself. There are 89 stairs to the top. Yes, I counted all of them. Also, I learned that the stairs and the fact that there are 89 of them is supposed to be in representation of how old Chiang Kai-shek was when he died in 1975. It sounds like a lot, but it really wasn't any worse than climbing up the stairs here at the school from the first floor to the fourth, which we all do several times a day.
Heather and Kaylee made it! I was so happy to see them. Jessica showed up shortly after.
I just bought this skirt on Wednesday. It's very light-weight and I love it, even if it isn't the skirt I was planning on buying.
The ceiling of the monument
Please look carefully at these next two pictures. Inside of the monument, there's an exhibition hall where they have a diorama of the monument.
Did you see anything wrong with those pictures? You may have to click on them to enlarge them. Don't worry. There are two dead people. One of them, it appears, fell down the stairs and is lying on his back (see the first image). The second dead man is lying face first, so I think something very dramatic and violent happened to him, but maybe he just had a heart-attack. Kaylee took a picture of this, too, using my red-eye light (or whatever it's called; I'm drawing a blank right now) for dramatic effect. I'm hoping she posts it on her blog, because it was hilarious.
The man himself. You only thought he was dead! (Seriously, this thing is very realistic. It's actually kind of creepy. You keep expecting it to move, but, thankfully, it never does.)
The exhibition hall closes at 6:00, so we made our way back outside to go sit on the steps. It was a perfect evening, though. There was a slight breeze, and the sky was so blue! We couldn't have asked for a better day.
They did a flag ceremony as we were sitting on the steps enjoying the sunset. Some guards marched out to the flag, they played the national anthem, and it was very patriotic. If you look closely, you can see a man saluting. He is near the center of the frame with his wife and two kids.
Folding the flag (on 20x zoom, so it's kind of blurry, but we were sitting quite a ways away)
See? Gorgeous sunset!
And a final look at the promenade as we were leaving.
Meanwhile, there is a Typhoon warning for all of Taiwan. WE REALLY WANT THIS TYPHOON TO HIT! There may or may not be school tomorrow. Because we live in the central western part of Taiwan, we are pretty well protected by the mountains and everything, so don't worry about that. Also, we all kind of want to see what these legendary typhoons are like, since there haven't been ANY since we got here!
Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day laying down in bed because every time I moved, I felt really sick. Jenny was kind enough to substitute for me in AK; I'm glad it was a Tuesday that my body decided to be sick on, because luckily I only had AK to teach yesterday. Apparently Jenny told Amy (one of the secretaries) that my stomach was bugging me, because this morning she came in and Amy had given her some stomach medicine to give to me. I haven't tried it yet (am feeling quite a bit better), but if this sick-to-the-stomach pattern continues, you can guarantee I'm going to give it a shot. Even though I'm sure it tastes revolting.
Anyway. More pictures of the small children that suck away all my energy. Jack took most of these pictures (I told him he could help me, but only after I got one of him).
Here is Jack.
Danny and Derrick
Candice (in the back) and Daniel, being... you know. Clueless. Vincent and Danny being goofy.
Mia's face is the one that's only half there, Kyran is in the back to the left, Candice, Immy (pink), Vincent, and Peko who jumped in last minute
Mia didn't want to be in this picture, but she didn't get out fast enough. Kyran being... pretty normal for him, really.
Hey, guys. Just a quick note letting you know Kendra has posted a bunch of pictures from Ershui, including a picture of one staircase going up the mountain (one out of many).Check it out if you're interested!
On Saturday, a few of my fellow teachers and I headed out to Ershui because we heard it was awesome and that you can see wild monkeys there.
All of it.
We took the train there, and the ride lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes. At one point, an old lady got on with two huge baskets attached to a pole that she carried. She smelled strongly of fish. After she sat down next to me, I could see why. In one of here baskets were 2 or 3 live eels! They were really gross looking. She also kept falling asleep... on my shoulder. That wasn't awkward at all.
When we arrived in Ershui, we took the opportunity to use some Western-style toilets at the train station there, and then we headed over to the bike rental agency that was located in the same square as the station. There, we rented 4 bikes, and then we headed on our way towards Monkey Mountain (I don't know what it's actually called, but I liked the alliteration).
Kendra and Kaylee rented a tandem bike. My memory of attempting to ride a tandem bike at girls' camp one year is not good, so I opted for your regular, one-seater bicycle.
After one or two wrong turns and being pointed in the right direction by a man on a scooter with limited English, we managed to find the right road to the monkey trail. (There were also a bunch of old men outside a store on a street corner that, when they saw us, got kind of excited and yelled "Monkeys! Yeah, yeah!" and pointed us up the road.)
Our group, minus Jenny who was taking the photo. Jessica, me, Kendra, and Kaylee
We took the path on the other side of this bridge on the way back down the mountain, just for a change in scenery. Bad idea. Why? The stench! OH MY GOSH IT WAS HORRIBLE! There was also a stray dog that was acting really nervous about us. We think maybe she had her puppies nearby. Stray dogs are, sadly, extremely common here. It's hard to go more than 5 seconds without seeing one when you're outside.
Speaking of stray dogs... this one was taking a nice nap in the shade.
Everything was so green in Ershui! And by everything, I mean the water, too.
I'm curious as to what the "correct ways to play" are.
First monkey sighting! They were doing flips, jumping to and from trees, screeching at each other... it was pretty amazing.
There were also these huge, polished rocks everywhere. I am not sure why, but it was fun to take pictures on this one. Don't even worry. I already had at least 10 mosquito bites at this point, and that's with bug repellent.
Loved the colors of these plants.
That is a butterfly, I promise. It landed just as I was snapping the picture.
Speaking of huge bugs, check out this spider. These nasties were everywhere.
Also, that black smudge on that giant leaf? Another spider. I told you! Everywhere!
A couple was there with their dog (not a stray!). The dog really liked the monkeys.
And then, as I was about to take the picture below, this little fella jumped into my frame. I am pretty sure he/she/it did it on purpose. Check out that stoic face.
How many monkeys can you see in this picture?
Tianna, I took this for you. Wandering Jew seems to be native to Taiwan and was sure doing the wandering thing really well.
"Formosan macaques (Formosan rock-monkeys), belong to a specific wild and endangered mammals, come and go unexpectedly alongside this trail. Their appearance would be your most fortunate moement. Then if you wouldn't mind stop for a while to watch what they are doing, you will certainly find unexpected rewards and surprises." The "Note" is not as interesting, so I'm not transcribing it here.
Finally, the top of the mountain! My first look into the valley below
I was the last one to make it up all those stairs and I was definitely huffing and puffing the whole way. There were some Taiwanese people at the top watching me climb and one of them started cheering me along, "Jaiyo! You can do it! Jaiyo!" He asked us if we had come all the way from the bottom (yes) and how long it took us (about an hour). They all seemed to be very impressed, but I'm not sure why because we weren't the only ones coming from the bottom of the mountain... Maybe it's because we're Americans and Americans are lazy.
Jenny and I were thinking that this must make some pretty impressive waterfalls when it rains.
The temple at the top
There was a road back behind the temple and tons and tons of shops selling mostly tea. We explored for a little bit, and a few of us purchased some more water bottles, having completely finished off the ones that we'd brought with us.
We found this awesome statue. Jessica, Jenny, Kaylee, and Kendra
After we got back to our bicycles at the bottom of the mountain, we decided to ride around for a bit and explore Ershui some more. There is this wonderful bike path that we took for quite some distance (about 4 meters round trip). There were a lot of rice patties near the trail and, therefore, a lot of bugs (I don't want to go into it, but it was really gross and we had bugs in our eyes), but it was also very beautiful.
Cranes in the rice patty! I tried zooming in more, but they kept putting their heads down. I'm guessing they were eating.
And, finally, "Watch our the incoming vehicles"
Ershui was such a cute little town. It was nice to get away from the city for a bit. We were all glad to get home, though, where we could take showers and get some rest. I don't think I have ever sweat so much as I did on Saturday! Very gross. But well worth it. Despite all the mosquito bites that I have that make it hard for me to even sleep.
Yesterday I gave a talk in church on Baptism and Covenants. Mom, Dad, I'm going to mail it to you (probably) instead of putting it up here on my blog. Jenny Phillips was in our branch and sang a musical number for us during Sacrament Meeting, too. She is doing a tour around Taiwan and a fireside last night in Taichung. After church, Sister Chang asked me to her home for some lunch and offered to let me take a nap in her spare room before taking me to the fireside. She also invited Kaylee along. Of course I accepted! (It was something of an answered prayer, because I knew I would be so tired Sunday and then still be tired today. Because the fireside was at the Stake Center, it would have been inconvenient for us to go to church and come home just to have to leave again, so we teachers all planned to stay in Taichung for the whole day.) Dinner was nice and we had a delicious chocolate cake roll for dessert. Also, I learned that nice beds do in fact exist in Taiwan, as Sister Chang's spare bed was almost as comfortable as the bed I have at home. I think that was the best nap I've taken since getting here!
The fireside was very good and very crowded. There were not enough seats for everyone! Luckily we got there when there were still a couple rows of seats at the back of the room, but there were several dozen people standing around us for the whole thing, too. Kaylee and I left a little early because Sister Chang was worried about getting her children to bed and wanted to take us to the train station, which was extremely kind of her. We ended up getting home an hour before the other girls, despite the fact that the fireside was almost over when we left.
At the train station, Kaylee and I met three high school girls that wanted to talk to us. They have apparently seen us before at the train station in Feng Yuan, and on looking back, they did look a little familiar, so I believe them. When we arrived in Feng Yuan, they wanted to take a picture with us. So, somewhere out there, probably on two Taiwanese Facebook profiles, there is a picture of me that I'll never see. Awesome. Talk about feeling like a celebrity.
Well, another week of teaching begins. In another two weeks, I won't have AK on Tuesdays as Summer schedule will have finally ended. Now, if only the heat of summer would end, too...