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The Holy Temple —A Beacon to the World
Sunday, November 27, 2011
♦ 11/27/2011 10:11:00 PM 0 comments

My LAST Relief Society Lesson in the Wu Chuan 2nd Branch. (I think I managed to get rid of all the typos...)

The Holy Temple —A Beacon to the World
Thomas S. Monson
April 2011 Sunday Morning Session of General Conference

Matt 16:19
    And I will agive unto thee the bkeys of the ckingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt dbind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

D&C 128:9
    It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a adispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in bauthority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great cJehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?

Why do you think that temples are important?

The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God.

What are some of the blessings that we receive by going to the temple?

Elder Robert D. Hales said, “The ordinances and covenants of the temple are the protection for us in our trials and tribulations in our day and for what we will face in the future. Temples are the greatest university of learning known to man, giving us knowledge and wisdom about the creation of the world. Washings and anointings tell us who we are. Endowment instructions give guidance as to how we should conduct our lives here in mortality.”

 Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and with temple attendance.  Countless are those who have labored and struggled in order to obtain for themselves and for their families the blessings which are found in the temples of God.

My brothers and sisters, temples are more than stone and mortar. They are filled with faith and fasting. They are built of trials and testimonies. They are sanctified by sacrifice and service.

What are some examples of sacrifice that you can think of?

The first temple to be built in this dispensation was the temple at Kirtland, Ohio. The Saints at the time were impoverished, and yet the Lord had commanded that a temple be built, so build it they did. Wrote Elder Heber C. Kimball of the experience, “The Lord only knows the scenes of poverty, tribulation and distress which we passed through to accomplish it.” And then, after all that had been painstakingly completed, the Saints were forced to leave Ohio and their beloved temple. They eventually found refuge —although it would be temporary— on the banks of the Mississippi River in the state of Illinois. They named their settlement Nauvoo, and willing to give their all once again and with their faith intact, they erected another temple to their God. Persecutions raged, however, and with the Nauvoo Temple barely completed, they were driven from their homes once again, seeking refuge in a desert.

The struggle and the sacrifice began once again as they labored for 40 years to erect the Salt Lake Temple…

One of the temples currently under construction is in Manaus, Brazil. Many years ago I read of a group of over a hundred members who left Manaus, located in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, to travel to what was then the closest temple, located in São Paulo, Brazil—nearly 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Manaus. Those faithful Saints journeyed by boat for four days on the Amazon River and its tributaries. After completing this journey by water, they boarded buses for another three days of travel—over bumpy roads, with very little to eat, and with nowhere comfortable to sleep. After seven days and nights, they arrived at the temple in São Paulo, where ordinances eternal in nature were performed. Of course their return journey was just as difficult. However, they had received the ordinances and blessings of the temple, and although their purses were empty, they themselves were filled with the spirit of the temple and with gratitude for the blessings they had received. Now, many years later, our members in Manaus are rejoicing as they watch their own temple take shape on the banks of the Rio Negro. Temples bring joy to our faithful members wherever they are built.

Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort.

If you have been to the temple for yourselves and if you live within a relatively close proximity to a temple, your sacrifice could be setting aside the time in your busy lives to visit the temple regularly. There is much to be done in our temples in behalf of those who wait beyond the veil. As we do the work for them, we will know that we have accomplished what they cannot do for themselves. President Joseph F. Smith, in a mighty declaration stated, “Through our efforts in their behalf their chains of bondage will fall from them, and the darkness surrounding them will clear away, that light may shine upon them and they shall hear in the spirit world of their work that has been done for them by their children here, and will rejoice with you in your performance of these duties.” My brothers and sisters, the work is ours to do.

If you have not yet been to the temple or if you have been but currently do not qualify for a recommend, there is no more important goal for you to work toward than being worthy to go to the temple. Your sacrifice may be bringing your life into compliance with what is required to receive a recommend, perhaps by forsaking long-held habits which disqualify you. It may be having the faith and the discipline to pay your tithing. Whatever it is, qualify to enter the temple of God. Secure a temple recommend and regard it as a precious possession, for such it is.

Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all-important and crowning blessings or membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God.

… Do nothing which will keep you from entering [the temple’s] doors and partaking of the sacred and eternal blessings there.

Great personal preparation is required for us to receive the spiritual benefit of standing in holy places. Holy places and sacred space are also distinguished by the sacrifice they require. Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught that “the word sacrifice means literally ‘to make sacred,’ or ‘to render sacred’” (“The Law of Sacrifice,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 8; Liahona, Mar. 2002, 13). The words sacred and sacrifice come from the same root. One may not have the sacred without first sacrificing something for it. There can be no sacredness without personal sacrifice. Sacrifice sanctifies the sacred.

… To you parents, … may I share with you some sage advice from President Spencer W. Kimball. Said he: “It would be a fine thing if… parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so [their children] from the time [they are] infant[s] could look at the picture every day [until] it becomes a part of [their lives]. When [they reach] the age that [they need] to make [the] very important decision [concerning going to the temple], it will have already been made.”

Ask for experiences, ideas on how to be prepared to enter the temple either for the first time or for each reoccurring visit

The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. We are often surrounded by that which would drag us down. As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace; we will be renewed and fortified.

“The temples, with “Holiness to the Lord” inscribed on them, are among the most sacred of all places on the earth. They stand as evidence of God’s love to all His children, past and present. The blessings of the temple are intertwined and inseparable from significant sacrifice. The ordinances performed therein provide access to the full expression of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. This alone would qualify the temple as holy and sacred. However, personal sacrifice is also required. We sacrifice time in search for our ancestors and time to attend to our temple responsibilities. We also strive to live the highest standards of personal worthiness, which qualify us to enter the sacred space of this most holy place. In holy places and in sacred space we find spiritual refuge, renewal, hope, and peace. Are these not worth every necessary personal sacrifice? My brethren and sisters, may each of us revere and respect the holy and sacred in our lives. May we teach our children likewise. Let us all stand in holy and sacred places of spiritual peace.” Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander 
What does the temple mean to you?

I express my undying gratitude to my Heavenly Father for… all of our temples, wherever they are. Each one stands as a beacon to the world, an expression of our testimony that God, our Eternal Father, lives, that He desires to bless us and, indeed, to bless His sons and daughters of all generations. Each of our temples is an expression of our testimony that life beyond the grave is as real and as certain as is our life here on earth. I so testify.

My brothers and sisters, may we make whatever sacrifices are necessary to attend the temple and to have the spirit of the temple in our hearts and in our homes. May we follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice for us, that we might have eternal live and exaltation in our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.

D&C 128:19, 22-23
   19 Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of agladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of btruth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great cjoy. How beautiful upon the mountains are the dfeet of those that bring glad tidings of good things, and that say unto Zion: Behold, thy God reigneth! As the edews of Carmel, so shall the knowledge of God descend upon them!
    22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. aCourage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into bsinging. Let the cdead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the dKing Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to eredeem them out of their fprison; for the prisoners shall go free.
   23 Let the amountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid brocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the cmorning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and dimmortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!

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Book of Mormon Thoughts to The End.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
♦ 11/24/2011 08:37:00 PM 1 comments

(111) 3 Nephi 19:24 “And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.”  When we have the Holy Ghost, we can know the things for which we should pray, which are right.

(112) 3 Nephi 22:14 “In righteousness shalt thou be established; thou shalt be far from oppression for thou shalt not fear, and from terror for it shall not come near thee.” When you are established in righteousness, you have no cause or reason to fear. Isn’t that a wonderful thing? I think this is something that I, especially, need to remember more often. If you feel fear, it is perhaps time to evaluate your standing with the Lord, and decide if you are “established in righteousness,” or if, perhaps, you may have wavered a little.

(113) 3 Nephi 27:24 “Write the works of this people, which shall be, even as hath been written, of that which hath been.” It is important for us to write down all the manifestations from the Father that we witness. It is also important that we keep a record of our own works.

(114) Mormon 4:2 “And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites were driven back again to the land of Desolation. And while they were yet weary, a fresh army of the Lamanites did come upon them; and they had a sore battle, insomuch that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and did slay many of the Nephites, and did take many prisoners.” Remember that the Nephites no longer had the Spirit with them. I believe that the Spirit will help to strengthen us and help to keep us from being defeated by our enemies.

(115) Ether 2:25 “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea.” It’s nice to know that the Lord will prepare us to overcome every challenge that we face. That is a pretty empowering thought, actually. I think we should also notice that the word “if” is not present anywhere in this verse. There is no “IF there are waves” or “IF the floods come.” They will come, but the Lord will have already prepared a way for us to cross through them.

(116) Ether 3:26 “For he said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things –it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things.” We should remember that this promise applies to us as well. If we believe in him, he can show us all things. We just need to have that believe and the faith to have our eyes (and hearts) opened.

(117) Ether 12:19 “And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.” I think the last three words of this verse are my favorite: “they were glad.” Our faith helps us to feel glad.

(118) Moroni 7:3 “Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” Note the word “sufficient.” We don’t need to have a perfect amount of hope; we just need to have enough.

(119) Moroni 10:31 “And awake, and arise from the dust, O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; and strengthen they stakes and enlarge they borders forever, that thou mayest no more be confounded, that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee, O house of Israel, may be fulfilled.” Confounded means to be angry or annoyed. When we make and keep sacred covenants, our ability to remain happy increases and we are actually guarded against unhappiness.

The End.

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Monday, November 21, 2011
♦ 11/21/2011 09:28:00 PM 0 comments

I'm on a blogging binge today. Probably because I'm procrastinating the grading that I need to get done before class tomorrow AND we're supposedly going off to lunch Any Minute Now, so I need something with which to occupy my time. You're welcome, blogging world!

Here you get a post of mostly nonsensical things that were, at least, really funny in the moment, but may lose something in translation (ie: without the background story). And now, a list of (nearly) everything that's been said since my arrival in Taiwan that I have found to be funny:

Happy Birthday, Christina!
♦ 11/21/2011 08:59:00 PM 0 comments

Today, our Christina Joy turns 23. Tomorrow, in America, she will turn 23 again, except that she'll still be in Taiwan, so I guess that doesn't really count.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I give you my favorite pictures of Christina, documenting the best five months we've ever spent together (don't worry, you've probably seen all of these picture before). (I was going to write you an ode, but .... it didn't turn out very flattering. Something about trying to use a madlib generator online.)


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Kids Write the Darndest Things (part 3?)
Sunday, November 20, 2011
♦ 11/20/2011 10:00:00 PM 1 comments

This is Jacky's writing practice from Friday. Their writing prompt was that they wake up one morning and find they can talk to any one kind of animal:

"I want to talk to a cow because if I can talk to a cow, I can ride on its back and the cow can protect me. I will let him hit the bad guy. I can drink milk every day, and he will eat the grass, but the cow's fart is very smelly. The cow's poop is very yucky, and stinky, and the poop is hard to clean."


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Helaman through (most of) 3 Nephi
♦ 11/20/2011 09:53:00 PM 0 comments

(95) Helaman 5:47 “Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.” When we have faith in Christ, we can have peace.

(96) Helaman 10:4 “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.” How often do we think about our own lives instead of thinking about God’s will for our lives?”

(97) Helaman 10:5 “And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless the forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.” There are some pretty amazing promises given to us here if we seek God’s will with “unwearyingness,” suck as being blessed FOREVER and being mighty in all things.

(98) Helaman 12:1 “And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.” This is something that I have seen in my own life, especially here in Taiwan. It is amazing the blessings you can see when you do put all your trust in God, and when you are looking for those blessings.

(99) Helaman 12:15 “ And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.” I think that similarly we can say that it is the world that moves and not the Son. It is pretty easy to see the shift in values of the world throughout history, yet what the Lord expects of us and what he wants for us stays the same. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not move away from us, but sometimes we move away from him.

(100) Helaman 15:6 “Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are… striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth.” What I learned from this is that we should never tire of being persistently righteous.

(101) Helaman 15:9 “And ye know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin, yea, he can see that they fear to sin –for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.” I think that this (burying our “weapons of war… [for] fear to take them up lest by any means [we] should sin”) is a very important principle for us to apply to our own lives. I feel like we can also see how faith in Christ makes us afraid to sin and gives us more desire to live righteously.

(102) 3 Nephi 4:33 “And their hearts were swollen with joy, unto the gushing out of many tears, because of the great goodness of God in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; and they knew it was because of their repentance and their humility that they had been delivered from an everlasting destruction.” Can you imagine so much joy and gratitude? Maybe you have experienced it before, but I hope that it is something that all of us will be able to have in our lives.

(103) 3 Nephi 6:14 “And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.” This is how we need to be (firm, steadfast, and immovable in our faith in Christ), especially as the world would have us depart from our conversion.

(104) 3 Nephi 7:19-20 “And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead, after he had been stoned and suffered death by the people. And the people saw it, and did witness of it, and were angry with him because of his power, and he did also do many more miracles, in the sight of the people, in the name of Jesus.” Can you imagine being angry with someone for performing a miracle? I think the devil would have to have complete hold over a person’s heart for them to be so hard.

(105) 3 Nephi 11:7 “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name —hear ye him.” To glorify is to reveal or make clearer the glory of God. What is God’s glory? It is his work, which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I feel like there is a great deal that we can learn from this verse.

(106) 3 Nephi 11:11 “And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” Glorified or revealed the work of the Father. Work=purpose?

(107) 3 Nephi 15:19 “But, verily, I say unto you that the Father hath commanded me, and I tell it unto you, that ye were separated from among them because of their iniquity; therefore it is because of their iniquity that they know not of you.” This makes me wonder how many things are kept form us because of our iniquity? 

(108) 3 Nephi 16:2 “For they of whom I speak are they who have not as yet heard my voice; neither have I at any time manifested myself unto them.” One of the brothers in the high council in the Taichung North Stake gave a talk in our branch. His talk was about scripture study and coming to know the Lord. It was a very powerful talk, and even though the majority of it was given in Chinese, it still put me in tears. Anyway, something he said really struck me, something which I feel, is relevant to this verse: though none of us have actually seen God the Father or his son Jesus Christ, by studying the scriptures constantly, we can hear God’s voice. That is what he said, and I think it is true. So while we have not yet seen God the Father or Jesus Christ with our physical eyes, through the scriptures they can and will manifest themselves to us and we will hear his voice and see the marks in his hands, his feet, and sides.

(109) 3 Nephi 18:10 “And when the Disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have command you.” Part of the purpose of the sacrament is to show that we are willing to keep all the commandments and to do everything that God has asked us to do.

(110) 3 Nephi 18:12 “And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock. “ We will also be blessed for parting of the sacrament.

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Kids say the darndest things
Friday, November 18, 2011
♦ 11/18/2011 09:01:00 PM 0 comments

(Not sure that this is the exact phrasing; I totally put our spelling test on hold while I wrote down what he said, but I'm too lazy to dig out the paper right now. Also, sudden torrential rain storm. Woohoo!)

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Taiwan is Safe.... Mostly
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
♦ 11/16/2011 06:10:00 AM 0 comments

Another fun adventure in the world of Taiwan.

Last night Heather and I went grocery shopping. We stopped at the bakery to buy some bread (there were only two loaves of wheat bread left, so we each bought one), and across the street from the bakery is the fruit stand, so Heather stopped there as well to get some apples. P.S. We were riding our bicycles. This is important.

After finishing up at the bakery, we rode our way over to the 24 hour store (a grocery store here in Taiwan). Heather made a comment that she didn't really want to carry her bread inside with her. "Just leave it in your basket," I said. "That's what I always do, and I've never had anything happen to it. Jenny is the one who taught me to do that." So, we both left our bread in our bike baskets and went inside. I think we were not in there for very long, maybe 20 minutes TOPS (but probably closer to 10 or 15). As we were approaching our bikes, Heather said something along the lines of "You have got to be kidding me!" ran over to her bike, and, yup. Her bread and her apples were gone. But, don't worry, even though my bike was right next to hers, my bread was still in the basket. Also, Heather still had her pineapple.

I'm voting it was some homeless person that was starving and saw her bread and apples. He didn't take the pineapple because he had no knife with which to slice it open, and he didn't steal my bread because, hey, one loaf is plenty for any person, and I didn't have any other food in my basket.

Moral of the story? It's fine to leave groceries in your bicycle baskets, but if you're going to do that, then you should probably park on the street side of the store instead of the alley way..

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Scooter Fun; Doctor Fun
Sunday, November 13, 2011
♦ 11/13/2011 03:37:00 AM 0 comments

Once upon a time it was today, and Nica and I were coming home from church on a scooter. Sara and Christina were on another scooter (also coming home), and for a while we were basically traveling together. Then we hit this one intersection, and Nica and I sped ahead of Sara and Christina. Eventually, Sara and Christina must have taken a different turn, because suddenly they were no where in site; and, oh yeah. The scooter Nica and I were riding died basically in the middle of an intersection, but we had enough momentum left to get us through the intersection and over to the side of the road. Sara and Christina did not pass us. Ever.

So we sat there, Nica repeatedly trying to get the scooter to turn on.

It didn't turn on.

It still didn't turn on.

I noticed a gas station on the next street corner, so we got off the scooter and started pushing it towards the gas station. The attendants there saw us coming and one of them came running over to us (at this point we were just across the way), thinking we needed more gas.

You know, despite English being a required course in schools here, it surprises me how many young people don't know a single word. They make up for their lack of knowledge in kindness, though, and it's not like I can really speak their language, either, so I can't complain.

Well, the kid tried getting our scooter to turn on. Wouldn't. He noticed that the gas meter said we still had about half a tank of gas left, so then he helped us push our scooter the rest of the way to the gas station. Then ALL the attendants came over and tried to help us. Finally, after a lot of discussion in Chinese and Nica and I just staring dumbly at the scooter not knowing what was going on, the female attended pointed to the scooter, to herself, and then to the street. "Follow you?" I asked, hoping they would understand. "Ah!! Follow you!" said a male attendant (I think the one that had first tried to help us). So she starts pushing the scooter down the street, and Nica and I trot after her for a ways. We arrived at what I am assuming is a scooter repair shop, and this short little man came and took a look at our scooter. He started unscrewing things, trying a few times to get the engine to turn over... Then he took out a part and replaced it (cost: $80NT) and tried to get the engine to turn over again. Still wouldn't work. Then he got the bright idea to actually look in the gas tank and, oh. Guess what? No gas! The male gas attendant that had first tried to help us arrived on his scooter, words were exchanged in Chinese, he left, then came back with $20NT worth of gas in a water bottle. The engine turned over, the scooter turned on, it was glorious! A neighbor to the repair guy came over to us and was able to tell Nica and I what the trouble was. "The oil meter is not sensitive. You should get it replaced. For now, though, it is OK, only no gas." We said our thanks, then followed the gas attendants back to the gas station and had our scooter filled with gas. I told the female 谢谢 (xie xie: thank you) and she said, "Ah?" and then garbled off some Chinese to me, sounding really excited. I stared at her rather dumbly and then said,, in the most-used Chinese that I know, "Dui bu qi. Ting bu dong." (I'm sorry, I don't understand." "Ah. Ting bu dong," and she smiled, and Nica and I proceeded to follow the attendants back to the gas station. They filled our tank the rest of the way with gas, we expressed our sincere thanks once again, and made our merry way home without any more trouble.

Thing I learned from this experience:

On that note, let's talk about Friday. If you haven't heard or gathered by now, I have been suffering from extremely severe insomnia for the last two months (give or take a week or two). Like, it's been really bad. I've averaged 4 hours of sleep a night (sometimes only 3 hours) and have been unable to even fall asleep for a nap. I haven't been able to get myself to fall asleep at night, and when I have fallen asleep, I've woken up to Every Little Sounds. It's ridiculous. I've never slept so poorly in my life. Recently it reached the point where I would burst into tears randomly at least once a day simply because I was so tired. My anxiety has shot through the roof, and I've had a fairly severe migraine almost every day due to lack of sleep. P.S. I have even been taking the Ambien that I brought with me, but it has done me little to no good.

Well, last week I mentioned my sleeping problem to Fenny when I was at her house. She, being the wonderful person that she is, offered to help me find a doctor and to take me to said doctor. This past Friday we were finally able to go. The doctor is a specialist, and actually a psychiatrist. He's also located right next-door to one of the supermarkets that I shop at. His English? Impeccable. Much better than Dr. Wong's (the ENT doctor that I saw back in September). We chatted for a while, Fenny occasionally clarifying somethings for him in Chinese that weren't coming across real well in English, and I came away with a week's supply of medications (Xanax, to help with the anxiety, a higher dosage of Zolpidem, and... something else that is also supposed to help me to sleep, but I don't remember the name of it right now). Fenny is going to take me back this coming Friday for an evaluation, but let me tell you. Wow. It has been so nice to sleep again! I've even taken naps the past few days and still have been able to fall asleep at night. Also, it only cost me $150NT for the visit, drugs included. For those of you not in the know with the conversion rate, that comes to about $4.97 USD.

I don't care what people say about national health care. Here in Taiwan? It works, and I have no complaints about it.

And... there are only 6 weeks of the semester left. That's only 24 more days of AK, 18 more days of Elementary, 6 more days of my writing class, and 5 more days of tutoring. In just 54 days, I will be home enjoying my parent's company, my mother's cooking, delicious restaurants that don't make me sick from all the MSG and onions, a room (and house) all to myself, and having my preciously adorable kitty cat following me around.
(What? Don't pretend like you didn't know a picture of my cat was coming.)

I anticipate, however, that I'll also be pining over lost friendships (or friendships with people that, really, who knows if I'll ever see them again?), never seeing my little kindergarten devils, and the kindness and generosity of people in Taiwan.

I love this country. I love the people. I love the children (most of them). Good-byes are always hard, but at least I do have 54 more days to prolong the inevitable.

Also, hey. Fun fact: today Sara and I discovered that we had the same First Grade teacher, just two years apart. Awesome? I think yes. Note to self: when you get home, find your third grade yearbook and try to find Sara's picture.

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Congratulations, Cindy!
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
♦ 11/08/2011 09:36:00 AM 0 comments

This past Saturday Cindy, one of our secretaries, got married. We were all invited to the wedding (which is more like a reception/party/8-course dinner), and Jenny, Kendra, and I were able to go. We met up with the other secretaries, and really had a fantastic time.  The Taiwanese really know how to celebrate such a happy, momentous occasion! And the bride and groom's wedding photos were phenomenal! Guys, if I ever manage to get married, I want to have all of my pictures taken in Taiwan. And maybe even have a wedding party in Taiwan. (Let's not think about the logistics of this.) It was really just incredible.

Me, Cindy, Kendra before the wedding

Unfortunately, this cuts off right before the pyrotechnics started up. Assuming I understand correctly, though (which is highly questionable), this is the wedding procession. You'll have to excuse the horrible photography going on; I was a little bit overwhelmed by the lasers, disco balls, and misters that were filling the room. 

Kendra, about to devour a raw prawn/jumbo shrimp (I have no idea which it is, what the difference is, or if there even is a difference). You can see Kailey laughing about our grossed out faces and Jenny being unsure of what's about to happen in the background. There was also me making noises something like "ew ew ew ew ew ew!"

A close-up

And then Maggie helping Kailey dissect her... prawn thing.

Nasty, yo. 

Then they came out with this fish that still had its eyes. The best (?) part was that it had teeth, too!

Cindy's parents, then Cindy, then Cindy's husband and his parents (I have no idea what his name is, and I don't know who the guy at the very end with the microphone is, either, nor do I know what he was saying).

Jenny eating a cooked jumbo shrimp

Kendra hiding behind the crab hide

Kendra, me, the happy couple, and Jenny

They were handing out "lucky candy" in the baskets as the guests were leaving. Isn't it adorable? It didn't taste that great (it wasn't horrible, just not as delicious as what I would hope), but it sure was cute.

A Little Bit of Sunshine
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
♦ 11/01/2011 09:45:00 AM 0 comments

Here are some things that are making me smile right now (via Pinterest):

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 (Anyone else noticing the T-Rex theme going on here? This is even funnier if you were on that train back from Stake Conference a couple of weeks ago.)

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This post is brought to you by our nightly sponsor, Insomnia, and has nothing at all to do with Taiwan, other than the fact that that's where I am living.

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"I think I know how it is to be grown up; it's when you feel how someone feels that isn't you." -Frances Griffiths

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