Some sheep, a harp, and 1000 NT in a red envelope…..sounds like the title of a chapter in a mystery novel, doesn't it? :)
Happy Year of the Sheep! This week we ate a lot of food. 10 meal appointments in 5 days...I think I won't need to eat for another 5 years! (everything closes during the six day holiday and so the missionaries eat with the members of the church) Hahaha! The best way I can think to describe Chinese New Year is that it's like Thanksgiving, but with 2 meals, and rather than pilgrims, football, and turkey, we have Buddhist gods, bai-bai, fireworks, and Taiwanese food. And repeat that every day for 6 days in a row. So maybe not much like Thanksgiving at all..... :D
I have a lot of pictures and descriptions of all the food we ate, since that took up most of the week, but I'll tell you about some of the fun things that happened here.
First, after a year of searching..... I FOUND A HARP IN TAIWAN. We were riding our bikes when I turned my head to see a little folk harp sitting in the window of a music school. I immediately stopped and called out to Sis Pieper to turn around. We went in and asked the front desk lady, and I guess they teach harp there. I didn't get to play on it, but I did get a pic, and we were able to strike up a gospel conversation with the lady at the front desk.
Second, H. That guy. He is one of my favorite investigators ever. It was really neat this week to see how he is being converted to the gospel. At our last lesson he thanked us for talking to him and sharing the gospel with him. Then he said that since we have started sharing with him, everything in his life has gone more peacefully. He said that when he can't sleep or feels restless, he'll say a prayer and then that feeling of peace comes right back. He loves when we come to visit him.
Third, hong bao (red envelopes). The tradition at Chinese New Year is to give family and close friends a red envelope with money inside. When we were out tracting, we were talking to an older couple and gave them a hong bao with some tracts inside, after assuring them that there was no money inside. (it's rude to open a gift in front of the giver and we wanted him to know there was no money inside so he wouldn't feel badly) He told us to wait a minute and the wife came back with a bag of peanuts for each of us and two hong bao, which we could tell had money inside. We tried our hardest for a solid 5 minutes to not accept the money, but there was no escaping. So we took it, and opened it later to find a 1000 NT bill in each one. We donated the money to the general church missionary fund. :D But it was really fun to be part of a cultural tradition, even though we couldn't accept the money.
We went with a church member and her kids to that same temple that Sis Pieper and I visited a few weeks ago for p-day. It was PACKED...sort of reminded me of what I think the atmosphere would have been like when Christ cleansed the temple. People everywhere, vendors selling food and incense and other bai-bai materials. I'm not sure how to translate the name of this food to English, but it's glutinous rice ball with pig intestine inside. It was actually pretty good, as long as you thought about it being pork meat and not intestine. We also ate hot pot with one of our English class students and her family, KFC and pizza with our ward mission leader and his wife (and his adorably forgetful grandmother), and traditional taiwanese foods like sausage, rice noodles, soup, tofu, rice, and little sesame treats with a family from the ward. Then there were the turnip cakes, meat and seafood filled cabbage. Did any of that food look good to you? You will love Taiwanese food someday! I will make it for you in the summer!