First Full Week Here

My new companion, Elder Diener

This last week was pretty fun! On Monday we went up to this place called Jiu Fen. I’ve actually been there once before, but why not go again? As usual, there were lots of people there, so that only added to the enjoyment of it!

Enjoy the view!

Ruifang Train Station

(I previously shared a brief history about Jiufen, so I’ll try not to repeat that lesson, but still give you some interesting facts about the area. The town of Jiufen was founded during the Japanese Occupation. It wasn’t until gold was discovered in the mountains surrounding the town that Jiufen developed into a busy area. Nowadays, Jiufen is a tourist destination where visitors can still see many of the remnants of Japanese architecture.

Jiufen is the place to be, if you’ve always wanted to live IN the mountains

Jiufen, a small town built into the base of a mountain, is located in northeastern Taiwan, east of Taipei, slightly inland from the Pacific Ocean coastline. Due to its location on the side of a mountain, the views of the ocean below are spectacular.  Jiufen is mainly a collection of tight alleys, packed with vendors selling great food and Taiwanese crafts, that climb up the side of a small mountain. When you turn around and look out, you can see some amazing views of the ocean and small outcropping below..

Jiufen Old Street

Jiufen is oriented vertically. There are a few main streets that run parallel to one another, Jiufen Old Street being the most popular, which, chutes and ladders-style, are connected to one another by steep 100-stair flights that run perpendicular to these main roads. The streets are winding and paved with cobblestones; they are so narrow and the buildings built so close together that little light makes it down to the pavement. 

High on the mountain top…

Near central Old Street is the Shengping Theater, established in the 1900s and since restored. Close by, the Gold Mine Museum traces the town’s history as a mining hub during the Japanese-era gold rush. Every once in awhile, there are clearings; that’s when you can see exposed views of rolling mountains, covered in thick, deep-green forests, and the blue waters of the East China Sea washing up along sandy beaches in the distance. Jiufen is isolated, culturally diverse, and exceptionally beautiful.)

God’s creations are exquisite here in Taiwan!

This last week went pretty well. There hasn’t been a lot of member work that has gone on in this ward before. However, we started out with meeting with the Bishop and our ward mission leader, and it seems like the ward is definitely willing to help out with missionary work, they just aren’t quite sure how to. I honestly think working with members is probably one of the most efficient uses of time, so I’ve been pushing to get that started here. Just last night we went to a member’s house and met with their family. Using a method that I’ve been waiting for a while now to try, we ended up getting four names of people that they’re going to start working to share the gospel with. Now, let’s hope that they’ll all work out well!

Build-A-Bear, Taiwan style


Today we’re going out to have a picnic with a friend from Yuli. His name is Roger and his English is really good! He’s up here in Taipei today and invited me to go on a picnic with him, his wife, and his wife’s family in a park…it should be really fun! We’re also planning on going to Costco. Today and tomorrow count as holidays, so I bet that it’s going to be packed, but we shall see!


This next week, I’ll try to get more pictures of the people we’re working with so you all can see our friends! Attached are also a picture of Boya and Jessie. Boya served a mission in the United States and Jessie is a high school student who wants to major in English!



– Elder Austin Simonson


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