As of today, I’ve been on a mission for 361 days! Friday will be the official cutoff for my one year mark. However, I’ve only been in 台灣 for about nine and a half months now.
On my three hour train ride here, the woman sitting next to me was really nice. I was traveling alone, so I didn’t really have much to do since I had no cell phone – no anything, except for all my luggage. We talked for a bit and then she went to sleep since she was tired. But later on, she pointed out all the cool things to me that we went by since she takes this train route pretty often.
She also gave me some super good food, since it was dinner time while we were on the train and I had no food with me. We took a picture together and I got her phone number, so hopefully I can see her again another day!
Yuli is actually pretty fun! This has been my first official week here. It has already exceeded my expectations of no paved roads, running water, or electricity! It actually has all of those! Although, when I first got here, we had no hot water – the water heater had been broken for several months. I got tired of ice showers after two days, so I just went ahead, took the water heater apart, and dinked around with it for about 10 minutes. After putting it back together, it worked! Yay! However, we still can’t drink the water from our tap even though we have a filter on it. Our water was tested and it’s still too dirty for us to safely drink. The filter on the main line to our house needs to be replaced – we’re waiting for the landlord to do that.
We actually have a house here in 玉里 though, which is really cool! It needs to be cleaned up a bit, but we’re working on it. The three other missionaries have all been in Taiwan for 6 weeks less than me…so I’m the oldest here in island! The town of Yuli just feels like a small American town – kind of like when you’re driving through the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden there’s the town that pops up in front of you – that’s what Yuli feels like.
I was fortunate enough to have some friends spend five hours both ways driving all the way down here to Yuli to visit me and bring things from Costco for me! They also bought me a sweater that matched the ones they bought for themselves – when we’re together, we make a battery (AAA – triple A battery!!).
Yesterday we had stake conference, which was fun since it’s the first one I’ve been to here in Taiwan! Every time my stake would have plans to have stake conference, I would be transferred out of the area before it happened! President Jergensen and his wife actually came down and spoke at it too, which was cool. Sister Jergensen shared a story about their family at the Boston Marathon, but I don’t have enough time right now to type it all out, so I’ll share it next week!
– Elder Austin Simonson
P.S. I like my new companion, Elder Budd! He’s cool!