We finally arrived at the Taichung bus station. My next advice for before you leave your home, is to find a way to have your destination printed in English and Chinese. This way, if you speak NO Chinese, you will be able to show the taxi driver.
We tried to get the taxi driver to drive us to the Landis Hotel, but the taxi driver couldn’t read the English. We happened to read someone else’s experience with taxi drivers, and they recommended you have something in Chinese for them to read and hang on to it for future cab rides. I had a letterhead from the mission office, that was in Chinese and English, so I handed it to him. He called the number on the card, and got directions from one of the missionaries working in the office. We were home safe, in the arms of the mission office. Now we could get help. So that first little bit, getting from the airport to the Mission office was a bit of a challenge, but we did it. I was telling someone that I was terrified because I didn’t know how to do that, didn’t have a clue where we were staying, etc, and his reply: “No problem, get reservations at the good restaurants, because later when you talk to people, they will say, ‘you went to Taiwan? How was the food?’”
Elder Hahn was in an interview, and we waited in the office. It was a bit busy, because there were 18 missionaries going home. We met some members, Mark Wu, Maggie Wu, both who are ward missionaries, and are not related. Maggie is about 20 years old and very sweet. She speaks very good English. Mark is a bit older, a convert and very helpful as well.
When our son came out, we got to hug him, and look, drink in his face and countenance. Then we got to walk around the streets for awhile, we looked for souvenirs on our list from home. There is a huge shopping mall right near the Mission Office, and the sidewalks are filled with scooters parked three rows deep. We got juain bing at one of the street restaurants. It was a fried egg with meat, sprouts, other vegetables rolled up on a tortilla type of a thing. Of course it is not a tortilla, and was probably made of rice, not corn meal. The girl who made the food said proudly that she is famous in Utah, because she is a member of the Church, and all the missionaries ate there. They talked about her place back in Utah. Elder Hahn took us to a convenience store and made us purchase rain gear. An umbrella and a rain slicker. And it wasn’t long before we got our umbrellas out.
We had to get back to the Mission home in time for Dan’s exit interview, and then President Watterson invited us into his office as well. We got to hear that our son was a wonderful missionary, and the Taichung mission was better for his service in it. All the things that parents want to hear about their son. Yeah. President Watterson is an amazing man, leader and Mission President. We hold a great deal of respect for him and his wife and family. He has done much good for this mission.
On the day of Daniel’s official release 12 June 2007, the Watterson's hosted a breakfast for all the departing missionaries and their parents. The office Elders helped serve the breakfast. Afterwards, President Watterson showed us an amazing video that he prepared for the departing missionaries. It is one that he can alter and add the personal touch for each set of departing missionaries. Each missionary received a copy of this tear jerker. He had just told us that as a result of the work of these 18 departing missionaries, 500 souls were brought to the waters of baptism this last year, which is about the equivalent of 2 wards. Twelve new branches were formed. Lots of families have been baptized, which is the foundation of Church service. But lately, the 77% of baptisms have been male and of those males, 70% have a college degree or higher. He explained that the Lord is preparing for the future when China will be opened to the Gospel. These people in Taiwan will be the launching pad for China. There are 1.4 billion people in China. The blood if Israel is rich in China.
He admonished the departing Missionaries to keep their language skills current. He told them to seek out the Chinese back in their homeland and fellowship them. He explained that the rich people in China are going out into the world. They are being taught the gospel by missionaries and being baptized, then coming back to China. The law says that you are not allowed to proselyte in China but if someone is baptized elsewhere, they are allowed to baptize their family back in China.
He then gave the speech that all departing missionaries dread. He told them to go home, unlock their hearts and get married. Then he told them that they are NO good in the Church until they are married and have established a house. His words were that direct and blunt, and the poor soon-to-be released missionaries all sat there with slack jaws and wide eyes.
I remember my first son, an RM attending BYU told of a time when Boyd K Packer spoke. After his talk, he opened it to questions. My son, in the front row quoted D&C 119 where they talk about establishing a house, then he asked how one might go about doing that? Elder Packer answered with a question: “Have you gone on a mission?” “Yes.” “Are you married?” “No.” “Next question?”
After his talk, President Watterson invited all the missionaries with parents to bear their testimonies, followed by their parents. Since we had such a large group of departing missionaries, and so many parents there, we didn’t get to attend the Sunday evening meeting where the converts are invited to attend. Also the Monday night dinner was only for the missionaries, and we were invited to this breakfast.
As the sweet spirit was manifest by these humble missionaries, and their faithful parents, I felt so privileged to be in attendance. One father spoke of how he was here in Taiwan 31 years ago, and how he had what he felt was a total unsuccessful mission. He spoke of the disappointment he felt as he returned home with no baptisms to his name. He prayed that maybe one of his son’s would be called to this mission and enjoy the success that had eluded his grasp. Rather than a son, his daughter was called on a mission to Taiwan and enjoyed great success. It helped him resolve the hurt he had felt for never baptizing.
My own son baptized 23 souls, and we heard just before we left the island that his latest find, the last month he served had just passed his baptismal interview and was being baptized just after we flew home. In fact baptisms were so plentiful, that he was invited to perform a baptism the first day on the island. I know Daniel’s own RM siblings were looking on with envy.
Last year, you may have heard about the Youth Conference they held in San Yi. It was put on by the Taichung Mission, I believe, and our son told us that the purpose and theme was to inspire the youth to go on missions. He said it worked, because this year, so far, 55 young men and women have left for missions from the Taichung Mission area.
Most of the homeward bound missionaries had been asked to extend, except one. She had a mother who was ill with cancer and the President asked her to leave 3 weeks early. He felt she was needed at home She had found out about this early release only 2 weeks before. It was hard on her, and she said she cried, but when she bore her testimony, she said she wanted to do the Lord’s will.