Wednesday, May 16, 2018

5-2018 A Wedding in Portland, and So Much More!

This wedding is a testimony to me that 
the Lord is in the details of the details of the details of our lives (Elder Chi Hong Sam Wong)! 
On her way home from Taiwan, this sister sat next to our last office couple, also returning from their mission. When the plane stopped in Hong Kong to pick up more passengers, missionaries from Malaysia boarded. A handsome elder took his seat one row ahead, and then, for the next 12 hours, careened his neck backwards to chat with our sister through the crack in the seats:) 
Still focused on his call, he did not ask for her phone number...
he did, however, tell his mother upon his arrival home that he may have met his future wife!
 We had been looking forward to seeing the bride's grandparents again, who served in the Taipei Temple while were were in Taichung. They are now serving another mission in the Manhattan New York Temple! 
 We look forward to visiting Manhattan this fall and spending more time with them!
We are also anxious to see the former Taipei Temple president and his wife,
who are serving an MLS mission in New York City!
 A wedding luncheon was held afterwards at McMenamins Octagonal Barn:
At the reception that evening, we were able to visit some more with the bride's grandparents.
They are so blessed to be wearing name tags again, representing the Savior in their service:)
Our wonderful office couple, who sat with our newlyweds on their plane ride home from their missions,
drove up from Salem!
We visited with several of the bride's aunties, who grew up in Singapore. We started asking them about our missionaries from that part of Asia, all of which were awesome! I showed them a Facebook profile pic of one of our Malaysian sister missionaries, and one aunty knew her! It was then that President noticed that our Malaysian missionary posted on her Facebook timeline that she's coming to Utah and California for a visit! 
Now we are so excited to spend a day with her on her layover in Los Angeles! 
I'm so grateful for this aunty who kept us from missing out on our Malaysian missionary's visit to America!
Of course we can't leave out pics of our favorite places to eat! 
Dinner upon arrival to Portland at Chicken and Guns:
 Dessert afterwards at Salt & Straw: waffle cone with a Tasting Flight of Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Pear & Blue Cheese, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, and Roasted Strawberry Coconut (my favorite)!
Our missionary just returned from BYU after graduating! 
We were happy he could join us for breakfast before the sealing:
After the wedding reception, we headed down to Salem, to spend a couple nights with our office couple. We could not have been more graciously welcomed into their home, 
it was so wonderful to visit with them for hours!
The next morning we went to Silver Falls State Park for a hike. It was such a beautiful day!
The flora and fauna were spectacular! South Falls:
Our missionary from Portland and President's nephew from Salem, and their families, joined us. 
From behind South Falls:

Lower South Falls:
Break for lunch...our office couple thought of everything and packed us all a yummy picnic!
With President's nephew's family at Upper North Falls:
GoPro selfie:
From North Falls Viewpoint:
Our missionary caught a rainbow in this pic, and a candid of us!
 Can you spot me in the photo above, taking the photo below?
In the springtime, the sheer volume of water is impressive!
My turn to snap a shot of him!
We were pleasantly surprised to learn that these leaves can be added to a salad for a tart green apple flavor! They are delicious! Our nephew, a forester, identified the flora as the Oxalis, a flowering sourgrass. 
Dinner at the Marco Polo Restaurant, on the second floor overlooking the Oregon Crepe Cafe where we enjoyed breakfast awaiting the total eclipse back in August last year!
After enjoying delicious Chinese cuisine, my fortune cookie revealed the following:
"Physical activity will dramatically improve your outlook today."
How true! I couldn't have been happier, having spent the day with some of my most favorite people in the world, and marveling in the Lord's exquisite handiwork!
The next morning, our kind and thoughtful host prepared a delightful Mother's Day breakfast!
We wanted to hit the Oregon coast before heading to the airport, so our mission couple suggested attending the Battlecreek Ward, which meets in the morning. We walked in a few minutes early, sat down in a pew, and this sweet sister came and threw her arms around me, calling me by name! 
I had attended her baptism three years ago in the English Branch in Taichung! 
Since marrying and settling in Salem, she met a sister in her ward that reminded me of her each week. 
She was surprised that this time it really was me!
As missionaries, our greatest joy comes from witnessing those that accept the gospel and enter the gate of baptism continuing to progress steadfastly along the path towards the kingdom of God!

Before I end this blog post, I have to share a tender mercy. You probably didn’t notice but I had a different dress on at the wedding luncheon than I did at the evening reception. Now I’m not one to be that particular about what I wear, but there was a reason behind the change! It goes like this... Thursday afternoon, President and I arrived at LAX to take our Southwest flight to Portland. I had one carry on, but President had a suit bag in addition to his carry on. He had decided to check both so as not to have to bother with bags on the plane. In considering whether or not to check my bag, my first thought was, “What if my bag got lost and I didn’t have anything?” This was overruled by my second thought, which was, “I only have 30 minutes to make the connection, so do I really want to bother with my carry on?” So I checked my carry on. We soon boarded our flight, then changed planes in Sacramento and continued to Portland. Unfortunately, my overnight bag did not follow me to Sacramento, but went on to Seattle:( So I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing and my computer. No dress for the temple. No toiletries:((( After filing a lost baggage claim with Southwest personnel, I could honestly say that I was nice about it. And President can vouch for me, hahaha! That helped us both to enjoy the remainder of the evening, which was spent feasting on sumptuous food! It also helped me to sleep better, and to pray harder, that my bag would be found and I would be presentable at the Portland Temple!
The next morning, I woke up at 5:30am and couldn’t sleep thinking about my bag. I got online and saw that my bag had been matched! A call to Southwest affirmed that my bag had been recovered, would be on its way to Portland, but most likely would not reach the airport until the afternoon:( 
Fortunately, the kind hostess lent me a 6” pocket-sized hair straightener. An elder once taught me, “If the hair’s okay, everything’s okay!”
My black flip-flops had a platform heal and a touch of glitz so they would suffice. But I had no dress:( What to do? The Marshalls two minutes down the road didn’t open until 9:30am, and the Macy’s next door until 10am. We were supposed to be at the Portland Temple by 11am, 20 minutes away. I told President I was going to Target, which opened at 7am. He generously encouraged me to go to Macy’s and buy whatever I wanted. But that had the potential of being very stressful! Opened too late and too big of a selection! I left and went to Target, arriving right when it opened at 7am. Of the entire women’s department, there was only a handful of modest dresses, and only two my size. In five minutes, I picked out a little black dress that fit me perfectly, on the clearance rack for $11! Isn’t it SO humorous how the Lord knows exactly what brings us joy???!!! Tender mercies:)))
Sure enough, my bag arrived in the afternoon, we picked it up before the reception, and I was given a $50 voucher from Southwest:)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Our Niece's Last Transfer in Hsinchu, Home to Several of Our Missionaries!

Our niece serving in the Taiwan Taipei Mission was assigned to labor in Hsinchu for her very last transfer. 
I'm so glad she's among so many of our wonderful missionaries!

At a stake conference:

Monday, May 7, 2018

5-7-18 Look Who's Going to Taipei!

Today I had the pleasure of Skyping with a sister companionship preparing to serve in the Taiwan Taipei Mission. The sister on the right shared about her family: she had two older brothers, one who had also served in the Taipei Mission, and another who had recently returned (5 months ago) from the Taichung Mission!
When I told her that I also served in the Taichung Mission and knew her brother, her face really lit up! 
She was even more tickled to meet her brother's mission president.
She leaves in one week, and boy is she ready...her Mandarin is 超厲害! 

The Best of Taroko Gorge!

Taroko Gorge is one of the most beautiful and famous adventure experiences in Taiwan. 
I thought I'd post some of the best pictures we've taken, so you can get a taste of the beauty of this magnificent gorge. But really, pictures don't do justice!
At the opening of the gorge:
 We have always stayed at the Taroko Lodge, run by Rihang Su, owner of the establishment for decades. He will pick you up at the train station, he will cater to your every need, and his motto is, "Don't worry!" Truly, Rihang takes care of everything!
Rihang and his wife prepare a delicious western breakfast for their guests, including toast, eggs, and local tropical fruit. You'll find that most other bed and breakfast accommodations around Taroko Gorge cater to mainland China tourists, so the breakfast is traditional eastern Chinese. 
American tourists will be relieved that Rihang's English is so good!
Taroko Terrace Trail:
Nice paved path:
Amazing clear blue waters!
Did you know that there are hot springs in the gorge? Rihang (far left) will drop you off deep in the gorge with bikes. Before mounting your bikes, however, take a quick hike down to the HOT springs. 
Suspension bridge overlooking the hot springs:
Aerial view of the springs. The low retaining wall at the edge of the river has since been "rebuilt" to provide greater hiking safety:
Follow Rihang's suggestions:)
The waters are swift but very shallow, with a narrow rocky strip:
The hot springs warm the waters at the edge of the river:
I personally have never been able to dip more than my feet in the pool for about 2-3 seconds.
It's WAY HOT! I seriously lasted only a few seconds in the spring to have this picture taken!
Down the road about a half mile is the entrance to the Baiyan Waterfall Trail,
leading to the amazing Water Curtain Cave:
The trail is 2.1km to the cave. On our first ever trip we encountered a monkey!
Words cannot describe the volume and power of the water rushing through the gorge!
Approaching the cave are tunnels where you can begin to see the effects of water seeping through the cracks of the mountain:
If you want to enter the cave, bring ponchos (7-Eleven). You'll also probably find many left behind by previous travelers. Leave your shoes at the entrance. No one will bother them!
This is the most spectacular waterfall you'll ever see inside a cave! Water gushes through the crevices. The trick to taking pictures inside the black abyss is the have an assistant stand behind the water and shine a light (cell phone) from under their poncho. Then take the picture from the front of the waterfall, without a flash. All these shots were taken with my iPhone 6 me on this one!
The far opening of the cave serves as the backlight in this photo:
Bring water'll definitely want to stand under the falls!
The next stop is Xiangde Temple. You'll recognize the yellow bridge:
The gateway is a perfect photo opp:
Gotta take a burst to capture this:
Take the small path to the right before ascending to the pagoda:
This pagoda is awesome!

From the top level of the pagoda:
Lots more photo opps at the Xiangde Temple:

Yes there are lots of tour buses, but why sit in a bus when you can experience the gorge out in the open? The ride is about 90% gradual downhill, but definitely not for the inexperienced rider. Get confident on a bike first!
There are SO many suspension bridges along the way:
Beauty of the gorge:
Last stop, Changchun (Eternal Spring) Shrine Trail. Pick up some ice cream or a soda at this rest stop. There are several other places (including a tourist center) with fresh fruit, snacks, and drinks to rest and replenish along the way.
Xincheng (train station) also has a nice beach with tons of beautiful smooth rocks.
Rihang will take you there if you arrive early enough in the afternoon. 
You can see the gorgeous cliffs of Qingshui from the beach:
Your kids get you to do these kinds of things!
 Fishing boats...
 ...and fishermen along the coast:
What are you waiting for? Time to plan a trip to beautiful Taiwan now!