Monday, October 8, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

We made the very long trek back to our home, arriving in the early afternoon on October 4th.  It was so wonderful to be greeted by all of our children and their spouses and all of our sweet grandchildren.


And here are some pictures of the grandkids making the signs for us!

We are very happy to be home, but will miss Taiwan and all wonderful people we served with very much.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Update

It has been four months since we entered an update on our mission blog.  We are not sure if it is because we are trunky, tired, or out of news. We continue to work hard and exercise nearly every day, so we can’t be too tired or trunky.  And, we have seen some beautiful sites recently, so we do something to share. 

Buddhist Temples: We have been fortunate to be able to travel to several other cities including Puliand Gaoxiong where we have experienced some massive Buddhist temples. The grounds on the temple in Gaoxiong were aslarge as a small university and the buildings massive and beautiful.  

  Worshippers may sit on the floor barefoot facing an image of Buddha and chanting. They will listen to monks chanting from religious texts, perhaps accompanied by instruments, and take part in prayers. Temples may have hundreds of statues of Buddha. The large temples are an ornate and peaceful place but are overwhelming to us in their idol worship.
There are 23 million people in Taiwan. Eight million are Buddhist---the largest religion in Taiwan. When combined with Taoists these two religions make up two-thirds of the population. Our church has less than 60,000 members or about two tenths of one percent. (Plenty of work still to do after we leave).

The lotus flower is a symbol of Buddhism and teaches a lesson all religions can appreciate. This beautiful flower grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives the flower’s most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murky water to achieve beauty and enlightenment. As we see and feel parts of our environment being dark and murky we can still rise above this and share beauty and joy to the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ certainly teaches this principle. 

 From our first day in Taiwan we have been entertained, threatened, and enjoyed at times the many different modes of transportation. Our main mode is our two feet. We calculate that when we go home we will have walked nearly 1400 miles in our eighteen months. How blessed we are to have the kind of health to do this. Our young missionaries ride their bikes everywhere. Ron’s bike is for recreation in the mountains.

The rest of Taiwan seems to be on scooters, buses, trains, bikes, taxi’s, and cars. Scooters are the most plentiful with 14.85 million registered and on the road. Being a pedestrian one recognizes in the first ten minutes of walking on a sidewalk you are at the bottom of the traffic food chain. But there are plenty of other vehicles that we find very interesting. We have seen as many as four people on one scooter, and some carrying ladders, card tables, eight foot pieces of lumber, up to five large propane tanks and even seven tires. Truly a versatile vehicle.

Buses are plentiful, colorful in appearance, and drive down narrow streets like they were on freeways. They are very high on the traffic foodchain. We have gone to the temple in Taipei several times in one of these comfortable buses. The curtains are an interesting touch to usas foreigners. Ron hates riding his bike past a parked bus while being passed on the left by a moving bus.

 Modified vehicles include the many motorcycles converted into pick up trucks for food and other vender purposes.  

   Carts are used by the many old people who gather recycle products throughout the day. Our favorite is a beautiful old woman, all bent over, but possessing a gorgous smile doing her daily labor of collecting. She weighs about 20% of the load she pushes up and down the streets each day. 

 Bicycles were the main mode of transportation when President Bishop was here in 1972. Now only the older people, recreational riders and those pesky Mormon Missionaries ride bikes. To keep bikes from getting stolen, missionaries paint them in a very unharmonious manner.

Pickup Trucks: Somehow the little blue pickup trucks don’t communicate being “Macho” in Taiwan.

We have two months and a few days left.  We have plenty of work to do before we leave.  But, we are anxious to be home with our family.  We continue to enjoy our mission in Taiwan and the wonderful people we serve.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Family in Taiwan

Who would have ever thought, five years ago, that all seven of the Liston family would spend a week together in Taiwan in 2012?  If someone would have suggested the thought not one of our family would have said, “Sure, let’s go.”  Well it happened!

Last October Eric said he was going to come visit us in the spring.  Within a week he called back and said, “why not have the whole family come over---all five kids?”  Plans were made (mostly by Eric), reservations confirmed (by Dad), flights to and from tied together, and on March 2nd at 11:15 P.M., our five children walked into the Taipei airport looking for their Mom and Dad.  What a fun reunion. 

Reunited at the airport in Taipei

After the tears of joy, smiles, and small talk about long plane rides we spent the night in a nice hotel in Zheng Li, Taiwan.   This was the kid’s first taste of a Taiwan breakfast buffet, including salad, dumplings, rice and more rice, fish, etc.  Andy ate noodles and Eric enjoyed cold cereal.   It was very good, and we all did fine.

Saturday was spent in Taipei including a ride on the High Speed Rail between Taipei and the airport in Tauyuen.   This engineering marvel reached speeds of 260 kilometers per hour on this very fast trip.  (For us foreigners, that is about 160 mph.)  We visited the LDS temple in Taipei, the Palace Museum where Chiang Kai-shek’s treasure taken from mainland China years ago is kept.  We also spent a few hours at the “101” in Taipei, which is the third tallest building in the world.  It was foggy that day, but the views from near the top were truly awesome.

At the high speed rail

The "101"---the third tallest building in the world

A view looking down from the top of the building

At the Palace Museum

Us at the gardens at the Palace Museum

The Taipei Temple

On the rail after a long day of site-seeing.

Taipei is about three hours from Taichung, our current home. We all settled into our small, but very adequate apartment which includes four bunk beds and a throw down pad for Andy. Sunday morning involved touring around our neighborhood to see some of the city’s highlights. The Confucius Temple and the Baby Buddha statue are always special for visitors to the city. 

A view of our apartment building

The Buddhist Temple at the Baby Buddha site.
The Baby Buddha statue

The Confucius Temple

Another view of the Confucius Temple
Admiring all the beautiful architecture at the Confucius Temple

A view from our apartment

At church the kids were able to meet our friends in the LDS English Branch and even participate in the fast Sunday “break the fast.”  Ron refers to it as “break the Sabbath.”
Our whole family at church!  Notice the two "younger" Elders wearing dad's nametags.

Afterwards, a young man whom we and the Assistants have been teaching was baptized.
Us with Cedric and Elder Palmer and Elder Peterson at Cedric's baptism.

Cedric is from Burma and spent two years in Australia where he learned very good English.  The service was very special, which we have found all baptismal services to be remarkable.  There is something deeply touching when someone truly changes their life and makes a covenant with our Father in Heaven to follow the Savior.  It was a further reunion for Julie, Eric, and Andy as we were invited to spend Sunday evening with President and Sister Bishop.  These three plus Dad worked with “Dr. Bishop” for many years at the hospital in Provo.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in the very south tip of the Island of Taiwan at a beach and visiting sites there.  The water and sand were every bit as nice as any we have experienced in Hawaii.  It is somewhat off-season, so we were nearly the only people at this small resort.

The beach on the very Southern tip of Taiwan--a bit of heaven on earth!

Just relaxing and talking

Eating McDonalds (pronounced My-dung-lauw in Chinese)for dinner.  Noticed how excited Eric looks.  He had a bit of a hard time with the food and just wanted to eat McDonalds.

A night market we came across near our hotel.

On Wednesday we spent the afternoon in the mountains around Taichung where Ron rides his bike.  There is a large group of wild, but fairly tamed monkeys living in the wild we visited. 

The kids then enjoyed a few hours at the Taichung night market which is close to the mission office. 
Thursday was the kids last full day in Taiwan.  We took them to the morning market where the selling and buying takes place just like it has for hundreds of years.  (Well, maybe the scooters were not here 100 years ago).  We never go here without having broad smiles at this very different experience for Americans.

Our last tour was spending the remainder of Thursday at Sun Moon Lake in the mountains.  This “jewel” of a lake is very special, made even more special when our family sang “I am a child of God” to a group of school children at the large Pagoda overlooking the lake.  The students loved interacting with our five children.  

At Sun Moon Lake

Interacting with the students at Sun Moon Lake. 

The whole group at Sun Moon Lake

Lest you think our missionary duties were completely on hold, every day of the week we spent time at the office keeping caught up with our duties.  While we were in the office in the morning the kids enjoyed shopping in the small morning market and visiting a bakery which became one of their favorite treat spots.  Prior to the children being here, we did all we could do get ahead.  Saturday after they left we put in some serious hours to catch up.  And, it worked out. This past week was hard, but we were all caught up by Friday.
The week before they arrived was cold and wet, and the week since they left has been mostly cold and wet.  The weather during their visit was balmy island weather.   Our drive to the airport on Friday morning started at 4:00 a.m. in a near torrential rain.  It was hard to say good bye, but we all separated realizing that we had just had a remarkable experience together.  We do not remember the last time our nuclear family was together---just the seven of us---for any length of time. 

Being on a mission, in a beautiful country, with a remarkable culture made it even more special.

Our mission has reinforced and deepened our knowledge and love of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.  One thing for sure, we have missed our children and grandchildren greatly.  And, there is nothing we want more now than to do all that is required of us to be a Forever Family.