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.
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.