Our first major holiday in Taipei has come and gone. We weren’t sure it would actually come, but grateful it did. Our air shipment miraculously arrived on December 23rd, just in time to put up the tree, a few decorations and wrap the presents that Santa (using the magic that only Santa can use) added to our shipment. Luckily I didn’t have to give the speech that I had prepared for Elizabeth explaining that sometimes Santa doesn’t make it as far as Taiwan until a week after U.S. Christmas. Huge sigh of relief.
We spent the evening of Christmas Eve with our cool new neighbors LeeAnn and George. They invited us and a few other people from our church ward to a lovely American turkey dinner. The food was delicious, the company was pleasant but the best part of the evening was spending it with the missionaries that are serving in our ward. The two elders were trying their best to be positive but were obviously missing home. My heart went out to them. I was in their position twenty years ago and I felt their pain. They were adorable! I’m grateful that my children will have more contact with missionaries than they had in Utah.
Christmas day was spent much like every other Christmas: opening presents, wrapping paper everywhere, mass chaos. But in the late morning we got on Skype with the Hale family and felt like we were in Jason’s brother’s livingroom as they reenacted the Nativity. We sang carols together and knelt together for family prayer. The miracle of technology is such a blessing!
We also had a scaled-down version of our traditional Italian Christmas dinner. I was shocked at the number of Italian items I was able to find around town. I even found Pandoro. Our taste buds thanked us.
Christmas over, Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church, I got a call from a gentleman in our ward, telling me he was ill and asking if I would teach the gospel doctrine sunday school class for him. Gulp! He must have known I’m a sucker and can’t say no to anything church related. About seven years ago I was the gospel doctrine teacher in our ward and I would spend about 15 hours a week preparing my lessons. I had 1/2 hour to read through the lesson before we had to leave. To add to my grief, this was only our second week in this ward and the temple president and former mission president are in the class. Gulp! Gulp! I said a quick prayer and winged it. I somehow muddled through it, unbloodied and hoping I never have to do that again. Ever.
This morning, I went for a walk in our new neighborhood. I had no idea where I was going, I just let the wind take me where it wanted. I ended up quite a ways higher up Yangmingshan mountain from our home. I found a lookout point with a spectacular view of Taipei. I could see all the way to the ocean. It was breathtaking and awesome! I felt like I needed to pinch myself to make sure it was real. As I looked out over this spectacular city I couldn’t believe that I actually get to live here. I honestly feel like the most blessed person on the planet. I’m loving this new life and I especially love that I get to share it with my favorite people.