"A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race." Joseph Smith

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Quarantine - Wǒmen sìhū zhù zài jiānyù.

We arrived back in Taiwan on July 4th, having traveled with 6 sister missionaries also returning - some of the dear sisters we served with from before the world changed - all returning and ready for service. 
Aren't these sister missionaries adorable?  So faithful and ready to serve - again!

Then we were sprayed with disinfectant, and each companionship was whisked off to our quarantine apartments. 

Two whole weeks! 

I could hardly believe it! It’ll be like the vacation I’ve always dreamed of - we can sleep in, nap when we want to, watch movies, read the book our daughter gave us - no responsibilities! I’ll have plenty of time to study Chinese and do my photography classes - why- it will be absolutely wonderful! I am SO looking forward to our two weeks of quarantine!

Day 1.....It was simply perfect! We slept off our jet lag, took inventory of the food that was stocked for us, and dove into Chinese studies . What a great day!

Day 3- Every day we follow the same routine as to not get too lazy - prayers, scripture study, both by ourselves and together, exercise, Chinese study. Then we we try to do something fun or different each day. Greg is learning to play songs on the piano. I did some yoga.

Day 5- Today we had a picnic on the roof. It was hot and very humid. It was a short picnic. The police called. Just wanted to follow up and make sure we were still here and doing our part to keep Taiwan healthy. Yup- we’re still here.........
Very short picnic on the
very hot rooftop....

Watering plants left by the landlord.

Day 7- Every day the CDC texts us to inquire about our health and symptoms. Today I have a cold. I’m afraid to tell them. Will they haul me off to the hospital?

Today I answered the CDC computer text message that I have a runny nose and stuffy nose. If you’re not honest you can get massively fined. Although I’m pretty sure it’s just a cold, they want to make sure. So they sent out a blaring ambulance to whisk me away to the hospital, ran an X-ray (which showed clear lungs), did a COVID test, (results in three days) and returned me back to my quarantine apartment, toting cold medicines. 95% of my experience today was outside the hospital so as to not potentially infect anyone. They have this whole process perfected. My local health authority person then called to follow up. Every neighborhood or area has its very own health authority.

               In the back of the ambulance.                                                 Outside the hospital, in the COVID-testing tent.

Slept the rest of the day. So much for telling them I have a cold.....

Day 9 - We are a little over halfway through quarantine. The prison walls are not as exciting as they were a week ago. This is tougher than I thought!

Today I learned how to say “It seems we live in a jail”. 我們似乎住在監獄. Wǒmen sìhū zhù zài jiānyù. 

Behind the first set of barred doors leading to our temporary quarantine apartment.
Needless to say, quarantine isn't as great as it once sounded. One more week to go, and then we'll be singing:

“From the time we first ended our quarantine, and blinking stepped into the sun, there is more to see than can ever be seen, more to do than can ever be done! “

Can't wait! 

But on the up side, where else can you have two weeks of uninterrupted time to study the scriptures, and prepare oneself for the upcoming service to the Lord's kingdom? What a great time to receive greater insights, power, understanding of the voice of the Spirit, and the knowledge of things to come! What a time for introspection, on pondering how we can improve, on seeking that sanctification through our Savior. There are so many resources at our fingertips - uplifting messages by the prophets to study and ponder and absorb. In these ways and more, this quarantine becomes a temple, a sacred place where heaven and earth combine. 

Joseph Smith and several of his friends spent a little over 4 months in the Liberty, Missouri prison during the winter of 1838.  Joseph Smith later wrote to Edward Partridge of that experience - saying it was "equal to that of Abraham." The food was scarce, the conditions were horrible, yet the Spirit of the Lord was powerfully manifest in their humble "prison-temple," where some of the most powerful revelations were received.
Ours is nothing in comparison to either Abraham or Joseph, but there is much to be learned as we patiently endure and seek the revelations of heaven while we kill baby cockroaches roaming all over the floors, in our "quarantine-temple."  I wonder what week two will bring?!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Pack Your Bags, Cri-Kee - We're Moving Out!

We Pause Now for a Brief “Inter-Mission”

Who could have foreseen the pandemic coming? Of course, God knew it was coming and He prepared His Saints well. With Come Follow Me, stay at home church, Zoom social-distance-appropriate meetings, and inter-connections of ministering all in place, the shelter-in-place guidelines provided healing downtime for many people in an otherwise frenzied world. 

But for missionaries around the world, it changed the face and shape of their mission experience forever. On April 3, 2020, the Taiwan Taipei mission and the Taiwan Taichung mission boarded up their non-native missionaries to send them back to their homes. Our mission sent 99 young missionaries on air flights to their home countries. Some had just barely arrived on their mission.

In time, most of these missionaries would receive temporary US-based reassignments to continue their missionary service. Las Vegas, San Diego, Arcadia, North Carolina – the scattering of our Taiwan Taipei Israel. They were so cute – so eager and happy to serve in their new assignments.

Most senior missionaries were sent home the following week. We arrived back in the States on April 8th.

Since our home was still being rented out when we arrived, we were invited by one of our daughters to live with them.  We assumed squatters rights in a bedroom in their basement.  We’ve spent this time enjoying grandchildren, doing family history work, helping with projects around the house, and enjoying this brief  “inter-mission” to our mission.  As restrictions have lifted somewhat, we’ve been able to visit some of our other family members as well.

We suspected we would also be reassigned stateside, following the pattern of the younger missionaries. We have 9 months of mission time left. We were on hold, waiting for a later time when we’d receive our assignment on where to finish our missionary term of service.

Then a couple of bombshells fell on us. Our renters needed to leave early from their lease, and told us they will vacate our house in July. That leaves us with reduced income for the mission costs. Maybe we could finish our mission in our own home with a stay-at-home assignment?

The next day, our mission president from Taiwan called us. Our scattered missionaries are being reassigned back to Taiwan right away, and they need us to come and help! There are currently only 4 active cases of  COVID-19 in Taiwan so young missionaries and a few senior missionaries who still have a valid resident card are being allowed back. 

“Urgent news from the General! We’re needed at the front! 
Pack your bags, Cri-kee! We’re moving out!"
Courtesy of Flickr.com - Pawarisa Ch.

The whirlwind begins: Pray for a renter. Find a renter. Prepare the house for a new renter.

Renew the international drivers license. Make arrangements for the car. Buy chocolate chips to take to Taiwan. Finish up projects. Wait for official reassignment.

And wait. And wait. And wait. Were we really going to Taiwan at all?

It seemed like forever, but finally the flight itinerary arrived in our email box - We're flying out on July 2nd. The reassignment back to Taiwan truly is happening!  

And so we were off again! Three months after arriving back home, we are excitedly heading back in the air, Taiwan bound.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen".  Matthew 28:19-20.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Our "Evacuation" and Return Home

It’s finally here – time for the senior missionaries to leave. There has been talk about the possibility of being sent home for some time now because of the COVID-19. It was on again and off again, and then on again. The temple senior missionaries had been sent out the week before. We knew our time was next.  Still, when the time finally came, it was still a bit bewildering. So much left undone. So many plans unfinished. 

Mixed emotions of feeling we are abandoning ship, but excited to be home with family during this uncertain time. Knowing it was safer to stay in Taiwan than in the United States, but wanting to be available to help family should the need arise.

The senior missionaries ended up being given a choice by the Area Presidency – if we wanted to stay we could, as long as we recognized the risk involved in perhaps not being able to get home if more borders were sealed or flights quit flying.

But with prayer, we both felt peaceful and calm. Returning home was the right thing for us to do. All the senior missionaries in our mission chose to return home except for the office couple, who would stay to help keep things running.

One last mango bing. We will miss the amazing mangoes here!

Our last goodbyes. Love this group of dedicated senior missionaries!

The flight home – eerily empty planes and airports.
 So grateful they were still flying!

San Francisco airport!

How's THIS for social distancing?

And then into the arms of family!

As we begin our 14 day quarantine, we were able to meet with our Stake President via Zoom, and were issued an honorable, howbeit "temporary" release. Should the situation with COVID-19 change soon, we may be called back up to complete our missionary service - somewhere. Our official end date is January 1, 2021. For now, we are "civilians" once again.

We feel so blessed to have been able to serve in Taiwan, even though it was cut short. But the work continues in the hands of our wonderful mission president and his wife, and in the capable hands and hearts of the Taiwanese missionaries. We made friends with many and cherish those experiences.

It was a blessing to see the hand of the Lord working miracles with us, with the missionaries, and with the people in Taiwan. The work will continue. No unhallowed hand, or virus, can stop this work. We are so blessed to see the unwinding of the last days unfold right before our eyes, even as the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues throughout the world.

As this is a mission blog, we will end here, until we are sent out again. Missions are the best – may God bless any of you considering a mission. We’re happy to correspond and answer questions or share ideas together. Please feel free to contact us: coffey58@gmail.com. 

And we plan to serve again!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The Missionary COVID-19 Exodus

There’s a flurry in the mission office – missionaries scrambling to get instructions, gather supplies, get reimbursed. The missionaries are still trying to wrap their heads around the news. 

Taiwan, one of the last holdouts for having foreign missionaries still serving in country, has received word that we must all be back to our native countries right away – starting as early as Friday.

Goodbyes are hard. Hearts were breaking.

Looking at the near empty transfer board

President Peterson purchased this flag 38 years ago when he served as a young missionary in Taiwan. Now it serves as a part of mission history. Each departing missionary signs his or her name. They've become part of the "fabric of the mission."

Getting 99 young missionaries ready for departure in just a day and a half was no easy feat. President and Sister Peterson were heros, working day and night. There was no time for missionaries to have farewell interviews with the mission president.  No time for a nice testimony meeting. No time to go buy souvenirs.

No time to grasp what was really happening.

Tears flowed. Some missionaries had just arrived, having only been in Taiwan for 2 weeks. Some had arrived to quarantine, just to get out in time to go back home.
Farewell gift to missionary sisters.
Elders received a matching tie pin.
The next day they returned with suitcases full to the brim, and within an hour they were on the buses heading for the airport. Another group of missionaries were gathering in the Taoyuan area while a third gathered in Xinzhu to board buses there. Missionaries from the southern Taichung mission were also gathering – all preparing to be driven to the airport.

It was as orderly of an evacuation as could be expected.

They gathered on the steps of the church for last minute instructions, photos, and one last song together. 

After farewell instructions by President and Sister Peterson, they sang "Called to Serve" one last time. click HERE to watch the video.

Their spirits would not be dampened. Hurrah for Israel! Hurrah for Israel! Hurrah for Israel – wherever they go they will carry the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in their hearts to spread the Good News throughout the world. Even if that world is back home with friends and family.

The bulk of them left on Friday, April 3rd – 99 of them. The rest soon followed, depending on flight availability to their country. We had missionaries from the United States, Canada, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, the Philippines, Italy, Peru, Brazil, and Sweden. Now they are gone.

We miss them all already.

Only the Taiwanese missionaries remain. In days to come more Taiwanese missionaries will join them as they are flown in from countries around the world where they have been serving. For now - Taiwanese missionaries are teaching Taiwanese people in their own language on their own homeland soil. It just feels right.

Hurrah for Israel! Truth will prevail!

Now - it's our turn to leave. Next post.....