Sunday, June 27, 2010

holidays, zhongzis and giggle fits‏- Sun 6/20/10

Dear Family,

Happy Midsummer! I would have totally forgotten about the holiday but Amy reminded me. Everyone go dance around a Midsummer pole and perhaps recite Grandpa's favorite "I'm the little swedish boy" poem. Here is to not forgetting our roots!

In Taiwan there was a holiday this past Wednesday. It is called the Dragon Boat Festival. Everyone had the day off school and a lot of people went to go bai-bai or to watch the Dragon Boat races. I don't know much about the dragon boat race since they aren't in our area :) You can google it and then you will know more about it than me. For us, the holiday meant that everyone gave us zhongzis. A Zhongzi is a kind of triangular shaped rice...thing...with stuff in it. It is a rice pyramid wrapped in leaves and in the middle there are suprises - meat (mostly just pure blobs of fat), a cooked egg yolk, beans, tiny fish or shrimp, mushrooms, etc. Some of them are good, some are not. Anyway, besides everyone feeding them to us for the past week, people gave us about a million. We still have a dozen or so in the freezer and we've been trying to eat through them. People wanted to give us more but we've managed to avoid the worst of it.

Taiwanese etiquette is sometimes hard for me. People will try to give us food all of the time. It is polite to say no and refuse, whether or not you want it. Then it is polite for them to continuously urge you until you to eat, drink, or take with you whatever it is. However, this means that if you refuse something people still think you are just being polite. If you really put your foot down and refuse to take something offered, two things will happen - either they will continue to urge but won't force you to take it, or they will near force you into taking something else instead - usually something nicer or more expensive. Then you really feel bad that in the end you are taking something you didn't need in the first place, but was more expensive than the first thing.

If you are confused, don't worry. Me too.

Taiwanese culture is also different from American culture in the importance of things unsaid. If you give a group of American's a list of the 10 books, they will discuss the books and perhaps their similiarities. If you give a group of Taiwanese people a list of 10 books, they will discuss what books weren't included on the list. So you not only have to be careful what you say, you have to be careful of what you don't say, or what you may unconciously be implying. People read the implications of what you say. For example, I asked a member where her daughter bought her shoes because I wanted to buy some similar ones, had been looking for months and hadn't found any. Sister Yang* told me that she would buy me some shoes and in the end just ended up giving me her daughters shoes. So be careful what you say!

Today Sister Yang actually took us to go exercise with the grandma's in the park. Every morning, very early, there are already grandma's and grandpa's out exercising. They do a lot of pretend swimming through the air, slapping their arms, shaking out their wrists and hips. It was actually really fun. This one lady kept trying to improve my "form" and giving me instructions on proper breathing techniques. I had a bit of a giggle fit during one of the breathing exercises. This made me think of Shelly disrupting her lamaze class with her innappropriately timed giggle fit, which really didn't help me regain my composure at all. :) It was a good time.

* Sister Yang is just an exceptionally generous person in general, especially to the missionaries. She is a RM herself and her and her husband committed when they got married that they would have the missionaries over to eat once a month and help to accompany lessons. I would feel way more guilty about the shoes but I remembered Daddy buying those coats for the Elders in Elko and I figure it all works out when we serve one another. I'm sure I'll be buying things for future missionaries too.

Well my times is up! I love you all- have a good week! Send me pictures of the baby shower!

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