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Snapshot of Taiwan—Taiwan’s culture blends Chinese, Japanese, European, and American influences. Taiwan (also called As Taiwan has become more politically distinct from mainland China, it has become more culturally different as well. Convenience stores such as 7-11 and Circle K are very popular in Taiwan, in part because of its busy population. Most Taiwanese visit a convenience store at least once a week. Cell phones and internet cafés are frequently used as well. Taiwanese Night markets are also popular, selling a variety of snack foods, meals, and even clothing and entertainment products.
Taiwan dominates much of China’s music culture, with the genres of Mandopop and Hokkien pop being especially popular. Karaoke, anime, and manga are also popular, though more traditional activities such as bathing in hot springs and participating in tea ceremonies still have strong followings as well. Baseball is Taiwan’s most popular sport, but basketball is also popular.
The Church in Taiwan is one of the fastest growing areas of Church membership in the world. Almost 56,000 Latter-day Saints live in Taiwan. Still, there are a lot of less-active members, and most of the members are first generation, with just a handful of second- and third-generation members. The members are wonderful and often will take care of missionaries as they would their own children. The Taipei Temple is within mission boundaries, making it easily accessible to missionaries.
Rice, chicken, pork, and seafood are commonly used in Taiwanese cuisine. The Taiwanese regularly use several types of seasonings in cooking, such as soy sauce, sesame oil, peanuts, and chili peppers. Missionaries often have a difficult time getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables because most places that missionaries eat serve fried rice, noodles, or dumplings, but not fruit and vegetables. But there are many kinds of tropical fruits available.
The main mode of transportation for missionaries is bicycling, which can be pretty crazy on the busy city streets, especially in Taipei. The streets are busy because there are taxis everywhere. Missionaries also use public transportation, including buses, MRT (subway), and trains, which are convenient and accessible.
The main concern with safety is traffic in the big cities. Concerning crime, Taiwan is a safe place overall.
The Chinese have many traditions. New missionaries are often given a small book to read about Chinese culture, including ancestor worship, religion, holidays, respect to authority, etc. Taiwanese people generally really love Americans and their culture so American missionaries should not be concerned about offending them. They realize that foreign missionaries might not understand everything about Taiwanese culture, so they don’t get offended if they don’t do everything properly. However, pay attention and learn!
Taiwanese people speak Mandarin Chinese, and some of them also speak Taiwanese. But many locals, especially in Taipei, are interested in learning English so missionaries occasionally hear Chinglish as well.
The only thing that missionaries may have a hard time finding is deodorant. People in Taiwan don’t use it so missionaries need to bring an ample supply.
4/F, # 24, Lane 183
Chin Hua Street
What items were hard to get or not available?
What did you eat the most of?
“Noodles, rice, dumplings. Pretty much everything is a variation of that.” —Cory
What is the craziest thing you ate?
“Some barnacle-like thing and stinky tofu.” —Taylor
“The craziest thing I ate was probably the congealed pig’s blood. Or duck blood. Or the fermented tofu. Or the fermented egg. One of those. Take your pick.” —Cory
What was most surprising about the culture?
“I was surprised at how many (non-LDS) temples there were even though most people said they weren’t really religious.” —Taylor
“I grew up for several years in Asia, so nothing about the culture really shocked me. For most people, the most shocking thing is just the language.” —Cory
What advice would you give to someone going to this Mission?
“Be prepared for cold, hot, wet, and get ready to meet tons of different, noncommittal people.” —Taylor
What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I’d known more about the Chinese culture.” —Taylor
“Just bring a testimony and a humble heart because learning the language is going to take a while. As the saying says, missionaries who go to state-side missions come back gospel scholars, European or South American missionaries come back masters of their language. Missionaries coming home from Asia come back humbled. I loved Taiwan though, and anyone going to that mission has to realize that they’re going somewhere special. God has sent them there because they can take it, and going to any other mission would be too easy for them. It’s an amazing place to learn and serve. Think about it, you come home speaking the language that a huge percent of the world speaks but who are not able to hear the Gospel… yet! (You’ll be part of that when it happens.)” —Cory
Former mission president and wife, Brother and Sister Neilson, on the Taiwan Taipei Mission (via the Mormon Channel). http://www.mormonchannel.org/into-all-the-world/28
**Did you serve in the Taiwan Taipei Mission? If so, we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.**