We finally heard from Sister Fernley (it hasn't even been a week, but it feels much longer than that when you're anxiously waiting to hear how she's doing)!
Here is some of what she had to say:
I also had a hard time the first day. Walking away from that car was the hardest thing to do, but I know this is where I need to be. The first day was really crazy! I went and got my name tag and went to drop my luggage off at my room. I got my books, which is a huge bag of books. That is a little overwhelming. But after that my host took me to my classroom and I was on my own from then on. The classroom what not what I expected. I don't know when I thought we would start learning our language but only ten or fifteen minutes after I entered the MTC I was thrown into a room of pure Chinese.
My companion is great, and we have been getting along really well. Sister Griggs has been a blessing in my life already and I hope I have been the same to her. She is from Boise and is only nineteen. She is originally Chinese, but was adopted when she was two. I am the only non-asian sister in our district, which is a little weird, but I didn't really notice until one of the other sisters pointed it out. We have eleven of us in our district and we were the only new Chinese speaking district for the week. There are two sister companionships and the rest are elders. There are a few that are already really good at speaking Chinese and it is really discouraging to me sometimes. I know we aren't supposed to compare ourselves, but I feel like I'm so behind many of the others in our district. I know I can do this, but I just have to focus on bringing the spirit no matter how much Chinese I know and realize that I need to be patient with myself and trust that the Lord will help me. There are about 150 total mandarin speaking missionaries in the MTC right now, but I hear a lot of missionaries will be leaving this week and next. It will be really nice not to be the youngest generation at the MTC anymore.
I think I am finally getting the hang of the schedule and everything that goes on here at the MTC. It was really strange at first and I couldn't sleep at all the first night. That's finally caught up to me though and I find myself exhausted when it is finally time to go to bed.
My p-day is on monday and I have to say I'm really glad it is here. We went to the temple this morning which was great, I really needed it. Everyone was telling us as new sisters that we just had to make it until Sunday and that it was all uphill from there. Well we made it! And I can't wait to see what is in store for the next nine weeks. I can't wait until I am more comfortable with the language, but I have been really trying to focus on having the spirit with me instead of stressing that I don't understand anything or know how to say anything, because that it what is most important and the Spirit is the real teacher, not me.
I have actually been surprised at how fast the days have gone. One sister explained it perfectly when she said the days go slow but the weeks go fast. That is so true! And I can't wait until I'm more confident in this crazy language and am getting ready to go out to Taiwan. Most of my district are all going to Taichung which is really nice, but the other sisters are going to California to visitors centers and one Elder is going to Canada.
I think the first and second day I was just so overwhelmed with learning the language and being stressed out at how little I knew and how clueless I was, but the last two days especially have been really nice to help me redirect my focus. We taught our investigator for the second time a couple of days ago. Our first time was so bad and we were so discouraged afterward that we decided to read from our books the main points of the restoration so we wouldn't be floundering for what to say, but my companion skipped to the end of what we had planned to teach and I had no idea what was going on. After I was just really confused and frustrated that we went out and just talked to each other during our study time. I had no idea why she had jumped to the end but apparently she had thought our investigator had already said he knew about Joseph Smith and what he did so our lesson didn't really pertain. I didn't catch that so I was so lost. I feel bad because I think I just lost it and had to let everything out and I kept crying even when I didn't feel like I needed to. It was really good though and we had a really good talk and I was able to let some of my emotions out. I know that I can do this though and I really have been enjoying it here at the MTC. I've realized though that my main purpose here at the MTC is not to learn this language, although it is a big part, but to reach out to others and to grow in the spirit and the gospel. We watched Elder Bednar's talk Character of Christ ( I would recommend it) and I made a goal to reach out to others and focus on helping others and serving especially when I feel like focusing inward on myself and my insecurities and wants. I think that will help me come closer to Christ and feel the Spirit more often, which will hopefully help me do better in the other aspects of missionary work.
I love you all and hope all has been going well. Amid all of the craziness, confusion, insecurity and disappointment I have already felt at the MTC I have also had it reaffirmed that I need to be here and that I am a representative of Jesus Christ. What better calling can any of us ask for. We can all become better people through emulating Him and helping this great work go forth. I have already grown so much and I've only been here for a few days. I can't wait to see what the next week brings and the next year and a half.