Sunday, October 27, 2013

First letter(s) from Taiwan!

Both Troy and I have set the world clocks on our phones so that we know what time it is in Taiwan. Since about 6:00 a.m. Taiwan time I have been checking my email to see if we got a letter from Tasha. Finally! We got two messages from her tonight! It sounds like she is doing amazingly well...and like she will have enormous biker thighs when she gets back. Here are the messages:

I don't even know where to start! Sorry I haven't written you until now, I have had literally no time to get stationary and stamps to write and now its p-day so this will get to you faster anyway. I also knew President Blickenstaff would be giving you updates on us so I wasn't to worried, I hope you weren't!
So P-day is on Monday for me, the same as the MTC which is nice. And yes I am serving in an area called Nantou. It is about fourty minutes south of Taichung. It is really hilly and my legs are already dying from biking everywhere. The area is pretty big so we have a large area to travel over. I have never done this much physical work throughout a day in my life, so by the time I come home I should be in really good shape right? I actually was doing really good on my bike, even though it wasn't my size and not a very good bike (the first day I was using a loaner bike until I could get my new one to me), but while we are riding home I fell. I have no idea what happened. I didn't get dizzy or hit anything that I know of, but next thing I know my bike was falling and I was on the ground, and it hurt. Oh well, I have some really great looking scrapes all over my right leg. I'll take a picture, but even only after a few days its looking a lot better. A less active we visited doctored it up a little bit and gave me some cream to put on it to help it heal.
I guess I should start from the beginning...there's so much to talk about! Traveling was so long. I think by the end we had traveled for about twenty hours straight. For both of the flights I was sitting in the middle of missionaries so I didn't get a lot of opportunity to talk to people about the gospel. We talked to a few people in the airports and I already told dad when I called that I talked to a college student on frontrunner who has lived her whole life in Utah but isn't a member. She's heard everything but I had a really good and interesting converstaion with her about Heavenly Mother and the role of the priesthood in our church. She brought up the topics. I guess she talks to missionaries every Tuesday when they are traveling to the airport and uses the same questions to stump them. She thinks our church is sexist which is always hard to address because even some people within our church have those feelings. But I taught about the Family a Proclamation and gave her my thoughts and testimony.
We finally got to bed around 12:30 AM Thursday morning and woke up around six to go exercise. I think they just try to wear us out as much as possible so we don't have too much of a problem with jet lag. It works pretty well though I still have a little bit and an issue with it. Each day I get more and more tired and have less of a problem though. They fed us really well, but it was all really greasy and was really heavy in my stomach so I didn't have much of an appetite. Now out in the field it isn't that bad. I eat lighter foods and feel a lot better. The fruit here is amazing! My favorite so far is the passion fruit and the asian pears.
Anyway after our first day of orientation we did the Dan Jones experience. It was kind of intimidating! They took us to a night market down town where there were a ton of people and set up the box and gave us all a Book of Mormon. We sang a hymn like carolers then each took turns Dan Jonesing. Yes we all had to do it, but it wasn't too bad. In front of us were a bunch of missionaries who have been in Taiwan for a while who were cheering us on which made it a lot easier. After we testified one would take us off and we went tracting. It was a good experience to get us out of our skins, but no one really wanted to talk that I ran into. It was a little depressing, but I think the point was mostly to get us our of our skins like I said.
The next day we met our trainers! Sister Anderson is my trainer and we actually have a lot of mutual friends back home. She is the same age as I am, maybe a little younger. She went to Davis High School and we graduated the same year. She knows a lot of my friends from Junior High which is a little weird.
Nantou is...interesting. Its not as city as Taichung, but its not country either. Probably more like the outskirts of Salt Lake, just dirtier and for the most part poorer. This area is really struggling with church activity. We have four progressing investigators who all have baptism dates and that's about it. There are a ton of less actives and recent converts who are less active now and the ward isn't very supportive and have fallen through on every peike (members attending a lesson) opportunity. Sister Anderson actually almost cried after church because they don't really take us seriously.
I feel really bad, because most of the time, well all of the time..I don't understand anything. So I can't tell if they are being sincere or rude, or anything like that. Mostly I just keep my eyes on Sister Anderson and try not to lose her while we are burning, try not to die on the streets, and sit in lessons trying to pick up anything that they say. I can pick up some things but I never fully understand anything and can't express myself very well because of that. Once the people find out I just got to Taiwan they don't really address me and just talk to Sister Anderson. Maybe I should be better at coming in to the conversation but I don't understand anything so I don't know what is going on.
We have met with about three to four people everyday I have been here and the first person was a less active. She actually said my Chinese was the best she had heard from a new missionary which gives me a little hope, though I still don't feel very good or confident about it. I also was asked to bear my testimony in church which went pretty well. My trainer told me someone sitting behind her said it was crazy that I had just come to Taiwan, I guess because of my Chinese. I guess I should just believe them, but I have a hard time believing it because I don't understand anything and can't say much.
Church wasn't too hard, I don't know why. Sometimes I feel like I'm not working hard enough or caring enough because I don't feel that discouraged. I haven't cried yet, or felt too overwhelmed. I just listen to everything and try to pick up what I can and follow my trainer. I pray everyday that I will get to the point where I can understand and express myself to better teach these people. But I know in time it will come and there's not much else I can do about it besides endure and study when I can. I try to force myself not to dwell on not understanding too much because I know if I do I will cry.
Anyway I need your prayers for this area! I think I said before that the ward isn't very supportive or welcoming to new investigators. We have a ton of less actives and can't find new investigators. I'm so bad at tracting, and my trainer has confessed that she needs to be a lot better at it too. So I need help! In your experience what worked, what didn't, how can I become better at it? (Besides practicing, I know that. I need to practice everything). I really want to focus a lot on reactivating and serving the ward so they get excited about missionary work, so I will see what Sister Anderson thinks and we will see what we can do. I hope we can change this area and that I can see this gospel work on the hearts of these people. I really want to find someone to teach and start from the beginning so I can see the conversion process from the start. I don't know... I don't need to see miracles, but I think seeing someone accept this message and develop belief in this gospel would help me have so much more confidence in myself and that I am making a difference. Right now I feel like I'm just following and trying not to sink under the water. But I know it will come and that the Lord will bless my efforts as I try my hardest. I know this gospel is true and that I am in the place that I need to be. I really feel priviledged to be serving in this country. Everything is so foreign, but I think I will get used to it.
I love you all so much! Sorry this letter is SUPER long. We have two hours to write here. Thank you for you emails and your constant support. I couldn't do this without you! I loved the pictures, as always. It looked like a lot of fun carving pumpkins! Jemma is so cute as always! I talk about her a lot here actually. People always comment that we are so far apart in age. I also get a lot of comments on how skinny I am and that I need to get fatter, haha. It's a different culture here. They comment a lot on our skin and our facial proportions and how pretty it is. Its funny how we are never happy with who we are and see others in a better light than ourselves. Also thanks for the cookies. They got smashed in travel, but I'm eating the crumbs anyway, they still taste the same right? Have an amazing week! I can't wait to see what happens for my first full week in the field and hope that I can see miracles or at least tender mercies in this work. I will work my hardest and give it my all to change this area and bring the gospel to these people!
From your happy, surviving, and enduring daughter,
Sister Fernley
Also I will send you my address when I get it. For now I think you can send to the mission home and I will get it forwarded to me. I get it to you as soon as I can though. Oh I got a letter from brother Hankins here. He gave me a bunch of sports updates, so tell him thank you for me! Love you again!!!

And here's message number two:

So I have a ton of typos, sorry! I just read over my letter and wanted to say a few more things. To explain how trafic works here basically the bigger the vehicle to more right of way they have. So bikers and pedestrians are on the bottom of the totem pole. Its a little scary, but I think I'm getting used to it really quickly.
There are some ward members who are absolutely amazing. There is a family with two handicapped boys who were both born premature so had complications. Their mom prayed to God to save her kids and He did, so she vowed to find God. And lo and behold she met the missionaries. Her husband isn't a member, but the rest of the family is. They speak incredible English and her boys are incredible. They have such sweet spirits and are so loving! They there is Zhang YuMei who is the ward missionary. She is also mentally handicapped, but is also such a sweet spirit and is so loving. She says thank you and too awesome all of the time, but I love her already! Our ward has an abnormally large amount of handicaped people in it, but their spirit is infectious. I hope I can help them all catch the fire of missionary work and to trust me as one of their areas missionaries.
I'm so excited to teach this people! I can't wait until I can understand, but I know this is the Lord's work and that He is with us every step of the way. He is by my side and I know He has blessed me with strength and the energy to keep going countless times. I pray all the time just to make it over the next hill or bridge (those are the worst, they are like freeway bridges and are really long) and so far I have made it to every appointment and have had protection and just sore muscles and a few scrapes. I've been studying a lot in Preach my Gospel about finding people and including members and feel really strongly that service is the way to go with this ward and this area. I hope we can touch their hearts and that I can better get to know them and love them. The Taiwanese people are all so kind! They offer us Soy milk or this yogurt drink every time we visit and often give us fruit before we leave which I love! Even though they don't know me they are always kind and respectful. Everyone also comments on me looking tired and ask if I want to sleep, so maybe I look a lot worse than I think. Maybe its just because I don't participate much in converstions so I look like I'm zoning or something. Haha, its kind of funny though. I am also becoming a master at eating with chopsticks. I have not seen a fork outside of our apartment since I stepped off of the plane. So that's fun, and new. I eat a lot slower which is probably better for me. Its going to be hard to monitor food portions because usually they just have a bowl of rice and all the other dishes in the middle. You grab bites of the dishes and put them in your bowl of rice and keep doing that until you are done. So it is really hard to see how much you have eaten.
I'm doing great! I love it here already and know I will get use to this culture soon and in time I will understand and be able to speak this language. The gift of tongues is real! I can do this with His help and know I am doing the best thing I could be doing with my time on Earth.
So pretty much I just wrote you another letter, but I had time so I figured I could. I love you all! Stay strong! I pray for you always!

Friday, October 25, 2013

An email from the mission president

We received this email from Sister Fernley's mission president this morning, including a photo of Sister Fernley with the mission president and his wife. The video that he links to in the message below is pretty awesome--it gives a fun glimpse at Taichung and the missionaries working there. Apparently on their first day in the mission, they take the new missionaries out to have a "Dan Jones experience." Each new missionary stands on a stool and bears testimony to the people of Taichung. What an initiation, eh? This Dan Jones experience starts around 5:22 in the video, and at 6:32, you will see Sister Fernley standing on the stool boldly testifying of the gospel. (She also shows up in the background of several of the photos.) It gave me the goosebumps watching it! The whole video is pretty darn neat to watch. Also, as mentioned in the last blog post, there is a Taiwan Taichung Mission blog, and this post shows Sister Fernley's arrival and first day of training.

Dear Brother and Sister Fernley:

Sister Blickenstaff and I would like to inform you that Sister Fernley arrived safely in Taiwan on 24 October 2013. We are excited and grateful to have her in the mission.  Please find enclosed a picture of her on her first day at the Mission Home.

Sister Fernley stayed near the Taichung Mission Office a couple of nights for orientation before receiving her initial assignment to the city of NantouHer companion is Sister Marissa Anderson. I have carefully and prayerfully selected an outstanding missionary to serve as her first companion to ensure that her initial assignment will be a successful experience. My objective is to help each missionary reach his or her full potential and accomplish all that the Lord has sent each of them here to do. In this regard, your weekly letters of encouragement will be invaluable. I have also instructed Sister Fernley to write or email you each week so that you may share her progress and spiritual experiences.  Enjoy watching your missionary in action at:

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or if I can assist in any way. We thank you for the solid foundation you have provided for your daughter and look forward to serving with her.

Pres Blickenstaff's signature
President Kurt L Blickenstaff
Taiwan Taichung Mission

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Your Missionary Has Arrived!

This morning we got this letter and picture from the wife of Sister Fernley's mission president:

Dear Parents of our Beloved Missionaries,

Your son/daughter has arrived to the Taiwan Taichung Mission! We have picked them up and are on our way to the mission home. Their flight landed early, yay, so they will get a little extra sleep tonight than usual:)

Thank you so much for lending them to us in their service to the Lord! We hope you'll enjoy the mission blog:

With gratitude,

Pres. and Sis. Blickenstaff

Monday, October 21, 2013

Off to Taiwan in the morning!

Well, this is it. Sister Fernley heads to Taiwan tomorrow morning. Here is her last letter from the MTC, which we received this afternoon:

Hello family!

I can't believe this time has already come and that we have already been at the MTC for about nine and a half weeks! The time really does fly by. I loved seeing the pictures at Lagoon, it looked like everyone had so much fun. I can't wait to come home and go with you all! Jemma looked like she had a great time! I also couldn't believe that she stayed up until midnight talking! I told my companion and she said,"she's going to be a handful when she becomes a teenager." I told her she already is. But I guess it shouldn't suprise me too much, she did that when we had sleepovers before I left. It was really hard to get her to stop talking. Anyway I'm so glad you are all doing well, and Nicole thank you so much for the advice! That is one thing they focus on a lot here at the MTC, especially at In-field orientation which I will talk about later. They teach us a lot about member involvment and having members present at our lessons and helping our investigators feel welcome with the ward. It sounds like we will be spending a lot of time with the ward mission leaders, bishops and other members of the ward to help our investigators. But I'm glad you were able to have the unique experience, even though it wasn't all that fun at least it was a great learning experience.

This week was so crazy! We had very few days that were normal. Right after I had written you last week Sister Grigg and I went back to our classroom and found a slip of paper on our desks telling us we had been selected to demonstrate "how to begin teaching" (from Preach my Gospel) during the new missionary experiences on Wednesday. I don't remember if I told you much about it when I entered the MTC, but basically the new missionaries get split into a few large groups and rotate around to three investigators and try to teach them and introduce them to the gospel as a group. When they first start two missionaries who have been at the MTC a while go in and begin the conversation with the investigator. We get to know them and try to turn the conversation to the point where we would begin teaching about the gospel and turn it over to the new missionaries. So we were picked to be one set of missionaries who got to do that. Later that night we talked to our teacher about it and he told us that he didn't know who had directly recommended us, but that we were recommended. Apparently they ask our teachers which companionship they would trust to do this activity. When we went to our meeting about it there were probably about twenty to thirty missionaries total that were chosen out of the missionaries staying on both campuses. The teacher we were talking to, Brother Townsend, told us that between him and the teacher over the Chinese districts he said that out of our district he would trust us the most. He said he would trust us to teach his family because he knew we would teach them what they needed, but we would also teach them with love and make them feel comfortable. It was really touching and nice to hear that from a teacher because we don't get much as far as feedback pertaining to what we are doing well. So anyway we had that opportunity and we practiced a lot with different teachers to prepare and I feel like our "how to begin teaching" has improved so much and that I have learned so much. I was really grateful for the opportunity to learn, even though when we actually had the demonstration we didn't talk much at all. One investigator brought the gospel up on his own and the other started asking us why our friends ( the new missionaries) had their bibles on the floor. To that my companion just said what is really important is what we believe in Christ, not the actual book. That's pretty much it, I don't know why we were so nervous about it, but it did help us improve and grow a lot.

Around Tuesday night we also found out that the leadership for our zone (or our district) were asked to host a zone of new missionaries coming in because they had no older generation districts in their zone, so they had no leadership. So on Thursday night my companion and I and the two zone leaders from our district gave an orientation and campus tour to the new Italian and Romanian missionaries that came in this week. One of the sisters actually ended up being someone I went to school with. I didn't know her well because she was a year older than I was but we both recognized each other. I also had the opportunity to bear my testimony to them in Chinese which was a little strange. The other missionaries from my district knew what I was saying, but I had about thirty other people just staring at me with strange expressions on their faces. It was a little comical. They seemed impressed though, even when really it was a super basic testimony.

During the day on Thursday we had In-field orientation which I mentioned earlier. It was basically a nine hour class where were were introduced to different aspects of the mission field such as tracting, talking to people, working with members, planning etc. It was really good and didn't feel as long as it was because they had us moving around and doing different activities a lot. My district was talking to one another and we all agreed it was a little strange to see missionaries we have hosted (picked up on the first day) in In-field with us. 

We also had Elder Oaks come talk to us for our last Sunday Devotional which was perfect! We were lucky enough to have been at the MTC long enough at at the right interval to hear two apostles. I know its really sad, but I can't remember what he talked about and I don't have my notebook with me. It was really good though! 

Other than that I guess I will let you know a little about how the next few days will go. We packed earlier today. I bought a duffel bag at the book store with all the money accumulated on my MTC card so that I will have a convenient bag for our two day orientation in the mission home this week. Apparently we won't have access to our main luggage, so the bag is really nice. All of our Chinese books added about 22 pounds to our luggage. I have so many sets of scriptures its rediculous. We also bought an English and Chinese Book of Mormon to hopefully give to people while we are at the airports. We meet at the frond desk at six tomorrow morning and take either a bus or frontrunner to the airport to catch our flight to the LAX airport at 11:30. We get to California around 12:30 and have a layover until four. From there we have a 15 hour flight to the Taibei airport where our mission president will meet us. Then we will have a three hour bus ride to the mission home where we will be for two days for orientation until we meet our trainers. And from there its off to work! Its really crazy, but I can't focus on the future too much yet. I just keep focusing on the next place I need to be a leave it at that or else I get super nervous. I bought a calling card today and it has 460 minutes on it I think. But every time I make a call it takes 130 of them. I can only use it in the US, so I will probably be calling during one of those times. If you get this in time and have time to get an MTC delivery to me let me know what time would be best and which phone would be best. But keep your eyes and ears out for a call from me tomorrow. I guess Jemma has preschool? So maybe I will call when we are waiting for our international flight out of California. So around one to three? I don't know. I hope I can get a hold of you because I would love to talk to you for a little bit at least. And of course I will write you as soon as I can when I get to Taiwan! Most of my district is in the same mission so all eight of us are traveling together, and I feel completely comfortable traveling with these Elders. They are great and I'm so grateful I have my companion to travel with as well.

Well I know this message is so long, but I wanted to send you an excerpt from my journal this week. I had some extra time to write and had time to think what I have learned and how I have really been feeling at the MTC...(this was yesterday)

"We had our regular leadership meetings this morning but President Seamons ws with us.He is in the MTC branch presidency and I can definitely see why. Every time he talked I could feel the Spirit and his own love so strongly. He told us to be flexible, but that we never have to be flexible about the truthfulness of this gospel. He said,"understand what the Lord can do with you if you turn your heart to Him," and also that our missions will ruin our lives for good. We will never be the same people, we already aren't the same as when we entered the MTC.
I know I am not the same person. I have often thought that if I were to go back home now I would not feel the same. Even after only two months I know I am so much closer to my Father and my Savior. We spend every hour of every day focused on this gospel and I love it. I loved the gospel before and felt that it defined who I was, and it still does, just so much more. I know now more than ever the importance of this gospel and that I want my life to be spent always helping to further this work. Right now I am Christ's representative, I wear a tag every day that bears His name, but I don't need the tag to show my devotion to my God. I don't need physical proof because I know it, and I feel it in my heart. I don't even need a missionary callling to live every moment for Him, to work hand in hand with my Savior to help His children find salvation, but I am grateful every day that I have such an opportunity."

I know this gospel is true and I can't wait to get out there and start preaching His word. I know I am about to start the most discouraging and trying part of my life so far in just a few short days, but I hope and pray every day to have the strength to keep moving forward. I love you all so much and hope I get to hear your voices tomorrow

Sister Fernley

These are us finishing packing and our room!

So these were done a little while ago, but I finally got my card to work. The toe nail one is for Jemma to show that I still have the polish she put on my toes and it makes me happy every time!

Last full week at the MTC

I completely spaced off posting Sister Fernley's letter from last week!

Here it is:

Hello Family,

Thank you so much for the emails! Its so good to hear how you are all doing and what is going on at home, even when it isn't very different. I love seeing the pictures of you all and Jemma! Just like you said dad she is already changing! I'm sad I'm missing it, but I know we will have so much time when I get back. I pray for you all everyday and think of you often.

This week has been kind of a strange week at the MTC. Our roommates left for Taibei Tuesday so my companion and I were the only ones left in our room. The other two sisters from our district (who stay in the room right beside us) have been sleeping in our room though. Their things are in their original room but they come and sleep in ours. Its kind of funny, but whatever makes them feel comfortable. They are also the only ones in their room now. Like I said in my last email we are now the oldest generation of Mandarin speakers at the MTC. When we came in there were about 140 mandarin missionaries between the two zones. Now there are about thirty of us with no new missionaries coming in until after we leave. It is a little different, but I assume this is how the MTC used to feel before the huge influx this last year.

Because we are the only district in our zone we have had so many teachers trickling into our classroom to help us. It's really nice, and we love all of the teachers, but I think on Saturday we always had at least three teachers in the room at one time. Collectively we've decided we've had about ten teachers total throughout our MTC stay. Sunday was also interesting because the eleven of us made up the congregation, so everyone was participating. It didn't seem quite as special because we were speaking to our district, who we are with all day every day. But it was still good.

I don't remember if I told you, but my companion is adopted from China. She was adopted when she was two and has no idea where she was born or who her birth parents are. This week she got photocopies of the adoption papers from her mom and with the help of the teachers was able to figure out her given Chinese last name and the meaning of her name. She was pretty emotional the rest of the day. In our class after she figured all of this out we were supposed to do an activity where we were telling each other what the Gospel of Jesus Christ meant to us in Chinese. Our teacher told us to have conviction, because without it our testimonies aren't as powerful. She went first and started crying because she was talking about the plan of salvation and was thinking about her real parents. During my turn afterward I also started crying because I was thinking of my mom and just my whole family in general and how grateful I am for this gospel. I have realized more and more as I teach and learn that I have no doubt whatsoever that we will live again after this time on earth. I know that we will see our Father again and be judged according to our works. If we are faithful in this life we will be able to live with our families again and I am so grateful for the knowledge. It makes me so hopeful for the future.

Going along with that topic later on during the same day we were teaching our second lesson with a new investigator (our new teacher). We were teaching a little more in depth on the first vision and about the Book of Mormon. I think we alluded to the plan of salvation and bore our testimonies on it but didn't give it a lot of attention. We continued with the lesson and I could feel the spirit so strong. My companion and I were testifying about the Book of Mormon and this gospel and I could just feel it in my stomach that this is true. When we looked at our investigator it looked like his eyes were really red, but we didn't know why. We thought maybe because he was sick, but when we left my companion thought he was crying. (He wears glasses so its a little harder to tell.) When we got back to class he told us his grandpa was in the hospital and was probably going to pass away soon. I'm not positive because he didn't tell us anything but I think our lesson made him cry. This has happened a couple of other times before, but we were never sure. Its so incredible to me how even when we grow up in this gospel we can still receive those testaments and spiritual experiences about the teachings we've heard our whole lives. The Spirit is an incredible teacher and knows when we need a reassurance of the principles of the gospel.

On that same day I read a passage our of Preach My Gospel that I loved! (It was just a crazy day because I started getting emotional again while I was reading it.) I think this passage was so powerful to me because I believe it whole-heartedly. It is what I love about the gospel and how I feel about my relationship with our Savior. It says, "The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. It begins with faith in Christ. We believe in Him, trust in Him, and depend on Him." I love this gospel so much! And I'm so excited to get out into the field and begin sharing it to the people of Taiwan. I'm still a little nervous and know I will be overwhelmed, but I know this is His work and with Him everything is possible.

We also got our travel plans this week! We got lucky and don't have to be to the travel office until 6:30 Tuesday morning. I'm really glad that most of our district is going to the same mission because we are able to travel together. I know we probably won't be side by side the whole time, but we will at least have people we are familiar with there with us. 

That's about all I can think of this week. I'm so excited for Katie and hope plans go well! Also I'm glad you got to go to Mandy's farewell, I'm sure it was great and would have loved to be there for it. I can't wait to come home and be together as cousins again. I love you all and am so glad Jemma is still loving preschool. I hope you all have a fun week during UEA break and that Lagoon is a blast! You will have to tell me how it goes and what Jemma thought about it. I'm not sure exactly how departure will work, but I think I may be able to get a calling card and call you at the airport. I think our flight in Salt Lake leaves around 11:30, but I'm not positive. I'll let you know next week when it is closer! I think I may also need to get a bag for the two days of orientation in Taiwan. I was going to see if they had anything in the bookstore but I'm not sure. It is so crazy how fast time goes, only seven more days in the MTC then its off to Taiwan. I love you all and am grateful for what a fantastic family I have. Give Jemma the biggest squeeze for me and tell her I love her so much and that shes the best little sister I have. ;) Have a fantastic week! 

Come what may and love it!

Sister Fernley

Monday, October 7, 2013

Birthday and General Conference in the MTC

We're so glad Tasha takes the time to write detailed messages from the MTC! We hope she will continue that practice after she gets out in the mission field. 

One thing to note: she has asked that we get her some physical mailing addresses because she has very little time to write emails, but she has plenty of time to write snail mail letters. So if you'd like to correspond with her, try the snail mail method--or at least make sure she has your mailing address if you send emails.

And without further ado, here is her latest letter and a few pictures.

Dear Family,

First of all I wanted to thank you for all the birthday gifts! It was a great day and my companion was awesome! I'm actually really excited for the shirt and I loved all of the cards from Jemma. Also I would love it if when she sends pictures I could get a little discription of what it is. I can guess most of the time, but I love hearing her explain it. They were great though! Also thanks for the cupcakes! Those are so good! I shared them with my district and I think it was much appreciated. We took pictures too so I will try to get those to you. Hopefully it works this week.

Thank you so much for the dearelders! Please thank Melodi Christensen and Aunt Loralie as well! And dad yours made me cry. I loved having those days full of so much fun and am so grateful that I have such a wonderful family with such great parents. My companion and others in my district also made the day really special. I was really touched, and am grateful I had to opportunity to celebrate my birthday with such great friends.

We lost one of our teachers this week! He got married and is moving up to Kaysville so he had to quite teaching. We got him a tie and signed the back and he told us he would even wear it at his reception. He was such a great teacher, as are all the teachers we have here. I couldn't be more grateful for how caring they are and how much they encourage us and bring the spirit. Speaking of our teachers, we got a baptismal date out of our other investigator this week! My companion has had a really hard time connecting with him and we have been concerned about how much faith or belief he actually has, but he actually accepted our invitation and said he believed in and wanted to follow Christ. We start teaching our new teacher as an investigator this week so we will see how that goes. 

Conference was great! But it was also really draining. We watched all the sessions, of course, as well as the relief society broadcast during the priesthood session. I was really excited because I had heard so much about it from Far Away Grandma and the missionaries who got to go. We didn't get to see it until conference if we stayed at the MTC. They reminded us a lot about the covenants we make in the temple and the simple things we can do to fulfill them. I spent my personal study today reviewing my notes from conference and there are so many good topics! There was a lot about every member a missionary which is so true. We can't do our jobs nearly as effectively without the members of the Church doing their part as well. Elder M. Russel Ballard challenged us all for reach someone, just one person, before Christmas this year. I know I will be trying my hardest, but I also have the opportunity to be working full time on a mission, but I would also challenge you all to reach out to just one person and bring them closer to Christ. If every member of the church acted on that we would see such a great miracle! There were also a few talks about acting on our beliefs which has been a focus on mine here at the MTC. There is no better way to live our religion and to share our beliefs with the world than by acting by them. Our preaching and teaching would mean nothing if we didn't act and do what we learn and what we teach. Anyway I learned so much more and we were reminded of so much that we need to be doing. I also can't wait until the Ensign comes out, but I think by then we will be in Taiwan and I don't think I will get it in English. So we will see how that goes because we can't read characters yet.

I think the rest of this week was pretty normal. We go to class, study, eat, sleep and that's about it. Our roommates are leaving for Taibei tomorrow morning. After tomorrow our district will be the only district in our zone and we will also be the oldest Mandarin district at the MTC! How crazy is that! So because everyone is leaving my companion got called this week to be the new Sister Training Leaders. It a calling they started because of all the sisters coming in now. We are pretty much the sister zone leaders. But unless we find out that the zones are combining our zone consists of us and the other sister companionship who want to move into our room after everyone is gone. So I don't think we will have a very hard job keeping up on the sisters in our zone. Even though it won't be too hard, I'm really excited to have this opportunity to grow and learn. (That's another thing I loved from conference. I can't remember who taught about it but they taught us that every opportunity can be taken as an opportunity to learn and to grow.) I want to implement that into my life more and take every single opportunity and experience I have out here and learn from it! I know times will get hard, but I hope I can make them count.

I looks like Jemma had a fun week with lots of cousins! I loved the pictures. (And no I can't look at the blog on P-days. I can only get on my email) But I would love to see pictures or hear about what has been going on more. Maybe you could send me a screen shot and I could print it out. Haha, I don't know. I do get to go to the temple every P-day and I love it!  I loved hearing about Jemma's little sayings and how much she is learning! I'm so happy she is having a good time and that she is missing me, but I'm glad she knows I need to be out here. I know I need to be out here, even though I miss you all and I'm sad I'm missing things I know there is no greater work I could be doing and that I would not want to see myself anywhere else! I have grown so much already and its only been about seven weeks!

Oh and thanks so much for keeping me updated about Lizzie! I'm so glad she is doing well and is back in the field. I can't wait to get out there as well!

I love you all and had a great birthday and conference weekend! I'm getting so excited to get out in the field! I love the MTC but the food is starting to get old and I think we are all just ready to move on! I love your letters and cards and the support! I couldn't do this without you all! 

With much love,

Sister Fernley

Dont worry all that stuff in the back of this is not mine. This is me opening my present. My companion gave me our mission t shirt from the bookstore. The other two is our district and then us studying or preparing for an investigator last p-day.