Monday, December 9, 2013

We were so excited to hear from Sister Fernley this week. It sounds like she is happy and working hard. Here is her latest message (with lots of pictures!):

My Dear Family,
As always I loved your emails. Its so fun to read them and even though they are usually about the same things I love hearing the different perspectives on life in Utah.

This week has possibly been the hardest week so far. We had a lot of meetings and such take up a lot of our proselyting time at the beginning of the week and they so many things seemed to fall through or take turns for the worse. Monday we had preparation day until 6:00 PM then tried to find new investigators and visited our recent converts. We can always count on them. They are always so willing to let us come into their store and meet with them. Sister Anderson mentioned yesterday that they will always be my first RCs and I'm so honored to have such strong RCs as my firsts. They are now working toward going to the temple in a year and I will still be in Taiwan, so if all goes well I will be able to attend their sealing!

That was about it on MondayOn Tuesday we had to travel to Yuanlin for a zone training meeting. We are trying to all focus on getting the ward members more active and have a sheet that we are going to try and use that basically allows the ward members to fill up the missionaries times. So in essence we will be peikeing (or attending their lessons) instead of the other way around. Its going to take a while to implement, but other areas have used it and it seems to be really effective. We also did exchanges after that with the Sister Training Leaders. This time I was staying in our area and lead the area for a night and morning. It helped me see that I actually do have some ownership of the area and at least know to some extent how to get where I need to. It also allowed me to get to know one of our Sister Training Leaders better.

On Wednesday we actuall had a follow up training for trainers and trainees with President Blickenstaff. They only did one meeting so we had to travel down to Jiayi. Thats about an hour bus ride to get to where we can access a train station then about a twoish hour train ride down to Jiayi. It took up almost our whole day to travel there and back for a pretty short meeting. The scenery is beautiful though and some parts are so typical of what you think of as Asian landscape. There was one point I was looking out the window at all the rice fields we were passing by and there was this old lady out in the middle of one wearing the typical robes and the giant straw cone hats. It still amazes me that I am here sometimes.

On Thursday we went and visited our RCs again and reviewed some things they progress toward now such as temple recommends, patriarchal blessings etc. We also visited that part member family that came to church a few weeks ago. They keep promising they will come again and never do. She was really busy with making the cheap crystal trinkets she makes for work (actually a lot of people do that here, I will never look at them the same way again) so we helped her for a while. We went back Friday to help her more so they could come to church, but they didn't come again. So I think we are going to stop helping her for a while.

We had another meeting set up with Chen Zhen Zhen and another investigator we've met with a couple of times, but they both told us the times we had set wouldn't work and when we tried to push their appointments back they were both pretty wishy-washy about setting another time. So for right now they aren't seeming like they are ging to have much interest, but we are going to keep trying and see what happens this week.

Saturday morning Sister Anderson was calling some phones and someone actually agreed to meet with us for that night! So we met with her at McDonalds and had a pretty good discussion with her. We don't know where her interest really is right now, she seemed pretty attentive and asked some really good questions.

We also went tracting as our backup plan when everything was falling through and tracted into this lady who is Christian and at first didn't want to talk to us. She had run into the Elders before and had read our tract about the basics of the gospel. As we talked more she was more willing to listen to us and actually asked us a lot of questions. She knows the Bible really well which worked out in our favor. She had a lot of the common misconceptions about our church and we were able to answer all of them from the Bible. She even asked us if we had a Book of Mormon that we could give her so she could read it and better understand our religion. Luckily I had one on my bike we could give her. We didn't feel like we should pressure her to set up a time but we are praying for her and hoping she will call us.

 We were finally able to meet with Wu Jia Zhen last night and we are going to try and work hard with her this month to hopefully have her prepared for baptism by the end of the month. She is so busy with school though it is hard to find a time to meet.

Other than that not much else happened this week. It was a hard, dissapointing week but ever since I've left the MTC I've remembered something one of my teachers told us. He said the God pushes us until we hit our limit. When we don't think we can go one more door or keep going He showers us with blessings. That has kept me going every day. When I don't want to tract another door or keep biking when I feel like my legs are going to fall off I remember that I just need to press forward. There is always another miracle just around the corner. I may not know when I will hit my limit and when that corner will appear, but it always will and God will be there and shower us with blessings. I think because of that I haven't every been depressed for very long. We get dissapointed and discouraged, but with that thought in mind it makes it so much easier to pick myself up and press forward.

To answer your questions and respond to your letters it is definitely allowed for you to write my bishop. I don't think he could understand it, but the thought would be nice maybe I could try and translate. I don't have his address here, but I can get it for you.

Christmas isn't big here at all. It is weird not to have light everywhere and Christmas ornaments. Some stores play Christmas music and there is a Christmas night market down in Caotun that we have tried to contact at frequently. The Christians here do celebrate it, but it is definitely a lot more low key than how we celebrate in America. Its also not cold, and most people have never seen snow here.

I do have my personal debit card. The Church gives us our mission one and give us an 'allowance' every month that we can take out. As far as my personal one I can take out whenever I want. As long as there are funds in either I can take money out.

I thought your stories about the music in church this week were amusing. Music here is also pretty hilarious. Singing in Chinese is just not very appealing and doesn't sound very good. The members also sing at the top of their lungs no matter what hymn we are singing. A few of the children in our ward are especially boistrous. Its incredibly irreverant, but at least they are singing right? Also the Chinese are tone deaf....which is pretty irronic considering Chinese is a tonal language. Sometimes I just cringe and think how different singing hymns is back home. Many times the only people really carrying the tune are the six missionaries of our district scattered around the congregation.

Speaking of our district the move call ends today! Its crazy to think I have already been here for six weeks and as of Thursday am no longer the youngest generation of missionaries on the island. We have a couple elders in our district who are moving today which is sad, but such is missionary life. As soon as you get comfortable in an area the Lord moves you.

As far as other random things go I miss salad and vegetables. I don't know if I told you that already, but all the vegetables here are cooked and doused in oil. Its incredible how they eat so much starch and oil and still manage to stay a pretty skinny people. They also wear long sleeves and coats when they go outside to keep their skin as white as possible. I think I've told you that before. When you go to a bathroom its about 50/50 whether you will get a normal toilet or a squater toilet. Look it up...I think you will get a kick out of it. I personally haven't experienced this but I hear it is particularly interesting to have to use a squatter toilet on the train. ummm...Sister Anderson and I have gotten addicted to this red bead drink and this seseame seed drink here. They can make it hot and its really good. Who would have thought I would love to drink beans and seeds crushed up into a drink?

I can't think of much else, but I'm sure as soon as I leave the computer place I will remember something. I'm sending you all a letter for Christmas, I don't know if I will get it out in time to get to you by Christmas but keep an eye out for it. I know its not much, but know that I love you all so much and my heart is always with you. Everyone here loves to see our family picture and they all think Jemma is so cute. I love being able to tell them the two of us are best friends.

Have a great week! Soak up the Christmas season and celebrations for me! I'm grateful for you all everyday!
With much love,
Sister Fernley

P.S. I also forgot to tell you a couple of weeks ago I ate a chicken foot. We were in the church building setting up for our meeting before english class and the elders were eating outside. One said they had an extra if one of us wanted it. Sister Anderson refuses to eat it, but I told him I might take him up on his offer. I think everyone was pretty suprised, but they gave it to me and told me how to eat it. Its not very good. Not bad, but definitely not worth the work you have to put in to eat it. You just have to get over how gross it looks.

My first baptism! They were already taught everything by the time I got in Nantou, but it has been an honor to know them.

The picture with just sisters is all the Nantou sisters that got to teach the Hong family.

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