Monday, December 2, 2013

Work and Thanksgiving in Nantou

A couple of weeks ago we sent a little envelope to Sister Fernley with some letters from us and some pictures and messages from Jemma. These are the messages Jemma sent (Sister Fernley refers to them in the message below. which is why I'm including them here).

"Bubba stop falling off your bike"

"I'm sorry you fell off your bike. That made me sad."

And here is the latest message from Sister Fernley (would I be a crazy missionary mom if I wanted to send a thank you note and even a little gift to the bishop of the Nantou ward who was so kind to the missionaries?):

This week has been such a crazy week and the Lord has blessed us so much! I'm going to try something a little different and go day by day so my letters will be a little easier to understand and I'm not jumping around all of the time. But first it sounds like this week was a good one. I'm sorry about the roof and the winds, that's no fun. Thanksgiving sounds pretty low-key, but I feel like that is always the best. Its just great to be in the company of family. It probably isn't very good, but Sister Anderson and I have been pretty nostalgic and sharing family traditions that we have and the more I think about it the more and more grateful I am for a family that I love so much. We are so blessed to have a family who is strong in the gospel and that we can get together and just enjoy one anothers company. I got your letters this week! I loved them! Jemma's letter made me laugh and I loved her pictures as always! I really liked the talk that you sent as well. I actually was reading in 2 Nephi the morning after I got the letters and it was talking about broken hearts and contrite spirits so I stuck the talk there because they went together so well. I also got grandmas package a little while ago and she did send me the October Conference Ensign. I was so excited! I love the conference editions!

Anyway to get into the week Monday we didn't really go much. We went to Hong and Zhang's place (so many people have their shops or resturants in front and their houses are built in behind) and just hung out in the corner of their shop while they worked. We studying and when the two of them had time they would sit and talk with us. We took a Pomello to eat for lunch there, but they wouldn't let us just eat that so they fed us some of their resturant food. It is so good! I could eat there everyday and be completely happy, but I would probably gain a lot of weight. (So many sisters here complain about gaining weight, but the elders all loose weight. Such is the life of a Taiwan sister missionary.)

Tuesday we had mission tour with Elder Funk. It was so inspiring and I learned so much about what I can do better and change to become a better missionary. We talked a little about contacting (which I am so bad at) and that it is an act of faith. I need to be better at that. I am always so afraid of talking to people, especially on the road. But I need to have more courage and faith. I want to have more conviction in my testifying and testify when I talk to everyone. I find we tend to skirt around a lot and engage in small talk and don't ever get to testifying. So I want to be better at that. I have been thinking a lot about how President Christensen said there were people prepared here that I have been prepared to teach. I won't be able to help those people or find those people if I don't open my mouth and speak. We also talked about involving members which we are trying really hard to do, and about gaining spiritual power as missionaries (just like his conference talk). He had us do an activity where we taught the Joseph Smith experience to our companion. We decided to teach it in english and Sister Anderson started teaching. She started to recite his experience of the first vision and the spirit touched us both and we started to cry. I know that this gospel is true and that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore it to the earth again, and this experience was another testament of that to me. I know it and I have this incredible opportunity to preach it to these people. So many don't accept it;but I know that I know it, and God knows I know it, and that is all I need.

We got home a little later than we expected (we had to go down to jiayi which is about two hours away by bus and train) so we decided not to try and visit the people we had planned on and just tract for a little while before our next appointment. We decided to pray and asked to be lead by the spirit. Sister Anderson told me to lead the way, which is always a little intimidating because I want to go where the Spirit leads us, but sometimes I don't feel like I am listening all that well. I started riding and we came to a roundabout and my first instinct was to go straight through it, but as I slowed down and looked around more I felt I needed to choose a different exit. So I took it and went up to this neighborhood not far from the roundabout. As I rode to a stop I realized it was the neighborhood we had been tracting in the night before that Sister Anderson had led us to. As we tracted we ran into this lady who at first said she didn't want to talk to us, but as we talked more she eventually let us in and let us share a little with her. She opened up to us and told us she believed in Christ and wanted to change and become Christian but didn't know how. She talked about her family and how they are really struggling and she doesn't know what to do to help them. It is incredible how prepared she is!

As we left that neighborhood Sister Anderson and I just kept looking at one another and were amazed that we both led us to the same neighborhood and I know it was to find Chen Zhen Zhen (that lady). We had a lesson with her yesterday and were able to have a member attend. We didn't really teach anything because our member just talked with her for a long time and shared her conversion story and experiences she has had. It was really good and left Sister Chen knowing exactly how this gospel applys to her and how it can help her life. Near the end of our meeting Sister Anderson went to share a scripture with her from the Book of Mormon and explained a little of what the Book of Mormon was. Sister Chen got up and said she though she had one of those books. She looked around for a little while then pulled out a Book of Mormon from her bookshelf. It turns out that she was tracted into by Sister Anderson's trainer and her trainer! I guess they shared a little with her, but she wasn't really willing to listen. And now we have found her again and I feel like the timing is no accident. The Lord prepares a time for everyone to accept the gospel and we are praying so hard that she will be open this time. This next week we are going to teach her about the restoration and I hope with all my heart the spirit will touch her and she will know this is true.

On Wednesday we had a hard time finding people to teach because no one was home or answering our calls. Later on during the day we had english proselyting (handing out fliers for our english class). Sister Anderson and I were standing at an intersection corner as all of the school students were getting out and this cute, happy girl ran across the street and jumped in front of us. She said she knew who we were and that she believed in Jesus! We were both a little shocked, but really excited. We talked for a little bit and I guess she had a Christian english teacher who talked about her church and this girl wanted to know more. She said she found a Christian church (there are a ton here) and went in a tried to pray. She said she felt peace and that she believes in Christ. She wouldn't set up with us because she is afraid of her family objecting, but we gave her and english flier and gave her our number. Since then she has called us two days in a row. The first time she asked about prayer and if we could only pray in a church and then the next day called and said a friend gave her a Bible and she is really excited to start reading. We've actually arranged to meet her later today and show her around our church building (she looked at the address and found out our church is right next to the church she has been going into and praying). We are really hoping she will also be willing to listen to us because she is also so ready and so enthusiastic about learning about Christ.

Thursday was Thanksgiving!! We again had a hard time meeting with people, but we had some LAs we regularly meet with then that night the Bishop had invited all the missionaries over to his house to celebrate with Thanksgiving dinner. Most people here have heard of it, but don't know much about why we celebrate it or what we do. I was really touched that the Bishop was so willing to go out of his way and tried to make it special for us. We ended up with rice and noodles and Pizza. One of the pizzas was a normal meat one and the other was this weird fish pizza. They also had fruit and bread. The food just kept coming and they kept asking us to eat a little more. After Sister Anderson and I both felt sick because we had eaten so much. We didn't eat solid meals for most of the day afterward because we were still full. I will always remember how gracious they were though. When we started to eat the Bishop raised his small paper cup full of apple juice and in broken english said, "Let us start this Thanksgiving celebration!" He then asked sheepishly if that was right and if he had said it good enough. It was so touching. It was something so small, but made so much of a difference when we are away from home and family. Afterward we were all able to spend some time talking about the ward mission plan and our goals we have to work together and further missionary work in this area.

Friday not too much happened out of the ordinary. We did go to a members house that night to celebrate her daughter's birthday with their family. To celebrate all their birthdays they always invite the missionaries over and have cake. We went there for her son's birthday a few weeks ago. Its always so fun and a great time to get to know the members a little better.

Saturday was our wedding and baptism! They had everything in Nantun (an area of Taichung) because Zhang jiemei's sister is a member there. Her sister is actually who referred them to the missionaries. It was incredible to see them getting married to follow the word of wisdom and later get baptized as a start to a new life of following Christ. A Chinese wedding is kind of like a presentation. They have people who are like anouncers and have a sort of comedy act planned throughout the whole celebration. It was really interesting. They also had random advertisments that I have no idea how they related to the wedding that they played. At the beginning they played a preview to the Lego movie with random pictures of Hong and Zhang mixed in. All the missionaries (there were sixteen there because they have had four different missionaries teach them and then the Nantun missionaries were helping with the event, and our elders came to support them) felt really uncomfortable and didn't know if we could watch so just awkwardly looked around trying to avoid the giant screen. I didn't understand a lot of it, but the two of them looked so happy. The whole even was really focused on the gospel and forever families. They had children sing primary songs periodically and the missionaries sang our mission song. It was incredible. They even had a basket by their table with all the wedding pictures full of our brown tracts that teach the basics of the gospel out for people to take. Honestly, I wouldn't expect anything less from the two of them.

After the wedding we ate and then moved on to the baptismal service. They changed out of their wedding clothes and into the simple white jumpers for the baptism, but still looked so great. It was so weird to finally have their baptism, but it was such a great atmosphere. It was so happy and full of the spirit. As Sister Anderson was relating her experience of seeing their conversion and trying to find them her first week in Nantou they both had tears running down their faces. The missionaries also went up and sang a song and I couldn't help but get choked up as I looked at them dressed in white, newly married and prepared to get baptised. Those two are so incredible and I will remember their examples for the rest of my life. I feel so priviledged to have met them, especially at the start of my mission. I have no doubts that they will remain strong members for the rest of their lives. They have changed every aspect of their lives for this gospel and are planning on going to the temple in a year.

That's about it for the week...we had four investigators at church yesterday! The Chen family I talked about last week (where the dad has been searching for truth) met with us after church again. We taught the plan of salvation and they were so accepting. They didn't question anything and just took it all in. It was incredible! It felt almost like the practice teaching we did in the MTC because they were so willing to hear and accepting of everything. The dad and one of his daughters were two of the investigators we had at church this week.
We have been blessed with so many miracles lately. And the funny thing is they don't even suprise me anymore. I had a teacher in the MTC say that the Lord pushes you until you hit your limit then showers you with blessings. That goes through my head everyday and is what keeps me moving on. I keep thinking that there is another miracle just around the corner. I may not know where that corner is, but it will come and I just need to keep pressing forward until I find it. We decided this morning to make that our catch phrase..."There is another miracle just around the corner." It is so true and I have already seen it so many times.

I don't have a ton of time left, but there are so many random things I wanted to tell you about. First I never thought I would be grateful for our trash system in the US. Here you have to take it out and meet the trash truck at certain times to take it. It is really inconvenient. Also I'm grateful for shower curtains, they don't use them here. I have so much more to tell you, but I'll have to do it next week. I love you all so much! And I love the tree in Jemma's room!

Come what may and love it!
Sister Fernley

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