Sunday, January 12, 2014

Work goes on in Nantou

Sister Fernley surprised us with an early message this week:

I'm on a little early this week. We are going to Taizhong with an investigator this after noon for lunch for preparation day. 

I hope the wedding went well and that it was good to be with family and friends. I'm sorry I missed it! It seems like as soon as I left on my mission everything important happened. Katie got married, two of my roommates got married, one is engaged and the other graduated. It is so crazy how fast life changes. 

Honestly this week hasn't been that eventful. Watch I say that and then look through my planner and remember all these things that happened. 

Monday we kept with tradition and visited the Chen Ke Li Ya family because they yet again promised they would come to church and didn't show up. It ended up being a pretty intense lesson. We caught her in some lies and were pretty blunt with her. Hopefully some day she will realize how important church is and remember why she got baptized a year ago. I went and visited her later this week while we were doing exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders and yet again she was lying to us. She tends to give us the answer that we want to hear. I have realized that is how a lot of Chinese are. They don't want to say outright that they don't want to meet with you or their real concerns and feelings about our message, so they make a ton of weak excuses or give you the answer they think you want. Anyway it was a little frustrating, but such is the life of a missionary. At least we have the tender mercies throughout the day that make everything else all right.

We had zone training meeting on Tuesday and we talked a lot about baptismal goals. President Blickenstaff has set a mission goal of 60 baptisms for the month of January. The zones that are in big cities were given goals of 12 baptisms and the more rural zones were given the goal of 4. Our zone leaders were a little offended at that number (we had 12 baptisms last month!) and set a goal with president for 10 baptisms. So they asked each companionship to think of one or two investigators that could possibly get baptized this month and we wrote them all down on the board. We then all knelt down together and prayed for each name individually. It was a powerful experience to hear each name listed off and asking our Father to help us as missionaries to help them come unto him. It doesn't look like the names we put up are going to get baptized any time soon, but they are progressing, which is what is really important.

We also talked a lot about consecrating ourselves more to God. President Blickenstaff has asked us all to strive to be more consecrated missionaries so we can have the Spirit more and perform our work more effectively. Even as we apply small changes in our days I have already felt the Spirit more in our proselyting and strengthening me as we go from day to day. I hope I can continue to become a better missionary and feel like I am doing my best every day. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing very well. My contacting is terrible and a lot of the time I don't know what to say, but I am learning a lot and pray every day that God will help strengthen me and help me become the missionary He wants me to be. 

As far as our investigators we are hitting road blocks, but are still keeping hope. The Chen family is starting to read and pray again. They still don't feel like they have received answers yet, but they are willing to keep trying. I met with their oldest daughter on Friday with Sister Lin (our sister training leader) and told her I personally had to keep studying and praying for a while before I gained my own witness that the Book of Mormon was true. I hope that someday they will receive an answer. They have already progressed so much and are such a precious family. 

Liao Kristy, the girl who self contacted us, called us while we were emailing (I think I told you) and said she couldn't get baptized and that her teacher told her not to read the Book of Mormon. I met with her while I was with Sister Lin as well. Her teacher is American and is also Christian. She really respects him so she doesn't want to go against his advice, but she said she also doesn't want to have a closed mind to anything. I guess he told her that she should only study the Bible. So for now she doesn't want to get baptized, but is still willing to meet with us every week and study from the scriptures. Again she just needs to gain her own testimony of our message and the Book of Mormon. It is so frustrating when she was so incredible and golden until someone started giving her anti-mormon ideas. Oh well, we all have our agency and everyone has a specific time where they will be ready to accept the gospel.

We were able to set a new baptismal goal with Wu Jia Zhen. She set her own for the 22nd of February. She can't come to church the full time yet because she has a tutor come during that time and can't change the time until she finishes testing and her grades are better. Her mom said when she finishes her tests she can come to church. But I asked her if she still had desire to come and to learn and she was really emphatic that she was. She has loved church the few times she has come though. This time is really hard to set up with investigators. Chinese New Year is coming up in a couple of weeks so all of the students have these giant tests and are super busy studying for them. Then after they are done testing is Chinese New Year and they all have two weeks off (like our Christmas break) and are busy with family and going out of town. So I think the next couple of weeks are going to be really hard. 

Chen Zhen Zhen wasn't able to come to church this week, but is still progressing. She is also really busy with students testing and Chinese New Year. We went over the other day and she was picking her son's embroidered name off of his old school clothes so she can give the clothes to kids who need the clothes. So we sat with her and helped for a little while. She has such a good heart!

That's about it. This is the last week of the move call! I only have one more week of training. Sister Anderson is expecting to move, she's been in Nantou for almost six months, and I'm not really expecting to move. But nothing is final until the move call report actually comes in. We will find out this weekend. Neither of us wants to move. I wish we could stay companions for the rest of our missions, but sadly it doesn't work like that. They are also holding the big annual lantern festival in Zhongxing this year (which is in our area). This week they started building platforms for it near our apartment. 

I mentioned we did exchanges this week with the Sister Training Leaders. Sister Lin who is Taiwanese came to Nantou and I stayed to lead the area. I learned so much from her about contacting and teaching by the spirit. I want to contact like her! I just need to build up the courage. It was also a good experience to speak Chinese more. She has learned a lot of English on her mission, but we also spoke a lot of Chinese. It also helped me feel a little more confident in my ability to lead the area. If Sister Anderson does leave I will be leading the area with my next companion. I still don't know some areas very well, but our area is huge. I also realized that we bike really fast! Doing exchanges with other sisters I have realized how slow others bike. But I'm really grateful for it because I'm getting in pretty good shape and gaining a lot of muscle weight. (At least I hope its muscle :) My clothes still fit the same, so that's a good sign.) 

I ran across a scripture that I love a few days ago in personal study. I was reading in Alma 5. I feel like the first sentence of verse seven explains perfectly what my mission has done for me already. It says,  "Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God."  My mission has changed my heart. I feel like I know so much more what is truly important and what I want to spend my life doing. I feel like my eyes have been opened even more. I always had a strong testimony, but Heavenly Father knew that my perspective just needed to be pushed slightly in the right direction. I hope more than ever that I wake up every day with my eyes toward God and that my days are consecrated more fully to Him and building up His kingdom.

I love the necklace you sent me! I've been wearing it everyday and it reminds me of you all. Thank you so much! Also my picture album already started breaking so I laminated it with tape. I think that will help it stay together better. 

I almost forgot to tell you about English proselyting this week! I think I've told you before, but we find a busy intersection and stand at the corners holding banners up about English class. Then when the lights turn red the other missionaries go out onto the road and pass out English flyers to the people on their scooters and even knock on windows of cars. Usually a lot of people don't take them, but this week most people did. It was incredible and a huge tender mercy. People were being surprisingly nice. But something funny, and kind of awkward, happened while I was going down the line of cars. One car I walked up to rolled down their windows and it looked like two businessmen in pretty nice suits were carpooling. I told them about English and handed them the flyers. The one in the passenger seat was chewing binlang (a drug kind of like tobacco that they chew. It comes from one of the trees here. When they chew it it turns their mouth red and it almost looks like they are bleeding). Anyway it was disgusting. But he asked me where I was from and a little about what we were doing in Taiwan, so I explained. He then said his house was really close and that if we have free time we can come over some I walked away. Things like that happen so frequently here its insane. There's some fascination with Americans and then a lot of the men here are just really creepy. I don't understand it, but at least we have companions and the Lord protecting us. Thankfully Taiwan is pretty safe and the most we get is annoying cat calls. But aside from that so many people took tracts! 

Anyway that's about it, not much super eventful here this week. We are trying really hard to find new investigators and for the investigators we have now to progress. Hopefully this week is another week full of miracles!

I love you all and hope you are all healthy and happy. Did Jemma start preschool again? I'm so glad she loves it and hope she is having so much fun and learning a lot. I also hope work is going well and not too stressful. I'm so grateful for your love and support and pray for you all every day. My mission has already been the best experience and I have already learned and grown so much. I know this gospel is true and that it is the most important thing in this life. If we obey His commandments and strive to always become better we can live forever as a family. I know Christ lives! I know He loves us! Have an incredible week! We will see if I am emailing you from Nantou next week! 

Come what may and love it!

Sister Fernley

Sister Anderson has a tradition of going to eat Thai food at the end of every move call, so Saturday we went with Michelle. She is one of my english students and we go out to eat with her often and share small messages. She hasn't started the missionary lessons yet, but we think we need to take it slow with her. We are going to Taizhong with her today to eat lunch at this toilet resturant Sister Anderson really wants to go to. (That's why I'm on so early today.)

(Nicole here: Yes, she did say "toilet restaurant." We're hoping she meant "Thai restaurant.")

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