Friday, February 28, 2014

Another temple trip

Sister Fernley's email came late this week because p-day got shifted to Wednesday so the missionaries could go on a temple trip. I think it's great that the missionaries get to go the temple! There wasn't a temple close enough in my mission, so I never had that opportunity. Troy had a temple in his mission, but his mission president felt that missionaries were there to serve the living, not the dead, so he was never allowed to go. I'm glad Tasha's mission president sees the wisdom in providing missionaries with the spiritual strength the temple brings! (And when we didn't get a message Sunday night, Troy sent an email to the mission president's wife to make sure everything was okay.)

Here is her message:

Sorry this is so late! I completely forgot to tell you that this week was our temple trip so our P-day was moved to Wednesday. Apparently we were supposed to get an hour to email on Monday, but our zone didn't get that message. Then yesterday our bus was late taking us home from the temple so we had just enough time to grab some groceries and dinner and head over to english class.

We got permission to email for an hour today, so sorry if it is shorter than normal, but I will be emailing you again in a few days as well. I hope you got the emails from Sister Blickenstaff and Sister Darrington. Monday night as we were getting ready for bed Sister Blickenstaff called. Whenever I see her or President's name on the phone I get really nervous and wonder what we have done wrong or what they are going to ask us to do that I'm not prepared to do. It was a bit of a relief when she was just calling about the email dad sent her. Sorry about that again dad!

This week (or last week) was power week for our mission. For each day we were given tracting, contacting, or teaching goals to try and hit. One day was tract all night and get let into two houses, give out 13 Books of Mormon and get their information, get 20 adds in two hours, confirm 15 people for church etc. If we hit the goal that day we could call President that night and say "mission accomplished." I really wanted to call President just once, but we didn't hit any of the goals. We tried really hard and got a lot of contacting practice. I feel like it also  introduced me to ways that I haven't used for contacting before, or even just helping me see how I can be a better missionary and inviting others to come closer to Christ.

We have been able to sit with a few people that could potentially become new investigators. We contacted a lady on the street almost a month ago and were able to meet with her. She had a lot of questions about Christianity and if all the churches are different, so today we are actually teaching her the first lesson. I love that she has so many questions! It makes it so much easier to know what she is thinking and I love that we have an answer to all of them. We also have a lot of potential investigators that we just haven't been able to get a hold of yet, so we are hoping!

Jia Zhen's baptismal date is coming up quickly! She came to church again for the full three hours, but after that we haven't been able to contact her. I'm getting a little nervous about getting her baptismal interview done in time before we have to move her date again, but we are going to try our best. She really has such a strong desire to be baptized! And the ward has been incredible in fellow-shipping her at church!

On Sunday we were able to go up to Taizhong for a mission fireside with Bishop Stevenson from the Presiding church bishopric. He was in Taibei with Elder Holland for a mission council and was assigned to come talk to our mission. Unfortunately Elder Holland wasn't able to come down. Anyway, Bishop Stevenson's son is serving in our mission, he just got on island a few weeks ago. It was really motivating and now that I think about it more of an answer to my prayers than I thought. 

I've been praying constantly for Heavenly Father to help us with the work in Nantou. I've been praying to know how I can be better, how I can be more consecrated, or what we can do to find those people who are being prepared to hear the gospel, but it still seems that nothing much is happening. Then lately (starting with Bishop Stevenson's talk) I've been running into a lot of scriptures or parts in Preach My Gospel that talk about patience in long-suffering. Bishop Stevenson talked about that as well, that all of our experiences are for our benefit. He reminded us that our mission call was not by chance and that there are people here prepared for US to teach. He also talked about having joy. "Men are that they might have joy." He told us the Lord is on our side and his closing statement was, "You can do it!"

After we heard all the speakers we sang our mission song which makes me cry every time. I'm so grateful to be called as a missionary! I have already learned and grown so much and hope that I can continue to help others come unto Christ. This move-call has been really hard as far as having people to teach or visible success, but I think the Lord has been teaching me patience. He has been teaching me humility and to rely on Him and remember that He knows best. I continue to try my best and look for the miracle just around the corner.

Anyway i'm almost out of time, but I love you all and miss you all. But I know this is the most important work in the world. Give Jemma a giant hug and tell her I love her! I will email you in a few days!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dreaming in Chinese

Hurrah! Sister Fernley got a new camera! I hope this means we'll be seeing more pictures from her. 

Here is her message from tonight:

Dear Family,

Thank you as always for your emails, they always lift me up and are a great start to the new week. Honestly not a lot has happened this week on my end either. We go out every day to tract, contact or to possibly visit people and teach them about the gospel, but lately it seems that none of that has been working out very well. Well as far as outward manifestations go...I know there are often influences that we don't see. And honestly we probably don't see most of the influence our efforts have. 

We haven't been able to meet with John and his wife again. They are technically the Nantou elders' investigators, so we only go over when we are invited, but we do hope that we can help in any way that we can. Her husband is so prepared! He just won't come to church until his wife will come too. I can't remember if I told you, but he has already read the Book of Mormon once and is about half way through it a second time. He believes and often talks about how missionary work is the best work there is! We hope someday he will be able to realize he can be an example for his wife and act on his faith.

Chen Zhen Zhen, the lady we taught once with her son (the one who asked "can I?") has been dropped for a little while. I firmly believe that someday she will be ready to accept the gospel. She has already been tracted into and taught by two sets of missionaries, but now is not her time. The first week of this move call we set up with her and went over to go finish teaching her about the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we went over she said she hadn't read the Book of Mormon (still) and then started bringing up a lot of different concerns that showed up out of nowhere. Basically she has read other books from different religions and thinks they are all good and that one specifically isn't true, but they all are (a common way of thinking here). She also said she doesn't think a family shouldn't have members from many different religions so she is more inclined to accept one of the churches her family members go to. She brought up a lot of different things which we answered, but she didn't want to really listen and basically dismissed us. I remember while she was talking and bringing up so many different concerns I just started testifying. I told her I knew this gospel was true, and that she could as well if she would do her part, which she hadn't. I told her the only way to know was to read and to ask God, and if she wasn't willing to do that she wouldn't be able to receive an answer. I then told her we were representatives of Jesus Christ and that His church has been restored and that our message is the most important message on the earth today and that it could help her with all the problems she had told us about.

After that she brought up more excuses and tried to counter everything with other religious practices, but we were way past time to leave so we had to go. (We almost had to call President Blickenstaff because we were almost home after ten.) Nothing much we said made much of an impact that I could see, she did get a little uncomfortable, but we just invited her to read and told her if she would she could receive answers to her questions. Ever since then we have been giving her a break. 

That was the first time I have ever done that though, and it made me feel like a missionary. That might sound silly, but even though she wasn't really accepting I felt like I was delivering this message with all my heart and testifying like the prophets in the scriptures.

Anyway that was a long explanation, but for now she's not very willing to listen to much more. It was hard and I couldn't stop thinking about it for several days, but now I just hope someday she will pick up the Book of Mormon she has and sincerely read and pray about it. It could help her (and everybody) so much! We just first have to read and then ask God.

Dad asked about what church is like here and its pretty much the same, just smaller. And even then it depends on where you go. Nantou is one of the most rural areas, so its a lot smaller. But other than that and the language it is pretty much the same. (Dad I actually didn't hear that story in Church yesterday. We only have the gospel principles books in English  so all other book they just have the Chinese versions. So most of the time I'm not to sure what is going on, especially because most of the lessons consist of the teachers telling everyone to read the chapter.)

But we also went to the youth Sunday school class this week because Jia Zhen came to church! She has been the young woman who has had a baptismal date since I got here. We have a new date for March 8th and I think she might really stick with this one. She was able to move her tutor time to Saturday rather than Sunday and came to church for the full three hours! It is really hard in our ward because we only have one young woman and only two young single adult sisters. So I was really worried that she would feel really awkward and not like church, but our ward was incredible at fellow-shipping her and afterward she said she had a really good time. 

The language is going well...I think. I think I've been given a great opportunity to grow and learn a lot this move call. With Sister Hill I'm actually the companion who speaks the most and I have to remember to let her have a chance to talk. So we have been able to learn a lot and improve together. I've been forced to come out of my shell in order to get what we need to do done, so it has been really good for me. I've gained a lot more confidence and even though I don't know how to say a lot Chinese is starting to feel a lot more natural. I've even started having dreams where I'm speaking Chinese. And I have started sending texts! They take me a while, but I'm getting faster and have started learning more characters, at least the basic ones. People are really nice here and compliment me on my Chinese a lot, even though it isn't very good. Its really funny to watch people laugh at us on the street and start speaking to them in Chinese. It throws them off and sometimes they get really embarrassed because they were just talking about the foreigners on the street. They hardly ever expect us to be able to speak Chinese. So...yes...Jemma's prayers, and mine are working and the language is coming along.

Sister Hill and I get along really well. It's just different. Every person is different and has different personalities. She is more quiet and I know this sounds strange, but I'm usually the one talking the most. But we get along great. This has been her first move call as senior companion and my first move call out of training so neither of us knows exactly what we are doing. Like I said we have been learning a lot together. It has just been a little hard this move call because it seems like no matter what we do we can't find new investigators and all of our current ones (besides Jia Zhen) have stopped progressing or even setting up with us. But we keep moving forward and have been trying to strengthen each other in the work. It's probably just a phase and trial we have to go through. As we trust in the Lord and keep doing our best He will lift us up and strengthen us.

I think I answered almost all of your had a lot this week! As far as the rest of this week went we weren't really able to meet with many people. Were continuing to get our less actives to church and almost had Patricia (the lady from Costa Rica) come, but she slept in I think. I love going to go and visit her though! We also went to go try and visit one of our recent converts (the one who got back from Australia a little while ago) and ended up sitting with her parents and hearing them rant about how offended they were with our ward and how their daughter is going back to her old christian church. We were there for a long time and it was really good to hear what has actually been going on because their daughter wouldn't tell us. But because she wasn't there her mom was willing to talk to us about it. I think it will take a while for her to be willing to come back, because they are really offended, but we are going to keep trying. Mostly our ward hasn't fellow-shipped her much since she got back and all of her friends go to the other church so she would rather go there. It was hard, and I was really sensitive the rest of the day. It is hard to hear of people leaving, but we are going to try and help her as best we can. 

Something funny happened right after that encounter. We had just walked out and I just had to take a breath and started crying. Sister Hill was being a great companion and was comforting me when this homeless looking guy pulled up to us on his bike. I think he saw me crying when he passed a few minutes before and came back. At first he was really nice and gave us a bunch of oranges he had in his bike basket. I started just making small talk with him to be nice, but then he asked if I was married (which happens more than I would expect). I told him no and tried to tell him about the gospel and our purpose in coming to Taiwan. That didn't make much effect and he asked me again several times if I really wasn't married was really creepy, but we invited him to church and to hear the missionary lessons from the elders. After that he decided he didn't want to talk to us much and left. We actually ran into him on the road in Zhongxing yesterday and he called to us from across the street. There seems to be a consistent plague of creepy Taiwanese men this move call.

Speaking of plagues this move call, everyone recently for some reason has decided to call us in the middle of the night. Almost four nights in a row we have had someone call us at eleven or twelve, and most of the time they aren't even for important reasons. I guess Heavenly Father is just testing my patience.

That's pretty much it for this week. We were able to set up and meet with a couple of people we haven't been able to see in a long time. So we hope we can continue to meet with them and help them strengthen their faith and belief in Christ. Most of them have lost a lot of desire over Chinese New Year. We have also been able to find some formers and have found out that they have no interest, which helps us weed out our potential investigator pool a little bit. Not much success yet, but as we continue to do what we can we will find those prepared to hear the gospel.

Oh I almost forgot, we were able to have interviews with President and Sister Blickenstaff this week. I always love meeting with them! They are so uplifting and are incredible examples. I can always see and feel the love that they both have for us and know that they care about me personally. I really am blessed to serve with them! 

We were also able to get permission from President to go out and take some pictures of the Lantern Festival. It is huge! So we were only able to get a little in the fifteen minutes we had before we had to get back home. Since the lights don't turn on until it gets dark we don't really have much opportunity to take pictures on preparation day since we go back to work at six. (Which is when it really starts getting dark). But we are going out today with Yu Mei to see some of it, which should be interesting.

Anyway I'm out of time, but I love you and am so glad things are going well at home. I'm so glad you are happy and healthy! Know that I love you and that I am so grateful to be a missionary. Even when it is hard it is the best thing I could be doing with my life right now and I feel so privileged to be serving in Taiwan.

Love you, with all my heart,

Sister Fernley

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Back to looking for miracles

And with this post, I think we're caught up. Here is the latest message from Sister Fernley:

Dear Family,

Well another week has gone by in Nantou and not much has changed really (watch I say that and end up writing a really long email about everything that has changed). We are getting a few more lessons, but last week everyone was still having guonian celebrations. People are starting to go back to work and school this week though, so we are hoping that will help. Its funny how once everyone gets back to their busy schedules we are more likely to be able to meet with them. We also finished up our meals with members this week. It was such a great opportunity to get to know the members better, but we can also get back to eating a normal amount of food. (Thankfully I didn't really gain anything. I've heard of missionaries gaining up to thirty pounds during guonian.) 

Nicole mentioned one thing in her email that I have actually been thinking a lot about this week. She talked about how my focus on miracles has been lacking this move call and that is definitely something I noticed as well. When I did exchanges with Sister Anderson last week I realized a lot of things: first I needed to find happiness again, second I wanted to start seeing miracles again, and third at that point if I was given the chance to leave Nantou without disgrace I probably would have taken it. 

It hurt to realize these things about myself, but I think it was also necessary for me to recognize and admit them. Because I had done so I was able to take this past week and turn myself around and look up to Christ. I'm not even sure what started helping me change or why I started getting happier, but I did and a couple of days ago I realized that I no longer wanted to leave this area. I was thinking about how this move call is already half way over and the investigators we have right now and (thinking that I have a good possibility of moving this next move call) realized that I do not want to leave. I don't want to hand over my investigators. I don't want to give up this ward, and I don't want my Nantou to change. I think I will always love this area. I've heard from other missionaries that you have a special love for the area where you were "born" in and I completely believe that. I would be content to spend the rest of my mission here, but unfortunately that's not how the Lord works. He waits until you are comfortable then moves you.

Anyway so this week I talked to Sister Hill about looking for the miracles more and every night we talk about the miracles we saw. I think that made a big impact of my change of attitude. Most of them were small things. Like we went to visit Patricia (an LA from Costa Rica) and were sitting and talking to her husband who isn't a member but is Christian. He started talking about how we have ups and downs in our lives and we should turn to God no matter if we are on an uphill or a downhill. It just so happened that the lesson I had prepared for Patricia and the theme of my personal study that morning had been about that exact same thing. I then shared parts of President Monson's conference talk to him and was able to testify of our living prophet. We were also able to serve Yu Mei a lot this week....(story as follows)

We had an appointment to go eat lunch with the Hong family (our RC's) on Tuesday at 11. They called us while we were studying around 10:30 to tell us that Yu Mei (she's the handicapped sister who follows us around all the time and calls us everyday to see if we need her to peike) had been outside their door since 9:30 and they didn't want to go down and her to follow them to the restaurant because they only had reserved seats for them and the missionaries. So we biked up to their house and went to see what Yu Mei wanted. She had copied the sign up sheet for people to feel the missionaries for guonian (so she knew where we were eating everyday) and was mad that no one was inviting or fellow-shipping her. I managed to convince her to meet us some other time at the church so we could go eat with the Hong family and we took some of her stuff so her bike wouldn't fall over while she was biking home (she had way too much).

So the next day we met her at the church and Lisa (one of our members who we had told about the matter) met us there as well to help out. Sister Hill and I got there a little earlier and found Yu Mei sitting outside the gate sobbing and trying to sing a hymn out of her hymn book. She didn't pay any attention to us as we walked up and continued singing and sobbing for another ten minutes. We managed to get her up and moved her and her stuff (again way too much for a bike) into the church.

The root of everything ended up being that her family is doing guonian cleaning and going through their stuff and trowing old stuff out. Her parents told her to go through her stuff and if she didn't by the beginning of March they would throw it away (sounds like most parents right?). So Yu Mei has been carrying around a ton of stuff (mostly church materials and scriptures) so her parents won't throw it away. She also hasn't been sleeping because she's been trying to go through her stuff, but it takes her a really long time. So she got sick because she hasn't been sleeping and all that stress has magnified everything else. So on Thursday we went over to her house with Lisa and Zhu jiemei (who are visiting teaching companions) to try and talk to her parents and help her go through her stuff. We only did a little, but over the past couple of days she has slowly been getting back to her old self. She has started calling us every morning again and showing up to every activity and following us around everywhere we go. As annoying as it was before, I'm now just glad that she's back to her old self. She now tells me all the time that I will forever bee Nantou-ren (meaning I was born in Nantou so its like my hometown).

We were also able to get a hold of Pan JM again and she said she was willing to come to church! This has been the hardest time I have ever had of getting an investigator to church so far. She called us Sunday morning and said she didn't really know where it was so in my broken Chinese I tried to explain things around the Church's area. She then asked if we could just meet at McDonalds then go over to the church. That would be fine except she was taking the bus and didn't have her own bike or motorcycle so we would have to walk and that is way too far. So I told her I would see and call her back and tried to call some members and see if they could help us. They said they would, but then I called Pan JM back to ask when she would get there. She told me probably 9:30 (church starts at 9:00) I tried to tell her that was too late so she said she could get there around 9:15...still too late. Then I realized that she would be passing the church on her way to McDonalds and tried to tell her there was a bus stop right next to the church. She didn't really understand me (which I don't think its my Chinese because I'm realizing she has a hard time understanding a lot of people). So I finally was able to set up for her to get to the Family Mart down the street from the church and call us when she got there (from a pay phone because she doesn't have her own cell phone...super inconvenient). She called us right after sacrament meeting and one of our members drove us down to the corner to pick her up. She then stayed for the next two hours. 

We were able to sit down with her after church and I asked her if she had a chance to read the Book of Mormon and she said she had. She showed me where her book mark was and she had read to 1 Nephi 14! I was shocked! I asked if she understood and she asked a few questions which we were able to answer (mostly about different names of Christ and analogies she didn't understand). Sister Hill then asked if she believed the Book of Mormon was true, she said yes. We asked why and couldn't really understand what she said, or hear very well, but I have high hopes for her progressing. She said she doesn't want her dad to know about her investigating the church but that's not as big of a deal as it could be because she is 27 and doesn't need parent permission is she wants to get baptized. We were supposed to meet with her this morning, but I think she forgot because she never showed up.

We were also able to catch Chen dixiong (the father of the family Sister Anderson and I started teaching) at work. It has been a really long time since we have been able to meet with them and I think they are losing interest. Their daughter is still willing to meet with us and has been reading and praying everyday, so I think we are going to focus on her and hopefully her family will follow.

On Friday the elders asked us to go meet with a husband and wife they have been meeting with again (Sister Anderson and I went once to visit them). The husband is so prepared! He kept talking about how he loves the Book of Mormon and believes it is true, but he won't come to church because his wife won't come. He wants to wait so they can go together and his wife doesn't want to listen. She doesn't want to give up tea and coffee so she won't listen to the rest of our message. She just can't let go of coffee, but that's the first thing she heard about the church (one of her friends is a member) so she hasn't gained a testimony of anything else. We hope that we can help the elders with her because her husband is ready (he's reading the Book of Mormon for the second time now.)

We moved Jia Zhen's bapismal date back again to March 9th because she didn't come to church on Sunday, but I have faith that this one will stick. This is another reason I don't want to move. Move call is on the 3rd of March, but I want to be able to be there for her baptism. If I only get moved to Taichung I could probably get permission to go, but if I go to Gaoxiong I won't be able to. 

That same night Sister Hill and I went contacting at the Denghui (Lantern Festival). It goes until the 24th and is right next to our house which is really convenient and a little annoying as well. The road is closed so we have to go around and it takes twice as long to get home, but there are a ton of people to contact. (By the way President gave me permission to take pictures of it! I'm going to try and get a camera today.) We tried for about fifteen minutes without anyone willing to talk to us (by then we had to go to Jia Zhen's) and Sister Hill said, "alright I'm not talking to anyone anymore." Two minutes later as we were walking back to our bikes we struck up a conversation with this lady and got her number. She lives in our area and knows about missionaries so we think she's met with them before. She may not become an investigator (or she might) but that testified to me to never give up. Always keep going because we never know when we are going to find those who are willing to listen. 

Well that's all I can think of. Thanks for your letters as always! I loved the pictures of Jemma on the bed, they are so cool! She's such a funny little girl! The bridal pictures look fantastic as well! Dad I hope everything at work gets figured out soon, but I'm glad you're keeping me posted. Everything will work out in the end...I know it! 

Also please tell Patsy thank you! It means so much to me! I could not imagine not having gone on a mission now. It's hard, but rewarding and I have learned so much and grown closer to my Savior because of it. I wouldn't give it up for the world. I'm glad Jemma had fun with friends and tell her I love her too! She's growing up to be such a big girl!

I love you all and pray for you always. And can't wait to tell you about the new miracles that roll through Nantou this week!

There's another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chinese New Year=Not so Good for Missionary Work!

Here is Sister Fernley's message from last Sunday. We'll be getting another message tonight, and if it comes early enough I'll try to post it tonight. If not, tomorrow morning!

Dear Family,

Well this week has been interesting. I am going to be so grateful when Chinese New Year is over. Our days consist of desperately trying to find Less Actives, former investigators (or really anyone for that matter) to meet with us. New Year's Day was this Thursday, but they basically celebrate it for about two or three weeks. Everyone I have asked about it says that the celebrations usually go until February 10th. So until then PRAY. Really...we need it.

I guess I'll just go through the week (I can never remember anything until I flip through my planner). Monday we traveled into Nantou (I don't know if I've ever explained it before, but our area technically consists of three different cities. The church is in the middle area called Zhongxing. Going north is Nantou and south is Caotun.) So anyway we decided to go into Nantou for the night (we have to bike over a freeway bridge to get there). We had several options, but they all fell through. So we went to go find some LAs that I didn't have much hope of meeting with because they've been avoiding us since I got here. We ended up meeting with one who I have only met with once during my first week here. It was a miracle we caught her at home!

Tuesday was probably the most eventful day of the week. While we were calling phones a few days earlier, desperately trying to set up with anyone, one of our phone referrals that we have been trying to contact forever actually answered and set up with us. So Tuesday morning we met with her at the McDonalds and taught the whole message of the Restoration. Neither of us understood a lot of what she said, so that was kind of awkward, but she said she would come to church and meet with us after. (Which didn't happen.) We are still hoping to set up again with her and hope she progresses. She was a self contact for the missionaries in Taizhong. She went up to them and asked them to teach her how to chuanjiao (preach the gospel). Not very sure where her interest lies right now, but we hope to continue working with her. 

That same day I took Sister Hill to the Hong family's for lunch (our RCs). Luckily their business slowed down for a little bit so we could share a message with them. Sister Hill had planned a lesson on Charity. It just so happens that Hong Dixiong had been studying for his talk next week and was studying about charity. He then told us about trials that God was giving him throughout the week to help him develop charity. I love hearing their stories! They are so incredible and have such a desire to follow Christ's example and learn from the scriptures. The week before I shared with Hong jiemei my experience of receiving an answer of comfort from the scriptures and how I was struggling a little bit in Nantou. This week as we visited with them they were both so supportive and had so much faith and confidence in missionary work and our efforts. I was so grateful for their encouragement and will always cherish their friendship. Hong Dixiong even told me my Chinese has gotten pretty good (which is always a confidence booster).

Wednesday we met again with Chen Zhen Zhen and I think we are going to drop her for now. I still have hope someday she will accept the gospel, but we need to move on to people who will progress and are prepared at this time. Other than that we taught english. We have a new rule that companionships can't separate to teach english so Sister Hill and I are now teaching the children's class, which gets interesting at times. But it's still fun.

Thursday we had little success in meeting with anyone or finding any new investigators, but it was also the start of our New Year's meals. The members invite the missionaries to eat and have signed up for different meals throughout the week. Because New Year meals are usually a big deal and they prepare and eat a ton of food President gave us two hours to spend with members when they invite us over. Usually we spend the whole time there. We have had lunch and dinner appointments for the past couple of days and have a few more this next week. It has been a great opportunity to get to know the members more and the timing is perfect because so many people are too busy to meet with us during the New Year. So we have been spending a lot of time traveling to member's houses and eating, literally eating so much! I've heard of some missionaries gaining up to 30 pounds during Chinese New Year! (Haven't gained much yet, but I'm trying to be careful.)

Then on Friday we had a lunch appointment then did exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders! I went to Zhanghua with Sister Anderson and Sister Lin came to Nantou with Sister Hill. It didn't really feel like an exchange because I was just back with my old companion, we were just in a different area. And then during the whole exchange we were basically just going to member's houses to eat. But it was really good to just talk about the past couple of weeks together and motivate each other. That is one thing Sister Anderson is really good at. She is so good at encouraging and makes me feel like I can do anything. During our companionship study she read Alma chapter 4 to me replacing Alma with my name and the city with Nantou. I cried. And since then I have read that chapter several times. Like Alma there have been so many times where I just want to turn my back and be done, but I know what I have been called to do and just need to press forward and give my best. 

Saturday we switched back and had another dinner appointment. Sunday church was only an hour, but we got to meet with Mei Xin (the lady from China) after. She still doesn't feel like she has received an answer and doesn't really think she can receive an answer already so we taught the Holy Ghost in more detail. I really hope she progresses more. Sister Hill and I both really felt like extending a baptismal invitation to her, but our member talked so much and got us so off topic that it didn't work out. We are going to try and meet with her this week again.(To be continued...)

That is pretty much it. We did meet with Jia Zhen this week (I can't remember what day) and were able to talk to her about baptism. She was saying that she will be able to come to church after she finishes testing. Her tutor had to change times anyway so that was perfect. We were also able to keep her date for the 22nd. I fought really hard for that, I did not want to lose our last baptismal goal. But she is really willing, she is really busy still (her school doesn't have New Year's break like all the other schools) but after this week I think we will be able to work with her a lot more. 

I hope my emails aren't boring. Sometimes I feel like they aren't that interesting and feel more like a time log. 

The lantern festival starts this week and they have been doing so much preparation for it. I think I told you, but it is the big festival for all of Taiwan. There have been so many cars and so many people from out of town. Even though we might not get new investigators for ourselves we might be getting a lot of referrals for other missionaries. I asked President for permission to take pictures of it, but still have yet to hear from him. I'll keep you posted. 

Also I got an email from Sister Anderson today and she an four other companionships were authorized to start using Facebook for our mission yesterday!!! So crazy! 

It sounds like Jemma is doing as great as ever. She is still so creative and I love that she loves to do crafts so much. I loved her letter! The Valentines decorations look so cute (I actually forgot about that holiday with Chinese New Year going on). And she is so big! I can't believe she is in CTR 4 already! Time goes too fast. I so proud of her for being so good with Winston and for being so great at taking care of Tigger for me. I want to see her dream catcher! I love you too Jemma! I love you 80 80 80 90 80 and even more! My favorite thing is to tell people about my family and my little sister who is my best friend and the cutest 4 year old I know. (They all think so too.) 

I just got Nicole's email and I'm sorry to hear about all of the medical problems going on, but I'm glad to hear everyone is doing well and on the mend. I hope everything with work works out. I'm sure it will and that everything will work out for the best. Dad you said that the Lord puts us where we need to be. It is so true. He knows what's best for us. He knows what He wants us to be and He will give us those experiences we need to become our best. 

I love this gospel and I love that I have this opportunity to serve the Lord! I can't believe I have already been gone for almost six months. Time goes by way too fast, so cherish it. I don't have a lot of time left, but know that I love you and that I'm so grateful the Lord allowed me to have such an incredible family who I love with all my heart. Know that I know this gospel is true and that I will work my hardest to bring this happy message to these people of Taiwan. He is changing my heart and making me into the person I need to become. He is teaching me what is really important and strengthening my conversion in this gospel. He loves us all and only wants us to reach out to Him. 

Come What May and Love It!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tough Week!

Here is the message we got from Sister Fernley last Sunday night (yes, I'm behind on her blog--we'll get another message tonight--I'll probably post it later this week to give everyone a chance to read this post). Oh, and we are working with her to get a new camera, so don't anybody panic. She has money in her account to buy one whenever she gets a chance. We thought about sending her one but realized she'd probably have to pay customs on an import. Also, the shipping would add probably $40 or more to the cost, so we're hoping she can find one over there. She has a camera but apparently it's too big for her to carry around easily.

Dear Family,

This week has possibly been the hardest week since I first came on island. As the week started I started feeling a lot of stress because I had to lead the area. Before move call I was really nervous about being able to hold the area and our investigators up until my new companion got used to the area and the people we were meeting with. But I knew I could do it with the Lord's help. And then the Lord tested my faith.

Monday we were able to get emailing in and get groceries for the apartment before preparation day ended. I was able to lead Sister Hill around and we went and visited a couple of less actives in the area, got fonged (stood up) for a lesson and got home and planned. We were getting ready for bed and one of our investigators with a baptismal date called and said her family forbids her from getting baptized because they are Buddhist. I was able to set up to meet with her the next day and it went well. She believes, but isn't willing to go against her family (which I understand) so she won't progress anymore. Then the next couple of days everyone we tried to meet with either rejected us or weren't home. Thursday night we went and visited Chen Zhen Zhen and she pretty much told us she didn't want to get baptized or take the missionary lessons anymore. She said she believes in God and Jesus Christ, but that being Christian is good enough and she would rather join a church that her other family members are a part of. Really she threw out a ton of different reasons. I answered as best as I could and for the first time on my mission promised her as a representative of Jesus Christ that if she would do her part that her family would be blessed and have more unity. I promised her that if she would just read the Book of Mormon and pray she would know the church was true. She kind of seemed to block me out when I said that and started making more excuses, so I don't think we are going to have much progress with her later.

So basically I kept going home feeling like I was failing the area. Our key indicators were really low compared to when I was with Sister Anderson. So I said a lot of very earnest prayers pleading to Heavenly Father to help me and strengthen me to be able to help this area and do His work. After one prayer before personal study I flipped toD&C 68:6. It reads, Wherefore, be of good acheer, and do not bfear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I cwas, that I am, and that I am to come."

Suffice it to say that completely answered my prayers and all week I have been thinking about that scripture. A few days later I was reading in Alma about Ammon and was strengthened by his story and the strength that the Lord gave him when he was ready to turn back and go home. 

I feel bad because I feel like because of my stress I have been a burden on my companion, but today I feel a lot better and am excited for a new week to start and new opportunities to improve. 

It is actually probably going to be really hard to have many lessons for the next couple of weeks because of Chinese New Year. It's basically like Christmas back in America. All of the students are on a two week break and everyone is going out of town to visit family and friends. We have called almost everyone several times and they have all told us to call back after the New Year (so around Feb. 10th). So we are probably going to spend the next few weeks trying to find new investigators and doing the best we can to get lessons in. The giant lantern festival for all of Taiwan is actually in Zhongxing (part of our area) this year. So there are going to be a ton of people here. Hopefully we can at least get a ton of referrals for other missionaries in Taiwan. 

As far as my new companion goes, she is great! Her name is Tiffany Hill and she's from Provo (or before she was from California). This is her sixth move call and her first time being senior companion. I think I'm just forever going to be the guinea pig. I was Sister Anderson's first trainee and Sister Hill's first junior companion. Anyway, she has so much faith in people accepting our message. That is one thing I need to be better at, I'm pretty skeptical about whether they really have interest or not. She has been so good at helping me press forward. I guess her last move call she didn't really have much luck finding new investigators or having progressing investigators either. I hope after New Year we can have some success. Nantou has been a land of miracles the last few months and I don't want that to die out while I'm here. 

The language has been interesting. Sister Hill's minor in college (BYU-I) was Chinese, but its really hard for her to understand what people are saying. So I have been forced to talk a lot more and I think it is helping a lot. We even went and visited a family Sister Anderson and I met with a few weeks earlier for the first time and the dad told me I've changed a lot since the last time we met. I think it's because I was actually talking. We both also don't know how to read characters really or text (we have a new rule that we can have 300 texts a month). So I am starting to learn how to use bo, po, mo, fo to text our investigators. It's hard being so illiterate, but this is a really good opportunity to learn and grow. 

Because we had a few investigators drop last week we currently have Wu Jia Zhen as our only baptismal goal. We are meeting with her on Tuesday, but I think she still really wants to get baptized. We just need to get her to church. We also have Huang Mei Xin who is the former that Sister Anderson and I went to find a couple of weeks ago. She met with us a couple of times last week and said she wants to believe, but hasn't ever felt anything to help her have faith or believe. She even came to stake conference (in Yuanlin about 30 min away) this Sunday. She loves the hymns, but didn't pay attention to much else. I hope she progresses. She is so nice and gets along with everyone. We can't meet with her again until after New Year's so until then that's about where she is.

The Hong family (our RCs) are doing great as usual. They are still coming to church and I have no worries with them as missionaries leave and come into this area. When I told them we both couldn't read characters they freaked out about how we order food. If we go to a place without pictures or english I mostly just pick something and am suprised. Haven't had any disasters yet, so that's good. They said we could just come to their place all of the time, haha, which I would be completely fine with, but I would also be really unhealthy.
Umm, I still haven't gotten a camera. Mostly because I don't know if there is a place to get one in Nantou (Nantou is one of the most rural areas in our zone, which is the most rural zone in our mission). When we go to other places I'm amazed about how many people there are to talk to and how many people are on the streets. When I move I think I'm going to go into culture shock all over again. Anyway I will try to ask one of the members if they know where I can get one this week. I hear they are pretty much the same price, but more durable? maybe. I'll try and see soon and let you know. I think I'm good as far as first aid goes. I was able to find a lot before I left for the MTC. If I think of anything I will let you know that too.

Dad said not much is happening back home, but it sounds like a lot of changes are being thought about. It would be really nice to have dad working closer and I'm sure the commute wouldn't be missed. I knew Jemma would change a lot while I was gone. That was probably the hardest thing to accept when I left. She will be go much more grown up when I get home! But I hope that I can get home and we will just pick up where we left off. Its fun to hear about her adventures. I loved that you had a birthday for hophop. That's so cute! 

Nicole talked about a lesson in Relief Society about missionary work and finding opportunities to be a missionary. One thing that I have learned out here is that you can always be a missionary, no matter where you live. I used to think there wasn't much opportunity in Utah because so many people are members, but recently I've come to the realization that there are actually a lot of people that even just need to be strengthened. We have members in our families that aren't as active as they might have used to be, or members in our ward that could use some strengthening and help growing their faith in the gospel. I want with all my heart to be a good missionary even when I do get home. It will be harder to find those opportunities, but they are always out there. 

I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord for a year and a half. Even if I don't see outward success from my efforts (which I was struggling with this week) I know that I am doing the best that I can, and in the eyes of the Lord that is enough. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, He just expects us to try. This week we spent some time helping one of our members with her english for an application for ASU. She had to write about her ten most memorable experiences and put it in one sentence. At the end she asked me to put my mission so far into one sentence. Its not very profound, but here is what I came up with. "My mission has been the hardest thing I have ever done, but it has changed my heart and turned me more toward God."

I love you all! I love hearing about all the happenings back home and seeing the pictures. Have an incredible week and remember that this life is such a precious gift. Use every moment to its fullest. I think about you often and and so grateful for your love and support. Give Jemma the biggest squeeze and hickle for me! Tell her I love her and that she is the best sister I could ever have! 

With all my love, until next week.
Sister Fernley