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

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