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.
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.
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 ). 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) . 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.