Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting to Know Qishan

Sister Fernley is doing well and working hard. It sounds like she has an excellent opportunity to improve her Chinese skills with her new Taiwanese companion who doesn't speak much English. She must be doing really well if they can stay up too late talking!

Also, I've updated some of her recent blog posts with the pictures she just sent us, so you might want to scroll through and see pictures of the temple trip and the lantern festival.

Dear Family,

Again thank you for your letters! Aside from baptismal services emailing on P-Day is my favorite time of the week. It lifts me up and strengthens me every time. Even when not much happens I just love hearing what is going on back home and that you are all happy and healthy! I think of you all often. You're always in my heart and gives me more motivation to go out and preach this gospel.

I wasn't able to see the videos you sent me, I would have to download a program onto the computer and I'm not allowed to go to that website. Dang...I'm sure it is a really fun video. I can't wait to see Jemma's incredible hula-hoop and jump roping skills when I get home. We'll have to go on a bike ride and go to a Taiwanese resturant too so I can show her the biking and chopsticks skills I am developing. It is really funny when we go to a family's house to eat and they are amazed that I can use chopsticks. I always tell them that I have to eat so I had to learn fast.

As far as the new area and my new companion things are going really well. Sister Yeh doesn't speak english so I have spoken very little english this past week. I want to make this opportunity of having a Taiwanese companion a good one and one I can learn from, so I am constantly writing down words she says that I don't know, correct grammar, or asking her how to say something. She is being incredibly patient with me and is helping me a ton. I asked her to correct me when I say something wrong so I have had to develop more humility to accept correction. It actually isn't as hard to communicate as I thought. We get by alright. After planning is over and we have some time to just talk I often have to reach for my dictionary to look something up or my pen to write something down. I used to keep my dictionary in my desk drawer, but now it has a permanent spot on top of the desk within arms reach. 

I think we get along well. Lately we have been talking so much at night that we look at the time and find its past time to go to bed (we need to repent for that). The past two move calls for Sister Yeh were really hard. She was white-washing (both companions coming in new to an area where sisters were pulled out for a while) the area with another Taiwanese sister and had a hard time with her companion. White-washing is stressful enough I can't imagine what it would be like without a good companionship. Qishan is also incredibly rural (even more so than Nantou) so that makes it even harder.

So Qishan....is very rural (it almost feels like Idaho except there are a ton of rice fields instead of potatoes), is a very big area, and is incredibly beautiful. I haven't gotten to take a lot of pictures yet, but I'm uploading a ton onto my dropbox so I hope you can see them. The last few are the view out of our back window, that's about the feel of Qishan. And there are also a couple of me and Sister Yeh.

Its such a different feel from Nantou. Before we were able to plan a lot of different people we could go visit, but because we don't really have many investigators and everyone lives so far away from each other that's not possible. Our back up plan, and our front plan for that matter, mostly consists of tracting. Sister Yeh and her companion before (who were white-washing) mostly tracted and got no new investigators, so a ton of the streets have been tracted recently. But we keep moving forward and doing the best we can. I'm going to try and go through the formers from when sisters were here before and see if we can set up with any of them. Part of the problem is that a lot of them live one to three hours away by bike. But we are still willing to go! Every soul is great in the sight of God!

So that's my goal for now. Go completely through the formers and determine if they still have interest, call through dead stack completely (its not very big) and continue tracting and hopefully we will find those who are prepared for us to teach. 

We do have two investigators that Sister Yeh and her companion before tracted into the week before I came. They are both Amahs (grandmas). Zhang amah I have met with once and we talked a little about the Plan of Salvation because she has a friend who recently passed away. We still aren't sure how deep her interest lies, but we will keep trying. The other is Hong amah. I have also only met with  her once and we taught the first lesson about the Restoration. She told us that she doesn't want us going over very often because it is inconvenient so the next day we stopped by to give her a Book of Mormon and are giving her a break until later this week. We will see what happens with her. The rest of our lessons are with the eight RC's they have here and the LAs.

Yesterday we actually went and visited one of our LAs (an older woman) who came to sacrament meeting that morning. I'm not sure how long ago it was but before there were a few elders that got an enormous copy of the Book of Mormon made for her so she could read it. She still has to wear glasses to read it, but is happy that she can still read the scriptures. The book is probably at least a foot wide. She told us a story about sharing the gospel with her son (who isn't a member). She said there was a time where he was having a lot of bad dreams every night and couldn't get a lot of sleep. She told him to take the Book of Mormon (which he's never read before) and every night open up to a random page and read a little bit. Then put the book under his pillow while he was sleeping and his dreams would go away. And...you guessed it...they did! Such an incredible story! And her faith is so strong! I loved hearing about her experiences in sharing the gospel with her friends. No one has accepted yet, but she's not letting that get her down. 

That's about all that has happened. I had my first Sunday here in Qishan. The ward is smaller than Nantou, but surprisingly has a a few people who speak english (return missionaries). It was really weird to have them come up to me and start talking in Chinese then shift to English. I'm excited to get to know them better and already love them. There are so many incredible people here. I was sad to leave Nantou, but am so excited to have a new adventure and get to know more amazing people. (On my dropbox account I also attached all the pictures I took on my last day in Nantou. I will remember those people forever.)

Its interesting to hear that Qishan is a popular tourist site. I've been wondering that this week because we have actually run into a lot of foreigners. The funny thing is rather than making me excited it scares me a little. I always think to myself, "what are they doing here? they're not supposed to be here." I find myself more comfortable being a missionary toward the Taiwanese people rather than the foreigners we come across. (I guess that shows I was called to the right place right?)

I love what Nicole was saying in her email to me about putting family first. That has also been on my mind a lot and is one thing I think my mission has changed my perspective on. Before I loved you (my family) and wanted a family of my own, but I don't think I put as much importance on it as I should. So since coming out here I have realized more and more how much I want to be there for my family and to raise them so they know the gospel is the most important thing. So suffice it to say I'm rethinking my career choice. But I still have a while before I need and even should think about that, so we are leaving it there for now. 

Family is so important, and is an incredible gift we have been given. I know that as we put our family and the gospel first before anything else our lives will be happier, we will be better fulfilling our purpose on earth, and the Lord will bless us in ways we couldn't imagine. I love you all and am so grateful for the blessing I have of being raise in a family with the gospel.

To answer dad's question the area has a lot more giant mountains, but I haven't had to ride up any massive hills yet. I was suprised because my first sight of Qishan was mountains and I was expecting more hills. But I've had a break for a little bit. I do hear if we want to go farther out in our area we go up the mountain (the elders and Sister Yeh have all told me horror stories). 

Also Sister Yeh has been on her mission just a month longer than me, but has been serving in Taiwan for about three more months than I have. She didn't have to stay in the MTC for over two months.

That's about all I can think of for now, I'm sure I will remember more as soon as we walk out the door. But we always have next week. I love you all and am so glad Jemma feels better and is her happy, silly self. You are in my prayers as always!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley


  1. Stumbled onto this blog while looking to send a Christmas Card to the Qishan Chapel. I served in Qishan for 6 months from November of 2007 to May of 2008. Funny thing is that we used to live in that exact same apartment! Qishan is an amazing area to serve in. One of my favorites. Ask Sister Fernley if she knows the name of the old woman less active she visited.

    1. How fun to hear from you! We will ask her when we talk to her on Christmas. :)