Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Report from Qishan

It sounds like Sister Fernley is doing really well in a pretty hard area. Here's her latest message to us--and we're pretty sure she meant peanut butter and banana sandwiches, not peanut butter and apple…but who knows? We didn't think she meant "Toilet" restaurant a couple months ago either, but she sure did!


I hope you are all happy, healthy and enjoying everyday! I also hope your anniversary was a happy day and that you were able to have a good day together. This time we have and the relationships we have in this life are the most precious gifts Heavenly Father has given us. I am so grateful for our family and for the strength and strong family foundation it gives us. 

And I'm sure Jemma is having a great time at grandma's. I can't wait to hear about it next week! I loved the pictures of her latest adventures with friends and making Clifford cookies! So cute! It sounds like it was a pretty busy week, but that you were able to have a lot of fun. 

The pictures I put up in Dropbox are from last Monday. There is a tourist temple here in Qishan. Unfortunately a lot of the museums and tourist sites are closed on Monday so we can't go see a lot of them (since Monday is our p-day). So the pictures of the temple were taken through the holes in the outer walls. I love looking at all the Buddhist, actually I guess they are Daoist, temples here, but they often bring mixed feelings. Before I would have probably thought they were really interesting and cool to look at, but as a missionary I also have a natural dislike toward them. Basically the people go to these temples and burn incense and shake the incense at their idols inside. They also have more personal temples or alters in their homes where they have pictures of their ancestors and do the same thing. This practice is called "bai bai" here. Often when we pull up to a stop light or are tracting people will see us and before anything else is said will say, "I'm bai bai," and will shake their hands as if they were shaking their incense. A common joke among the missionaries is that we are also "bai bai" (bai can also mean white), referring to our skin. 

Anyway we biked past the steps one day and I asked Sister Yeh what it was. When she told me I asked if we could go on P-day and she was nice enough to appease me. It was beautiful and I love learning about the culture here. Sister Yeh has taught me so much already! She likes to introduce me to different foods. I'm willing to try anything at least once, but a lot of the foods I've eaten I could do without a second try. I also introduced her to peanut butter and apple sandwiches earlier this week! It was hilarious because I didn't think she would like it, but for a few days after she would suggest packing sandwiches for lunch. She's even been telling the other Taiwanese sisters about it when we meet for ZTM. 

This week we've been able to pick up the pace in Qishan a little bit! Our zone leaders gave us a talk titled "The Challenging and Testifying Missionary" during ZTM to take home and read and I absolutely love it! It was perfect and exactly what I needed at this time. I've been praying and trying to figure out where I can improve and how I can become a better missionary to best help the work here in this area. This talk helped me so much and taught me how to be a more bold missionary. So in studying this talk and trying to obey the invitations of our zone leaders I have been putting forth more effort to overcome my hesitancy and talk to as many people as I can on the street. As a result Sister Yeh and I have been able to come across several people this week who were willing to give us their numbers and possibly set up another time to meet. It may just be the lack of progress before, but each and every contact we receive seems like a tender mercy and miracle to me. I guess that is one thing nice about coming into an almost clean slate, everything seems like a bigger miracle that it might have in an already flourishing area.

I was able to go on exchanges with the Tainan Sister Training Leaders this week and it was an incredible experience! Tainan isn't in our zone, but because they are closer to us than our actual Sister Training Leaders we go on exchanges with them. Sister Anderson was trained there so I had heard a ton about that area and was really excited to go there. I went to Tainan with Sister Adams and Sister Jian came down to Qishan with Sister Yeh. I learned so much! Sister Adams has a gift of loving everyone and outwardly showing her love. She motivated me to come back to Qishan and show absolutely everyone I come in contact the joy this gospel can bring. I met with some incredible people and we had some lessons that were so full of the Spirit. It renewed my faith in myself that I actually can be a teacher by the Spirit and that my ability to feel the Spirit hasn't been dulled. Sometimes when you don't have much happening it feels like that. I know it shouldn't, but sometimes, well a lot of the time you doubt yourself.

She also told me a lot about what has been going on with Qishan lately. It helped me get more of a vision of what kind of area I am actually in and what a blessing it is to have been called here. Three move calls ago President Blickenstaff pulled the sisters out of Qishan because they were struggling and he thought it was too hard for the sisters. After one move call without sisters the Bishop here requested to have sisters back because the work slowed down a lot. So President called Sister Yeh and Sister Lee to come and white-wash the area. During their time here they didn't see a lot of success and found that the investigators and small progress the sisters had just a move call early disappeared. It was a really hard two move calls for sister Yeh. Our sister training leader told me that the zone leaders were even worried about the Qishan sisters and mentioned it to President. Then I got here. Sister Adams told me it was a big compliment that President trusts me enough to send me here, and the more I hear the more privileged I feel to be here.

Before I was excited to be here and wanted to do all I could to help this area, but now I feel more and more that this is an incredible blessing. I was a little confused about what the Lord wanted to teach me in sending me once again to a very rural area. So far I have been sent to two areas missionaries here refer to as xingku (basically really hard). But I have realized what a great opportunity Heavenly Father is giving me to grow. I may not see a ton of success, I hope to, but I have already seen myself change and come closer to my Father and Savior. I have already learned so much about how to be a better missionary and what being a successful missionary really means. I may have been sent here to change myself, to help my companion, or there may be people here prepared for me to teach. Whatever the reason is, I'm extremely grateful to be here and know the Lord sent me here for a reason. If not anything else He is definitely teaching me humility and patience. 

Anyway those have been my thoughts recently. Not much else has happened yet. We have several potential investigators and are going to try and track down some formers this week. And of course we are going to hit the streets and knock on as many doors as we can. 

As always I love you all dearly! I'm so grateful to have your support. I wouldn't give this opportunity to serve up for anything. It's been hard but beautiful at the same time. The Lord is helping me become who He wants me to be. In our weekly letter from President this week he shared with us something Elder Holland shared with them a few weeks ago when he came to Taiwan. He said, "Elder Holland taught us, as mission presidents and wives, to have a vision for each missionary, that includes what you can become. He said, “God has not called them for what they are, He has called them for what they can become.”
I believe that with all my heart. My mission is changing my life for the better. Love you all! Give Jemma a giant hug for me (I have a letter in the mail for her so it should come in about two weeks). Stay happy and know that I think and pray for you all every day.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

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