Sunday, May 25, 2014

Almost Halfway...

Here is Sister Fernley's latest message:

My Wonderful Family,

Sorry I don't have any pictures this week. Last week we got everything we needed to done as fast as we could so we could go home and sleep. That seems to be are activity of choice recently on preparation days.

Today is actually move call! I will remain here in Qishan for another move call with Sister Anderson! This whole week we've been talking about it and came to the conclusion that neither of us moving would be the best solution. Thankfully we were blessed enough to get it. We figured if anyone was going to move it would probably be me, but I didn't feel ready to move. I don't feel like I have done all that I could do here yet. So I am really grateful for the next six weeks (hopefully I don't get moved on a mini move call) I have to serve here in Qishan. I'm not going to lie, it would be really nice to get moved to an area that isn't as tiring, but at least I have Sister Anderson still. Being with her will make everything a little more bearable. We'll just continue to laugh our way through the move call, and hopefully we get to see more miracles as well. 

I feel like when I first came to Qishan we saw the area and our work as missionaries improve like crazy, but this last move call all that improvement kind of puttered out and we were stuck. Hopefully this next move call we can see the area improve again and find those people that are prepared, but ever evading us. 

This last week we were able to go back to Cai Jiemei's house and got to teach their whole family the first lesson once we were able to get them all to finally sit down. We were there for almost three hours, I know way too long, but we were determined to get the first lesson in. They were actually pretty accepting of the message. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they said they are willing to read it. They even asked a little bit about baptism! It didn't feel right to go in that more in dept then, but when we go back hopefully we will get the chance. Their son is actually the same age as me and was also pretty intent on the lesson. We think his parents mostly just want him to go on a mission because they don't want him to always play computer games. They keep asking if he can go out and preach with us. But I guess it doesn't matter how people get in contact with the church, what really matters is what they do when they actually hear our message. They tell us to go over to their house whenever we have time, which is the best thing to hear as a missionary. :)

Huang Jiemei didn't come to church again this week. We went over to her house last night and no one was home, so I think they might have gone out of town. I hope we can still get in contact with them though and continue to teach them. They are so prepared to listen and their family just feels right. 

As far as investigators go that's about what we have right now. Zhong Jiemei has dropped because she keeps standing us up for lessons and completely lost all desire to change when Yeh Jiemei left. Oh well, she was prepared one step further and maybe someday she will make the commitment to change.

This week was a little hard, and not as successful as we would like, but the Lord gives us so many tender mercies to make up for the disappointments.
I can't remember what day it was, but we had just left our apartment for the day and we riding past the fire station in Qishan when we saw Lu Jiemei's husband (not a member) just outside. He works there and called us in. We went in and he gave us the giant slices of watermelon they had just bought off of a produce truck on the side of the street. So we spent the next ten minutes sitting with the whole fire and EMT department eating slices of watermelon. It was so much fun! I even felt a little nice to back in that element again. (But where I am now is better :p)

Then we had another day we were calling some phones at a seven and one of the Elder's LAs walks in and greets us with a loud, "Sisters!" We seem to run into him at sevens a lot. He's a little bit crazy, and off his rocker sometimes, but he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He always buys us drinks or food despite all our protests. The past couple of times he has bought us strawberry milk (they have all kinds of fruit milks here), but he always buys the brand with tea in it. This week he did the same and even bought us the microwaveable dinners they have there. It wasn't very good, and we were a little disappointed about not going to the restaurant we were going to go to, but it was an incredibly nice gesture.

We also had one morning where no one was home that we wanted to go visit so we decided to go contact on Lao Jie, or Qishan Old Street (the biggest street and a historical site in Qishan, look it up on google). By now I've talked to pretty much every street vendor that sets up shop on that street, and most of them are still really nice to us. This week we stopped and talked to this old lady selling flowers similar to the Bird of Paradise flowers. We talked to her for a minute and as we were getting ready to leave she grabbed this giant bunch and insisted we take them. We tried to protest, but the vendor next to her (who we are good friends with) also came over and kept insisting she was giving us flowers for Ye Su (Jesus). We couldn't really object so we reluctantly took them, then walked around the block to go give them to Shao Jie (our RC) because we didn't know what to do with them. 

Then last night we were tracting in Meinong and tracted into this extremely nice couple, Brother and Sister Huang. Sister Huang insisted we come inside to eat some fruit. So we went in and were treated to two giant plates of fruit. We ate and talked to them about missionary work. They knew a lot about us and have been tracted several times by missionaries in other areas. (They move around every six months.) Every time they let them in and treat them to fruit. It was a welcome that was definitely needed after the rejection of the week. They told us if we were ever in the area to stop by to rest because they are like our aunt and uncle. It was so cute and I was so grateful for their hospitality. They aren't prepared yet (they kept saying all religions are the same), but someday they will be.

I'm trying to think of what else happened this week, but I can't think of anything else. We biked a lot, tracted a lot, contacted a lot, ate a lot, and tried to continue on and do all that we can to find those prepared to teach. 

So that's about it. It has gotten super HOT here the last week. Lately there have been two choices of weather. It's either raining, or blazing hot. I can't decide which is better. I still don't have any really good rain gear, so I've been wearing the cheap ones you can buy at the sevens, which are basically just a plastic bag with sleeves and a hood. I hate them. You don't get quite as wet, but eventually the rain soaks through enough that your skin is wet and then the plastic sticks uncomfortably to you, or its raining and its still hot so the plastic holds in the heat and steams up because of the humidity. But at least I'm staying relatively dry and hopefully sometime soon I can find some decent rain gear. 

I played my violin the other day at our english class party for the Spiritual share. It felt good to play again, but boy and I rusty. I also can't wait to get some sheet music. Composing is not one of my talents. 

I loved seeing what Jemma has been up to. I honestly think it's hilarious that she likes to sit and watch out the door. It's simple things like that I'm starting to miss. It's also one thing I love about Taiwanese culture. During the day all of the elderly that are friends on a street just get together and sit by their houses or on the side of the street and just talk. It always looks so relaxing and peaceful every time we ride by. 

It also looks like she had so much fun with Olivia and Reagan. That is so cute! What a fun idea! I'm glad she got to go. I loved her email that she sent me this week. It made me laugh! And I can't wait to play Trouble with her when I get home (I'm glad the games are rousing). 

Well, my times about up, but I loved hearing about all that's going on at home. The humming bird pictures were amazing! The classes sound hard, but I hope they are fun and rewarding. The missionaries are awesome! (It actually made me super happy they came and visited you. I know as we work together this work will move forward faster than it ever has before. The Lord works through small and simple ways.) 

I love you all! Have an incredible week! I will try to do likewise. You are always in my prayers and I thank Heavenly Father every day for the wonderful family I have been blessed with. 

Remember...there's always another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Also, I hit my half way mark in the next week. Can you believe it? So crazy! Time goes by way too fast!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Still looking for miracles in Qishan

Our message from Sister Fernley arrived with several photos! Here they are:

Dearest family,

This week has definitely been interesting. President Blickenstaff has invited us to pray for miracles every day, and as we have been trying to do this we really have seen so many miracles come forth. I feel like this week has really helped me look for the small things again, and realize that no matter where we are serving we can see miracles and the work of God roll forth. I can be here in Qishan, or I can be in Taizhong, but both places have missionaries sent to them and both places have great potential to see miracles. 

So to just highlight a few things that happened:

Tuesday morning after studies we went over to the morning market here in Qishan (which is where everyone is in the mornings) and tried to get back in contact with one of the shop owners we had contacted a few weeks ago. Yet again her shop was closed, so we went on and contacted in the market. We were there for maybe five minutes when this old lady came up to us and invited us to come to her house. We hadn't even told her we were missionaries yet, but we went along with it and followed her down the street to her house. (It doesn't matter their first intent in talking to the missionaries, they can still accept the gospel) We talked to her and her son who is handicapped for a little while. It was really hard to teach, but we finally were able to introduce prayer and pray with them. They didn't sound too interested, but you never know. At least we planted a seed.

That same day we tracted into someone who had been tracted by the sisters that were here back in August and let them in. I couldn't find a teaching record so I assume they only went once, but they told us we could come back. 

Then as we were riding to where we were going to powerboard for our english class I glanced to the side of the road and saw this guy and thought he looked like someone who would listen, but because we aren't allowed to talk to men unless our companion is right next to us I didn't pull over. Then down the street about ten minutes later I saw him pulled over on the side of the road again. I though that was a little strange, but didn't think much of it. We then stopped at the gas station so Sister Anderson could go to the bathroom. While I was waiting outside that same guy pulled up and awkwardly tried to act like he was calling someone or washing his hands. Then when Sister Anderson came out he followed her out. I figured he was following us so I gave him an english tract and invited him to come. Then we left to go to our powerboarding spot. As we were parking our bikes he stopped at that stop light, hesitated, then drove up to us. He then started talking to Sister Anderson and asked her about church. I tried to help her explain about church, but he wouldn't look or talk to me...just her. Then as he was leaving he put his hand out for a hand shake and said to her (in english), "Hi, I'm Stephano." So we're not too sure about his motives, but we had to give him to the elders anyway. They called him and he said he doesn't have any time until next month, we'll see what happens.

Then on Wednesday we were sitting at a 7/11 eating lunch and doing language study. The guy who came and sat by me saw me studying my character flash cards and asked me why I was in Taiwan. (He asked in english, most people seem to assume we can't speak Chinese and try to talk to us in english). We were then able to explain who we were and what we were doing here. He was a Christian so he was really curious how our church was different with other churches. So we were able to teach a little and invited him to attend the church in Gaoxiong (where he lives). Then the lady sitting on the other side of him scooted over when he left and asked us if we were the Mormons. She had overheard our conversation and wanted to know why we couldn't drink coffee. She had heard a co-worker or someone decline coffee because they were a member. So I was able to explain a little bit about the Word of Wisdom to her. Neither of them gave us their numbers, but were both really nice. Suffice it to say my language study was shot, but we were able to plant some really good seeds.

That same day we were also able to go meet with a lady we contacted a few weeks ago at the morning market. We were able to sit with her and her husband and answer a lot of their questions about missionaries. They actually thought we were Catholic missionaries (there are several families here on missions). When we told them we were different I was afraid they weren't going to listen anymore, but they were still willing to listen. We had a basic first lesson and talked about prayer. They were both willing to listen, but we are also not too sure about her motives. As we were leaving she told us we could set up with her son and teach her son the gospel because she wants him to go on a mission. We told her he would have to believe and get baptized first, and she still wants us to teach him. We're going to see this week if we can teach them as a family.

Friday all of our lessons fell through, it was a rough day, but we got through it!

I don't know if I've told you about one of our LAs named Xu Zhao Hui. We found her in the list we have of members and went to go find her. She fell asleep on us the first time we went and visited her and kept telling us she did not want to accept our church. She was offended by someone shortly after she was baptized and hasn't been back since then. She has one leg, an incredible mullet and acts really drowsy all of the time. Since the first time we visited her we've seen her one the streets a lot and say hi to her as we pass by. We have also stopped by and written her notes, and gave her a new Book of Mormon. We stopped by her house this week and almost got a lesson in with her, but she feel asleep before we could share a scripture. She seemed a lot more open to us though and was a little happier. It is just really awkward, and hilarious when you are talking to someone and mid conversation they pass out on the couch. We just wrote down the scripture we were going to share and set it in front of her so when she woke up she could read it. Maybe if we keep fellow-shipping her she'll come back to church someday.

Sunday we didn't have any investigators come to church, but Shao Jie had her little brother come with her. I guess their uncle (who is a less active member) told him he would give him food if he went to church. So he did, haha! The stake president also came and talked in Sacrament meeting. He is also really on board with missionary work. He asked us all before we left what our biggest problem was. We just said we didn't really have any investigators and he replied with, "it's because you don't get referrals do you? What about peikes, do members attend your lessons? I'll talk to the bishop." He's so cool! If everyone was as enthusiastic about missionary work as he is the work would move forward like a tidal wave.

That night we went and visited Huang Jiemei (our only investigator right now). She didn't come to church so we were a little worried. Turns out she had guest over that morning, so couldn't come. We taught about the Gospel of Christ and invited her to be baptized again. She told us that she thinks her destiny with Jesus Christ (it sounds a lot weirder in english) has come and that one day she will get baptized, but she will let us know when she's ready. She is just worried about not completely obeying the commandments (well coming to church, we haven't gotten to the rest yet) after she is baptized. She said she would feel like she was betraying Christ. We tried to explain to her we aren't perfect and just need to try our best, but I don't think we will push it again for a little bit. Her ten year old son sat with us too and was really into the lesson. The last time we were there he sat by me and was intently looking over my shoulder and reading my scriptures I had open. Huang Jiemei asked him if he wanted to be baptized and said she thought it would be a really good thing for him to have guidance and follow Christ. He was seriously thinking about it, but wasn't sure. We invited him to pray about it, but I think he is really interested. Maybe he can help his mom and be an example for her. This family has a really good feel about them, I know someday they will accept the gospel. They are what's keeping us going every day in Qishan right now.

I loved seeing your pictures! That exhibit looked like a lot of fun. Jemma looks like she had fun playing in the tube. I miss our family outings, but time will go faster than we know and I'll be home. I'm about half-way which is crazy! I'm glad you're getting the pictures too. Sorry there aren't a ton. We aren't allowed to take pictures other than P-Day. So I'm trying to be better. 

As always I hope you are all doing well. That you are happy, healthy and always looking forward with hope. I pray for you always, and can't wait to tell you about the miracles that come forth this week.

There's always another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Skype Call for Mother's Day

We got to Skype with Sister Fernley last Sunday night, and it was so fun to see her and hear her voice. She sounds incredibly happy and upbeat…and tired. :) Here's the quick message she wrote after our chat:

So I just talked to you, and I don't really know what else to say. Honestly this week not much happened. We taught Huang Jiemei last night and she is incredible! She is reading the scriptures and we are trying to get them to pray as a family now.
Other than that we are just trying to find new investigators and trying to stay happy. It's hard, but we know that God is on our side and all we can do is our best.
I went on exchanges to Tainan again this last week. I love Tainan! It was fun to be in an area with more city and people to talk to for a little bit. Someday I hope that becomes my area, but I will go where God wants me to go.
Tell Jemma I love her with all my heart! I loved talking to her and I'm so glad she loves Pre-school. She is getting so big! I can't believe it.
That's about all I can think of. I love being a missionary! I love Taiwan. I love that I get to learn Chinese. I love my companions. I love Nantou, and I love Qishan. It will be interesting where the Lord sends me next or if He keeps me here, but until then we will keep working our hardest and looking for the miracles just around the corner. I know there are people out here to teach, we just need to find them.
With all my love,
Sister Fernley

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fun and exhausting times

Sorry--I forgot to post this last week. Busy times around here! Anyway, here is Sister Fernley's latest message:

My Dear family,

I don't know what it is about this move call, but I am exhausted! Sister Anderson and I are giving all that we can just so we don't fall off our bikes while we are riding. It's really pathetic. When I first got on island I was really proud when my biking ability was growing. I would switch my bike to a higher gear every week until I got to the top and could ride a lot faster. I think I've hit the point where that ability is going to slowly deteriorate. My legs get tired a lot faster, and what used to seem pretty easy before seems ten, well...maybe five, times harder. I thought it was funny when dad was talking about how he was getting old, because its exactly how I feel on a mission. My eyes aren't getting worse yet, but my body hurts like it never used to before. Haha! But I'm glad to make the sacrifice. And I guess that just shows that I'm trying my hardest. I had a goal in the MTC to go home and be so tired I collapsed, knowing I gave my all for a year and a half. I don't think that goal is going to be hard to hit, I'm on my fifth move-call and already feel like I could just fall over anytime if I let myself.

Before I forget we are planning on Skyping you on Mother's Day! We will probably do it Monday morning here, so your evening there. We haven't been able to find someone to help us yet, but the elders might have found a computer we can use. If all else fails we can go to a wenka. So we will probably try to do it around the same time we did for Christmas? Not too sure yet...sorry!!!

Anyway, enough of that. We are tired, but we are also two happy missionaries. We are trying really hard to keep a positive and happy attitude. Its not very hard with Sister Anderson though. She is really easy to get along with and we are already really good friends. 

 This week has been a trying one. We've gotten stood up for so many lessons. We would have lessons set up and even find members that would help us peike and then would have to call the member and cancel because the investigator canceled. Friday after weekly planning even ended up being a complete day of tracting because everything fell through. By the end of the night we were exhausted and didn't want to tract anymore doors, but of course we did. We didn't really have any success, but we did have a lot of time to talk which made it not as bad.

A few tracting stories from the week:

On Friday afternoon we had picked a neighborhood to tract and as always there was a Daoist temple nearby. We were walking down to the next row of houses when when this 60 year old man walked by us. As is typical here he looked at us and said a barely understandable "how are you?" and started chuckling. (Men yell it out their windows to us all the time. I'm not sure if they really know what it means and that it implies an answer should be made, but we get it a lot.) He then went and sat on one of the chairs right outside the Daoist temple. Then every single time we walked past or within eyesight he would yell another barely understandable "how are you?" and chuckle like a mad man. It was hilarious! He was possibly drunk or maybe just a little crazy, but it made tracting a little more bearable.

I can't remember what day it was, but we were yet again tracting another street and tracted into this 90+ year old man. His hair was completely white, he didn't have any teeth, and he was living completely alone. We tried to talk to him, but he didn't speak Chinese he only spoke Taiwanese. We could pick up a little bit of what he was saying and just about guess the rest. He tried really hard to give us money saying that he lived alone and didn't need all that money for himself. We thanked him profusely, but told him to keep it for himself and continued tracting the street. He stood out on his porch or sometimes walked out into the middle of the street holding his can of change just watching us. When we were walking back to our bikes he stopped me and once again tried to give us some money. He ended up grabbing my hand and shoving a 50 kuai coin into my hand (just a little under two dollars) and wouldn't take it back. We thought about going back and giving it back, but felt awkward about it. So I now have this 50 kuai coin that will always remind me of the goodness of people. There are so many good people here and sometimes I forget that amid all the rejection and scorn. He was so willing to help us and even though he had every right to save for himself he was willing to give some of what he had to two American missionaries that he didn't even know. 

Really not much else happened this week. Huang Jiemei (the mom who brought her kids to church last week) came to church again this week! Sister Anderson and I walked into church and had quite a few LAs and RCs at church but no investigators. We were a little discouraged, but glad that we had some people come. Then during the opening prayer we heard the door open and someone start walking to some seats in the front. Sister Anderson and I both peeked to see who it was (hoping it was her). And it was! We were so happy.

We went and visited her Sunday night and finally finished teaching the first lesson. She's not quite ready to commit to baptism yet, but she has an open heart. She is willing to learn and listen, but just wants to understand a little more before she is willing to accept. Several of the members have already talked to me and mentioned that she seems like a person who will be really open to accepting the gospel. She loves the values that her kids are learning at church and loves that we focus so much on family. What is even more miraculous is that her mom is completely open to it too. 

The older generation here is very traditional and don't like the idea of their family members breaking from tradition. Their culture here also includes the children having the responsibility to bai their parents and ancestors to help them in the afterlife. The parents are afraid that if their children become Christian they won't give them the respect and help they need when they are spirits.

Anyway I hope that we can continue working with her and that nothing happens to allow the interest she has now to go away. She leaves for China in a couple of months, so we need to use the time that we have the best we can.

Of course Shao Jie came to church again this Sunday, but I was so proud of her because she fasted! She didn't even need us to remind her. We went to go meet with her and she brought it up and asked us exactly what she needed to do. She is incredible and continues to amaze me!

We've also been able to meet with some new LAs. Sometimes LAs are really frustrating. They know what they need to do, they just don't want to do it. We do have some awesome ones that have extenuating circumstances that prevent them from coming to church very often etc, but most of them are just lazy. 

We have been focusing on a Ju Jiemei lately and try to visit her at her barber shop when she doesn't have customers. The few times I have visited her she has almost bragged about not coming to church and being less active, but says that she has a lot of faith. So the next lesson we had with her I shared the scripture in the Bible that says "faith without works is dead." She laughed...because she knew she wasn't doing anything. 

Then we found a new LA who was offended by a member and won't come back. We tried to teach her, but she kept saying she didn't wan't to accept "Mo'ermen Jiao," but she already has.

We've seen these two on the streets several times and they try really hard to avoid us. It might just be that I'm a little stubborn, but I don't want to let them crawl into the wood work again. They are frustrating sometimes, but they are precious children of God. They had testimonies once and have just forgotten it. I hope maybe if we show them that we really do care about them and are trying to help them they might be willing to come back.

We also have an LA that we go visit every Sunday afternoon who we are currently trying to get to stay for more than just one hour of church. She always pulls out the excuse that her husband will yell at her if she stays too long. This week though she also talked about how on Sunday the vegetables and food she goes and buys is all sold out at the market by the time church is over. After she said that Sister Anderson and I paused for a little bit, not knowing quite how to start, then taught her about what keeping the Sabbath Day really includes. We tried to invite her to not buy anything on Sunday and she continued to make a bunch of excuses, one of which being a particular vegetable is only sold on Sunday so she has no other time to buy it. It was an interesting lesson, and we got pretty blunt again. 

After that lesson Sister Anderson and I were talking about how so many of the prophesies in the scriptures are fulfilled today. We were talking about how our LA was complaining that our church has so many commandments that other Christian churches have, and that the world is flattering people away from the truth. And then there's the story of Zezrom who believes he is a man of learning and denies Christ, wanting a sign before he is willing to believe. We have been coming across so many similar instances and really are seeing the scriptures being fulfilled.

I'm finding that recently I've had to confront and say things to people that I never thought I would say to someone in my life.I hate that we have to sometimes, but other times its really satisfying. We are literally crying repentance to the people.

And that's about it, and on a more positive note we have a lot of potential investigators. We have several people that we need to go back and visit or get in touch with that we have contacted recently. We're hoping some of these people will stick with us so we can find some new investigators. Almost all of the investigators we had before have dropped, so we are back to square one in finding new people to teach.

I almost forgot about another Sunday miracle we had! We have a Sister in our ward named Lu Jiemei. She is Vietnamese and has been a member for just over a year. She is incredible and she and her husband are so good to the missionaries. We go over there for FHE a lot and share with her family. Her husband isn't a member, and I'm not quite sure why. Every time we have gone over and talked about the scriptures he is right here participating in the discussion and sounds like a member.

We were sitting in Sacrament meeting and only had about ten minutes left when Lu Jiemei's husband walks in with their little daughter and sat down in one of the empty chairs in front of us. Lu Jiemei was sitting in front of us so I saw her face when she turned around and saw her husband walk into church. She was shocked and amazed. She moved over to sit by her husband and was just glowing for the rest of church. As far as the missionaries know he has never come to church before this week. I know Lu Jiemei is an incredible example to her family and hope and pray for her that her husband will some day be willing to be baptized, hopefully this Sunday was just the beginning.

I also forgot to tell you last week...don't be mad...but I bought a violin! I've been dying without one and have wanted to find one to just play for a few minutes. Then a couple of weeks ago Yeh Jiemei emailed me telling me there was a violin in Gangshan on sale for 4500 kuai (about $120). So she helped me buy it and brought it down during the baptism. Sister Yeh's new companion bought one too and says its actually a really good violin for the price. I'm so excited! I never realized how much I would miss it until I didn't have it anymore. Hopefully it can be a tool for helping our members and those we teach feel the spirit.

Anyway I love you all, my time is about up. But I did get your package and absolutely loved it! I love those pictures of Jemma. They are now up on my wall and make me smile every time. I can't wait to talk to you! Have a great week!

There's another miracle just around the corner!

Sister Fernley