Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Companion, New Streets, New People, New Ways of Doing Missionary Work

So I got all caught up on Sister Fernley's blog last week, and then I promptly fell behind again. Sheesh. Anway, here's her message from last Sunday.

Hello to all! 

I hope this week was a good one and you were all happy. It looks like its really nice outside back home. I can't tell you how much I miss dry heat! It is a little better up here in Taizhong (yes that is Taichung, that's the incorrect english transliteration for the city name, most are written strangely). In Qishan I was always wet, whether it be from rain or from sweat, most often it was sweat. It's disgusting. 

Anyway this week has been an interesting week that flew by like normal. I'm sure you know, but it is always interesting moving into a new area. You have a new companion, new streets, new people, even a new way of doing missionary work. I think it is going to take me a little while to get used to what works best in this area. You mentioned before that I said I thought proselyting in the city would be easier. I think it might be, but this week seemed pretty much the same to me. I'm not biking as much, and there are a lot more people to contact, but they are a lot more prone to ignoring you here. Its fine. I'm used to it. I just keep talking to them anyway, maybe its partly being stubborn, but I never want to let their unwillingness to listen stop me from sharing. Maybe something, someday will spark their attention. For now I just keep sharing.

For the most part though we don't do any contacting or tracting. (Which is a big change for me.) I talked to Sister Schultz about it and I think we are going to try to do more, but most of the new investigators here come from english class or member referrals. 

Speaking of investigators we have a few people who have a lot of potential to progress in the gospel. There is a 14 or 15 year old girl who is incredible. She was taught the Restoration and prayer before I got here, so we picked up with the Plan of Salvation. Most of the time people are really confused or don't quite wrap their minds about what we are talking about, but she just gets it, and best of all she feels it. She really wants to be baptized, but her mom told her she should wait. So we moved her date back and decided that we wanted to work with her and get to know her mom so that she's not so worried and knows who we are. We don't want to cause any family contention if we can avoid it.

We also have another lady, Zhang Jiemei, who I met on my first day (so I don't know her super well, or remember much), but she believes the Book of Mormon and also has a strong desire to be baptized, but she has a really hard time coming to church. We're working on it. We'll meet with her tonight, so I'll get to know her a little better. 

Then there is a sister named Zou Jiemei. We helped her move this week out of one of our member's houses (she was rooming there in a spare room). I haven't gotten to teach her a lesson yet, but hopefully now that she's moved she will have a little more time. Sister Schultz says she feels like she believes, she just needs to grow her faith. When we asked her is she was coming to church she told us if she was too tired she wouldn't come. Miraculously she showed up and stayed for the whole time. 

 They also have an investigator here who is Phillipino. I've actually heard of her from other missionaries. She has read the whole Book of Mormon and has stronger faith than anyone I have ever seen, but she is forbidden to get baptized because the family she works for doesn't approve. It is really sad sometimes to see how the Phillipinos are treated by Taiwanese. They are pretty much indentured servants. She meets with us and Sister Blickenstaff when she is able to take the trash out. She will text us if she gets a chance to leave the house and we will drop what we are doing and go meet and a 7-11 near their house. She is incredible! I hope and pray with all my heart she will someday have the opportunity to be baptized. 

I almost forgot! We met with a member referral this week who was absolutely incredible! She studied english in college and her english is flawless. We actually taught most of the time in english (which still feels really weird). She told us her story about how she started believing in God. She said it was during High School and she just felt like she didn't have a purpose and didn't know what she was doing with her life. She said she thought about suicide, but one day she went to her kitchen and saw a Bible on their counter. She explained how there was no way they could have had a bible. Her whole family is very Buddhist and would never take a Bible, much less put it in their kitchen. She said she was curious so she opened it up and ran across a scripture that talked about praying to God to know if He exists. She figured she might as well try, so she prayed and asked God is He was there. She didn't really expect much to happen, but as soon as she finished she felt an enveloping warmth. From then on she has believed in God and is so willing to try reading the Book of Mormon and wants to learn more about Christianity so bad. We asked her if she would be willing to be baptized and she very emphatically said she would, if she comes to know this church is true. The spirit was so strong! I am always amazed when we find souls like hers. They are incredible and are so open to the truth. She actually doesn't live in our area, so we are going to try and refer her to the Beitun sisters this next week. (Because our area is so small, that is a pretty common occurence.) I'm just grateful I was able to hear her story. Every story and testimony from the people here strengthens my own testimony even more. Seeing people change changes us as well.

I got to call the Hong family last Monday night! (My RCs from Nantou.) They didn't recognize my voice, probably because my Chinese is a lot better now, and freaked out when I told them who I was. It was so good to talk to them and hear their voices. Hong Dixiong got the Melchizedek priesthood a little while ago and takes the sacrament to his wife when she is too sick to go to church (she's pregnant). They are still just as incredible as before, and now that I'm up north and closer to Nantou they might come up here for church and find me. It would be so good to see them again. 

Not much else happened this week. We did get contacted by another christian missionary from Louisiana. He tried to disprove the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith using the Bible. He asked us to read a scripture from Isiah for him, but we don't carry around our bibles (its too heavy to have an english and chinese bible to carry around). He told us to go home and read some from Isaiah and Romans. I haven't gotten through it yet, but part of it is condemning the Jews for corrupting the gospel. Then the parts from Isaiah he gave us are actually in the Book of Mormon too. We just promised him we would read it and were really nice. He was a very nice man, and is trying to do what he thinks is right. I'm just so grateful I have my own testimony and that I don't need logic to prove or disprove it because we know we can receive our answer from God. 

Its really interesting being right next to the mission home. We go into the office pretty frequently to pick things up or take care of things with the office missionaries. The office elders and the assistants are technically in our district. Elder Noll (who was in my district in Nantou) is the operations manager and our district leader. He and his companion are off taking care of other mission things a lot of the time, then the APs are very rarely in Taizhong because they travel with President and do a lot of exchanges. So other than us we have the zone leaders in our district. It is a crazy district full of really old (move-call wise) and really incredible missionaries. I am the youngest by at least five move-calls (about seven months). It should be a really good opportunity to learn from these experienced missionaries.

Its also strange being around this area. It brings back so many memories from my first few days on island. We run at the track we exercised at my first day in Taiwan. We are always in the church we did studies in the first morning. We teach english in the room we got exiled to while waiting to know who our trainers were. It's funny. It is crazy for me to think that that was about nine months ago. Time flies so fast. I hit my year mark next month. I know I still have a lot of time, but time keeps ticking by and I don't want this time to end. So I'm going to try and treasure the time I have left. 

We actually had interview with President this last week (it was really nice, we just walked biked down the street to our church). He asked me about the areas I've served in and after I told him I was in Nantou then Qishan he told me I was due for some city time. So I'm expecting to be here for a little while, at least three move calls. It was really nice to talk to him. He said he wasn't worried about me and that he thought I was doing a great job, which is nice to hear sometimes. It's kind of fun being in this area, because we run into President all the time. Sister Blickenstaff peikes for us and calls us on errands all of the time. If she had assistants it would probably be the Beiqu sisters. I guess it just comes with the calling of serving here. 

I've loved being here this week! It's hard adjusting to a new area and leaving the old area, but I couldn't be in a better area or with a better companion. I have been so lucky with my companions and have loved every single one of them. Sister Schultz is an incredible missionary! We clicked really quickly and are already able to talk about anything together. She had a hard past couple of move-calls so I am so glad we've started off well this move-call. I firmly believe we will see so many miracles this move call.

I love you all SO much! You don't even know. I'm so grateful for your support and your email every week. Jemma looks like she is having fun as always. Her hair is so long! We'll have to go to Boondocks when I get home (we'll have to add it to the list). 

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

I love you!

Sister Fernley

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Move to the Big City!

And with this post, I'm officially caught up on Sister Fernley's blog! Big changes this week--new area and new companion. She is now in Taizhong and excited to experience missionary work in a city setting. FYI: Taizhong=Taichung--apparently we spell it wrong in America :)

My dear family!

I am now writing you from Taizhong! That's right...I got moved up north! After an hour bus ride and a two and a half hour train ride I am finally here! I'm actually serving in the area that our mission home is in, so that will be interesting. My district actually has the other office missionaries in it, and we will probably be seeing a lot more of President and Sister Blickenstaff. It should be fun. The area is called the Beiqu area of Taizhong. My new companion is Sister Schultz from Oregon and she already seems awesome. This is her last move-call, so I'll be "killing her off," and will probably be here for at least two move-calls.

I am so excited for this new opportunity to serve in Taizhong, but I was really sad to leave Qishan. I love that area so much. I have grown so much and learned so much because of that area and the people I met there. Sister Anderson will probably be there for another move-call and I know that she will do great and see so many miracles in the coming weeks. 

I feel like I'm going to be in a little bit of culture shock for the next week or so. Haha. I am now in my first city area and it is in the middle of the city no less. This area is also one of the smallest areas in our mission. Nantou and Qishan were both enormous! I never had to worry about going out of my area, but I hear that in this area you can bike from one end to the other in about fifteen minutes. It will be an adventure that's for sure. I'm so excited and know that I will be able to learn so much here. I finally get to learn how to be a city missionary!

With all the excitement of move call I can't even remember what happened this past week, and I forgot my planner from last move call so I can't even look to spark my memory. Oh well...I'll try my best.

As far as your questions go this week was incredible! Heavenly Father really has been so merciful to us and has allowed us to see so many miracles. This week we were able to set a baptismal goal with Cai jiemei (who did come to the last hour of church again this week) and zi yu (the nine year old). 

We went over to Cai jiemei's and had decided to teach about reading, praying, and coming to church and focus the lesson on how these things help us develop our faith and our belief in God and Christ. We shared a few scriptures then started asking her what she felt and if she believed in God. Her reply was a little unexpected, but she exclaimed that she "really really believes!" We invited her to be baptized and she was a little worried about it being too close, but in the end she agreed to try for that goal and is now determined to be really dedicated in reading the Book of Mormon. She really has been a miracles and has progressed so much! I can't wait to hear about her progression in later weeks. 

I said we also set a date with Zi Yu and planned to ride our bikes with her to church so she could come (because her grandma doesn't come because of work), but they ended up having extended family come over Sunday morning so that plan fell through. Hopefully the sisters will be able to take her next week. 

I can't remember what day it was...friday? But we had almost everything fall through and by about four in the afternoon we still hadn't had any lessons. We did end up contacting that morning and were able to get a lot of numbers for potential investigators. Anyway, we were a little discouraged, but of course we kept going. Our evening lesson fell through as well, so we decided to find somewhere to go tract. As we were biking i saw a woman walking on the side of the road and knew I needed to contact her. I slammed on my breaks and when I turned around to look at her face I was it was Angel (the sister of one of the Elder's LAs). I had contacted her a few weeks ago and she was never home when we tried to go meet with her. She immediately invited us in and we were able to sit with her for a little bit. 

She told us about her brother and then went on a rant about why she stopped going to church (she's not a member). Basically one of our members hit her and she got really offended and wouldn't ever come back. I know the member she was talking about and I could never imagine him doing what she described, but i remembered a talk his wife gave a few weeks ago in sacrament meeting about how he used to not be a very good example. She described his condition and how it got so bad they were thinking of divorce. But then she talked about how this gospel has completely changed him, and all the blessings it has given their family.

So when Angel started talking about this experience I felt like i knew exactly what to share with her. I talked about what his wife had said and my own perception of this member and talked about how the gospel really can change us. When our time was about up we asked her to say the prayer. She talked to Heavenly Father and told Him how if what i said really was true then her perception toward this member had changed and that she hoped she could go back to church and see the gospel bless her family even more. It was a beautiful prayer, and I am so grateful i had listened during church (sometimes its really tempting to write or read something else rather than listen to the speakers, but i always feel I'm going to miss the things I need to learn or the promptings of the spirit if I don't listen). So moral of the story....listen in church, it can bring miracles. 

Right after we met with Angel we had just enough time for one more lesson so we decided to try and go back to the investigator from 30 years ago that we had tracted into. I was really nervous about going back, afraid of rejection i guess, but we did, and she let us back in. We established more about what she still believes and why she met with missionaries in the first place. She still remembered how to pray and still believes Heavenly Father exists. She is incredible! I know the sisters can help her as they keep going back.

The guy who came to church last week didn't come again, but I have no doubt he will go again.

As for the rest of the week we had so many things happen and i don't even remember it all! We drank watermelon milk and ate doughnuts to celebrate the 4th of july, ate at the Food House (which I've wanted to go to since I got to Qishan, it felt like being back home. It was a little bit of a shock stepping back outside to taiwan), had an incredible english party with waterballoon sports, biked for an hour only to get stood-up and have to bike back, had a farewell barbecue with the members, sweated a lot, prayed a lot, and saw so many miracles.

And we have a new rule change!!! We can now take pictures on days other than Monday!!!!! (As long as it doesn't interfere with proselyting.) We were all so excited. So you can probably expect more pictures. I know that will make Nicole happy. :)

Speaking of pictures the ones you sent this week were so cool! It I were still with Sister Anderson she would have freaked out! Haha, she's a huge Lord of the Rings fan. It looked like a lot of fun! I kind of want to go to something like that when I get home just to see. 

I'm so glad to hear about all the happenings back home and how you are helping the ward, our neighborhood, and even just our family grow closer to the Savior. It really is the most important thing that we can do here on Earth. We are here to strengthen each other, lift others up, and be lifted up in turn by those around us. We have the most precious gift we could ever ask for, we should be willing to do all we can to share it with others. 

Well I love you all and can't wait to hear from you next week and tell you how my fist week in the city goes! Pray that I won't get hit by a bus, and that I won't be in too much culture shock. Haha.

As always keep your heads up and remember there's always another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Limes and Coconuts

Looks like the sisters were able to put their sickles from the previous week's photo shoot to good use… Here is Sister Fernley's message from 6/29.

Dear Family,

I loved your emails this week! It looks like Jemma's fort is a blast and that Dad did a great job on it. Playing in the sprinklers looked like fun (and the picture was so cool!), and Jemma's collection is pretty fun. It sounds like you are all happy.

So dad was confused about relationships of some of the people I talk about. Sorry for not being very clear. Huang Dixiong and Cai Jiemei are married. Here the wives don't take on their husband's last name unless they are members of the church. Huang Jiemei is a completely different investigator. 

To answer your other questions we haven't made a card or sent it to President yet. I think we should though. He'd get a kick out of it. As far as the language is going, its not what I worry about the most anymore, but it is always a trial. I'm pretty comfortable in my speaking ability now, but I think Chinese is going to be a lifelong endeavor. Lately I've been focusing more on learning characters to try and learn how to read better, because I'm pretty much illiterate when it comes to reading. That's one thing about chinese, you can learn how to say a word and what it means, but reading it has no relationship to how its pronounced like english. Anyway, its an eternal process, but for the most part I don't have to worry about it that much.

As for this week, it was rough, but we still saw miracles and had some good times together. On Monday we decided to put the song to the test and "put the lime in the coconut." I don't know how the idea started, I think it was Sister Anderson who mentioned it. It was probably the most entertaining 30 minutes I've had in a long time. Maybe we need different kinds of coconuts, but it didn't taste very good. You could taste the lime more than anything else. 

Later on that evening we held an FHE at one of our member's houses and were able to have an investigator come. She is one of the sisters that was referred by one of the families in our ward. She is incredible and just like our other referral (from the same family) she is looking for the truth and hasn't been able to find it in the other churches she's gone to. But because of going to so many other churches she has a lot of questions that we're going to have to address. It's going to take her longer to be ready to accept baptism, but I have no doubt that she will someday. She actually doesn't live in our area, but wants to come to our church in Qishan. She didn't want us to refer her to the other missionaries. We asked President Blickenstaff about it and he wants us to try. We're a little sad about not being able to teach her anymore, but we hope we can help her still be willing to meet with the sisters in her area. 

As far as the rest of our investigators go, they're still hanging in there, but not a ton of progress at the moment. We are continuing to try and help them receive their own testimony and have those spiritual experiences that will develop their faith. Cai Jiemei actually came to the third hour of church yesterday! But to our disappointment the third hour was combined and we ended up just listening to the members plan a ward activity and talk about a missionary farewell. I felt really bad, she was really confused and looked really bored. (We weren't able to sit next to her because all the seats got taken.) Oh well, we are praying really hard that that didn't turn her off of coming to church. We were really excited to see her. 

We also had another unexpected person show up at church yesterday. There was a couple that we contacted a couple of weeks ago that gave us their number and said we could go visit them. We've called, but they would never answer. The brother actually hangs out with a bunch of people every morning at the track we run at and has talked to us a few times telling us he couldn't find the church, or that he was going to come to church on Sunday. Incredibly he actually came! We were sitting in sacrament meeting when a member came up behind us and told us someone was waiting outside for us. We went out and found him sitting on the couch waiting for us. He seemed a little worried about his clothes being too sloppy and worriedly asked us if people would laugh at him. We assured him they wouldn't and invited him in. He stayed for most of sacrament meeting then told us he had to leave and walked out. Then about half way through our gospel principles class he showed back up at the church and walked into the class wearing cleaner, nicer clothes and newly combed hair. It was cute. He actually left to get better dressed then came back for more of church. Hopefully we can get a hold of them and visit them both. It his wife doesn't meet with us we'll have to have the elders teach him.

A few days ago we traveled out to one of our farther areas (I hadn't been there before this week) to meet with someone the elders contacted a few weeks ago on the street. They told us she was a little crazy, but that we could still try. We ended up sitting with her briefly and she is a little bit crazy, but willing to learn. She told us she was like she is because her brain was taken out and put back in her head a month later. The real story (which we got from her mom) is that she fell and hit her head which caused complications. Her mom isn't too excited about the idea that if her daughter accepts our religion she won't be able to worship their ancestors, but is willing to let us teach her and help her become a better person. 

The rest of our week we were able to meet with some members which was great! I was able to get to know some members I didn't know very well. I love hearing their stories and their testimonies. Because missionaries have only been in Taiwan for about 50 years most everyone is a first generation convert. Their stories are incredible and I respect their faith and their strength in the gospel so much.

The past couple of days we have had a couple of miracles that have boosted our spirits a lot. We've been trying to find new investigators like crazy and nothing has seemed to happen. Saturday night we ended up  not being able to visit an investigator as planned, so we decided to try contacting at the night market here in Qishan. There ended up not being very many people and everyone we talked to seemed especially rude. By the time we decided to go back to our bikes we were both ready to cry. As we started biking off I thought that we should tract the houses along that street. I've thought that before when we were in that area, but we had an appointment so I figured we could go back later. This time we had nothing else to do, so we stopped and tracted.

The second door we knocked on ended up being a former investigator from thirty years ago. She let us in and we were able to get to know her and her niece and nephew who happened to be there. She was really nice and we taught again about prayer. We aren't sure if she is super interested, but we are going to try and go back and see if she will be willing to listen again. At the least it boosted our spirits for the night.

Then last night we were riding to where we planned to tract at the end of our day when Sister Anderson asked me if I had tracted the street we were riding by before. She said she thought we should tract it sometime, so we decided to change our plans and tract it then. A few houses down the street we tracted into this lady who told us that she didn't really have any time. Most the time that's just an excuse, but I still asked her if there was a more convenient time we could come back. She glanced at her calendar and told us we could come back tonight at 7:30. We were more than happy to agree and will see what happens tonight.

I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has allowed us to see these small miracles. Our faith has been a little low and we've been really discouraged, but He has lifted us up and has helped us see His hand helping us in this work. I can't wait to see what miracles are in store this week.

I don't have a lot of time left, but I love you all and am so happy you are all doing so well. I'm grateful I've had the opportunity to serve here in Qishan. This area has taught me so much and I know I needed it to become the missionary the Lord wants me to become. The work is hard sometimes, but it was never meant to be easy. It's the hard things that build us the most. I'm grateful for all I've learned and for how blessed I have been.

I know the Lord loves us. I know Heavenly Father loves us. They will never leave us alone.

They will always provide another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

"The field is white already to harvest"

Or perhaps that should be the field is green already to harvest. Sister Fernley continues to do well (and I continue to try to keep up on her blog…). Here is her message from June 22.

Dear family,

I was so glad to get your emails and read about how you are doing. It sounds like you've been having a lot of fun lately. Everything seemed so simple, but I think its the simple things that mean the most. 

I forgot to tell Dad happy Father's Day last week! I hope it was a good day and that you felt loved and appreciated (which you should everyday). I love you so much and am so grateful for everything you do for all of us. I honestly couldn't have asked for better parents or a better family. I am grateful for you everyday.

This week has been a little rough. We spent a lot of our time traveling so we ended up with very little lessons, but we were able to learn a lot and know what we can do to become better missionaries.

On Monday Sister Anderson and I went and took pictures with one of our RCs. For the past month I've had this vision of the pictures that we could take. We bike around rice fields all day and lately they have all been being harvested. (Just so you know Farmville is correct. Rice is an extremely fast growing crop. A field could be harvested one week and then two weeks later there's about six or seven inches of growth again. It amazes me every time, and popular to common belief they are not completely flooded with water all of the time.) Anyway, so the rice fields have been ready to harvest and I remember Dad telling me about when he was on his mission and ran across a wheat field that had been half harvested and they took pictures in front of both sides. So I told Sister Anderson and we decided we wanted to try and replicate that, just the Asian version. As you can tell by the pictures we went to the local dongxi store (pretty much an everything store) and bought sickles. We had planned on doing it after we went to FoGuanShan the other week, but it started raining. We told our RC and one of our members about what we wanted to do and they thought it was hilarious  so they were gracious enough to help us out. We were both pretty proud at the outcome. We think we should make a card and send it to President Blickenstaff with the scripture from D&C 4 at the bottom. "For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation unto his soul."

Anyway, we were able to meet with one of our member referrals earlier this week and she is incredible! She technically doesn't live in our area, but our chapel is closer than the one in her area. A family in our ward referred her and one other sister to us several weeks ago, but we had never had an opportunity to set up with her until last week. They have both been coming to church for several weeks and have loved it! 

So we met with one of the sisters at the church and shared the Restoration video with her and gave her a Book of Mormon. We asked her if she would be willing to be baptized and she immediately said yes! She told us about how she has been going to several other Christian churches, but none of them ever seemed right. She says in ours it just feels....right. She is desperately hoping to find the peace and the fullness of the gospel. She talked about how when she goes to Bai the Buddhist gods she never felt like she knew who she was praying to or what she was asking for. We had an incredible member there with us who was baptized just over two years ago and they both just clicked. Our member testified like crazy and our investigator just poured out her desires. Sister Anderson and I just sat back and watched, putting our two cents in every once in a while. It was so awesome! 

Then on Sunday the other sister who was referred by the same family came up to us and set up her own time to meet and hear the missionary lessons! These two are incredible and I truly believe that they will be baptized. I'm praying that nothing happens along the road, because right now they are so golden. I don't know if I will be able to see them through the teaching process (I have a very large possibility of moving in a couple of weeks), but I'm so grateful I've had the privilege of knowing them and getting them started on the road to baptism. 

Sunday we were also able to get Cai Jiemei and Huang Dixiong to church! Okay...they came for five minutes, but at least its improvement. We've been calling them like crazy and asking if they were going to come. I guess they went to Gaoxiong that day so they stopped by on their way out. They were able to hear the sacrament hymn and took the bread then left. It was a little ridiculous, but I am just glad we actually got them to the church. Hopefully next week we will be able to have them there for longer. I also called them a few days ago and asked about praying and reading and Cai Jiemei said she had read a little bit! I was so excited! Its been weeks where they have showed no progress and we have considered dropping them. But now there's hope! 

Huang Jiemei continues to come to church faithfully every week with her kids. We were a little stumped with what to do with her, because they weren't doing much else and we've taught prayer and the Book of Mormon a million times to them, but the same day I called to follow up with Cai Jiemei I called Huang Jiemei and she said they pray every night as a family! 

These are all really small things, but are giant miracles to us. Small progress is more than we had before. A few other miracles we saw this week were:
-Shao Jie passed her temple recommend interview on Sunday. She was so nervous, but was awesome. She even asked the Bishop how she is supposed to magnify her calling! She hopes she can go to the temple in August with the other youth.
-Cai Jiemei (not our investigator, an LA we meet with every week) got a calling and is now going to have to come to church for the full three hours! She counts as a rescued LA now.
-One of the young men in our ward got his mission call this week to.....Provo, Utah! That's the equivalent of us going from Utah to Taiwan. Most Taiwanese missionaries stay in Taiwan. He's super excited and is the first missionary in his family. His parents were practically beaming at church the other day.

We had Zone Conference this Thursday and have had some big changes in how we are going to have to do missionary work. President was really concerned about our whole mission not having very many baptisms or baptismal goals and decided to re-evaluate our rules. I think I told you a couple weeks ago about the numbers we report every week (about our number of RC, LA, and investigator lessons). Well now we are expected to visit three active members a week. President said that was an expectation not a standard to shoot for. If we get zero President will call us personally to see what happened. Then our RC and LA lessons are now required to have an active member present or else we can't count them and report them at the end of the week. 

I know this is all probably pretty boring, but we are really nervous about this in Qishan. We struggle enough as it is getting member present investigator lessons. Adding RC, LA and member lessons to that is going to be really hard. I can see the benefits in it and we are trying to have faith and do what our President has asked of us. I guess they tried this out in one of the Taizhong zones and every other aspect of missionary work improved. So we're going to need your prayers. This could either be the best thing that every happened to Qishan as far as member missionary work, or it could completely turn the members against us. We're hoping for the first. :)

Friday we were able to go on exchanges with the Tainan sisters. I stayed in Qishan with Sister Tung again and Sister Anderson finally got to go to Tainan. It was fun working with Sister Tung again. She actually goes home in a couple of weeks, so it was really fun to get to talk to her about her mission, her feelings about going home, and all that she's learned on her mission. We talked a lot about companions and what a difference good companions make. I have been extremely lucky and have had incredible companions that I have loved so much. I've been given some hard areas (Sister Tung told me they are probably the first and third most rural areas sisters can go to in our mission), but because of my companions it has all been bearable. I have loved the time I've had so far! I've learned so much and grown in ways I never thought possible. It really has been the best decision I have ever made to come out here.

That's pretty much the happenings of this week. I got the sheet music from grandma (thanks grandma! I'm sure she'll read this). 

I loved what Nicole shared with me about David in her email. Faith really is such a pure attribute. It is full of power greater than we often realize. This morning I was actually able to read Alma chapter 8 again, which is the chapter that got me through my third move-call in Nantou. That chapter isn't focused on as much as others, but it has a special place in my heart now. I love how Alma, after he's rejected in Ammonihah then is told by an angel to go back, immediately obeys and returns to the city. This is a city where he was spit on, laughed at, mocked, and thrown out; but he still went back. He, like David, had such strong faith in the Lord and our Heavenly Father. I love what is says in verse 16, it reads, "And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them." Preach unto them. That's all that we can do. We teach, bear testimony and have faith that the Spirit will touch their hearts and they will be willing to learn more. Alma and David had incredible faith. They did not doubt. I only hope I can come to have a sliver of such faith. 

I love you all so much, and am so grateful for your support. I love my mission. I love my family. I love this gospel. I love my Savior. 

As always, there is always a miracle just around the corner. Sometimes the Lord pushes us to our limits, but then shows forth His hand in providing miracles...after we have walked forth with faith.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Dogs and Go Green

Yes, I've been slacking horribly lately and haven't posted Sister Fernley's letters or pictures for awhile. Here is her letter from 6/15:

Hello my dear family!

I'm so glad that you all got to Idaho safely and are having a good time. I hope Jemma has a blast with cousins and that all are happy and enjoying family time. I loved all the pictures (as usual). The black and white is really fun.

I'm sending a ton of pictures through dropbox. Last Monday Sister Anderson and I went to FoGuangShan with two of our members (one is one of our RCs). Apparently they have Budda's finger and tooth preserved inside somewhere, but we didn't have time to go see. One of our members was talking to me when we went inside and saw the place where everyone will go and worship and bai bai. The last time she had gone there was about two years ago (right before she was baptized). She said last time she went and bai baied, but she was really excited to tell me that this time she isn't going to bai and worship the Buddhist gods. It was a really simple thing, but I was so proud of her. It showed me how much this gospel can change people, and really how much they have to change here. Christianity is such a foreign concept for many of these people.Its hard for them to wrap their heads around the possibility of only one God and a loving God at that. 

I truly respect the Taiwanese people so much. They are all so devoted to their religion. They respect family and stay with their culture and tradition more than any other people I have seen. But so many aspects of Buddhism or Daoism are completely opposite of Christianity that it often feels strange to me. Here the color red is a symbol of worship and happiness. Every night while we are riding home we can look out over the rice fields and see glowing red lights in everyone's attics (most people put their shrines up there). It's hard for me to imagine that that is comforting and a place of peace for the people here, because to me it is so foreign and frankly is a little creepy. I'm so grateful that I was privileged enough to be born into this gospel, to know that we have a Heavenly Father who is a LOVING father. He is kind, merciful, and knows each and every one of His children. What greater comfort could we have? What greater blessing could we have than to know the true character of God? And because we have such a great blessing why would we refrain from sharing it with all those around us?

This week we had a really good plan that even if only most of it worked out we would have been able to hit mission standards, but as most weeks have been going lately most everything fell through. Even despite all our set backs we were still able to do pretty well, and even though our plans didn't turn out the way we would have liked we were given many things to laugh about to give us the happiness and hope to carry on. The Lord really does pour out His tender mercies small they may be.

There was one day we ended up eating lunch at the 7-11 (a common occurance). I glanced over my shoulder at a movement behind me and didn't really register what I saw. As I did a double take I realized there was a dog lying down in the middle of the aisle behind us. I casually nudged Sister Anderson and said, "there's a dog." I don't think she believed me at first, but then she looked back and we both started laughing. At first I thought he belonged to one of the customers in the store and kept waiting for him to walk out with his owner, but after about ten minutes everyone that was in the store before had already left and the dog was still there. I guess he decided it was too hot outside so he just walked through the sliding doors into the 7 to take a nap. I think the funniest thing about it is that the workers and other customers didn't care. If we were in America the dog would be kicked out as soon as discovered. Here everyone just laughs and goes on with their business. The dog was in the store for about an hour. He would get up and walk outside then decide it was better inside and would come back in for a few more minutes. About the time we were ready to leave he decided it was time to go and very nonchalantly walked out and went down the street to go back home. 

The day before the dog in the 7 we were walking down a street contacting when one of the elder's LAs (the guy who always wears plaid pants) pulled up by us asking where I bikes were. We made small talk for a minute then as he was pulling back into the street and started driving down the street he called to us, "keep the faith!" But in his Taiwanese accent it sounded more like "keep the face!" Surprisingly I've remembered that all week and at times when we are feeling a little discouraged it reminds me why we are here and that faith is what will pull us through. Faith is the answer to everything. It starts out small, but has a huge effect. 

We also survived several dog attacks this week, thanks to the protection and help of the Lord. We were going to try and visit You Jiemei (one of our RCs) when two dogs started chasing after Sister Anderson (who was in front). She started biking as fast as she could and I would have too on first instinct, but for some reason I thought that if I biked really slow the dogs wouldn't fall back and start chasing me as well. I did just that and it worked! They got tired of running after Sister Anderson, turned around and just stopped and watched me slowly bike by. I have no doubt that the Spirit was guiding me and Heavenly Father was loving enough to still a couple of dogs for me. 

Then later on in the week we were tracting, so our bikes were farther off, when we turned down a side street to tract some houses farther back from the road. We rang the doorbell at one and went to go farther down when this dog started charging out of the shadow toward us. We both wanted to run and started back when Sister Anderson stopped and said, "don't run." So we both turned around and started trying to walk as calmly as we could down the street. We kept our eyes forward and tried to ignore the snarling dog behind us. Miraculously the dog stopped running and simply stood in the middle of the street barking, and made no more effort to run after us.

I have never had more dog stories in my life! I swear all dogs have a missionary radar! They see the tag and instead of closing doors, curtly ignoring, or laughing like everyone else here they chase after us. If only it was the other way around, and the running being intended to talk to us instead of wanting to bite or hurt us. That would be great! 

Anyway as far as our investigators go we were actually able to meet with them a lot this week. Most weeks our LA or RC lessons are the most, but this week we had a lot more other lessons. Not a lot of progress has happened yet, but we've been able to share a lot more and are trying to help them come closer to Christ and develop their own faith and desire to change.

We actually had an appointment with Huang jiemei for Wednesday. She had asked us before to ask our ward members to help her with some Go Green thing she does, but we didn't quite understand what she wanted us to talk to them about so she said we could come over and she would explain more. We thought it was going to be like any other lesson and we would still have time to teach so we asked Lu Jiemei (one of our members who went with us to FoGuangShan) to come with us.

We met Lu Jiemei and led her to the house, then as we walked in we were greeted by Huang Jiemei and about ten other people dressed suits and skirts. (The funny thing is the first thing that went through my head was "they're all wearing church clothes." Can you tell I'm a missionary?) Turns out it was their Go Green meeting and she had invited us over to hear their presentation. We felt super bad, because Lu Jiemei had come with us and probably didn't have a lot of time. We told her she could leave, but she was nice enough to stay and help us out. 

They actually asked us about our church and Lu Jiemei was able to talk about the Restoration and the basic beliefs of our church. Several of the people were there so we had a good discussion about religion for a few minutes. Then the conversation changed and we listened them talk about saving the world and their Go Green stuff for a while. It was getting about time for us to go when Lu Jiemei asked us when we needed to leave and if we were going to share a scripture. Thanks to her we were able to break into the conversation and have time to share a scripture. While we were listening to them talk about Go Green I was wracking my brains to figure out what to share and what scripture to share that would have some relation with what they were talking about. Luckily I remember the scripture  Ether 12:4 that talks about because we hope in God we can hope in a better world....perfect. So I shared that scripture and tied it in with their Go Green efforts and testified how because of God and the gospel we have hope and can improve our world. 

It was probably one of the most stressful spiritual shares I have done yet. I don't know why, but having a room full of professionals most probably at least twenty years older than me, dressed in fancy clothes, holding a Go Green convention terrified me. I didn't want to offend, go completely off topic, mess up with my Chinese etc., but I did want to testify and tell them what I knew of the gospel and how it really can bless our lives. Thankfully I had Sister Anderson and Lu Jiemei to my right smiling and supporting me every time I looked over. I got through my share and as I finished the whole room started applauding. It was hilarious! I have never been applauded for a spiritual share before, so I can cross that one off the bucket list now. Then as we stood up to leave everyone in the room stood up to bid us farewell. It felt really weird, and it felt really nice to go to our next appointment and sit down in a normal, informal lesson. I felt a lot more in my element, but was glad I had the chance to testify.

We were able to meet with our LAs granddaughter the other day and pretty much just reviewed the first lesson on the Restoration. She remembers most things from when her brother was taught by the missionaries. She is so excited to be baptized and I believe that she could be a great example to her family. We showed her the picture from the pamphlets of the first vision and she asked which one was Christ. We both pointed to the one on the right because that's the only way we can tell which is which in the picture. She grabbed the pamphlet and closely inspected it and replied, "oh yes, because the one on the left has a longer beard. It must be Heavenly Father." So our nine year old investigator can now differentiate between the two by the length of their beards.

Cai Jiemei and her husband still haven't come to church. We are going to try and go to their door next Sunday morning. We have some Word of Wisdom issues to work with with Cai Jiemei, but they both say they get really happy when we come over so we know they are feeling the Spirit. 

We met with Wang Jiemei again at her work and invited her to be baptized. She brought up the concern of already having been baptized (into the Baptist church), but didn't say no. She just wants to understand more before she takes that step.

Aside from that we are going to try and get a hold of several potential investigators that canceled our appointments this week and will continue to hope the Lord puts more prepared souls in our paths.

I love you all and pray for you every day. I'm so grateful for you and for your support. I know that with faith in the Lord we can do all things!

As always, there's another miracle just around the corner.

With all my love, 
Sister Fernley

ps. tell Jemma I would love any flower as long as she picked it. My other favorite color besides green is blue and that I love her more than I can say. Infinity and beyond!