Sunday, August 31, 2014

Training, training, training...

Sister Fernley's message from 24 August:

Dear Family,

It was so good to hear from you! This week has seemed longer than usual. You all mentioned the missionaries that passed away this last week in your emails. They were two elders in the Taibei mission. We aren't completely sure about the circumstances, but pray for their families and for the safety of the rest of the missionaries in Taiwan. It is sad to lose loved ones, but I know that those elders were doing the best work they possibly could have. They were dedicating their time to the Lord and I know that they are continuing their missions on the other side. They will always be there helping us continue our work of preaching the gospel.

Honestly I can't remember much of what happened this week. A lot of our investigator are disappearing or didn't have time this week, so we focused a lot on contacting and finding. As a result we ended up finding three new investigators! (Yea! I haven't done that for a while.) Then sadly only one of them actually lives in our once again we will pass them off to the other sisters. But good news is we have been getting a lot of referrals as well lately. 

I talked a few weeks ago about our "no companionship left behind" week. The week where we got left behind. Haha. We were talking about it in DTM the week after and Elder Vandiford (our old AP who just went home) told us that what goes around comes around. He was right. We've been getting more referrals lately than I have gotten my whole mission combined. It's great! Hopefully we can contact some of them who will be willing to hear the gospel.

That's pretty much it for this week honestly. For a while I felt like I was killing my area again. It seems like every time my companion moves out and I'm given the responsibility of leading the area everything just drops. It's annoying. But it always picks up again, so I'm just waiting for the miracles to start happening. They're just around the corner. ;)

Aside from not much happening as far as investigators, new investigators etc. go, it has been really cool working with Sister Murdock this week. I remember when I was training my trainer told me that it was really cool to see a new missionary open up and start getting the hang of missionary work. Now it's my turn to watch that happen. It has been incredible to watch from the other side and see what I must have looked like a little less than a year ago. 

Sister Murdock is incredible! She is doing so great, and she doesn't even know it. She has just been soaking everything in and has been trying so hard to do what she can to help me out. I am so grateful for her spirit and for her effort to do her best. She is doing a lot better than I was at this point. By this time in my training I had already broke down because of stress, couldn't sing most of the hymns during companionship study because they made me emotional, and already didn't like my bike much. Sister Murdock tells me everyday how much she loves her bike, hasn't broken down yet, and got her first phone number on the street the other day. She says it was only because that person spoke english, but I don't believe it. 

It has been really interesting this week, because I've had to kind of test out the waters and see what my trainee can take. You have to find a balance and figure out how much you can push them so that they are pushed out of their comfort zone, but aren't pushed too far that they break. It's like a science. But with Sister Murdock it's not that hard, because she will tell me when she doesn't want to do something. Usually when that happens I will give an example a few times (like with contacting, or calling on a phone) then turn it over to her. She's doing great, and after occurrences like this usually tells me afterward how fun it was, or how it wasn't as scary as she thought it was. She is going to be a great missionary. She is already so focused on our investigators, and is always ready to give suggestions on different ways to try and teach, contact or find investigators to teach. It's been a privilege to work with her and I can't wait to see what happens this next three months.

This week I did have the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with one of the members from Qishan. She was up in Taizhong and got a hold of me and Sister Anderson (who is now a sister training leader up here) and we went out to lunch. It was a little bit strange being with my old companion with one of our members from our old area. I was thinking about it after and realized how much I love this place. I was telling Sister Murdock that after you are here for a while and move to a few areas every time you see old companions or members from your old areas it's like back-to-school night. I feel like over the past year I have created my own family here in Taiwan; all the missionaries I have worked with and around, President and Sister Blickenstaff, the senior missionaries, the members, the investigators....everyone. They have all made this island a place that I love.

This member, Tu Jiemei, even gave me and Sister Anderson the little book she made with pictures of us with the members and activities we had in Qishan. She put all these pictures in them and had members from the ward write in them. It is probably one of my favorite things I've gotten in Taiwan. I think I've pulled it out almost every day, and tried to read as much as I could (most of it is in Chinese). The members in Qishan are so incredible. I loved working with them and building friendships with them. I can only hope that Sister Murdock and I can do the same in this ward in Beiqu.

Sorry this email is shorter than normal. I honestly don't know what else to talk about, and have a shortage of profound thoughts today. 

I know this gospel is true. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know He loves us. I know He loves me because He gave me the family that I have. He loves me because He sent me to Nantou, to Qishan and not to Beiqu. He gave me my incredible companions. He gave me this opportunity to learn Chinese. He gives me my challenges and my trials because He knows who He wants me to become. He has given me a life where I could grow up in the church, which is the greatest gift of all.

I love you all and pray for you everyday. I couldn't do this without you. 

Remember, there is always a miracle just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Crazy week in Taichung

Here is Sister Fernley's message from August 18:

Dearest family,

This week has been absolutely crazy! The new missionaries actually ended up coming a day later than expected. Apparently church travel forgot to tell President and Sister Blickenstaff about the change in plans, so they went and waited at the airport for about three hours before they figured out what was going on. 

Sister Schultz and I were supposed to have some of the new sisters stay at our apartment that night, so we had gotten some beds prepared and tried to get as much sleep as we could until they arrived. Our alarm ended up going off at four in the morning (we had forgot to change the alarm from when we went to the temple) and we both jumped up, afraid we had slept through the call, but they hadn't called us yet. We went out to our living room to see if they had sneaked them in without us knowing...there were no missionaries out there either. So around seven we called the assistants, worried that something had happened. That's when we found out the missionaries were just coming in a day later than planned.

So....Thursday night the new sisters came in and we ended up having all four of the american sisters staying with us. It was the weirdest situation. Sister Schultz and I knew that I would be training, and that one of the sisters that would be staying with us for the next couple of days would end up being my companion, but we couldn't say anything. We didn't want the sisters to find out. 

We ended up doing the morning exercises with the new missionaries, which was painful the second time around as well. Sister Schultz and I opted out of running bleachers the second day. Lately I've been waking up every morning feeling like I got hit by a truck, and I figured I did that once I didn't need to do it again. Some privileges come with getting 'old.' 

Anyway, things were pretty crazy with trying to get Sister Schultz packed and ready to go without letting the new missionaries know as well as getting ready for my new trainee. But the time finally came and Sister Murdock is now my knew companion. She is incredible. She doesn't need me to train her at all. She came here trained. She actually reminds me a lot of myself when I was training. She is nervous about the language, but is picking up on it so fast. I kept expecting to have to deal with some stress or help her through a break-down, but she hasn't even gotten close. I'm so grateful for her and her faith! She is going to do incredible things and I can't wait for all the miracles we will see together.

We just left the internet cafe to go eat lunch with the Hong family, who came up to say goodbye to Sisters Anderson, Fuller and Packard. The three of them are all going home this Wednesday. So out of the four of their missionaries I will be the only one left here. They are still as incredible as ever. Hong Jiemei's baby is due next month and they will probably be going to the temple in December. Hopefully President Blickenstaff will let me go, because that would be incredible!

Today is move-call so a ton of missionaries are meeting at the mission home (which is in our area). We were just down there and it felt like back to school day, or a high school reunion or something. There are so many incredible sisters going home that I've gotten to know on my mission. We will miss them so much! There are also a ton of crazy changes going on because so many sisters are leaving. Sister Anderson who was my companion is Qishan got called as a Sister Training Leader in North Taizhong. Those sisters actually share our chapel, so I will be able to see her all the time. It should be really fun! 

I don't have anything super spiritual or a crazy miracle that happened this week. I did call Yang Jiemei earlier this morning. She is our investigator who wasn't reading or praying. She said she read and prayed like we asked and still doesn't feel like she has an answer, so she said she doesn't want to meet with us anymore. That was probably the hardest phone call I have ever made, and once it was over I fell on my knees and I cried. I cried to Heavenly Father and asked Him to help her one day receive an answer. I know this gospel is true, and that it can help everyone as long as they are willing to accept it. It hurts to have investigators reject this message, but I pray with all my heart that some day another pair of missionaries will go back to them and then they will be prepared to receive this incredible gift that will bring them so much happiness.

Last night we were able to meet with Lerma again. Every time we meet with her I am strengthened. She truly is a prepared spirit and is closer to God than anyone I have ever met. We met her inside a 7-11 along with Sister Schultz and the other sisters she is staying with, the assistants, the Wheelers (a senior couple in the office) and Sister Blickenstaff. It was a pretty big group, but it was an incredible experience. We sang together and Lerma bore her testimony and talked about how grateful she was for all of us walking into her life and for bringing the gospel to her. Elder Vandiford, who is one of the assistants, actually found her when he was a zone leader here. He and Sister Schultz are both going home, so it was kind of a sending off meeting. It was so full of the spirit and really touching. Lerma always says that we bring the light into her life, but really I think she brings it into ours. She is an inspiration and is one of the most christ-like people I have ever seen. 

Well that's most of what has been going on. I love my new companion! I love the Taiwanese people. I love being a trainer. I was riding my bike the other day and I realized that after this my mission will never be the same. It has only been a few days, but it all has a different feel. One sister was telling me that training brought her mission to a higher level, and I think I'm already beginning to feel that. It's so much fun! It is such an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.

I love you all so much! The fair looked like so much fun! I think it is really cool Nicole won so many ribbons! Jemma's pictures were beautiful, as usual. I can't believe how grown up she is! I guess we all change a lot in a year. (Can you believe I went to the MTC a year ago this week?) Time goes faster than you think possible. 

I hope school goes well, for dad and Jemma both, and that you all have an incredible week. I hope I have loads of miracles to tell you about next week!

There's always a miracle just around the corner.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I have grown so much!

Here is Sister Fernley's message from 13 August 2014:

Dear family,

So I'm sitting here in the internet cafe with almost a whole hour before me, no emails needing to be written to President, no numbers to enter in, two days since my last email, eight hours until the new missionaries walk in our door tonight, and a day and a half until I meet my trainee and new companion for the next three months and I don't quite know what to do with myself.

I don't even know how to express what I am feeling right now. We just got out of the temple which was incredible, and the fact of what I'm about to do for the next three months is always in the back of my mind. To explain what I feel: I'm nervous, excited, overwhelmed, privileged, all of the above.

Tuesday morning we had a train the trainers meeting for the north part of our mission conveniently at our chapel. (There's lots of perks to living near the mission home.) It was really good. It helped me relax a little more, realize what an honor it is to have the opportunity to train, and get excited for the opportunity to learn so much and have hopefully a good lasting impact on our trainees. We have the incredible opportunity to start a new missionary off and get them standing on their own feet and ready for the rest of their missions. Then at the end of the training Sister Blickenstaff treated us all to her mission famous cinnamon rolls!

Its really interesting being called as a trainer, because you start thinking back to the time when you were training. You think about your trainer, what kind of an impact they had on you, what they taught you, what they might have not taught you, how you want to be like them, how you want to be think about everything. You remember back to your first day on island. How scared you were. How excited you were. How long you spent with a deer-in-the-headlights look on your face struggling to figure out your bike, falling off your bike ;), fighting to speak chinese and constantly fishing for english translations when people start talking to you. 

It all seemed so long ago, but it also feels like it was just yesterday. And we have grown so much! I have grown so much!

I'm no longer afraid. I'm no longer nervous of the unknown. I hope I don't always have a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. I feel stressed out when I'm in a car because I don't have control like I do on my bike. (I haven't fallen off my bike again yet.) Chinese comes naturally now (gospel Chinese), sometimes I even dream in Chinese, and now just understanding Chinese comes faster than trying to translate it back into english. 

But I think the biggest change is I have grown closer to my Savior and know that this gospel is true more than anything else. I've learned that miracles happen and we are all able to see them if we would just open our eyes.

After I sent in my email last week Sister Schultz and I went back out on the streets, the intersections, and the church classrooms to preach the gospel! We had a lesson go longer than we planned and by the time we were ready to leave the church we only had about fifteen minutes until our next appointment at the church. Neither of us wanted to go outside. My first instinct was to suggest that we stay inside and call and set up appointments until our investigator got to the church, but I was looking at my planner and figured if we had planned to contact we should contact. If we don't follow our plans how can God plant miracles in our paths. So I suggested we take one round around the church and see if there was anyone to contact. We walked out the gate and around the corner and saw a girl about middle twenties sitting on a bench listening to her music. We hesitated for a second then waved and started talking to her. She looked up, saw who we were and instead of rudely waving us away gave us the biggest smile and sounded ecstatic to see us. 

We started talking to her more and she told us that she worked at the big department store down the street and sits on that bench right outside our church almost every day. She said she saw missionaries all the time and always wanted to go to our church, but she didn't know how to come in or when. She said she always wanted to learn more, but no one had ever "chuanjiao-ed" (preached the gospel) to her. We were the first. 

Sister Schultz and I walked away from that contact with goose bumps and completely shocked. If we hadn't planned to contact around the church the night before, if we had stayed inside and called phones for fifteen minutes, if we had walked past her bench we would have never found her. We would have never known there was a prepared soul right outside the gate. She ended up not living in our area (like everyone else around), but we found an incredible investigator and handed her over to two amazing sisters who will take care of her.

Miracles happen just around the corner. Literally. 

Sister Fernley

Temple Trip and a BIG Change!

Big news from Sister Fernley on 10 August 2014:

Dear Family,

Sorry this week's letter isn't going to be as long because we only have an hour to email this time. Sister Schultz and I are going to the Taibei temple on Wednesday so our email time is cut so we can go out and proselyte today. 

This week was INSANE! And this next week is going to be even more crazy. We had an activity going throughout our mission called "no companionship left behind." For this whole week we had a mission goal of getting three new investigators for every companionship in our mission. So we were trying as hard as we could as well as trying to help out and find people and refer them to other areas for other missionaries. If we were nearing the end of the week and were looking like we weren't going to hit the standard our Sister Training Leaders or Zone leaders would come into our area and help out. It was really cool! 

Unfortunately Sister Schultz and I got left behind....zao gao. 

We tried really hard though! Throughout the week we had a total of seven new member lessons set up. All but one didn't show up or canceled. Agency is hard sometimes. We were a little discouraged, but hopefully these people will become new investigators in the future. 

There's one contact that I remember in particular. Sister Schultz and I were sitting inside of a 7-11 eating lunch and the seats we were sitting at had a view looking out onto the street. I was enjoying people watching when I watched this girl come up to the bus stop right outside the 7-11 and look at the schedule to see when her bus was coming. I didn't think much at first besides I thought her outfit was cute and her hair was really pretty. I kept eating and about five minutes later I looked up at her again and had this picture of myself running out to contact her before her bus pulled up. I dismissed the thought because I thought that would be weird and not very like me. But as I waited I got more and more nervous that her bus would pull up and she would be gone. We finished eating and she was still out there, so as we walked out I motioned to Sister Schultz to come with me and went and contacted her. I was really nervous and thought it would be really weird at first, but she was really nice and gave me her number to call back later and try to set up. I walked away from that contact a little surprised. I've done this before and even turned around to talk to people I've already passed, but most of the time they don't talk back or wave us away. So I'm really grateful Heavenly Father allowed me to strengthen my testimony in contacting, even if this girl doesn't become an investigator right away maybe she will someday, and at least I was strengthened because of this experience.

As for the rest of the week we set a baptismal goal with Bonnie! She really thought about it too, so we feel like she was pretty genuine. Since then we haven't been able to meet with her, so we are hoping she is doing okay and won't disappear. Shi Yue hasn't had a lot of time this week either, but she has shifted from saying that "if God really exists she will think about becoming Christian" to "when I feel that this is true I will join the church." Its really cool because we have been able to she her attitude change and her perception toward what we are sharing has shifted from very logical to more spiritual. When we went and visited her this week she was breaking up the scriptures we were sharing and teaching herself from them, only looking at us to clarify what she was understanding was right. It was really cool! 

We did go and visit Yang Jiemei again and almost lost and investigator. We walked in and as soon as we sat down she told us she feels like the Book of Mormon isn't right for her and that that would be the last time meeting with her. I've had this happen several times on my mission and every single time my heart just drops, you take a second and look at your companion, gather up all the faith you have and try to testify as hard as you can so they will feel the Spirit. Every other time nothing has come of it, but we found out with Yang Jiemei that she hasn't been reading and she has never asked God if the Book of Mormon is true. She also visits with the Jehovah's Witness missionaries so we have a sneaking suspicion that they saw her Book of Mormon and are influencing her decision. Anyway we committed her to read the Book of Mormon every day this week and pray after she read to know if it is true that God would give her an answer. We called her a few days ago and she still hadn't felt anything. We are going over tomorrow and I've never been more scared to go back and visit an investigator before. I hope and pray we will see miracles, but I also know whatever happens is God's will and all is in His timing.

I'm almost out of time, but I have some news to tell you. Saturday night Sister Schultz and I were just finished planning when President Blickenstaff called. He talked to Sister Schultz for a little while about how our new investigators were going, but then asked to talk to me. As soon as the phone rang my heart dropped and I knew what was going on. He asked me to TRAIN for the next two move calls! I didn't expect it at all because I haven't even gone senior yet, but I guess I'm just going to do it all at the same time. There is a trainers training meeting tomorrow morning, then the new missionaries come in on Wednesday and meet their trainers on Friday. So Sister Schultz will be leaving the area a little early so I can take my new trainee home and get to work! I'm really nervous, but super excited for the next two move calls and all that I can learn. I feel completely inadequate to train, but I'll try my best to do what the Lord and what President call me to do.

Well I'm almost out of time, we might write more on Wednesday we might not, I'm not sure. So next time we write I may have my new companion!

I love you all! Have a great week!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Taiwan Taichung Missionaries are safe

Troy and I had both received an email on Thursday, July 31, from the mission office with the subject line reading: "Taiwan Taichung Missionaries are safe."

Well, that can make your heart stop. Here's the message from the mission office:
"Dear Parents of Taiwan Missionaries,

Last night, around midnight, there was a series of gas explosions in Kaohsiung (Gaoxiong) that has resulted in at least 22 killed and 270 injured. Fires still have not all been completely extinguished. This affected the Cianjhen (Qianzhen), Shizhong, and Lingya missionaries.

President received a call this morning confirming from his assistants that all missionaries in the Kaohsiung West and East zones have been personally accounted for and safe. In addition, he received a call from President Steve Yang, president of the Kaohsiung West stake, who's home was mere minutes away from the explosion. Most members have been accounted for and safe, but they are still unable to make contact with some living closest to the explosion.

Missionaries across the mission stay indoors until 1:30pm on Fridays for weekly planning. The affected areas have been instructed not to leave their apartment until they have been instructed by the mission that it is safe.

Please join us in giving gratitude for the safety of our missionaries, and praying for their peace and safety, as well as for all members and citizens in Kaohsiung.

Warm regards,

President Blickenstaff
Taiwan Taichung Mission"
And here is the message we got from Sister Fernley a few days later:

So I opened up Dad's email today and realized that the office must have freaked you all out with their email this week. We actually had no idea about the explosion until the next day when one of our members told us about it. I still don't know much. Apparently there was a gas leak and a whole street exploded down in Gaoxiong. No missionaries were hurt thankfully, and hopefully none of our members were influenced. Gaoxiong was the area I was in before, but Qishan is so far out in the middle of nowhere that it wouldn't have affected us. I'm now on the other side of the mission. So you don't have to worry. Plus we live three minutes from the mission home, we'll be well taken care of. 

Anyway, I hope that eases some uneasiness. 

I honestly don't even remember what happened this week. We sat down to email and as I was thinking about the week I could pick out a few lessons, but for the most part it was a complete blank. I had to flip through my planner (thank goodness we have those) to remember. 

We spent most of Monday on Yi Zhong street, which is this huge market with mazes of shops, and happens to be where we went and had our Dan jones experience when I first got on island (I still can't believe how long ago that was.) Sister Schultz is going home in a few weeks so she has wanted to do some last minute shopping before she goes home. It's been fun, but super tiring. I guess we could only be here once we've got to make the most of it.

We were talking to one of the senior couples, the Wheelers, while were there for Sunday dinner and Sister Wheeler was talking about how she never thought her husband left his mission. That comment really got me thinking, and after being here I don't know how you could every really leave. A year and half or two years is a short time, but it's a time that changes you the most. It's a time where your body and mind are put under stress, and your faith is tested like never before; however, it is also a time where your heart is changed and you grow closer to the Savior than ever before. Its like in the Book of Mormon when the crowd is gathered at the waters of mormon and it says that swampy, forest area which may be ugly to anyone else is beautiful to that group because it is where they came to a knowledge of the Savior. That's what Taiwan is for me. Even amid all the dirty streets, the creepy men chewing binlang, the cat calls on the street, the rejection at almost every door this island is beautiful to me because of the members, my RCs, my investigators, my sweat and my tears, my miracles I'm given every day, my companions and my experiences. Every person I have taught, every contact, literally everyone has taught me something different and has helped me come closer to my Savior.


We've seen a lot of small miracles this week (which is what combines to make the big ones right?). Investigators who weren't progressing are starting to progress, we're finding new people to teach, and we continue to be happy.

I don't know if I've talked about Shi (pronounced Shr) Yue yet. She just had a baby and is from China. She has been thinking about becoming Christian for a while now I guess, She is taking it from a very logical point of view though and for the past couple weeks we have gone over she has wanted to know about commandments because she wants to know what she is going to have to do if she becomes Christian. We didn't really know how we were going to help her open up to FEEL the truthfulness of the gospel, but we knew we had to try. So last week we were pretty blunt with her and told her she had to do her part and that FEELing our message was true was the most important. It's not a list of do's and don'ts. We didn't know if that was going to work, but it did! The next time we went over she sat down and told us she had restudied the Plan of Salvation, read the chapter we had given her to read, and prayed about it all. She says she hasn't felt anything yet, but knows that one day she will. She even came to church this sunday with her husband! We're trying to meet and contact her more so we can help her progress more.

We also met with the girl that showed up at our family home evening last week. She is so cute! She is also really mature and really thinks about things. She is only 17, but seems like she could be in her late 20s or early 30s. She told us when she was younger she was curious so she walked into a Catholic church to see what it was like. I think that's probably why she randomly showed up at our church that night. She asked us about baptism and how we feel about the church which I have never had someone ask me on a first meet. It was really good! I'm excited to keep meeting with her.

We helped another investigator move, for the second time this move-call. She's finally settled and will be there for at least four years so Sister Schultz and I are safe. We were quite a sight though. We strapped boxes and a coat hanger to our bikes and walked them across town while pulling other luggage with our other hands. I told Sister Schultz we should do that more often, because we got a lot of people to talk to us. Hehe. But now that this investigator is moved in and settled I think she could start progressing again. We sat down after and shared a scripture with her and invited her to start reading again and that's the happiest I have seen her since I've been in Beiqu! Good things are happening every day!

AND.......I ran into the Hong family this weekend! It really was God's help. Sister Schultz and I delayed studies Saturday because we were helping that investigator move that morning. We had enough time to finish studies and head over to the church to meet with Bonnie, but Bonnie ended up canceling so we ended up getting out of the house a little later than we had planned (a little bit to my annoyance). We decided to still go to the church and call old english students as our back-up plan. Just as we pulled into the church the Hong family pulled up to the front gate. I was parking my bike and heard someone yell "hello" from the other side of the the wall. I looked over, wondering who it was and a little confused and wary as to why a man was yelling at us. It took me a second to process, but when I realized it was Brother Hong and Sister Hong was walking around the gate I dropped my stuff and ran to meet them, leaving my companion to pick up my stuff (woops). It was so good to see them! Hong Jiemei is due to have her baby girl next month! She looks great and they look so happy. They are coming up in a couple of weeks to see the three other sisters who taught them before they go home to America. 

Also are missionaries started to get home from our ward? Probably soon right? It will be interesting to hear what they have to say about their missions. Everyone's mission and mission experience is so different. 

Which reminds me we cleaned out the missionary closet this week and found some old mission documents. We found the June move call from 2010 and I found Ben Aston on it! It was crazy! We took it home and found old MTC teachers as well. It's also crazy to see how different the mission was then an now. We compared it to our last move call and the number of missionaries now is so different! Its really cool!

Anyway I'm so glad you are all doing well! I'm glad Jemma is happy and had a great birthday party! I hope dad gets what he needs to done and it won't be too stressful. ;) Have a great week and always remember how blessed we are. I pray for you always and love you all more than I could say.

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

Sister Fernley

Jemma Is Five!!!!!!!

And here is the message from 27 July 2014…still getting caught up here…

Hello dear family!

I can't believe Jemma is five years old! Time flies by so fast! It sounds like she had a great birthday party though. You guys did a great job! Jemma sounded really excited about her presents and the games that you played.

We had an incredible week this week! We have been trying so hard to find new investigators and the Lord has blessed us immensely with four new investigators this week! As always its going to take a lot of work, but they need the gospel so much in their lives we will do whatever it takes to help them. 

The biggest miracle this week was Bonnie. Bonnie is fifteen and came to our english class for the first time several weeks ago. Later that week we were calling all the new students we had who said they would be willing to meet with the missionaries...Bonnie was one of them. That phone call was one of the easiest adds I have ever had. We set up with her for the next week, but she ended up having to cancel, so we set up a different time...which ended up being a typhoon day so that was canceled as well. Finally after a couple of weeks we got to meet with her. We were actually on exchanges so I was here in Beiqu with Sister Parkinson and Sister Schultz was in Taiping. We asked her about her background and why she was willing to meet with the missionaries. All of the questions we asked pertaining to what she wanted to learn, why she was meeting with us etc received a slight shrug and a muttered, "I don't know." But when we started talking about how the gospel will help her and how much God loves her she just beamed. She loved it! We invited her to start praying and asked her to go home and make sure her mom was okay with her meeting with us.

Later that night (when Sister Schultz was back) we got a call around ten pm. Sister Schultz answered and a little confused told me whoever it was was saying her mom said she could meet with us. It was Bonnie. 

Then Sunday afternoon while we were sitting in ward correlation meeting she called us again. She said her teacher was sick and class was canceled so she could come to church! We met her as she walked in the door and she stayed for the next two hours. It was a huge miracle! She is so cute and I can't wait to she where she goes in the next couple of weeks.

Second miracle of the week: So this week we went on exchanges. I stayed and led the area here in Beiqu, and I was a little nervous. I've only been here for three weeks now and I still don't know a lot of the people. I was really nervous about not having a very good exchange because we didn't have many lessons set up and I had no idea where the places were that we had planned to go. We went out after dinner to find a member referral we were given earlier in the week only to find them not home and it starting to rain outside. We were a little short on time to make it back to the church for the FHE the missionaries hold every week so we biked as fast as we could back to the church. When we started our way back it was just sprinkling so we didn't worry about putting our rain coats on. Unfortunately only five minutes away from the church it started pouring and Sister Parkinson and I got soaked! We finally got into the church and were greeted by the elders who said we had an investigator inside. We ran to the bathroom to ring out our skirts and dry off a little bit then went to FHE. For most of FHE I was sitting next to this 17 year old girl wracking my brain to remember where I saw her. After FHE was over I talked to her a little more and realized that Sister Schultz and I had contacted her about a week earlier while she was waiting at a cross walk and we were stopped at a red light. She didn't sound interested so we gave her an english class tract and wrote our phone number on the back. She didn't know about our FHE, but showed up at the church and was able to attend and was willing to set up another meeting with us for this next week. 

Miracle #3: We have another english student named Yo-Yo ,who has been coming to english forever and the sisters have been trying to set up with her for months, but she always said she didn't have time. Thursday night as we were parking our bikes to go tracting for the rest of the night Yo-Yo called us and asked us to meet her at the McDonalds. We changed plans and ran over to meet with her. She wanted us to teach her how to pray so she could volunteer in english class. It was a little frustrating because she was treating prayer as something you recite rather than something that comes from the heart. We kept trying to explain, but she just didn't get it. She wanted to write down examples and record us praying, but we told her we didn't feel comfortable with that. We tried our hardest, but still left the McDonald's a little frustrated and not very confident in her motives to learn. BUT....she showed up to the last hour of church this Sunday! She was stood up by a friend so she drove to church and said it helped her feel a lot better. 

I could probably think of other miracles, but those are the big ones. We got our apartment pretty much clean, and got all of the elder's things moved out. It is really nice and feels so much better to have a clean apartment. 

We also got to go down to Zhanghua because a young women down there was finally able to get baptized. She has been an investigator for over a year, but her mom wouldn't let her get baptized. Finally about a month ago she asked again and got permission to be baptized. Because she has been an investigator for so long she had a ton of missionaries who taught her! Sister Schultz started her mission there. It was incredible and was so full of the spirit. 

While there I was also able to run into some long lost friends. While we were waiting at the bus station I heard someone behind me say "Sister Fernley do you remember me?" I turned around and saw one of the young men from Nantou who was also going to the baptism! He said his whole family was going to be there as well. They used to invite all the missionaries over for birthdays and holidays and were always really good to us. They were also the family involved in the chicken feet fiasco. Then as I walked into the door of the church I heard someone yell "Sister Fernley!" (in english) and saw someone running towards me. It was Enya! She used to help us with investigator lessons while she was going to school in Nantou. She just got back from a study abroad in Australia. I love her so much! She is such a strong young women! I couldn't believe she remembered me, but it was so good to see her! THEN I went upstairs and saw my trainer! Sister Anderson moved to that area right after we trained. I haven't seen her since then and now she is going home this move call! It was so good to see her again. We were both super excited.

Seeing everyone reminded me off all the incredible people I have met here and how much I love the people of Taiwan. 

Anyway I've talked long enough and I am almost out of time. I love you all. I love this work. I love these people. I love this language. I love being a missionary!

Have an incredible week! There's another miracle just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Second Week in the City

I'm behind again! Here is Sister Fernley's message from 20 July 2014:

My dearest family,

I hope this week was a good one and that you are all getting ready for Jemma's birthday party! I can't believe that she is already almost five. I remember being home for her party and preparing to come to Taiwan. It still amazes me that I have almost been out for a year, and that I've been on island for almost ten months. I remember training and telling everyone that I had been in Taiwan for a month or two. Time flies when you're having fun right?
Anyway, the pinata looks great and I'm sure it will be a blast! I think it is really fun that you get to have a birthday party with family. It will be so much fun to share that special day with those that we love the most. The Wild Kratts theme should be really fun. Nicole said she was a little proud of Jemma for wanting a Wild Kratts party, and I have to admit that I was the same way. Haha. I can't wait to hear about it and see the pictures. 
I was also glad to hear that my package got there in time. I was a little nervous, but it only took a few weeks! I hope she likes it, someone gave it to me at a night market while we were contacting.
This week was insanely busy! When I got to this area Sister Schultz told me that we would probably be moving apartments sometime this move call because our apartment didn't have a doorman so they were concerned about sisters staying in that complex. Apparently the sisters before us had their bikes stolen several times. (Which is why we take them up the elevator every night.) Anyway, we ended up moving sooner than later, and moved out on Friday! They couldn't find a new apartment in the church's budget, so they decided to switch us with the zone leaders (who live just down the street).
We spent most of the day last Monday packing and cleaning up our apartment. Luckily I knew we were going to move, so I didn't unpack. Friday morning the office elders came by and loaded up all our stuff into the van and drove it to the elder's, unloaded, and did the same for the elders. We helped them load everything up, but had to leave to do our language assessment (which I'll talk about later) so we didn't unload and go look at our apartment.
So when we went home for the night we got our first look at our new apartment. We walked in and it was pretty cluttered with a lot of stuff like records, tracts, Liahonas etc. Sister Schultz was freaking out a little because it was so dirty. I was trying to be positive and was thinking it wasn't that bad, but I was wrong. The deeper we got, the more gross it was. The kitchen was super dirty, the doors and walls were brown from oil and grease, the floor hadn't been mopped in weeks, and by bathtub was grey from dirt. It was disgusting! So basically we have spent our exercise time in the morning and any extra time after planning cleaning our apartment and going through all the stuff they left. We are probably going to spend a lot of today cleaning as well, but the apartment is slowly getting better and feels a lot more livable.

 It was interesting, the day after we moved in I just felt weird. I didn't know what it was, but I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad, but I wasn't happy either. I tried my best to shake it, but it wasn't until we got out the door and on the streets that I felt normal again. A little later on we were sitting at a young women's activity and talking to one of our RCs who was there to support them. We told her about how gross the apartment was and she commented that it was probably a lot harder to feel the spirit. As soon as she said that I knew that's why I felt so weird that morning. I was so distracted by the mess, that I couldn't feel the spirit. The prophets always tell us the spirit cannot dwell in unclean places, and this week I definitely learned from experience that this is true. When our homes and even just our surroundings are clean we are more receptive to the spirit. I know we can feel it anywhere, as long as we are worthy, but cleanliness helps a lot. Even cleanliness in regards to the things, the music, the movies, the friends that we surround ourselves all makes a difference. It all affects our ability and sensitivity to the spirit. So let us all be more aware of our surroundings, physically and mentally and strive to make them conducive to helping us feel the spirit.
Moral of the story...make your surroundings a place where the spirit can dwell... and...elders are gross, and need to learn how to clean.

We also spent several hours this week helping one of our members move into their new apartment. Its more like a room with a bathroom connected to it. She and her husband (who is the elder's investigator) and their baby are moving into this apartment because it is cheaper and they will be able to save up better. But I guess they had a lot of stuff stored and they got infested with white ants, so we've been helping go through all the stuff and clean off what we could save and store them in new boxes. So to say the least, I've had my fill of cleaning and dirt this week. But we were really glad we could help her, and when the elders were helping too they were able to add a few people in her building to go back and teach them about the gospel. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Aside from that we had a really hard week. Day after day we hardly had any lessons or new investigators, or even phone numbers to show for our efforts. We were extremely busy every day, but we weren't seeing the results in our numbers. Sister Schultz and I talked about it several times and the only conclusion we could come to is that it's the Lord's will for this area right now. It's hard when you feel more unified with your companion, happier, closer to God, and more motivated in your purpose than ever before and the work seems even harder and slower than it was before. 

We had a hard week with little improvement and not much success, but we know that we are doing all we can to further this work. We know that it is no lack of effort on our part, so we are going to go out this week and work our hardest. I know that if we do our best and we continue to have faith in the Lord He will give us the experiences, the miracles, the trials that we need to become the missionaries (and the people) He wants us to become. All we can do is trust in God and He will lead us where we need to be. 

I almost forgot! We were able to see Alexis again and give her a Book of Mormon. We are trying to arrange a meeting with the sister missionaries in her area, so we can smoothly transition her over to meeting with them. But a few days after we gave her the book she texted us and told us she had been reading a few pages every night and would continue to do so. She came to church this Sunday and is excited to learn more! I'm continually amazed at how open she is to the spirit and to the gospel. She really is a prepared soul. 

As far as our other investigators go Zou Jiemei came to to church again for the full three hours! She walked in Sunday morning and very enthusiastically told me she wasn't tired, so she could come to church! We told her it was God's help and she emphatically agreed. She was completely alert for the whole time too, which is incredible because I struggle every week. ;) The Young Women we are meeting with is incredible as well! She continues to soak everything up and loves reading the scriptures. We still need to find a time when her mom will be home that we can go talk to her. (We tried the other day and she wan't there.) But I know that someday Yi Jun will get baptized. We met with a few other people that are struggling with faith that we are working with and a few really great potentials (or so I hear) that we are still trying to get a hold of, so we are hopeful for a lot of miracles in the future weeks.

Well I'm almost out of time! I love you all and I love this gospel. I want you all to know that even though times get hard I know that Heavenly Father is always there for us. He knows what we need when we need it, and He will always look out for us. We just have to be willing to ask for His help, and trust in His timing and in His method. I know this gospel is true. I know it changes lives. It has changed mine, and continues to change me every day. How great to know that with God and Christ's help we can only more forward!

There's another miracle just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley