Sunday, August 17, 2014

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

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