Sunday, September 28, 2014

Miracles are given to us every day

PIctures and message from Sister Fernley for the week of September 7:

Hello my wonderful family!

I never know how to start my emails anymore. I feel like I always start them the same way, so I try to be original and think of something new, but can never think of anything so I always resort back to the same old thing.

I hope your week was a good one full of miracles. The ceramic place looks fun and Jemma looks completely entertained. I think art will be fun for her. She's always liked that kind of stuff. As far as sports goes....maybe you could start a hula-hoop class and then it will become an Olympic sport and she would go pro. Haha whatever she gets into I'm sure it will be great.

As always I feel like I can never remember what happened throughout the week. I think its getting worse. Like my brain capacity has been overloaded so when new information gets shoved in something else has to get shoved out to make room. Sometimes I wish we worked like computers and could just add extra memory storage. 

But since that isn't an option I have to resort to looking back to my planner and hopefully can dig up some of this weeks happenings. Thank goodness for planners. It's genius. 

I don't know if I talked about her, or if you remember her, but we were finally able to contact En Man again and meet with her this week. She took me about three weeks of consecutive calling to finally get a hold of her and set up a time, but once we got to meet with her she was golden. She invited herself to read, pray and come to church every week but ended up disappearing for several weeks. I called her one day and she told me not to worry because she was going to another church....

What! Of course I'm going to worry. 

Anyway we were able to set up with her and discovered that she is still reading the Book of Mormon. She just doesn't want to come to our church because she doesn't know anyone. (I don't know where we stand, but I guess we don't count.) I told her that she would never get to know anyone if she never came, so maybe in a few weeks when she isn't as busy we can get her to come. She needs it so much! I don't want her to let the truth slip through her fingers, but everyone does have their agency. 

We also had the opportunity to share the Plan of Salvation with a woman who just lost her brother. Her brother and his immediate family are all members of our church, but she isn't. Her family members called us and asked if we could share a little bit with her hoping that it could help her calm down. We testified, taught, and listened as well as we could but she wasn't taking comfort in anything. Her family testified and she still wouldn't believe. She had the one message that could bring her the most comfort right in front of her, but wasn't willing to stretch forth her hand and pick it up. Sister Murdock started crying because she felt so sorry for her. She might not have understood everything, but she could feel how lost this woman was and how unwilling she was to trust. She did say at the end that if we said prayer could help her she would keep trying. I hope she receives peace, but unless we pray with faith, even a little, we won't be open to God's help. Seeing her struggle and how lost she was made me so much more grateful that God was merciful enough to give me the gospel from the very beginning. I've never had to be lost, I've never had to doubt or be afraid. Because I am human I do, but I don't need to. The truth is always there as long as we are open enough to receive it. 

Later on that afternoon we had an unexpected opportunity to see Lerma! Sister Blickenstaff was taking her to the police office to do some reports for the accident she was in last year and asked if we had time to come see her. Of course we have time for Lerma! We dropped our plans and were able to have an incredibly inspiring lesson. She is so incredible and inspires me to become better. She takes care of an old man and has to help him take his medicine and follow the doctor's orders. 

While we were in the car she was telling us about the other day she ran into President Blickenstaff just outside of a 7-11. She then told us that later that same day she was pushing man she tends in his wheelchair and ended up in the same spot. She said he wanted to go in and buy something to eat, but she has been given doctor's orders to not let him eat that kind of stuff because of his blood sugar. So she didn't let him, but he got angry with her and started yelling and trying to hit her from his wheelchair. She told us that at that moment she remembered meeting President at the same spot and realized that God probably put President in her path so that when she was having this trial she would have the strength to overcome. She said because she had met President there she felt like she couldn't get mad or have bad thoughts. 

She really is an incredible example. She sees the blessings of the Lord in her life and remembers God at all times. She always says we were sent to her to lift her up, but I believe it is the other way around. 

This week we were also able to get back in contact with a lot of people who have disappeared for the past couple of weeks! Honestly it's a miracle we were able to get back in touch with them, and they are all still willing to keep learning. 

We were able to meet with Shi Yue again, and she is just incredible. I was really nervous to go back and discover that she lost interest or ran into some anti-literature or something. But one night we just stopped by to see if they were home and they invited us right up. We talked to a minute and then she turned to her husband and asked him if he had told us about what happened when they went to bai bai (when they went to worship the buddhist gods). My heart dropped and I painfully waited for the worst. She then told us that she got baptized. I was devastated. 

She then told me the following story: 

They were in Taibei visiting her husband's family for the Moon Festival (which is actually today) and his aunt asked them to go bai bai with her. Shi Yue just thought she was being nice and in turn agreed to go with her to support her. (Shi Yue has never gone to bai bai before because she's from China.) She told us she went and was completely confused about all the food and incense and the prayers they were doing, but just did what everyone was telling her to do. Then she said they gave her this paper with her name on it and were really nice and good to her, but didn't tell her much about the paper or what she just did. She said later when she was in the car with her husband her turned to her and told her that she was just baptized into the Iguandao religion. She had no idea and freaked out! I guess her husband didn't really know either until the end because he's never learned about Iguandao before either. 

So she got baptized without even knowing it, and no one else would tell her what was going on. We laughed about it and told her if it was against her will it doesn't really count for much. She asked us that if she gets baptized into our church if we will tell her what is going on. We assured her that there would be no secrets. 

So if you come to Taiwan, I guess you have to be careful or else you could get baptized into another church without even knowing it. We'll stay on our guard. :)

As far as her progress goes I don't think she has received a specific answer about the Book of Mormon yet, but she is understanding the scriptures and the commandments so much more. We had talked to her about fasting before and she had a little bit of a problem with it, but we went back and she said she was thinking about it and realized that fasting does have its benefits (besides all the blessings God promises us). I asked her what that was and she said she realized it would help you develop self-control and give you confidence to know that you can do hard things. Yea...she just gets it. I really hope she gets baptized someday. She says she has a lot of time and is just at home now, so we have the invitation to come over whenever. (The best kind of invitation for a missionary.)

We weren't able to meet with the girl we ran into and gave a Book of Mormon to last week. She just has no time. Hopefully some day she won't be as busy, but at least for now she has a book and knows where the chapel is. 

We did get to meet with one of our english students who came to church last week though. She was super interested and said that she feels so happy at our church. She said she thinks it is a really special place and that she feels really lucky to get to be there. We taught her about the Restoration and Joseph Smith's vision and she loved it! I can't wait to continue teaching her. 

Well, I could probably keep writing about different things forever. (See planners work miracles.) But my time is about up. 

I love you all and am grateful for you every day. I love this gospel. I love this church. I love that I get to be a missionary. I love my companion. I love my investigators. I love seeing the change in people. I love knowing that no matter how often I get rejected, prepared people are just around teh corner. 

Remember that I love you all so much and that miracles are given to us every day.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Another week whizzes by

Sister Fernley's message and pictures from the week of August 31, 2014:

Dear Family,

Well another week has gone by and honestly I don't even know what we did this week. It's not that I don't remember, like sometimes happens, but more that I don't know if what we did this week did much. Last night it was getting close to time to report in our numbers for the week and we weren't quite home yet so we stopped and quickly counted them up. This has happened to me a lot on my mission; you go to count up numbers, feeling a little embarrassed and disappointing, then once you count everything up you realize that your week was a lot more productive and useful than you thought. Sometimes numbers are depressing, other times they are a boost. This week they were a boost, which I am extremely grateful for. Sometimes it is the small miracles that I am most grateful for...and this was one of them.

I loved what dad talked about in his letter to me this week about treasuring up those instances when people accept our message, or listen for even just a minute. It reminded me of something Nicole wrote me when I was in Qishan, that some days are so hard that you don't know what you are doing out here, other days are full of miracles, and thank goodness for those miracle days because they make the hard days worth it. It is so true! The rejection rate is high, but it makes the acceptance rate so much more precious!

Speaking of hard days and miracles we had a day that fell into both categories this week. This week we tried our best and worked really hard, but as usual we didn't end up accomplishing what we had planned to do. But despite other days not going quite as planned we ended up getting an awesome plan set up for Saturday. We had several lessons, a few with members set up to help us out, and a meeting with a new family to teach later that night. guessed it...a few hours after we woke up the phone started ringing and over the next couple hours almost every single appointment canceled. Thus goes the life of a missionary. So we ended up spending most of the day calling people or contacting, trying to do something productive. Then after dinner and our extra half hour of language study (because Sister Murdock is training we get an hour and a half, which is really great) we headed out to go tract before we needed to head in for the night. I told Sister Murdock that we were going to find a place to tract and that she was going to take us there.

We walked out and started getting our bikes ready for take-off...really that's how it feels at night. With all the lights, locks, bike reflectors, helmet, and reflective gear it feels like I'm getting the Enterprise prepped for take-off sometimes. If only we could bike as fast as warp-speed...

Anyway, we got our bikes prepped and this lady walks up to us on her own. I'm thinking she is our miracle for the night, but she just keeps talking to us about all the presidents of America and keeps getting distracted every couple of minutes. Sister Murdock is standing off to the side almost completely oblivious to what this lady is saying and I'm desperately trying to get a word in about the gospel and give her our church address. This crazy fiasco goes on for about ten-fifteen minutes then this lady randomly stops talking and walks away like we weren't even there. 

Not thinking much about this, besides that it was a little weird, we rode off and Sister Murdock led us to a street to tract a little bit. We start walking down this street and I am determined to talk to everyone that we see because there had to be a reason all our plans fell through. We talked to this lady outside cleaning the front of her building. She said we could come back and share more, but didn't sound pretty committed. I wrote her down anyway and we started walking down the street to see if we could find the number of that building, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally decided to talk to two girls who had just walked out of the same building and ask them. I got the number from them and started sharing about the gospel and asked if we could find time to share more with them. They nodded their heads, but didn't say anything. I asked if we could get their numbers and they just stared at me. I think I asked them four or five times until one of the girls said they could just come find us if they wanted to hear more. Yea.... that's code for I don't want to listen, but I'm too embarrassed to just tell you. I invited them to church and Sister Murdock and I headed back to our bikes to head back to the church to call more people. 

As we were once again gearing up our bikes The other girl comes running down the street and asked me where to go and when if she has time for church. I told her where and she started talking about how she has gone to Christian churches before and even has a bible. Luckily I had a Book of Mormon in my bike box, so I told her a little bit and told her that the Book of Mormon has helped me so much. To that she replied, "Oh, I need that." and excitedly took the book. She ended up not being able to come to church, but we got her number and hope that we can continue sharing with her about the Book of Mormon.

It definitely was a huge miracle. The rest of the day didn't matter because we met her. We were talking about it after and realized that if our plans hadn't fallen through, if that crazy lady hadn't stopped us, and if she didn't randomly walk away, if we hadn't talked to that lady cleaning and needed to get the number of the building we would have never run into this girl. We would have never known that miracle was waiting for us. After she walked away Sister Murdock turned to me and asked, "Did that just happen?" Its funny because that still what I feel like after every occurrence like this. Every time someone gives me their number, agrees to learn more, or accepts a Book of Mormon that thought still runs through my mind. Maybe it is a bad thing, but it makes me so much more aware of the hand of the Lord. He is the one really guiding this work. We just get to stand back and be amazed.

We were also able to had two new investigators come to church this week. They are our english students who requested Books of Mormon after our spiritual share. (Yes we still teach english. Every area, every wednesday.) They loved it and we have a lesson set up for later this week to share with them. They have both been reading, but don't quite understand. Hopefully we can help with that.

Dad asked if any of our referrals have turned into investigators. Unfortunately not yet, but we are still trying. 

Training is good. Sometimes it is hard, because you have to pick up the slack for everything your companion can't quite do yet, but Sister Murdock is doing great! I know I wrote about it last week, but it is really cool to see how fast she is adjusting and how fast her Chinese is improving. The gift of tongues is real! I remember hearing my trainer tell me the same thing, but never believed her. Now it is kind of fun to be on the other side and see it for myself. I was actually telling her this morning that I don't even know where I learned most of my Chinese from. There are some things I could tell you exactly what book or study guide, or person I leaned it from, but for the most part I have no clue. It just came, its still coming. It will never get perfect, but at least we have a whole lifetime and beyond to keep learning.

I actually did have one of our investigators tell me when she answered the phone she thought it was a Taiwanese person who was calling and was a little surprised it was me. I'm not sure how true that is, voices get altered over the phone...haha, but it made me feel a lot better. But that also means I have an accent, dang.

It was so good to hear from everybody and how your week went. Happy Birthday Nicole!! Sorry I forgot to say that last week. We walked out of the internet cafe and I realized I had forgot. Anyway, it sounds like it was pretty relaxed, but fun nonetheless. I'm glad Jemma is doing so well and that she is loving school. I knew she would. She is such a smart kid. I loved the restaurant drawing as well as the pictures! So fun! 

It sounds like Jemma is going to have to teach me how to use technology when I get home. Seriously, I'm regressing. It's sad. Maybe someday when our mission gets the i-pads they've been talking about for years there will be some hope for me. Haha. 

Oh do you remember the Lin Jiemei from Qishan? She was a member referral and was super golden! She got baptized a few weeks ago! So exciting. Apparently she is helping her kids take the missionary discussions as well and they are getting ready to get baptized! Miracles, every day.

Well, that's about all I've got for now. I'm sure as soon as I walk out of this cafe I will remember more stories I could have told, but this will have to do.

I love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers, letters, emails...everything. I couldn't do this without you!

Remember there's another miracle just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Oh, one last story...I thought you might like this one. The other day while we were at a member's house I went to go put my shoes on after our lesson only to find someone else trying to use my shoe. I put my foot in, felt something weird, took it out and watched a cockroach the size of a small Snickers candy bar run out and down the hall. It was disgusting. But I think I was just so tired I didn't even think to react much. So, if you ever come to Taiwan check your shoes before you put them on.

 (Random photo from Sister Fernley…we're not sure why she sent it to us, but she did, so we're posting it.)