Monday, October 27, 2014

Report from the city

Here is Sister Fernley's message from Oct. 26, 2014:

Dear Family,

I just uploaded the pictures from the temple last week! I love the temple, every time I go it gives me a boost to go back to my area and keep working. I'm so grateful for that gift in this last dispensation!
I also added a picture of on of Jemma's creations that she sent to me. Its now posted up on my wall. I was looking at it one night after planning and decided that those faces perfectly describe what a mission feels like. I feel like most often I'm the face with the eyes and mouth wide open not knowing what I'm doing. Every once in a while I feel like the upside down smiley face in the middle, but even though that happens sometimes the happy smiley faces greatly outnumber the upside down one. So, way to go Jemma! That was inspired. :)

This week was good. I honestly can't remember much, but that's what planners are for. I'm going to be so weird when I get home. If I forget my planner at home one day I feel lost until I get my planner back. It's going to take a while to adjust. 

You were saying I've been in the city for a while. It really does feel like I just got here, but I am almost done with my third move call here (about four and a half months). Sister Murdock is almost done with her second move call and we will be done with training after the next two weeks! So crazy how time flies! I feel like we just got together and I was just explaining everything included in our day to day missionary work to her. Now I don't have to do that. She has progressed so much! So many missionaries have told her that she doesn't seem like a new missionary and I completely agree. She has adjusted so well. Of course there were tears and stress, but everyone gets that. I'm so grateful I had the privilege to be here for her and help her get on her feet. What will most likely happen is that when these next two weeks are over I will be moved out and Sister Murdock's "breaker" will move in and she will lead the area. Nothing is set in stone, but I will probably in a new area in the next couple of weeks. I'll be sad to leave here and our investigators, but I think part of me is ready for a change. I'm secretly hoping I get moved back to the country. I like it better there. However, wherever I'm called I'll be happy to go. 

As far as investigators go most of ours are pretty mediocre investigators. The problem with the city is that no one has time! They can be super awesome and really willing to learn and do what you ask, but after the first couple of lessons (or even the first) they disappear because they don't have any time. Its frustrating! 

We did get to visit Shi Yue this week again. We were there for a little while, but we really wanted to figure out what her concern was. She believes these things are good and that what we teach is all good and will help her family. She knows she needs to do what we invite her to do, but she just never does. Mainly she just doesn't come to church. If we give her something to read she will do it and usually ends up teaching us when we follow-up. After a while of listening to her thoughts and feelings toward our message Sister Murdock turned to me and said, "we have to ask her if she knows the Book of Mormon is true." So I replied, "okay, go for it." 

We ended up finding out she has never prayed about it, so we invited her to read the testimony of Joseph Smith and then pray and ask God if the Book of Mormon was true. She accepted and really did do it, but still has no feeling or special thoughts, experiences etc. So we are stuck. I don't know where to go from here. I don't know what is stopping her from receiving an answer, but we are going to keep trying and keep visiting her. Hopefully sometime soon we will figure out what she needs to get her walking down the path again. 

I think I might have mentioned this last week, but Yi Jun has gone MIA lately and probably will be for a little while. We stop by her work and leave notes and scriptures for her to make sure she is still reading etc. We are praying that they can find a new house (in BeiQu) soon so we can keep working with her. 

We were able to meet with one of the girls we met last week again. We had a lesson planned, but she came in and started talking to us about some trials she is facing lately. She basically feels lost and doesn't know what she is doing with her life. We talked with her for about an hour and I hope what we said made a difference. But I think more importantly we were there to listen. I feel really honored that she trusts us enough to tell us what she did and express how she really feels. I hope we can help her, I've been there several times and know firsthand that the Gospel is the only thing that can give you real purpose and motivation in life.

As for investigators, that's about it. We did have some crazy miracles with less actives this week though! We've been meeting with a sister named Zhu Jiemei. She came into the church on her own one Sunday because she felt she needed to come back. We didn't recognize her, so we set up to meet and discovered that she was a less active. Apparently she left right after she was baptized and has declared herself as Buddhist since then. She has pretty much forgotten everything and teaching her feels like teaching an investigator. But the last few weeks we've been trying really hard to have more frequent contact with our investigators and less actives. We've been calling her almost every day and making sure she is reading and praying. This week we met with her and as she sat down she looked at us and said (in the most excited voice), "sister! I felt the Spirit! I really did feel the Spirit this week!" She was so excited, and so were we! She is developing her own testimony and having her own experiences in the gospel which is fantastic. Its funny how such a simple thing can be so exciting nowadays. 

We also met with a new less active this week that another sister contacted on the street. We called and she was extremely willing to meet..which usually doesn't happen with less actives. We got to know her and found out that she used to be a ward missionary and would go around with the missionaries all the time. Apparently she got in an accident and had to stay in the hospital for about a month and then never came back. I have no idea why though. She already seems super willing to come back and has no problem with her testimony in the gospel. I think she just needed a reminder from God to push her back onto the path. I like her a lot. She is a little awkward, but after church we spent some time talking to her about America and as I was describing fry sauce (in Chinese, it was difficult) she was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. I think we are going to become friends pretty quickly. 

Oh yea! I don't think I told you this on TuesdayMonday I had set up a lesson with a contact we got from another missionary through our mission referral system. I had tried to set up with her before, but she stood us up. She called us back though and set up another time. So Monday we went over with our relief society president and got to sit down with her. Turns out she was so willing to meet with us because she is a member of a different Christian church and wants to preach "their gospel" to us and save our souls. She even started crying because God gave her this opportunity to save us. It was interesting, and irritating, because she wouldn't let us get a word in. We asked if we could pray with her and she decided to show us how she prays. It ended up being a whole ritual of babbling, clapping and chanting. It reminded me a lot of the investigator I had in Nantou who started babble praying on us. It was interesting. Who would have thought I would run into that as much in a prominently non-christian country?

One of the highlights of this week was the opportunity we had to go to the hospital in our area and visit a little two year old staying there. One of the members in our ward recently graduated from medical school and is doing his residency at the hospital by our church. He recently has also gotten super into missionary work and is giving us all these referrals. Its perfect really, they can't really go anywhere. (Haha, just kidding). Anyway he told us he was taking care of a little two year old girl who didn't have eyes or ears and just had a nose transplant. He asked us if we would go visit her, and we were happy to. She was adorable and I think she was genuinely happy we were there, even though she couldn't see us. It was hard to leave. She had such a sweet spirit! 

Well that about sums up our week. We're trying really hard to find new investigators, especially ones that have time. So your prayers would be much appreciated. I pray for you all every day. I'm so grateful for your support and encouragement. It keeps me going throughout the week. 

I know this gospel is true. I know that it is the greatest gift we could ever receive, and that we are blessed beyond belief that we were born in the gospel. I know God loves us and that He is always watching over us. I know He is a God of miracles and that that will never change. I know He knows what's best, even though we might not see it. I know He has put us here to learn, and that is our most important purpose here. I know He gave us our families to help us on this crazy path of life. I know He loves me incredibly because He gave me an incredible family that I am grateful for every day. 

Have a great week! Look for the miracles! And be grateful in every circumstance...they are all for our good. I love you all!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Temple Trip and a Midweek Message

We were blessed with an extra message from Sister Fernley this week--because she had to rush her first message because of limited time due to a temple trip, she was granted a bit more time later in the week to write more. We didn't mind at all!

Here's a link to the Taiwan Taichung Mission blog, where you can see photos of Tasha at the temple with many of the other missionaries in her mission.

And here are a few of the photos she sent:

Here's what she had to say:

We just got back from the temple! I love the temple! I've been lucky and haven't had a very long stint here where I couldn't go. I was only down south for four and a half months then got to go right when I moved back up to Taizhong. It is always so inspiring to go and feel the spirit there and be with all the other missionaries. I know I've talked about this before, but there is something special when a large group of missionaries get together. It's like an instant stress relief. You all get together and remember that you and your companion aren't the only two foreigners running around desperately trying to look like we know what we are doing in bringing these people unto Christ and helping them find their eternal salvation. You realize that there's a whole fleet of which you are a part of and we are all experiencing the same joys and the same rejection. It's comforting to say the least.

Well anyway, I was thinking on the bus ride back to Taizhong about what I've learned this week and how grateful I am for the hand of the Lord in our lives. He definitely sent us so many tender mercies this week to lift us back up on our feet and help us keep pressing forward. 

I mentioned briefly that we had interview with President this week, and it was much needed. Sister Murdock and I have been having a hard couple of weeks. If one of us wasn't breaking down or feeling depressed then the other one was. We were a little bit of a mess, but that's why we have companions right? I can't tell you how grateful I am for Sister Murdock. Lately I've been needing a lot of support and pep-talks and Sister Murdock has always been there. I told her the other day that when President called me as her trainer I didn't get a trainee, I got a companion. 

Anyway, back to interviews...We usually have planner and area book checks first with one of the assistants and one of our zone leaders. So we introduced ourselves, did the checks and right before we were done Elder Sumsion (one of our assistants) took some time and just really thanked us for the service that we've been giving and for the decision we made to be on the Lord's team. It was really simple, and he might have not thought that much about it, but it helped me a lot and was really touching. Sometimes I think I forget the big picture of what we are really doing, but it help to put me back on the right perspective. We are part of a vast army, not just of missionaries, but of members all around the world, and the work we are doing is the most important work we could do on this earth. And every little drop, every small contribution, every effort is great and is worth more than we could imagine. 

Then I was able to have my interview with President Blickenstaff. This is the first time I've been really struggling when I had an interview with him, and I know he could tell. He looked straight at me and I knew that he knew and that he wanted to help more than anything. You can just feel his love for the missionaries and his desire to help us. He said once, "You are the most important part of this work, now forget that and go to work."
Lately I've been having a hard time feeling like I haven't been helping this area or fulfilling my purpose like I should. While I was in my interview President looked at me and told me that he felt and that God felt that I was fulfilling my purpose on my mission (despite the fact that I didn't tell him anything about that concern.) Then Sister Murdock was telling me after her interview that she was a little nervous about taking up President's time and feeling like she shouldn't bother him with silly concerns, but as soon as she walked in and sat down President Blickenstaff told her that he has time for all of us, and he never wants us to feel otherwise. It was really cool, and so inspiring! I'm so grateful for the leaders and the support we have here, we couldn't do it without them.

Then the next day we went to go visit Shi Yue. We had a lesson planned, but she ended up talking to us most of the time and encouraging us in our missionary work. She talked for almost an hour about how we shouldn't feel discouraged if we don't get baptisms or think that what we are doing isn't having any effect, because it does and what we have done for her has already helped her a lot. She talked about how she believes what we are doing is one of the best things we could do and how much it is going to influence our future lives and the lives of our children when we come home. It was really nice and actually really surprising coming from an investigator. She really understands! I just hope some day she will actually feel it. But I felt that that lessons wasn't for her, that lesson was for us. 

Then we have been blessed to meet some new incredible people and start teaching them the gospel. We've been weeding out our investigator pool and focusing more on finding new people to teach who will progress. Heavenly Father has been helping us for sure. 

As far as Shi Yue and Yi Jun are they haven't really progressed much the past week or so. Yi Jun is actually staying with other family until they can find a new house in BeiQu, so we can't really meet with her and she can't come to church so that's disappointing. But she is starting the Book of Mormon over again! Shi Yue is getting there, very slowly, but getting there. The ward is being great and has offered to read scriptures with her and have been calling her and following up on her scripture reading (per our request). The member referrals we've received have been AOL this past week. Hopefully we will be able to get in contact with them this week.

And as another side note...a year ago today was my last day in the MTC. I've almost been on island for a year! How crazy is that! I keep getting reminded how long I've been here and what little time I have left. It's precious, so I hope I can make the most out of it and cherish every moment.

I just got to keep looking for those miracles!

Have an incredible week! Love every minute!

Sister Fernley

Monday, October 20, 2014


Sister Fernley wrote us a quick note this week--we're hoping it means we get another one tonight. Here's what she had to say:

Dear Family,

We only have an hour to email today, because we are going to the temple tomorrow! I think we should have some time tomorrow to finish emailing though, so what I don't get in today I will probably be able to get in tomorrow. We'll see.

Anyway, as my last letter might have implicated (I hope not too bad) we have had a couple of hard weeks the past couple of weeks. I don't know why, but I've just been feeling down and overwhelmed for no particular reason. This week, however; was a huge boost and I'm so grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord. He is always looking out for us and knows when He should step in and lift us up. This week was one of those weeks. 

I used to always think that if I got sent to the city it would be a lot easier and you would have a lot more investigators, but moving here has proved me wrong. We are in the dead center of Taizhong, but almost everyone we contact doesn't live here. So it has proved a significant challenge to find people for ourselves to teach. This week we were blessed with five new investigators that actually live in our area. For the past couple of weeks Sister Murdock and I have been praying for new investigators. It took a couple of weeks, but our prayers were finally answered.

Two of the investigators are actually Judy's (one of the mom's we are teaching) two eight year old sons. She called us this week and asked us to come over to her house and share with her sons and their friends stories from the scriptures. It was really fun. It is so crazy to see children who don't even know who God is or what prayer is. If there is anywhere that needs the gospel or to know about God it's here. 

We also met with one of our english students named Rainie. From first glance I would have never expected her to be willing to hear our message. We still aren't completely sure where her desire is, but we have met with her or gone out to dinner with her three or four times this week. At first I thought she just wanted to hang out with us, but the past couple of times she has reminded us to pray and even mentioned that she talked to her boyfriend about baptism in passing. So we are going to keep meeting with her and see where that goes. I like her a lot. I hope she can feel the difference in our church.

We were also able to have interviews with President and Sister Blickenstaff this week. I always love interviews, but this time it was especially inspiring. I know that President Blickenstaff is called of God and that he has the keys to lead us in this mission. Sister Murdock and I were talking about how our interviews went after and both mentioned how he answered our questions and concerns before we even said anything to him. It truly is inspiring. I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to serve here where we get to develop a closer relationship with them and the office staff. They are all incredible examples.

Well I'm running out of time! Sorry, hopefully i will be able to write more tomorrow. But do you remember Alexis? I met her my first week in Taizhong and then we ended up having to refer her to some other sisters because she didn't live in our area. Well...she got baptized! We were able to go to her baptism with President and Sister Blickenstaff on Saturday. I knew from the first time I met her that she would get baptized. She is still such a strong example of faith. I know that she will continue to be a strong member and disciple in the church.

I love you all and loved your emails this week! I hope I get the chance to write more, but if not have a great week and always remember that our Heavenly Father is always looking out for us and will provide miracles when He knows we need them.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Sunday, October 12, 2014

General Conference

The latest message from Sister Fernley…

Hello my dear family!

I hope you all had an incredible week and that you've become better than you were last week! Isn't that all of our goals? Sometimes I think I overlook that important aspect of our lives. Our purpose is to become more like our Savior and our Father in Heaven, but I think sometimes we take too much of an eternal perspective on that thinking that it an eternal endeavor (which it is). However, one thing I've realized lately is that we should be striving to become better every day, every week, every month etc. It is the slow improvement and change made every single day that combines into our process of eternal progression. If nothing else I've learned out here how to be humble enough to know when I need to change and be willing to go a do what needs to be done to facilitate that change. My life hasn't been that long yet, but I feel now like I have spent too much wasted time thinking I was doing okay. I shouldn't have been satisfied with okay, because okay can always become better, and better can keep getting better and better. Best is, unfortunately unattainable, but at least we can rely on our Savior and our Father in Heaven to help us continually inch toward that goal. I love that this gospel is a message of hope and a message of progression. "This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." What better purpose is there than to help us bring to pass our own eternal progression so we can obtain eternal life and continue progressing? And in the process our Father has told us that "men are that they might have joy." Do we this progression and process back to our Father as a path of joy? Because He does.

Anyway, I'll get off my soap-box for now. Sometimes writing these emails teaches me things that I need to learn and helps me realize what I need to do better at. I've actually been struggling a little bit this week in feeling like I'm fulfilling my purpose as a missionary, or if I really am making my area better than I found it. In pondering this question I think I've realized that I'm not as happy because I don't feel like I've progressed that much. So that's my goal. Stand up and find a goal to progress toward, because progression and improvement is our purpose...where ever we may be. We strive as missionaries to help our investigators progress and even make plans and report numbers for our "progressing investigators," but I don't think this term "progressing" should only be applied to investigators. We can all be "progressing" whether it be a progressing missionary, progressing father, mother, son, the label, we can all be progressing in the various places we are given in this world.

I think I told you last week that Sister Murdock and I had started a Book of Mormon challenge last Sunday. I challenged one of our investigators to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover in a allotted amount of time and she decided to do it in seven days! So we offered to do it with her. And we did! It actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, but it was definitely a challenge. We decided that we weren't going to let this challenge allow us to break any rules (such as bedtime) or interfere with our daily proselyting, so that limited our time to read to our studies, preparation day, and whatever extra time we could scrounge up before studies, during meals, and before bed. We used all we could and ended up finishing the Book of Mormon Saturday night (our agreed day to finish) at 10:27 pm. It was crazy! But I learned so much! I decided that this time through the Book of Mormon I was going to mark every time Christ's name is mentioned (Lord, Christ, Redeemer etc.) It really helped me realize how much the Book of Mormon really is a Testament of Jesus Christ. It can bring us closer to Him than any other book. And I think I will be more dedicated in reading the Book of Mormon, because if I could do it in a week, on a mission, without breaking the time rules I could definitely read it a lot more in other circumstances. Because it's really not as big as I think it is sometimes.

This week not a lot else happened as far as our investigators go. We weren't able to meet with Yi Jun (who also finished the Book of Mormon with us on Saturday) because she kept canceling and didn't come to conference on Sunday. So hopefully we can see her this week and see what she learned while reading the Book of Mormon. I praying that this challenge can bring the miracles we are hoping it will bring. 

We did get to visit Shi yue after a about a week of not hearing from her. We sent and she told us herself that us coming made her feel really bad because she hadn't been reading, praying or coming to church. It was sad news, but I was actually really happy that she felt so bad about it. It shows that she knows how important it is and knows that she needs to do it. We talked about the Atonement and repentance and re-committed her start up again. I hope we can help her progress. She has such potential.

Lately we've been having a hard time getting lessons, and this week was no exception, but Heavenly Father was merciful! Thursday we had a few lessons earlier in the afternoon and planned to try and find new investigators for the rest of the night. We ended up not talking to very many people because we had a random lesson off the street with two college students going to shop. We talked to them for over half an hour and you could see their disposition toward us change as we kept talking with them. One had recently been reading the Bible and learning about Christianity from her roommate and by the end of our conversation she looked at us and told us very passionately that she would pray for us! It was really touching and wasn't at all discriminatory like other times. 

From that miracle we biked over to a 7-11 down by Lerma's house to wait for her to come out. We had about fourty minutes and just planned to call some phones until we could go meet with her. As we were parking our bikes we saw this lady staring at us from the door of the store. We said hi, and started talking to her as we walked into the 7-11. She ended up being a former and sat down with us and we were able to talk to her and teach her again about prayer. She had no desire to change, but she was really nice and wouldn't stop talking about the sister missionary who first started teaching her. We finished our lesson with her just in time to run over to Lerma's. And even though these people we ran into weren't completely prepared to start or continue learning about the gospel, at least we prepared them one step closer to Christ! And Heavenly Father blessed us with a few more lessons for the week. 

Saturday we were given even more miracles! That night we had set up to meet with the young women who was referred from a few of our members a couple of weeks ago. We had set up to go to the member's house and teach her there. We went over and had a good first lesson with her and were even able to set a baptism goal with her! Then as we were about to leave the Father of the family asked us if we had time to go tract a door with him. We didn't have anything pressing so of course we agreed. He then biked with us over to his barber's shop and introduced us to her. We were able to sit down together and teach a little bit about prayer and our purpose as missionaries. She was really nice and seemed pretty willing to learn more, and best of all is that she already has a friend in the church! It was a great night, and I was extremely proud of our members. They are a really great, strong family in the gospel, and I actually found out that the mother's sister is the Relief Society president in the Nantou ward! So I know their extended family from my first area! It was kind of a fun connection. The church makes the world a lot smaller, haha.

And then we had General Conference this weekend! Because they need time to translate the members here watch it a week later, so we get to as well. They will always set up somewhere for the missionaries to listen to the english broadcast, so we were all exiled to the basement and watched general conference together. I absolutely loved it! I have to admit that the Saturday sessions were my favorite. I feel like there were so many talks that answered my concerns and prayers lately. My favorite was Jorge Klebingat's talk and his six suggestions to help us become better disciples of Christ. I'm excited to take our leader's invitations and do what they have asked. It brings miracles and guides us on the path to eternal life. I'm so grateful that we have the keys of the priesthood restored again to the earth and that we have worthy prophets and apostles who lead an guide us. Heavenly Father really loves us so much!

The clothes you sent were perfect! One of the white shirts is a little tight, but it works since it is an undershirt. The dress and skirt have now become some of my favorite articles of clothing. Thank you so much! The kit-kats made it a little melted, but nothing a few days in the fridge can't fix. I love the coloring book and crayons from Jemma as well. Last p-day (yes we call it p-day) Sister Murdock and I spent some time in it before we went to read the book of mormon.

Well I'm almost out of time, but I uploaded a few photos of the night we finished the Book of Mormon. We also had a BBQ at President's house after Saturday conference which was fun. (Perks of being a BeiQu sister.) 

And we crowded in the clerk's office to watch the Relief Society broadcast while the elders were in the priesthood session. 

As well as more food pictures, haha. It seems that sometimes that's the most exciting thing. This was Sister Murdock's request for my birthday breakfast, but we ended up doing it a few days later for lunch instead.

I love you all so much! I'll pray for Dad that the interview goes well, and that everyone's week will be good as well. Have an incredible week! And remember that there are miracles just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

ps. as far as the missionary moment, I don't have anything specific. Taiwan is great. It is definitely an adventure. I love training. And Chinese is always a struggle. Haha

Happy 22!

Sister Fernley celebrated her birthday the day before we received this message--it sounds like it was a great day! We're thankful for her sweet companion who made sure the day was special. Here is her message from Oct. 5, 2014.

Hello my dear family and friends!

This week was incredible! Honestly relatively not a lot happened, and the first five days of the week were a little depressing, but Heavenly Father always pulls through and Saturday we had a day packed full of lessons. 

First of all I loved all the emails this week. I say that every week, but it's true. Emails and letters are a missionary's gold. No matter the content. I'm so glad General Conference was good, we get to watch it this week. Hopefully they set it up in english for us. I don't think it will have the same feel in Chinese. Also I'm super excited for the trips. Hopefully that will keep us busy enough so I don't get bored. I think I'm going to need to be busy to keep me sane. Haha.

Second of all, I love my companion!! She is incredible and I am so grateful for her friendship and support. She may be in training, but she is already a great missionary. She is super thoughtful and I love her so much. She asked me when my birthday was when we first got together and has remembered and been mentioning it for weeks. So has Sister Anderson, who is conveniently in the area next over and in our english group (for teaching english class). So we get to see each other all the time! 

Sister Murdock, all on her own, wrote a note to the Wheelers (one of the senior couples in the office, we go to their house every Sunday night for dinner) and told them about my birthday.  this whole surprise birthday party was planned and pulled off by Sister Wheeler. We conveniently had set up the week before to eat dinner at the Yang's (who are the other senior couple serving in the office) that night. So while we were at dinner the Wheelers broke into our apartment, set things up, and waited for us to go up. My companion pulled the I have to go to the bathroom excuse so we went up before we were going to go out again. So pretty much we had the Wheelers, the Yangs, and four of the nearby sisters who stopped by and ate cake and ice cream with us. It was really cute, and I was so appreciative. I pretty much had my birthday in the best area. Where else do you have the Wheelers to pull something like that off for you? They are incredible and are our saving grace every week. 

Then Sunday night we went over to their house to eat and Sister Murdock told them some of my favorites. So they had that all prepared for an extra surprise. 

Once again I am so thankful for my companion and how thoughtful she was to make it a good day. Honestly it was one of the best birthday's I've ever had. The rest of the week we had been stood up more than normal and hadn't taught very many lessons, or seen much success. But Saturday we were packed and were running from lesson to lessons, to dinner, to surprise birthday party, then back out to tract and call phones for a little bit. We even ran into a really cool girl while we were trying to call people at a Family Mart (kind of like a 7-11, but they are a lot nicer here.) She was super excited to see foreigners so I went over and sat next to her. We talked to her and her boyfriend (who happens to be from Nantou!) for about an hour. Sometimes about english, sometimes about church and our work, but it was great and we got her number to call her and set up a time to share more. She told us that if we tracted her door, she would be more than willing to listen (so cute). As we were getting ready to leave she asked me if she could give me a hug. I said, "Of course." Then got launched at and almost fell of the stool I was sitting on. Needless to say, that was the perfect ending to an incredible birthday. Oh and that night President and Sister Blickenstaff called and sang Happy Birthday which was an even better ending. 

I almost forgot! Friday night Tu Jiemei from Qishan also came up to Taizhong and went out to dinner with us and Sister Anderson and her companion. She brought a cake as well and a card from the members in Qishan for my birthday. I love those people so much! It was a hard area, but I made some of my closest friends down there.

And I got your package! Thank you so much! It was a lot more than I expected or needed. But I loved it all! Jemma's picture is now up on my wall where I can see it every day. I was pretty impressed at how you got the cereal box to fit, way to go! You could be a sister missionary! Haha.

Earlier this week we met with a referral from the office elders. This lady just walked into the office and asked them to give her a blessing. They did and referred her over to us. We set up with her the next day. It was extremely frustrating! She is Christian and kept saying she respected us and felt the power of the the Spirit when they gave her a blessing and when she met with us, but is completely unwilling to learn anything about our church. She wouldn't even take a Book of Mormon and just try to read. Sometimes agency is really frustrating. 

We weren't able to meet with Shi Yue this week, and she didn't come to church so we don't quite know what is going on with her. But we did get to meet with Yi Jun. We shared a message with her, which went really great then followed up with her on if she was able to talk to her mom about being baptized again. She got really sad and said that her mom said it is okay for her to keep meeting with us and going to church, but this time she came right out and said she could not get baptized. She wants her to understand more and doesn't want her to get baptized probably for a few years. I don't know why, but the only thing I could think of when she told us this was to have her read the Book of Mormon. So I shared with her a story I had heard from another sister who invited their investigator (Lerma actually) to read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover in a month. They promised her if she did it she would have a way to go to church, and that was the only time Lerma was allowed to actually go to the church. I told Yi Jun that we could do the same and that if she did God would provide a way, or help her know what to do according to His will. I asked if she had faith that He could do it and she nodded without hesitation. So I asked her what time frame she wanted, thinking she would do about a month, but she replied and said she would start on Sunday and finish on Saturday. Seven Days! I asked if she thought she could do it, and she said yes. So I replied, "okay, and we'll do it with you." 

After that Yi Jun went to work and as we watched her walk away Sister Murdock looked at me and said, "so, what are we doing?" I told her what I had just got us into and she freaked out a little bit. Not too much though. Actually as more time went on we got more and more excited about it. We started yesterday and are almost done with second nephi. It's actually not as hard as I thought it would be, just a little hard to fit in with the normal missionary schedule. Hopefully we can see miracles by the end of this, or at least see some faith increased. 

Sunday we also had the opportunity to meet with a girl about my age that the Taiping Sisters contacted and set up for us. We met with her right before church and then she attended all three hours of church with us. She is extremely shy! It took me almost all of church to get some of her favorite things out of her. She did say that she has been thinking of becoming christian because she wants something to help her have peace and support in her life. It was really cool, because we were able to extend a baptism invite, had to resolve some concerns about bai bai-ing, then invited her again and she accepted. It was like that was straight out of Preach my Gospel. It felt good. It felt like we were doing exactly what we needed to be doing and just could feel what was needed. It doesn't always happen like that, but I was grateful for the chance to confirm that we are being led by the spirit and know that we were doing what we were being prompted to do. Sometimes you just need that confirmation to help you know you are on the right track. 

Anyway, that's about all I have to report this week. Sister Murdock is still doing awesome, and I am so grateful that she is my companion. I can't believe that we are more than half-way through training! It seems like that just started. Time flies like crazy! 

I love being here. I'm not going to lie, I will probably come home with some chinese mannerisms like the RM you were talking about. (I think he was in Taibei, because i don't know him.) Hopefully I'm not too bad though. You may have to put up with some Chinese phrases thrown in here and there, that one is going to take a while to get out of. It's hard talking to the senior couples sometimes because you want to speak Chin-glish, but can't because they don't understand. Sometimes I have to think a minute to translate over what I wanted to say in Chinese.

The work keeps going. That's really all you can say about missionary work. As soon as someone drops or gets baptized there's someone else to work with or something else to do to find more people to teach. There is never a slow moment. It definitely feels different here in the city, but I'm coming to love it. I still think I like the country better, but they both have their perks. I love being by the office an interacting with President and the office staff more often. 

I love being a missionary. I love this work. It brings so much more purpose and even though it is hard sometimes I know that we are doing what the Lord wants us to be doing. I'm so grateful He led me to walk this path. I'm so grateful for how much I have changed and all I have learned. I have seen so many miracles that testify to me that Jesus is the Christ and that this is His gospel and only true church on the earth. I love these people. I love Chinese and Taiwan. It will always be a part of my heart.

I love you all! Thank you so much for the birthday wishes! It was a great birthday. What better gift could I have than being able to go out and preach the gospel? 

Have an incredible week and always remember to count the miracles, because they are just around the corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

ps. despite popular belief down in Qishan, the second coming wasn't on Oct. 4th. I was a little disappointed. We'll have to wait until next year.

Tell Jemma I love her 80 90 80 90 780 90 80 and more than that!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

If God Can Have Two Books...

And with this post, I am caught up with Sister Fernley's blog posts (until tonight when she sends her next message). We are just so proud of her and love hearing about all the miracles she experiences.

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and it is almost October! I landed in Taiwan almost a year ago! Time flies right? Today is also the official start of another move-call, or in other words a transfer if you aren't a Taiwan missionary, and that means that Sister Murdock is half-way through training! I'm so glad that I was given this incredible opportunity to serve with her. I have learned so much from her and from administering to her. Starting a mission is hard, especially with a second language and a new culture. I'm so grateful that I can be here for her, and in helping her I've learned from myself. It's funny how sometimes I will say things, then think about what I just said and realize that yea...that was a really good point. Sometimes you don't even know what you know, until you voice it out loud. I guess that's why they say bearing our testimony is so important. It helps us realize what we really do know, and learn from ourselves.

Sorry about not answering question last week! I felt like my mind was all over the place and my thoughts were just splattered onto a page into a semi-understandable mesh of words. Sorry about that...

Anyway, dad asked what would happen if Lerma's employer found out she got baptized. Actually I don't know. She might get put on more strict lock-down, but technically she can't do anything. Lerma has the rights of a Taiwanese citizen and they have the right of religious freedom here. So how Lerma has been treated isn't all that legal, but everyone does it so everyone looks at it with a blind eye. I'm not sure when she will end her contract. She still has a year and knowing Lerma she wouldn't end it before the time is up. She is going home to the Philippines for a week in December for Christmas though. We got to meet with her this week and most just sat and listened. She just needs someone to talk to sometimes. She is incredible and is already sharing the gospel with her family.  

I think that's all the questions...

I got your package this week! Thank you so much! Haven't opened it yet, I'm waiting until Saturday, but you shouldn't have spent so much to get that here! I didn't notice until a few days ago and felt guilty for about ten minutes, then we left the door so I got distracted. :) Speaking of distractions. The Beatles just came on at the internet cafe! I'm not listening. It cracks me up what songs they put on sometimes here. They don't even understand them, but see them on the top hits in America so they play them. I heard White Christmas in a restaurant in June once. 

This week was crazy as normal, and by the time Sunday rolled along I wasn't really sure what we accomplished. We didn't have correlation meeting before church because we did it earlier in the week (one of the bishopric counselors is stepping in as mission leader until they can get someone else called). So because we had that time Sister Murdock did a Phase 1 pass off (remember those), and I called some phones and talked to the other sisters while I waited in the hallway. While I was sitting there Yi Jun texted me and said she wouldn't be able to make it to church that week. She is our one solid investigator that comes to church every week so I had no idea if we were going to have any investigators at church. Sacrament meeting started and we found some members to get to know and sit with and according to His pattern Heavenly Father performed some Sunday miracles. 

About five minutes into sacrament meeting Shi Yue walked in. She usually only comes if her husband doesn't have work and they can come together. She said she was afraid of bringing her baby on her own, but I guess she got over that because she came! We knew her husband had work that day so we weren't expecting her to come. 

Earlier on that week we attended ward council and I asked if we could find anyone to help her come to church when her husband had work because they don't have a car (most people don't here.) The Bishop kind of rebuffed my request and told me that she couldn't always rely on members to get her to church so she would have to use her faith to get to church. I was a little miffed. I understood where the bishop was coming from, but I don't think some member help would be too earth shattering now and then. So in correlation meeting with one of the counselors this week I mentioned it again, and guess what happened?! Our counselor called her Saturday night and asked if she needed a ride, she didn't want to bother anyone so she said she was okay. But then she walked to church with her 6 month old baby and came to all three hours plus an hour long baptismal service after church. I think she came partly because of our member who didn't even give her a ride, just reminded her and was willing to serve if she needed it. 

While she was at church she was super outgoing and just went and made friends on her own. The ward members were great and were super welcoming. We weren't really even with her for most of church. She loved it and Sister Murdock and I were sky-high for the rest of the day. 

Aside from Shi Yue we also had Kelly come into church unexpectedly. I'm not sure if I've talked about her at all, but she is a young single mom who we have met with a few times. She has never really kept her commitments, so we had pretty much dropped her when she came to english and church this week. She tagged along with Shi Yue and stayed for all of church and the baptismal service as well. It was really cool! 

Then...we also got a member referral! One of our families who was just in America for a while brought one of their daughters friends to church and set up for us to contact this friend and offered to have the missionary lessons in their home. How much more perfect can you get?

So to say the least Sunday was incredible. I felt like I was constantly running around herding investigators and their babies, making sure members knew who they were, making note of what the members were asking us to do, taking member referrals, translating sometimes for Sister Murdock, and trying to get something out of the lessons and talks given. It was crazy, but I'd rather have a busy Sunday like that over a less active Sunday any day. 

Another huge miracle! Nothing pertaining to our investigators, but something that testified to me once again that Heavenly Father is looking out for us, even when it comes to the little things. Usually in our mission when you are about half-way done with training you have a follow-up meeting with President and Sister Blickenstaff. I knew we were going to have the meeting soon, but hadn't heard anything about it so figured it would be next week. Then on Tuesday Sister Murdock and I left early to go meet with a former investigator I had called the night before. We couldn't find the street she lived on so called her and set up to just meet at the church. We traveled back to the church and as soon as we parked out bikes the sisters from Nantou (I love that place, oh and the Hong family had their baby about a month ago!) waved from the door. I was super confused as to why they were there. We walked into the building and saw all the other trainers and trainees waiting in the chapel. Apparently the meeting was that morning and started in about twenty minutes. Someone forgot to inform us. So we called our investigator and canceled the lesson and went over to the office to borrow some Preach My Gospels for the meeting. Heavenly Father cares enough about us to let us get lost and have to rearrange for our lesson to be at the church so we could show up and find out about our meeting. Several other companionships weren't as lucky and were called and told to get there as soon as they could. 

Now I'm sure you have all been wondering why my email is titled what it is. Well, we had our english party this week (which was awesome! we planned a game and made it Mario themed for our overall Nintendo theme) and this lady came just because she wanted to learn about Christianity. We met with her on Friday and it felt like teaching someone from the states. She had all the questions and concerns we hear all the time back home. Like how God can only have one bible and why our early church members practiced polygamy etc. She had gone to the internet and learned some things, enough said. Anyway we were talking to the elders about it after because they were teaching her brother at the same time. One of the elders simply said, "God can have two books if He wants." I don't know why, but I've been thinking about that ever since then. God can have two books. 

It kind of became our new catch phrase. Now when we don't think something will happen or something seems hard we simple say, "well, if God can have two books..." It's also become a really good pick-me-up for Sister Murdock. As we all do when we first start off she has times where she needs a pep-talk (I'm getting really good at those). So I just tell her, "well, if God can have two books He can call you here to preach the gospel in chinese, and because of that He knows you can do it." Really, it works. So next time you don't feel like you can do something or it seems hard, just remember...God can have two books so He can make it possible for us to do anything. 

Well that's about all I have time for. I could keep writing, but we never have time to do all we want. I love you all and loved your emails this week. I, as well, was really proud of Jemma for being so brave! Her picture was great! I love you all! Thanks for you support and always being there for me! Couldn't do it without you. I say that every week, but it is so true. Love you all to Taiwan and back!

There's always another miracle just around the corner, and if God can have two books He can do anything. And because we are His children we can do anything with His help.

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

Lerma's baptism!

Here is Sister Fernley's message from Sept. 21. Lots of good news!

Dear family,

Surprisingly I read all my emails, replied to some people I forgot to reply to last week, wrote president, entered numbers and still have a full hour to sit down and write this letter. Hopefully I will be able to arrange my thoughts and the crazy happenings of this week into a semi-comprehensible form of a letter in the time that I have.

I'm sure you all are curious about Lerma. 

Lerma ended up not being able to come out Monday night, so we rescheduled for Wednesday. Wednesday night we held an semi-informal Sacrament meeting so Lerma could take the sacrament one more time. The Asia area presidency has set a standard of investigators needing to take the sacrament three times before they can get baptized. It was a little bit out of the ordinary, but was one of the most memorable sacrament meetings I have ever attended. 

The entire company consisted of me and Sister Murdock, Lerma, the assistants, and President and Sister Blickenstaff. I mentioned to Sister Murdock that I always feel like a spy when I got and visit Lerma. We usually wait at the street corner under the street light and watch down the street for when she comes, so it feels like  a scene straight out of a mystery novel or something. 

We were able to hold a pretty good Sacrament meeting in the thirty minutes that she had. We got to sing a hymn and the elders blessed the sacrament and served it to our small company on a plate brought from home, a white fabric napkin, and cheap paper cups from the office. I am so grateful for the priesthood and for the young men I get to work with everyday. They are trying their best to stay worthy of this sacred privilege, which blesses those they teach and others that they serve around. It's a privilege to be able to see them bless the sacrament, give priesthood blessings, and act worthily wherever else they are called to serve. 

After partaking of the sacrament (some of us for the second time that week) it was our turn to teach her some last things before she could have her baptismal interview. It was intimidating to say the least. First of all Lerma ends up teaching us every time we meet with her, so I feel completely inadequate teaching her anything. Second of all we were in company of the President, his wife, and the assistants to the President...and I'm the senior companion. Adding onto that I've never taught all of Lesson 5 in Preach my Gospel in one lesson before. 

Fortunately I was able to pull it all together, and ended up teaching the whole laws and ordinances lesson (which includes priesthood and auxilliaries, temples and family history, eternal marriage, service, missionary work, teaching and learning in the church, and enduring to the end) all in about five minutes. Really it ended up not being that scary. The others were really supportive and backed me up. I love how we all get to learn and improve together. 

After we taught President shared a few things, we closed and walked her home. It was probably the most unusual place for a sacrament meeting. We don't usually hold them on the street corner, in the dark, on a makeshift pew of benches and chairs tied together by the old amahs and agongs who sit outside all day, in front of a GIANT gold Buddha statue and an ancient Buddhist temple. But despite all the odd circumstances it was an incredible experience where the spirit was so strong. It can be manifest anywhere, we just have to look for it.

Then Friday night Lerma conveniently was at the hospital with the man she takes care of, so was able to get out for about thirty minutes to come to the church and have her baptismal interview. It was probably the fastest interview in history. Elder Flint, who conducted the interview, said the spirit was so strong and that he was getting chills as soon as she answered the first question. 

Yea...that sounds like Lerma.

So Friday she had her interview, Saturday we met with her and went over some last few details of the baptism, and last night she was baptized! The baptism was incredible and I know it was a special experience for her. She was so thankful and cried almost the whole time. Sister Blickenstaff was able to get a hold of several of the other missionaries who taught her and the elder who found her, so they had them all skype in so they could see the baptism. It was really special. 

Several members from the english branch attended to support her and get to know her more, and of course we had the whole office staff and the missionaries who have taught her who are still in Taiwan. She had about an hour and a half so we were able to make it a good service for her. President Blickenstaff actually baptized her and after she came up out of the water she just stood there and cried. Definitely a touching site. Sister Murdock and I got a little teary eyed as we watched from the side of the font.

After the program was over Lerma took some time to talk to each of the missionaries who had skyped in. So while she was making the rounds I ended up holding the computer that Sister Schultz was connected to. It was a little weird seeing my old companion as, well, no a missionary. It was really good to talk to her though. 

Then to top off the night. As we were taking pictures with Lerma she saw the branch president about to leave and ran off to grab something. A few seconds later she runs back in and hands a small white envelope with her tithing in it to President Smith. Once again Lerma is an incredible example to us all, and continues to amaze and teach me. 

(hopefully sometime soon I'll get the pictures from the others and get those to you)

Aside from Lerma's baptism we also had a funeral this weekend. We found out Wednesday that our ward mission leader, Chen Dixiong, had had a massive heart attack that morning and was in the ICU. About 10:15 that night the elders texted us and told us he had passed away. The ward held their own funeral service for him on Saturday. 

I think this was the first time for me that anyone I knew very well passed away, and I was able to be there for the funeral. Actually this is the first funeral I've ever been to. Chen Dixiong was one of our strongest advocates in this ward and was always so willing to help us out in the Lord's work. It was shocking how fast everything happened. I had talked to him just the night before and seen him walk into the church with a few pizzas for a family home evening. But as always I am so grateful for the gospel and for our knowledge of the plan of salvation. 

I loved seeing the ward all gather together and put together the funeral and remember Chen Dixiong. They talked about how much he has changed since being taught the gospel as well as his growth in the church. They talked about how willing he was to serve and how selfless he was. It truly was a beautiful service and full of the spirit. We will miss him, but I know he has already become one of the Spirit World's most diligent and powerful missionary. He's still helping us, just on the other side.

Other happenings of the week:

1. Church was canceled because of a typhoon that never hit Taizhong. (picture of the church is a member who didn't get the memo)

2. We called and taught elvis this week...who actually is a super cute 22 year old girl, but her name is cool.
3. We got in contact with a former who was super excited about the Book of Mormon, hopefully we can continue meeting with her.
4. I made four plans for the typhoon day, because we had no idea what was going to happen. In the end they all ended getting mixed together.
5. Sister Murdock is great! I'm so grateful for her companionship and that I have the privilege of getting her started. I can't believe we are almost done with her first move call!

I love you all and loved hearing about your trip to Idaho. I guess five year olds everywhere are prone to ruling their households. I'm glad Jemma had fun and that we live so close to family that we can make those trips every once in a while. 

I can't wait to hear about your weeks and share what miracles we see this week!

Miracles are around every corner!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley