Monday, December 15, 2014

A New Sister Training Leader!

Wow! Exciting news! Sister Fernley has been made a Sister Training Leader (kind of like a district leader if compared to the elders). I have no doubt that she will be wonderful leader! Also she got our package--huzzah! And I am proud of her for lots of reasons, but I am happy about her little goal to take a picture every day—not because I'm a photographer, but because we love seeing what she is seeing!

Dear family,

First of all, Nicole is going to be so proud of me! I made a goal to take a picture every day for the rest of my mission, and I've been doing pretty well. Your package did come, so that gives me at least one picture a day for December. Thank you so much! It's a treat to come home every night and be able to sit down and figure out what that nights gift is with my companion. She thinks it is the cutest thing ever! It's fun to see her reactions. It's so strange to be in a culture that doesn't celebrate Christmas. It makes me so much more grateful for the chance we have each year to celebrate the birth of our Savior. The feeling of Christmas truly is a special one.

Second, I'm moving! I'm not joking either. I move out on Friday to serve as a Sister Training Leader in Tainan for my last two move calls. On Friday I'll have been in this area for a month. I'm kind of sad to leave and not be able to see the building up of this area, but I hope that this past month has made an effect.

I'm not really sure that I was here for any investigator specifically, or to lift a certain member. It may be that we don't have many investigators, and the ones we do have are just starting, but I didn't really seem to click with anyone. In all my other areas that relationship came pretty fast, but here nothing seemed to happen. But I do feel like I was here for my companion. I have seen Sister Bi grow so much over the last month. She has been so stalwart and has been more willing to conquer her fears and improve her weaknesses than anyone I have ever met. I know that as she goes into this next move call she will be ready to face whatever the Lord has in store for her and will see so many miracles. I've only been here a month and have seen so many.

I think one in particular effected me the most this week. I was reminded of the importance of asking the direction of God in all that we do. I find that a lot of the time I pray at the specified times or before specific activities, such as planning, but forget to pray at the in-between times. For example, we pray before and after planning, but seldom do I stop and pray during planning. This is one thing that I've been trying to be better at and as we have been doing this as a companionship we have seen the guidance of our Heavenly Father in our work. 

On Thursday, just like every other day, we had a lot of finding time. We had planned to go drop off a card to an MIA recent convert and then tract around her neighborhood. We ended up riding around for a while and couldn't find the address. We both finally stopped riding and looked at each other not knowing what to do. We decided to tract where we were, prayed and biked off to find where we needed to go. I don't even remember where we ended up, and at the beginning it didn't feel like anything special. Everyone was pretty rude and obviously didn't want to listen. BUT as we were getting close to the time to leave we tracted a house that looked like no one was home. We knocked and called to see if anyone was there and surprisingly heard a voice in the dark. This lady probably in her forties came to the door. We talked to her for a minute, but she didn't seem like she had any interest. Then her daughter walked up behind her with the biggest smile and extreme curiosity written all over her face. Her mom walked off and left us to talk with her daughter who is about 19 years old. She said they were there visiting her mom's friend, but that she lived in Chaozhou and would be willing to meet with us some other time. 

Then a few hours later we had more tracting time planned in. This time we went to the street we had decided on the night before during planning (which of course we had prayed about). We started tracting and had a very similar experience as a few hours earlier. The last door we knocked on ended up being an already Christian family. I don't know why, but I get really nervous when I'm contacting Christians, so I spent the whole time stumbling over my words not knowing what to say. The mom we were talking to said something about the 12 apostles, so I mentioned that we had 12 apostles today as well and asked if she would like to learn more. To my surprise (I don't usually expect Christians to be willing to listen) she said we could come back and she would be willing to listen. Hopefully we will find time this week to share with her.

These stories and these miracles are really simple and honestly this happens quite frequently, but I was particularly aware this time of the blessings of God and the need that we have for His guidance. I'm grateful that He led us to the right places at the right times. As often happens in missionary work these people might not end up meeting with us. I hope they do with all my heart, but sometimes they don't. But at least we've given them a start and if we aren't able to see their progression hopefully missionaries down the road will. They are one step closer to finding the most precious message and gift on the Earth. 

We were also able to meet with a former investigator we had called earlier in the week before. I'm not sure why, but she lost contact with the missionaries before. She is incredibly prepared! She believes in God and is looking for somewhere that will bring her peace. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted. She even said the date we set was perfect. Unfortunately I don't think she lives in our area (just out of the border), but hopefully we can keep her progressing and working toward her goal.

The week was also the first time I have really cried over a less active. A few days ago Sister Bi and I were tracting (we had gotten lost again and decided to tract for a minute) and tracted into a less active. He said he knew who we were and that he was baptized eight years ago, but now goes to another church. It was heart-breaking to talk to him and see how he has denied his testimony. He doesn't even acknowledge what he felt before. All I could think of was how his missionaries would feel if they could see him. It made me think of my RC's, though they be few, and how heart-broken I would be if they left the church. I hope they never will, and I'm comforted to know that as of now they are still active and strong in the church.

Well, I'm just about out of time. I hope you all have a great week! Be safe and happy, and remember to look for the small miracles we are given every day!

I love you all!

Sister Fernley

Monday, December 8, 2014


Here is Sister Fernley's message from Dec. 7, 2014:

Hello my dear family! 

This week was incredible! The funny thing is though that it doesn't really effect me like it did before. Maybe that's a bad thing, I don't know! I guess when I first came out I was amazed when someone wanted to set up with us or when they accepted a baptismal goal etc. But now it seems so natural. Why wouldn't they want to talk to us? Why wouldn't they want to hear this message? It is the most important message being shared on the Earth today. Of course they'd want to listen.

This week I learned so much and grew so much personally, as a companionship, and in our area. We saw so many miracles that I am so grateful for. I think it all started on Tuesday when we went on exchanges. Since I just got to this area I went to Gaoxiong with Sister Wilkins and Sister Bi stayed here with Sister Lin. I was a little disappointed because Sister Lin just finished training in Nantou. I was hoping to talk to her about the area and the people there. It's funny how you don't really love an area as much until you leave it. 

Anyway we went on exchanges and it just felt off. The whole first half of the exchange we didn't feel unified. I didn't feel like I was being inspired to change or feeling much of the Spirit. Then at the very end we had a lesson that just clicked. We ended up teaching a completely different lesson then planned, but it felt right. It was what the investigator needed. 

I think having that experience of a not so unified exchange made me realize what Sister Bi and I were lacking. I have been really lucky and never had a problem before with companionship unity, so I think I was a little proud and didn't want to talk about it. I kept thinking that it was a personal problem that I could change and everything would become better, but sometimes, well most of the time you can't fix problems on your own. Especially in a companionship. I could try my hardest to strengthen our companionship unity and better myself, but it will never have the same effect as a companionship working together and individually to better ourselves and our companionship.

So as soon as our exchange was over and we sat down on the train I looked at Sister Bi and talked to her about our companionship unity. We didn't necessarily have anything wrong or any disputes, but there was obviously something missing. So we sat down and made goals to improve that and how to make a companionship more of a 50/50 relationship, and how to develop more love for each other.

The results were incredible! Within the next day or two the feeling of something missing was gone. I wasn't as stressed and Sister Bi wasn't as nervous. We've also seen so many miracles that I believe are a result of our efforts in striving to be unified, diligent and obedient.

By the end of the week we had found eight new investigators! Sister Bi tracted into a family and had a miracle contact while on exchanges, then the other four were lessons we had set up the week before. Because of these new investigators we had considerably more lessons than last week, and consequently a lot more faith and hope in the area. 

I said last week that the "promised land" didn't feel very promising. Dad also talked about having the same feeling on his mission. But I realized this week (and dad also talked about the same idea in his email) that an area is only "golden" if you make it golden. Your attitude, your efforts, your diligence are what make an area golden. It all starts with you.

I guess that idea can be applied to almost any situation in life. Whether it be on a mission in a new area, a new companion, in a new job, in an old job, school, family relationships etc. Our situation and our experiences are only as 'golden' as we make them. So let's stand up and make them golden!

I was reading this morning in Alma about the story of Ammon. One thing that really struck me this time through was the immediacy with which Ammon went and acted. I'm sure he felt pretty uncomfortable with the Lamanites. I bet he was probably scared out of his mind, wondering if he was going to live to see the next day. I'm pretty positive he had no idea how he was going to help those people believe and listen to the message he had to share. BUT when he was provided an opportunity to show for the power of God he took it without delay. He didn't sit and cry with the Lamanites and fear for his life. He just went and acted. 

This is a huge sidetrack, but the Christmas party was this week! We ended up going to Fo Guang Shan. I was a little disappointed, since I've been there before, and honestly Buddhist things don't really interest me much anymore. So I ended up with a few of the sisters just walking around and taking pictures. Sister Bi ended up with the other Taiwanese sisters, so we went on splits for the day and I spent most of the time with Sister Grigg! It was fun to see her again and talk about the last year. 

One thing that I notice every time we have big mission gatherings is just how precious the friendships we make here. President mentioned that he always struggles with the decision of having a Christmas activity, but seeing the joy we have of being together and seeing old friends makes it worth it every time. I have met some of my closest friends here. As we were getting ready to leave I hugged my old companions and couldn't keep from crying. Sister Anderson is actually going home in a week, so that was the last time we would see each other on our missions. We both started crying and didn't want to leave. It was a little embarrassing hugging Sister Blickenstaff and shaking President's hand with tears running down my face. I love these people! I love my companions! There definitely is a special bond that comes when you serve the Lord together. No one else can understand completely what it's like.

Anyway that's some of what I learned this week. I don't have a lot to write about investigators yet, they are all just getting started. So hopefully next week I will have more to write about them. I got my stocking this week! Thank you! I haven't gotten the other yet, but I'm sure it's in route. I'm super excited! It sure doesn't feel like Christmas around here. I got the music too! It will be nice. I make us sing a Christmas song when it's my turn to choose our hymn for companionship study, but Sister Bi doesn't seem to have much of the Christmas spirit because she never picks Christmas songs. :(

Well I don't know what else to report. Our area is on the rise! Hopefully there will be a lot more to report next week. I love you all! Thanks for your emails, letters etc. It means a lot and keeps me going. I can't believe how fast time is going. I just hope I can treasure every minute I have left.

I love you all! Have a great week! Remember that its the small things that bring miracles, and its our decisions that effect our fate.

And Remember to stay happy! And sing tons of Christmas songs for me!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

(Yes, that sign says Pig Knuckle Street, which I'm sure is why Sister Fernley took the picture. :) )

Monday, December 1, 2014

Keeping the Faith

Here is Sister Fernley's message from November 30:

Hello everyone,

Its funny, I really don't have a lot to say, but I still don't even know where to start. I guess first I'll answer your questions.

Sister Bi and I are getting along pretty well (Bi is really how you pronounce her name, but when they translate it to english they write Pi, I don't know why, it doesn't make sense. So I figured I'd just write it how it really sounds.) It's always a little different being with a Taiwanese companion. The culture is just so different. I don't like to criticize or anything, but it sounds like with her trainer they weren't exactly obedient, so we've been working on that. She is really great though and is so humble and willing to change. It does feel a little bit like training again though. I guess that is why we call it breaker, you break a new missionary out of the 'new missionary' mode and help them stand even more firm on their feet. I think it is different with every missionary though. Some pick up faster than others, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Sister Bi has been so patient with me and I can feel that she trusts me, which helps a lot. She is trying her hardest and has grown so much already within the last week.

The package hasn't gotten to me yet, but it might be in Taiwan. We have Zone Training Meeting tomorrow so maybe we will get it then, and if not then our Christmas Activity is this week so there is another possibility getting it then. I'll keep you posted. I'm super excited! (Don't know if I will be able to translate the puns into Chinese though. One of the elders pulled the "Guess what, Chicken butt" joke on me the other day and Sister Bi asked about it. I tried to explain it and just got a blank stare, haha. That's okay, I don't understand Chinese humor sometimes either.)

Sister Grigg is training! She will be a great trainer. I haven't really seen her much actually. I saw her at the last Christmas activity and we were in the same zone my first transfer in Qishan so we got to see each other at meetings. Then I saw her last week because we had mission tour, but that's about it. We were really hoping we could be companions again, but I don't think that is going to happen. Oh well, we will be flying home together so that will be fun. 

As far as the area goes not much has changed. Everyone was calling it the promised land, but it sure doesn't feel like it right now. We are trying our hardest though. This week we spent every hour of every day finding. We are calling former investigators, dead stack (old contact cards), old english students, tracting, contacting, calling referrals etc. And actually we were getting lessons set up and I think I got more numbers in one day than I ever have before; however, every lesson but one canceled or didn't show up and every phone number hung up when we called. We did end up having one lesson, but they were devout Presbyterians and kept talking about their church and their leaders. They were really nice and listened really respectfully, but they don't have any interest...or so it seems. We will try to call and set up again, but I don't have very high hopes. 

Pretty much that was our week in a nutshell. We had mission tour on Tuesday and Elder Gong of the Seventy and his wife came and talked to us. They talked about having faith, energy and focus. We were also provided a Thanksgiving meal by the the senior missionaries serving down south. It was just like home, only not as much. I asked Sister Bi if she had ever eaten a meal like that and she said that that was her first time! It is crazy how different cultures are. I spent a lot of the time talking to Sister Grigg about training and some of the struggles, joys, inspiration, change, knowledge etc. serving a mission has brought already. It was so good to see her and talk to her again. She is really nervous to train, so I hope what I shared with her from my experience helped. It is so weird to think that we are 'old' missionaries now. Time really flies!

Sorry I don't really have a lot to say this week! I loved seeing all the pictures of Temple Square! I'm actually a little sad there isn't much snow. I never thought I would, but I really do miss snow. The mouse idea is super cute! The picture of Jemma looking at it from outside is hilarious! Her facial expression is priceless!

Oh dad also asked if this area is hilly like Nantou. No it's not. I haven't been to the whole area though. I told Sister Bi we should find a day to go out to one of our secondary areas to go find some people there. The elders say there is a mountain somewhere that they biked up, so maybe someday I'll find it. 

Well I love you all! Sorry if this email is a little boring, we really don't have much to report. It's really hard, and sometimes it's hard not to think that it's because I'm doing something wrong; however, I know that we are doing everything we possibly can. I'm doing all that I know how to do, which isn't much, but it is enough. I know that we can see miracles! I also know that I need to be patient. The Lord has His time and I know He will provide. 

Keep the faith! Look for miracles! I love you all!

Sister Fernley