Friday, March 20, 2015

Power Week…and Reflection

Sister Fernley's last message from the mission field, March 8, 2015:

Dear Family,

This week was power week! In more ways than one. I was really excited for power week this year. My last power week happened right after I had gotten out of training and honestly I didn't know how to do much. I remember wanting to accomplish some of the goals so bad, but we never did. I remember it being a week of a lot of hard work and a lot of disappointment. 

But this time I was feeling like I could definitely do what was asked. You know how everyone says that once you feel like you know how to do missionary work you get sent home? Yea, its true. 

So Monday came along and I picked up Sister Cosby and we started power week. The first night we went tracting, trying to tract into two lessons, but didn't have and success. We did run into a less active brother who talked to us for a while. I don't know what happened, but as we were talking to him his attitude completely changed and he started talking about how we were harassing him and that the best help we could give him would be to go away and never come back. It was sad to see the light go completely out of someone, but I hope someday he will come back and remember the joy of the gospel and the peace it can bring.

The rest of the challenges for the rest of the week had to do with contacting. I quickly found out that Sister Cosby does not like contacting. The first morning we went out to go contact at one of the department stores. We got there and I started asking her what kind of contacting she would like to do and she completely shut down. She wouldn't really talk to me. We ended up not contacting, but found a bench and talked through some things. We've done that several times this week. I've been trying to use my time the best that I can, to use every minute and be as efficient as I can, but in the process I was stressing my companion out. If there's anything that I've learned on my mission is you can't drag your companion along, you have to be unified in the work.

So as a result I had to give up some of my goals and desires to accomplish the goals for power week, and take that time to help my companion. We've been working a lot on contacting and I've seen so much improvement in Sister Cosby over the last week. I've been trying to help her as much as I can in helping her get to know members and the area. Only having two weeks to learn an area is hard, but I know she can do it. 

This week I've learned so much about humility. I thought I had learned it before, but this week was a whole different story. I've had to sacrifice my own hopes and goals for others and focus completely on what I could do to change. It was really hard, honestly probably one of the hardest times on my mission, but in trials we build great strengths. 

We did get the chance to see some incredible miracles! Our second day of power week we were challenged to go out and give out thirteen copies of the Book of Mormon. It sounds easy, but the catch was it didn't count unless we got the persons contact information and made plans to follow up with them later on in the week. We spent most of the day contacting (with a few stress reliever breaks mixed in) and by about seven we had only given out one. I was still trying to stay hopeful and talk to everyone. We went to a street that I had planned to contact on, which is normally a pretty busy street, but it just so happened that there weren't that many people out. I was considering going to a more populated area, but decided that we need to stick with our plan and trust that Heavenly Father would provide. 

We kept going and pulled over and talked to the few people on the street. We ended up talking to this lady getting ready to to into the gym nearby. I honestly don't remember what was said, but she took a Book of Mormon and gave us her number! I was ecstatic! We kept going and there still wasn't anyone in sight. But then we saw two girls off to the side, so we pulled over and talked to them as well. I was pretty nervous because they looked about college age (I don't know why, but talking to people of my own age makes me nervous sometimes, especially when they are together with friends.) I think we just started talking about the Book of Mormon right away. I remember we did ask them if they were ever curious about why we would come out and serve missions and what it was that we were sharing. One of the girls actually said, "yea, actually I've always wondered that." We ended up giving both of them a copy of the Book of Mormon, and got both of their numbers. We called later and one is going to Japan for school next week, but is willing to meet with missionaries there, and the other set up with us later on this week.

Needless to say I felt pretty awesome after that. It is incredible how Heavenly Father puts people in our path who are ready for the gospel. I've thought often about what would have happened it we had gone to a different street? What if I had followed my first instinct to go where there were more people? We would have never found those three people, and I would have never been able to see that miracle shown forth. It still amazes me every day.

The rest of power week was pretty good. Sister Cosby has improved in contacting and we've talked to so many people! A lot of them aren't prepared yet, but we keep working and trying to find those who are ready. Saturday we actually accomplished our goal and talked to 20 families about how the gospel could bless their family. I think the biggest miracle from that was Sister Cosby is going up and contacting people on her own now. 

We also attended a missionary fireside that the Tainan fourth ward help for the young men and young women in their ward. They had talks from leaders and return missionaries encouraging and teaching these youth, then we got to split up with them and take these youth out to do missionary work for two hours. I was with a Young Woman named Sister Zhuo. I was really nervous at first because she looked like she had a pretty good teenager attitude and would really talk or acknowledge anyone else around her. I did manage to break her out of her shell though and she eventually opened up. She actually ended up being really nervous. She didn't have a bike so went proselyting on foot. We ended up going to a park nearby and contacting a few people, but there weren't many people out.

I really wanted her to have a good experience and learn to love missionary work, so this whole time I was praying for a miracle and hoping we would stumble upon someone ready for our message. We wandered around the neighborhood for a while tracting random streets when we tracted into this door and started talking to this girl about my age. She ended up letting us in and we talked to her about the blessing the gospel brings and the help it can provide. I remember asking her what kind of help she would like. She replied, "I would like it to help my family be more unified." 

I was kind of shocked by her response. I've never really had anyone say that to me. I've always been the one to bring it up first. I looked at Sister Zhuo and told this girl that we could definitely help with that. We're going to try and meet with her again tomorrow.

And those are the main events that happened this week. We had zone conference and I learned a lot and was inspired and blessed. I also had the incredibly scary experience of sharing my reflection of my mission. I don't know why, but I was really nervous. The time got closer and my heart started pounding. It think it is funny how your comfort zone seems to shift. A year and a half ago I would have much rather shared something like a reflection than contact people on the streets in Chinese, but then I was finding myself wishing I was back on my bike and not at a podium. Anyway, I got through it and am so grateful for my mission. It has been incredible. It's been a miracle. 

I'm not sure if I will take any time to email next week, probably not, I'll be going up to Taizhong. So I wanted to share my reflection about what my mission has been to me, and what I feel the most important thing I have learned.

Here it is...

My mission has been a lot of things. It's been humbling, faith building, diligen-seeking. My mission has been full of doubt and fear, but also full of hope and strength. It's been more than I ever expected. It's been a collection of miracles that have changed my life forever.

I didn't recognize them then, but the miracles started before I even left. I saw, what I now see as, miracles in the service of others, in finding the work I desperately needed, and even in a mission call that I secretly hoped for but never thought possible.

And then I left, and entered the unfamiliar halls of the MTC. It was there that my eyes and my heart truly began to open to the miracles around us everyday. It was there that the notion, the possibility and hope of miracles in my own life began to grow in my heart. It was there that I learned that there's always another miracle just around the corner.

As my faith in miracles began to grow I entered the real world of missionary work and learned that seeing miracles doesn't come naturally. It's not easy. Because with every miracles comes a corner. With every miracles comes a test of faith, diligence, hope etc. Heavenly Father tests our faith. He tests our patience and our perseverance. He pushes us to our limits and when we feel like we can't knock on one more door or take one more step forward, when we've given all we can but still keep going He provides the corners we've been looking for and the miracles that accompany them.

As time went by I began to hope in cirners, to hope that if I could keep pressing forward with faith we would see miracles around the next turn. Corners became my northern star and my light house in the storm. They became my driving force. 

In hoping and working toward corners I truly did see miracles. I saw miracles in last houses, in contacting one last light. I saw miracles in weeks of 24/7 contacting and seeing golden investigators as a result. I saw miracles in prayers answered, and in comfort received. I saw miracles in healing the sick and lifting the downhearted. I saw miracles in every companion, and I saw miracles in myself. 

I've come to know the Savior more than I ever thought possible. I've been broken down then built back up again. My weaknesses have become strengths and in some cases my strengths have become weaknesses. My focus has been shifted, my heart has changed, and my faith has been strengthened.

My mission has opened my eyes to miracles, and my heart to the hope in corners. I've been taught, and am ever learning, that there's always another miracle just around the corner.

“God has not ceased to be a God of miracles!” He provides them every day of our lives, we just have to open our eyes to see them.

Don't lose sight of th emiracles! Always look and work toward the next corner. You may not know how long it will take or where you will find it, but find it you will with an eye of faith and a heart open to corners.

I'm so grateful that I've had this chance to serve. I'm so grateful that I still have seven days to work my hardest and see miracles. I'm grateful for my Savior and for all He has done for me. I would be nothing without Him.
Have an incredible week! Be safe! I love you all!

With all my love,

Sister Fernley

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