Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Email Update about ALASKA!!

Um, I didn't even have an email from my mother when I logged in here. MOM I MISS YOU I WANT YOU TO EMAIL ME TOO!!!! Okay hahahha I am done.

I am only supposed to email family so all of my friends should be reading these. I am hoping they are. Cuz they are cool.

Sorry I didn't email yesterday, the library was closed cuz it was observed holiday but today we got permission. I loved talking to mom and dad and Anne on Christmas even though I was sick and didn't have much energy to talk very long. I wish I would have called you that night I felt a little better. Yesterday I felt fine except if I ate a lot then my stomach was like UMMM EXCUSE ME. I still do not want to eat a lot but that's okay cuz at the MTC they told us if we wanna lose weight eat smaller portions, right? Hahha. And my black skirt doesn't fit me like it used to when mom took it in back home and that worries me cuz it means I've gained weight. UMM.

I love all of you! I want to tell you that as much as I can.

So real fast, only if you want to, there is a 5-subject notebook in my room that was on the shelf by my bed. I would luurrve to have it here. But if you cannot send it that is okay I will buy another one. Also one more thing. Music: I can listen to any uplifting music, that means movie soundtracks. And country. And anything else that invites the spirit. Hahaha. Mom I have a whole bunch of movie soundtracks in a silvery cd thing. If you woud LIKE to send me those that would be cool. And there is a chocolat cd in my stash of cds that was in the car. I would love that too. My movie soundtracks that I would love would be my lord of the rings ones. Hahah my comp Sis Brown would like them too but we were thinking it'd be cool if someone magically re-burned them onto new cd's without the intense crazy tracks. Cuz they wouldn't invite the spirit. But only if someone wants to do that.

Kay that's it. Really I just want to thank Mom for my boots (UMMM THIS KEYBOARD is too slow. I guess I type too fast. Some words miss a few letters and it's like I typed too fast for its brain. So if there are any typos it's cuz I forgot to check, sorry), the stickers, the candy, and her little notes. Love you!!! I love my boots with the furrrrr. They are pretty warm. And fun. I mean I've stood out in the snow for about an hour helping this woman, who the elders said was an investigator and needed service so we called her, move some boxes from her barn to her warehouse/house and my toes got um a little numb and I wondered if this was frostbite but Sis Brown said her -40 degrees boots weren't even keeping her toes all the way warm so I guess that just happens.

SO. I arrived in Alaska Monday, met mission pres and was interviewed, he asked me how my Spanish was and I said I was able to hold a conversation decently, maybe he will put me in a Spanish ward one day. He asked me how many languages I wanted to learn and I said Hahha I don't care! He told me my companion likes tracting (going from house to house knocking) so she will help me get over my fear of that. He is a very nice man, sensitive and kind but also seems very serious about missionary work. I met my trainer Sis Brown the next day where everyone in the group (there was 14 of us) met our trainers. I said goodbye to Sis Petersen and we all went off to our areas, I am in Palmer/Wasilla (like in the middle of both, really) an hour north of Anchorage, it is woodsy and spread out and white white white. The coldest I have experienced is -1 degree. Hee hee. It was fun.

Sister Adams is letting us live in her little house next to her and her family's house. She is a seemingly quiet woman, petite, her youngest son was in the mtc when I was there and I am pretty sure I even met him. She told us some pretty awesome stuff about herself when I was sick Sunday night. She apparently wrote a paper in college about Alaska and how the church first started there and now that paper is in the church archives and something about the first relief society and something else awesome and she leads tour groups in the summer and knows Alaska history and she helped write a couple of books, one of which is in the cornerstone of the Anchorage temple. So she's awesome. Anyway she looked at my boots with the furrr and said, "Hmm. Are they warm?" I hastily said yes. Okay so fashion doesn't really matter here so I felt impressed to say they were Sorels and rated down to -25 degrees and she nodded okay and I felt like I passed the test a little.
We drive a Jeep Compass. So far we haven't gotten stuck.

The trees are all frosted here.

So. About missionary work: my companion and I are whitewashing---neither of us know anything about this area, it is our first time here. THis presents many difficulties. Cuz it's better if one comp knows her way around and who we are supposed to be teaching and what they are like. LUckily the previous elders left a good area book with TONS of notes about current investigators, former investigators w/decent notes about why they quit, potential investigators who they only contacted once but might be interested in learning more. We have an investigator with a baptismal date in january and she is awesome and is going through such a hard time right now and the gospel can totally lift anyone out of any despair or hardship, not matter what it is. But she is still meeting with jehovah witnesses and itsn't quite sure what exactly Jesus Christ did for her---her knowledge of the Atonement, how he suffered for ALL of us, no matter when or where we live, how that can help HER. She kinda said she knew he was perfect but what he suffered back then wasn't quite what we are dealing with now, right? So we are planning on teaching her more about the Atonement, how he wasn't just sent her to be a good example and then he was killed, but that he was sent here as the Son of God to suffer (in the Garden of Gethsamane) all the pains, sicknesses, and sins of all people everywhere and then he was killed as a willing sacrifice so that we might live again. All that wonderful stuff. Just because he loves us.

We went caroling sometime in the evening last week and a family told us of a guy down the street who broke his leg and was feeling down so maybe he wants some caroling so we knocked on his door, no answer, we finally found him Saturday. He lives in this cabin so we thought it was gonna be this old guy. But he is actually younger and the people next door (not the ones we caroled to first) are actually his family, but when we tried to teach him in there (sisters can't be alone with a guy so we couldn't go in his cabin) we got SUCH a cold reaction from his sister, she was exuding iciness. She deigned (dained?) to shake our hands but didn't even meet our eyes. She barely spoke to us. His dad was better but he avoided us as well. THis guy we were gonna carol to led us out crying and saying his family didn't even like us but he wanted to listen to us and we caroled to him on the steps of his cabin and he cried the whole time, shivering madly in pajamas with this brace around his leg, and told us he is going through a really bad time right now, he is really depressed, Sister Brown shared a scripture about Jesus Christ in Alma 7:11 I believe, about the Atonement, & how Christ suffered so that we might be lifted, and he cried a little more and said he would like to learn more and we were gonna teach him today but he had to cancel and we are sad but he said he'd call us later and so we will also try to call him later this week and hopefully we can teach him. Unfortunately he is the Young Single Adult Ward's responsibility...so eventually we would have to turn him over to the YSA elders...but whatever.

We have gone shopping an I got my beef n cheese taquitos and my apples and peanut buttter and my granla and yogurt and we have food for breakfast and lunch. The ward is lovely and feed us every night and give us cookies.

Alaska is beautiful.I love driving at night and hearing the crunch of the snow as the tires go dow nthe road and seeing the warm inviting houses set off of the road every quarter mile or so, dark buildings with the porch lights on gleaming orange through the icy dark air.
They decorate the pine trees out front like gigantic Christmas trees with fun lights.
After district meeting last Thursday where we meet with the other missionaries in our district and just check up and a lesson is tuaght and we just make sure everything is cool, all of us--our district and the zone leaders--went to a subway for lunch, and while waiting in line, in front of us a woman comes up to us and hands us all $10 gift cards to buy our food, tells us her son is on a mission, gives us a warm smile, wishes us merry christmas, and leaves. We were all amazed. Lots of thanks in our prayers beore we ate.

Haha.

So that is that. Sis Brown and I have fun. Planning is hard, I barely know how to plan lessons and she is trying to meet me where I am at with what I learned in the MTC and today was incredibly stressful and we were miserable, but we are both very alike and got through it and are trying to establish what works and what doesn't and I think we will be good friends. Got to go love you all.

Sister Ashbrook

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letter sent home- looks like it was written last Wednesday.

FAMILY!  This was my last preparation day at the MTC. I'm going to Alaska Monday morning.  I'll be at the SLC airport at 6 a.m. so I will be able to call home for 15 minutes.  This call will probably take place between 7 and 8:30, my flight leaves at 8:30 a.m. and we have a layover in Seattle.  It will be me, Sister Petersen, and 12 other elders- me and Sis Pete have found these elders and gotten to know a few of them :)  What's kinda cool and weird is that I was made travel leader. I thought at first that meant cuz I am senior companion.  Then I realized I'm travel leader over all 14 of us.  My duties include making sure we get on the van and get on the plane.  I am pretty much Queen of the Universe.  I feel weird being made travel leader over priesthood leaders.  I have a packet that tells me this and gives me all the names of those I'm flying with.
 
The others in my district who are going to Kentucky and New Jersey don't even know their travel leaders.  Haha.  Okay my Christlike attribute I'm gonna work on this week is patience.  I mean humility oops.  (Really it is patience.)
 
Oh, Elder Higgins was made travel leader...but he is the only one flying to India, ha ha.  UMM... So Dec 19th my address will be: 
 
Sister Melissa Jean Ashbrook
Alaska Anchorage Mission
3250 Strawberry Road
Anchorage, AK 99502
 
- Don't forget to pick up the phone Monday morning
Love you - Sis Ash.

Monday, December 19, 2011

First Email from Alaska!

Melissa left the MTC today and flew to Alaska; she's staying at the Mission President's home tonight in Anchorage and will be transferred to her trainer tomorrow. Exciting stuff!

Hey i am in Alaska. The end. We got picked up and I went tracting tonight and slipped on the ice. I went tracting with a sister who took me and her comp took Sister Petersen. Haha. It is just as cold as Provo so not horrible. But SOOO icy. We are all chilling at the Beesley house---me and sis pete and 12 elders. We are eating cake and emailing and having lovely conversation, one elder just said, "You slobber, you don't just try to bite people" ....don't ask. Hahaha. Anywaysssss love you. I am still obsessed with chapstick, it is laying on my lap. So I'm gonna sleep here tonight and meet my trainer tomorrow, my p-day should be next Monday. Elder Dastrup just tried to hit the keyboard while I typed but I threw his hand away with the fierceness of a bear.

LOVE YOUUUU

Sister Ashbrook

She also attached this picture:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Email #2 (Week #2)

I can add more emails to the thingy but i don't know lily's for example.

So. The shift key barely WORKS.

First of all, hello everybody, it is lightly snowing here, I'm stoked. Then the snow melts and I'm sad. Then I remember I'm going to Alaska and i'm like "ohhh yeah. I'm gonna get to know snow real well."

Pres monson's daughter came and spoke in relief society. About missionary stuff. then she showed us pictures of her father at the end and gave us all these little tidbits. she told the story of how her mother once straightened his suspender and it shows that even though she's still frail she takes care of him. His favorite color is yellow, a color that's important in the printing press. He'll shake hands with anyone wearing yellow. And anyone who is a redhead because he thinks redheads get picked on. his favorite scripture is proverbs 3:5-6, d&c  84:88. He does NOT dye his hair but wishes he had more. he served in WWII instead of a mission. He was made a bishop when he was 22. the job in the church he thinks prepared him the most for being the prophet was being secretary for the deacons cuz he took amazing notes & minutes and always did his duty. When sister dibbs (his daughter) was 9 he made an apostle. she needs to look at the miracles that have taken place to gain her testimony that he is a prophet. His favorite food is a turkey dinner. loves haagan daas bars. He's very complimentary. To his wife.

It is the small and simple things that make such a difference. She counseled us to learn to let go of any ill feelings--you're not doing anyone any good.

Another story of pres monson: one time they were going to a show and he told the security dude driving the car, "Stop, go back" and he asked why and pres monson said "I forgot the tickets!" and Sis Dibbs said, "Dad, I think they are gonna let you in." (haha) "Well" he said "I just don't feel comfortable without them." And that is the kind of man he is.

SOOOOO
Life in the MTC. I've got 12 minutes for email. Okay. So. FIrst thing, yes I do occasionally get to play piano, for sacrament with my zone for example. I even auditioned with my piano solo arrangement of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" to play a special musical number sometime, the 2nd counselor's wife to the mtc president was the one judging, she put me in "YES" stack and made me PROMISE that if I do have a chance to perform before I leave for Alaska (not guaranteed) that I have to PROMISE not to change anything cuz she could see I was playing it off the regular hymn book and it was basically all in my head.

I am learning patience and also how to communicate, for the past 2 weeks I have been pretty jolly and happy, today I think I was worn out and I was in my head and quiet and fifteen billion times people asked, "Are you okay???" Sometimes I just have to revamp and get all my energy back and it takes a bit. Then my companion realy wanted to know if something was wrong cuz I have been good about letting her know what bothers me (not much but it's important to discuss so you can strengthen your relationship) and she wanted to know if anything else she'd been doing had bothered me and i SIGHED and said "No I am fine, I just don't feel like laughing all the time." And then I realized how much she cared about me and I thanked her for her concern and suddenly I felt so happy and so peaceful and it is great communicating.

In class she and I committed our "investigator" to be baptized and he accepted. Which makes a person feel good. It was really our teacher pretending but you still feel the spirit in these lessons. And you still get prompted by the spirit about what to teach. And you really pray with them. And I want everyone to feel the peace that comes from praying and learning about this stuff. Let me tell you, two weeks in a place like this, without one cuss word or vulgar image, with everyone comforting and complimenting each other, I think of stuff back home that maybe is a little crude and vulgar and I think, how can anyone live like that.

We taught someone and talked about the atonement and this woman has kids who are mentally and physically handicapped and we told her that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins but also our infirmities so that he could feel our pain and know what it was like, and this woman started to cry a little and asked "What can that do for my daughter?" and we told her that if her daughter, who left home a few days before without telling her parents where she was going because she felt like a burden, if she understood the atonement and prayed she would be able to feel comfort. She would be able to feel that someone had gone through everything she was going through. And so this woman we were teaching said she suspected her daughter had admitted herself to a mental hospital and she said, "Maybe if she still has her cell I will send her a text about this atonement and tell her to pray to Jesus Christ," and I told her that was a wonderful idea.

Our district is doing better. I have had to lead district meeting a couple of times. haha. but it has been good. I taught a lesson about what it is like to feel the spirit and what it is like to not feel the spirit. It really helped, some of them came up to me later. This lesson came from brother greiner and I can't tell you how much he has helped!!!

love youuuuu

sister ashbook

Email #1 Continued

Looks like Melissa sent the whole version of her previous email today. 


"DID YOU NOT GET THE WHOLE THING?? This is from last p-day. I will write more later today when I am at laundry. I mean I will write my actual letter then"

HI FAMILY!
 
So i am sitting here in the laundry room at the MTC typing as fast as I can cuz there is timer thing up there. Anyway. Currently I am feeling like I have been here forever.
- It is really cold here
- I wish I had some boots but I let my family ship them to Alaska which is cool but still my ankles get cold and I am scared it is really gonna snow here
- So I wanna buy like those small boots that are called milano on sorel.com but I am trying to restrain myself
 
My companion's name is Sister Peterson and she is from springville, utah. Everyone is from utah. THeir families dropped them off at the MTC. haha sigh. It's lovely but I am a little glad I didn't have to go through that emotional separation right before I marched into the MTC and was taken to my classroom.
 
My district is 6-b. We are pretty cool. Whoever gave me that advice though, about being patient with elders, was inspired. It is crazy sometimes being in a room full of six other 19 and 20 year olds but we are growing together and getting to know each other and supporting each other, except for when the elders are making fun of me for laughing so much, they just have to START making a funny face at me and I start laughing. Or when Sister Peterson and I have to leave the classroom during personal study time because Elder Gardner is telling me I sing like a black woman and Elder Noxon is putting "sister missionary proverbs" on my desk and so we leave. And then we come back an hour later, having happily studied, and there are two pens in the ceiling, stuck tip first, and we just LOOK at the elders and are like "ELDERS!" and then our branch president who has as much charisma as a man can get and silvery white hair IMPECCABLY in place who can command the seas to calm (I mean...get the elders to listen) is coming down the hall and Elder Gardner has to jump as high as he can as fast as he can and get the pens outta the ceiling, and then giggle at the holes there, and then B.P. is in the room to lead district meeting and we are SILENT. And RESPECTFUL.
 
Our branch president is pretty amazing. He told us an amazing story about listening to the spirit, when he was in London years ago on HIS mission he & his companion forgot to get directions to this place where they were supposed to drop off some film strip at 5. In a panic, they prayed and apologized to the Lord for neglecting to prepared, and his companion asked that the directions be told to Elder Myers (my branch president). So they started driving and impressions started coming into Elder Myers' mind and they were taken into a forest with back roads and little side streets they'd never seen before. A picture of a roundabout and a pub came into his mind and 2 minutes later they rounded a curve and he saw the pub and he started to cry. He got an impression where to turn and they turned, and down the street was the man they were supposed to meet, in the middle of the street tapping his watch impatiently, and they were able to drop off the film strip on time. He told us that we should not doubt the impressions we get from the Holy Ghost. And that people are NOT making this up.
 
I am so happy here. There is so much peace around us (sometimes not IN us but whatevs that is what stress management is for). That is why I laugh so much. I am happy! I pretty much have forgotten my old life. Hahah just kidding. But really they keep you so busy here. You have no time to think about family or friends back home. You cross my mind often, don't get me wrong. But I am trying so hard to be focused here as well.
 
I love my flannel pjs that remind me of dad.
 
I love all my skirts.I haven't worn the wool one yet; I think I would be too hot.
 
My shoes are comfy. My feet never hurt. Yay for not having clunky sister missionary shoes.
 
I go to the GYM (i kinda have to it's in the schedule). And we go on the ellipticals or however they are spelled.
 
THank you mama for going through my stuff and getting the info about my shots. Hopefully it will all work out. And thank you Anne for going through all the papers in my piano room. I am sorry I never finished cleaning everything up.
 
We have to teach our teachers, Brother Woolf and Brother Bradley, as if they are investigators. And we have lesson plans but they say "Teach to the investigators' NEEDS. And listen to the spirit." So it is not just "follow the outline" it is "pray and listen and if THEY don't feel the SPirit then they will never believe what you are telling them and you sometimes have to teach one person one thing and another person another thing." I never knew how much I would have to rely on the Spirit. You basically don't get anywhere without the spirit.
 
I get it now, how MUCH you have to listen to the gentle, subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost. And it is everywhere here because we are all missionaries and were set apart and given that blessing to give us the power and potential to be the best missionary we can be. And sometimes I feel like "many people won't listen to this message. Or they do but then they eventually reject it." I have a hard time having enough faith that EVERYONE needs to have that chance to be baptized but I liked what I learned the other day. It's not about building the numbers in this church. It is about giving every child of that Heavenly Father, who loves them, a chance to experience the Atonement of Jesus Christ. THeir burdens and guilt and confusion can be lifted and they can feel their Savior's love and eventually enter the Celestial Kingdom. Missionary work is about teaching people who their Daddy is.
 
And EVERYTHING MUST BE APPLIED TO OUR PURPOSE. Lemme tell you. EVERYTHING. In class. "How does THIS how does THAT how does THIS how does THAT apply to our purpose?"
WHich is...to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end.
 
 
LOVE YOU ALL..
Sister Ashbrook
 
My MTC address is
 
Sister Melissa Jean Ashbrook
MTC Mailbox # 113
AK-ANC 1219
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793
 
p.s. i love the letters i've already gotten. I feel so loved. I love everything.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Email #1

Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 3:24 PM

HI FAMILY!

So i am sitting here in the laundry room at the MTC typing as fast as I can
cuz there is timer thing up there. Anyway. Currently I am feeling like I
have been here forever.
- It is really cold here
- I wish I had some boots but I let my family ship them to Alaska which is
cool but still my ankles get cold and I am scared it is really gonna snow
here
- So I wanna buy like those small boots that are called milano on
sorel.combut I am trying to restrain myself


My companion's name is Sister Peterson and she is from springville, utah.
Everyone is from utah. Their families dropped them off at the MTC. haha
sigh. It's lovely but I am a little glad I didn't have to go through that
emotional separation right before I marched into the MTC and was taken to
my classroom.

My district is 6-b. We are pretty cool. Whoever gave me that advice though,
about being patient with elders, was inspired. It is crazy sometimes being
in a room full of six other 19 and 20 year olds but we are growing together
and getting to know each other and supporting each other, except for when
the elders are making fun of me for laughing so much, they just have to
START making a funny face at me and I start laughing. Or when Sister
Peterson and I have to leave the classroom during personal study time
because Elder Gardner is telling me I sing like a black woman and Elder
Noxon is putting "sister missionary proverbs" on my desk and so we leave.
And then we come back an hour later, having happily studied, and there are
two pens in the ceiling, stuck tip first, and we just LOOK at the elders
and are like "ELDERS!" and then our branch president who has as much
charisma as a man can get and silvery white hair IMPECCABLY in place who
can command the seas to calm (I mean...get the elders to listen) is coming
down the hall and Elder Gardner has to jump as high as he can as fast as he
can and get the pens outta the ceiling, and then giggle at the holes there,
and then B.P.

Monday, December 5, 2011

First Letter!

This came to our parents house today, and I'm going to type it how she wrote it. I will add some notes in italics to explain some things for people who aren't family, etc. :)


1 December 2011
Um dear family,

I write from the MTC laying on my stomach on my bunkbed while my sweet companion Sister Petersen writes her letter to our B.P. (branch president) which we must do every week. Sister Walker and Sister Torgerson are quietly writing or reading in here as well.  We all came to the MTC at the same time. Sister Petersen is also going to Alaska with me.  I have been made Senior Comp by our B.P.

It already feels like forever and it's only the end of the 2nd day. I saw Hermana Hansen (our second cousin Amy Hansen who happens to be at the MTC also right now -Anne) in the cafeteria today (which is a huge place, maybe the size of 3 cultural halls, full of tables & diff. stations of food) and I gave her a big hug. We have a district (not Amy, she's in a diff. district) w/ 6 other elders who all seemed like dumbbells 'til they bore their testimonies and they have amazing spirits and will be rockstars on their mission.

I haven't felt homesick at all. It was awfully hard leaving Mom & Dad at the airport but since I've been here I've been fine. The other girls all come from Utah & couldn't imagine what it would be like to fly here & not say goodbye to family members. I said good-bye to Andrea and she is great. (Andrea picked up Melissa from the airport in Salt Lake and drove her down to the MTC in Provo. Thanks, Andrea! -Anne)

Apparently I am missing shots, I needed more recent ones of some of them, they said the TDAP is not on here either but I coulda sworn I got it but maybe not. Anyway to get these shots - I think I'm missing 3 - one was like $50, the other $60, the other $30, and maybe I did, so I'm writing home, please call Dr. Parise down at Crown Valley next to Rite Aid and ask for the dates of the shots she gave me (I have a record of the flu & meningacoco or whatever it's called). (Pretty sure she means meningitis. Lol. -Anne) Enclosed I have a pink slip they gave me.

We were put into rooms w/investigators & we don't know if they're pretending or not and, in a group of about 40 BRAND new missionaries, were supposed to teach & I think we all kinda fell flat on our faces & barely listened to the Spirit and felt like lecturing the guy & some elders are so cute just trying to bear their testimony but not listening to what the guy just said & we all must try & we all must learn! They stress figuring out what investigators need. My teachers & zone leaders are cool. I can't believe how awesome missionary effort is. Love you lots. Thank for everything.

-Sister Ashbrook

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hi everyone.

This is Anne, Melissa's sister. As Melissa serves her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Alaska I'll be copying her emails/letters into this blog for your convenience. I know, it's pretty awesome. I mean if you insist on applauding, that's fine, but I think you're getting out of hand.

Anyway we all miss her and this will (kinda) help. As her addresses change I'll be adding that to the blog as well, and adding a few (or all, haven't decided yet) of the pictures she sends home.


TautugniagmigikpiƱ. (Eskimo for "goodbye". Apparently.)