Saturday, December 29, 2012

hello!/Early email

We have permission to email early! I am in the process of writing you an email. We are getting transferred so our normal Pday will be crazy with flying and going to our new area.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve!

Um, so I don't even know what we did this week! What did we do this week? 

Oh my heck so Steven Marsh (Donna's son) just got home and he went to the post office and brought home all this mail for us. I got a Christmas card from the Nelsons, and Laura and Josh, and Grandma and Grandpa, and I got letters from two returned sister missionaries who served in Orange County, Sister Denney and Sister Cooper, and I am just so happy. 

MOM AND DAD! MY HECK! Thanks for the camera!!! I already totally opened it. And the case! And the memory card! It is a sassy foxy red. I love it. I love all of you! Merry Christmas! I love taking pictures! Oh my heck!
So, we showed up at Puerto Rican Mommy's house yesterday and her pipes had froze. She was outside with her brother, cutting off the insulation. The water pipes are on the outside of the trailer house, and so we were pulling sopping wet insulation off and throwing it into the snow. The copper pipes had cracked in several places and leaked water when the water was on. They left to buy more pipe and my comp and I graciously accepted the assignment of cutting out the wet patches of insulation so they could preserve as much as they could, becuase new insulation in great amounts is hard to come by in a small island town like this. We called the elders quorum pres while Puerto Rican Mommy and Puerto Rican Brother of Mommy were gone, and the E.Q. President went and met them at the hardware store and bought the right pipe (not copper, cuz copper would just freeze and crack again, it was some plastic or something, pex or plex or I dunno, it's blue, this would freeze but NOT crack) and they all came back together and he had all the right tools and he put up the new pipe in about five miinutes and then took off and we just had to put insulation on it all over again. It was fun. We were glad we showed up when we did. Then we had to be at a dinner appt in a little bit so we wanted to read from the Book of Mormon with Puerto Rican Mommy but she um, haha, hates reading and so we said what about a MOVIE? And she said, I'll make the popcorn. We went out to our car and guess what we found, Mr. Kreuger's Christmas. So we watched that with her, and it was a great Christmas message. 

Two caroling adventures---first was with the young womens. Pres Marsh (AKA Kirt) hooked up his skiff (that had snow and ice packed in it and had to be dug out from the side of the house) to his truck and the girls and the leaders and US piled inside the boat and he drove all around town and we caroled to certain awesome people and to anyone we saw walking on the street. SECOND, was Saturday night with our branch mission leader and a few other people, and we caroled to the MAYOR and people like THAT, and they mayor's wife gave us a Norwegian treat, called Krum kaka. It looks like an ice cream cone. You must remember Petersburg was like, founded by Norwegians and there's lots of heritage. 


Pronounced yule-a-bukking. The shopkeepers put out free food and drinks and the whole town mills around eating and greeting and being merry christmas and all that. Yesterday, we had the weirdest thing of all. Spika chik. It might be native, not Norwegian. Okay so we walked in and they had two great punch bowls of "moose milk" (it was just eggnog with nutmeg, WITH BOOZE and NO BOOZE...they gave us NO BOOZE, I told them they had BETTER cuz um excuse me WE ARE MISSIONARIES, they laughed, we have a good repoir in this town). And in front of the bowls of moose milk were um, two DEER legs. They had been cured with salt. Did I say that right? I dunno, packed with salt, and the salt is what cooked them. So, it looked like dark reddish fibrous meat still on the bone, oh my heck, we used a knife and cut us each out a piece and we were late to our 3pm dinner (the FIRST one we had on Sunday, we had a second one at 5 pm with nonmembers, we almost died of hugeness) and so we walked briskly through the 12 degrees frigidness back to our car chewing spik a chik and it was DISGUSTING it tasted like salty, bloody raw meat. Sister HATFIELD spat hers out, but I totes downed it and swallowed nearly all my moose milk. OM NOM NOM. Fun adventures. We also went julebaching at Lee's clothing (the spik a chik was at a pretty lil shop called wild celery) and got pickled herring and lefsa....norwegian stuff. Lefsa is this soft bready cinnamon thing. 

I MUST GO I LOVE You! We gotta go carol to the old people with the Oxford Carolers!


Monday, December 17, 2012

End of my ninth transfer is coming up yall

Hi yall.

Kay so we came back from Wrangell on the ferry on Tuesday night, we did weekly planning during the 3-hour journey and attempted a few puzzles. It was lovely to come back to Petersburg; it feels like home.
This week was a Spunky Woman week. I dunno if I ever really talked about the Spunky Woman, or if I even have called her Spunky WOman before, maybe feisty woman, I dunno. She's a firecracker. 72 years old, widow, been taught for 2 years, stubborn as an ox. Her husband died this time of year a few years ago and the timing has seemed to be perfect. She heart is softened a lil bit, she is more teachable than ever, all we want for her to do is go to the temple a year from her baptism and be married to her husband for time and eternity because she just misses him, she has such a broken heart, I have rarely seen such devotion before. So we've been talking about temples a bit and showed her this temple Mormon Message (3minute video clip) and we were so excited, turned to her, you know, excitedly asked her, "What did you think?" And this is SO her, she spat, "Money. All i see is MONEY. Why do they have to make them all so FANCY?" Luckily the awesome member we had with us bore testimony of Solomon's temple and how they used the finest cedar and all that stuff because, when you build a house for the Lord, you offer him your best. She understood by the end of the lesson.
She has NOT prayed about being baptized yet, she is not ready yet. Her admitting that was huge. We had two amazing lessons with her two days in a row. We realized she could totally be baptized, if she came to church just twice, she could maybe be baptized the last Saturday of the transfer. We called her Saturday night and begged her to come to church and she finally said FINE and we screamed and giggled and she likely said something dry and sarcastic and we hung up with her and we screamed and high-fived.
Church was crazy, though, we had been asked to play the piano a lot in primary and we were running around like we'd got our heads cut off and after church we called her to see how everything had gone, and we were devastated to hear her complain about the distraction of all the children, they run around and interrupt and slam doors and stomp their feet (and in such a tiny church building it is kinda unnoticeable) and she said she felt so incredibily out of place, no one had introduced her at the beginning of any of the meetings. She knows a lot of the people already she said, but there were plenty of people who she didn't know, and she was never introduced. She said, "I left church with a BAD taste in my mouth." We felt horrible, if we had just sat with her we would have introduced her, I had even thought of sitting with her at the beginning of relief society and introducing her to the class, and it is just WEIRD that no one welcomed the visitors, cuz there had been a baptism for an 8-year-old the night before and his grandparents were there visiting as well.
WEll, we were just so disappointed. We have a lesson with her in a coupla days, and we are hoping to help her realize the people aren't perfect but the church is still true, and also we wanna try and help her remember the good things that happened at church. Hopefully we will see good things to happen with her. We love her so very much.
Puerto Rican Mommy did NOT come to church either, but her kids and husband are outta town and they took HER car on the ferry so she has her hubby's truck and it's stick shift and there was lots of snow and she was nervous. But we also totally know her, she's a total home-body and always prefer to stay cuddled up in her house, ahhaha. Luckily since her fam is outta town, she told us we can come over every day if we want to. Hahah. WE WILL! We showed her all the "I'm a Mormon" videos on that highlight the lives of Puerto Rican people. And we showed her the Christmas bible video nativity thing.
Last night our members whom we live with had about twenty people over for a sing-along, most were non-members, and we had been recruited to play piano and lead the sing-along. We had helped Donna on Friday make all the dips, too. Delicious stuff. Smoked salmon dip and home-made hummus. OM NOM. So that was cool to do, we just laughed and joked around and sang and hopefully all the people felt comfortable with two mormon missionaries hanging out with them all. Not that we were hanging out. Haha.
Well, tonight is the Petersburg Community Christmas Concert and we have two acts, and we are also singing with the Oxford Carolers. It will be at the LUtheran church, man that church has a beautiful stained glass window of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. My heck. Our first number will be me on the piano and Sister Hatfield singin with a ten-yr-old gal in the branch. It will be precious. One of those Silent Night mash-ups with another melody the composer wrote, there are like a billion of those. Real pretty. Our second number we asked a non-member from tthe Oxford Carolers to play for us, but it's an SSA arrangement (3 female voices) and we said if she could find another pianist she should sing WITH us. Well we got back from Wrangell and she did find a pianist, and lo and behold the woman she'd asked to play for us is a less active member of the Church who told ME on the phone months ago that she was not interested in meeting with us. So, it was awesome to go to her house and have a rehearsal there, not threatening or anything, we were just practicing music, and the woman seemed very comfortable (I have met her before, me and Sister Hatfield were doing service at a community race and this woman came up to get her number to pin on her shirt and when she saw our nametags her smile faded and I was like, 'Wow, I don't know if that woman likes us' and then found out who she was and I wondered yeah, maybe she DOESN'T like us, but I am glad we've been able to get to know her in a different setting and maybe one day she will allow missionaries to teach her).
WELL I am so glad to be a missionary, I love the Lord, I am so happy to be serving Him. I am nervous to find out about transfers but I know whatever happens is supposed to happen. I love you all. Merry Christmas. Remember the Savior.

Sister Ashbrook

Monday, December 10, 2012

Public Library in Wrangell

Melissa wrote this email in several volumes. Here ya go. -Anne

Hi family!

Um, I must confess I have not given much thought (yet) to skyping on Christmas, hopefully we can do it around noon so that Lily can be there, that would be lovely.

I came to the library with my glasses case but my glasses aren't IN there and so I've ctrl + a lot of times to make the email big and I'm trying not to strain my eyes. Haha.

So! Christmas. Ah, heck. I don't know. I probably don't need anything, I am gonna have to send a lot of stuff home and to Anchorage to make sure my luggage won't be too heavy for the flight back to Anchorage (we're both 95% sure we're leaving Petersburg after this transfer) (transfer ends on Dec 30th) so the less stuff I have, the better. If you want to wait and send me stuff after New Year's, you could even do that. Or just send small stuff. What I WOULD like is a new camera, since I broke the one the Budingers gave me. THe patriarch in my last area gave me a camera, but it's not my favorite, the pictures are not as bright or colorful and the screen is tiny, and it's a Canon, and the memory cards I already have don't work in it cuz they're not Canon and apparently Canons are Nazis, kinda like Apple. One day I can buy myself a real nice camera. I don't know though, if I am being too materialistic, you could also buy me a new Canon memory card cuz the one I DO have is full. It's just not my favorite camera though so I don't intend on keeping it after the mish.


I really don't need anything. I sent Lily a bit of a Christmas list, but I don't remember what I said.

Currently eating a mento. It's the rainbow packaged kind.

Well, we've had an eventful week so far. On Monday we took half a p-day, we got our emails done, I actually don't remember anything we did that day. On Tuesday, we flew to Juneau.

Pineapple-flavored mento.

We didn't know if we'd make it to Juneau, the weather was pretty grey, but the pilot of the jet must have been braver than the last time I tried to leave Petersburg, and Donna was driving us to the airport, and we were talking about what we'd do if the plane didn't come, and we turned a corner, "And--there's the jet." We could see the tail of the jet over the roof of the airport up ahead. Yay. Flew to Juneau, the zone leaders picked us up, everyone from the Juneau zone who was already there (AKA, who weren't still on the ferry on their way) went to a pizza place called Bulwinkles and we ate thin saucy cheap pizza. Hhahaa. Then the zone leaders and the Spanish elders gave us a list of sisters we could go visit and we got a car from somebody and went off working in Juneau. We caroled that night with the whole zone, some neat experiences, Spirit is so strong when about twelve or fourteen missionaries are singing carols of the Savior's birth on a doorstep.

Wednesday was a "zone p-day." We went to Costco cuz Sister Beesley wants everyone to be able to buy cheap food in bulk if they want to . I did NOT want to cuz I wasn't sure if we'd be staying in Petersburg and the last thing I wanted was more weight in my suitcase, when I left the day before my suitcase weighed 47 pounds....we'd packed for Juneau AND Wrangell so that's our excuse. At least I was wearing my awesome Cate the Great snow boots.

For our zone p-day activity we um, walked to the glacier. Across a huge frozen lake. In the snow. We started about, oh I dunno, 1 or 2. Or 3? I dunno. But Elder Martinez (zone leader) was getting nervous cuz he said we'd be losing light (remember Alaska gets less light in the winter, even in the south-east). OH MY HECK. Maybe it's cuz I had the flu on Friday (I threw UP! we stayed in all that day and sewed quilt blocks for Tiny Lil Thing and watched every DVD in the apartment and Pres Beesley gave us permission to watch The Best Two Years) but I was SO TIRED. It's hard to march through the snow. I dunno how the pioneers did it. The glacier was beautiful, a huge mass of bluish snow-covered ice, but it never seemed to get closer. But we made it and took some pictures in the fading light and headed back, all the while I was thinking, "My heck, the elders didn't TELL us it would be such a long trek, we have no water, we have no flashlights, we have no granola bars..." Hhaha. All in all, it took a few hours, and we were back when it was just about pitch black. Oh, the scariest part was as we got closer to the glacier, the "ground" turned slushy. Sometimes we were splashing through water. People who didn't have waterproof boots got a whole lot colder. But don't worry, several elders told me that's just what happens on top of ice, and it was only worrisome if we like, heard a CRACK or something. So, none of us fell through, and we all survived, some people were just a lil sore the next day.

Dinner, served by one of the Juneau wards. Then we got to have district meeting for the first time with our district in PERSON.

Oh, hey, I might have to finish this email later today cuz like, there's people here and we're only supposed to go til 11 cuz there are like, these time slots. Sigh.


Sister Ashbrook

-10:19 PM-
Hi I'm working on the rest of the email now! I love all of you!

-10:25 PM-
Seriously, guys. I don't need anything for Christmas. I just love you all. So for skyping on Christmas, hopefully I'll be able to do noon, Sister hatfield has a sister on a mission so she has to figure out when SHE is gonna be skyping the family too so we gotta coordinate and stuff. Hah. Okay so what was the last thing I said?

-11:04 PM-
Oh by the way, I have permission from President Beesley to be finishing my email this late. We are both doing our emails, here at the Bunesses' in Wrangell where we have been staying.

SO IN JUNEAU. Distritc meeting in Juneau, we learned about object lessons. My favorite one by far was one from Elder Gardner who's currently serving up in Whitehorse (Yukon AKA Canada, my dream place to serve BECAUSE i want to use my passport on my mission). SO, he took a whatever-you-call-it pin, a flat pin, a straight pin? WHatever it doesn't have a hole that you thread through, it has a tiny flat top, you get the skiniest smallest kind, and you put the tip on wood (he did it on the floor of the stage, where we were oddly enough having our district meeting in the juneau stake center) or you can do a wooden table, and you lightly hammer in the pin, he used the side of a knife. Ha. Then you teach faith. He told everyone he would slam his hand down over the top of the pin, and he did, he hit the floor with a loud bang and we all gasped and he showed us his hand, there was no mark, and the pin had bent almost in half. He asked us who wants to try. I raised my hand immediately. He told me I had to stretch my palm flat, it's just a matter of physics, the tautness of your skin and the speed that you hit the pin doesn't allow it to penetrate. If we lose FAITH, however, we falter, our hand closes a little, and then it's a disaster. I was totally fine til OTHER people started being scared and teling me to be careful but I just did it, I just slammed my hand over the pin and it was awesome. I had faith. Yay!

Next day was zone conference. My favorite was the relay race, all of a sudden one companionship at a time was being led into the gym and one comp had to be on stage and one was blindfolded. There are three districts in the zone, so one companionship from each district had to do the whole "listen to my voice and follow my directions so you can get through the maze of tables and chairs while you're blindfolded." Without us even knowing what was going on, a lil bit later we were back in the gym and everyone was there and the next companionship in each district was being instructed on how they were gonna do a three-legged race to the basketball hoop and make three baskets and when they got back, the LAST companionship, Sister Hat and I being included, would have to do a dirty deed and eat muk tuk, curently on a plate underneath a paper towel waiting for us. Muk tuk is whale blubber with the whale skin attached. Natives eat it like candy. Yeah. Well, whoever was fastest in the blindfoldy maze thing got a ten-second head start. By the time our district finished shootin hoops and we had to eat muk tuk, everyone was screaming and telling all of us that had to do it just to swallow it, but I couldn't ,I had to chew it, it was wonderful. I tiold myself it tasted like sushi and finished it up.

THe last thing was running to a room in the church where one of the senior couples would be welcoming us into their "homes" and we would role play teaching them about the book of mormon and stuff.

Oh my heck TIME OUT Sister Buness just came over to us where we are both sitting cross legged next to each other typing away on their laptops in the living room, she siad she had herbal tea and some treats for us, isn't she amazing? She made these walnut-coconut-rice krispy-date things rolled in powdered sugar. OM NOM NOM.

One of the senior couples, Elder Waldron, did an awesome traingin on using the book of mormon, on making sure that the people we teach KNOW that we are NOT ashamed of the gospel of Christ. He told us a story from his mission of teaching Native Americans on his mission and telling a shaman the story of the book of mormon and the shaman got upset and asked him, "how do you know the stories of our people?" Elder Waldron said he was able to teach what he did becuase he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

My interview with president beesley was lovely, he asked me and sister hatfield to let him know if elders would do good in Petersburg, he asked me where I wanted to serve next. He's just great. I had a great talk with sister Beesley while Sis H was in HER interview. SIster beesley and I just laugh and laugh and we always talk for way too long and I just love her. I was talking about how sometimes it's hard to get to bed RIGHT at 10:30, sometimes it's 10:31, and it's hard to get outta dinners at an hour. She siad, "Yeah, maybe you get distracted?" And I said, "Oh yeah, sure, like with people talking and teling story after story," and she said, "No, I mean with all your thoughts? You always seem to have a million thoughts going through your head..." I laughed in surprise as I realized she was right, "Yeah I do have a million thoughts going through my head," and she said, "From the moment I met you i could tell that you had so much going on in your head, in fact sometimes I just think, Wow, wouldn't it be fun to just sit and listen for an hour or two to Sister Ashbrook's brain?" And by this time I am CRACKING UP, you have to know I delight in people telling me how I "am," and I love love love her, and it was just so funny. She said, "LIke, what would happen if I just said 'frogs'?" HAHAHA I told her that my nephew's "animal" is frog and when he was born me and my sister went down to the hospital gift shop and bought a frog.... and Sister Beesley was laughing so hard and she said, "SEE?!" HAHAHAH we are good friends.

SO THEN we flew from Juneau to Wrangell. That day, our branch mission leader called the branch president in Wrangell and good thing cuz they thought we were coming in the NEXT day, which USED to be the case, and we neglected to tell them that the plans changed, whoops.

We were going to Wrangell cuz the work is slow there right now and there are no misionaries so we went to teach their investigators. Wrangell is on a different island than Petersburg, and the town is smaller. We were gonna live in the church, like the elders have been doing, but Pres Bringhurst (our branch mission leader) got the Bunesses to let us stay with them (and now I know why---the church is not the most lovely place to live, their room was very small, two mattresses right next to each other, the shower is in the boy;s bathroom, it would have been cramped and difficult to move all my stuff from bathroom to room every day. ALSO many people have keys to the church).

Sisters have never served in Wrangell before. Everyone has been so extremely nice and welcoming. I think if we stayed here a month the novelty would be worn off. We've been given cupcakes and fudge and love.

The elders left the car here, it's a Suburu.

There was lots of snow when we came here....but it's been raining for the past coupla days and now the world is full of slush and puddles and ugliness. I think snow is so pretty.

FAMILY---I just want you to know I love you all. I love hearing from you. I appreciate all you do. Anne, I appreciate that you do my blog. Lily, I appreciate all your letters, even when I can't write back. Last p-day, I was in Juneau and the only letter I wrote was one to Lori --- SHE AND CHAD ARE EXPECTIN THEIR FIRST BABY --- and it took me all day to write, off and on, and I haven't even mailed it yet, and THIS p-day we didn't HAVE a p-day but we SHOULD get permission to take one on Wednesday when we get back to Petersburg. Daddy, I appreciate your weekly emails and I appreciate all the missionary work you do, working with elders. Mommy, I love you and your weekly emails. I am glad you are getting your energy back. I pray for you often.

WELL, much love and kisses. I know the gospel is true, I know that as we don't let our fears get in the way, and we boldly go after those who are lost ,the Lord will help us and will open doors for us, the Spirit will be there to warm us up and comfort us.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Card Sent to Mom & Dad

Melissa sent a Christmas card home to Mom & Dad with a picture of some kind of animal (Mom, can you remind me?) and this is what she wrote inside.

Dearest Parentals,
It 's CLEARLY time to send Christmas cards. I bought these at the Michaels in Anchorage when I was at transfers. This is the first Christmas card I'm sending out. Hey yeah so sorry I didn't get my weekly email out. You can ask Anne to type all this into the blog. You can promise her blessings. That's what we do as missionaries. The computer at the church doesn't work so we were at our branch mission leader's house and I read all my emails but then we had to take our car in to get studded tires on (even though the snow's all gone cuz it warmed up to 40 F and we had rain) and we were gonna finish our emails at the Hayes' house, maybe, that was one plan, cuz she was gonna take our peektures cuz she's a photographer, but our CAR took SO LONG and we were waiting at another member's house close to the car place, writing letters, while she made us awesome quesadillas, and then it was 3 pm and it was way foggy and it's Alaska so that means we ran outta light, so no peektures, so no email. So we went to the Library where they only allow you 30 min but that's all we needed but two squirrely teenage boys were on the only two computers (just kidding, they are precious sons of God), and we decided we'd just write handwritten letters home. Cuz we don't get irritated, cuz we have patience, cuz we're missionaries.
But I just love you. This week was good. We met with Puerto Rican Mommy and Puerto Rican Daddy. It was a good lesson; we taught the Atonement. Puerto Rican Mommy thinks that even if the Atonement wipes away our sins like wiping away a stain, it won't really wipe it all the way away. I so want her to be baptized so she can feel as clean as she was the day she was born. We talk about baptism like, every lesson, but she hasn't committed yet.
Okay, so La Mujer de Calisco has a daughter, she works at the hospital and the grocery store, and I will call her La Mujer's Daughter. La Mujer's Daughter has a daughter, I will call her Mexican Mommy - she actually has the same first name as Puerto Rican Mommy (in real life). Mexican Mommy has four kids and two of them were invited to church by some kids in the branch. One of them, I will call him Mr. 10 Years Old, has been learning about and reading stories from the B of M for two years with two of the boys in the branch, and I guess he really liked church and wants to get baptized and so that is cool. So, the mother of this fam who brought him to church called us and said she'd never really taken Mr. 10 Years Old seriously before but now she feels we should do something about this and we gladly agreed and are excited to start teaching this boy and HOPEFULLY we'll have a baptism soon. Mexican Mommy is very nice, Sister Pete and I actually OYM'd her (street contacted her) one day, and La Mujer de Calisco we OYM'd on a separate occasion and helped her carry her groceries to her house, and that family likes us, so hopefully they will let us teach Mr. 10 Years Old.
Well, I love you all.
Sister Ashbrook

Monday, December 3, 2012


Um, I ran out of time to do a big email last week, sorry about that, I sent Mom and Dad a handwritten letter instead, I just um, didn't TELL you in an email before I did that. I thought you would have gotten it already, sigh, you'll probably get it today. What happened was, the church computer is not working, so we have to do emails at a member's home, but we can only do that if the members are present. Anyway, we were doing emails and then our appointment to get our snow tires was coming up and we had all these plans to get back to a computer and finish emails but the rest of the day was insane and busy and the tires took two hours and the oxford carolers rehearsal was at 5 and we didn't know who to ask to go over to their house and it was afternoon so lots of families would have their crazy kids home from school and we got home in time for us to eat a quick, late lunch and write some letters. Our members were in Hawaii, but they are back today, so we are on their computers.

So that was sad. I thought about you lots and lots this week.

Oxford carolers! A way for us to get out into the community and be involved. Our branch mission leader and his wife are involved in it and so they told us about it. A group of people get together every Monday at 5 and practice Oxford Christmas carols, like, old English Christmas songs, like the Holly and the Ivy, but at turbo speed. Sister H brought up recently that we are the youngest people there. I laughed and realized she was right.

On Saturday we performed at the library to open up the Holiday Literary. I didn't even know what a literary was, but they do readings and stuff. The three songs the Carolers did were "Welcome to Our Savior," "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (the traditional English tune, not the one you're familiar with), and "Gloucestershire Wassail" or whatever it's called.

On Sunday we performed at the museum open house. Every Wednesday since I've been in Petersburg, we've gone to the museum on Wednesday mornings and done service there. We scan in film negatives and catalog them in this archiving software stuff. The museum curator is HILARIOUS and we sit there and LAUGH our heads off. She barely gets any work done. It was fun to come perform at her open house. I bet she had to "like, act professional, such a bummer" in front of all those people--that's something she would say, I swear.

The Oxford Carolers sang several different songs. Just very brisk, very lively music, we gotta spit out dem words. It's been very fun to be involved. The seventh-day adventist minister is in it. Half the people are Lutheran. The presbyterian minister's wife is in it. We practice in the presbyterian church. Most of them have been super super warm towards us, we never felt awkward practicing with them. President Beesley was all for the idea.

Sister H and I also performed at the museum open house, we took the 2:15 slot. It helps to get your own slot when you do service at the museum every wednesday. We sang "Silent Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," "Away in a Manger," and "What Child Is This." Doc Lopez, a man in our branch, accompanied us on the guitar. We love Doc. He works for the police department and so is very well-known in the community, and I think that added to the people at the museum staying and listening to us, because they knew Doc, whereas they didn't know us, or they might not trust us, and we're weird cuz we wear name tags. Doc is hilarious, he's Mexican and has a mustache that he twists out, and he came to the museum holding his guitar case with a black cowboy hat, decorated with the spine of a rattlesnake. Hahahaha. He also performed "I'll Be Home For Christmas" by himself, it was lovely.

We were gonna plan a fireside for the community, something Pres Beesley wanted us to do, but our branch mission leader thought it'd be better to work through a community talent show that is already mostly in place, it takes place at the Lutheran church and the Oxford Carolers perform in it. This is because they doubted there would be a big turn out if WE threw something---we're Mormon AND we're newcomers. Small towns are hard to dig your heels into. BUT, we found out the person who usually organizes it was outta town and so Sister Bringhurst, the branch mission leader's WIFE (she's a fire cracker), said, "Well, I will just organize it myself, except I'm going to Utah for a week and a half." So she got the ball rolling, had her husband, who used to be the CEO of the hospital til he retired and so HE has LOTS of credibility in the community, delegate it to someone else, and this woman took on the task gladly. President Bringhurst, who's the branch mission leader, scheduled a day at the Lutheran church and it is a go. They announced, in the next Oxford Carolers rehearsal, that the talent show would still be put on this year even though So-and-So was out of town, would everybody be in town to perform again?

Hahha. I am so excited. I'm so grateful to the Bringhursts for working so hard behind the scenes to get this thing to happen, just so that two sister missionaries can sing and play for the community. I love Christmas!

At the manor, the old people home, are apartments that senior citizens can rent independently. One of these lovely older ladies, who is presbyterian and not interested in joining but loooves our spiritual thoughts and visits, told us that we are becoming to be known as Helpers in the community, and less and less as people who go door to door and shove religion down people's throats. Which is cool, I guess. It has been hard sometimes, trying to find the line between a lot of community service and involvement and proselyting (going door to door, teaching, walking around and talking to people about the gospel, etc). Our numbers a couple of weeks ago were pretty low, meaning we had less lessons. We have been trying to find a balance, all the while not knowing if anything we're doing has any effect. So it was good to hear this sweet elderly lady say that.

Then we sang A Child's Prayer and made her cry, so I felt bad. Haha, actually, she thanked us a lot, she told us there were issues going on in her family that day and she said she didn't know how we knew she needed that, but needed it she did.

Anyway, so if we can help Petersburg view missionaries and thus, the church, as people who help and who are sincere and loving towards everybody regardless of religion or whatever, we want to keep doing that.


We had a great lesson with an investigator on Saturday. He has one leg. I will call him One-Legged Dad. (He has one son.) We've never met with him except on his porch. He gets uncomfortable around people and so we found out who in the branch he knows and asked if we could come teach him with this certain person. A couple of months ago, he told us to pretty much stop teaching him becuase it wasn't worth our time, there were too many bad things in the world and he could not muster up any belief in Christ. So, we came to his house last Saturday morning and watched "Finding Faith in Christ" and talked about it after. The member we brought with us bore the most beautiful, strong testimony of how we gain faith. She told a story of witnesses. She said, "What if someone came to me and said, 'This big thing, the size of this apartment, fell outta the sky and landed on main street, sat there for a minute, and then took off toward the sky.' I'd say, 'You're crazy, what are you smoking?' Then, what if someone ELSE came and said the same story, 'Hey did you see that thing come outta the sky?' " She narrowed her eyes and said, "I would say, 'I heard that story somewhere else. This is getting weird.' But what if I go outside and dozens and dozens of people are talking about this thing that came out of the sky. I'd start thinking, 'Hey, this actually could have happened. You know, I wasn't there, I didn't see it, but I am starting to believe it's true.' And then you know what I would do? I would take it the Lord, and get on my knees, and pray, and ask Him if it was true." It was so powerful and One-Legged Dad thanked her sincerely and said that was the first time it had ever made sense to him. The Spirit was so strong. I love teaching the gospel. I didn't even do any of that teaching. I just love being there when it's happening.

We had a lesson the same day with Puerto Rican Mommy. It was very different from One-Legged Dad. Not because of her, but because of her SON. The 13-year-old, who feels the need to interrupt and disrupt us every five seconds. He plays video games on his computer and refuses to turn the sound off. The TV was on but it was muted, but still distracting. We had already bosses 13-year-old Puerto Rican Boy a lot and how many more times can we say "please turn this off, please turn this down, please just FIX ALL YOUR DISTRACTIONS." Every three seconds the boy would say, "Spaghetti." NON STOP. Even if we ignored him. Even if I threatened to beat him up (we have a pretty good relationship, but that doesn't mean he wants to help us have a spiritual lesson). Puerto Rican Dad came home toward the end of the lesson and he got his son to pray, though. The father is the one that sets the law, apparently.

But then on Sunday Puerto Rican mommy didn't come to church. She hadn't felt real great the night before so maybe she got sick. Or maybe since it keeps snowing EVERY NIGHT she got worried about the roads, she doesn't have 4-wheel drive or studded tires, so that's understandable. I just really really really wish that she would just get baptized, but I know things must happen in her time. I want so badly for her to know that this is all true. She's so close.


THIS WEEK: We fly to Juneau on Tuesday (if the plane can come in, or take off, or whatever. Pray it stops snowing!) Zone conference is Thursday. We fly from Juneau to Wrangell on Friday. We ferry back to Petersburg on Tuesday.

Wrangell is already gonna be doing a Christmas sing-along in the branch and so they invited us, when we come, to help with that. So, we won't be throwing together a whole Christmas program, but working with what's already in place, something we are quite grateful for. We are quite busy. UNFORTUNATELY, Wrangell's Christmas thing is not till the 22nd of December....

So they want us to come TWICE!

The missionaries were teaching 3 sisters, one is close to baptism. THIS Wrangell trip is to get to know the town and teach these women and do lots of missionary work there. We are trying to plan a trip for the 22nd to get to Wrangell and help with their Christmas program. Today we're going to visit Pac Wing (Pacific Wing) which is a charter company and see if there is a plane that can charter us the morning of the 22nd to Wrangell. BECAUSE, our OWN branch's Christmas dinner is the evening of the 21st!!! And Sister Hatfield and I are apparently directing that. AND, the 23rd is the Sunday before Christmas. And the husband-and-wife speakers planned to speak in OUR branch that day want us to sing! So we need to be in Petersburg the 21st, Wrangell the 22nd, and back to Petersburg the 23rd. Travel options: commercial jet, ferry, charter plane IF president beesley gives permission. I already asked President Marsh (the branch president) that if we have to commercial jet in on Sunday morning (the 23rd) could we start church at 11 instead of 10? He said yes (cuz the plane comes in every morning at the same time, and that's like 10:30 or something). I thought that was hilarious.

AND we are helping Tiny Lil Thing, the elderly less-active woman who lives in Long Term Care at the hospital, finish a quilt.

(By the way, transfers take place around new year's day. We don't know if we're staying longer than that.)

Tiny Lil Thing was an avid quilter in her day. She has these quilt blocks, muslin with butterflies appliqued on, some are dutch dolls, in a bag in her closet. She's been "working" on this quilt for about two or three years. She can't stitch anymore (she hand stitches, like, everything) cuz she gets too shaky. Apparently she used to be busy as a bumble bee and it about kills her that all she can do every day is lay in bed. So, we decided we'd finish her quilt for her (if anybody's memory serves them well, I HATE QUILTING). As we're laying out quilt blocks all over her bed one day, decided what color embroidery floss to buy, Tiny Lil Thing told us this quilt would be for US. We were so touched! We asked her if we could make two smaller quilts instead of one big one, so we wouldn't fight over it, and she said we could do whatever we want.


So I've been learning the blanket stitch. Okay I love you all! I love being a missionary! I love petersburg, we are in our own lil world down here! One day I'll be transferred and I'll be like "HOLY COW HOW DO I DO THIS" because it is just so different down here.

The gospel is true! I know the Savior lives! Did you just love the first presidency devotional yesterday? They taught us how to receive good gifts, including gifts from God. They taught us how to give good gifts, as does our God. And they taught us the real gift, which is God.

Love you,
Sister Ashbrook and the Snow-Covered Boat in the Driveway

Monday, November 19, 2012


Hey family!

We got permission to do emails at a member's house so we're hanging out next door at our branch pres's house. Yukon the dog just BARKED really loudly, once, at nothing, and scared me.

Daddy that is so cool that you had a baptism, Mommy talked about a baptism a bit, the same one I'm guessing?

And Mommy, you do not have to send me another package, I am very grateful for all that you do, love you lots. I miss you all in a quiet, peaceful way, but truly I don't want to come home and hate thinking that I only have about six months left.

Hey so yes, we will be staying in this apartment indefinitely; we love it here. Every dessert we get we stop at the door to the main house and give it to the branch president. One time we had a pan with leftover brownies smothered in cookie dough that had been in our fridge for two days and we kept forgetting to give it to him. Knock knock. "Do you want these?" He took them happily. We asked him if he needed help eating them, cuz there was a whole side of the pan with brownies still, we could take a couple off his hands. "No, that's okay," he said, and shut the door.

We had a lesson with El Colombiano; we'd recently gotten permission for the Spanish elders in Juneau to mail us some Gospel Principles books in Spanish and El Colombiano had brought his that we'd given him, so instead of going over El Plan de Salvacion we jokingly asked him if he was gonna teach us. He flipped to chapter one and started. We got all excitedly settled and listened as he taught us who our Heavenly Father is. He asked us, "Como llevar (llegar? i can't remember) conocer a Dios?" How can we come to know God? He said, "La pregunta es simple. El respuesto es.." Big pause. "Profunda." Um, sorry if that's bad spanish, I wasn't called on a Spanish speaking mission. Hahhaa. ANYWAY he said, The question is simple, the answer is profound. He's so funny. He wanted a piece of paper, i gave him a sticky note, he drew this little globe with lines coming off of it, um apparently that was Sister H's head, and he wrote HER answer. Underneath it he drew a FROWNY face with big poofy hair, that was me; he wrote MY answer. For him, he drew a man in a tux. We asked him if he was gonna draw his glasses on the man. He said, "NO! No glasses." His drawing of himself did not NEED glasses. At one point he sat down on the bench next to us and his coat got caught on the cover of the gospel principles book. I fixed it. His reaction was delayed---he looked down after a couple of seconds and said, "NO TOUCH. It's MINE." He fixed it just so and then went on with his lesson. He cracks us up.

We went n visited one of our old lady friends at the Manor the other day, she's "The Answer Is" Lady. We found out she has Alzheimer's and Sis H says that makes sense; her grandfather who has Alzheimer's reuses the same phrase over and over cuz that's all he can remember. Well, The Answer Is Lady ALWAYS says, "The answer is..." or, "In other words..." My first meeting with her, back when Sister Pete was here, I asked her if she had any family in Petersburg. She got real close to me and said, "The answer is....not a soul." I asked her if she'd ever been married. "The answer is, no."

So, we went and visited her and said we could come in and we sat down and she sat on the "davenport" (she always calls it that, I don't know what the difference between a davenport and a couch is, but I wanna learn) next to me and through the course of our visit she sunk lower and lower and gradually slid sideways till she was leaning against my arm. A couple of times she even laid her head on my shoulder. As she's leisurely pointing her foot out, the leg that's crossed over the other, and slowly rolling her ankle back and forth, la di da di da style. I kept lookin over at Sister H and giggling. We love her. She just has this quirky personality. She says a lot, "When you get up into your 70's or 90's--" (she's 96, herself) "--you find that you just don't care about social things."

I asked her if she believed in God and brought up religious stuff and within three minutes she'd stood up and was thanking us for our visit, hahahaaah, and out the door we were. Well, we'll keep visiting her.

We helped the Woman Who Lives Out the Road (she's less active) with her deer again. We dropped by and she was outside in the rain on the way to her shop (shed thing).

"Hey, guys, I'm skinning my deer right now."

Oh my heck Sister H never jumped outta the car so fast. We went and watched her skin her deer, we took pictures on HER camera and she hasn't emailed them to us yet but soon I will email them to all of you and you can see. She'd cut the heads off the deer---she had two, one that had been hanging for a week already and one that she'd just caught the day before, hung up from their back legs, the rope going between their fibia and tibula or whatever it's called and then tied around the rafter thingies. So she'd cut the heads off cuz she said it's easier to pull the hide off that way, even if it gets a few more hairs everywhere. We watched her skin the second one, she had a tiny knife, I think it's called a parring knife, she laughs and said some people tease her for her tiny knife but she says it works great. So she pulls the hide down and then slices up where the hide and the fat/membrane/meat stuff is and slices and then she can yank the hide down a lil more.

Oh my heck. And then she broke their forelegs. We were like OH MY GOSH with hands over our mouths and she laughed and said that's the sound our own bones would make.

We went back the next day and helped her cut up her meat, AKA, separate the fat the from the meat, and the meat from the bone. Deer meat is nasty, she said, it makes the meat taste real gamey. I used a filet knife mostly and cut up backstrap and stuff. Yeah. I know what I'm talking about.

We've loved getting to know her, she is not familiar with the church at all, wanted to know what patriarchal blessings and investigators are. She's pretty much like a nonmember. And she's awesome. We wanna write a song called the Alaskan Woman.

We went back a few days later and helped her grind up meat and cut some more and I made sausage (I added spices and stuff according to a recipe she got from someone and ground bacon and the venison together; the bacon is like the fat, but it's actually nummy-tasting fat).

So, we did a lot of service this week. We also helped out with Petersburg Indian Association non-smoking coalition free t-shirt giveaway thingy at the community center. We also helped old people play bingo. We also helped out at a Turkey Time Race that a member of our branch, who works for Petersburg Parks and Rec, organized. We also...hmm what did we do. Oh my heck, we also helped out at this primary activity; a woman donated a whole bunch of STUFF from her HOUSE and the primary kids, one from each family at a time, walked around the tables full of all this STUFF and "shopped" for their family and we WRAPPED all these gifts and we're storing all these gifts at the church, they'll be taken back out at our Christmas dinner and given to the appropriate family members. It was chaotic and crazy, you'd be wrapping present after present for ONE kid cuz of course their father needed a KABOODLE (um it's a "fishing box") that was blue and glittery AND he needed a picture frame and two candles and a light bulb in the shape of a dolphin....and then ANOTHER kid would come to you with two grocery bags full of MORE things to be wrapped and let me just tell you, my wrapping skills got very special.

So, we suffered on lessons this week. We got a few less than we should have. We have to try and find balance. We do a lot more service out in the bush than in more populated places but we STILL gotta try and find a balance. So, we had a lesson set up with Sweet 15 and her fam, and it was dinner, with a short lesson after of course. We like having members of the branch at every lesson. So, we were freakin out, how are we gonna get a member to come to this lesson? We can't invite an extra person to someone else's dinner. And since Puerto Rican Momma asked recently NOT to have members at her lessons, and since Miss Walkin Into Town tends to forget about lessons and La Mujer de Calisco hasn't been home lately, and how the Spunky Woman who's 72 and doesn't wanna change cancelled her lesson, and since our newest investigator moved to Dutch Harbor, and since Miss I Needa Change My Life got a new phone number apparently and we've been texting and texting but it was to her old number, since all these people would NOT have lessons with us OR have members at these lessons, we REALLY REALLY wanted THIS lesson with Sweet 15 to actually have a member but it wasn't a simple thing to invite someone else along. So I prayed specifically that they would think to invite someone---Sweet 15's mom is friends with a sister in the branch cuz they both work at the hospital so I prayed for Sweet 15's mom to invite her. This woman is actually the woman Sister Pete and I lived with for two weeks back in August or something. Her name is Sister Hertless.

When we drove up for the lesson that night, Sister Hertless's car was sitting in the driveway.

There were a lotta screams in our car and lots of high fiving and then we got out completely dignified and walked up the steps to knock on the door.

Well, I woke up Sunday morning and looked outside and everything was covered in snow. "WE'VE BEEN DUMPED ON!" I cried to Sister H.

"No we haven't," she chuckled. "Wait, are you lying? You're lying."

"I'm not lying. Come see!!"

The snow is beautiful, and I love Petersburg.

We're going to Juneau the first week in December for zone conference and then after that we're flying to Wrangell instead of back to Petersburg, the work is slow there and the missionaries are getting taken out and put elsewhere, but Pres Beesley wants us to teach a few lessons there and throw a musical Christmas fireside, hahaha, for the branch there, and then we'll ferry back on Tuesday, to Petersburg.

Oh my heck, our December is gonna be crazy busy full of music and singing.


Sister Ashbrook and the frozen pot holes

Monday, November 12, 2012

No snow yet...

HI everybody. Thanks for the pictures, in the emails and letters both, Mommy and Lily and Aunt Fran!!! Pictures are so great. I really appreciate it. Love you all.

And happy birthday yesterday Sarah Bear!!! I am gonna write you today.

So apparently we are allowed an hour and a HALF on the computer on pdays, according to my district leader Elder Kvavle (um, pronounced "kwiv-lee") according to my zone leader Elder Martinez according to President Beesley. So, I don't have to like, RUSH and be CRAZY, but actually write yall a NICE EMAIL.
Except, I forgot to bring my glasses to the church so my eyes are killing me.

Cuz we do emails in the library at the church cuz the public library only allows you thirty minutes. I'm so used to doing them here, it would seem completely weird to go to the public library, and then I remember that for 7 and a half months in my last area we went to the college to THEIR library, very public, to do emails, cuz you're SUPPOSED to do them at a public place.

Things are pretty different in the bush. (Bush means outlying areas of Alaska...far away from civilization.)

Though Petersburg is pretty civilized. It's just, tiny, and only accesible by plane or boat. I love Petersburg.

So, this week has been fun. Sister Hatfield and I have been ridiculous as ever. Yesterday she told me that she appreciates that I joke around during lessons and push kids in the face, cuz it helps her realize she can just BE HERSELF.... Um, I don't know if I'm all that great of an example, clearly.

There is a less active woman who lives by herself out beyond Petersburg limits, she runs her own commercial fishing boat in the summer and is building her own two-story storage warehouse thing on her property, hunts deer, makes her own hot chocolate (the powder part), has a dog to keep her company, and is just plain rad. We love her. She had a deer that she caught and when the weather got real cold a coupla weeks ago, below freezing (STILL no snow yet, except for about half an hour of it a coupla nights ago that disappeared real fast) her deer froze so she couldn't skin it, cut it, grind it, and pack it, and she had plans to go deer hunting again and it was coming up and we told her PLEASE call us once the weather warms up and your deer thaws out and we'll come help you.

So she actually called, and we went out there Tuesday morning and she'd already cut up all the meat and she just wanted us to help her grind most of it and pack it. I packed up a coupla hunks of meat that she wanted for roast (so, NOT ground up in her meat grinder)--and the backstrap, and the um, whatsitcalled, neck roast, and the...yeah, things like that, it was awesome. You just smack it on some plastic wrap, wrap it up, wrap it up in butcher paper, and label it "ROAST 10-12" and call it good. We ground the rest of the meat and packed that up too. I'm tellin ya, I'm gonna turn into an Alaskan Man at the end of my mission.

Then that NIGHT, we went over to another EQUALLY awesome woman's house. She's the nonmember that we helped yank out the chicken wire fence out of her frozen backyard last week. She grows her own food, including chickens, and cans her own food, and makes her own SOAP. She hasn't bought soap in ten years, she said. So, we went over to help her make her next yearly supply of soap. Daddy, you'd be so proud. FIRST, we had to look at her notes and figure out a formula to concoct a new batch, I don't know WHY we needed to do this, maybe to improve it, maybe she wasn't completely satisfied before, but we had to take the oil and times it by the lye and the this and the that and formula percent stuff math stuff.

Pretty exciting.

I did the dishes while Sister Hatfield figured all that out.

AND THEN, we took the new numbers that we (AKA THEY) came up with and scooped out like 935 grams of palm oil and 734 grams of coconut oil (something like that, I obviously don't remmeber the exact numbers) and akui oil or whatever it's called from hawaii and olive oil and all that stuff, and water, and put it in a huge pot, and we put it on her real wood stove and started cooking that til it got to 140 degrees and then the woman, whom I will call Makes Her Own Soap Woman, took it outside to add the lye, cuz it's toxic and stuff.

Oh, and the scent. We had to smell all her essential oils and then decide on a combo and we decided on "orange sweet" and "plumeria" and "vanilla" and that was pretty exciting. Some of the oils while we were pouring them into another container spilled on some paper towels, Sister H and I kept them and my purse smelled amazing and um, still does. I put my paper towel in a ziploc bag and taped it into my Alaska Journal (the one I have other missionaries and members write in so I can remember who the heck all these people are).

WELL, I stirred the oil and lye stuff for a long time and waited for it to "trace" AKA....get thick until drips of it settled on top of the mixture before blending in, if that makes sense. Well, it took FOREVER, and Makes Her Own Soap Woman kept coming over to check on it, and finally it traced, but then within five seconds it curdled and the oil and water started separating and it turned into an orange colored MESS. No one had expected that so we looked in all her soap books and um, figured out that probably the reason why it curdled and went bad is cuz the stirring was too slow...or too basically I messed up all the soap.


She apologized as a teacher and said it was good for HER to learn that soap needs brisk, constant stirring. She told us she'd try it again on her own the next day or something...

She called us the next day and told us she had done it again that NIGHT after we'd left, she's so crazy, and stirred it the RIGHT way, and yeah it traced in like, ten minutes, and she'd poured the soap into her molds. She used two wooden mold crate things that her husband built for her, two wooden frames, each about the size of a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper, with crossing wooden pieces to make a set of rectangular molds, and the third mold was a PVC pipe lined with butcher paper. She said, "Come back in two days and you can help me take the soap out."

Haha, she's so great. We did, and Sister H cut up the pipe mold with a knife to make circular pieces of soap, and we smelled it, and the scent was there but we think more of the essential oils would be better, and in about six weeks when the soap is done "saponifying" she'll call us and give us some.

So THAT was fun.

She's a great woman, we have neat discussions about the gospel, she's not quite ready for it yet, but maybe someday soon.

And then on FRIDAY we showed up at the lil church cuz it was time to do our every-other-week-an-hour-of and the TRASH CAN was tipped over and trash was EVERYWHERE... you see, there are trash-addicted bears in the world and apparently they're not hibernating yet and I said, "Oh it'll take ten minutes, we can clean it up after" I was really excited, cuz this was the second time this had happened...

Um, it took an HOUR. Cuz there was CONFETTI everywhere, and everything was covered in frost and frozen to the ground. And our hands got SO NUMB. We were griping (jokingly) the WHOLE TIME...Sister H cracks me up. "Oh, this'll be great when we call in our service this week. Oh, you know, we just cleaned up TRASH that a BEAR spread ALL OVER THE PARKING LOT, no big deal, it's fine that all these paper plates have BITE MARKS and all the middles are MISSING out of them..." Oh, and the tray of vegetables that someone left in the fridge...all those veggies every where too. We left them for the deer.

OTHER THAN THAT, we had some good lessons with people, we reconnected with Miss Walking Into Town cuz Sister H suggested we stop by the Long Term Care in the hospital to see if the "pie social" was still going on and we entered the hospital and who did we see, sitting on a bench looking bored, but our investigator who fell off the face of the planet two months ago. It was awesome to see her again, we had a lesson set up for Saturday, but she, um, forgot. BUT WE'LL KEEP TRYING...

And we had a really nice lesson with some less actives yesterday, we found out a lil more about why they stopped going to church.

I know that the Lord puts people in our path, I know that timing is everything sometimes. I know that he prepares people and that the Spirit can soften people's hearts.

I know that we must have faith and when we do, we will want to change our lives, and when we put the Lord first, "everything will fall into place or else drop out of our lives." I know that I am where I am supposed to be and I love serving my Redeemer. I love the people of Petersburg. AND I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!!!

Thank you to all those who have taken the time to write me, I really do appreciate it.

Love you,
Sister Ashbrook

Monday, November 5, 2012

HI SUP GUYS (lots of pictures!!!)

Hi so I am gonna send more pictures.

I'm gonna write you a HANDWRITTEN LETTER TODAY instead of an email.


me and Sweet 15 (the investigator who can't get baptized till she is changed from 18 to 17 as of yesterday WOOOHOOO cuz she wants to go to BYU but she'll start college at 17 I believe and her parents know she'll have a better chance of getting in if she's a member)
 us and Sweet Lil Thing (the elderly woman who's a member of the branch that we go and visit at the hospital in Long Term Care like every was her 86th birthday)
me and a lil hilarious 5-year-old girl in the branch, I'm wearing a coat made out of wolverine and beaver fur that the branch pres had made, he hunted the animals
me and sis hatfield getting ready for service
a velkommen sign on the door of the woman we were gonna do service for

These pictures below are us doing service at the woman's house, she is not a member but she is rad. We were helping her pull her fence outta the ground but it was frozen, so I said boil water and pour it, sis hatfield said no get a blow dryer, this is what the woman came up with. propane blow torch. She has chickens and ducks and geese.

me and yukon. Our members went outta town and we dog sat (pres beesley said it was okay) Yukon is now my new boyfriend

me on the side of the highway at like mile 8 or something

on pday we drove out to the leconte lookout (leconte can't see it, but from the lookout you can see the bay plus the chunks of ice that float on the water)

how pretty the moon looked
me on the picnic table at the leconte lookout. sis hatfield LOOOVES this picture. my skirt needs to be pulled down in back, you can see the backs of my KNEEEES!

Monday, October 29, 2012

i swear i'm in a good mood

Hi I don't have much time. Sorry. This week has been a whole lot of service and stuff. Hahah.

branch pres grinding moose meat
me and new comp on a dock thing off Nordic Drive, a lil boy from a member's family took the pic, we were about to go eat dinner with them
 same dock, facing different direction so the sun's behind us

beautifiul petersburg

I was gonna send more but her camera died (my camera has dead batteries and the small memory card that came with it is full...i needa buy a new camera, or get a nikon memory card, i'd rather have a new camera, newer with a bigger screen on the back, still feel bad i broke the camera the budingers gave me...) card guy moved to ketchikan for work...

our members went outta town and we babysat their dog Yukon...he's a yellow lab and he's hilarious

we sang a lot

we had stake conference

we had an earthquake which we didn't feel (i rarely feel earthquakes) but there was a tsunami warning for neighboring islands...

we taught the feisty old lady who's been taught for 2 years, she is stubborn and doesn't wanna change

the puerto ricans did NOT come to stake conference, don't know how to motivate mommy puerto rico now

does anyone have any ideas for object lessons? i have used the pepper in water and dish soap one, I have used the bleach and food coloring one, i even know a scarf/yarn thing you use for prayer (can't tie a know without lifting your fingers off unless you fold your arms first...hard to explain)

happy birthday jess soon, right?

we taught la mujer de caliso, our brnach mission leader bought her el libro de mormon on cd

sorry that i have not capitalized anything, i don't feel like it, i swear i'm in a good mood but when I have no time to write an email i have no imagination or motivation to capitalize

must go love you bye church is true

love sister ashbrook

ps. mom i got a phone call from the missio nsecretary who said you called and said your surgery went well and it made me get teary-eyed and then SISTER HATFIELD got teary-eyed and it was lovely thank you so much. thank you for always being there, for the times you have loved me and not even said words, just rubbed my back and loved me. i love you so very much

Monday, October 22, 2012


So the weather has been changing. Even all the mountains recently got snowed on. The close-by mountains, I mean. It looked like someone tipped em upside down and dipped em in powdered sugar. BUT, for the last 3 days or so we have had CLEAR BLUE SKIES and it has been WONDERFUL, seeing as how the first 8 days of the transfer was straight pouring rain. So, the snow on the mountains has pretty much melted away except for the mountains on the mainland which you can see across the water (the Frederick Sound I believe), and IF there had been any rain, it probably would have snowed during the night, as it has dropped below freezing every night. One night at about 7pm it was 28 degrees. Pretty exciting for us to bust out our wool socks again and start thinking about which SCARF to wear. Except when we wanted to be early somewhere but had to scrape a centimeter of frost off our car one morning and ended up NOT being early but right on TIME, my heck.

Well so life has been lovely, we didn't pack any more moose meat or anything, but one night we came home (we take the small door that goes to the garage, there is a set of stairs going up to our apartment, and halfway up the stairs is a door that goes to the main house) and there were like, four dead ducks stacked on the stairs again. Hahah. SOMEONE'S been hunting.

I have a hard time writing emails sometimes. I look back over my week, in my missionary planner, and I think, what even happened? Oh yeah we taught that person. What did we even teach them about? And so in my head I have to, like, replant myself in that day and try and remember the details.

Every day is so different in Petersburg. It's kinda unique for this area. I love this town. The people here are just wonderful. I don't even know how to explain it. Like when we see the native man, he's seriously like Native American like Navajo I swear, he wears a cowboy hat and has loooooong dark hair and sometimes wears BRIGHT NEON GREEN pants, and he looks like he could snap somebody's neck, and he's out walkin his two pomeranion doggies. Puff balls. And we love the hospital, we go there like every day to see the Tiny Lil Thing, and stop by another lady who's recovering from a heart ache, and sing her a song. Sister Hatfield has an AMAZING voice, and we love harmonizing together.

I have grown to love the elderly, and have started thinking about how I can continue to visit them after my mission. As a missionary, wearing the name tag, we have an excuse to be coming to visit. And in petersburg, we can wander around the Long Term Care in the hospital and greet the old people and not get a second glance, all the nurses know us and greet us warmly. I am not sure we can wander around hospitals like that in the Lower 48 (the rest of America). I am thinking though that if I volunteer playing piano at old folks' homes I can get to know some of the residents and then start paying them visits. They just need visits!!!! These sweet old widows need love, and acceptance! Elderly people are just normal people, frustrated with how their bodies are failing and how they lose control when they move into places like these, and they long for and miss their family, and they miss their homes and their freedom, and how they could walk about and get fresh air when they please, and cook for themselves, and they had bigger wardrobes, and could read their books easier a few years ago, and now reading takes forever if their eyes are going bad, or maybe their hearing is going bad. I just love all of them.


Sister Hatfield is awesome, she listens to the Spirit and acts on promptings. Because of her acting, she shared a certain scripture after dinner with a family in the branch which prompted one of the members of that family to tell us about someone who needs the gospel, and we got a name and an address (that's called a referral). And, we'd been PRAYING for a referral for a week and a half. So, that was cool. We're gonna go contact the referral tonight before dinner.

Oh my heck, the primary program was yesterday. I LOVE OUR PRIMARY. (Primary is the kids' organization in the church for all the lil tykes, 3 to 11 years old). So, once a year instead of a normal worship service the kids do their songs and recite things for us, and it is HILARIOUS. And, Puerto Rican Daughter, age 11, and a member of a family we're teaching the gospel to, gave TWO short lil talks AND sang "I am Child of God" with another lil girl in the branch, and Puerto Rican Daughter even sang a verse all by herself. It was awesome. I really really really really wanna see that family get baptized. Puerto Rican Mommy said, sincerely, after we all bore sweet testimony to her about how reading the Book of Mormon will help her in her work and help her daughter with her homework, "I know." She nodded, looking down and seeming to be finally resolved. "I need to find a time."

I love this branch so much, the members who come with us to lessons LOVE doing missionary work. It's not something they do to do US a favor. They come and share experiences and help teach as if knowing they NEED to do this, earnestly trying to help these people that we teach to understand the gospel for themselves, understand prayer, understand their God.

Petersburg is different than other areas. Sister Hatfield came from the singles branch up in Fairbanks. She had 3 baptisms during those 3 months, the first 3 months of her mission. She once taught 12 lessons in a single day, 37 lessons in a single week. So it was quite an adjustment to come to Petersburg. We're out in the bush, on an island, in a town with less people in it than was in my whole high school. We got about twelve lessons last week---we could have done more, I always need to improve. Petersburg is all about plantin seeds, just letting the community know that LDS missionaries do not have devil horns coming out of their foreheads. We do a lot of service, we visit about five old ladies every week, one of which is actually a member of our church, the others just like us. We visit several people who like to talk religion with us and share ideas, and appreciate that we are young people who do not drink or are glued to our cell phones but that we can actually have an intelligent conversation about God and who we are as children of God. We hope and pray that they will let us teach them, these sweet people. I'm telling you, several people have told us, they are not interested in taking lessons, but invite us to please come back, and we can have tea. I love tea. Herbal tea. I've had about three mugs of herbal tea at different people's houses this week. THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING. Presbyterian, Lutheran, or the Bible Church. Whatever. They understand the gospel, they love their Savior, they recognize a need for people with good values to unite regardless of religion or culture. The WORLD out there is crazy and full of distractions and confusion and empty promises, a lot of things to grant people immediate entertainment and quick-lived happiness that fades and leaves them empty and wanting more. But there is something that is constant, there is peace that never dies. If people believe in science and not in God, it's totally fine. Scientists understand experiments. What's cool about God is that you can experiment on him. You can pray and test it, sincerely wanting to know if God is there. And if you are sincere, "if can no more than desire to believe," your faith will grow. That's what the Book of Mormon teaches. Chapter 32 of Alma, actually.

Anyway, the Presbyterians that we visit told us last night that what we really need now is another Reformation, looks like. "Christianity has changed a lot," they said. "Some has changed from even what Jesus Christ himself taught."

Well, we don't need another Reformation, we need a Restoration, and so we wanna sneakily teach them that the Restoration actually happened, it is NOT an amazing rare occurrence that God leads and guides his church from a removed position, in heaven. We are gonna like, ask them if we can "practice" teaching them or something awesome like that. They are so ready but just don't know it yet.

Well, I love this gospel. I am happy to be a Mormon. And I love my family, and hope all is well. UM ANNE DID YOU EVER GET MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE TO YOU?!

Sister Ashbrook and the sea lions

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Companion!

Oh my heck well life sounds exciting. Mom, you're getting all educated and pampered and loved (as you should) and Annalisa's gettin all sealed to her family (as SHE should). I can't wait to see pictures. I can't wait to see pictures of Northrups, of Danny's wedding, and of Candace's wedding!

Well I am back in Petersburg with my new companion, Sister Stephanie Hatfield. Hahha. So she grew up in Gilbert, AZ but moved out and went to live with her dad in Draper, UT about 4 years ago and her heart is in Utah, and she knows Christa Woodall and Christina Davis too, we figured out, and were screaming about it this morning (we already knew we both knew Christa but finding out we both knew Christina was like double cool---Christina, Sis Hatfield thinks you are the most hilarious person ever).

It's really funny cuz Sis Beesley tends to be slightly scatter-brained and told me on the phone she was gonna tell me about my new companion and told me all about this girl who was getting transferred from Florida cuz it was too hot and she had once gone to Angoon (Native village in Alaska) with her mom and she was adopted by Tlingits (pronounced Klinkets). So I told everyone I was getting this sister as a new companion and a day before we left for Anchorage Sister beesley was going over logistics with me and said, "And you'll go back to Petersburg with Sis Hatfield..."
And i said, "She's coming too?"
And Sis Beesley said, "No, she's your companion, she's always been your companion."
And I thought for a moment and then said, "Okay!" Hahhahaha.

Turns out this new sister getting transferred in was actually serving her mission in South Carolina and she went to Anchorage instead...Pres Beesley heard how I had been mixed up and he was like, "Sister Ashbrook, we don't send missionaries with medical problems to Petersburg." I'm on an island...

ANYWAY, it's been a fun week, Sis Hatfield is way funny. She cracks me up. She has a quick tongue and a sense of humor, has enjoyed telling people, "My name is Sister Hatfield and I'm not adopted by Tlingits."

We did service for a race last Saturday morning. It was called "beat the odds" and was in honor of breast cancer (since it's October). I thought a lot about you, Mom! Sometimes I am like, "Oh my gosh. I can't believe my mom has breast cancer. They are supposed to be getting blessed because I'm on my mission." And then I tell myself to stop worrying about it cuz you got that priesthood blessing that said you'd overcome it and remain with your family and YOU are calm about all this and I shouldn't worry if YOU'RE not worrying and you ARE blessed. Anyway, I just love you, and I hope your lumpectomy goes by without problems.

We had a lesson with the Puerto Rican family, minus the dad who was at work. We helped Puerto Rican daughter with her two less-than-a-minute talks that she has to prepare for the primary program (every kid has two talks..non-members like Joelys don't get special treatment!! haha) and then we read 2 Nephi 31 with everybody and invited them all to be baptized, but Puerto Rican Mommy wants to get to know the church a little more, but it was okay, it was still awesome. Baptismal invites always get me so nervous but the spirit was strong. I really think she just needs a really good friend at church. Our relief society pres would be PERFECT for her but she is out of town (at her husband's business Anaheim...they're gonna go to DISNEYLAND so jealous). THe problem with having a small branch is that people have normal lives and go out of town like normal people but then we really feel their absence and I am like, "What the heck."

We helped our branch president and his wife (we live in the apartment above their garage) pack moose meat last Friday. They were grinding it this year (the branch pres goes moose huntin every year) and so we were mashing up the ground moose meat into oblong shapes and the branch pres's wife was wrapping it up in plastic wrap. The branch president took a picture of it and texted it to Anne (she's the only one whose phone number I remember, so she has gotten mysterious texts from members before...).

While packin moose meat, the branch president's wife told me there was a porcupine destroying her raspberries out back. And that if it came back, her husband is gonna kill it.

Well, that night we were planning for the next day and suddenly heard a gunshot. We both looked up and said in unison, "Porcupine." We ran over to the window and opened it.

"Did you get it?" we hissed.

We heard a voice from below saying hesitantly "Yeah....?"

We ran outta our apartment and jostled down the stairs and into their house and out to their back porch as another gunshot was fired. The wife was standing on the porch with her hands over her ears and a horrified look on her face.

"Is it dead?" she asked.

Her husband, who was standing out back with a flashlight that wasn't being held still so we could NOT see the porcupine, said, "No! I can't believe it's not dead." He came up the steps and walked inside and put his gun on the counter but then he walked back outside while Sis Hatfield and me stood there horrified and totally transfixed and I don't remember what I was saying but I was saying something while the branch pres went to the shed and grabbed something and Sis Hatfield suddenly was going into the house and I looked out and saw him raising a huge ax above his head, his faithful lab standing completely attentive by his side, and I saw the ax swinging down through the air and landing with a thump, and I shrieked with my hand over my mouth. And he did it again. And I saw was HORRIFIED!

And that, my friends, is Alaska.

We're gonna go out there today and pluck a couple of porcupine quills.

Um, so anyway, I know the church is true, and by that I mean that we have inspired men who have been called by God to lead and guide the church today, and who hold the authority of God. I know that the gospel has been restored and that the Book of Mormon helps us know the truthfulness of the Bible, and that there were plain and precious truths taken out of the Bible throughout the centuries that cause us to misunderstood doctrine and be confused.

I know that music brings the Spirit---Sis Hatfield has a beautiful singing voice. We are thinking about putting on a big fireside for the town, with music. How cool would that be? We love singing together already. I love singing for spiritual thoughts.

I love my family and hope all is well.

Sister Ashbrook and the porcupine (RIP)

Sister Ashbrook, Sister Petersen, Sister Claspell

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tasty Moose Murder

Someone from Alaska texted me this picture. They said its her, her comp and Sister Marsh.

I asked if they were wrapping meat or something and the reply was "yep tasty tasty moose murder."



Monday, October 8, 2012


So hello!

i'm in Anchorage cuz Sister Pete-pete is getting transferred! Everyone comes together for transfers who is getting transferred, we meet our new comps, those who are going home or who are going back out to the bush (the distant places in Alaska) go to the temple. Sister Pete is getting transferred to MY last area and is gonna serve in Colony ward with a sister who just got done training. WOO.

I am staying in Petersburg for at least one more transfer, Sister Hatfield is gonna be my new companion, she just got done getting trained up in Fairbanks and she is escaping the coldest part of Alaska just in time for winter and coming to the southeast where it hardly gets cold at all, it gets down to about 10 degrees I've heard. Not that bad, I was used to negative degrees almost all throughout January up where Sis Pete is going.

I can't write too long cuz everything is crazy, but funny story, haha, we were gonna fly out Saturday and come up to Anchorage early, we were so excited, though Sis Pete is very sad to leave our lil island. We watched the first session of general conference---so cool they lowered the ages! Pres Beesley says we won't see too much change with the elders but we will see a LOT more sisters---and then went to the lil airport to check our bags. BUT, it was foggy,they told us it would be an hour delay cuz the plane is still in Wrangell wondering if it should take off or not. Wrangell is a town on a nearby island, we have got elders there. So we went to the hospital to see if the lil ol Tiny Thing, the elderly lady we visit who is a member, wanted to watch Conference, but she'd been given some sleepy meds and wasn't up to it. Back to the airport, just in time to hear our flight get cancelled. My heck, what do we do now? It WAS very foggy, we had to admit. Looking out across the water you couldn't even see the other side. I wouldn't want a plane to try and land here either.

We called Pres Beesley and told him the two options---we could fly to Seatlle, cuz the afternoon plane goes south, and fly to Anchorage tonight (it's a goal of like every south-east Alaska missionary to end up going to Seattle and outta the mision boundaries hahah) or we could fly to Anchorage Sunday morning. He was like, "Go tomorrow." SIGH.

So we had to bring our minds, which had already flown to Anchorage themselves, back to Petersburg and work the rest of the day---hhha it was lovely though, Sis Pete got to say goodbye to a few more people, we met with Puerto Rican mommy, oh my heck she is so ready for the gospel. She struggles with her ADHD 12-year-old son. She struggles with her husband working so much and wondering if she even knows him anymore, he sometimes feels like he doesn't even belong at home. I LOVE this family, and want them to be oh so happy and I know that the gospel can strengthen them.

General conference was so good. One of the tech elders (AKA Sister Beesley's computer slaves) said basically General Conf was about getting rid of distractions and increasing discipleship.

Sunday morning---sooo foggy. We watched the first sesh of general conf praying in our minds that the fog would clear up, halfway through I realized I needed to stop praying for what I wanted and take the advice i ;was being given and pray 'Thy will be done, O Lord."

We got outta conf and went to the airport--airplane was delayed, wasn't even gonna land in Wrangell, but was coming to Petersburg. We successfully boarded and went to Juneau--the plane always stops there before proceeding onward. And were told there had been a computer glitch and we needed to get off the plane with our boarding passes and reboard.

Oh my heck, "You woulda thought they were asking everybody to break their own legs," Sister Pete said to me. People groaned and yelled and acted like a whole bunch of three-year-olds.There were a few other members on the plane, and it struck me how quickly we accepted the orders and submitted, unlike some of the others, not everybody threw a fit but plenty of people (once we got BACK on the plane an HOUR LATER) asked for liquor instead of ginger ale---they'd just been through a traumatic event, apparently.

While we waited in the airport terminal (turns out the computer erased the names of everybody who hadn't boarded in Juneau) the members on the flight pulled up conference on their iphone and we huddled around and listened to Elder Bednar talk about conversion and testimony. While we sat there peacefully, one man cupped his hands over his mouth and shouted, "WHAT'S THE HOLD UP?" and complained loudly of how unfair it was to wait so long.

When things we don't want or expect happen in our life, what is our first reaction? Anger, frustration, lashing out? Or do we turn to the words and teachings of the holy prophets?

A lovely lesson in the airport.

I know this gospel has been restored, that it is Christ's gospel, and I know it is led by men who were called of God and given authority. I love being a missionary. I love my family. Don't worry Mom I will try not to worry about your new medical issues. And everyone else in the family who is struggling. I will pray for you and love you.

Sister Ashbrook