Monday, January 23, 2012

Letter to Anne 16 January 2012

Again, I'll be typing this exactly as she wrote it- except for a few things that she says to omit like names, etc. -Anne


How AHHHRE you. Life is good. Fun times up here. Sister Brown & I have been having a blast. We talk in British accents alot. <-- NOT one word, woops. I do know how to spell. I'm sitting on the stage here & elders are shooting baskets & sometimes I nearly die when the ball whizzes past my foot. I tried playing volleyball w/ them earlier but I told them it wouldn't be a good idea and... NO it wasn't. I pretty much spent the entire time flinching. HA. So like, Sis Brown & I went to a thrift store this morning & I bought orange cuordoroy pants & street urchin shoes & a flannel & she bought red suspenders & we are pretty amazing. (Melissa has an uncanny ability to find the ugliest things while shopping and buy them just to make me cringe. Haha. -Anne)

We taught our investigator and it went so much better than last time, he wasn't sitting there w/ a glazed look which was good. More involved. We had a member like last time but this time we had a young girl with us, maybe he felt more at east, since we were all closer in age.

And hopefully tomorrow we will get our other investigator on date for baptism - she was on date when we got here but from teaching her we realized she didn't quite understand everything & it is so important for them to understand so that they know exactly what it means to live this gospel. But at church yesterday she was so happy, so comfortable w/ speaking in class, she is laughing and bright-eyed and that is because she is coming closer to Christ and feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost in her life.

The biggest challenges have been getting through the times of disconnect with my companion, they come like once a week and we always grow closer to each other after talking through it & sharing personal stories about each other so we can know where we are coming from. The work, you see, is enjoyable. But has its challenges too. Like meeting a potential & having a lesson set up for Saturday at 6 and then he wasn't home. But I think the biggest challenges for me are APPROACHES, like how to initiate a conversation about the gospel, which you do during, for example, tracting - door to door. Which we haven't done a whole lot. At Christmas it was easier - "can we carol to you & share a message about the birth of Jesus Christ?" - so much easier. Anyway this week, we have big plans to go tracting, so hopefully I'll get some practice. We need to FIND people! We need to plant some seeds ourselves. And we are confident we will see miracles.

So like, it is so much fun being a missionary. Hope you are being able to do some missionary work yourself. Just keep it simple, the basics, but don't hesitate to tell people how it's blessed your life. The church, the Book of Mormon, prayer, anything. Just bearing your testimony by sharing your own experience is so cool. Our investigator was sitting there telling us he sees similarities in his life & Alma the Younger's (a prophet in the Book of Mormon) life and how he's interested in reading more in the Book of Mormon to see other "examples" and I was sitting there thinking, what stories in the Book of Mormon can I personally relate to? AAHH I can't think of any! It's so important to have a personal relationship with everything you're teaching. You know?

Oh good the elder just showed me his progress on the piano, he played some "I Need Thee Every Hour" & I taught him how to keep his heel on the floor while working the pedal.

Bought some frozen quezadillas today at the store. Wonder what they'll be like. Hah.

<3 Sister Pemz

Email response to Mom

MOMMY! I love reading your letters. You are so funny. May I quote a few things:

"How does the oh so marvelous garage band sound?"
(Answer: Sad news, Sister Beesley is sick, we are driving to Anchorage on Thursday cuz that is a trainer's meeting anyway and Sis Brown is a trainer, the Cottonwood elders will drive us cuz they're training and the YSA elders will drive down there in the afternoon and work the oh so marvelous garage band and Elder Knudsen from Cottonwood will sing on the tracks Sis Beesley wants him to sing on, then they'll take off, and we'll do some more recording, and YSA elders will drive us back)

"Tweety says hi by the way" <--- parakeet
(Good. I saved his life so he BETTER say hi.)

"I practice the hymn a few times -- I very beautifully play the right hand"
(Man I wish I could hear. That is lovely. I love the starting note hmmmm so that everyone can start on the right note, I am sure you direct the music wonderfully. And that is ver ver sweet you think of me whenever you go into the piano room. Love you!!!)

I haven't got the study guides yet but it's okay if it takes 3 weeks to get here! Man I don't want you to spend too much money.

UM CANDACE IS ENGAGED?! That's it. I'm writing her a letter today. I love my chan chan! I am so happy for her!!! Learning all this missionary stuff has taught me so much about how important PROGRESSION is. And that baptism is the FIRST STEP. Well guess what, getting married to the right person in the right place and by the right authority is a goal that can be hard and perceived as somewhat impossible by some people, but it is that last sacred ordinance we make with our Heavenly Father, getting sealed--married for eternity--in the temple, which is the house of the Lord here on Earth. Progressing towards eternal life = happiness.

That is awesome that you looked at some old records. There is a lady in my ward who Sis Brown and I do service for, she has two huge crazy dogs and the dust and hair upset her asthma. She has a room with eight five-foot shelves all filled with records, and there is a victrola or whatever it's called. That could be a pretty exciting room. She also has about a billion books, and about a billion dvds. All alphabetical. I want to come back after my mission and closet myself away in her house. She cooked us dinner the other night and she is from New Orleans and anyway she cooked us the most amazingly beautiful gourmet lasagna. And her food storage in the garage is unbelievable. And she joined the church just a few years ago. hee hee.

I can't wait to hear about when my lil cousin Annalisa will have her adoption finalized...I love the Northrups!

"Lily and Adam are good; the little spitfire Jessica is letting her mom sleep most nights better and only waking up twice."
(THE LITTLE SPITFIRE. hahah. That lil niece of mine. I can't wait to get to know her. i love the picture of her you sent in the email, mama.)

"She gave him the Christmas present from James that he forgot at Mom and Dad's that day - a cd of Led Zeppelin I picked out, with "The Immigrant Song" on it.  If you say you don't know what that is, I'll say you should!"
(erm...i don't think i know the immigrant song. I am a horrible excuse for a musician. Bahahah.)

How exciting about Laura n Josh my cousins moving to Santa Ana hopefully. SANTANA HUEYYYY <---- my vato slang.

And yes I barely hear about politics and economy problems here, but I was talking about it the other day, about how California is strugglin with a coupla things right now. haha. Sighh.

Mama how is nursery going? My mama was called to look after the lil babies during church, yeah? Can be very tiring. There is a woman in our ward who is soo delightful. Mama you would love her. And she tells lurvely stories. Anyway she has done nursery for about seven years I believe...and is happy about it! GASP! Crazy. But I think there are only about five babies.

I want to write you guys a handwritten letter today hee hee hee. I have about fifteen people I gotta write...but I want to write you guys handwritten! I just got a letter from yiddy fwen, my sister oh so dear, about how she loves to do handwritten letters cuz you can see personality and you can HOLD it in your hands, the letter, which is how she wrote her WHOLE mission. And I had been thinking for days, I wanna write a handwritten letter to mom and dad! Cuz I want them to SEE and HOLD my letter. Cuz I love them so very much!

Last week like EVERY APPOINTMENT fell through and so hopefully this week will go so much better. My relationship with my companion is improving and it is wonderful. We have a blast. We always have a good feeling between us so the Spirit can be there and if there isn't, we hate it and we resolve it, and it's horrible until we resolve it, and it happens about once a week, but each time we learn something from each other and come out closer to each other. Man. Of course in normal friendships there can be disconnect and misunderstandings and I am learning that if you really address it and see where the other person is coming from, and not get defensive, and try so hard to love that person, you have such a strong bond. Yup. The majority of the time we are happy and giggly.

I am starting to really love the people here. We went tracting last week and a teenage boy opened the door and I said "Hi" all brightly and stuff and then froze. Pretty much didn't say a word. Goofy smile on my face. Looked at sister brown. She just smiled back. I tried to keep going but no hay nada. BAHAHAH. Looked at sister brown again. Luckily she took over. BAHAHAH. I still have, erm, a lot to learn about tracting... It was actually an interesting house the teenage boy's mama came and talked to us and wasn't RUDE but wasn't very OPEN and that's great, she has her opinion and that is what life is all about, choosing for yourself, but sister brown bore such strong testimony about the book of mormon and that we are NOT looking in "other places" that will "confuse us" for God's word, but that God DOES speak to more than one nation and HAS and that the Book of Mormon IS God's word, and I felt the Spirit as she spoke, I knew what she was saying was true....but the woman was like "No. uh-uh" kinda thing, sighhh so sad.

The wind has pretty much blown all the snow away. It's quite ugly. There is this crumbly icy brownish stuff everywhere. All the trees are brown.

We got to go to the temple in Anchorage last was lovely. We went with our district, the cottonwood elders (they serve in the cottonwood ward) and the YSA (young single adult) elders. I bought, at the LDS bookstore in Anchorage, and so did Sis Brown cuz she's the one that wanted it, an Alaska CTR ring. It is kind of a thick sterling silver band with the CTR-shaped shield like a normal CTR ring but it is the Alaska flag background, big dipper stars, with a star up in the corner...yay! CTR stands for Choose the Right. So my ring doesn't actually say that but the shape of it is like other ones, so I still remember to choose the right. Hee hee. A lot of missionaries here get this ring. It's like tradition. LIKE. HAHHAHA.

Love you all

Sister Ashbrook

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Helloooo family.

So we were gonna put our investigator on date for baptism monday but she had family over and cancelled on us. Which was sad. Sometimes I get over things really fast though and I worry that it affects Sister Brown and makes her sad, and I have to evaluate how badly I want people to make these commitments like baptism, and at what point is it gonna crush me that it doesn't quite get made... anyway we still have yet to extend this commitment to our investigator so we'll see how it goes once we figure out a new schedule time for her. She went to church on Sunday and was just so HAPPY...she loved the sacrament talks which were about the atonement, a speaker shared that story called Seminary Donuts, which is always a tear-jerker, you should google it, everything can be googled....and she (our investigator) just was so happy. Cheerful. You can tell by someone's smile how bright they are inside. And during gospel essentials she was offering comments and asking to read and felt at ease. Feeling happy and joyful and peaceful like that are fruits, or results, of the Spirit.

Did I tell you about the investigator that had their friend over who started talking about dark angels and confronting us about polygamy and asking us if we'd ever felt THE POWER OF THE LORD???? I started telling her about a time I'd felt the power of the spirit and with every word I said she demanded more information and questioned and contradicted and it was ridiculous. Anyway that house just isn't so comfortable. Every time we go over there it is quite a dissatisfying experience. In district meeting---we meet with the other missionaries in our district once a week--two other sets of elders--they offered some advice. "have you tried teaching them at the church or at a member's home?" So that seemed good cuz if we can teach in an environment where the spirit is then maybe these investigators who've been meeting with the missionaries for a looong time and still refuse to change a few things but yet still want the missionaries over, maybe they'll feel the spirit, and feeling the spirit softens hearts. Sister Brown wants to try everything we can before we drop them. Which makes sense. I hope we can find our answer if these people ARE willing to be taught elsewhere (from certain physical conditions it is hard for them to move around). And if we teach them in a better place, we'll see how it goes, and I want to find out relatively quickly if it is worth it to teach them more cuz I don't want to be wasting my time when we could be out finding people. My companion has more of a desire to keep teaching these people so I will try and see it from her point of view more.

I have this horrible fear of walking up to people and initiating a conversation about the gospel. That's called contacting--when you go street-contacting or something. Which we have never done, probly cuz it's so cold and snowy and stuff. It's better maybe like in a park or something. But i worry about this fear and I worry about never getting over it. Sigh. Also tracting---scary. We've done it a couple of times. We have big plans to go this week. We're scheduling it in every day for one or two hours! Sometimes things go longer so we might actually not GET to do two hours of tracting, but at least we'll do some, yeah?

We had specialized training on Saturday and learned about what this three-month period's goals are. The mission pres & wife came with the assistants to the president (a set of elders who basically assist the president a lot) to teach us things. And on the side, we tried to get more recording done. We didn't get much done, the acoustics stunk, we're gonna go down to Anchorage Monday and stay there, record in the evening, sleep at the mission home, record on Tuesday until it's all done, cuz this CD of music about light is a "training cd" to motivate all the missionaries to have better music and get to know the theme for January-March which is "let there be light" and so we better get this thing done. Sister Brown is excited to have that time to study, and she will sing with me for a couple of those songs. Our district leaders are gonna drive us down there and Elder Carlson the district leader is gonna work The Oh So Marvelous Garage Band on the mac. Sister Beesley, the mission pres's wife, is excited for any thing musical, she says it is so important to have a song in your head and your heart cuz you don't know when it is gonna help you out.

So yes it has snowed a lot, apparently up here in Palmer there is supposed to be all this WIND. For weeks I heard a lot about the mysterious WIND that comes, everyone is wondering when is the WIND GONNA COME? And all it was doing was snowing. Snow snow snow. Every night our car would be covered with about half an inch to an inch, maybe. The trees were all covered in SNOW. And THEN---THE WIND CAME!!! And boy this wind is crazy. You SEE it. Cuz it is blowing the soft fluffy snow around. Get this, you're driving down the street and alla sudden this gust of swirly white comes twisting off of the traffic light up ahead. That is the wind coming and knocking off all the snow there and gusting it away. Then it snowed again a few days later. And Carleen, in our ward, this awesome girl who served her mission in Peru same years as Lily, said "Sister Ashbrook you haven't seen any strong wind yet, we're talking 90 mph." Anyway. Last night it winded like never before. Thunderous wind outside. All night long. It kept up Sister Brown all night which is sad. The trees are roaring. The wind is howling. And the closet of our little cottage---which is shaking by the way, we just get a LOT of this wind up on this hill--anyway inside the closet there are two spots on the wall where apparently there is this hole covered in plastic and then there is this big foamy insulation screwed into the wall, well during this wind these holes can't really keep it out and the insulation starts moving and kinda thumping and the door to the closet is shaking and rattling...all night there is a monster in there. And I went into that closet and it was FREEZING COLD IN THERE.

So that is wind. It takes all the snow away. Kay not ALL of it. But the trees are all bare and brown and un-snowed-upon. And the hillsides facing the wind have huge bare patches with brown grass totally exposed. Pretty exciting. ANd the wind puts the snow into snow drifts, way packed, look like snow dunes, that slowly turn into cement. Today is musk ox farm day and we did a lot of shoveling. I feel very exercised out. My back and arms are gonna feel like death tomorrow.

Oh, also you hear about the BUSH. It's not mysterious but to a southern californian it is. The bush is what they call rural alaska, out there where all the natives live in villages. President Beesley does not send sister missionaries out to the bush. It is not very safe apparently in some areas, and super cold, and there is just not much out there.

I loved getting letters from Sarah & Shane this week. I will write back to them soon :) If any of you have written me a letter and haven't gotten one back, so so so sorry, I will try and write you as soon as I can. Time on p-day is very limited, especially when you are writing in the gym where all the elders are playing sports and sometimes rugby balls come whizzing past your face, it can be very distracting. But it's okay, I learned how to throw a rugby ball, you just "spin the butt," yes that is my word, sorry mama. I stink at throwing rugby balls. And then it can be distracting cuz the zone leader is like dinking about on the piano and then he's all "Sister Ashbrook, can you come play this?" and if the zone leader calls, I must obey. (A zone leader is an elder who serves in a leadership position over about fifteen to twenty missionaries.)

Oh, there is a Mexican woman we are teaching... i get to use my spanish. it is very exciting. We've only taught her once, we had Carleen come with us, but Carleen was sick last night when we went over and so Sister Brown and I showed up, we were just gonna give this woman stuff to read and set up another appointment and come with a fluent spanish speaker. This woman had been taught all summer but hadn't been taught in the past couple of months so we wanted to go see her. Anyway last night I had to use a lot of spanish cuz Carleen wasn't there! Haha and la mexicana said we don't need a third person there, I'm doing pretty good. WhatEVER it is so much easier with a third person there. Sister Brown likes to talk a lot during lessons so she was bemoaning her lack of Spanish skills later cuz she had so much to say, she'd gotten the gist of what we were discussing, and I told her after the lesson of course, so we've decided I'm gonna teach her spanish, so that she can express herself...hahah. I told her that I woulda done my best to translate but whatever.

I hope I have told you all the exciting parts.

Oh we tried to see Aunt Joy, who lives in Wasilla. Nobody was home and maybe hadn't been in a while. A cute lil house. Garage and then steps down a slope to a little grey house. Anyway these steps were covered in so much snow it was hard even to see them, so that is why we were like, "Hmm they haven't been home in a while..." Cuz usually people are good at shoveling the places where they walk. Sis Brown said maybe they are snowbirds and move to a warmer place like Arizona during the winter? I dunno.

The stake patriarch (a man in the church who gives patriarchal blessings) sells bunny boots. Google them. Warm warm warm. He gives them to missionaries free but Sis Brown and I had no intention of taking them when he usually sells 'em for $80, but still he gave them to us for free. We are thinking of sneakily mailing him the money. He says what we can do is leave them here when we are off our mission, we won't need them back home. They are so cool though, they look like rockstar shoes, I took pictures. Maybe I'll leave my OTHER boots and take these. I dunno. HAHAHA. I should just leave them in Alaska for another sister to use. I have 18 months to enjoy them. This man is amazing and told Sis Brown and I awesome stories, he is so intelligent.

Anyway I wore the boots to the musk ox farm today and my toes finally didn't freeze. It's just that no matter what you have on, it just gets really cold after a while if you're outside for about two hours. You gotta keep your feet moving and all that. But seriously. These bunny boots = no cold toes.

The family we live with, Daddy, you would love the husband. He sings and likes the outdoors too. They used to live in the lil cabin that Sister Brown and I live in, and also this other one up the hill a ways, with all their kids. Who are pretty much all grown NOW, but anyway, while they were building their nice big home they were living between these 2 cabins and one of them doesn't have running water, and THEY liked it but the kids didn't really, hahah, and I was thinking of you Daddy and thinking you probably would like living in a cabin with no running water if you had to, and be doing a project you love (they have enjoyed building their home). Haha.

Snow plows-- the big ones that drive along the road and suck up snow somehow and it comes spouting out the top like a volcano of snow. You see this fifty-foot white fountain coming over the tops of the trees. Haha. One came driving along the road the musk ox farm is on and the wind was blowing, the wind left over from last night, so these huge streams of snow came bursting out the top of the snow plow thing and then the wind picked it up and blew it and we were out chopping the wood for the little office's wood stove, about to get rained on. And the snow comes like a sand storm in the middle of the Sahara desert. You just turn your back on it and the snow whips past you in a snowy, icy, sparkly breeze, peppering your back with snowy glitter. Yup.

I love being a missionary---I love the members---I finally let a few more of them know I play the piano. I love studying the scriptures. They teach you so much. I know that Jesus Christ is the savior and the redeemer of the world. I love this quote, Ezra Taft Benson "Just as a man does not desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ." Ever since Adam and Eve we have been separated from God...we make mistakes and have feelings of shame and guilt that burden us. The only way to get back to God is through his Son Jesus Christ, and through him we can take away the burdens of our mistakes and feel clean and happy. It is wonderful.

sister ashbrook

ps. It helps that I type way fast, I have time to write long letters. Ee hee hee heeh ee heeehhehehehe

Monday, January 9, 2012

Email to Dad

I thought I'd add my dad's email to her so her responses make more sense. Here's his:

Hello Sister Ashbrook,
Mom sent you a box with your 5-divider journal, some CDs and other stuff. Also, we got your box from the MTC (including your journal), but I was wondering - did you receive our box with the OCMCO Messiah in America CD?
I am working on cleaning the garage. I've built some new shelves to replace the little ones above the water barrels. I intend to build a second shelf unit above the workbench similar to the one already there, but instead of drawers on the bottom I am going to have glass jars that screw into the lids that are attached to bottom.
We all thought your experience with the car in the ditch was hilarious. It was so nice of the Elders to come to your aid so that it could be recorded properly with plenty of pictures. I am glad no one was hurt. If you are going to have a car mishap, yours sounds like it was done properly.
Your experience with the potential's wife who talked with you for two hours only to reject you on your next visit sounds typical. As a representative of Christ your job is to let people feel the Spirit, and if they are receptive to teach them the word of God. They may not convert immediately (do we want someone as fickle at that?), but need to realize that whenever you come over they feel "different" because you bring the Spirit with you.
Your experience at the Musk Ox farm sounds very interesting. Is it a Welfare farm? Or, a members farm? Or, an investigator's farm? I can see why you would be frightened of them - they look huge. Are the adult Musk Oxen scared of the "stance", or just the younger ones?
That's nice you can share your musical gift to help make a practice CD. I always appreciate it when I receive a practice CD for Stake Choir and thank those involved in creating it.
I am glad you are enjoying your mission and the people you are with. I love hearing about your experiences.
Take care.

I will answer your questions. You may let Anne put this on the blog.
Musk ox farm-- is a non profit organization, apparently their wool is one of the warmest in the world, the wool is harvested from them once a year and they get about two big trashbags full from each adult and send this wool to the natives who do stuff with it and stuff. I did not go NEAR the adults. I was around the calves born this year and the yearlings. They ranged in size from Uncle Davey's lil goats to about the size of A LION AND THEY LOOK LIKE LIONS AHHHH. 
 Thanks for your words about the lady who listened to us for 2 hours and then rejected us, yeah hopefully one day she will be contacted by missionaries again and she will remember us. In fact in a few weeks we wanna go over there with cookies and let her know we're thinking of her and still love her.
I have pics of the car in the ditch as well, soon I will send home my memory card and it will have lots of pics from the MTC until now. Hahhaha.
That sounds cool about the garage, one day I will see it and will drool over its beautifulness.
THANK YOU MAMA FOR SENDING STUFF TO MEEEEEE. I can send home some money if you want. YAY FOR THE STUFF WITH THE JOURNAL THAT ARRIVED. Good lil sister romero at the MTC.
I have Messiah in America!!! It is lovely. I can't wait to listen to all of it. We tried listening to it in the car but I am not sure Sister Brown loooved the parts with the soloists. Plus it is hard to listen to in the car as it gets all quiet and if it's not turned up SUPER loud we can't even hear it :( and then it does get all loud, and we have to turn it down, and we were trying to find this house, and I had this map all in my lap and we had to concentrate, and then John Huntington's voice would come booming out and it would be lovely, and really I just want to lay on my bed and really LISTEN to it, not have it be background. Sister Beesley said maybe on a P-day I can just lay on my bed and listen to all of it and relax and then she said she wants to borrow it hee hee.
I recorded three songs already for the CD just with garage band, a couple of elders worked it for me, this was at the mission home, soon we are gonna figure out where and when to record some more.
LOVE YOU DADDY! Hope you are not being a workaholic. How is OCMCO now? I love and miss you!!
Sister Ashbrook

Email to Mom

HELLLOOOO! Greggie and Jessica sound so cute. Hahhaa I can't believe Jessica is already being such a stink. Hopefully she will let me hold her when I get home. Um, and hopefully Adam will be able to get to know her and stuff.
Wow that is a cool story about the plane crashing in Alaska. Um it is cold up here.
I'm feeling a lot better. Thank you Grandpa for the prayer to help me feel better on Christmas. I appreciate all your prayers. And I'm feeling a lot better. Sister Brown and I have been having a LOT of laughter. Sometimes we get quite silly. She says she has never quite felt as free to be herself as she can with me. That is good. She is going home in March and wants to end her mission strong, she wants to be the best missionary she can be, and she wants to be happy and all that good stuff. I want her to help her have the bestest end to her mission ever! People at every dinner ask us two things: where we're from and how long we have left. She always hates answering the second question.
I hope Grandma & Grandpa get a nice home. How nice for them!!!
This week I did way better on my homesickness. Sister Brown says it gets lots easier. After a while you are just used to not be with your family.
Um, if you want in a few weeks or months can you send me my seminary study guides of all the standard works? It says seminary student study guide on the front. For book of mormon, old  & new testament, d and c. Cuz sometimes I just want to understand the bible better. The woman we are teaching luuurves the bible and gets slightly offfended we want her to focus on the book of mormon, yes she needs to gain her own testimony of the book of mormon, but we want to assure her that we study and believe the bible as well, but I have noticed I do not know a lot about it. I need to know the bible as well so I can show how the two go together. Um, but don't send all my study guides if you don't want, and you can wait on them and keep adding things as I might need some other things and I feel very bad so if you just send it all at once maybe that would be better.
Hhaha so thanks for EVERYTHING and last week there were like 6 days in a row I kept bringing you and Daddy up at dinners with members and I was thinking, maybe I shouldn't talk about you guys so much cuz then I'd be thinking of you and missing you, but looking back i have been just fine hahaha.
Thank you for the pens in the box that had the letters from people in Marina Hills Ward. Hee hee.
I write down things to tell you during the week, I'm looking and reading this: "Tell them about the cards" I have no idea what this means. Passalong cards? Gah. Who knows.
So the garbage disposal doesn't work in the little house so we dump all foodstuff over the back hill back of the house. Into the snow. So then when I am washing the pot with the eggs in it I have this soapy, eggy water. Cuz we don't have a frying pan, so we scramble eggs in the pot. So then I take this hot soapy eggy water and dump it outside next to the steps of the little house and it melts the snow all the way down and creates this hole. And as I shut the door, I can hear the water cracking as it freezes right away. And the metal door handle is sticky, like if I licked it, it would rip my tongue off like in that movie. In fairbanks apparently it gets so cold, if you touch metal barehanded it'll rip your skin off.
Last p-day playing sports, one of the elders hit Sister Brown in the face with a rugby ball. He felt very bad. We have been through a lot.
I felt I got depressed last week, if I was left kind of alone I'd have all these dark, depressing, self-deprecating thoughts. Sister Brown says there is not much Vitamin D here and maybe since I came from Southern California, the drastic change was affecting me. Some people have to leave Alaska and move to Arizona after a while. There just is not that much sun. And when it is out, it is weak. She gave me a couple of Vitamin D pills. Anyway it felt good to talk to her about it.
SNOW. Yesterday morning, it had snowed about six or seven inches. Let me tell you about snow. It comes down all glittery. The snow on the ground is fluffy and soft and you just sink into it almost soundlessly. It sparkles. When it freezes more, that is when it gets all crunchy and loud.
We taught the kid who lives in the cabin next to his family, the lesson was awkward, he barely spoke, so Sister Brown and I didn't really know what his NEEDS were, what questions for him to answer. He has barely any religious background, he barely knew who Moses and Noah are in the old testament. I was thinking that the night we met him he may have been, um, intoxicated. His cheerfulness and then subsequent tears and total openness greeted us...but then when we taught him he was way quiet. And the Spirit wasn't really being quite open and nothing was popping into our heads and so we just...I dunno. And then after forty minutes of looking bored and answering a few things, he still said he was interested, but that he'd give us a call cuz he is figuring out his school schedule, and so maybe we'll be able to teach him again. When we first met him he was just so STRUGGLING. The gospel can really lift someone who is struggling. But then the second time, he seemed fine, so the direction we were gonna take it felt like it didn't apply any more, and he said the whole time that he didn't see how the gospel could really affect HIM, and that is why it is so important to show the person how it is RELEVANT, and we had no idea how to do that for some reason, so that is why it was so awkward.
Oh gosh. Oh well.
At church we passed around the dinner calendar (it is all filled up yay) and we let it go around the primary room (where all the little kids go the 2nd and 3rd hours of church) and as we left we heard the little kids whisper, "Look it's the sister missionaries!" "Oh the sister missionaries!" Hahha. We felt like celebrities as we waved and walked out.
Hee hee.
Galatians 5 talking about the fruit of the spirit--once you realize what the results are, of having the spirit with you, you can recognize it so much easier. That has been a real help to me. I know that the Spirit is here, I know that we have the Lord on our side. Reading a lot of verses about missionary work--D&C 84:88 there are angels all around us. When we are teaching and the person is not listening to us but trying to argue with us, and has their ideas set and for some reason they are investigating the church but aren't interested in learning anything, it is really hard to know what to do, it is really hard to remember that we are representatives of the Lord. I tell myself, "Remember the angels!"
I am so happy to be here in Alaska. The people here are so incredibly kind. Even the ones who aren't interested. I have not encountered any rudeness. They are happy and cheerful and awesome. It is weird, ever since the MTC, people I meet seem so familiar to me. I can just love them.
LOVE YOU ALL! The book of mormon testifies of Christ. It is so important to know that the Lord can speak to more than one nation. It is important not to think he won't speak again. He's not done speaking. hear OCMCO "KNOW YE NOT THAT THERE ARE MORE NATIONS THAN ONE..." hahahha thanks dad. 2 Nephi 27 right? Somewhere in there.
sister ashbrook

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

starting week 3 in alaska i think.

I've been listening to Muse today and it's been reminding me of Melissa. And I'd just like to mention that we've been waiting TWO extra days for this email. Hmph. -Anne

EDIT: Please note the response from Melissa at the end of this post. I replied to her email and she wrote back; thought I'd add that on this same blog post.

My p-day WAS yesterday but for new years everything was closed AGAIN so we are doing emails today.
Hello how are you. It has been quite an adjustment. But lots of fun things going on here. I will name some of the highlights:
~ Sis Brown and I were gonna go check on a potential. THat is someone who was once contacted by the missionaries in the past and they never actually started teaching this person but wrote their name down and there is a big list of potentials and we sometimes go check up on these people and see if they would like to start learning about the gospel. Welp, we passed the house --this happens a lot because the houses are always quite set back from the road and it is SO HARD to see the address and if it is dark it is even harder-- so we were gonna turn around in someone's snowy driveway and so Sis Brown started doing that and turned before the actual driveway, into the snowy bank -- as people shovel or snowblow their driveway and the roads there are always snow banks along the edge of the road and the driveway-- anyway this snowy bank turned out to be a snowy ditch and our Jeep fell nose first and we crashed and stopped and gasped and then started laughing. Struggled outta the car. THe back tire wasn't even touching the road anymore. We tried driving in reverse and forward. We weren't getting outta that ditch. There were some teenagers across the street--we sheepishly walked up their driveway--they didn't have a truck at home, they tried helping us push and we all piled into the trunk but the car barely sank an inch. No one around seemed to have a truck. So, we called the closest elders and they were doing exchanges so apparently the zone leaders were with them and they were gonna come help us. First the cottonwood elders (cottonwood is THEIR area) called for directions to where we were and then the zone leaders and i had barely ANY IDEA where we were and my nose was DRIPPING and boots only keep your feet warm if you keep moving but if you've been standing in knee deep snow trying to push a jeep out you get SO COLD and FINALLY they find us. Not one but THREE trucks pull up. "WHAT THE HECK WHY ARE THERE SIX OF YOU?" Yup. Six elders had to get out, take pictures, laugh at us, tease Sister Brown, Elder Na'a wanted to know "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH TOLULA??" that is the car. He and Elder KNudsen who both weigh about 300 lbs got in the trunk of the Jeep and it sank right down. THe zone leaders and another elder shoveled. Finally we could drive the Jeep outta the ditch. Such an adventure. We still haven't quite lived it down.
~ We met an amazing woman. Her husband was a potential. She asked us at the door if we had any other appointments and let us in even though her husband wasn't home. We sat and talked with her for about two hours. It was kinda like "wow someone let us in now what do we do, how do we move the conversation from 'oh your dogs are so pretty' and 'your 3-yr-old son is so cute' to 'so what kind of belief do you have in Christ?' " But we did and talked at length about the book of mormon and she shared with us a near death experience she had that was an amazing experience of feeling God's love and reminded us of joseph smith's vision and of lehi's dream and left her with those things to read. Unfortunately when we called her later she expressed that she has her beliefs and doesn't want to change and didn't think it was a good idea to continue. AHHH. She had told us that when we met her but we were hoping that after hearing our testimonies and then reading Joseph Smith's testimony in the pamphlet and 1 Nephi 8, she would be open to learning more, but mabe not, and that is cool we didn't want to pressure her. Oh well. At least we taught her truth and one day when she is ready maybe that will make all the dierence.
~ I ate caribou meatloaf Sunday. That was the first, like, "Alaskaish" thing. THe members are so excited to sign up to feed us. So we went to a member's house and had amazing meatloaf and mashed potatoes and then afterwards, Sister Babcock asked, "So did you like it?" and then admitted it was caribou, as if we woulda hated it. I was like "WOW THAT IS SO COOL I JUST ATE CARIBOU!" which, I learned, a caribou is a wild reindeer. I just ate rudolph's wild cousin Rodney. HAHHAHA.
~ We have an appointment to go see the 28-yr-old we caroled to, the one who got a lil emotional, this Thursday. It was amazing it didn't seem like we were ever gonna meet, we dropped off a book of mormon on his porch, along with a home made loaf of bread, and the next day he called us!!! He thanked us for the book and the bread, it meant a lot.  He told us his new years wasn't so great, he'd gotten in trouble and spent the night in jail, wow poor guy. Neither of us can believe he actually called us. ANyway he said we can come over Thursday.
~ I feel like there is something else. Hmm.
~ Daddy, the food is pretty much the same. I've eaten a lot of spaghetti. I've heard in the summer there will be more seafood. Haha.
~ A couple of investigators we have, Daddy, don't have the best listening skills when it comes to bearing my testimony. I will be telling them "I know that if you do the things that will get you closer to Christ, and that is read and pray, that--" and then they will interrupt and it's hard when they have their mind made up, because why are they meeting with us if they don't want to change? We just have to love them. But I got to tell another investigator my testimony of when I knew the Church was true, when I had two paths in front of me--involve myself more with the church or keep going the way I was going and feeling the gospel slip away--and when I chose church, my life got SO much happier. It was so obvious to me that this was the right path. And this guy listened and nodded and he is still open to meeting with us but it's hard to get a lesson time with him too. We are gonna teach the woman who was supposed to get baptized this Saturday but is still unsure about  few things and tonight we are gonna ask her to pray, right there with us, to know if the book of mormon is true, cuz she keeps comparing it to the bible.
~ Today we did service at a musk ox farm! I was terrified. Just Sister Brown & I went today. The elders usually help herd the big ones. We heard something about jumping over the fence before you get hit. Hmm.. they said we could work with the calves. THese little guys were about the size of a huge goat up to about the size of a tiger. One was friendly.THe rest were scared of us. All you have to do when they are running madly toward you is to make this stance and they are so terrified and they run away. We had to get them into this pen so they could be weighed. But first  had to walk around the pasture the little ones would be put into and make sure there were no holes in the fence. I was wearing my -40 degree boots and they were wonderful but my gloves were NOT keeping my fingers warm and I COULD NOT FEEL them and the snow...oh man every step i sank to above my knees, such a work out. My hair frosted and turnedwhite like a granny. My face felt was hard to move my lips just to talk! THey let me borrow better gloves. Later we did the weighing thing with the scale inside of the barn while the workers did the herding, this time with the yearlings, they'd rush one musk ox into the scale, I'd write down the weight that popped up on the screen, Sis Brown would pull the lever to let the musk ox out. Standing still inside there my toes froze, my fingers froze, everything froze. It was -15 degrees outside. Apparently this area doesn't usually get this cold for very long, and -20 degrees is about the coldest.
ANyway. Hahhaa. I better write my weekly letter to my mission president.
Oh zone leadership counsel or training or whatever is tomorrow and Sister Brown becuase she is a training sister has to be there, but I don't, so originally I was gonna drive with her to Anchorage, drop her off, and then go with some other sisters to Turnigan and do proselyting there. But over New Year's Eve, sister Beesley the mish pres wife invited all the sisters over for a sleepover to bring in the new year. Her husband was in another town for a baptism that night so otherwise she woulda been all alone. Sis Beesley LOOOOVES music. (THe meeting at trasnfers way back on my first day, at the chapel, had many musical numbers, and two or three were originals by elders on  their guitars, singing their heart out, slapping their guitar for a beat. Not much stuffy formality, any kind of music is welcome [not crazy heavy metal hahaha]. Tongan music sung by elders in a circle. THat sort of thing.) ANyway over new years I was playing the piano doing my jazzy impressions of primary songs and that was fun, Sister Beesley really liked it. She had me play a hymn (#268) and loved how I swung the beat, was thinking of when Sister Brown and I could perform it (she and I sing harmony together). Sister Beesley said she was looking for music about light and following Christ cuz that will be this year's theme. She sits at her mac bobbing her head and swaying and listening to all sorts of music. (By the way the new EFY music is actually not bad.) IN the morning she had me play a whole bunch of music about light she'd printed out--stuff from hymns to primary songs ("I am like a start shining brightly" haha) to other church music about light--and said maybe on Wednesday (tomorrow) I would NOT go to Turnigan but stay at the mission home and record these songs on the piano w/me singing so she can give people the CD not as a performance but so they can learn these songs, all the leadership, for their training.  Idon't exactly know who this CD will go to, maybe zone leaders and stuff? Who knows. So it doesn't have to be perfect and I don't have to freak out. It's very exciting. I really like Sister Beesley.
Our zone leaders are really cool! We all have a blast together. There are hard things about being away, I miss my family a lot, whenever I hear choir music and hear the tenors I think of Daddy and nearly ALWAYS start crying. But lots of lovely things.
And Mommy I am sorry I demanded letters from you last email. I freaked out about it for days. And I sent that email to all the family. SIghhhh. I apologize I know you love me, and your long letter made my day that I got a couple of days later, but please please don't feel you have to write. I do NOT want to pressure anybody. I love you all SOOO much. And about sending stuff, even if you don't, I don't mind. I can send some money home too. You don't have to send anything right away.
Love you!!! Oh and probably all this letter can go on the blog, I hope you didn't put the part last week where I told Mommy I wanted her letters, I know Mommy would write, I was being ridiculous.
Kay bye
Book of mormon  is true
I know that it is the word of God
 Sister Ashbrook
Send me trey and julie and samara and alex mccolgan and maia's addresses! If they email you guys and tell you. Hhahaah. I want to write them and tell them I luuurve them!

I (Anne) responded to Melissa with this:

"A few things:
  -PLEASE get Sister Beesely to send us a copy of the cd you record!!!!!!!!!!
 -Yes, I totes put the part about mom's lack of letter up there. Whoops.
  Mom had to defend herself. Sorry Mom.

PS I was listening to Muse today and thinking of you.
PPS can't believe you ate Rodney.

PPPS ...and I'm so putting that quote on your facebook. "

And she sent back:

AHHHHHHH. I feel so bad. How did mommy have to defend herself????? I love
her so much. Hahhaa.
Hope you are doing okay? Job school boys life roommates recent adventures
with friends?

sister ashbrook

p.s. i ate MOOSE the other day