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

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