Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Email from Sister Ashbrash (how does she come up with these?)


That's cool about anne's new place and her jewelry job. And haha, I am excited to see what kind of things you can make in  the blender a la VitaMix. 

Congratulations to sweet Gordy making the JV softball team, and Danny getting a new job, through much tribulation, good job Anne being stalwart and bold. 

This week has been good, but here is something sad, the investigator we caroled to on Christmas Eve is pretty much dropping us. He is "confused." He flaked on coming to church two Sundays ago, we had a ride for him and then he said "No no i got one, cancel the other ride" and then he never showed and it was sad cuz I was speaking. And then so Sis Brown and I went n saw him afterwards and gave him a loaf of homemade bread (cuz we make bread with our ward mish leader) and he said "Well the lesson this Wednesday at 4 is a go" and then Tuesday he texted and said he had to reschedule, and we texted him to know when he'd like to do that and he never responded. And then a couple of days later we were leaving Carleen's house after practicing (we sang the next sunday in church) and we got a text from him, he'd seen us at the stop light and he texted that seeing us made him miss us. We asked him if he'd had a chance to look at his schedule if we could come teach him. He texted that he wished we would just be his friends instead of teaching him all the time and we were like "Gahhhhhhhh." So we texted saying we are his friends but what we do is msisionaries is we teach, we work, because it means a lot to us, and he replied, "I feel like I'm wasting you gals' time. Sorry." So it's very sad, and we are gonna give him a little bit of space, see how it all goes down, see if he realizes a difference in his life, we know he would feel the spirit in his lessons cuz one time after a lesson he texted saying that he always feels so happy with our lessons and that he stays happy after we leave and he loves it when we come. 

Sighhhh. And our spanish-speaking investigator hasn't come to church in two Sundays either but she is great, we can tell she is sincere in lessons, we want to put together like a study group up here with other spanish-speaking peeps cuz she expressed it is hard to go to church where everyone speaks English. Man I want a spanish branch up here so bad. She is feeding us tomorrow. Hahah. No actually Sister Brown is cooking. She asked her like five times in spanish if she can cook Italian food and somehow Sister Brown understood and was like" Oh, yeah!" and so she got roped in, they're gonna buy all the stuff and then we (sister brown) will cook it (i said "voy a mirar", I'm gonna watch). 

I was sitting in church yesterday and I realized that I pretty much know almost everybody now and love them all. We've been visiting a less-active young mother whose husband is deployed, cuz her mother-in-law asked us to. This young mother has been to church now twice in a row, she is so sweet, and her lil 7-yr-old daughter loves us, walks across the chapel to us with a big smile to show us her pretty new dress. We went and visited the family of another less active mother, she hasn't been coming since her baby was born (a while ago) and her husband has been coming with the other four kids. The mother and father weren't there, at a hockey game, and the grandmother who we love was babysitting the 4 and 6 year old, and we visited with them. And then yesterday, that mother and her baby showed up with her whole family and came and said, "You sisters tried to come see me! Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry about all the snow on the steps, I never shoveled it off! I came home and saw footprints and was like 'Mom, who came???' " We were like "Don't even worry about it!" And she was so sweet and I was so happy she came, and maybe she came just because we tried to see her, who knows. I love the people here.

Anyway, so our investigators, yeah, we're gonna go tracting a lot this week. I've realized it might be quite necessary so I am ALMOST excited to do it. 

So liiiiike, transfers are coming up, it's pretty crazy, it's week 5 starting today. A transfer is 6 weeks. And then Sister Brown will go home and I will get a new companion. Oh, we got the CDs, an eclectic mix with lots of contributions from various missionaries, I have several songs on there, I will probly send it home and you can make a copy and you should send one to Nick! At first I was like just gonna send it home and not want it back, cuz like a month ago before this CD idea got out, it felt like I was gonna basically be doing the CD, and then luckily it turned into more of an open whoever-wants-to-record thing, cuz we are NOT a production mission, this is supposed to be low-key just something to persuade missionaries to listen to better music...anyway I was like, "I'm not gonna listen to that CD!" but now it's not so bad cuz there's so many other missionaries who put stuff on there. 

I love love love my family. I am so grateful for how you respond to my emails and all the letters and packages I get. Anne, why do you call valentines day "galentines" day? And mother you were NOT supposed to develop every single picture on my memory card and send it to me. My word. So the mish office can't forward packages that were sent UPS, only usps. So i get this call "Um, you have a package and it's from costco." The AP's brought it down a few days later cuz one came to our district meeting and I opened it up and gasped and was like, "MOTHER, NOOOO!!!" cuz there were a billion photos in there. We had fun looking at all of them. My word. 

Thank you for the valentines package :) man I loved everyone's letters and notes. Carissa is adorable. And sarah sent a really cool note in there. Thanks mom for sending doubles of everything, sis brown and I had fun actually making a convo with our convo hearts. oh, and we finally made our mug cakes the other day...we had to buy vanilla. And then...we had to buy milk. It was a long process. 

And mommy thanks for my memory card BACK and the pics of the house and jessica and stuff. I loooooved looking at everything. 

I'm gonna be writing letters home to you all today as well so to be continued. Love you all.

This gospel is so amazing. The restored gospel is such a blessing in our lives. Feeling the spirit through teaching, through music, through reading, through listening. Nothing better. The scriptures are such a gift. I know this gospel is true and I know the scriptures are true. I love being a missionary. Xxoxooxoxox
sister ashbrash

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Picture of Melissa, her companion, and a recent convert

Email from Feb 20

Dear Family,

Mommy I am glad you said you all are praying for me and Grandma and Grandpa too and that their prayers work really well. Hahahha. They are spiritual angels.

So you got to talk to Brother Castleman about me, that musta been weird, hearing from somebody on the phone that had just seen me. BAHAHA. He is a very jolly man. (The ward mission leader from Melissa's ward called Mom and Dad and talked to them for a bit about how much they enjoy having Melissa there. :) -Anne)

Anne, that is so cool you have a temp job, yay for you, and I am so excited you could possibly get that HR job, you had so much fun at Shea. How fun that you are gonna be moving in with those girls, they sound really nice, do you get your own room? What does it look like? You should take pictures.

I am so happy for Grandma and Grandpa to get their new house. I was just telling daddy in his email, that sunsets here in Alaska are amazing and rival California ones. Sister Brown asked me one day, "Are there sunsets like these in California??" and I said, "Erm...yes." The ocean is about an hour away here,  is it cuz of the marine layer? Cuz isn't that why California has such lurvly sunsets? well that and the pollution. Who knows.

Lily that is fun Mom makes you clothes. Hee hee. That tweed skirt sounds luscious.

Mommy, for your rock art, does this bowl of fruit you are gonna make look like the bowl of fruit you already did? Is it like so tiny rocks like the ones you've bought at antique stores?

SO, I finally wore that scarf tube thing that Grammie bought me. I wore it to the musk ox farm. By the way, we LOVE the musk ox farm. The people that run it are so great. They never take advantage of our service, they always ask if we have enough time to run another herd and whatnot. So anyway, what is Grammie's address? I wanted to write her and tell her and let her know how I am doing.

None of our investigators came to church yesterday. It was very sad. Especially cuz I gave a talk. I spoke about finding joy in the gospel. I said there are many ways you can find joy in the gospel but I am gonna speak about three ways---learning about the gospel, sharing the gospel, and loving. And all that encompasses living the gospel.

But we'd had a great lesson with our investigator on Friday, and he said the prayer, and guess what he said?! he said, "I've got a really good prayer. I thought of it this morning. Are you ready?" We said we were. Then he goes, "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for EVERYTHING. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." OH MY WORD. "See?!" he cried. "I thought of everything! I don't need to say anything else in that prayer, cuz that covered it." Bahahaha.

So I was really excited to get lovely Lori's package, there were some tissues covered in valentine's hearts included amongst chocolates. I was blowing my nose ALL LAST WEEK cuz of my cold and Sister Brown came up the ladder into our room and saw me blowing my nose and gasped, "Are you bleeding??" hahahah. No. it was just lots of red hearts.

And I was so happy to hear from TREY....I will try to write him and Lori and everyone today but our place is gonna get inspected this week so we gotta CLEAN LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE today so who knows if I'll have time for letters, but Trey's sweet letter meant so much, he said, "MISSY, UGH!" and that was about it, and I am so glad our friendship is just about the same....HAHA. Um.

It is so windy today. My word.

We had a lesson con la mujer mexicana last week. We watched "finding faith in christ" and tried to talk about it and teach a little bit about it with her but we didn't have a translator with us and for some reason it was REALLY HARD to communicate with her, my spanish was not doing it and so who knows if we got anywhere but luckily we have not one but two translators--a mother and a daughter from the ward next to ours--coming with us tonight. We love our investigator :) last week, two days BEFORE the lesson-in-which-we-struggled, she told us she wanted us over for dinner but she wanted us over an hour before dinner to help prepare and then she wanted us to stay the whole evening there afterward so we might as well clear our schedule. Hahhahaa. I loved it. We had gorditas. They are like sopes, she said. OR, we had sopes, and they are like gorditas, I am not really sure. Corn meal mushed into little pancakes, fried, like tiny little pie crusts, with om nom beef and crema and lechuga and cebolla y salsa y queso fresco. Om nom nom. We asked her daughter who sometimes translates if she'd be willing to learn more and she said no, not at this time, because she knows if she wanted to start living a religion she'd have to REALLY live it and focus and she kind of likes partying and doesn't quite wanna give it up, and we thought at 15 it was awesome she understood that, and was so honest about it. She's the cutest girl. Every time we come into their home we get kisses on the cheek and hugs for our greetings. From both mother and daughter. Hee hee.

Our recent convert who got baptized the first sunday of this month is doing so well. The relief society took her out food-shopping the other day because she is struggling financially, and this is the way the bishop decided to help her, is to pay for all her food so she can save her money for her house payments. She is so grateful. And then we invited her to come do service with us at this woman's house who is in our ward as well, she has asthma and two big dogs, and she is the one with the room in her house with five bookshelves stuffed full of records. So our recent convert came and brought her 14-yr-old daughter and had a blast vacuuming and dusting and cleaning with us, it made her so happy, she really wants to serve and give back to all those who have served her, and is really looking forward to visiting teaching and having a calling (a responsibility/job) in the church. And there are baptisms for the dead coming up to go to the temple and she says that even if she sees the bishop and she's NOT ready to go to the temple yet, she's really excited cuz she wants the work done for her step dad. My word! She is amazing.

We met with an investigator, an 80-yr-old black man who is awesome, on Saturday. He's had missionaries for about 10 years. We've been told that his problem is of the priesthood. He doesn't believe you need it, we were told that he says he can baptize whomever he wants. A previous missionary, elder johnson, who served her for 10 months last year and who we hear a LOT about....from the members, from the people we taught...barely a week goes by when we DON'T hear about elder johnson...sometimes I wanna go up to elder johnson who's serving in anchorage and say, "Okay look buddy, you got about two minutes to say something impressive..." Anyway so apparently elder johnson when HE was teaching this investigator tried to get it across to him, "Yes you can baptize whomever you want as soon as someone GIVES you the authority," but who knows. Anyway he was great, we like him a lot. He sits in his house all day and watches televangelists. He is really lonely. Has a caretaker as well. So we visited with him and talked and he goes to a non-denominational church and was saying, "You don't need to be methodist or catholic or say you are something to get inta heaven. Jesus Christ, who was he? It's only important you have a belief, in your heart. And that's why I consider myself a Christian." I had no idea what to say, cuz he's partly right, I just had no idea how to put what I felt about this subject into words. Then my inspired companion busted out 3 nephi 27:7-8 I think, that talks about whatever is done in Christ's church must be done in his name, and if it is called by some other name, it is not his church. If the church is called in Moses's name, it's Moses's church. If it's called in the name of a man, it's a man's church. So she told him, this church is Christ's church. It is the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. Anyway he listened real intently but still doesn't know why he should care about this religion, what's in it for him, he has his belief in christ and isn't that enough? We have a lesson with him set up for Tuesday. We really like him, he is so sweet, likes to take pictures, his fridge is covered in polaroids of all the missionaries who have ever taught him.

Anyway. I am doing well, learning a lot and growing and changing. My companionship is getting stronger and stronger. It will be really sad when Sister Brown goes home to utah in three weeks, I will have a new comp and will have to show her around this place--cuz I doubt president is gonna move me, then two new missionaries will have to white wash this area AGAIN.

One of the ways I know I am changing is that I am WAY more emotional when talking about spiritual things. At the bakers' yesterday for dinner, sis baker was talking about her daughter that died and she wanted to evaporate and disappear and she prayed and felt arms around her comforting her, and she knew it was all gonna be all right, and I almost started crying. Man.

I love this gospel. I know it is true. I know it is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Like legrand richards said, or quoted, or something,  the true gospel is either perpetuated from ancient times or restored in its original form, and I know that the true gospel has been restored in its original form, that it is led by Jesus Christ, and that it offers the only way to salvation because the priesthood has been restored to perform those saving ordinances like baptism and receiving the gift of the holy ghost. I am a missionary!!! I live a totally weird different life. The old man investigator mentioned whitney houston had died. WHAT?! I had no idea. See, you just live this totally different life as a missionary.

-sister melissa ashbrook.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A hilarious one. And sorry- I forgot to put this up until today!

Hello family. And cyber world. And friends. And other random stalkers.

Sooo like, i am glad you got the package :) hee hee. So yeah if you may please just send back the memory card with all the pics on it, i am sure it can just go in an envelope maybe a padded one, that would be wonderful and I would love it. I hope you guys cuddle with the moose blanket and stuff. Hee hee.

Mommy, my favorite is when you used the word "butt" in your email and then signed it, "Love Mom the cusser." She was talking about kicking satan's butt so it's okay.

I'm so glad you saw the Bournes-- I love that family. That's awesome Bro Hawkins' relatives are gonna be working in the mission office....i can't wait to meet them.

How is Bonnie doing in china? And mommy could you take a picture of all your artwork up on the walls of the piano room? I would love to see :)

Tell your friend Tiana I say hello, mommy. She is fun.

So before our investigator's baptism, the day before her interview with the mish pres, she didn't have a testimony of Joseph Smith being a prophet. All we could do was bear testimony that he was, leave her with the pamphlet of his testimony (pictures included, my fave) and I told her that one of the biggest ways to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet is when you feel the Book of Mormon is true. If it is true, then he translated it, and he was a prophet of God. She has said she feels the same reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and she has seen how they go together rather than contradict, so that made sense to her. The next day on the phone she was expressing great worry and nervousness for her baptismal interview. We reassured her just minutes before we were to meet her, and then she told us that she read the Joseph Smith pamphlet the night before and was crying and she said, "I know that he was a prophet." That was soo cool to hear. She is awesome.

We were able to get our other investigator, the guy who we caroled to on Christmas Eve, to commit to come to church, and he came yesterday :) He is expecting a sign like an angel or a spotlight pointing to the answer under a rock that this is the true church, so we are still working with him on understanding that for most people, getting an answer is a slow subtle process with gentle whisperings of the Spirit letting you know if something is true. Hee hee. He is so funny. He cracks us up. We had plans to all go ice skating today but he cancelled but hopefully it will still happen. We dropped him off at priesthood at church (the third hour of church men and women meet separately) and he looked at us and was like, "Don't think about me too much," and went in. Sister Brown and I snorted with laughter as we went on our way to relief society (where the women meet). Sooo funny. He is a blast to teach. The first time we gave him something to read, Mosiah 27 about Alma the younger (who saw an angel who told Alma to CHANGE HIS WAYS....haha maybe this is why this guy is expecting some big sign, we've addressed that not EVERYBODY sees an angel) he read the chapter 3 or 4 times and finally understood what it was talking about. Sis Brown said that she has never seen an investigator put that much work into reading when, in this guy's case, he had never read the scriptures before. It was such a testimony-builder that understanding the gospel and knowledge can come from reading the Book of Mormon. This guy told us what was important in Mosiah 27, and he also told us how he himself could relate. To do that without our guidance is amazing.

Um, it is RAINING. It has been so warm lately. Mostly about 30 degrees. A couple of days ago it was about 40 degrees. I think it is disgusting....everything is melting and there's brown stuff everywhere, no more pretty white, someone the other day said it best: "I don't like this in betweener stuff. I either want it to be winter or get to summer already." I thought there would be snow until May...Sister Brown says it could very well get cold again and snow like crazy. Alaska weather is so unpredictable.

I played the organ in sacrament meeting at church was my first time playing organ in front of everybody. I was flippin nervous out of my mind... I think i sweated like two cups of water all over the keys. I thought the organ was so loud until everyone started singing and then I could barely hear the organ and I was like "OH MY GOODNESS SHOULD I ADD MORE STOPS????" And it was just soooo stressful. My word. I got several compliments and felt worthless but apparently everything was okay so I need to get over it.

Alaska is beautiful...sometimes as we're driving we'll slow down so we can take pictures. Sometimes as our instrumental music is going, it'll just fit the landscape exactly, it is wonderful. The big fat ugly ravens wheeling over the dark barren treetops, against a sky that is huge and covered in cloud, with the towering mountains in the is beautiful.

Sister Brown says I have allergies cuz I am all stuffed up and sneezing but I think I have a cold. She says when she gets a cold, she is just stuffy, she doesn't SNEEZE. I say you still sneeze. I say if I have become allergic to animals....and my pea coat is currently covered in the Gilmore's cat's fur...then I would be very sad, and join the Lily and Dad club, and mourn with them. As far as I am concerned, I just have a cold.

Sometimes during weekly planning (we plan once a week for the next ten days, what we are gonna teach, who we are gonna teach, what we will focus on, ideas, blah blah) my brain slowly dies cuz we have been planning for two hours. I literally turn off and sit there quiet and wait for her to say something, wait for all her ideas, and she slowly raises her eyebrows at my lack of input, and suddenly I realized I must explain myself, and she asked me "What can I do to make planning better for you?" And I said "Take breaks?" so we are gonna try that this week. Hahahah. Man sometimes I think i DO have ADD. I just could NOT muster up the energy to keep thinking about planning. I needed a different atmosphere, different something. Is that ADD?

The woman who speaks Spanish who we are teaching is so fun. She has a lesson with us tonight and she is feeding us tomorrow. She teases me endlessly, especially when I idly smack my mouth three or four times, she smacks it right back real loud and then laughs and laughs and laughs. She gets slightly frustrated when she can't understand us and when we can't understand her, but she is awesome.

There are four weeks left of this transfer and then i'll get my greenie breaker (my first companion after my trainer) and that is crazy, I am probably gonna stay here in Palmer/Wasilla, but who knows, it is up to the Lord, and I don't know who my companion will be, and I can't believe I've already been in Alaska for two months.

I love love love my family. I love my friends. I've gotten some amazing letters from friends the past two weeks and I am so grateful and so touched. I know I shouldn't focus too much on writing or reading letters but I love reading my letters cuz they remind me there are people out there that know me and love me and remember me and I feel like everything is normal and okay.

I love the gospel. I love how it brings people together. I love the people i've met through the gospel. I love reading the book of mormon and feeling the Spirit. I love our Savior Jesus Christ. He loves all of his children and cares about us even though he is the supreme creator of the earth and all of the things that are in the earth and we are nothing compared to him. I love trusting in the Lord and seeing blessings come into my life. I love seeing others trust in the Lord and recognize their blessings. I love seeing how much happier we are when we rely on our Savior and the minute we forget or revolt at anything that comes from him, something goes wrong and it is hard to deal with it. I know that our Savior lives and I know that he loves us. 

sister ashsmack

Monday, February 13, 2012

Alaska Pictures

Here are some pictures from when Melissa first arrived in Alaska.

All of the missionaries in front of the Anchorage temple

Look at all those redheads!

If I'm not mistaken, that looks like a house submerged in snow? Holy.

Remember when their car got stuck in a ditch and the elders came to bail them out?

If you don't remember this story, read about it in her email sent on January 3.

Thank goodness there were some heavier elders to save the car!

I'm assuming this is her current companion, Sister Brown. She looks adorable.

Melissa's legs sunk in the snow up to her knees. Oh my.

Is that thermometer working correctly??

Gorgeous! The sunsets last longer in Alaska, which is a nice silver lining.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

MTC pictures

We just got Melissa's memory card from her camera, so here are some pictures from the MTC in November.

With our cousin, Amy Hansen

Letter from Jan 23

Jan 23, 2012
My dear Parents, and any other familia that happens to be around...I'm sitting at my counter in our kitchen.  I just ate some smoked salmon that Carleen gave us last night.  Carleen is young and hilarious.  She took our pictures a week ago and is editing them and we'll send home the dvd of them.  Hold on.  I just cooked some $1.69 frozen lasagna - microwave dinner - and I'm gonna go eat it.

So last night we went over to Carleen's for dinner and she'd cooked us food storage rice and beans like she said she would - ha ha - but added spam and garlic to the rice and also cooked nachos and moose bacon and we could eat with our fingers, nuthin fancy, cuz we're super comfortable with Carleen.  So we went over to this family's house after Carleen's and just sang and played piano, well I played, simply "to bring the Spirit in".  We sang Primary songs and sang and laughed.  Sometimes we just need to go over to families' houses spontaneously as missionaries cuz the parents need a boost and so do the kids.

It is not quite so cold today, about 10°F and there is no wind :) it's quite nice, I just had my pea coat on, I was okay.  I'm wearing my maroon wool sweater I got from Mary, my rose-colored downeast t-shirt, my wood bead necklace I got from Mama, my tan skirt that Mama and I love, my blue spandex leggings, and my wigwam socks.  Hee hee. And my Cate the Great boots.  But only when I go outside.  I can slide those on and off quite easily.

Since we were gonna go to Anchorage today but now we're not, we called the family that was gonna feed us just to let them know, also telling them it's okay if they already made plans, we have plenty of food.  Well the husband was sick but the wife insisted we stop by so she can give us some $ so we can buy our own dinner.  She is the R.S. president.  We are very grateful to her.  Sometimes we actually don't mind not having a fam to feed us cuz then we can have a lazy dinner and take a quick rest during that hour so it's okay.  Hee hee.

This week we have a goal of putting C on date!  We weren't even able to meet w/her last week. Man. At church yesterday in gospel principles class the discussion about priesthood organization got a little deep and we asked her later, and yeah, it was all going over her head - oh no! I just bumped a picture of Jesus and it fell into the sink.  My goodness.  Anyway it's cuz this ward has too many talkers.  Smart people.  I was actually quite interested.  But the problem is, while C is smart - she hasn't even learned the basics yet - and sitting in on a deep, thorough discussion of priesthood organization - Samara, you remember, stuff about "quorums" - can be like sitting in on a calculus class when you're just starting pre-algebra. Sigh.  So yeah, hopefully everything will work out with her.

Well I just love my family.  And I love being in Alaska.  The sun doesn't rise very high and the sunsets are beautiful.  I've taken a few pictures.  I'm sending my memory card home in the package - it has some videos of me attempting to film the sound of the wind - I should have filmed in daylight when you can see the snow swirling like mist wraiths across the ground and blowing through the air like a sand storm and the trees going crazy.  Hee  hee.  My pea coat is so covered in animal fur.  Far away you can't tell.

I'm excited to study my study guides!  Well I mean the scriptures with my study guides.  Like it says in D&C 20:11...we gotta OBTAIN THE WORD!!!  Oh wait did I tell you A, la mujer mexicana, went to church yesterday?  And getting a translator was crazy.  Carleen said she couldn't translate a Sacrament meeting.  We called another woman and that was the night before - we left it to the last minute accidentally - and then in the morning her back hurt - so we called others - no go - we said prayers - she called back, said she felt okay to go :) :)  Prayers are answered - A sat with headphones and understood.  Love you!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Week 2 of Second Transfer

Soooo our baptism happened yesterday! Man it was crazy to get everything done. Let me tell you:
- last week we were in anchorage for two days for these few things: transfers, zone leadership conf. which sis brown goes to cuz she is a training sister, recording for me and another sister named sister rivera, and "sisters training" cuz for the first time in a long time, all the sister missionaries in alaska were gonna be in anchorage at the same time. DURING THIS, i got a phone call from the guy that schedules the stake center (the building where the baptism was gonna take place) and he told me we could NOT have the baptism at the time we wanted it cuz the font would be filling during relief society of that ward and the relief society president said "it was a no go, we would have to have our baptism at 6 or 6:30." The problem is, our investigator's good friend in church couldn't MAKE it if it was that late. It is not SUPER normal to have baptisms on Sunday, but Saturday wouldn't work.

-so, a relief society president was rescheduling our baptism....and of course all these elders around me hear me going through this on the phone as we pulled up to the mission home (sister brown was in ZLC while I was out with sister rivera and 2 other sisters...we'd just come back from tracting in the snow--we'd already recorded music for the day---and by the way it snows SO MUCH in anchorage, you get COVERED in it when you are tracting) so these ELDERS. They are like "YOU KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING? SATAN." And "YOU CAN'T LET A RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENT CHANGE THE TIME OF YOUR BAPTISM!" they get ALL worked UP, it is hilarious .Captain Moroni style, they were about to rip their coat and go fight a war about it.

- stressful.

- I can understand, though, why a relief society pres wouldn't want the font filling right there while she is teaching relief society. Cuz the water would be so loud. And if we filled the font before church even started, the water would get cold. Seriously by 10 a.m. there would be classes all day til 4 p.m. in that room.

- finally the bishop of that last ward that meets there in that building called us back (we had called him ever so sweetly and explained) and said what they'd done before is tie a jumpsuit around the faucet and the water goes through the leg of the jumpsuit (people get baptized in white jumpsuits that are there hanging by the font, this is what we would use) and the jumpsuit acts like a hose and silences the water

-So the zone leaders that we have are amazing and talked to THEIR relief society pres who has the 11-2pm ward who said "pssh they can fill the font during my relief society, no problem!" so they were gonna start the font at 12, and let it run til 2pm till the OTHER relief society pres's class came in, and then we were gonna come and fill up the rest of it at 4 (baptism finally scheduled for 5:30) with pure hot water and make sure it would be warm enough. BUT GUESS WHAT, so the zone leaders started the font at 12 like they were supposed to (you see our ward is at another building 15 min away, so that's why the zone leaders--two elders who are in charge of the zone, by the way, is who THEY are ---were gonna do it. BUT GUESS WHAT, someone thought it was too loud so they turned it off, with a few inches of water, so sis brown and i headed over there quite agitated at 2 and she took off her tights and waded in while a class was going on in the room on the other side of the big ol curtain, and she started doing the jumpsuit thing, we got it to work, yay, it took a while.

- then we could barely figure out the copy machine to make the programs and we got quite stressed out and we can't be stressed, we don't work well together stressed, sis brown and I.

- but the baptism finally happened, and it was PACKED, and it was wonderful, and she was baptized, and afterward said she was "overjoyed." the bishop of the ward didn't want her going a week before receiving the holy ghost in the next church meeting so he got her confirmed a member and given the holy ghost right after the baptism, under permission of the mission president, who attended her baptism.

-When she went under the water, relief and a slight shock went through my body. It was amazing. Baptisms are powerful, spiritual experiences.

-While she was getting ready afterward, we had everyone in attendance write down their thoughts of it on slips of paper. Or they wrote their testimonies. Or if they were 5 they drew pictures. We put these slips into a photo album and gave it to her as a gift, which she LOVED.

SO THAT WAS OUR BAPTISM, it was pretty cool.

It has been difficult teaching the woman who speaks spanish...language barriers really are barriers.  And our other investigator hasn't been texting us back...hopefully he will this week.

Hopefully the two daughters of the woman who got baptized will start taking the lessons with us, one of them already wants to be baptized but it's just cuz of the way we do baptism, by immersion....we needa make sure she understands what a huge but life-fulfilling commitment joining this church is. It takes commitment and a lot of sacrifice to follow the Savior. To really follow him and do the things he did, is hard. The OTHER daughter hasn't shown much interest at all but she is the one who actually came to her mom's baptism--grumpy and not smiling--but by the end of it was smiling, said she liked the baptism, and I even was able to give her a hug goodbye.

MOMMY. What immigrant song? I am so confused.

I wear my purple down jacket or my white fleece under my 50% wool peacoat and am just fine...but if out in weather about -15 degrees or colder, if I stand STILL for too long, I really think about buying a better coat, but this thought never lasts long enough for me to really do it. If I get transferred to fairbanks in the winter I definitely will actually buy a coat.

I wear my tall dark boots that are rated down to -25 degrees all the time. Every day. Except if I know we're gonna go tracting, or we're gonna go to the musk ox farm, and then I wear my bunny boots. Those other boots I bought are warm, but the inner liner is so tight every time you take your foot out, it comes with it, and they are not as warm as the bunny boots, and I am thinking about not really ever wearing them...HAHAH...and leaving them here for another cold-footed sister.

On sundays, I take my little flats into church with me and change shoes. Hee hee.

You just wear layers...tights...leggins that are not longer than your skirt...with wool socks on your feet...

Today I am wearing brown tights, leggings (not even wool socks, it is like 30 degrees). My brown moleskin skirt that goes to mid-calf. My green sweater with a darker green downeast tee shirt underneath. My big lightweight earthy tone watercolored scarf. And my peacoat. That's it.

I must run, I love you all. I love hearing about all the detailed family adventures momma tells me.
-sister ashbrook

don't eat yellow snow. it really does look disgusting. and is in front of every house that contains dogs.

FYI- this is the email from last week. I haven't had internet so I wasn't able to post this until today. :) -Anne

Hello familia.

Today is the first day of my second transfer woo hoo. We actually normally do our emails at the mat-su college and today all the stinkin elders took the computers so I am on a dinky laptop. hahah sighh.

So I just read two of Nick's emails you guys forward to me and he is hilarious. Talkin about thunderstorms in georgia. Wow. And just the way he talks, he is so funny. And it's cool to read about another missionary's exploits cuz now I can totally understand and relate and stuff.

Life is good, staying really happy, I am gonna be speakin in my ward in a few weeks, the topic is "finding joy in the gospel" and sister brown was like, "well that is a perfect topic for her." (to the 2nd counselor in the bishopric who asked me to speak) And I tried to be all sarcastic and say I am never happy but it didn't really work.

No more wind :)

We asked our investigator to be baptized a week ago and she has set a baptismal date for this sunday, the 5th. It was really cool cuz sis brown prayed that morning and then looked at the calendar and february 5th looked like a really good date, she said it felt right. To fulfill one of the requirements in the training program, I asked the question to our investigator to be baptized and i was all nervous but it just felt really good and she kinda squirmed with a big grin and said "yes..." hahah. And then she asked, "Do I have to pick a date?" ;and I said, "Well, actually, that would be so cool, and sis brown came to me this morning and said february 5th felt good." And our investigator cried, "No that's not a good date! It's my daughter's birthday and we have all these plans and she has an ROTC competition thing." And then it got out of her she thought it was a saturday and we said, "Well it's really a sunday!" and she heaved a sigh of relief and said, "Oh, well then yes, february 5th will be great."

Then the next day she texted and said her daughter wants to know if she can get baptized the 5th as well cuz the church she goes to doesn't do baptism by immersion and she knows that since that's the way Jesus Christ was baptized, it's the right way to do it. Man we were like OHH MY GOODNESS. But we don't know if it's gonna happen QUITE so soon cuz this daughter HAS taken some lessons, but a few months ago, and we need to make sure she receives all the lessons and really believes this gospel before she makes such a step, and  we even talked to the mission pres about it, and he said that waiting for the daughter sounds good. And so our investigator understood when we talked to her about it and she will talk to her daughter.

Oh my word, so we have a week to teach her the commandments. She is trying to quit smoking and got a blessing and says the urges have been down by half since the blessing, and the things that were said were exactly what she needed to hear and "really hit home." We are gonna teach her the commandments of obedience, word of wisdom, tithing, and fasting/fast offerings today. Hopefully. It's our p-day but she wanted day-time but we have a barbecue today with all the elders in the zone for all those who are leaving the mission to go home tomorrow and so time management really comes into play here. Haha.

We keep getting smoked salmon from people who are amazing angel people and sis brown is not TOO fond of it so it's all mine but I must buy cream cheese and crackers today so I can eat it with something. hahaha.

Transfers are tomorrow and I am singing an efy song called "take it home" with an elder on piano and singin harmony. Efy stands for "especially for youth" and it's these big conferences for the youth with speakers and stuff, i never went to one growing up, and they release a cd with "fun" music on it, that i usually thing is cheesy cheese mc cheesey pants, and have never liked listening to efy music and any of the breathy voiced females who pop every note and it's just not my cup of tea. But the singer for this song is actually really good, they really are getting music that matches what is actually "hip" music to listen too, it's totally stylized and all, but so much better than the whiney ones. So anyway this latest efy cd is SLIGHTLY better than previous ones, this song is really cool, and elder calk learned it and taught it to me and I am gonna bust it out at transfers tomorrow somehow.

The investigator we are teaching who is a delightful hispanic woman came to church yesterday--i feel it is a miracle every time investigators show up, it is totally not because anything we have done has merited it--and we got a translator for her, and she is so cute, and we are teaching her the rest of the restoration tonight, and we'll have a translator then as well. The last lesson we had with her she opened up a lot to our translator about her anger with God when her mother died, but that she knows she has been blessed by God so much in her life. We shared with her a few thoughts about why bad things sometimes happen to good people and both the translator and our investigator had tears comin out their eyes. The spirit is always so strong there, I love the hispanic people. I have seen a lot of openness and love come from the hispanic people. I feel so comfortable at that home.

We got our investigator that we met caroling on Christmas Eve to pray for the first time with us--he was a lil embarrassed and he cried out "Why do you make me do these embarrassing things?" and "Don't look at me!!!!" as we all got on our knees to pray. And we had him follow the steps to prayer in the pamphlet and he prayed and it was just awesome. It helped that he'd just spoken to his dad on the phone real fast, and I said to him, "You just talked with your dad on the phone. Praying is like talking to your heavenly father on the phone. It should be JUST as natural."


I love being a missionary. I have gone into SO many different people's houses. Met so many dogs. Shaken so many hands. I have probably entered into as many or more different people's houses this past month than I have the entire year of 2011. And then these people that we meet--when they pray, when they come to church, when they want to get baptized--it is all them. I don't even feel like I deserve it. Sis Brown reminds me of those scriptures that talk about how the missionaries are simply "gathering the Lord's elect." There are amazing, amazing people out there. Some of them don't listen to us--they are still awesome. But the ones that do listen and they act on what we say, they are the Lord's elect, because they are making these choices that bring them closer to Christ, and the fact they make these choices show what kind of person they are. They are amazing! They are my examples.

Anyway that is cool that you had a rad party at Lily's, I wish I could have seen all of you. Tell Danny & Tiana and the kids I say hello, and Laura and the kids.

Mom, what color am I? The son of the man who invented the color scheme is on a mission here. Hahah. Sis Brown thinks I am a yellow white. I said yeah that sounds good but mama I am curious, what did you say I am?

Trivial fact: you get used to the feeling of numb toes, did you know that? At first it is so painful. Then it is just a way of life. Solution: wear wool socks. Ha.

So I sent a package it should take a few weeks to get there sorry for my run on sentence. The memory card is in it. The letter I wrote to you is also in it. SO, the memory card---i said maybe develop some pictures and mail them? Well scratch that. Can you copy the memory card onto your computer but don't delete them off it and then just mail the memory card back? Sis Brown wants some of my pictures that's why. ha. Hopefully that will be all right? Then I can delete the pictures after I am done with them.

I am starting to read the old testament with my study guide. It is fascinating.
sister ash.