Mommy, I loved this paragraph in your email: " I saw how good Greggie is doing on potty - he runs in without reminders and sits on the "Cars" potty, then dumps in the big potty and flushes - is very proud of himself! It works better with nothing on under the shirt, so that's how he was a lot of the afternoon - pretty funny and cute. He was very interested in the flower planting, got to water everything after with the hose, did a good job, also carefully watered the balls on the grass, the cement border, the tree stump, and then had a little accident and walked over to water the flowers that way. (Probably because he had "Cars" underpants on outside, messed up his routine.) I didn't laugh out loud. Jessica let me hold her for quite a while, we sat and watched Lily work - she wanted to, said it felt like the plants would be her own that way - it's nice to work in the dirt. Jessica was happy to watch everything going on, and smiled at me sometimes - just a little smile. But she laughs at things, too, especially Greggie, he's the coolest big brother. "
So the crazy Elder Johnson that served here for 10 months and was all I ever heard about when I got here in December INVADED OUR AREA (he's allowed, now that he is Assistant to the pres) and we taught a couple lessons with him and his companion last Thursday, to two investigators, The Mom With Two Kids, and the Basketball Guy. He was like, "We're gonna teach these people. Is there anyone else who you are struggling to meet with that I can help you with?" Hahhaa. Cuz the Mom With Two Kids and the Basketball Guy were both good investigators when he left, and sort of dwindled maybe a lil bit with the consecutive elders, anyway when Sister Brown and I got here, we saw both of them several times but were NEVER able to actually get a LESSON with them.
Consensus: They love Elder Johnson, and we are not Elder Johnson.
But, we picked up the Mom and Her Two Kids and the Basketball Guy as investigators so we got 4 new investigators last week, which was cool. Hahhaha. It really was a good week and we are super grateful to E. Johnson, he and his companion even took us around a neighborhood after and drove in front of us in THEIR jeep compass and we drove behind in OUR jeep compass and with all of us on speaker phone and using his hand to point out the window he was like, "See this house? Solid former investigator. Go visit them. See that house? Can't remember their name. Good people. See that house? He was a former--he's really cool--he'll probly be drunk when he answers the door, go visit him. That house--less active member--what's her name? Go visit her." While sister chan rapidly wrote down every address in her planner as fast as she could. "This whole street is GREAT for tracting," we were told. "I suggest you just tract the whole street."
And then he and his comp, Elder Flynn, went to see a less active at Institute cuz E. Flynn used to serve in this area but in the YSA ward and they decided this less active really needed to see US so we got a phone call that same evening, "Hey, we set up a lesson for you Monday at 12 o'clock," and we were like "OH MY WORD, you two CANNOT LEAVE THIS AREA, can you?!" just kidding just kidding, we were like, "AWESOME! Thank you sooo much." We really are grateful! I love being a missionary! I love all the other missionaries and how we all work together and we all have the same goals and how we all support each other, and how we are battling on the front lines for the souls of men. Most people are looking for the truth and just don't know where to find it. The world out there is oppressive and dark and deceiving. This gospel brings light and happiness into people's lives. It's what Heavenly Father desires for ALL of us.
We've done service like every day this week. We're kind of exhausted. We've cleaned houses----I am an expert kitty box cleaner. One time the kitty box hadn't been changed in MONTHS and it was half dried out kitty poopies and half litter that was ALL contaminated with kitty pee and I took the top off, and you know all that stuff turns into ammonia after all, I got hit in the face with FUMES. And then we cleaned another house that hadn't been cleaned in about a year and the bedrooms are three feet thick in laundry and dog poop. You get a sense of people's lives when you come into their homes and dig through the history. People do NOT have perfect lives. That kid in school who has behavioral problems and always is seeking attention and doesn't have much of an anchor in his life is suffering from the pains of a divorce and seeing his home ripped apart, no longer happy family, and his house at home smells and his room hasn't been cleaned in months and there are messes behind every closed door. Who wants to come home and be happy when it isn't peaceful, clean, and bright? Where does this kid go with his life? Where does he find his stability? The dogs have no stability, they've ripped up every pillow so as you're shaking clothes off the floor, down feathers and bits of stuffing are floating around in the air and there is a dog pee stain on the shirt and dried up dog poop on the ground and then you see a Barbie doll, forgotten underneath a McDonalds bag that we don't dare open before throwing away. And if you go to church with that kid and wonder why the heck is white shirt doesn't look completely white and starched clean, it's all grungy and he hasn't gotten a hair cut in months, and he is slightly obnoxious and tells dirty jokes, he must be BAD BAD kid, let's ignore him, well then you don't understand that he is LOST. And no matter where the kid turns, will he be shunned or will someone finally show him that they think he is a real person? Just because you are happy at home, does it mean that kid doesn't deserve to be loved by somebody?
I think what I am learning most on my mission is that the gospel is really not designed to help the happy, the successful, the brilliant, the lucky, the smart, the beautiful.
I think it's designed so that the happy, the successful, the brilliant, the lucky, the smart, and the beautiful can go on and help others who are depressed, broken, beaten, lost, and confused, and those who feel ugly and stupid and worthless.
Easter is about Jesus Christ being raised from the dead so that all might live again and we are out here trying to bring the light that He brings into these people's lives. As my companion likes to say, "I would not fly from Hong Kong all the way to Alaska if I did not know the gospel was true."
The world is deceiving. But seriously, when you reject the gospel, what are you hoping to find out there? Is there happiness? Will the things of the world fix that boy's broken heart that has been damaged by divorce and an unstable home? Will it give the depressed woman who doesn't change her kitty litter box hope and energy and peace that lasts through all the trials of life? We had a lesson in relief society where sister chan and another sister were asked to catch a whole bunch of bubbles being blown about by a fan. Going after things in the world is like catching bubbles--that have already disappeared. (It's from the George Albert Smith book.) The world will disappear, and what will someone be left with that has turned away from the everlasting light of the gospel? Nothing. And as Jeffrey R. Holland ended his talk last weekend, Don't delay. It's getting late.
I love you all
Sister Ashbrook the Sassy