Monday, June 25, 2012

Email from June 25

WORLD! Hello.

DADDY! I am so glad you liked my package to you.

And, I have been dealing with the mosquitos for WEEKS but they just got AWFUL one week so I had to write about it. Most locals just put up with them. Some say that DEET is the worst. Some say that OFF! doesn't work. But some say OFF! is what really does work. It is just like everywhere you go, everyone has different opinions. They all have different things to put on them....preparation H and stuff. I actually don't get bit that much, I've learned. I had six bites on my right leg at one time. Sister Rivera had thirty-two. Poor girl. 


And yes Daddy I looooved getting Jordynn and Kylie's letters. So yes, I got those. 

AND CONGRATULATIONS TO DANNY! Okay Danny I want you to send me a pic of you and Tiana and the kids. I have all these photos taped up on my wall, and I need to see you guys' faces. So that's your assignment. Or you can commission our parents to send it to me. Hahaha. 

DADDY. Can you do something for me? It might be crazy. It involves looking for a song amongst all my piano music that I left. The members that we live with, whom you and Mom would love, by the way, well Brother Adams wants to sing Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, this one arrangement with cello that I have. OKAY, so. It is in a binder full of other music. Church music, I am 99.9% sure. It is several pages long, the pages are taped together back-to-back. It has a measure or two on the 2nd page that is randomly in 6/8 time. And there is a cello line underneath the piano accompaniment, throughout the song. IF YOU FIND IT, can you mail that to me pretty please? Brother Adams wants to sing it for this thing in July. 

You would love the Adams because Sister Adams puts "little greenhouses" over her plants. These greenhouses are gallon milk jugs with the bottoms cut out and placed over each individual plant, just to keep it a little warmer, so there are these turned-inside-out tires all behind the house with plants growing in them, and thus, all these milk jugs placed on top.....she's just so frugal. She says, "Oh, haven't you seen my greenhouses back here?'" and laughs. Hahah. 

AND MOM, thanks for your cute stories about Greggy and Jessica and all the stuff that has been happening in the family, I love all of you and think of all you and pray for you often. Wish I could hear my lovely Katie's harp recital. I want to see pictures of baby Emma! 

The work is good, kinda crazy. We had an investigator for a hot minute once, a girl from Spain who is nannying a family. We got a call from the zone leaders saying that President wants us to teach her, that we can connect with her on a better level cuz we're girls, even though she lives in their area. We asked if they were gonna be at the lesson with us. They said, no, they were all gonna show up, introduce us to the girl, and then take off. (Sister Rivera and I were like, Uhh,.........)

Well, that didn't go over very well, the poor zone leaders are oblivious. Really good missionaries, just boys. See the thing is, when you teach somebody and open up to them, and share spiritual experiences together, a bond grows between you two. Like it says in D&C 50:22, "He that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." So her face just kinda fell when the elders said, "Well, they are gonna teach you now," and they left, and then we had this short lesson with her, she's very sweet. Next thing we know we're at dinner and we get a text, "What'd you do?! We just got this horrible text from her." Apparently she just felt very hurt and like she was getting passed around. We were told "not to go back till we talk to President." I told them they just need to ease her into the concept of being taught by other missionaries, not rip themselves outta her life and put us in front of her and say, "OKAY, LOVE THESE ONES, NOW!"

The Woman In The Store is supposed to be taught by other missionaries, right now she wants to "pause" and do some soul-searching before she gets taught by elders, cuz they are "too rigid" (that's what she told us one day, another day they were "too immature," hhahaa, I was laughing because she obviously doesn't have a testimony of 1 Corinthians 1:25-27 yet). She says her biggest obstacle is actually her husband being on board. SO, sister rivera and I paid a visit to the Husband In The Store, who works there on Saturdays, and had a nice chat with him. And picked him up as a new investigator. And gave him his very own copy of the Book of Mormon which I decorated and wrote a few commentary blurbs in. And told him that he doesn't need to go inside the "big temple in salt lake" to know if the church is true. And he doesn't need to read the Articles of Salvation cuz a website he was on quoted Joseph Smith as saying something conceited in there, to know if the church is true. All he needs to do is read and pray about the Book of Mormon. HIS biggest obstacle is knowing if Joseph Smith was really a prophet or a crazy all-high-and-mighty kinda guy. He doesn't like Mohammed, either. Well, we had fun talking to him, he's really a cool guy, said he's open to reading the book, because it's the one thing he hasn't done to find out if our church was true, and he totally laughed cuz he knows it. 

Whenever I open my mouth and invite someone to learn more, or bear testimony about the Book of Mormon to someone in a parking lot, I suddenly feel all this love for the people of Alaska, and want them to be happy. If I didn't know any better, I'd have no idea where it is coming from.

Every time we talk to someone, we give them one more shot at eternal life. 

Pretty much everyone will go to a degree of heaven, whether or not they even accept Jesus Christ. God wants us all to be happy. But eternal life, exaltation, is offered to those who accept Jesus Christ, receive of the saving ordinances (such as baptism and the Holy Ghost), and make covenants with our Heavenly Father. President Beesley says, "See everyone as if they are about to go to the temple" or "Teach your investigators as if they are a year away from going to the temple." We're not here to build the church's numbers. It's not about being a Muslim, a Catholic, a Jew, a Protestant, a Lutheran, a Mormon. It's about making covenants (promises) with your Heavenly Father, in His holy temples, just like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did (I've been reading the Bible, finally hit Exodus this morning). 

Last night was a fireside with  hank smith (he's hilarious. oh my word so hilarious. a youth speaker. soooo funny) and Michael Mclane. Good times. Michael McLane's music is not my favorite but I appreciate the spirit and the message behind it. Two of our Mexican boys (who live in cottonwood's area, and we had our last lesson with them and the Cottonwood elders last night, now Cottonwood is just gonna teach them, we are so sad, this is what we get for teaching everyone in everyone else's area, but the Cottonwood elders are awesome and we aren't worried) were able to come to the fireside.

Hank Smith talked about chapter 3 in judges about Ehud thrusting in an eighteen-inch dagger into the fat of this guy named Eglon and the fat was so thick the dagger disappeared into it...(UM WHO KNEW THIS STUFF WAS IN THE BIBLE, THIS IS WHY I AM READING IT, cuz it's HILARIOUS). And he was like, "I bet Ehud was like, oh my gosh where'd the dagger go? You think it came out on the other side?"  His talk was about temptation killers and stuff. It applied. I promise.

Brad Wilcox and his son spoke the night before last, we couldn't go. I barely even know who Brad Wilcox is, but I was told he is also another great speaker who travels around speaking to the youth and stuff. He is an awesome guy. He came to our ward on Sunday, walked in, shook our hands, said his son is serving in Japan. "Oh, cool, which mission?" I asked. He told me it was Kobe. I was so excited. "The mission president there used to be my bishop!" "No way, ZINKE?!" Brad Wilcox cried. "Yeah, and Sister Zinke used to teach me piano!" I laughed. Brother Wilcox is so cool, he told me to write the Zinkes a note and he would include it in the next passage he sent to his son in Japan and tell his son to give the note to the Zinkes. Which was awesome. I love those Zinkes!! It made me think of the Bruces in Chile as well. My bishops have been so cool my whole life. 

I mowed a lawn. It was service. Sister Rivera and I switched back n forth. The weeds and grass was up to our knees. Our hands, the palms I mean, were bruised for two days afterwards, cuz it's a push-push lawn mower not a riding lawn mower, and the handle of the lawn mower shook and rattled against the palms of our hands for three hours so no wonder. But it was awesome, the person who employed us (i use that term loosely) was very proud I mowed a lawn for the first time in my life. My father shall be proud as well. I know there is that picture of me floating around somewhere, pushing a lawn mower in mah backyard in mah pjs (a huuuuge tigger shirt) and looking UTTERLY MISERABLE...I don't think that counts. So, basically, I mowed a lawn for the first time, and this deed was even mentioned by others in Sunday's gospel principles lesson which was on, hahah, Developing our Talents....

My recent convert is going through a really hard time. She has to move out of her house because it's in foreclosure ,and she, for a bit, was having a hard time keeping up hope. Very discouraging for her. I hope that she gets through this trial with enough faith to grasp onto the gospel and really, and finally, have a testimony of it, because she DOES have the gospel, and that can bless her for eternities. If she'd only see it!!! She is amazing, and I know she can do it. But we all needa go through trials. Life wasn't easy for Christ, or every other prophet for that matter, every prophet's life is a type and symbol of Christ. Trials don't come to show the Lord how much faith we have, trials come to show US how much faith WE have. The Lord knows all things, from the end to the beginning, he knows our potential, he knows what faith we have. But we don't! And so we are tested. And we grow. 

I love being a missionary. People are AMAZING. The choices they make really do bring them closer or distance themselves from the Savior. As a missionary, we invite others to come unto Christ. And we watch Him work through us. And it is lovely.

Sister Ashbrook the Songwriter (I'm writing a new one from Romans 8:35-37 WHO SHALL SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST? LA LA LA LAAA)

Monday, June 18, 2012

So MANY MOSQUITOS (Email from June 18)

Oh my word.

So we've had a good week. But I just need to talk about the mosquitoes for a minute. They are everywhere. My legs are covered in mosquito bites. Some new ones (more splotchy pinkish patches) and some old (little red dots) and some that were big and got the top cut off when I shaved my legs and now are scabs (you're welcome). They fly and invade. They come into our car while we are getting out. They swarm front doors of houses. I've only seen about five skeeter eaters, there needs to be more of those.

OH, and then when you smack them and they're all bloody? Yeah. Twice. The first time, I smacked it on the dashboard of my car with my hand, then looked at all the bright red blood all over my fingers and screamed. "I KNOW WHAT THIS IS! I KNOW WHAT THIS IS! PULL OVER SO I CAN WIPE MY HANDS IN THE GRASS!!!" The second time, I smacked the mosquito with the map on the side of the car and it splattered blood all over the car (but it came off real fast with some kleenex and water). We had two teenage girls with us (young womens girls) and all four of us screamed. That map, with its bloody stain, is now the mosquito-smacking map.

All our Mexican boys and The Woman In The Store don't actually live in our area. We are in the process of meeting with them and the elders in their proper areas and will be turning them over. This is very sad. But it's important they be taught by the missionaries in their areas because the missionaries there know which members to bring to their lessons and all that. And it'll help us with miles, too. We know that we are not gonna be in this area forever, either, I mean we'll be transferred at one point, so it makes sense they need to go to the missionaries they're supposed to be with, but it just takes me a few days of freaking out about losing them for me to be all right with phoning those ELDERS and saying, "Um, we have an investigator for you."


We had zone conference on Wednesday, it was very nice, I felt like I was being rebuked for not doing enough the whole time. Elder Koelliker of the seventy came and spoke to us (and his wife). Three zones were involved in this zone conference. Elder Koelliker is a cool guy, he is soft spoken mostly, kinda serious, but a lil sense of humor. Very spiritual man. Wants us to awaken the light of Christ in people. Anyway, this mission doesn't OYM (open your mouth) a lot (also called street contacting) and we need to. 

Anyway, we passed out eight book of mormons this week. We are very happy. Our district leader challenged each companionship to pass out two. When Sister Frazier (the greenie who has now gone to her comps in Valdez) was with us, her bold greenie fire prompted us to OYM to a native man in the parking lot of this apartment complex (something I've actually never done before....just go up to someone who is NOT in their doorway and start talking about the gospel....usually I just start talking about their dog and stuff). Anyway this Native Man in the Parking Lot actually listened. Said he had Mormon friends and had read some from the Book of Mormon and had lots of questions. He is a very nice man, thoughtful-sounding when he talks. We gave him a book of mormon. I felt like a real missionary. BAHAHAHAH. Then we went and tracted three other random apartments and handed out 3 more. The next day Sister RIvera and I tried to find this guy in another apartment complex and he wasn't home. We had a bunch of other book of mormons and I OYM'ed to a couple of people in the laundry room, Sister Rivera was just a tad bit shy, hee hee, but it turned out okay, the girl is a Wiccan and I said hey one of my really good friends back home used to be Wiccan. ..Which was cool cuz for a second the girl kinda looked like we were gonna judge her, pssh yeah right. She took a book, she said Wiccans like to borrow things they like from other religions, so she said sure she'd read it. 

Oh my favorite one was when we asked a woman to read the book and she said "Well, you can't come back for a couple of weeks, or maybe even a month, cuz I read very slowly." She was very sweet, and I realized she was serious. Which was awesome. 



I am glad daddy liked what I sent, I love my daddy super a lot. Mommy, thanks for your list of funny and good things, I love Greggie and how we likes "popper" (pepper) in his tomato soup. 

Open your mouths and they shall be filled with the things you need to say. The Lord really does support us as we're bearing our testimony. Just hand the book to them and say, "I know this book is true. This is my favorite book. It proves that God loves children all over the world, not just in Israel. I know that you can find peace and comfort in these words, and we want to give it to you." 

The coolest part is telling them it's free when they ask how much. 


I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love the people we're teaching, even though half of them I have to give to other missionaries. I love this area, I've been here for six months and it feels like home. I know my Savior lives, I can feel the Spirit when  I am bearing my testimony. The Lord wants his children to hear the gospel. He has the same goals as us. I know the gospel is true, and I am so blessed to be able to be here in Alaska sharing it with others.

sister ashbrook

Monday, June 11, 2012

Currently in a temporary trio (Email from June 11)

(Sorry everyone. Dropped the ball on this. I'll be better next week -Anne)

SO, guys.

We've had a good week, lots of Anchorage, going again to Anchorage today for P-day to jam with some elders to prepare for a musical fireside the missionaries are putting on round the 4th of july. 

SO, first of all, transfers was fun, we went to Anchorage, everyone teased me about being on the most recent mission CD a billion times (cuz Sister Beesley had me record a lot of songs for this quarter's theme). I was set to sing with Elder Knudsen for transfers in just about an hour or so and felt so awful about singing AGAIN that I told Sister Rivera she HAD to sing with him, there were so many pros and not many cons about this, I could hide behind my piano and not have to sing awkwardly loud from the bench, and she has a much more powerful voice and it's beautiful. 

We went to the temple again, that's like my seventh time going since I came out, yes I do have good luck going to the temple so Sister Rivera was very pleased to go for the third time ever since coming out eight months ago. I love the temple. it is beautiful and peaceful. The only two missionaries going home were sisters, so this whole day was just a whole bunch of spoiling for the sisters---all the sisters who were able to come to transfers went to the temple (along with all the elders about to go to places like White Horse and other bush places where they will be isolated from society for a while). Then we went n had dinner at the mission home (all the sisters) and we doted on Sister Baker (who was Sister Rivera's trainer in Fairbanks during the winter) and Sister Halatokoua (who knows Sela Tauteoli, holla). We had a testimony meeting with the two sisters in Valdez, the two sisters (including SIster Chan) in Fairbanks, and Sister Gardner in Petersburg all on Polycom. This meeting was supposed to go till about nine and then Sister RIvera and I were gonna drive home but it went till about ten and then President asked if we all wanted to see the two sisters off at the airport (they were takin the RED EYE woo hoo) so the Assistants piled us sisters in the big 15-passenger van and we drove to the airport (sun was just barely nearing the horizon) and we hung out in the airport for about forty minutes and the Beesleys bought us yogurtland and Sister Beesley requested that we "save the spoons!" It was lovely. There were tears among a few of the sisters as Sister Baker and SIster halatokoua went off to go through security. Sister Rivera and I crashed with the Turnagain sisters and finally fell asleep at 1:30 that morning just a lil bit tired. Hee hee hee. 

WEDNESDAY, we had a good day, went on a district tract. On the way there, something special happened. We were driving and suddenly outta the corner of my eye I saw a moose running straight at us. There is a ditch along the road and I saw the moose when he entered the ditch, he was kind of a young one. I gasped and Sister Rivera said, "What??" and then she saw the moose---but he was turning and we flew by and we stared into our mirrors and saw him turn right back around and run across the road between two cars that were going in opposite directions. 

We drove for a few seconds. Then sister rivera said, "I didn't even see that moose." We drove for another few seconds and she turned the music off. "I think a miracle just happened," she said. 

We both felt a special feeling inside---a miracle HAD just happened. I felt distinctly that something had stopped the moose, had shooed him away from us for a second. It was like someone had been standing there, guarding us! Isn't that nuts. We were pretty quiet the rest of the way. 

Missionary work is sometimes a lot of going up to people's doors, hoping to find someone that was listed on a potential investigators sheet, or on a really old progress record, like a name we don't recognize, and we get to see all these people's houses, and whatever they have outisde their house that might tell you about that person, like if they have a whole bunch of junky left over cars out front or if there is a big self-made fountain gushing out water in a cute lil pond, or if they mow their lawn or let all the dandelions (the pretty yellow flowers) grow all over the place. 

Oh I forgot to tell you about our p-day adventures. My district, Elder Yde (wide) and Elder Hancock, Elder Higley and Elder McMillan, we all went up to Talkeetna--about an hour's drive away. Beautiful drive. Straight up parks highway, lots of tall leafy green trees along both sides. Talkeetna is a tiny touristy town, all the stores look so inviting, there are people walking all over the place with cameras. We were on our way to eat a huge burger that was apparently on Man Vs. Food called Seward's Folley. This burger if 5 pounds and huge and made outta caribou meat. hahaha. We got two and split em both but Elder Hancock got halibut tacos which I am sure were also very good. I almost died the rest of the week and didn't eat as much. I think I actually lost a coupla pounds cuz I barely could eat a coupla days after that. It had three sourdough patties, CHEESE, ham...then it was made with some crazy sauce, the name of which contains a profanity which I will refrain from expressing. Fun times. We wanna go back and look at the town and our cool waiter told us about a real cool river nearby where no tourists really go but where it is beauitful. 

People here are very nice but not a lot are interested, or they will set up appointments with you for a week later and you just gotta hope that they'll remember. 

So there is a new sister missionary that was sposed to come in last week but was sick at the MTC so she flew in last friday, Sister Frazier from Mapleton, UT, and she is gonna be trained by Sister Watson (and Sister Smith) in Valdez but that is five hours away from the valley. The Valdez sisters are gonna come stay here tomorrow night for Zone Conference the next day, SO, president beesley and my comp and I go to Anchorage Saturday morning and WE picked up Sister Frazier and we are in a trio until she can meet up with her actual companions tomorrow. It's been fun to have a greenie with us, but she is not a timid meek one.  Tall, confident, very pretty, has a loud voice. 

We love meeting with less actives. Oh my word so Sister Gilmore has been coming to church again and it makes me SOOOO happy. We've been going over and seeing the Gilmores every Sunday since January. Anyway, she is having the nerve of leaving for a family reunion this week to be with her awesome daughter in Idaho, and she will be gone till the end of July and THAT is in the middle of NEXT TRANSFER, so if I am no longer HERE next transfer, I will have seen Sister Gilmore for the LAST TIME (for a while at least) yesterday. So, saying goodbye to her last night was crazy. I had no idea it would be so hard. We weren't even saying that for sure I'd be gone, she even said, "i'm not saying goodbye," but I just FEEL i am leaving, so I was standing there and all three of us seesters had already hugged her goodbye and I was like, "I feel like I need another hug," and hugged her again and she said, "Oh, you're going to make me cry," and suddenly I was tearing up AS WELL. Suddenly I felt how much I really loved this family. And I realized how steady and how much I had loved coming every week and listening to their crazy stories and all that they've gone through. I was wiping away tears and making jokes about falling apart and feeling VERY VERY bittersweet inside. 

I wonder what it will be like to say goodbye to Wasilla, goodbye to all the OTHERS that I love. 

I will bawl for days. 

I love being a missionary, I know the church is true. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart. I know that the Lord is real and that he loves us. I know, from the Spirit, that doing missionary work is the right thing to do. I am so grateful for all the people in my life and for how I've grown and I know I need to grow more and change more and be more and more Christlike. I know that we all must become instruments in the Lord's hands, put our trust in him, let his love work THROUGH us. 

I love my fam! Happy almost father's day, daddy, ima mail you somethin today! Congratulations on coming home, Nicky, my mom says you look more confident, and you are happy and have a huge testimony because you LIVE the gospel principles! THAT is so cool. 

sister ashbrook