Monday, August 27, 2012


Well. I am sending some pictures. I forgot to commentate them. So, um, I sent you a few pictures of me in the some of the new clothes you sent, I sent you a couple of awkward senior photos that I took of myself, vainly, in the bathroom this morning, and I took a picture of myself getting ready this morning....

Okay i took a lil effort, okay the first picture is of a beautiful sunset. The second is my new sunglasses from Lily.

Third, a common thing to see in the trailer parks. I think it's so the near-constant rain doesn't sit up there on top.

Fourth and fifth, random pretty views, especially the weird fog.

Sixth, same sunset.

Seventh, a bear trap near Sister Hertless's house.

Eighth, the cabin, with sister petersen.

Ninth, all ready for the day! Observe my new watch

Tenth, moving back into the cabin. EXHAUSTED.

Eleventh, walkin around town! We read in the white handbook later we're not supposed to take pictures while proselyting. Whoops.

Twelfth, my sweater from home yay!

Thirteenth, stopped by to see somebody, this shot was taken off the bluff over their view (they weren't home).

The last two are my new senior photos.

My week: it was pretty good. We stopped by Miss Walking into Town and helped her do her dishes, it was fun, it helped us get to know each other. She sent us home with snickerdoodle cookies...we haven't been able to teach her but we hopefully will soon.

And we haven't seen La Mujer de Calisto but we NEED TO and we are planning to stop by tomorrow evening.

We met a few guys from Sudan! They are Christian, and they came from Virginia. The government brought them over and they worked for their citizenship. Now they are working the summer at the fishery here. They are really cool, we've seen them twice now, when we walk around Main Street (which we usually do every night at 8). First time, I was gettin outta the ol Mailbu and saw Mister Tall African Man across the street, he waved and flashed white teeth at us. I waved back. He sorta slowed his walk. I wasn't sure if we knew him. Heck, anyone who waves at us we needa talk to. So we went n talked to him, soon we met two other men from Africa, they are super cool, took some Book of Mormons, let us read a few verses to them which they really liked. Their English is pretty good.

We had a lesson with this older woman, who I will call the Spunky Woman, she's older and has been taking lessons for a long time hahah. She doesn't quite see how it all connects, the restored gospel...and Christ...we need a timeline. The member we brought with us bore powerful testimony however and the Spunky Woman said, "You know the more I listen to you gals the more I can just believe it's true."
Another thing she said, "Well, I just don't know about this Joseph Smith character. I mean, I know he's a prophet."
'How do you know he's a prophet?"
'Well, it says it RIGHT HERE," she said, pointing to hte intro of the book of mormon. Hahha.

We visit an elderly woman who's a member, she has pneumonia and she is probably close to dying. We are gonna visit her every day from now on. Every time we leave we say, "We love you!" and she says, "And I love you!" She's been put into critical care and seeing her all hooked up to stuff is really hard.

By the way, transfer calls came, we're both staying here!!! and we'll be in the cabin til the 19th and then we'll move into a separate apartment abov the branch presdient's garage.

-Sister ashbrook


Monday, August 20, 2012

Snapea Crisps!

I'm trying not to eat so much so I haven't yet eaten lunch, I'll eat it later, so that I don't eat dinner, cuz we don't have a dinner appt tonight. So I'm eating a lot of Snapea Crisps cuz I'm starving. Yeah.


Thank you for sending me the facebook happy birthdays, mommy, they showed up great in the email. Haha.

Did Greggie get the present I sent him??? Disregard I said he was four, he clearly just turned three, didn't he. SIGHHH.

We are back at the cabin and I love it, it's gorgeous, we might be moving again in a week, we are deciding with our awesome Ward Mission Leader tonight. Haha. Today it's not CLEAR but it's not TOO cloudy or foggy, and so the sun is shining through the thin cloud layer, so it's bright outside but not too warm (too warm is about 70 degrees). The water isn't sparkling as much as it does on clear sunny days, but it's still beautiful.

Mommy, I would always love thousands of groovy colored pens. Hey if I send you money will you send me a 5-star notebook? What's the brand called? I dunno, I just know it's big enough to glue 81/2"x11" papers into it, which is what I do all the time, I'm almost done with my (oh is it called nine star?) 5-subject notebook and I don't know if there are these types of notebooks here, I will try and look today, I haven't seen any yet but I don't think I tried the upstairs of TU (the trading union). hee hee.

Well, this week was good, Mommy, the lil girl you asked about is a 6-year-old in the branch who says the most hilarious things. Such as, "I've been hyperventic all day." And when her mom asked her, "Can you pass the bowl the mashed potatoes?" she responded, "Although it's empty?" and her mom affirmed, "Although it is." SHE USES WORDS LIKE ALTHOUGH, isn't that awesome?

Oh my heck so on Tuesday, it was crazy hot (like maybe over 70 degrees, that's crazy hot) and we were walking around one of the neighborhoods, the trailer court on 4th and 5th street...and the lil street inbetween 4th and 5th that everyone calls 4 1/2. We saw a woman approaching with a lil granddaughter, the woman was carrying some groceries. From far away I couldn't tell if she was native or Hispanic. We got nearer, I could see she was Hispanic, I asked her in Spanish if we could help her carry her things, she let us, asked if we spoke Spanish, I said a little. We chatted a lil bit as we walked her to her house, she is from Calisto, Mexico. We had just finished having a short visit with El Colombiano on the street, sitting on the benches next to the library and reading El Libro de Mormon with him and talking about who Moroni was and where the hill Cummorah was and stuff. So my Spanish was all warmed up and I was happy that I could understand her as we walked to her house. I knew we needed to at least try and share the gospel with her so in my head I figured out how to say it in Spanish and then I asked her if we could come back and share a message of Jesus Christ with her. I was planning on finding another Spanish speaker before coming back. Well, La Mujer de Calisto bid us come in right then and who are we to say no? I can't be upset someone is inviting us in! That rarely happens! We were tracting yesterday and a nice woman opened the door and said in a jolly voice, "Come in!" and sister pete and I were shocked. Course the woman went to the Bible Church, which rumor has it bashes Mormons from the pulpit, but we're now not sure if that's true cuz the Jolly Woman was very nice to us, and told she knew whose hands she was in, and who her Maker was, but she wasn't interested in learning more, but she was very nice. We had a nice chat in her entry. ANYWAY.

So we go inside the house of La Mujer de Calisto; the lil girl is actually her great-granddaughter. This lil girl shows us her room that has a bed in it, several toys, and a TV and excitedly asks us if it's okay to watch TV. Soon we're sitting on the couch talking with La Mujer de Calisto, everything is going well. I steered the convo to the gospel, La Mujer is Catolica, (Catholic) but she has a Mormon daughter and she's been to Mormon church before and she liked it. The problem is, she cannot read, in English OR Spanish. She doesn't speak any English for that matter. So she's never been able to really study the Book of Mormon. I couldn't tell if she said she had met with missionaries before. I miss a lot of what people say sometimes, especially if it's Spanish. Speaking of missing a lot, I shared a verse in El LIbro de Mormon (sis pete happened to have one in her back pack) and it was about prayer, and suddenly La Mujer launched into a story. Since it wasn't basic conversational spanish I started to lose the line of the story and just sat there, praying for the gift of tongues to descend and ring comprehension into my ears. AND THEN THE WORST Mujer paused. She had a very faraway look in her eyes, and they got shiny with tears. We all sat in silence for a bit, and I prayed all the harder for the gift of tongues. la Mujer wiped her eyes, and kept going. I think she was talking about a time in school, something about letters on a page. I'm not sure. It was very difficult, not to know what she was saying, and I started feeling discouraged. And guilty, what if she asked me a question and I didn't know what she was talking about and she realized that, and she probably would feel foolish. She mentioned something about a doctor, and pointed to the back of her head and said something about her brain.

When she was finished, I bore my testimony that Christ can help us through our difficult times. We had a closing prayer, I asked her if we could come back, and she said we were always welcome, and she loved our company, and gave us big hugs.

We've gone back once, we read the intro of the BofM to her in Spanish. Sister Pete says she thinks we should teach her how to read using the BofM. I think that'd be AWESOME.

So, sometimes we don't get the gift of tongues, and we just hope and pray that it's okay that we didn't understand, the Holy Spirit is the real teacher anyway. I have all the sympathy in the world for foreign-language missionaries now.

WELL, we had a lesson with the sweet 15-year-old girl. The branch president told us yesterday that she is the best example of a young woman that we have in the branch. We met with her whole family. The sweet 15-year-old girl has a quad, she reads her book of mormon every day, she went to youth conf and girl's camp in juneau, she emails mormon friends on a regular basis, she has LDS Easy Piano Solos sitting on her piano, she plays the hymns every week in Young Women's at church, she is working on personal progress, and she made her mom sew her a jacket for her prom dress because she was worried it was too low and her mom said it wasn't THAT low but she insisted. I know things need to happen at their own pace, and I know that we can't get everything we want, but I really see the sweet 15-year-old girl get baptized, and her whole family too. There is an anti-mormon aunt, the branch president told us, and there may have been some bad examples of members in the past coming home from missions and going atheist that the mother of this family has seen and she doesn't want her daughters to make such a big decision until they're 18, so the sweet 15-year-old has to wait til she's 18, apparently. We haven't talked openly about it in a lesson with them, hopefully we can soon.

The sweet 15-year-old girl and her Fashionista 13-year-old sister (who also went to girl's camp) came to church yesterday (Fashionista 13 slept through sacrament but came to YW's and that was her third time to a row! Ever since girl's camp. It obviously gave her a boost and has been coming to church ever since). A third investigator was at church today, he works at the Cannery. He never has met with us since I have been here, but Sister Pete and the sister missionary that was here before me started teaching him. The way he found them was pretty cool. His friend was given a card by the sisters when they went walking up and down Main Street one night. The friend gave The Cannery Worker the card, and something unheard of happened---The Cannery Worker wanted to learn more and called the sisters up! Okay it's not THAT unheard of. Anyways. So they taught him but then, I guess, fishing got crazy and they kept all the cannery workers pretty busy, sometimes til 10 at night, so we haven't been able to meet with him, though I met him on the street once. He called us Saturday though and said he had the next day off, could we find him a ride to church? HECK YES WE COULD.

Been reading in Leviticus lately. I find I can use the things I study in the Bible, it's really cool, like I was able to share what I learned in Leviticus 11 (i think?) in Relief Society yesterday, and when I was studying Exodus a part of it was really cool to share with my recent convert back in Palmer, so even though I studythe Bible during lunch and stuff and not during personal study cuz it's more selfish study and not specifically for people we're teaching, I am learning a lot of useful stuff that I can use. THANK YOU, STUDY GUIDE.


Sister Pete asked me once, "Do you think the prophet and apostles, like, text each other? Like, 'hey, will you give the article in the next Ensign?' "

We have been getting unexpected second dinners lately, one dinner was with the Muslims, whom I love. They fed us these things for dessert, things made out of dough, semi circle pouches full of cinnamon and walnuts, that they dip in boiled sugar, cuz they're apparently "quite plain" without them.

BUT THESE SECOND DINNERS MAKE ME GAIN WEIGHT, I've gained like fifteen pounds and have this STOMACH that is coming out of NOWHERE. So, we need to save on miles but I'm happy we're walking more, we feel like "real missionaries."

Other than getting scandalous texts from one of our potentials, who texts us in gangster talk, and texts us all day, in the morning he texts us Good Morning, and then later he texts us Beautiful Day Out, and wants to know if we believe in marriage, and then texts us wanting to know if we wanna get married, and then laughs and says he's just joking....we call our district leader a lot, asking for advice. Our district leader is on Prince of Wales island, in a town called Craig. Two other elders in our district are in Ketchikan, two others are in Wrangell. our zone leaders are in Juneau. There are four sets of elders in Whitehorse (yukon territory, aka canada), and two elders in Sitka, and two elders in Scagway, who are also in our zone.

I love being a missionary! Even when it's hard. Even when things don't come easy, like the gift of tongues. I love the people here, I love the branch here, and i love my God. I think that is a really good reason for doing a lot of things we do. Why do we do the things we do? Because we love our God. I know that I love my God, and I want to be the best missionary because it is what He wants me to be. I know that we can pray for any of our weaknesses to be strengthened and He will help us. I love the people in this area, just read 1 Thessalonians 2 today, it is Paul fleeing but writing a letter to the people he loved and preached to. I want to be like Paul.

Sister Ashbrook

Monday, August 13, 2012

Re: Happy Birthday

I love you! Thank you so much for my birthday package. I am wearing the reddish rusty color shirt today. My slippers are on my feet the second i get home. HHAHA the music, I wonder which one of you comes up with these selections, I didn't even know Lewis and Clark had a soundtrack. I love and appreciate my family and I am grateful that they remembered my birthday.

The woman we are currently living with got me sugar cookies and between church and the dinner she fed us that night she sewed me a tote bag (she is an avid sewer, made her daughter's prom dresses and a lot of their normal wardrobe as well) and filled it with my favorite golden grahams cereal granola bars (i am obsessed with sugar cereal), and a really cute hair clip, and she wanted to make me a petersburg scrapbook page but didn't have time, so she threw in a few Alaska paper place-mats with Alaska facts and grabbed a large stack of Alaska food recipes from the info office in town so that I can make Alaska food after the mish.... Wasn't that so sweet of her? I gave her a thank you card this morning. I can't believe she sewed me a bag.

It's a bit rainy today, just heard one of the planes come in (I think two planes come in each day, to the lil petersburg airport).

We're doing good, found out El Colombiano is a member of the church for SURE, we got his membership records in yesterday, he was baptized four years ago. He came to church yesterday :) I think priesthood was stressful for him, the only other spanish speaker was in primary, and Sis Pete and I were passing through priesthood on the way to relief society and got held up trying to translate something for him and he got all tense in the forehead and said he did NOT UNDERSTAND.... I think it might be stressful for people sometimes, to come to church for the first time in a long time, and be surrounded by people you don't know, and by surrounded I mean one of thirty people at church as opposed to how BIG wards are elsewhere, and you don't speak the language...and it's just probably tiring. But we had a nice lesson with him afterwards, talking about the line of authority. THe priesthood, and how Christ gave it to his apostles, the power to cast out devils. OUr member, the guy who speaks Tex Mex but who was in Primary during priesthood, was very good at translating, though since it was Tex Mex (he served in Texas and Spanish there apparently is called Tex Mex) he doesn't know ALL the words. So we were trying to tell El Colombiano that Tex Mex's priesthood can be traced directly back to Jesus Christ, because Christ gave the priesthood to peter, james, and john, and they appeared to joseph smith and gave the priesthood to HIM, and joseph smith conferred the priesthood on other men, until it came to Mr. Tex Mex here. We were trying to say the word "chain" and el Colombiano tried to translate it, "Cambio?" Hhaha, that's the word for change. I drew a simple chain on the chalkboard. "Oh!" cried el colombiano, and said the word for it. Do I remember it? No. Something with an R...and an O...and a D....I dunno. Anyway, then Mr. Tex Mex got up and erased a link in the chain, and said this is what happened after the apostles were killed, the chain was broken. And so it needed to be restored. You could just see it clicking in el Colombiano's head. It was awesome. He even wanted to know if it has be father to father, and we got to teach him, no, you can be ordained by someone other than your father. Anyway, fun times. My spanish is getting better. I am so grateful for Kaiizen and Mexico and El Sauzal orphanage for teaching me Spanish!!! Otherwise I dunno if we would know El colombiano, if we would have been able to talk to him and get to know him in the first place, and he is hilarious, he is fast becoming a close friend to us, and Sister Pete is learning Spanish too.

We met with the Muslims, they were about to break their fast for the day (it's Ramaddan) and they had the table spread with awesome Arabic food. They were delighted to feed us and the girl we brought with us, who happened to have gone to Israel and Jordan (where Mr. Muslim is from) through BYU once, and they were able to chat all happily about that. They fed us this bread that they cut up that probably had olive oil and some mild cheese on it, and other bread with sesame seeds and oregano. And some chopped up tomatoes in a tahini sauce. And it was all delicious. We taught them about prayer, asked them about their prayers, asked if they say personal prayers. Islam is a beautiful religion. They pray a lot, five times a day at least, and because Alaska is the way it is, sunrise is earlier, they have to get up earlier to pray at sunrise, and fast longer cuz they eat at sundown, and they just deal with it. They can pray about personal decisions, such as who to marry. They showed us videos they took at Mecca with the people circling the black stone. We read scriptures to them from 3 Nephi about Jesus teaching prayer.

We picked up a new investigator, we once OYM'ed her (street contacted her) as she was walking into town and got her address and gave her a book of mormon, she said we could come teach her. We finally were able to sit down with her Saturday and she told us a lot of her life story. She is nineteen and has had more life experiences than her mother. She had two felonies when she was 15, she got her GED at 16 after dropping outta high school at 14 and was able to pass the GED test without studying and while being high on marijuana. She came to petersburg when she was ten and left a few years later to live with her dad and sometimes her uncle and then she bounced between Washington and california, and finally is back in petersburg, doing nothing but smoking weed and feeling useless and she says she feels awful about her behavior, when she snaps at people and tears them down so easily and makes them cry. She told us she is pregnant. And it's too late to abort the baby and now she and the daddy have no idea what to do, keep it or put it up for adoption.

Obviously this girl is intelligent, a lot of things she told us clued us in to this, such as being able to help her uncle pass his last two years of college and passing the GED test without studying. She doesn't like being confined to rules, she's insanely stubborn, she feels like people don't expect a lot from her, but she wants to be more than she is now and actually accomplish things in life. But she is surrounded by people who make bad choices. Man as she was talking I knew that if she let us teach her and if she kept her commitments, if she started praying again, if she really wanted to know Heavenly Father's will for her, and if she really wanted to change, I knew that she can. I could see her, in my mind, getting answers to prayers, realizing God is there, realizing her worth as a daughter of divinity. I could see her realizing there is more to life than idleness. I could see her making choices one day with a clarity of mind. That is what the gospel can bring to people, and the peace that comes when we are able to preach truth to these sweet children of our Heavenly Father is the most amazing feeling in the world. being able to tell Miss Walking Into Town (that's how we found her, that's what I'll call her) that she is a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father who wants what is best for her and wants to help her and wants to communicate with her is a precious oppurtunity. She almost teared up but wiped her eye real fast. Hahha. The Spirit is amazing.

I hope everything continues to go well with Miss Walking Into Town, and I hope we are able to teach the Muslims about their Savior, and not take away or replace any of the truths they already treasure but simply add to them, and i hope El Colombiano becomes a strong, active member of the church...and learns English.

I love being a missionary, and I am so grateful for my family. I love love love my birthday package. I think pretty much everything fits, I think the striped shirt might be a bit too big cuz it poofs in the back but Sis Pete says she wants to see me wear it so she can see if it's supposed to be poofy or it's too big, hahaha. So we shall see. Thank you for everything, love ya,
Sister Ashbrook and all the Deers who Frolic Around Petersburg

Monday, August 6, 2012

Got My Hair In Braids

Hi everybody, hope all is well. Thanks for the Barson family letter, Mommy, and thanks Daddy and Mommy for your emails. Lily I hope you got the birthday thing I sent, ahhaa, I forgot to take the price tags off, I was like "Dangit!!!" but don't worry about me spending money, I get a discount at the museum gift shop cuz we do service there. Hahaha.

So did you know, ALL the home phones here start with 772? So people will say the last 4 digits of their phone number when you ask them what it is. And ALL the cell phones here start with 518.

Well, it's been a pretty good week, it has had its ups and downs. The downs are seriously just when we have days that all we do is drop in on people who aren't home and are not interested and we don't teach a single lesson. I remember days back in Palmer that we would have five lessons with less actives and here we get about four or five a week. I miss feeling the Spirit that we feel when we teach, I miss having that be one of the things that draws a companionship closer together. But we try and bear our testimony to people that we tract into or chat with on the street, but most have already turned us down before we can get to our testimony. Actually a lot of people here will stop and chat to you, and may not be interested, but are perfectly nice and have lovely stories about what brought them to Petersburg. We talked to a man with one arm that talked about his philosophy interests and things, and how he feels that all humankind is connected spiritually. We talked to a few young men who looked sunburned and traveled, one was from Germany, one was from Australia, and one was from Seattle and they met him drinking beer down on the docks and now they were all good friends. They were all very polite and sociable.

We tried to help El Colombiano find a job, he needs some type of work that doesn't require speaking English because the sandwich place he was working at hired someone else, which was sad. The sandwich lady told us to go down to the bar to ask if they need a person to clean during the night. So we went, and marched into this bar, and thought that was hilarious, and we asked the girl if she had any night work for our friend? she was very sweet, didn't need him, looked a lil surprised to see two sister missionaries in her bar. It was a very clean, nice bar, smelled like popcorn.

And then that same day we were sitting at this table outside with El Colombiano and he leans forward and tells us, in Spanish (this is in a very intense, almost dramatic voice, I may be exaggerating a little, but whatever), "I was baptized, in Colombia, in the Catholic church." (Pause.) "Then, later, I was baptized...into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in California."

WHAT THE HECK, our investigator might be a member. HAHAHA. We sent a request in for his records on Sunday. The PUNK! Why don't they tell you these things when they first meet you, like the cool Samoan man we talked to on the street the other day, who said, "Are you LDS missionaries? i'm a member." Just like that, shabam, he's a member. No, El Colombiano waits a week. SIGH.
We had a really good lesson with our investigator, The Guy On A Fishin Boat. He came into town for a couple of days. He is friends with one of the Marsh boys (half the Branch is the Marsh family), and he was prepared to start meeting the missionaries that way (which is the best way for investigators to be prepared), cuz the lesson is already set up, fellowshipper in place, and the missionaries just show up. He has a father in the Lutheran council here in town (half the town seems to go to the Lutheran church, very good people, they all seem to respect the LDS church) so he is worried about what would happen if he got baptized. But he accepts everything we teach, prayed about Joseph Smith being a prophet and said he felt "a good vibe." He is going to pray this week about talking to his dad and always about a day for his baptism. Which is awesome. I know that if he really wants to be baptized, the Lord will help him, and provide a way for him to handle whatever happens, even if his father reacts badly. Parents' hearts have a tendency to soften once they see the good changes that take place in their children.

The sweet Fifteen-Year-Old Girl got back from youth conference and girl's camp, and came to church, with her sister. Since missionaries have been teaching the whole family for about a year, that meant we had two investigators at church yesterday, which was awesome cuz for the past two weeks we've had zero (cuz El Colombiano was late to the place where the Lopezes were gonna pick him up so he couldn't make it. But he's probly not an investigator anyway, cuz apparently he's a member). The Fifteen-Year-Old Girl's mother is friends with Sister Hertless, and they both work at the hospital. The place we were living---well that couple who lives there came back from their home in Idaho and so we had to move out for two weeks, and we moved in with Sister Hertless, who just took a job at the hospital about a month ago.She's from Virginia, very chatty, very Southern, very sweet. When the Fifteen-Year-Old Girl's mother found out we moved in with Sister Hertless, she said, "Oh, take these eggs home for the girls." She has her own chickens. Guys these eggs are amazing, the yoke is the size of a dinosaur's eye ball. They made our German chocolate cake that we made taste so good. I usually only tolerate cake-mix-in-a-box cakes.

I love this gospel. I love meeting the people here, like the ones who understand so much and are so ready for the gospel...if they'd stop reading anti-mormon literature about Joseph Smith and listening to seminars from ex-Mormons who may, yes, be very compassionate, but have been led astray by SOMETHING. I KNOW this church is true. It's Christ's gospel, we don't make this stuff up. It's from God, not man. And God wants all of us to return to him. If people have left the church, they are missing out on more blessings than they are already experiencing. I'm not just talking about temporal blessings, like a nice house, or a sudden job opportunity, or things like that. I'm talking about peace, knowledge, clarity of mind, light, truth, joy, and feeling the love of God every day of your life through the power of the Holy Ghost. That only comes through hard work, obedience, and faith. None of us are perfect. We are soo sooo flawed. But it is worth it to keep trying.

-sister ashbookofmormon