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