Monday, September 24, 2012

HI we've had some sunny days!!!!

Hi, this week was really good for finding potential investigators and setting up visits with them for this upcoming week so we'll just have to see what happens.

Mom, that stake picnic sounded uber fun, what a cool idea to do a vid of the history of the stake, good job Justin Gibby. Cool that many talked about Savior of the World. I love all the experience I gained from participating in that twice!!

Daddy I love you and I am glad you got my present!

Speaking of presents, I appreciate GRANDLY my package with the notebook and the crazy gum and ALL THOSE PENS....I have used them incessantly ever since I opened it, one of the blues is already almost out of ink...I probably should conservate but we shall see.

THANK YOU for all of dat, Mommy. You didn't even have to, and so I appreciate it. I would go crazy if I didn't use any colored pens.

We met with La Mujer de Calisto, Mexico and set up a visit for tomorrow, we'll show her the Restoration vid. In Spanish. Cuz I stink at Spanish. It's been causing lots of miscommunication issues with El Colombiano lately, hahaa, sigh. Speaking of that man, he is so funny, we get in total arguments. He gets super passionately FRUSTRATED ABOUT HIS LIFE and sometimes takes it out on us by RAISING HIS VOICE and I always come away from our visits FUMING....what kind of missionary am I? Hahahaa. I think we will be friends forever. We just need to teach him the word of wisdom cuz sometimes he smells like smoke, and since he's been a member for four years now, maybe he just needs a gentle reminder. It would be oh so totally awesome to see him passing the sacrament! The Sunday School teacher on Sunday really helped him get involved by having him read one of the Spanish! She was really good at telling everybody that he will read in Spanish, can everyone please follow along in their own books. I love our Sunday School class. I always feel the Spirit there, and it's because the teacher cares so passionately about whatever she is teaching.

We had a lesson with Card Guy, we explained how the Spirit testifies of truth, and we asked if he's ever felt the Spirit during church or lessons with us, and he said he has felt "no such feelings yet." Which was kinda sad cuz we want him to get baptized like, tomorrow, but it's not about what we want, it's about him learning to recognize his own relationship with Christ and learn how to strengthen it by exercising faith, repenting, and being baptized, and that happens when it is supposed to happen. We were supposed to meet with him on Saturday again.

In fact we were supposed to meet with a billion people on Saturday, but oh my heck, everything was stressful. A whole bunch of fish came in so alla sudden the cannery was working and everyone who is a worker there was called in. It went from them maybe working an hour and a half a day to working probably a full day's shift on Saturday and probably Sunday too. So we went to Mr. Card Guy's lesson to the PFI Bunkhouse lounge with, speaking of Sunday School, the Sunday School teacher, and he wasn't there, and we sat there and visited, and realized he wasn't coming. Then after that we were supposed to meet with the sister of El Colombiano who is NOT a member but wants to learn about our church but HE told us she was working....and we put it together. If The Sister of El Colombiano is working, so is Card Guy, cuz they BOTH work for PFI (the cannery). Sigh. AND THEN, we had a lesson planned for the Puerto Rican family, and the members that were supposed to come with us alla sudden couldn't and we spent twenty minutes calling members of the branch but no one could come, people were out fishing (the husbands of mommies who were stuck with all the kids, for the most part). SAD. We like having members at lessons, it helps the investigator meet people and they add amazing testimonies. ANYWAYS.

So we went and taught the Puerto Rican family with NO members, but it was a good lesson. Puerto Rican Dad was NOT there, however, cuz he's a cannery worker! Haha. We taught the Restoration. Puerto Rican son, we found out, has ADD, and he kinda took offense to us finding out, I think he doesn't have much self-confidence, he's 12, and I think he sees the negative in everything we say. Like how he said LAST week he'd come to church if we gave him a banana. Well, we told him THIS time we'd give him a banana AGAIN...but only if he came to church. And he told us, hurt, that he's not a dog. It's hard to communicate with him where he will not find something negative. But, when he is NOT doing that, he asks GREAT, "What does amen mean?" and "Where is heaven?"

We showed the 20-min Restoration vid to them and Puerto Rican Mommy was nodding her head in agreement the whole time. It was awesome.

They couldn't come to church though, cuz of work conflicts, and Puerto Rican Daughter got sick, but Puerto Rican Mommy promised the member of the branch who came to pick them up that morning for church that she'd drive them herself next week, when she finally didn't have any more work on Sundays!! Card Guy and The Sister of El Colombiano couldn't come to church either, cuz of all the fish, but do you remember Fashionista 13? She's the 13-year-old sister of Sweet 15, the girl who has been coming for 2 years but is not allowed to be baptized. Fashionista 13 comes to Young Women's activities every Wednesday but never wakes up in time for church.... but last Wednesday, the YW president, Sister Lister, asked her to give the "value devotional" on Sunday, so she got all nervous and excited and totally came. We love her. These two sisters don't get along very well so Sister Petersen and I got to talk to them about it on Sunday, too, making them laugh, about how to get along, since I have had similar struggles HAHAHAHA. (I love you my dear sister.)

Guess who also came to church. I haven't talked about this woman much cuz we rarely get to see her cuz she's never feeling well. She's from South Carolina, so I will call her Mrs. South Carolina. She came to Alaska with her 12-year-old daughter whom I will call Classy 12, to live with her older daughter and that daughter's boyfriend, they have a lil baby boy. Well, Mrs. South Carolina got carpal tunnel and had surgery on her wrist to detangle all her nerves and is constantly going to the doctor's and is tryin new meds and never feels up to having a lesson or coming to church. One day we realized we needed to get her super sweet, shy daughter involved in young women's. She's so sweet. She does NOT look 12. So, we called and invited her to church and one of the young women's leaders picked her up and brought her, she came in a classy blouse, black slacks, and pointed low-heeled boots. She's so classy. She really enjoyed church and plans on coming this Wednesday night to Young Women's.


So we were in the hospital to visit the elderly woman who is a member of the branch. There is this woman in there, I will call her Mrs. Baptist, because she's a Baptist, to help distinguish her. The elderly woman who we will visit I will call Tiny Lil Thing, cuz she is tiny. Less than a hundred pounds. ANYWAY, we once were at the hospital to play piano and sing for the old people, and Mrs. Baptist was getting picked up by the Baptist pastor who once told me and Sis. Petersen that if we wanted to stay at the function they were having, we would have to take off our name tags (we left). When we saw him that day, he refused to even look at us.

ANYWAY, we've taken time to stop and talk to Mrs. Baptist, the older lady in the wheelchair, and she is a sweet, wonderful woman, who had a heart attack 3 weeks ago and came to the hospital and hasn't left since. By the way she told us that her pastor and his wife are two of the neatest, sweetest people she knows, and I believe it. I don't doubt there is a lot of good in that man.

Well, there Mrs. Baptist was, sitting by the nurse's station desk thingy as we came in on Saturday or Sunday or something to see Tiny Lil Thing, and we stopped and talking to her. Asked her how she's doing. All of a sudden she said she was really scared. She seemed to be going downhill, not uphill, and she didn't know why, the doctors and nurses were giving her great treatment. Her husband doesn't want her to come home in case he can't take care of her. She's probably in her late 60's as she said her husband is 68. She started to cry, saying if she couldn't come back home, she'd have to go into Long Term Care, and she didn't want to do that. She said she didn't think she'd be that much trouble if she could just come home, she and her husband wouldn't have to start living all that differently. She didn't know why she wasn't getting better. She was really scared. She had the shakes and had come out of her room to ask the nurse if she could get an Adovan (I think that's what she called it).

Anyway, we told her, "Darlin, you don't have to be scared, God loves you and you are one of his very special daughters." We asked her if we could come visit her and she said she would really like that but warned us that she's Baptist and we'd never be able to shake her belief in God. I said we would never do that, all we do as missionaries is just invite people to learn more about God. I said, "This is totally not in the Bible, but there's a verse in the Book of Mormon that says, Perfect love casteth out all fear." She cried a little more saying, "Then my love must not be very perfect, because I have a lot of fear. But I think my love is pretty good." I said, "This is God's love. When you feel God's love, you will not have any more fear." I think I meant to say when you feel God's love perfectly, but whatever. She nodded and thanked us sincerely for taking the time to talk to her, and wiped her eyes, and told us we were very sweet and special, and we went on to go see Tiny Lil Thing.

Alaska is beautiful. Sometimes you see the moon hanging low in the electric-blue twilight sky, between two silhouetted pine-covered hills. The moon is reflecting off the water that separates us from the hills as we drive along Mitkof Highway. As we drive, the moon slowly disappears behind the hills.

Sometimes crazy clouds cover the land on the other side of the water, and you could almost picture you're looking out at the vast ocean on an overcast day.

I love being in people's houses, among squishy arm chairs with animal skins hanging on the walls, with a kitchen full of appliances and ticking clocks, and looking out the window and seeing rugged, wild Alaska. The snow capped mountains, the untamed hills, the muskeg.

I love being a missionary, I love this gospel. I know that happiness comes from being obedient, I know that the Spirit really does testify of truth. I know that the Lord prepares those that he places in our path. I know that Christ lives, I know that he is the Savior as all the prophets have testified.

love, Sister Ashbrook and Dog Dog (that's the name of the dog of a family in our ward)

Monday, September 17, 2012


Hey thanks for the pictures, I love them! How fun to see everybody, and Jessica looks totally different. Her hair is growing! What the heck. I wish we were at Aimee Marsh's house, then I could attach some photos today, but it doesn't work here at the church, for some reason. Lily, you'd like Aimee, I've decided you two should be friends.

Hey, I forgot to tell you, Mom n Dad, about getting your letter at zone conference! After we went on the big muddy trek to the lil spit of land that stuck out into the ocean, we came back and had a wonderful testimony meeting, and the zone leaders went last, and ended their testimonies with, "And to close this zone conference, we thought we'd all get you something really special. We had a lot of fun calling your parents this week, and here, we have for each of you a letter from your parents.." And they started handing out letters to everybody. We all silently took them, totally stunned, I saw a few elders get tears in their eyes, and even my vision got a lil blurry. and we all sat their holding these envelopes in our hands, with the orangey firelight dancing on all of our faces, while everyone got theirs. I opened mine when I got home and I loved it. Thank you so much, Mommy and Daddy!

WELL, this has been a fun week. We somehow recovered from going to Kake and Juneau and everything and somehow we didn't feel tired the next couple of days as we did missionary work, I think the Lord was blessing us.

Mom, that is cool that you had that emergency preparedness class. You said about 20 to 25 people showed up. hahha. I've adjusted to Petersburg numbers. That sounds so huge! That's like, half the branch! (Cuz the branch president, who by the way is hilarious, told us it's not about 30 people at church every sunday---if everyone who usually comes, comes, it's 45-50 people). Anyway, hahhaa. We had our fireside Friday night, and it was basically the branch pres and his wife, the branch mission leader, the young women's pres, 4 young women, and our investigator, Mr. Card Man (the one who got his hands on a card and called the that's called a "self referral."). It was really nice, we listened to a compelling testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, two young women shared their favorite book of mormon story, including Sweet Fifteen who's not even a member, and so did the branch pres and Sister Pete-pete, and then the girls sang Book of Mormon stories (the version Sis Rivera and I sang in the fireside that yall watched back in July). It was great. Then we had banana splits.

We had a lesson with Mr. Card Guy and he is really starting to understnad the role of prophets and eveyrthing, from that fireside he learned that we need prophets, it doesn't just stop with Moses. We invited him to be baptized once he learned for himself that this church really is true, he said yes.

We also had a lesson with Miss Walking Into Town, the one who is nineteen and pregnant and smokes pot and wants to change her life. We taught about what Christ did when he was on the earth, we taught about how the church became corrupted after he died and that is why we have so many churches and versions of the Bible today, and we taught about Joseph Smith being called as a new prophet to restore the fulness of the everlasting gospel in these last days. When we tuahgt about how Christ suffered in the garden and on the cross, Miss Walking Into Town really got it. When we read in Luke that his sweat was as great drops of blood falling to the ground, she siad, "Gross." Hahha. Cuz it really is! Can you imagine bleeding that much? But in the grove of olive trees where olives are pressed for their oil, Jesus was pressed under the weight of all that is unfair in the world, and the blood was pressed out of him. We asked HER if she would baptized once she learned for herself that this was all true, and she said, "possibly," hahaha, with her funny characteristic smile. The next day was the fireside, she wasn't able to come, but she texted and said she'd read the chapters we'd asked her to, and even prayed, and said she felt GOOD.
AND THEN, Saturday, we had an appointment with a Puerto Rican family. THere is a ten-yr-old girl in the branch who told us after dinner one day to go visit her friend, so we did, and set up an appt with her father to come teach them about Jesus Christ. Before we were able to meet with them, this ten-year-old girl brought this friend to church! Then we met with them, they are a sweet family, we taught them briefly about the restoration and got Mr. Puerto Rican Dad to pray, which was huge, cuz he believes in God but not the church and his Puerto Rican Wife has been tryin to drag him to church for years and he won't go. We picked up the whole family---four of them---as investigators. The next day, Miss Puerto Rican Daughter and Mr. Puerto Rican Son, who is 12, came to church!! We are so excited. I have wanted to start teaching a whole family my whole mission.

I love Hispanics. They are so warm and inviting and full of laughter.

And, SIster Johnson is coming back to her cabin tomorrow, so we are moving to the branch pres's house to live in the separate apartment above the garage, we'll be packing up everythign in about an hour or so. It usually takes us about two and a half hours to move. Pretty fun.

Well, it's been a good week, the elderly lady who's been in the hospital who we visit every day is doing better, she's still in medical but not in critical care (as opposed to going back to her residence in Long Term Care which is just down the other hallway) and for the past two days, for the first time in two weeks or so, she's outta the hospital gown and in REAL CLOTHES.

I love all of you, I hope everything is going well. I hope my bro Danny and my new sister-in-law Tiana are soooo happy! Congratulations on your marriage.

GOSPEL IS TRUE! I know with all my heart that God loves each of us. In the name of....just kidding.
Love, Sister Ashbrook

Did I ever tell you about the time Sister Brown and I got home one cold January night? We got outta our Jeep and saw that the snow was soooo deep. The Adams had been outta town and they were supposed to get home the next day. We felt bad we hadn't been shoveling---when they got home they'd have two feet of snow to drive through! So we thought, hey, the snow is real fluffy, it'll only take a second to shovel them a path! So we grabbed the shovels and she started over by their door and I went across to where the narrow part of the driveway started up the slight incline. Well, I shoveled for about three seconds and then I heard some crackling and snow-scuffling and stuff and I looked to the left and saw a young moose creeping up the hillside in the midst of the trees. I was all, "Aww." And then I heard to the RIGHT---where the land sloped down---some BIGGER cracklings and snow-scuffling and was like, "HOLY COW THAT'S THE MAMA MOOSE" and grabbed the shovel and SPRINTED back to Sister Brown, "Get in the car get in the car," I cried, looking back and seeing the Mama Moose lope up onto the driveway right to the place where I had just been, she was all starin me down and stuff. Sister Brown scrambled back into our Jeep, whose name is Taloolah, and we huddled inside, crouched on the seats, TERRIFIED, and tried to take pictures. HAHAHAH.
Don't worry Dad, I won't kill myself chasing after bears.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


DADDY I forgot to say "happy birthday" in the email on Sunday, I had planning on it, and then when we got home to the cabin I went, "AHHHHH I FORGOT" so while I was on the ferry to Kake, I called someone from the branch and that's why I had him call.... AND, I will be sending you something in the mail, probably tomorrow, since I think I missed the mail tomorrow, I am so sorry I didn't get to it earlier. Going to Juneau for four days last week really messed everything up!! Hahha.

BUT, I looooved going to Juneau, and I looooooved going to the lil native village of Kake. We flew to Juneau last Wednesday morning. Zone conference would be Friday. When you are a missionary in the southeast, zone conference is not a one-day affair. Keep in mind this would be the first time this zone, with its particular missionaries, would be getting together and seeing each other in person! Many of the elders I already but some were brand new faces even though I'd heard them on the phone before.

At the Juneau airport, after our half-an-hour plane ride, which the Wrangell elders were on as well, we were met by the Juneau spanish elders who would be driving Wrangell away and the Juneau 1st/2nd ward elders who would be driving us to one Sister Tenny's house in Juneau, she speaks Spanish and she fed us lunch and we went out trying to visit people the Spanish elders would like sisters. No one was home, though. It was misting, but we ran out of names to visit real fast and so Sister Petersen and I decided to go tracting around Sister Tenny's house. Sister Tenny felt bad and wanted to take us to the glacier...or go shopping...(part of zone conf would be outisde and we were gonna finally hafta buy some rain boots). We went tracting until the zone leaders gave us permission to go shopping for rainboots as long as we talk to people (we talked to a Hispanic lady that ended up being a potential investigator we went to go visit with the Spanish elders the next day). So then we had dinner with Sister Tenny with the Spanish elders, and then the zone leaders picked us up and took us to the Best Western which is owned by a member. Our room was LOVELY, it had a squishy red couch and I looooved it. The Scagway elders gave us their car so we had something to drive around in the rest of the time.

The next day, Thursday, the elders and all of us went to a restaurant called the Frontier so they could participate in the burger challenge....Elder Satini from Tonga finished his burger and his POUND of fries in 40 minutes, breaking a record. He got his food free, and said that was the first and last time he would EVER do that. We took many pictures, even President Beesley took pictures, and texted ELders who are not in Juneau anymore that had once tried the burger challenge, to tell them Elder Satini had beaten the restaurant record which was 45 min I think...

Then we had a zone meeting, and then we got fed dinner by some couples in one of the Juneau wards. One couple had just recently moved here from Mission Viejo so we got to reminisce about how sunny and non-rainy California is...

Friday was zone conference. Before it started, Sister Pete and I took back the boots we'd bought cuz they had rainbow polka dots and maybe weren't conservative enough for proselyting. She bought black boots with clear plastic "cinderella" soles and heels (a real short heel) from payless and I bought shiny navyblue boots from Wal-Mart.... Really I want XtraTuffs but they are like eighty bucks.

Zone conference was lovely. We had some great training from Pres and Sis Beesley, the Assistants, and the Zone leaders. Then, like every other zone in the mish, half of our conference would be outside this time.

Each quarter we have a theme, the theme that we were finishing up was Zion's Camp. Zion's Camp was a group of men who left Ohio to go and rescue the early Mormon saints (this was in the 1800s) in Independence, Missouri who had been kicked outta their homes by the mob. On the way, this small army of a few hundred men were hit with rotten water, maggots in their food, broken wagon wheels, mobs, they started fighting and arguing and lost the Spirit and were hit with cholera...and in the end the Lord said they had to turn around and go back, that HE would fight this battle for them, and so they had all these expectations of fighting and redeeming the ousted Mormons and went back confused and some were discouraged and angry and some took what they could learn and became great men. Well, so they took us on this TREK. We went to Auke bay and started a fire down underneath a covered picnic area. We had, by this time, changed into grubby clothes, and were wearing our boots. They gave each comp a bin, the kind Mom puts Halloween and Christmas decorations in, hahaa. Our backpacks, PMG, and scriptures---cuz we need the word of God "wherever we go"---went into these bins (inside black trash bags to protect them). Each companionship had to carry the bin between them and we started marching out in a line of elders and two sisters and the Beesleys and a couple of senior couples (the husbands were watching the fire, so just the senior couple sisters). We sloshed through the rain and mud into the woods and along this crazy path and we were running and streams of water would go across the path and it was raining and sooo cold. There were a couple of unifying activities---two long boards on the ground, a companionship on each end, had to get to each other's end without stepping off. Then there was "complaining in the camp" and we had to start carrying our bin wiht our outside hand. Then later on the trail, as my left arm is dying, we were told half of everybody was for the Lord and the other half for the devil. Sis Pete ended up volunteering to be for the Lord, and the rest of us were herded off to wait in a group and Elder Martinez, one of the zone leaders, told us to watch those who were "for the Lord" go off carrying the bins all by themselves. We were to watch in silence. By this time we were at the beginning of a short peninsula that stuck out into the water, with a cluster of trees at the tip. We watched till those who were "for the Lord" crested the trees, then we "repented" and were allowed to go after them. Then the elders did the circle thing where they all sit at the same time and are holding each other up on their knees, and hafta walk, and then it was over and we went back, and some members fed us dinner and we were starving.

My favorite was the testimony meeting aroudn the fire at the end of it. The Spirit was so strong, and it was so nice to hear all these elders share what was so close to their heart.

I loove my mission and the beesleys and everyone here.

we flew back to Petersburg and were home for a day and a half. Our investigator whose friend was once given a card and gave it to the man who would soon become our investigator and that man called the sisters who were Sis Pete and Sis Gardner at the time, wanting to know more, and they started teaching him, well, he came to church, yay, for the second time.I'm gonna call him Card Man. I think he could totally get baptized.

So there is this native village (that means the village was settled by Native alaskans) on the next island over, it is called kake, we have several members there, one sort of active family and one super active husband and wife who call in every Sunday to our meeting. The branch pres has been wanting us to go over there, and so has Bro Hunter who is on kake, he has a couple of people he's been preparing for lessons. It took a lot of reassuring for Pres Beesley to allow us to go, and since moose season starts this weekend we either had to go BEFORE or AFTER...and Pres beesley was like, "well, if you're gonna go, let's not wait till October 15th." There were two ferry times that allowed us a day and a half in Kake, we could see what it's like, see if there is enough work there.

We tried visiting all the less actives that Brother Hunter pointed out to us. We got in with three of them but only could share a message with one, the other two said it was a bad time and we should come back the next day. They weren't there the next day. Well, natives tend to be hard to pin down. Some of these less actives were part of the Indian Placement Program which the church did back in the day to provide natives with good schooling, housing them with LDS families during the school year, like Grandma and Grandpa did.

Kake is nice, it's got its interesting parts. It's very small, 400 or 500 people. There is this predominantly native neighborhood, that zigzags up the hillside, the first part is first phase, then up a zigzag it's called second phase, and at the top is third phase. We tracted some of this, met a really nice sweet native girl who opened up to us a lot about her father's suicide, her brother's death, how the neighbor kids and their parents don't like her, and how she was in a play at school where they portrayed Christ's crucifixion and how it really hit her, she cried on stage, and at one point she had to carry the cross, and it was so heavy, and she never wants to do it again. We tried to give her a Book of Mormon but she refused.

I think this was a good visit, but I think the natives need to see us more, trust us more, before they will open up.

We saw three bears. One bear ran across the street---the STREET---from a house we had just tracted two minutes before. he looked right at me, but didn't charge, which was nice.

We finally met with one of the guys Bro Hunter prepared us to teach, I'll call him Animal Control guy, he's Animal Control and Harbor Master, he drives a police SUV but isn't the police. He's not native, has lived in Kake for four years, and over a year or so ago he came home to find his wife packed and ready to leave him with his three kids. She went to Juneau, and he got his current jobs so that he could stay home and take care of his 3 kids which he realized was the funnest and most rewarding thing ever, and later she came and took the kids for a while, but hopefully they'll be coming back to stay with him at the end of the month. He had a prayer answered about a year ago that made him start reading the Bible and now wants to know which church is right, which one he should start leaning toward. We taught him the restoration, related him to Joseph Smith, and the spirit was really strong.Gave him a book of mormon, said he'd read and pray.

Then we went and caught our ferry and went home and got into Petersburg at 1 A.M. and we are exhausted. President Bringhurst who is our branch mission leader and is also in the stake presidency, met us at the ferry terminal per President Beesley, and made sure we got home safe.

It was a busy trip, and not exactly easy, though we did get several potential investigators (people who are willing to let us come back), one more promising than any others, he was another referral from an older husband and wife couple who really live in Utah but have a lil house here.This man they know lost his wife three months ago and his pastor teaches there is no resurrection. So we went and gave him the Book of Mormon that Sister Bronson wanted him to have, and some pamphlets, and taught him about the resurrection, and had a prayer with him, and we handed out some other book of mormons, the natives are nice and they'll talk to you for a bit on the street but not for too long, and several of those less actives weren't there or said they were sick when we went back the next day. We didn't meet any open resentment.

Anyway, we have a missionary fireside planned this Friday night for the people we're teaching and for the people in the branch. It's in the home of the branch president. I'm playing piano and singing for a bit of it. Will tell you how it all goes later.


Sister Ashbrook the Bear Tamer

Sunday, September 9, 2012


UMMM, so we got permission to email a short bit early this week, cuz tomorrow we are taking a morning ferry to a lil town called KAKE....pronounced CAKE....which is a native village on another island. On a big general map, Kake looks like it's on the other end of the same island that Petersburg is on, but they are two separate islands separated by a river or something.

There is an active member couple, the Hunters, who live there, they call into church every Sunday. They and a member family who has a house there and visits sometimes will be meetin us and everything. We will be staying in a house that they are remodeling for a bishop in Heber City, UT. Bro. Hunter has a couple of friends who have agreed to take lessons with us, and there are several less actives there that everyone here loves and wants to always come to church, they are native and unfortunately there is a trend in the native people not to stay committed. We'll only be there till late Tuesday night when we'll get on the ferry to come back, it'll be a short trip to see what potential there is in Kake before moose season starts, so we can know if it's worth it to go back after moose season (which ends on October 15th).

We're really excited to go!!!!!!! The ferry takes five hours to get there each way---hahha---this is a SHORT ferry trip---we'll have our car. We're excited to go work hard and serve the Lord in Kake and love the people there.

Our p-day this week will be Wednesday, you'll hear from me then.

Don't worry, when we pull into the ferry station at 1 A.M. back in Petersburg, our branch Mission leader, the classy President Bringhurst, will meet us there and make sure we're safe driving back home.

Sister Ashbrook

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hi how are you.

WELL, that is so cool, mom, you emailing the news reporter and informing her about things we believe, you were sharing the gospel NATURALLY AND NORMALLY like someone counseled in our last general conference. And so exciting that Sarah has gone up to school. I just got a BIRTHDAY PACAKGE from her, that's so cool. I love that Sarah girl a lot. I tell my companions she is the apple of my eye. HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH.

Well, today was a lovely week, Sis Pete and I had lots of fun adventures. Tuesday night we had dinner with the family of the 15-year-old girl who has been coming to church for the past couple of years. It was lovely, Mexican food, lots of fun stories, got to hear all about how 15-year-old girl and her fam went to Juneau and met the fam of the boy that the 15-year-old girl has had a nice friendship with since two youth conferences ago, and her parents were very impressed with him, and his parents. We taught the commandment "follow the prophet" afterward, the Spirit was strong, I shared my testimony of how I came to know how President Monson was a prophet, for the first time sharing that story I didn't cry, hahaha. I love love love that girl, she told us her parents are gonna allow her to go to seminary this year!!!! She got SO excited to tell us that, she started jumping up and down and nearly hyperventilating and her face turned pink. She said her mom is also CONSIDERING letting her get baptized at age 17 instead of 18 because she wants to go to BYU.... From what we gather, the mother of the 15-year-old girl has an anti-mormon sister who is the real obstacle to them getting baptized, she lives here in town. Small town = difficult to change religions without everyone knowing it, that also might be hard.

But, this girl has such a desire to do the things that other Mormon girls take for granted. On the wall of the Young WOmen's room at the church is a poster listing all the girls and their progress on their ,haha, personal progress. Her name is up there with all the others. She loves doing it. She reads the Book of Mormon every day. She has a notepad and takes notes in church. She is dying to go to seminary, she is dying to be baptized. She plays the hymns in her Young Women's, and when the branch pianist was outta town, she was asked to fill in during sacramnet, and now the branch president is considering calling her to be part-time pianist for church. She is just stellar.

I just love her.

We started teaching a former investigator, a girl who is 23 and who has a crazy life. Unstable childhood, trust and abandonment issues, her mother is dating an alcoholic, she moved back to Petersburg to be a role model for her teenage sister. She told us when she was being taught in the winter time, she was thinking about jjoining the church. She has a cat.

Um, we were walking up and down Main Street Tuesday night and when we were getting in our car to go home, a young guy our age walked past and we said hello and we started talking to him, he was very friendly, asked if we were new in town, told us his grandpa is the retired preacher of the First Baptist Church here in town, said it would be cool for us to meet him. He told us a little about himself, wants to the next Eminem (a white rapper) but that none of his friends think he'll ever even be successful, we told him to follow his dreams. Hahha. We told him that he's a child of a Heavenly Father who loves him and he should have confidence in himself and be able to do the things he loves. He thanked us sincerely for that. We chatted a bit more, he asked us where we lived, um.....I told him "over there." He told us about these Wednesday dinners at the Baptist church and said we should come the next day, we asked if that would be weird? He said no they had missionaries all the time (hmm). Then he asked us for our number. Hahha. Like he was gonna ask us on a date. We whipped out our planners, that took him back a bit (we'rd old school) and then took HIS number (we showed him our hockey puck phone too). He started getting a LEETLE flirty and I just up and told him that while on the mission we don't date and if we ever "hung out," we would want to teach him the gospel. Hahahaha.

SO, we felt weird about going to this dinner, and we called our Branch Mission Leader, he said---now this was twenty minutes before the dinner was sposed to start on Wednesday---that it might be really nice interfaith getting along stuff, getting our faces out there in the community, he said if anything got contentions we should leave. He told us he knew the previous pastor and he was a nice guy but didn't know this one, and said the Baptists have not always been our "allies." Well, we called the Next White Rapper and he told us he had just told his grandpa we wer coming, and he goes, "And my grandpa was all like, 'Why are those Mormons coming, they're trying to infiltrate our church.' " We asked him if he still thought it was a good idea we come. He said he didn't know. Sis Pete said she felt okay with just introducing ourselves to this grandpa, I felt weird but didn't know if I was just nervous, and we asked the Next White Rapper if we should just introduce ourselves to his grandfather, and he said "All right let's get this over with."

Oh my heck.

SO, we go to this church, we walk in, there's a community room downstairs. Spaghetti dinner. The people looked suprised to see us walking in, several said hi very brightly and kindly to us, but we definitely felt awkward. We met The Next White Rapper's grandmother, super nice woman, she told us to grab some plates. I felt so nervous, I didn't know why, but I was trying to act cheerful and natural. The Next White Rapper brought us over to his grandfather who was polite and not overly cheerful but not unpleasant whatsoever, we sat down to start eating, he asked us where we were from, and then this man in perhaps his early 60s walked over and introduced hismelf as the current pastor. He asked if he could speak with us two for a moment.

Uh oh.

He pulled us aside into a hallway and asked us if were there as representatives of the Mormon church or as individuals. I knew what he was asking. I said, "Well, we are always representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we are not here trying to proselyte." (That's a mission rule anyway, we're not allowed to proselyte at or near houses of worship.) The pastor disagreed with that statement, I guess to him we were proselyting with our mere presence, and told us that if we intended to stay here at this dinner, he would have to ask us to remove our name tags.

This dark feeling came inside me. I told him i wasn't sure we were even allowed and we would probably have to make a phone call first. He told us he needed us to remove our name tags because he didn't want his people here to think he was putting "a stamp of approval on the Mormon church." I felt that dark feeling, but I also felt this strength come from the Spirit, like I knew exactly who I was representing and a strong resolve never to forget it. We walked outside (the Next White Rapper followed us into the lobby, feeling horrible, we told him not to worry about it and we just needed to make a phone call). Outside, we called the Assistants, Elder Lawson and Elder Adams, and Elder Lawson told us any place that didn't want us to wear our name tags was not a place we should be.

SO, we left! And man, it was a crazy experience. We had no bad feelings toward that church. In fact soon after we left, we heard sweet singing, a chorus of voices, hymns, coming from that church, and it was beautiful. We have no bad feeligs toward that man. But our testimonies were strengthened of always maintaining our identity, always representing the Savior, and a deep appreciation of those who do accept those of other faiths and welcome us into their homes even when they are not interested in converting. I had a deep appreciation for those in our church who welcome visitors of all walks of life with no judgment and no cold shoulder. I know that this gospel is true, I know that we are Christians. I know that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God, I know that I am a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly father answers our prayers---be honest in your prayers. Pour out your heart to your Maker. I know that the Spirit supports us and bears us up during moments where we are tested. I felt like Alma and Amulek, or the Sons of Mosiah, for a sliver of a minute, back there in that hallway, and knew that to face down direct opposition isn't all that difficult, because I am on the Lord's side and he is always there to support us. I know that none of those people were bad, or evil, they just are misguided. They do good, Christlike things the rest of the time, I am sure.

But I am so proud to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.