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 mormon.org 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 Mormon.org 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