Well so life has been lovely, we didn't pack any more moose meat or anything, but one night we came home (we take the small door that goes to the garage, there is a set of stairs going up to our apartment, and halfway up the stairs is a door that goes to the main house) and there were like, four dead ducks stacked on the stairs again. Hahah. SOMEONE'S been hunting.
I have a hard time writing emails sometimes. I look back over my week, in my missionary planner, and I think, what even happened? Oh yeah we taught that person. What did we even teach them about? And so in my head I have to, like, replant myself in that day and try and remember the details.
Every day is so different in Petersburg. It's kinda unique for this area. I love this town. The people here are just wonderful. I don't even know how to explain it. Like when we see the native man, he's seriously like Native American like Navajo I swear, he wears a cowboy hat and has loooooong dark hair and sometimes wears BRIGHT NEON GREEN pants, and he looks like he could snap somebody's neck, and he's out walkin his two pomeranion doggies. Puff balls. And we love the hospital, we go there like every day to see the Tiny Lil Thing, and stop by another lady who's recovering from a heart ache, and sing her a song. Sister Hatfield has an AMAZING voice, and we love harmonizing together.
I have grown to love the elderly, and have started thinking about how I can continue to visit them after my mission. As a missionary, wearing the name tag, we have an excuse to be coming to visit. And in petersburg, we can wander around the Long Term Care in the hospital and greet the old people and not get a second glance, all the nurses know us and greet us warmly. I am not sure we can wander around hospitals like that in the Lower 48 (the rest of America). I am thinking though that if I volunteer playing piano at old folks' homes I can get to know some of the residents and then start paying them visits. They just need visits!!!! These sweet old widows need love, and acceptance! Elderly people are just normal people, frustrated with how their bodies are failing and how they lose control when they move into places like these, and they long for and miss their family, and they miss their homes and their freedom, and how they could walk about and get fresh air when they please, and cook for themselves, and they had bigger wardrobes, and could read their books easier a few years ago, and now reading takes forever if their eyes are going bad, or maybe their hearing is going bad. I just love all of them.
Sister Hatfield is awesome, she listens to the Spirit and acts on promptings. Because of her acting, she shared a certain scripture after dinner with a family in the branch which prompted one of the members of that family to tell us about someone who needs the gospel, and we got a name and an address (that's called a referral). And, we'd been PRAYING for a referral for a week and a half. So, that was cool. We're gonna go contact the referral tonight before dinner.
Oh my heck, the primary program was yesterday. I LOVE OUR PRIMARY. (Primary is the kids' organization in the church for all the lil tykes, 3 to 11 years old). So, once a year instead of a normal worship service the kids do their songs and recite things for us, and it is HILARIOUS. And, Puerto Rican Daughter, age 11, and a member of a family we're teaching the gospel to, gave TWO short lil talks AND sang "I am Child of God" with another lil girl in the branch, and Puerto Rican Daughter even sang a verse all by herself. It was awesome. I really really really really wanna see that family get baptized. Puerto Rican Mommy said, sincerely, after we all bore sweet testimony to her about how reading the Book of Mormon will help her in her work and help her daughter with her homework, "I know." She nodded, looking down and seeming to be finally resolved. "I need to find a time."
I love this branch so much, the members who come with us to lessons LOVE doing missionary work. It's not something they do to do US a favor. They come and share experiences and help teach as if knowing they NEED to do this, earnestly trying to help these people that we teach to understand the gospel for themselves, understand prayer, understand their God.
Petersburg is different than other areas. Sister Hatfield came from the singles branch up in Fairbanks. She had 3 baptisms during those 3 months, the first 3 months of her mission. She once taught 12 lessons in a single day, 37 lessons in a single week. So it was quite an adjustment to come to Petersburg. We're out in the bush, on an island, in a town with less people in it than was in my whole high school. We got about twelve lessons last week---we could have done more, I always need to improve. Petersburg is all about plantin seeds, just letting the community know that LDS missionaries do not have devil horns coming out of their foreheads. We do a lot of service, we visit about five old ladies every week, one of which is actually a member of our church, the others just like us. We visit several people who like to talk religion with us and share ideas, and appreciate that we are young people who do not drink or are glued to our cell phones but that we can actually have an intelligent conversation about God and who we are as children of God. We hope and pray that they will let us teach them, these sweet people. I'm telling you, several people have told us, they are not interested in taking lessons, but invite us to please come back, and we can have tea. I love tea. Herbal tea. I've had about three mugs of herbal tea at different people's houses this week. THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING. Presbyterian, Lutheran, or the Bible Church. Whatever. They understand the gospel, they love their Savior, they recognize a need for people with good values to unite regardless of religion or culture. The WORLD out there is crazy and full of distractions and confusion and empty promises, a lot of things to grant people immediate entertainment and quick-lived happiness that fades and leaves them empty and wanting more. But there is something that is constant, there is peace that never dies. If people believe in science and not in God, it's totally fine. Scientists understand experiments. What's cool about God is that you can experiment on him. You can pray and test it, sincerely wanting to know if God is there. And if you are sincere, "if can no more than desire to believe," your faith will grow. That's what the Book of Mormon teaches. Chapter 32 of Alma, actually. Fyi.com.
Anyway, the Presbyterians that we visit told us last night that what we really need now is another Reformation, looks like. "Christianity has changed a lot," they said. "Some has changed from even what Jesus Christ himself taught."
Well, we don't need another Reformation, we need a Restoration, and so we wanna sneakily teach them that the Restoration actually happened, it is NOT an amazing rare occurrence that God leads and guides his church from a removed position, in heaven. We are gonna like, ask them if we can "practice" teaching them or something awesome like that. They are so ready but just don't know it yet.
Well, I love this gospel. I am happy to be a Mormon. And I love my family, and hope all is well. UM ANNE DID YOU EVER GET MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE TO YOU?!
Sister Ashbrook and the sea lions