Monday, November 19, 2012


Hey family!

We got permission to do emails at a member's house so we're hanging out next door at our branch pres's house. Yukon the dog just BARKED really loudly, once, at nothing, and scared me.

Daddy that is so cool that you had a baptism, Mommy talked about a baptism a bit, the same one I'm guessing?

And Mommy, you do not have to send me another package, I am very grateful for all that you do, love you lots. I miss you all in a quiet, peaceful way, but truly I don't want to come home and hate thinking that I only have about six months left.

Hey so yes, we will be staying in this apartment indefinitely; we love it here. Every dessert we get we stop at the door to the main house and give it to the branch president. One time we had a pan with leftover brownies smothered in cookie dough that had been in our fridge for two days and we kept forgetting to give it to him. Knock knock. "Do you want these?" He took them happily. We asked him if he needed help eating them, cuz there was a whole side of the pan with brownies still, we could take a couple off his hands. "No, that's okay," he said, and shut the door.

We had a lesson with El Colombiano; we'd recently gotten permission for the Spanish elders in Juneau to mail us some Gospel Principles books in Spanish and El Colombiano had brought his that we'd given him, so instead of going over El Plan de Salvacion we jokingly asked him if he was gonna teach us. He flipped to chapter one and started. We got all excitedly settled and listened as he taught us who our Heavenly Father is. He asked us, "Como llevar (llegar? i can't remember) conocer a Dios?" How can we come to know God? He said, "La pregunta es simple. El respuesto es.." Big pause. "Profunda." Um, sorry if that's bad spanish, I wasn't called on a Spanish speaking mission. Hahhaa. ANYWAY he said, The question is simple, the answer is profound. He's so funny. He wanted a piece of paper, i gave him a sticky note, he drew this little globe with lines coming off of it, um apparently that was Sister H's head, and he wrote HER answer. Underneath it he drew a FROWNY face with big poofy hair, that was me; he wrote MY answer. For him, he drew a man in a tux. We asked him if he was gonna draw his glasses on the man. He said, "NO! No glasses." His drawing of himself did not NEED glasses. At one point he sat down on the bench next to us and his coat got caught on the cover of the gospel principles book. I fixed it. His reaction was delayed---he looked down after a couple of seconds and said, "NO TOUCH. It's MINE." He fixed it just so and then went on with his lesson. He cracks us up.

We went n visited one of our old lady friends at the Manor the other day, she's "The Answer Is" Lady. We found out she has Alzheimer's and Sis H says that makes sense; her grandfather who has Alzheimer's reuses the same phrase over and over cuz that's all he can remember. Well, The Answer Is Lady ALWAYS says, "The answer is..." or, "In other words..." My first meeting with her, back when Sister Pete was here, I asked her if she had any family in Petersburg. She got real close to me and said, "The answer is....not a soul." I asked her if she'd ever been married. "The answer is, no."

So, we went and visited her and said we could come in and we sat down and she sat on the "davenport" (she always calls it that, I don't know what the difference between a davenport and a couch is, but I wanna learn) next to me and through the course of our visit she sunk lower and lower and gradually slid sideways till she was leaning against my arm. A couple of times she even laid her head on my shoulder. As she's leisurely pointing her foot out, the leg that's crossed over the other, and slowly rolling her ankle back and forth, la di da di da style. I kept lookin over at Sister H and giggling. We love her. She just has this quirky personality. She says a lot, "When you get up into your 70's or 90's--" (she's 96, herself) "--you find that you just don't care about social things."

I asked her if she believed in God and brought up religious stuff and within three minutes she'd stood up and was thanking us for our visit, hahahaaah, and out the door we were. Well, we'll keep visiting her.

We helped the Woman Who Lives Out the Road (she's less active) with her deer again. We dropped by and she was outside in the rain on the way to her shop (shed thing).

"Hey, guys, I'm skinning my deer right now."

Oh my heck Sister H never jumped outta the car so fast. We went and watched her skin her deer, we took pictures on HER camera and she hasn't emailed them to us yet but soon I will email them to all of you and you can see. She'd cut the heads off the deer---she had two, one that had been hanging for a week already and one that she'd just caught the day before, hung up from their back legs, the rope going between their fibia and tibula or whatever it's called and then tied around the rafter thingies. So she'd cut the heads off cuz she said it's easier to pull the hide off that way, even if it gets a few more hairs everywhere. We watched her skin the second one, she had a tiny knife, I think it's called a parring knife, she laughs and said some people tease her for her tiny knife but she says it works great. So she pulls the hide down and then slices up where the hide and the fat/membrane/meat stuff is and slices and then she can yank the hide down a lil more.

Oh my heck. And then she broke their forelegs. We were like OH MY GOSH with hands over our mouths and she laughed and said that's the sound our own bones would make.

We went back the next day and helped her cut up her meat, AKA, separate the fat the from the meat, and the meat from the bone. Deer meat is nasty, she said, it makes the meat taste real gamey. I used a filet knife mostly and cut up backstrap and stuff. Yeah. I know what I'm talking about.

We've loved getting to know her, she is not familiar with the church at all, wanted to know what patriarchal blessings and investigators are. She's pretty much like a nonmember. And she's awesome. We wanna write a song called the Alaskan Woman.

We went back a few days later and helped her grind up meat and cut some more and I made sausage (I added spices and stuff according to a recipe she got from someone and ground bacon and the venison together; the bacon is like the fat, but it's actually nummy-tasting fat).

So, we did a lot of service this week. We also helped out with Petersburg Indian Association non-smoking coalition free t-shirt giveaway thingy at the community center. We also helped old people play bingo. We also helped out at a Turkey Time Race that a member of our branch, who works for Petersburg Parks and Rec, organized. We also...hmm what did we do. Oh my heck, we also helped out at this primary activity; a woman donated a whole bunch of STUFF from her HOUSE and the primary kids, one from each family at a time, walked around the tables full of all this STUFF and "shopped" for their family and we WRAPPED all these gifts and we're storing all these gifts at the church, they'll be taken back out at our Christmas dinner and given to the appropriate family members. It was chaotic and crazy, you'd be wrapping present after present for ONE kid cuz of course their father needed a KABOODLE (um it's a "fishing box") that was blue and glittery AND he needed a picture frame and two candles and a light bulb in the shape of a dolphin....and then ANOTHER kid would come to you with two grocery bags full of MORE things to be wrapped and let me just tell you, my wrapping skills got very special.

So, we suffered on lessons this week. We got a few less than we should have. We have to try and find balance. We do a lot more service out in the bush than in more populated places but we STILL gotta try and find a balance. So, we had a lesson set up with Sweet 15 and her fam, and it was dinner, with a short lesson after of course. We like having members of the branch at every lesson. So, we were freakin out, how are we gonna get a member to come to this lesson? We can't invite an extra person to someone else's dinner. And since Puerto Rican Momma asked recently NOT to have members at her lessons, and since Miss Walkin Into Town tends to forget about lessons and La Mujer de Calisco hasn't been home lately, and how the Spunky Woman who's 72 and doesn't wanna change cancelled her lesson, and since our newest investigator moved to Dutch Harbor, and since Miss I Needa Change My Life got a new phone number apparently and we've been texting and texting but it was to her old number, since all these people would NOT have lessons with us OR have members at these lessons, we REALLY REALLY wanted THIS lesson with Sweet 15 to actually have a member but it wasn't a simple thing to invite someone else along. So I prayed specifically that they would think to invite someone---Sweet 15's mom is friends with a sister in the branch cuz they both work at the hospital so I prayed for Sweet 15's mom to invite her. This woman is actually the woman Sister Pete and I lived with for two weeks back in August or something. Her name is Sister Hertless.

When we drove up for the lesson that night, Sister Hertless's car was sitting in the driveway.

There were a lotta screams in our car and lots of high fiving and then we got out completely dignified and walked up the steps to knock on the door.

Well, I woke up Sunday morning and looked outside and everything was covered in snow. "WE'VE BEEN DUMPED ON!" I cried to Sister H.

"No we haven't," she chuckled. "Wait, are you lying? You're lying."

"I'm not lying. Come see!!"

The snow is beautiful, and I love Petersburg.

We're going to Juneau the first week in December for zone conference and then after that we're flying to Wrangell instead of back to Petersburg, the work is slow there and the missionaries are getting taken out and put elsewhere, but Pres Beesley wants us to teach a few lessons there and throw a musical Christmas fireside, hahaha, for the branch there, and then we'll ferry back on Tuesday, to Petersburg.

Oh my heck, our December is gonna be crazy busy full of music and singing.


Sister Ashbrook and the frozen pot holes

Monday, November 12, 2012

No snow yet...

HI everybody. Thanks for the pictures, in the emails and letters both, Mommy and Lily and Aunt Fran!!! Pictures are so great. I really appreciate it. Love you all.

And happy birthday yesterday Sarah Bear!!! I am gonna write you today.

So apparently we are allowed an hour and a HALF on the computer on pdays, according to my district leader Elder Kvavle (um, pronounced "kwiv-lee") according to my zone leader Elder Martinez according to President Beesley. So, I don't have to like, RUSH and be CRAZY, but actually write yall a NICE EMAIL.
Except, I forgot to bring my glasses to the church so my eyes are killing me.

Cuz we do emails in the library at the church cuz the public library only allows you thirty minutes. I'm so used to doing them here, it would seem completely weird to go to the public library, and then I remember that for 7 and a half months in my last area we went to the college to THEIR library, very public, to do emails, cuz you're SUPPOSED to do them at a public place.

Things are pretty different in the bush. (Bush means outlying areas of Alaska...far away from civilization.)

Though Petersburg is pretty civilized. It's just, tiny, and only accesible by plane or boat. I love Petersburg.

So, this week has been fun. Sister Hatfield and I have been ridiculous as ever. Yesterday she told me that she appreciates that I joke around during lessons and push kids in the face, cuz it helps her realize she can just BE HERSELF.... Um, I don't know if I'm all that great of an example, clearly.

There is a less active woman who lives by herself out beyond Petersburg limits, she runs her own commercial fishing boat in the summer and is building her own two-story storage warehouse thing on her property, hunts deer, makes her own hot chocolate (the powder part), has a dog to keep her company, and is just plain rad. We love her. She had a deer that she caught and when the weather got real cold a coupla weeks ago, below freezing (STILL no snow yet, except for about half an hour of it a coupla nights ago that disappeared real fast) her deer froze so she couldn't skin it, cut it, grind it, and pack it, and she had plans to go deer hunting again and it was coming up and we told her PLEASE call us once the weather warms up and your deer thaws out and we'll come help you.

So she actually called, and we went out there Tuesday morning and she'd already cut up all the meat and she just wanted us to help her grind most of it and pack it. I packed up a coupla hunks of meat that she wanted for roast (so, NOT ground up in her meat grinder)--and the backstrap, and the um, whatsitcalled, neck roast, and the...yeah, things like that, it was awesome. You just smack it on some plastic wrap, wrap it up, wrap it up in butcher paper, and label it "ROAST 10-12" and call it good. We ground the rest of the meat and packed that up too. I'm tellin ya, I'm gonna turn into an Alaskan Man at the end of my mission.

Then that NIGHT, we went over to another EQUALLY awesome woman's house. She's the nonmember that we helped yank out the chicken wire fence out of her frozen backyard last week. She grows her own food, including chickens, and cans her own food, and makes her own SOAP. She hasn't bought soap in ten years, she said. So, we went over to help her make her next yearly supply of soap. Daddy, you'd be so proud. FIRST, we had to look at her notes and figure out a formula to concoct a new batch, I don't know WHY we needed to do this, maybe to improve it, maybe she wasn't completely satisfied before, but we had to take the oil and times it by the lye and the this and the that and formula percent stuff math stuff.

Pretty exciting.

I did the dishes while Sister Hatfield figured all that out.

AND THEN, we took the new numbers that we (AKA THEY) came up with and scooped out like 935 grams of palm oil and 734 grams of coconut oil (something like that, I obviously don't remmeber the exact numbers) and akui oil or whatever it's called from hawaii and olive oil and all that stuff, and water, and put it in a huge pot, and we put it on her real wood stove and started cooking that til it got to 140 degrees and then the woman, whom I will call Makes Her Own Soap Woman, took it outside to add the lye, cuz it's toxic and stuff.

Oh, and the scent. We had to smell all her essential oils and then decide on a combo and we decided on "orange sweet" and "plumeria" and "vanilla" and that was pretty exciting. Some of the oils while we were pouring them into another container spilled on some paper towels, Sister H and I kept them and my purse smelled amazing and um, still does. I put my paper towel in a ziploc bag and taped it into my Alaska Journal (the one I have other missionaries and members write in so I can remember who the heck all these people are).

WELL, I stirred the oil and lye stuff for a long time and waited for it to "trace" AKA....get thick until drips of it settled on top of the mixture before blending in, if that makes sense. Well, it took FOREVER, and Makes Her Own Soap Woman kept coming over to check on it, and finally it traced, but then within five seconds it curdled and the oil and water started separating and it turned into an orange colored MESS. No one had expected that so we looked in all her soap books and um, figured out that probably the reason why it curdled and went bad is cuz the stirring was too slow...or too basically I messed up all the soap.


She apologized as a teacher and said it was good for HER to learn that soap needs brisk, constant stirring. She told us she'd try it again on her own the next day or something...

She called us the next day and told us she had done it again that NIGHT after we'd left, she's so crazy, and stirred it the RIGHT way, and yeah it traced in like, ten minutes, and she'd poured the soap into her molds. She used two wooden mold crate things that her husband built for her, two wooden frames, each about the size of a sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper, with crossing wooden pieces to make a set of rectangular molds, and the third mold was a PVC pipe lined with butcher paper. She said, "Come back in two days and you can help me take the soap out."

Haha, she's so great. We did, and Sister H cut up the pipe mold with a knife to make circular pieces of soap, and we smelled it, and the scent was there but we think more of the essential oils would be better, and in about six weeks when the soap is done "saponifying" she'll call us and give us some.

So THAT was fun.

She's a great woman, we have neat discussions about the gospel, she's not quite ready for it yet, but maybe someday soon.

And then on FRIDAY we showed up at the lil church cuz it was time to do our every-other-week-an-hour-of and the TRASH CAN was tipped over and trash was EVERYWHERE... you see, there are trash-addicted bears in the world and apparently they're not hibernating yet and I said, "Oh it'll take ten minutes, we can clean it up after" I was really excited, cuz this was the second time this had happened...

Um, it took an HOUR. Cuz there was CONFETTI everywhere, and everything was covered in frost and frozen to the ground. And our hands got SO NUMB. We were griping (jokingly) the WHOLE TIME...Sister H cracks me up. "Oh, this'll be great when we call in our service this week. Oh, you know, we just cleaned up TRASH that a BEAR spread ALL OVER THE PARKING LOT, no big deal, it's fine that all these paper plates have BITE MARKS and all the middles are MISSING out of them..." Oh, and the tray of vegetables that someone left in the fridge...all those veggies every where too. We left them for the deer.

OTHER THAN THAT, we had some good lessons with people, we reconnected with Miss Walking Into Town cuz Sister H suggested we stop by the Long Term Care in the hospital to see if the "pie social" was still going on and we entered the hospital and who did we see, sitting on a bench looking bored, but our investigator who fell off the face of the planet two months ago. It was awesome to see her again, we had a lesson set up for Saturday, but she, um, forgot. BUT WE'LL KEEP TRYING...

And we had a really nice lesson with some less actives yesterday, we found out a lil more about why they stopped going to church.

I know that the Lord puts people in our path, I know that timing is everything sometimes. I know that he prepares people and that the Spirit can soften people's hearts.

I know that we must have faith and when we do, we will want to change our lives, and when we put the Lord first, "everything will fall into place or else drop out of our lives." I know that I am where I am supposed to be and I love serving my Redeemer. I love the people of Petersburg. AND I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!!!

Thank you to all those who have taken the time to write me, I really do appreciate it.

Love you,
Sister Ashbrook

Monday, November 5, 2012

HI SUP GUYS (lots of pictures!!!)

Hi so I am gonna send more pictures.

I'm gonna write you a HANDWRITTEN LETTER TODAY instead of an email.


me and Sweet 15 (the investigator who can't get baptized till she is changed from 18 to 17 as of yesterday WOOOHOOO cuz she wants to go to BYU but she'll start college at 17 I believe and her parents know she'll have a better chance of getting in if she's a member)
 us and Sweet Lil Thing (the elderly woman who's a member of the branch that we go and visit at the hospital in Long Term Care like every was her 86th birthday)
me and a lil hilarious 5-year-old girl in the branch, I'm wearing a coat made out of wolverine and beaver fur that the branch pres had made, he hunted the animals
me and sis hatfield getting ready for service
a velkommen sign on the door of the woman we were gonna do service for

These pictures below are us doing service at the woman's house, she is not a member but she is rad. We were helping her pull her fence outta the ground but it was frozen, so I said boil water and pour it, sis hatfield said no get a blow dryer, this is what the woman came up with. propane blow torch. She has chickens and ducks and geese.

me and yukon. Our members went outta town and we dog sat (pres beesley said it was okay) Yukon is now my new boyfriend

me on the side of the highway at like mile 8 or something

on pday we drove out to the leconte lookout (leconte can't see it, but from the lookout you can see the bay plus the chunks of ice that float on the water)

how pretty the moon looked
me on the picnic table at the leconte lookout. sis hatfield LOOOVES this picture. my skirt needs to be pulled down in back, you can see the backs of my KNEEEES!