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

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